Pastor Brad Hoefs

Pastor | Author | Speaker | Hope Coach | Mental Health Advocate

What Kind of Noise Do You Hear?

What Kind of Noise Do You Hear?

Noise. It’s ALWAYS going on. Even if you have all the electronic items off, there is still noise. You still hear cars, the refrigerator running, the air conditioner/heater, etc. I asked my husband what sounds he hears at night when he is hunting in Colorado; he said the wind or coyotes. In the mornings when he’s hunting, he will hear ground squirrels and birds. He said the most quiet it gets is when a storm is coming.

Wherever we go in our day-to-day lives, there are noises. When we are shopping, we hear overhead music, announcements, or people talking while waiting in line. You may be at a sporting event where people might not be happy about what’s going on and maybe they are yelling bad things, possibly cussing. You could be at home with your family watching a TV show, but the commercial shows things you don’t want your children to see.

However, we hear good things too! Riding in the car we put on Christian music. At some type of tournament or competition, you might hear people around you talk about how good a particular child did or how kind they are. At work, you might hear someone tell another person how nice someone is or they enjoy working with them.

So that brings me to the next thought…do you have “noise” inside your own head? I believe we all do; some good and bad; some positive and some negative. This noise can be anything from planning your day, deciding what you’re going to wear, accomplishments you want to achieve in the future or maybe things you didn’t achieve in the past.

In the morning, as soon as I wake up, even before me eyes open, my mind starts moving/making noise. I sometimes wonder where the thoughts come from. I’ve been paying more attention to the noises in my head. It’s almost like a conversation going on; me talking to myself back and forth. I may think “I’m going to go to the gym tonight, but then I hear myself say no you’re not. You’ll be too tired and lazy. You know you’ll give up.” And there are many other noises just like this one. There is not a time during our waking hours when the noise stops. I wish there was an off button so I could turn off all the noise.

In the Bible, even David had problems with noise/thoughts in his head. In Psalm 13:2 NIV he writes “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?”

I/We need to work on the kind of noises we have in our heads. The fact is we all face these problems. The majority of the time we do not realize what we are saying to ourselves. Here are some helpful things we can practice so the noises in our heads change from negative to positive:

1) Pay attention to what you are thinking about.
2) Ask yourself if it is positive. If not change the thought. Hebrews 3:1 says “fix your thoughts on Jesus”
3) Every time you think a bad or negative thought, do what Romans 12:2 says “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Think of what God says about that particular thought. As an example: You might say to yourself I’m so unattractive, but that is not what God thinks about us. In Psalm 139:14 God says “you are fearfully and wonderfully made.”
4) Replace the bad with good and negative with positive.

What are the noises/thoughts in your head?

2017 Inspiring Hope Awards Presentation on April 6th, 2017

2017 Inspiring Hope Awards Presentation on April 6th, 2017

We apologize that when we sent this out yesterday that the link did not work for the video.  Today, we’ve embedded the video for you to watch!  We hope you do so and share it with your friends and family!

On Thursday night, April 6th, in Omaha, Nebraska we held our second annual Night of Inspiring Hope Gala.  CHI Healthcare hosted the event at their Omaha corporate headquarters.  Over 250 people were in attendance.  Sheila Walsh was our main speaker. It was a wonderful evening!

One part of the evening was the formal presentation of this year’s Inspiring Hope Awards to five Fresh Hope group members from across the United States.  It was a real inspiration to hear their stories.  The awards were given by last year’s recipients of the Inspiring Hope awards.  We’ve included the video from that night.  It was our first real attempt to stream live an event.  However, due to last minute problems with our set up for the live streaming we had to revert to using a cell phone in order to stream it.  But, we believe even though it was done on a smart phone- you can still appreciate the emotions and inspiration of the presentations.

By the way, included in this video is also author, Amy Simpson’s, receiving the Inspiring Hope award along with her brief message.  By next week we hope to have to you Sheila Walsh’s message from April 6th.

Enjoy!  And my you find great hope and inspiration in this video!  

2017 Presentation of the Inspiring Hope Awards

Presentation of the 2017 National Inspiring Hope Awards Along with the Video Prior to the Awards Being Presented from Brad Hoefs on Vimeo.

By the way, feel free to share this with your friends on social media!

Finding The Source Of Your Fears by Stan Popovich

Finding The Source Of Your Fears by Stan Popovich

A sure way to overcoming your fears and anxieties is in finding the source of your fears and being able to manage it. In dealing with any kinds of fears or anxieties, try to learn what is the real source of your fears and anxieties. Knowing what is causing your anxieties can go a long way in finding the solution.

A person can find the source of his or her own fears by doing some self-evaluation and also by talking to a professional. Asking yourself questions such as: “Why am I afraid” or “What is causing my anxiety” will lead you in the right direction in finding the source of your fears. Give it some time and eventually you will find the answers your looking for.

Once you find the true source of your fears, the next step is to find the solutions that will solve your problem. With the help of a professional, write down a list of possible techniques and solutions that you think will manage your fear and anxieties. The next step is to apply the techniques that you uncovered. Here is a brief list of some techniques you can use to help deal with your fears.

A good way to manage your worry is to challenge your negative thinking with positive statements and realistic thinking. When encountering thoughts that make your fearful or anxious, challenge those thoughts by asking yourself questions that will maintain objectivity and common sense.

Be smart in how you deal with your fears and anxieties. Do not try to tackle everything all at once. When facing a current or upcoming task that overwhelms you with a lot of anxiety, break the task into a series of smaller steps. Completing these smaller tasks one at a time will make the stress more manageable and increases your chances of success.

Learn to take it one day at a time. Instead of worrying about how you will get through the rest of the week or coming month, try to focus on today. Each day can provide us with different opportunities to learn new things and that includes learning how to deal with your problems. When the time comes, hopefully you will have learned the skills to deal with your situation.

Sometimes we encounter a scary situation that gets us all upset. When encountering these events, always remember to get all of the facts of the given situation. Gathering the facts can prevent us from relying on exaggerated and fearful assumptions. By focusing on the facts, a person can rely on what is reality and what is not.

In every anxiety-related situation you experience, begin to learn what works, what doesn’t work, and what you need to improve on in managing your fears and anxieties. For instance, you have a lot of anxiety and you decide to take a walk to help you feel better. The next time you feel anxious you can remind yourself that you got through it the last time by taking a walk. This will give you the confidence to manage your anxiety the next time around.

Many people try to get rid of their anxieties and fears without taking into consideration why they are afraid. The best way to get rid of your fears is to find those techniques that will manage the true source of your fears. If you can do this, then you should be able to overcome your fears and anxieties.

2017 Inspiring Hope Awards Presentation on April 6th, 2017

2017 Inspiring Hope Awards Presentation on April 6th, 2017

On Thursday night, April 6th, in Omaha, Nebraska we held our second annual Night of Inspiring Hope Gala.  CHI Healthcare hosted the event at their Omaha corporate headquarters.  Over 250 people were in attendance.  Sheila Walsh was our main speaker. It was a wonderful evening!

One part of the evening was the formal presentation of this year’s Inspiring Hope Awards to five Fresh Hope group members from across the United States.  It was a real inspiration to hear their stories.  The awards were given by last year’s recipients of the Inspiring Hope awards.  We’ve included the video from that night.  It was our first real attempt to stream live an event.  However, due to last minute problems with our set up for the live streaming we had to revert to using a cell phone in order to stream it.  But, we believe even though it was done on a smart phone- you can still appreciate the emotions and inspiration of the presentations.

By the way, included in this video is also author, Amy Simpson’s, receiving the Inspiring Hope award along with her brief message.  By next week we hope to have to you Sheila Walsh’s message from April 6th.

Enjoy!  And my you find great hope and inspiration in this video!  

Click on this link and it will take you to the video on YouTube:  

2017 Presentation of the Inspiring Hope Awards

By the way, feel free to share this with your friends on social media!

Here’s a few pictures from the Night of Inspiring Hope

 

You Are Here to Make a Difference

You Are Here to Make a Difference

It is not easy for me to take a compliment or say something good about myself.  I was in counseling for quite some time before I could even say out loud “I matter”.  The first time my counselor had me say it, I cried.  I didn’t believe it.  I did not feel like I mattered to myself or anyone else.  It wasn’t because someone was mean to me or bad things had happened to me. It was what I believed of myself.  Many people, do not think good things of themselves. Here are just 4 things God says you are:

Loved/Chosen – I am greatly loved by God. Col. 3:12

Forgiven – I am forgiven of all my sins & washed in the Blood. Eph 1:17

Fearless – For God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, love and a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

Warrior – I can quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one with my shield of faith. Eph 6:16

There are so many more things God says we are. I chose these 4 words because most of us do not feel this way at all. Even on a good day, I struggle with believing what God says about me. I don’t doubt God; it is me who has a hard time believing any one feels that way about me. But God said it in His Word that we are each of these things.

My friends, let this soak into your soul. You ARE chosen by the Almighty God because He loves you. He made you ON PURPOSE. He FORGIVES you of all your sins if you ask Him to. He has also made you a FEARLESS WARRIOR.

Another very important reason you matter because we have a purpose. Even though we have a diagnosis of a mental disorder or a lable of some kind, Romans 8:28 (NASB) says, “And we know God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

He will work things out for good. I believe with my whole heart that the things we go through are to help others when they go through them. We have felt alone at times, ashamed, or embarrassed but there is someone out there who feels the same way and needs help just like we did and do. That’s our purpose. That’s how we make a difference.

2 Corinthians 1:4 (The Message) says “He comes along side us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us along side someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.

That verse also says YOU MATTER. He has given us a purpose. Let’s use all the tools, ideas, and help others and God has given us to help someone else.

The Importance of Moving Toward as Opposed to Moving Away

The Importance of Moving Toward as Opposed to Moving Away

In this edition of Fresh Hope for Mental Health, Brad discusses the importance of moving toward something as opposed to moving away from something.

After listening to this podcast we encourage you to email Brad at pastorbrad@freshhope.us with a comment or question that we will share on our next podcast.  Or you can leave a voice message for us on the site: www.FreshHope4MentalHealth.com

You can access this podcast by clicking on this icon:FH PodCastArt (160dpi) 02_Splash 480x854

 

You can listen to this podcast via Apple Podcasts on iTunes by clicking on this icon:Listen_on_Apple_Podcasts_CMYK_US

Pastor Brad Hoefs, host of Fresh Hope for Mental Health, is the founder of Fresh Hope Ministries, a network of Christian mental health support groups for those who have a diagnosis and their loved ones. In other words, Fresh Hope is a Christian mental health support group.

Brad was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1995. He is a weekly blogger for www.bphope.com (Bipolar Magazine). He is also a certified peer specialist and has been doing pastoral counseling since 1985. Brad is also the author of Fresh Hope: Living Well in Spite of a Mental Health Diagnosis, which is available on Amazon or at: http://www.FreshHopeBook.com

If you are interested in more information about Fresh Hope go to http://www.FreshHope.us or email info@FreshHope.us or call 402.932.3089.

To donate to Fresh Hope, go to: http://freshhope.us/donate/

For a complete list of where Fresh Hope groups are presently meeting go to www.FreshHope.us and click on “find a group.”  Or you may attain an online group of meeting of Fresh Hope by going to www.FreshHopeMeeting.com

If you are interested in starting a Fresh Hope group within your faith community contact Julie at Julie@FreshHope.us 

Fresh Hope for Mental Health is a production of Fresh Hope Ministries. 

Fresh Hope Ministries is a non-profit ministry.  

The copyrights of this program belong to Fresh Hope Ministries and may not be duplicated without written permission.

All the podcasts of Fresh Hope Today as well as numerous other videos are all available on our YouTube channel: Fresh Hope Network

Fresh Hope for Mental Health is on Facebook at  www.Facebook.com/FreshHopeforMentalHealth

Life Is 10% What Happens to You and 90% How You React to It

Life Is 10% What Happens to You and 90% How You React to It
This past year my wife and I went to my 40th high school class reunion. I had not seen many of my classmates since graduation. So, you can imagine how strange it was to see them after so many years of life. Fortunately, those in charge of the event provided us nametags to wear that not only had our name on it but also our senior class picture. And boy was that helpful!

I found myself reflecting the entire evening about how fast life goes and how no one’s life necessarily turns out like they thought it would. When you have not seen someone for 40 years, you could see in their physical appearance the toll of living. Of course, we all had aged (some better than others). And our journeys have been very different. But, it seems that even though the journeys have been very different, there is a common thread that life weaves in each person’s journey. That thread is made up of joy, happiness, disappointments, hurts, fears, brokenness, grief, hopes, mistakes, success, failures, dreams lived and many dreams lost. I could see in my classmate’s eyes that disappointments and brokenness had taken their toll. Living life can take the life out of you.

So, why do I share this with you? Here’s why I share it: life brings with it a lot of disappointments, pain and brokenness. It’s part of the human condition. And life keeps going on whether or not you are stuck in those things. See, I believe that you and I can easily get into a mindset that having mental health diagnosis “ruins” your life and we can begin to think that we can’t move forward in life and enjoy it. The truth is that everyone faces something in life. Living can quickly suck the life right out of any and everyone. Bipolar disorder is just one of the many obstacles found in this “thing” we call life.

It’s easy to begin to focus so much on ourselves and how “hard” we have it that self-pity can start to creep in and take up residence in our beliefs. And while we get stuck in the pain and brokenness of a mental disorder, life keeps going on. Life doesn’t stop. And for me, life is way, WAY too short to get so stuck in self-pity or stuck in believing that now life is “over” because of having a mental illness. Yes, a mental health challenge can suck. Yes, a mental health challenge can hinder ones’ life and alter the course of what we had hoped life to be. Yes, a mental illness is a “cross to bear” in life. But, lest you and I forget, there are many other crosses in life that are just as difficult and some even more tragic and painful to bear. For me, it has been imperative that I remember that there are much worse crosses to bear in life than bipolar disorder. Remembering this helps keeps my self-pity at bay.

I spent seven very long years stuck in my pain and brokenness following the manic episode that brought about the collapse of my life. Self-pity was part of those seven years. I was stuck in it. I felt as though my life had been robbed from me. But, really was being stuck and feeling sorry for myself that was robbing me of life, not the bipolar disorder! And I didn’t get unstuck until I got sick and tired of feeling sorry for myself and believing that my life was over.

So, I decided I was going to live well in spite of having bipolar disorder. Those three little words, “in spite of” are the mantra of my recovery.  In order to get unstuck I did three things:

  1. Changed how I was thinking by taking control of what I was thinking about.  I did not allow myself to continually rehearse the pain and brokenness.  Instead I began to think about how the pain and brokenness could propel me into living well. (This was the hardest thing I had to do in recovery!)
  2. Set reasonable and reachable goals that continually moved me towards living life well.  I stuck to the goals and when reached, I set new ones. Failure was not an option. Yes, there were failures and set backs.  But, I chose to see the set backs and failures and learning opportunities for living well.
  3. Started helping others with mental health challenges and got my focus off of myself.  (This probably was the major game changer for me.)  When I started focusing on helping others I found my passion again; there was purpose for all of the pain I had experienced.

Here’s what I know about life and how people live it based not only on my life but also after pastoring for the past 30 some years: everybody has “stuff.”

