Naomi Judd: A Champion of Hope

Naomi Judd: A Champion of Hope

If you or someone you love are having feelings of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255

As we all have learned on April 30th, one of Country music’s most beloved performers, Naomi Judd, passed away. As it has been widely reported, her daughters shared that she lost her battle with mental illness. Today, on Good Morning America, Ashley Judd how her Mother died and that she had found her. What incredible emotional strength it took for Ashely to do that interview with Diane Sawyer. Personally I’m glad that the Judd sisters are speaking out regarding their Mom’s death and her struggle with mental illness. Only when people talk opening just as they would with any other illness will we really start to breakdown the stigma regarding mental health challenges.

I was deeply honored to be able to speak with Naomi a couple of years ago for the Fresh Hope for Mental Health podcast. She graciously recorded an interview with me that, until now, has gone unpublished. We’ve chosen to release this interview now, not to capitalize on her passing, but rather to honor her strength and help others realize the common challenges that those with a mental health diagnosis must overcome. 

My conversation with her was one of honesty, transparency and hope. She was willing to be vulnerable and share details of the traumas she experienced early in her life, of which there were many. Her innocence, trust and security were abused more than once, if not stolen altogether, and it would be years before she had the resources or support to process all of it.  

In my work with Fresh Hope, we call these traumas “heart wounds.” These kinds of painful experiences can cause a person to feel profound shame, making them prone to facing their deepest struggles alone. They’re wounded and weary, anxious and exhausted. It’s so important to develop tools that can help a person process and begin to find hope and healing. When they don’t have that opportunity, it can make living well nearly impossible. 

When I asked Naomi what motivated her to push through the pain of her youth for as long as she did, she didn’t hesitate in responding that it was her daughters. “You have to have a meaning, a purpose, something to get out bed for,” she shared. “It was my two little girls. They knew we were poor; they knew we weren’t like other people, but we had joy and we loved each other.” 

In recent years, Judd was candid about her battle with suicidal thoughts, debilitating anxiety and the ups and downs of her mental health struggles. Not as many people know that while a single mother, she pursued a nursing degree with the intent of finishing with a medical degree and becoming a doctor. It was her daughter Wynonna’s talent for singing that led them to Nashville where, as we know, their lives took a very different, very successful turn. 

Still, her intellect and aptitude for science led her to learn more about the role that genetics plays in a person’s mental and emotional wellness. She described to me the interplay of heredity (inherited traits that we can’t change), environment (how we were nurtured or not) and what she called “the hopeful part,” our choices.  

In her case, genetics included a long family line of mental health problems and deep traumas, making it even more of an uphill battle to carry the emotional burdens of her early life. Having been placed in psychiatric hospitals three times, at one point she was told, “You’re going to have to work really hard to overcome this.” 

She chose to do exactly that. Though Naomi’s life included some deep lows, she also had many wonderful years of “up seasons” as well. Those “ups” should be credited to the faith, hope and healing she pursued with fervency and the choice she made to fight back.  

One of the things we talk about in our Fresh Hope groups is that hope is a choice. With God, you can take “wishful thinking hope” and make it sure and certain. We get to choose. Are we going to set our minds on being happy? Are we going to love ourselves and appreciate what we have? As Naomi said in our conversation, “One of the most important things I’ve realized is that we’re all in this together. It’s not what happens to you, it’s what you do with it.” 

Although it may seem tragic, there’s a lot of hope in Naomi’s story. If you’re suffering, I want to challenge you to seek the help you need and get involved in a support group. It can make a world of difference. 

If you would like to hear the full conversation with Naomi Judd, please find the link for the interview here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/naomi-judd-live-well-and-be-well/id906407226?i=1000559770889 

Our hearts and prayers go out to Naomi’s entire family. May the Lord give you comfort and in the days and years ahead may you always know how much your Mom loved you both!

Brad Hoefs is a pastor, international speaker and mental health advocate who is passionate about coaching, inspiring and empowering others with hope no matter what circumstance they may be facing. He is best known as the founder and executive director of Fresh Hope for Mental Health, an international network of peer-to-peer Christian mental health support groups and resources. 

Psalms 23: A Widow’s Perspective

Psalms 23: A Widow’s Perspective

“The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.

He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death I fear no evil, for You are with me.

Your rod and Your staff they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

You have anointed my head with oil, my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

During my morning quiet time earlier this week, I had one of those “Aha!” moments that sometimes come to us as we’re reading and thinking. This Psalm speaks of the Valley of the Shadow of Death, and I began to ask myself some questions. What is this Valley? What does it feel like? How do we get there? More importantly, how to we get through it? 

As I did a little research, I learned a couple of interesting things about valleys. A valley is defined as an elongated, somewhat flat area of land lying between two hills, that typically has a river or stream running through it. Since water often symbolizes life, especially in the Scriptures, it didn’t seem logical to equate a valley with Death! But maybe I needed to adjust my thinking about this.

