Pastor Brad Hoefs

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

Cracked & Beautiful by Lindsay Hausch

Cracked & Beautiful by Lindsay Hausch

As I wiped the tears, and snot, and blood from her dirty face I felt the heavy weight of dread in the pit of my stomach. Her once perfect smile was broken, the front baby tooth jagged where it was once a pristine little square.

Smelling of lavender and wrapped sweetly in her pink princess nightgown, every sign of my daughter’s fall earlier that day was wiped clean, except for her crooked smile. And while I was grateful that she was unharmed, the crack remained, reminding me of how helpless I really am.

Because even if I stand at the bottom of the slide, waiting to catch her, my little girl can still crash, and bleed, and cry out in pain, and there is nothing I can do about it, except hold her and comfort her, and say “I’m sorry.”

Her cracked smile reminds me of my helplessness. It reminds me of how helpless I am in protecting my baby in this big scary world; it reminds me of how little control I have over my own little world, and it reminds me that no matter how much I fight to keep things pristine, and perfect, and straight, they can become cracked, and crooked, and broken.

I try to control my life, to keep it neat and tidy like a pretty photo, but it doesn’t fit in the neat little frame that I try to package it in. Despite my efforts to make everything just so, reality shatters my plans, leaving a web of cracks on the high polished surface of my life.

But then I look at her intent blue eyes and bobbing blonde head in the rearview mirror,  her wide, crack toothed smile like a ray of sunshine, and she says to me “Mommy, I have a new, bigger smile.”

I peer at that smile that is no longer the picture of perfection. And I take a deep breath as the warm sun floods our car and I let a laugh explode from my mouth. I laugh with God, because he is full of so many surprises. I laugh because I am so helpless, and cracked, and yet through HIM I am hopeful and whole. I laugh at my daughter’s fearlessness, her innocence, and her new, bigger, beautiful smile.

I look at the crack in the windshield, that I’ve been meaning to fix, and I smile as I see beams of light refract from it.

Lindsay-Hausch-bio-slide

The Difference Between Surviving Verses Thriving: Give Me Thriving!

The Difference Between Surviving Verses Thriving: Give Me Thriving!

There’s a difference between surviving and thriving. Coping verses really living well. In this edition Pastor Brad Hoefs talk about that difference and challenges you, the listener, to ask yourself some important questions about whether you are just surviving or truly thriving in spite of your mental health diagnosis or situation that you find yourself in in life.

Special Video Edition of Fresh Hope for Mental Health’s Podcast from Brad Hoefs on Vimeo.

Questions at the end of the video:

  1. Are you thriving or only surviving?
  2. Are you doing more than just taking your medicine and hoping for the best?
  3. What you do or do more of that will empower to live more fully well?

Check out our other podcasts at wwwFreshHope4MentalHealth.com

An Interview with Therapist Heather Nelson of Khesed Wellness

An Interview with Therapist Heather Nelson of Khesed Wellness

We hope you enjoy this special video/podcast edition of Fresh Hope for Mental Health. In this edition Pastor Brad Hoefs interviews Heather Nelson who is a therapist about an exciting new opportunity for churches around the country to offer the use of their space for the good of their community as a place for therapists to offer counseling at a reasonable rate. The nonprofit is called Khesed Wellness: KhesedWellness.com

This is the opportunity for your church to help those who are struggling with mental health issues in your community.

(You might find it interesting that Heather is the grand-daughter of Pastor Chuck Swindoll from Insight for Living!)

Special Edition of Fresh Hope for Mental Health Podcast: An Interview with Heather Nelson with Khesed Wellness from Brad Hoefs on Vimeo.

If your church has an area in their building that is not used all week and might be made available to provide counseling to those in your community we encourage you to contact Health at KhesedWellness.com.

Facing Real Together by Lindsay Hausch

Facing Real Together by Lindsay Hausch

I heard her cries with my heart, more than my ears, each wail reverberating in my aching chest. I cradled her head and held her rigid body against mine as she yelled, “no, no, no,” then heaved a shaky breath to release another loud howl. I whispered in her ear “I’m here. I love you,” again and again, as I swayed and tasted the salty tears that ran down her neck.

For five minutes I felt the waves of emotions that coursed through her tired body, confusion, anger, frustration, fear as she succumbed to exhaustion. I absorbed her helpless desperation, but wouldn’t, couldn’t, let myself collapse beneath it. Instead I just held her, rocked her, and continued my chant, “I’m here. I love you.”

There is a sacred space we enter with another person when we can let them feel what they are feeling without avoidance, advice, judgement, or tense discomfort. Simply to tell them, “I’m here and I love you.”

I am not in my daughter’s skin, and so I don’t know what it feels like to have steroids coursing through me, creating a surge of unpredictable emotions and moods. This little girl has all these new big feelings without words to even make sense out of them. I want to understand what she feels, I want to tell her how to make it better, or distract her somehow. But in this desperate moment, after a sleepless night, a long morning, and still no nap, I can only be here with her as a witness.

Yes darling, you are miserable. Your body aches, you are tired but your body won’t behave and sleep as it should. You feel angry and powerless. You want mommy to make it all better, and you are learning, maybe for the first time, that there are some things that mommy can’t fix. But I am here, I am with you in this. I love you.

And in this brave moment between a helpless baby, and her helpless mommy, I begin to learn a lot about how to help someone heal. Because when we are confused, overcome by big emotions we can’t explain, when life hurts and we feel too tired to even make our bed, we don’t need advice; we don’t need platitudes, or our pain to be wiped away like an unsightly smudge of dirt. We need a brave person to stay and hold us through the waves of grief, anger, desperation, and longing, to whisper lovingly, “I am here.”

Because when life knocks the breath out of us, sometimes the bravest thing to do is to inhale and exhale those first few breaths, to be held by the loving arms of those there to support you, and fearlessly succumb to the illusive sleep that our tired souls need.

Sometimes its another person holding us up. Sometimes its on our knees in the sacred  space of solitude. But as we cry out in weakness, “I am tired, I am scared, Lord I am hurting,”  He says “I Am.” In Him we find a perfect match for our needs and emptiness. So we can cry, and shout, or blink silent tears, and wait for His peace to roll over us like a blanket and His grace to hum like a lullaby, “I Am here. I love you.”

“Stubborn cloud, I watch you rolling past
What would it take for you to cry at last
Don’t be afraid to let your feelings show
If we dry up, then we won’t grow”

Grow by J.J. Heller

When Your Depressive Thoughts Go Round and Round by Rick Qualls

When Your Depressive Thoughts Go Round and Round by Rick Qualls

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,”  Romans 12:2

My depressive thoughts go around and around. Some scientists believe that this has a physiological origin.  Thoughts develop neural pathways.  The more frequently the thought the stronger the connections.

So what can we do?  

Cognitive Behavior Therapy helps an individual discover distortions in thinking and begin to replace them with realistic and positive thoughts.  

There is a milli-moment between an event, the thought, and its interpretation.  The thought elicits a feeling.  Rewiring of these milli-moments is possible.  Realistic thoughts replace negative interpretations. