The Dash

This post I have struggled with writing but, I’m going to do my best to put the words that are in my heart here in this space. I want to talk with you about the dash. We are all giving a dash and it begins with the day and year of our birth. This dash is so precious because it is how you live from your birth till your death. What are you doing with the dash you have been giving. Are you living in such a way that will impact the lives of others? Are you doing the things that God created you to do? See the thing is, God gave you this dash of time for a specific reason. When we find out the reason for our birth, the dash of time were given is lived well. At the same time, when we never find out our purpose but we just do a bunch of miscellaneous stuff with our life never really embracing our purpose we waste the dash of time we’ve been given. I pose the thought to you again,”How are you using the dash you’ve been given?”.
I want you to know that people will definitely remember how your dash impact the dash they were given. More than anything we all will stand before Jesus and give an account for what we did with the dash he has given to us. Please don’t use any portion of your dash living in regret. Regrets will cause us to become stagnant. We cannot use our dash focusing on what we did. Our dash is best lived when we focus on what were yet to do. Just a friendly reminder that none of us are perfect. You will not live a perfect dash. There will be things in your dash that you will regret but, please don’t live from that place of regret. Forgive yourself, process it and take the lesson you learned in it and then let it go. Do not take it forward with you. Only use it as a tool to hellp others when necessary. I want to encourage you to live your dash to the fullest. I often say that I long to die empty. I want to finish as much of what I was purposed to do as I can. What will you do with the dash you have been given beautiful one?

“The dash is not just how you live, but it’s who you were too”.

Lora Terry

Who are you? A big factor in living our dash well is being who we are. When we live our authentic self, we use our dash well. God has a plan for who you really are but not for who you pretend to be. We don’t truly know how long our dash will be so each and every day, we just live our dash well. Those things in your heart that you want to do or experience, go after it. Maybe there are words you need to tell those you love, tell them. Maybe there is a phone call you need to make or someone you need to forgive, do it. Don’t waste your dash holding forgiveness in your heart that you need to give to them. Trust me withholding forgiveness to someone who hurt you doesn’t hurt that person but, it does hurt you. Your dash is not worth it. You need all the time you have been giving to live and not be stagnant holding forgiveness that you know you need to give to someone. Let your dash be all God intended it to be.

Celebrate the dash you have been given.

At the end of your life be sure that you have lived in such a way that your life will be celebrated. You know how you do that? Celebrate your life while you live, it helps others to celebrate it when you are gone. Leave your mark in the earth for good. Leave a legacy that your loved ones will be honored to be a part of. My mom left a legacy of serving Jesus. I’ve lived every day loving and serving my Jesus. Now my children are living a life of serving and loving Jesus. Don’t be afraid to celebrate your life, even if you have to do it for yourself. I hope that you celebrate your accomplishments and find a way to not live in your failures. Did you know that the way you fail at something is a key factor in how you will be successful at it next time. Failure is not the end, oftentimes it is a beautiful new beginning. Live well, live forward, live all in and most of all live the heart of Jesus creation of you.

I will leave you with this to ponder. You have been given this dash, only you can decide how you will live it. What will you do with this beautiful dash you have been given?

God I thank you for every person that will stumble upon this post. I pray that they will know how important the dash they have been given truly is. God help them to seek you about the dash you have given them. You have a complete plan for the dash you gave to us. Help us to surrender our dash to your plans for us. Thank you Jesus for your everlasting love. Amen.

Fear of the Unknown

     Lately this has been my greatest struggle. I’ve found myself afraid of the future which is the unknown to me. I’ve found myself worrying about things that are beyond my control. I’ve been over processing in my heart and mind all the what if’s. Just allowing the noise in my head to become louder and louder. Right now the unknown makes me feel unsafe and a little out of sorts. As this world is changing and I see things happening around me, I feel like I can’t trust the things in my world that use to feel stable and safe for me. It feels so overwhelming at times as I consider  what the future holds. I think I’ve believed that Christians are not suppose to  be afraid but we’re human and as humans we are going to experience human emotions. I’m learning how to place my unknown future into the hands of an unseen God who has great plans for my life.