Whenever someone we love dies, we enter the Valley of the Shadow of Death. It is not the reality of death itself, but rather a shadow cast by death into our lives. Being surrounded by a hovering, gray fog. Unable to see the way clearly ahead. Being hemmed in on every side. Feeling like my own life and purpose have died. Intense loneliness. These all describe the Valley of the Shadow of Death. There’s no escape but to go straight through it!

The Valley can bring fear – fear of all kinds of evil – sometimes totally irrational fear. What about my finances? How will I manage? Am I safe in my home? What about my children? Will I be alone for the rest of my life? In this place of shadow, the Lord, the Great Shepherd walks with us. He holds our hand to guide us. He’s not lost because He’s walked this way before. He shines a light on our pathway. He keeps us from falling. 

Perhaps this Valley is a sheltered, well-watered place of protection for me during a time when I’m in danger of losing my way, of being overcome with Shadow. Just maybe I need to change my perspective to understand the purpose of the Valley more clearly.

The Valley is the place where the Shepherd can comfort my heart. He can lead me beside that gently flowing river that drains the spacious grasslands. He brings people into my life to provide community when I’m feeling lonely. He feeds me physically and spiritually and nourishes my emotions. He anoints my thoughts so that they are transformed to thoughts of gratitude. My life overflows with His blessings, and occasionally, the sun even begins to peek through the clouds, bringing joy and gladness. My life is under His mercy, and He promises to be with me forever. That means there’s an end to the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

One day, when our hearts have been sheltered and healed for a time, we will walk out the other end of the Valley into a place of purpose and sunshine. In the middle of the fog, we cannot yet see what will be. But we know one thing to be true, God still has a plan to give us a future and a hope. An overcoming hope. Faith-filled hope that will allow us to thrive and live with a new joy.

Sheryl Gehrls

Founder and Director of Refocusing Widows

refocusingwidows.org

The Hope Factor and what it’s doing through Hope Coaching By Samantha Karraá

The Hope Factor and what it’s doing through Hope Coaching By Samantha Karraá

Have you ever felt stuck in life? What do you do when your circumstances or the pain inside overwhelms your ability to move forward? Have you ever felt like talking to someone might help, but you don’t know who you could talk to or where to begin? What does it take to go from night to light? From loneliness to feeling connected again? From pain to peace? From confusion to clarity? From fear to courage? From trauma to healing? From grief to joy? What does it take to go from hopelessness to hope?

Fresh Hope decided to take action and recruit an army. An army bearing hope. Fresh Hope. And so, we went ahead and gave away 200 scholarships (valued at $12,000 USD): 100 to Spanish speakers in Spain and Latin America in the months of March, and April and 100 additional scholarships to English speaking countries during the months of May and June 2022.

We set out on the first mission to find 100 Spanish speaking men and women who were willing to study to become Hope Coaches as an immediate response to the need. A first step. An emergency reaction to touch a hope starved world.

People started applying for the scholarships as soon as the news went out on our social media. In less than 2 weeks, we had given all the scholarships away to people wanting to become that beacon of light in the midst of the darkness. They represented 13 Spanish speaking countries, as well as Spanish speakers within the US! Perú, Venezuela, Colombia, Chile, El Salvador, Bolivia, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Spain, Switzerland, the USA, Argentina, Mexico and Ecuador; all have people preparing to become Hope Coaches in the upcoming weeks!!!

To become a Hope Coach, you don’t need to be a strong person, have specific previous studies, previous experience, or be as wise as Solomon. To become a Hope Coach, all you need to have is a compassionate heart and be willing and committed to being an instrument in the hands of the Lord.

A Hope Coach is not a counselor or a therapist. Instead, a Hope Coach is a person who has been trained to be an exceptional listener, and to ask the right questions at the right moment to help the other person process the pain and, as they do so, they can begin to see a way forward.

The actions and practices of a Hope Coach are based on 25 years of clinical research of how hope works. When this hope is infused with faith, the results are incredible…! 

“My favorite part of the training was learning how to write a biblical lament”, shared one Hope Coach. “The Stages of the Hope Coaching Process are set out so clearly that it feels as though one is taking the Hope Seeker by the hand and leading him out of a maze of hopelessness” shared another. “I particularly like to use the Mountain of Grief. I have seen people be able to move forward when they understand this truth”.

But that is not the best part! Experience has shown that where a Hope Coach is born, opportunities to make hope contagious arise: Churches asking to have other Hope Coaches trained, people inquiring about how to start a Fresh Hope Support Group. Life will never be the same for a Hope Coach, and Hope Coaching is for everyone! Not just for people with a mental health diagnosis.

A Hope Coach naturally becomes a better friend, a better mom, a better dad, a better spouse, just by using the skills learned in the training. A Hope Coach can serve at his church. A Hope Coach can serve as part of the Fresh Hope Certified Hope Coaches. There’s no limit!!!

So why don’t you take a step forward and become a Hope Coach yourself? Write to samantha@freshhope.us, tell us you read this blog and we will offer a full scholarship to you as well! Expect nothing less than to be filled with hope yourself as you set out to be a vessel of hope… 

Need to talk to a Hope Coach? Do so now by visiting https://freshhope.us/hopecoachmenu.