Everybody has pain. Everybody has tragedies and losses in their lives. Pain is pain. Whether it is the loss of a child, cancer, financial collapse, divorce or a mental illness: you either work through it, or you get stuck in it. (By the way, if this blog post is “ticking you off”, then you are most likely stuck in your pain.) As they say, life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.

So, how are you responding to the things that life is throwing you? How are you reacting to having a mental health challenge? Are you living well in spite of having a mental health diagnosis? If not, why not?

You can check out Brad’s podcast at: FreshHope4MentalHealth.com

Recognizing Signs of Relapse

Recognizing Signs of Relapse

Winter is a bummer for me. I dislike the cold, snow, gray shortened days.

But most of all I hate sliding into my winter depressive cycle. For years the darkness of bi-polar depression struck with fury, from November through February.

This year my depression has been mild. I even enjoyed Thanksgiving and Christmas for the first time in many years. A slight adjustment in my medication, exercise, reduced stress, and meditation helped level my mood.

But over the last few weeks I have noticed “early warning signs” of a dip in my mood. Here were some of my “early warning signs”.

First, I realized I was blankly staring into space. My mind was empty. I have been doing that recently with increasing frequency. From past experience this is one of my behaviors of the onset of depressive episode.

Another sign I have noticed is that I “sigh” more than usual, as though I don’t have the energy to get up from a chair. It was irritating my wife, who thought the sighs were because I didn’t want to help her. We talked about it and realized is one of my behavioral signs of my mood dropping.

I have had a persistent sadness over the last week, without reason. This slight dip in mood is like a “check engine” light on my car. It is time find out what is going on.

Prayer and Bible reading are not giving me satisfaction or enjoyment. This is unusual and is another sign to check.

Brain fog has settled in on occasion. I have had some times of troubling confusion. 

I have learned over the years these are all precursors to a depressive episode. 

What to do? I have had an uptick in my medicines that is a mood stabilizer. I purchased and used a sunlamp for light therapy. 

My psychiatrist recently retired and so I am searching for someone to do med checks. I have visited with a counselor who has screened me for a new psychiatrist. 

I have begun listening to gospel music which positively impacts my mood and spirit.

Why share my story? For two important reasons. First, we need to be able to recognize our unique that are precursors to a mood change. And then we need to have a plan in place to manage any relapse.

Relapse is an ugly word. But it does happen.

But there is one greater than our circumstances.

“Therefore, we will not fear though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, and the mountains quake with their surging.” (Psalms 46:2)

The psalmist describes his world falling apart. All that has provided stability for him is gone. The mountains and seas, his very foundation is disappearing.  

There is a reality beyond what we see.  Depression shrinks our world.  It turns us inward isolating us from others. Peace of mind shatters.  Our thinking processes are confused.  And convinces us that lies are truth, and truth are lies. Our world becomes a lonely place.

But the psalmist chooses to Look up!

David worships.  In his state of depression he worships when it seems impossible.  

It doesn’t matter how shattered his world, David places his confidence in God the Creator, of heaven and earth, and who will create all things new.

He has faith greater than his circumstances.

David has a place to go when his world has lost its moorings. God is his shelter and refuge.

Look up!

How to Empower Yourself in Living Well in Spite of Your Mental Health Diagnosis

How to Empower Yourself in Living Well in Spite of Your Mental Health Diagnosis

When Thomas “melted-down” in the small town of only 600 people he felt as though everyone was talking about him and that he had become the town “monster.” So, following his move back to his parents’ home in a metro area, he began a remarkable journey of healing that led him to find hope through Fresh Hope.

In this edition of Fresh Hope for Mental Health, Thomas talks about his various diagnoses, which include schizoaffective disorder and borderline personality disorder. He discloses the importance of researching and understanding your diagnosis and how medicine does 50% of the work, but you have to do the other 50% of it. Through researching his diagnoses, he became empowered to live well in spite of them.