      I want to know all the details of what is ahead of me. I find myself trying to plan out the unknown when all I need is to trust God who created me and knows the details of my future.  I find my heart being overwhelmed and anxious about not being able to see how this world will continue to unfold . Are you like me wanting to know every single detail before it happens? You want to know every step you will take and how those steps will work for you or against you. You don’t want to trust in what you can’t see. You would rather see it all and then trust because only then will you know how it all works. Oh how we wish the world was simpler just like that. Unfortunately that is just not how it all works in this earth. You may never know all the details of what’s next. You can plan and plan and plan and it still not go as you planned but, it’s ok, it really, truly is ok. Fear can paralyze us and keep us from the beauty of what’s in our futures. I will be honest with you, it can’t possibly ALL be ugly, it’s just sometimes we can’t see the beauty because we’re so focused on the ugly.

Fear if allowed can cripple us and keep us stagnant in places that no longer serve us well. Fear is only powerful when we allow it to rule and reign in our lives. Now, you might say fear does not control me…..ummmmm. ok, so make the phone call, go on the interview, write the book, prepare the message, make the connection, start the blog, do the podcast, just stop overthinking it and letting fear decide for you. When we know there are things we need to do and we struggle with admitting the truth, we’re really just afraid of the unknown. Would you do what’s in your heart if you knew it was going to be successful? If you knew the blog would be amazing,would you would do it? If you knew the book was going to be a bestseller,would you be writing it right now? A healthy amount of fear is natural but fear that cripples you into not moving is very unhealthy and needs to be dealt with. Sometimes to face our fears is simply to just admit that they are real. Explore the reason we’re afraid, take time to understand what is it that we’re really afraid of in our future or concerning our future. I will tell you that oftentimes the true reason we’re afraid is not surface level reasons, it’s more in-depth than we’re often willing to go👀. I chose the picture above because it looks like the face of courage and fear at the same time. My motto I adopted from Joyce Meyers years ago is,”Do it Afraid”.

I’m encouraging myself with this one. Fear is natural but letting it keep you stagnant is harmful. Go for it, give fear a punch in the face. Step out in that dream. Write your plan to accomplish that goal and ask God for courage to do it. Write the book, make the call, create the resume and don’t sell yourself short in it. Fill out that application, go to that counseling session( it might just save your life), make that friend connection, join the church you’ve been visiting, have that conversation. You know what it is you have been so afraid of. Only you know the fear of your unknown. I know the unknown to you is known to God. If he said do it, DO it. If he said go, GO. As we are approaching 2023 more quickly than ever, let’s do the thing we’ve been wanting to do. Maybe it’s an art class, a pottery class, maybe it’s a writing class or a branding class for your new company. Let’s go for it. Let’s walk boldly into the fear of the unknown trusting a God that knows.

God I thank you for the person reading this. Give them the peace they need. Help them to not allow the fear of the unknown to keep them stagnant. Help them to know that you are with them in all of of it. Amen.

Therapy and Jesus

I must admit that this might be a little touchy for people to read. I promise to tread here softly but truthfully. I know that a lot of christians believe that if we have Jesus we have everything that we need. I truly believe that Jesus offers to us everything we need but I also completely believe that he uses others as well to help him be that in the earth. I’m going to try to make this a little clearer. Jesus cannot come in the flesh and sit with us and offer wisdom and support in a flesh body but he can embody a therapist and fill him or her with his wisdom to do just that in a fleshly human body. The same with doctors, nurses, psychiatrist etc…he uses so many different avenues to be all that we need in the earth. So with all that being said, I want to share with you about having Jesus and still going to therapy. I will not say that therapy is for everyone because I strongly believe it is an individual choice. I do believe that anyone that needs therapy should be able to go without the judgement of others. Therapy does not say you are a weak Christian as a matter of fact, to me your just as strong of a Christian as the next person your just doing what you need to do to remain in a place that God can use you. Did you realize that being mentally healthy is important to you doing ministry healthy?