Click on “Hope Coach Quick Links”, and then on option number 2.

By His Wounds We are Healed

By His Wounds We are Healed

The percentage of incarcerated who have significant, unresolved trauma in their lives is extremely high. For men, in the mid 80 percent range, for women in the high 90s. There are over 2 million incarcerated in the United States.

As I was considering whether I wanted to become a facilitator of trauma healing groups at Douglas County Jail, my primary thought was whether I was capable. After all, it is clear that many, or maybe most of these men and women need therapy, professional help. A very wise person said to me, “Tony, do you think they’re going to get it?”

Well, of course they’re not. 

But here’s the thing. The same may be said for the rest of us. Trauma in our fallen world is so common, so normal, that many of us are unaware of trauma in our lives; or better stated, unaware of the effect it is having. For those who have significant trauma in childhood, it is not surprising that a lifetime of brokenness shows up in relationship issues, addiction and incarceration. Damage often is done way before the realization that a person may need “therapy”.

While leading trauma healing groups I have heard stories that are, a number of adjectives come to mind, but heartbreaking may be the best. I do not know how folks walk around and function on a daily basis with what has happened to them. 

It is surely by the grace of God. He is sustaining them.

And that is what a trauma healing group can do for a person. It shows them the grace of God. It reveals trauma in their lives (some of it unknown) and gives them a chance to face it. And it gives them an opportunity to place it in the hands of our Savior.

It’s easy, for me at least, when thinking of Jesus, to focus on the atonement. The theology. In other words, I’m a sinner in need of a Savior, and that’s what Jesus did when He died on the cross. He saved me! And of course, it is right to think on this. But we should also remember that Jesus spent much of His ministry healing people; He took are illnesses and bore our diseases. He healed the sick. He cast out demons. (Matthew 8:16-17) And when He saw people suffering, He had compassion on them.

Jesus says about Himself that He is gentle and lowly (humble) in heart and if we will but go to Him, we will find rest for our souls. (Matthew 11:29)

And when you see a person give their pain to Jesus, maybe for the first time ever in a trauma healing group, you witness the beginning of change and hope. There’s no magic cure and no excuses. There’s walking through your pain and suffering with God, who knows exactly what it means to suffer. He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

Tony Stella- Married to Lori for 38 years. Retired Nuclear Power Plant Operator Master Facilitator with the Trauma Healing Institute since 2018.

When was the last time something like this happened to you?

When was the last time something like this happened to you?

A few years ago, I came across a Google review of our church. It started off great. The author was complimentary about the kindness of our community, the hospitality of our people, the ministries of the church, etc. He even threw some praise my way. Then, the message turned nasty.

I wouldn’t have been so surprised by the negative shift in tone and content had I noticed that this post was written by someone who was using a fake name. It was shocking to read the false assumptions and half-truths. Even though this treatise was mostly misinformation, misinterpretation and misrepresentation, the words still hurt.

After the initial sting, I realized who wrote the review and knew what had transpired that inspired this scathing report. In the end, it turned out to be an immature response to an offense inflicted by someone other than me. And yet, I (and my wife) were cruelly and unfairly criticized.

To be fair, there were a few unflattering statements that were actually true. Ultimately, the vast majority of the message was inaccurate. Regardless, it triggered a shame response and opened up some wounds. The truth is: we all enter into ministry as flawed and fallen people. Our stories are filled with bumps and bruises. We’ve all faced bullies along the way. We’ve each borne our fair share of trauma, grief and regret. Our hearts have been broken and all our scars aren’t fully healed.

We have heart wounds that are perpetually exposed as we experience the insults, hardship, persecution, and difficulties that occur in pastoral ministry. The struggles and burdens of ministry aggravate old injuries AND cause new wounds. Personally, I long to be like the apostle Paul. I want to wholeheartedly believe that the grace of Christ is sufficient for me and that God’s power is made perfect in weakness. I would love to be relentless and resilient when the thorn digs in and my soul feels weary. Throughout my years in ministry I haven’t always had the resources and support I needed.

That’s why Fresh Hope for Pastors is introducing a new program for ministry leaders called Healing the Heart Wounds of Ministry. We know that serving the Lord in vocational ministry can be overwhelming. Too often, pastors try to put their heads down and power through. Most of the time, we do so in isolation from others. After all, the sheep have teeth and it is sometimes your own congregation that does much of the damage.

You need a safe environment where you can share your story with peers who understand. It’s ok not to be ok. Our Heart Wounds retreats offer the unique opportunity for pastors and their spouses to drop their guard and be honest with folks who will be empathetic and encouraging. And, participants won’t simply benefit during the time that we are together. Our goal is to send you back onto the field with tools and resources that will help you remain hopeful and joyful even as you encounter the challenges of ministry.