Anyone facing a serious mental health diagnosis will be greatly encouraged in hearing Thomas’ journey to living well in spite of a mental health diagnosis. You don’t want to miss this interview!

After listening to this podcast, we encourage you to email us at info@FreshHope.us with a comment or question that we will share on our next podcast.

To listen to the podcast you can click on the icon below and it will take you to our podcast website.  (Or if you want, you can listen on iTunes/ApplePodcasts by clicking on the second icon below.)FH PodCastArt (160dpi) 02_Splash 480x854

To listen to the podcast on Apple Podcasts/iTunes- click on this icon:

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If you listen to this podcast on iTunes, we encourage you to leave a comment regarding the podcast. Or you can leave a voice message for us on the site:  www.FreshHope4MentalHealth.comPastor Brad Hoefs, host of Fresh Hope for Mental Health, is the founder of Fresh Hope Ministries, a network of Christian mental health support groups for those who have a diagnosis and their loved ones. In other words, Fresh Hope is a Christian mental health support group.

Brad was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1995. He is a weekly blogger for www.bphope.com (Bipolar Magazine). He is also a certified peer specialist and has been doing pastoral counseling since 1985. Brad is also the author of Fresh Hope: Living Well in Spite of a Mental Health Diagnosis, which is available on Amazon or at: http://www.FreshHopeBook.com

If you are interested in more information about Fresh Hope go to http://www.FreshHope.us or email info@FreshHope.us or call 402.932.3089.

To donate to Fresh Hope, go to: http://freshhope.us/donate/

For a complete list of where Fresh Hope groups are presently meeting go to www.FreshHope.us and click on “find a group.”  Or you may attain an online group of meeting of Fresh Hope by going to www.FreshHopeMeeting.com

If you are interested in starting a Fresh Hope group within your faith community contact Julie at Julie@FreshHope.us 

Fresh Hope for Mental Health is a production of Fresh Hope Ministries. 

Fresh Hope Ministries is a non-profit ministry.  

The copyrights of this program belong to Fresh Hope Ministries and may not be duplicated without written permission.

All the podcasts of Fresh Hope Today as well as numerous other videos are all available on our YouTube channel: Fresh Hope Network

Fresh Hope for Mental Health is on Facebook at  www.Facebook.com/FreshHopeforMentalHealth

 

My Story of Anxiety by Lindsay Hausch

My Story of Anxiety by Lindsay Hausch

I first shared about my struggle with anxiety on my blog.

Before I knew it my post had been shared to thousands of people. Not because my words were special or that my story was different. No, my story resonated with all the people suffering in silence thinking, you too?

A friend from Lutheran Hour Ministries reached out to me to see if I would be interested in doing an interview about how my faith has helped me through my struggle.

That meant leaving my two year old, to get on a plane and travel with my five month old.  That meant meeting a roomful of people I didn’t know and sharing with them my most intimate struggles in front of a camera.

I took a deep breath and said yes. Not because I was unafraid, not even because I felt courageous, but because I knew that God went before me, that he was with me, and that if I showed up, He would be there too.

That morning as I was getting ready, I saw a big framed picture of a dandelion in the bathroom hotel. I’ve always said that dandelions were my favorite flower, because of their imperfect beauty. Dandelions break apart to plant new seeds. I pray that God would use my brokenness to plant hope in hurting hearts.

Standing outside the door of the interview room, I opened my devotion and read this verse,

“See, God has come to save me. I will trust in him and not be afraid. The LORD God is my strength and my song; he has given me victory.” Isaiah 12:2

Friends, can we stand in the doorway of uncertainty, feeling afraid and shaking, and still walk through knowing God will meet us there? I hope this video reminds you that you are not in this struggle alone- you have a community- but most of all, that God has come to save you. He came to save you as a helpless infant. He came to save you on a cross. He came out of the grave to save you. God comes to save you in the small moments when you pray, “God help me,” and He is there, so you are never alone.

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