I will share my own personal journey with you on my experience with therapy and Jesus. I will never forget the moment I entered a therapist office for the first time. I was scared and felt a little ashamed because it had come down to me desperately needing that level of support. I felt like I was somehow failing God by needing to go. What I didn’t understand was that God would meet me in that therapist office and I would sense his presence with me in every session. I did not know how desperately I needed to get those trauma secrets I had been carrying out. I needed to do it with a trained professional who could support and guide me in voicing those experiences that needed to come out. See those secrets were in the dark because I was too ashamed to share them. Once I voiced them they were brought into the light in the safety of her office and after processing them in a healthy place, they soon were rendered powerless. I felt like I was no longer keeping poison inside that was rotting me from the inside out. I’ve gone to counseling off and on for many years now. I’ve also loved and served Jesus through all of it. I have come to realize that Jesus did not stop loving me because I went to therapy. I wasn’t sat on a shelf somewhere and deemed unusable. I believe that he still took all of it and used it for his glory to help others to come to him with their mental health struggles.

I’ve been seeing a therapist for a little while now and it’s been the best thing. I’ve seen a few therapist over the years and it’s been amazing. I’ve seen Christian therapist and secular therapist. I’ve learned that with any therapist you have to take what works for you and leave what doesn’t. Even seeing a Christian therapist does not mean that every thing that they share is going to work for you. The beauty of therapy I believe is the right that you always have to choose. At the end of every session, you get to choose what you walk away with. A good therapist will never force you to use every single technique they teach. The words they speak are not the gospel😉. Good therapist want you to remain in control, they want you to use your voice and remember that this is your life given to you by God and only you can live it. I think of them as someone who can help me to process things that are causing me pain. Oftentimes I view their offices as safe places to let go. I see them as places I can rest from my heavy protective armour and just be. I can be present in that moment with them it is safe to voice my struggles in the safety of their office. When I was processing very painful memories, I longed for those sessions to check in and process those moments. I reminded myself that God was with me and he was going to help me get through the process. Therapist are not God’s but they can be led by God and they can be used by God to help us heal.

I want to leave this thought with you. You can absolutely have Jesus and STILL go to therapy. You can serve Jesus and love him with your whole heart and STILL go to therapy. You can preach, teach, read, quote, study and memorize the word of God and STILL go to therapy. It does not have to be one or the other. You can have them both and still belong to Jesus. Maybe you have been feeling the need to go to therapy but struggling with the stigma that is placed on Christians and therapy. Let that go and get what you need. If therapy is what you need, I pray for courage for you to go after what you need. I am so grateful for your presence here. The fact that you would read my words here in this space means so much to me. I honor your presence here.

Lord Jesus I pray for every person reading this blog post. I pray that you will give them the courage they need to go to therapy. Lord I pray that you will lead them to the therapist that will be the best fit for them. I pray that they will know that you are always with them. I pray they will encounter your love in new and deep ways. In Jesus name I pray. Anen

Hiding the Lows

Sometimes even in a space full of other humans, we can find a way to hide our deepest pain or feel so unseen in our broken pieces. It’s like we treat the lows as some deep dark secret that even those closest to us can’t see. So we plaster on those fake smiles so that our deep sadness is tucked safely behind them. We do our best to fade into the crowd and not be seen. What would others think if our thoughts were heard out loud. If they could feel what we’re feeling, how would they get through it? Why do we find comfort in hiding the lows? We believe that were protecting those we love from our pain. It is okay to not hide the lows, it’s okay to invite those we trust into those moments. You nor I have to walk through those moments alone. I know it seems best to hide when we’re struggling with a low but, if you feel strong enough to reach out to your safe people, please do it…..please.

One thing I struggle with is feeling ashamed of being in a low place when I’m having a hard time. How do you tell someone your sad but you don’t completely understand why? How do you bare the dark night that is happening within your soul? Those are questions I asked myself a lot. Sometimes I found myself choosing to try and walk through it alone. My walking through it alone looked a lot like crying downstairs, or in the shower so no one saw me. I did a lot of avoiding eye contact with people I love dearly. I found myself slowly withdrawing from hanging out with others. I thought I was hiding it but the truth is they knew I was struggling but didn’t know how to help. I believe my hiding it from them made them more uncomfortable reaching out to me.