Sadly, pastors and spouses endure rejection, criticism and attacks. We go through cycles of grief and loss while carrying the weight of the people we love and serve. It’s a hard job that results in a lot of hurt. It is critical for pastors and their families to stay healthy despite the heart wounds.

Our team of pastors, spouses, trauma experts and behavioral health specialists are committed to caring for you as we explore ways that you can enjoy fruitful ministry and increase the longevity of your calling.

What are some of the most significant wounds that ministry has exposed or inflicted?

How has past hurt emerged as you’ve faced the challenges of ministry?

How do you cope with the pain and find hope in the midst of your struggles? Who reminds you of the resurrection and restoration of Christ?

Jason Moore is the director of Fresh Hope for Pastors. He is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America. Jason is a former church planter and a certified peer coach. He lives with a mood disorder and walks alongside pastors who are facing the challenges of burnout, anxiety, depression, and other mental and emotional health concerns.     

It Begins With a Story

It Begins With a Story

Every life is a story. Moment by moment, the sentences and paragraphs come together, telling a much bigger story of a life lived. One day the story reaches the final period.  Each of us has a story to tell of how we became a widow. Each story is unique, and each one of you is still writing your story. The amazing thing about these stories is that each one has a surprise ending for you to discover!

Writing a blog is a new venture for me, so I’ve decided to begin by sharing a bit of my personal story. Dave and I had been married 48 years when a malignant cancer appeared under his tongue. Like many men, Dave had put off going to the doctor thinking there was an irritation that needed to heal on its own. At his first visit to the ENT specialist, the doctor scheduled a procedure to remove the affected area and surrounding tissue. That day began a series of surgeries to remove additional small sections of his tongue until we got clear margins.

In January of 2018 the surgeon pronounced him cancer-free with no need to check-in for 6 months. At 5 months Dave became concerned about a small lump he could feel in the side of his neck. The PET scan was moved up, and sure enough — a new cancer appeared in a lymph node in his neck. The ENT surgeon began another surgery to remove it, but decided it was too complex for him. So, he closed and referred us to a Head & Neck specialist at the Buffet Cancer Center in Omaha. And that’s where this present story began.

In August 2018, Dave underwent a 16-hour surgery that removed about half of his tongue, 3 inches of the jugular vein, and most of the muscle on the left side of his neck, as well as a large malignant tumor and 40 lymph nodes. He nearly died twice more during that weekend, had two more emergency surgeries, and spent 5 days on a ventilator. A team of over 30 people worked on him, including a truly brilliant head and neck surgeon, and an equally brilliant reconstructive surgeon. They assured me it was a textbook procedure, that all had gone perfectly, and that Dave should make a complete recovery.

Eight months, 33 radiation treatments, 7 chemo treatments, countless surgical procedures, and hundreds of appointments later, the oncologist stood by Dave’s bedside with me and said, “I don’t know what to tell you. Everything we tried didn’t kill it! There’s nothing more we can do.” That was probably the worst day of our 50 years together. Five days later, Dave heard the Father call his name, and he went right around the cancer into the arms of Jesus.

So, suddenly I became a widow.

That changed every single thing about my life. Every. Single. Thing.

I had more questions than I had answers. A veritable mountain of paperwork stood before me. I suddenly felt like the most intimidated, incompetent person ever to live on the planet. An unending path extended before me, and I had to walk it alone. My kids and grandkids were wonderful…no doubt about it. But I still had to adjust to being alone and making ALL the decisions. Fifty years of marriage had created a comfortable division of labor, and now that was gone. I was now half of a couple learning how to be an “I” after fifty years of being “We”.

As I researched resources for widows, I found lots and lots of grief groups. However, I found very little that actually focused on moving a widow from looking at the past to anticipating the future. One night I saw the fascinating image of a kaleidoscope. As I watched, a slight twist moved a beautiful pattern, and it went completely out of focus. When things turned slightly again, a new and just as beautiful pattern emerged. And suddenly, Refocusing Widows was born in my heart and mind.

In these posts I’ll be speaking from my heart to your heart about the issues that we face as widows. From a faith-based perspective, I know that each of you reading this has a joyful, fulfilling life ahead of you. Faith-filled Hope will motivate you and catapult you into thriving in spite of the trauma of losing your spouse.

What does your story of becoming a widow look like? There are nearly 285 million widowed individuals in the world. You are not alone in all that you’re experiencing. I’d love to hear your story and watch the surprise ending unfold with you. Please feel free to send your thoughts and comments or share your journey with me at sheryl@freshhope.us. I look forward to hearing from you!

Sheryl Gehrls

Founder and Director of Refocusing Widows

Embracing Your Purpose in the Midst of a Pandemic Hit World

Embracing Your Purpose in the Midst of a Pandemic Hit World

I had to look twice, blink and open my eyes wide when I first read the news: “Cheslie Kryst: Former Miss USA dead at 30*”. She died by suicide this last weekend of January 2022 in Manhattan. The sad news featured a contrasting picture of Cheslie- beautiful, smiling and radiant. Among other things Chelsie was lawyer. A sister. A daughter.

 

As one who has dealt with anxiety, depression and even suicidal impulses myself, my heart was racing as I read the devastating news. It was filled, not only with the sorrow that such news brings, but also with a deep sense of the urgency to reach out to those who are being hit by mental health issues.

 

A follower of Christ, diagnosed with bipolar disorder some years ago, I had tasted the bitter waters of mood disorders and what they can do to a person and to a family if they remain undiscovered or untreated. I love Jesus with all my heart and the gospel is everything for me, and still, I had experienced the hopelessness of depression in my own skin. It was only by God´s grace that I was led to “Fresh Hope for Mental Health” and had come to know their recovery principles as well as the real life stories of those who were living full and rich lives in spite of mental health issues.

 

And now here I am living in a world hit by the COVID-19 Pandemic, with strong wake up calls such as Cheslie´s tragic death.

 

Although we do not know exactly what was going on for Cheslie in particular, it is nothing new to say that the COVID-19 Pandemic has caused a mental health pandemic. Fear of death, isolation, financial stress, are just some of the examples of things we are now having to deal with on a daily basis. The Lancet reports that cases of mental disorders have skyrocketed during the pandemic, including 53 million new cases of major depressive disorder and 76 million new cases of anxiety disorder.** At the same time, mental health services have become more and more scarce.

 

But this is not a blog to highlight how dire the situation is- instead, I would like to speak in the name of Hope. It is not by chance that you and I are alive during a time like this! And it does not matter if your life´s circumstances are not perfect. The truth is, the Lord wants to use you just as you are. Just like Noah, Moses, Ruth, Esther, you and I have been born for a time such as this…! We are meant to make a difference in our little corner of the world.

 

First of all, take care of yourself: spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally. We cannot help others unless we first help ourselves. For instance, when you travel on an airplane you are instructed to make sure you get your oxygen mask on first should oxygen levels drop in the cabin. You then help those around you. Similarly, you must make sure to take care of yourself so that you can then be of help to those around you.

·        Don´t isolate. Connect with other people through meaningful relationships.  

·        Keep strong communication with God.

·        Feed your mind with the truth of His Word.

·        Make exercise a part of your daily routine.

·        If you take medicine for your mental health, don’t miss a doctor´s appointment and take your medicine as prescribed.

·        If you still don´t attend, consider attending a Fresh Hope Group. Here you can find a list of available groups www.freshhope.us Or you can email me at samantha@freshhope.us so that I help you find one online.

·        Request connecting to a Hope Coach. You can do so by going to https://freshhope.us/hope-coach-connector/ and filling out the form so that a Hope Coach contact you.

 

Once you have taken action to care for yourself, go ahead and embrace your purpose by spreading the hope! This might mean for example that you:

·        Keep your eyes and ears open to opportunities to help those around you.

·        Are intentional about checking in with your loved ones.

·        Say a prayer for those who are sick

·        Do an act of kindness for somebody working in our Health System

·        Send a basket with basic items to that neighbor who has lost a job.

·        Become a Hope Coach. ´Fresh Hope offers a Hope Coach Training. We train you to become an exceptional listener who knows how to ask the right questions to help the other person process their pain and, in doing so, go from a place where they are feeling stuck and hopeless, to a place where they can actually see a way forward. Visit https://freshhope.us/product/hope-coach-training/ to access our training today!

·        Offer a Processing Together Group.

Processing Together is a curriculum by Fresh Hope consisting of a 4 Sessions Study in order to help overcome a shared crisis or natural disaster. You can access it here for FREE https://freshhope.us/product/processing-together/

 

Embrace your purpose…!! In doing so, you will be strengthening not only the mental health of those around you but your own mental health as well! I propose you start now by taking a moment to say a prayer for Cheslie`s family, and by sharing this blog with people you love.

 

How are you Taking Care of Yourself? How are you Embracing your Purpose?

 

 

 

*https://www.bbc.com/

**Institute for New Economic Thinking (ineteconomics.org)

Handling the Holidays in a Healthy Way

Handling the Holidays in a Healthy Way

When we choose to engage our holiday season in healthy ways, we will get out of it what we put into it. You reap what you sow, therefore we will grow what we tend. Tending to our family relationships, no matter how dysfunctional they can be, is the mark of a caring, maturing Christian.

Reconciliation is a big word that doesn’t come easily for most of us. At least one party must swallow his or her pride for there to be any forward movement in healing and restoration.

Here are some ideas of what you can do to start a strained relationship on its path to healing and growth:

  1. Set healthy boundaries first.

We’ve all heard about them and know of them but putting them into practice can be more difficult than it appears. 

Take time to review what boundaries are, and if you need to, practice them with a spouse or close family member. It’s always easier said than done. 

When you may need to establish these boundaries, it’s better to have them and not need them than need them and not have them under your belt. 

  1. Engage in a dialog, but don’t bring up the past unless necessary.

For strained relationships with other family, you could ignore them and set up distance between you, or you could engage with them and hear them out. 