I wanted to believe I wasn’t alone but the lies of the enemy felt so real. Those lies felt like my truth. You know how it feels when your spiraling down and you feel as if you can’t grasp on to anything of truth. This might be hard to hear and believe but Jesus is right there. We can never hide the low moments from him. He sees them, he feels them and rather you care to believe it or not; he truly understands them. He knows the thoughts you are having, those thoughts that you are ashamed to even voice. The thoughts of ending it all, stoping the pain but leaving those who love you in more pain than you could ever imagine in that moment. Moments no matter how long they feel are only temporary. Those moments are not permanent…..they do change.

I want to encourage you as I encourage myself that there is no shame in reaching out for help in the low moments. There is no shame in admitting that you need prayer or someone to be accountable to in those moments. I actually benefit from checking in with my safe people that never judge the struggle but they just walk with me through those moments praying for me all along the way. We’re going to get through the lows because Jesus is with us. Jesus loves us so much. I believe that his heart is turned towards us in a deeper way in those moments. Don’t be afraid to let him in to those moments. I’m grateful for your presence here. I don’t take it lightly that you would read my words. My hope and prayer is that you will find strength and courage to keep going. I hope you feel less alone.

Father I pray for the one reading these words. I pray that they will feel your presence and know that they are not alone. I pray that they will feel you with them and know that they are surrounded by your overwhelming love. Give them strength for the journey and fill them with your overwhelming peace. In Jesus name. Amen

The Mask We Wear

I was looking at some of the photos my daughter has taken and edited of herself. I’ve always been captivated and intrigued by this one of her. Our daughter is absolutely beautiful but in this mask you can see slight glimpses of her beauty but some of her beauty is hidden behind the mask she is wearing. I must admit that the mask intrigues me. It makes me curious about who is behind the mask and what is she hiding.

I think that as a person who is learning to thrive even with a mental illness diagnosis of depression and anxiety I have worn many mask. I believe I had chosen to wear the mask of happiness because I felt afraid to let others know the deep sadness I faced daily. It felt like no matter what I did, there was this underlining sadness that was always there underneath the surface. It felt like I couldn’t quite be happy enough to make it go away. No matter how many times I put on the mask of happiness it couldn’t change the reality of what was happening in my heart. I truly believe that choosing to wear mask to cover up our mental health struggles are keeping us in a place of hiding and hiding leads to shame. So this post is to talk about the mask we wear to cover up our mental health struggles. I believe sometimes those mask hinder us from receiving the help and support that we truly need. I know hiding it feels safe, it makes you feel like your protecting others from your pain but really you might just be keeping yourself from the real support you need.

Please hear me…..YOU have absolutely positively NOTHING to be ashamed of because you might have some mental health struggles. Please don’t hide this struggle from those who love you and especially those you feel safe with. Sometimes we crack jokes, and make others laugh but inside were hurting. A pain you cannot put into words but it’s there. It’s just as real as the happiness you feel from time to time. Be you, the beautiful authentic, raw, real honest you. You are so brave, you are so strong and more than anything you are capable. I know it can be difficult to navigate the ups and downs of depression. Sometimes the medications seem to treat one part of it and cause difficulty in other parts of it. Just keep going, keep pushing through, keep fighting, keep raising your voice to advocate for your needs to be met. You are not hopeless, you are not worthless….you are worth the son of God’s life. Jesus gave his life for you. I truly believe that the crown of thorns that were placed on Jesus head was for mental health issues. I believe that he allowed that suffering so that we could find peace from our suffering. I hope you can find the courage to take off the mask around those you feel safe with. Be honest with them about where you are with your struggle. Share those thoughts that keep rushing around inside your head that you feel forbidden to share with anyone. Suicidal thoughts can be indicators to the deeper issue that is going on inside. If your depression has taken you into consistent thinking suicidal thoughts, it’s time to reach out for help. Do not allow yourself to suffer in silence. You don’t have to hide behind the mask of happiness, you can get the help you need and truly find a level of happiness. There is joy inside of you just waiting to be discovered.

Just remember the mask we wear to hide our mental health struggles that really need to be brought to the light only hinder us from the help we need. Mental health struggles are no match for who God created you to truly be. Our struggles are a part of us but they don’t define us. Our struggles don’t dictate our destiny. Keep going the light is just beyond the place you lay down the mask.

I see you and I am truly inspired by your courage, faith and strength.