One of Dale Carnegie’s Top Ten golden rules in winning friends and influencing people is “listen to and be genuinely interested in the other person.” 

Everyone loves to talk about themselves. Without judgmental attitude, ask them open-ended, meaningful questions and see where that leads them. 

Who knows, you may find you have more in common than you thought, or you may open the door to a means of reconciliation.

  1. Offer forgiveness and mercy if you’ve been wronged.

If they offended you, you may want to clear the air. If it’s not an obvious offense, like they never replied to your Facebook event invite, let it go. 

If it’s something more straightforward like a blatant rumor they started, said something insincere and insensitive to you outright, ignored your hospitalization in the psych ward, haven’t seen you in years and you have an obvious (to you) gap in the proximity of your relationship, you may want to take it a step further. 

If you can’t move forward without some kind of closure or reconciliation, approach them in a kind and loving way. 

Start off with speaking with them one-on-one if it’s something more personal, and pray for wisdom and the words to say. 

  1. Ask for forgiveness if you have wronged another.

If you’re the one in the relationship that may have done something wrong—and sometimes it’s harder to tell if it goes unspoken—but if you have doubts or concerns, say something. 

Maybe you didn’t do anything wrong by them, best case scenario, and maybe you did do something wrong. 

If you did, ask for their forgiveness. Admit you have offended them and hurt them. Apologize intentionally and meaningfully.

 It’s so imperative that you get one to one with them and in as private a space as possible (within reason) to resolve the offense.

  1. Place the relationship in God’s hands.

God knows we are weak, near-sighted, and a lot of times blind toward our own faults. Within ourselves we are faulty, so it’s likely our brokenness with another will have a byproduct of broken and faulty relationships at times. 

Whether we are the ones pulling more weight or not pulling enough of the yoke, there is never a bad time to put the relationship into Christ’s healing hands. 

Remember Peter, who denied Jesus three times? Remember how Jesus asked him three times if Peter loved him? 

Jesus wants to restore our relationships with others just as His and Peter’s was. No matter how destructive a person has been, so long as God’s mercies are new every morning, we are able to give each other second chances, within healthy limits. 

And when we are at the end of ourselves, He has it under control. When it seems helpless, God makes a way.

  1. Pray and wait for growth.

Good habits and healthy behaviors take time to learn and adjust to. The other party may be aware that they need to change, now that you’ve cleared the air. 

Pray for them, and pray for you, to grow, to change, to become more like Jesus.

To take it a step further, suggest praying together.

  1. Optional step: document your journey

The neat thing about keeping journals or documenting our story is that when you look back at it, you eventually get to see how much you’ve learned, grown and changed! 

It’s amazing that it not only hones your writing skills, it develops your sense of introspection, and you see just how far you’ve come. 

Maybe by next year, the holiday season will be more of a welcome time with those family members that otherwise got under your skin. 

Maybe you’ll look forward to the gatherings more. 

Maybe you’ll love more. 

Isn’t that something we all can work on? 

I hope these suggestions encourage you to approach your holiday season with family in a deeper, healthier and God-honoring way. May God grant you grace and patience to handle the holidays and family gatherings.

About the author: Hey there! I’m Katie Dale, familiar with the storms of mental illness, and I blog about my faith and how it has informed my brain-based disorder at KatieRDale.com. I also have a memoir out about my journeys through the psych wards and how I found peace of mind with psych meds (by the grace of God) – you can find it on Amazon here. Come find me and say hi on social media @KatieRDale.

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.

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10 Biblical Principles for Improving Your Mental Health (Part 1 of 2)

10 Biblical Principles for Improving Your Mental Health (Part 1 of 2)

The Bible is full of wisdom for living a successful, God-honoring life. We are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. If we want to address our personhood in full, we can’t overlook our mind and how we handle its health. The following principles are derived from passages in Scripture that can help us understand how God values our mental wellbeing and the spirit seated within.

Principle #1: Express your hurts and frustrations 

In numerous passages in the Psalms, we see David cry out to the Lord in his pain and troubles. Examples of his fears, doubts, hurts, and sorrow can be found throughout the book of Psalms. 

As a general interpretation, David’s example sometimes echoes and foreshadows the pain and trials Christ ends up enduring hundreds of years later. 

There is nothing unacceptable about letting God know exactly how we feel. Being authentic and identifying our true feelings is our first step in healing. 

This also deepens our relationship to Him as He can better minister to us once we’ve opened our heart to Him.

Principle #2: Seek and find

Jesus tells parables about seeking and finding in a few places in the New Testament:

  • The woman in her house looking for her missing coin (Luke 15:8)
  • The shepherd who goes out to find the sheep leaving ninety-nine behind to find one (Matthew 18:12)
  • The scripture in Proverbs 25:2, says it is “the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.” 

God wants us to ask and seek and knock to get the answers and solutions we’re looking for. 

In a similar vein, medicine for our mental health and the best treatment methods are a trial-and-error search for the best concoction of medicines our minds will tolerate and that will help them perform to the best of their ability. 

Our mental wellbeing can need the chemicals our brains may not produce enough of. I tell many clients and those looking for peace of mind in their search for the best combination of dosage that it truly is a process. 

And asking the Lord to lead the way to find that best dosage is a prayer He will surely help answer. I know, because he has for me, and many others. 

And one of my favorite verses that assures we find when we seek is Jeremiah 29:13: “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” – what a promising promise!

Principle #3: Call on God’s name and cling to His promises

God wants us to call on His name and instructs us to in many places in the Bible (Acts 22:16, Romans 10:13, 1 Corinthians 1:2, 2 Timothy 2:22). It usually comes in the form of a promise too, assuring His children that when we call our God by name, He is faithful and able to meet us where we are at and help move us forward. 

In our mental health, sometimes there seems to be a dead-end or a huge roadblock. Perhaps we’re stuck in depression or continuing in a battle of anxiety. 

God challenges us that no matter the situation, when His name is called on, He will deliver. 

Sometimes that’s all a prayer has to be. 

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe” (Proverbs 18:10).

Principle #4: Account for your thoughts

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled” (2 Corinthians 10:4-6). 

This verse couldn’t be clearer. There are a few reasons why this order in practice can be helpful to our mental health. 

For one, accounting for what enters our mind, stays in our mind, visits our mind, and what we allow to entertain us in thoughts can directly influence our feelings and behaviors. 

This is a simple, known principle even in psychology: what and how we think will affect our feelings and behaviors. 

But God’s laws are as universal as the laws of science, so it would align with a science-based tenet, wouldn’t it? 

God knew what he was talking about when he gave this command through the Apostle Paul. 

You might of heard the saying, “Change your mind, change your life.” 

When we become alert and mindful of the thoughts in our head, we can identify what is true and of Christlikeness, and what is half-true or entirely false. 

Identify with the Truth, filtering each of our thoughts through God’s Word, and we’ll improve our outlook on life significantly.

Principle #5: Think good thoughts

Philippians 4:8 says “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things”.

What could be more straightforward than that? The author of this book tells us what kind of thoughts to dwell on. 

But, easier said than done, right? 

I encourage you to filter the thoughts through these descriptors as you’re taking them captive like the principle (account for your thoughts) above suggests. 

Ask yourself, is that thought true? Noble? Just? Pure? Lovely? Good news? Praiseworthy? Virtuous? 

If any answers are no, kick it to the curb.

Your mind doesn’t need to stay on that channel. 

In fact, to prevent your mind from absorbing that condition of thoughts, be on guard against what you’re letting your eyes and ears see and hear.

Limiting television and social media by instituting blocked channels or types of content can be a real mind-saver. And limiting your time on them is possible with apps that you can download to your phone and computer.

For the five remaining Biblical principles that will help your mental health, see my post on my site, Part 2 of 2 here.
About the author: Hey there! I’m Katie Dale, familiar with the storms of mental illness, and I blog about my faith and how it has informed my brain-based disorder at KatieRDale.com. I also have a memoir out about my journeys through the psych wards and how I found peace of mind with psych meds (by the grace of God) – you can find it on Amazon here. Come find me and say hi on social media @KatieRDale.

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.

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October – Attention Deficit Disorder Awareness and Mobilization Month (ADHD) By Christian Coleman-Jones

October – Attention Deficit Disorder Awareness and Mobilization Month (ADHD) By Christian Coleman-Jones

Every year in October, ADHD Awareness Month is celebrated. The function of this month is to promote awareness among the public of what ADHD is, its causes, symptoms and treatments. 

I’ll be honest with you, before writing this blog, I didn’t really know what I wanted to say. Perhaps the pressures and push and pull of my life led me to think that it was not a topic of much interest among you. But I was wrong. I had the wrong topic. I was so busy with my own ADHD care, of understanding where it comes from in terms of neuroscience, that I had been distracted from what was most important. The issue is not ADHD awareness, the issue is the awareness that we must have day to day, that our lives are governed by Christ, if we are in Him. The main theme is Christ.

Yes, definitely the main theme, the preeminent theme in our complete and whole lives, is Christ. Once we have the main theme defined, we can then go back to what we thought was the main theme and let all the truths be filtered through Christ.

It is important that we know scientifically how the symptoms we suffer from are understood. We are used to use in our conversations, among ourselves and among family or friends, words like: deficiency, ailment, disease, disorder, among others, that do not really help in our growth or recovery process. For example, we use the word “disorder” before “deficit” as part of the acronym ADHD.

The most recent and most credible studies among first world scientists suggest, in some cases, that there is not a disorder or a deficiency, but a difference between those of us who are neurodivergent and those who are neurotypical. The word neurodivergent is used to describe the mind that is neurologically atypical or different from the mind that is seen in greater proportions in neuroscience. The word neurotypical describes the mind that falls on the typical spectrum. I will use these words to avoid having to adopt the terms: deficiency, disorder or irregular – although it is important to note that there are neurological deficiencies that require treatment, as we will see below. However, the words are important. Let us use those that are edifying and let us not use those that do not edify us, within the truth given by the Word and science.

In society in general, historically and culturally, ADHD has been known as a neurodivergence of children with inattention or hyperactivity. It had not been recognized, until recently, that these symptoms could persist into their 40s or 50s, undiagnosed. In addition, it is beginning to be recognized that the real and characteristic symptoms of ADHD are:

  1. Poor emotional regulation.
  2. Impairment of executive functions.
  3. Dysphoria sensitive to rejection.

You may have noticed that none of these three characteristics mentions inattention or hyperactivity. It is being recognized that the ADHD sufferer has a unique ability to pay attention to things, to things that are rewarding. In fact, I can be in front of the computer for 4 hours non-stop dedicated to a subject that gives me a lot of satisfaction to explore. On the other hand, it costs me horrors to start a task and finish it, if it does not satisfy me. It is not as easy as saying: “if you were more dedicated, you could do it” or, “give it your best shot”, you get the point. No, the mind that does not respond to the lack of gratification will not generate enough motivation to start and sometimes finish a boring task. This is not a matter of behavioral motivation that can be modified with personal effort, any more than a person with a broken leg can alter the pace of his recovery with words.

Lack of emotional regulation is a hallmark among people with ADHD. Have you noticed it? Perhaps you know someone with this diagnosis who has difficulty controlling their anger or controlling their impulsivity. In addition to the lack of emotional control, we feel all emotions intensely. If something gives us joy, we feel it very intensely, to such a degree that sometimes we do not know when it is time to stop. When we feel or perceive that someone may have rejected us, we feel that rejection with great intensity, immediately and for a long time. 

The executive function of the brain is what regulates organization, timing, the ability to prioritize, determine the consequences of our actions, and the list goes on. When the executive function is impaired, it can lead to procrastination, procrastination, procrastination, failure to recognize the importance of tasks, in short, it is an extremely important function that can determine the course of any neurodivergent person’s life.

The brain is also no longer recognized as an organ that places its functions in separate compartments, but rather operates in a manner similar to the way networks function in computing. When one network cannot transmit information to another network, all the associated networks may fail. In a very general way, this is how it is beginning to be recognized that our brain works. It is a network of networks, working in an integrated way, so much so that when one network fails, the others can be affected in the same way.

¿Observaron cuánta información puede haber en tres simples características? ¿Pensaron que el TDAH sería más complejo de lo que se imaginaron? No soy científico, ni médico, ni psiquiatra, ni psicólogo. Solo me interesa saber qué es lo que está pasando. Por favor, tomen lo que he descrito arriba como un ejemplo de la cantidad de información que se puede obtener con dedicación. No es mi intención reemplazar la opinión médica y profesional que tengan, no se apoyen en mis observaciones como verdades absolutas. Ustedes también pueden recopilar información para poder entender y para poder explicar. 

Did you notice how much information can be contained in three simple characteristics? Did you think that ADHD would be more complex than you imagined? I am not a scientist, not a doctor, not a psychiatrist, not a psychologist. I am just interested in knowing what is going on. Please take what I have described above as an example of the amount of information that can be obtained with dedication. It is not my intention to replace whatever medical and professional opinion you have, do not rely on my observations as absolute truths. You too can gather information to understand and to explain. 

Perhaps you do not suffer from ADHD, but you will have personal questions that could be clarified if a little more research were done, or perhaps you want to break down the cultural barriers that exist in our societies about mental health. The key is in the study. 

This brings us now to the main topic of this blog – Christ. For by Him, for Him and through Him all things were created (Colossians 1:16-18). No exceptions, no compartments, everything was created by and for Him. That includes our minds. He is the one who governs and controls the functions of our brain. Every one of those functions, millions of them, occurring simultaneously in fractions of a second, respond to the sovereignty of Christ. 

Yes, we believe that God is good and that He does everything for a good purpose. That our God is a God of love (1 John 4), is our peace (John 14:27), who commands all things to work for our good (Romans 8:28) and our hope (1 John 5:13-14; 1 Peter 1:3-6; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18; John 4:13-14).

We place our hope every day in Christ, not in science as an autonomous and sufficient solution. We need science to understand, we need medicine to heal, and we need understanding to converse with others. 

God is sovereign. He uses the means necessary for His purpose to be fulfilled (Isaiah 43 and 46), not a word He utters flies back to Him void. God’s purpose is always fulfilled. Therefore, it is important to study and know what we suffer from, for that is where we can begin to see what God’s purpose is in the condition of our mental health. God does not make mistakes.

Let us celebrate World Mental Health Day and ADHD Awareness Month, knowing that Christ rules all and that, therefore, with or without knowledge, we are guaranteed our hope, the only hope that, like His mercy, is new every morning.

Christian F. Coleman-Jones

Note: This blog contains information about suffering from ADHD. It is a personal experience and should not be taken as scientific or medical observation nor should it replace the opinions and recommendations of a physician. Seek the advice of your physician or professional at all times.
Information compiled from various documents issued on www.additudemag.com.