What is the truth?

“Denying the truth doesn’t change the facts”.

There are times when I am really struggling with depression and oftentimes it is hard for me to grasp what is really the truth over the lies screaming at me in those moments. My mind knows the truth but in those moments it feels like the lies beat away at that truth till I am left with what feels right in that moment but not truth. So, I began a practice when the spiral of lies began to drag me into the sadness once again and that is, I take a moment and ask myself, ”What is the truth?” When I do that it gives my mind a moment to consider what is the truth in that moment. My thoughts are something like this. I am having a moment with depression and I am feeling really sad right now, but my truth is that this moment is NOT forever. My truth is that I am stronger than this moment I am having. My truth is I might feel alone in this moment but I am not alone. This is not something that is easy to do because sometimes those moments are so deep, so painful that I am not able to get space freed up to think of those questions and that is where I find myself just saying,”Jesus, Jesus”, and I know he hears me.

Depression lies present as the truth and then they try and surround us with things that look like they support that truth. When I am really struggling the first lie that depression tells me is that no one cares about my struggle and they would be better if they were not having to see me suffer. The lies tell me that I am failing at life. I often see myself as a burden and find myself hiding my struggle rather than reaching out to those who love me and telling them I am having a tough time. I feel like I can do it on my own with medication, prayer and studying my bible without the connection of those who can walk with me. Oftentimes the fight to connect to others feels so scary and often I wonder if it is worth the fight, worth the pressure, worth the feelings of being uncomfortable. The fear of rejection sometimes honestly wins out and I loose the courage to reach out my hand for help. All the things I listed that I use such as prayer, studying my bible, medication, therapy and definitely music that lifts and places my heart in the presence of my Jesus they are all amazing. I must be honest in saying the other one is CONNECTION.

One of my greatest fears is connecting to others and letting them in to me. Letting them in to my heart, letting them see me in all of who I am and who I am not. Connection allows others to see you in that place between who you are fighting to get to and the person you are right in that moment, Oftentime that in between place is not pretty, it is messy but people assigned to walk with you can connect to you and walk right into that place with no judgement. See God connections come with God purpose and no matter how ugly it get, they are in it with you. Did you know that we tend to test those people the most? We test them to see if they will stay. We test them to see if they really care. We test them to see if they really love us. The connection does not happen over night but when it does our hearts find sweet rest in it. We stop fighting it and we just let go and trust God with our heart, knowing that this person is God sent to walk with us in this place.

So, what is the truth? The truth is that depression is real and it is painful but God is right there with us. The truth is you really are amazing and strong. You are not failing right now because your taking medications for anxiety and depression, you are winning. The truth is that no weapon formed against you will prosper, the weapon might be a mental health diagnosis but medication, prayer, therapy and eating right even exercising keeps it from prospering. The truth is the Lord is singing over you beautiful one. The Lord is cheering for you sweet one. Even in our darkest moments God is not pointing his finger at us and saying we disappoint him. In our darkest moments he is not turning his face away from us but honestly he is turning toward our pain. God is reaching into our pain desiring to touch us where we have felt like we could not be touched. My message that I pray you were able to get out of all of this is the truth is God has me and God has YOU. We must fight to hold on to that truth and we must rehearse it to ourselves over and over again.

I want to leave you with one last thought. John 8:32, “And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free”. When I read this as I was writing this post I thought about how we limit this to a one time thing. I believe that in those moments we are struggling in the deep darkness of depression that we have to grab a strong hold of the truth that we KNOW and allow it to set us free. Every single time we have to grab a deep grip on the truth that we have within us and let that truth that we know set us free in those moments. I don’t believe that God is counting how many times we need the truth to set us free as long as we allow it to set us free. Notice that when your struggling and you start speaking truth to those lies they start shrinking in size and loosing their power over you, because the truth is setting you free, let it do it as many times as you need it. I am with you my friend and I am for you.

Prayer:

Lord we need your truth to be greater within us than the lies of the enemy. In those moments when the darkness seems more than we can bare, let the truth of what we know rise and set us free. Lord sometimes the truth of what we know gets so lost in the struggle, in the sadness but in those times please give us strength to fight. Thank you for loving us. Amen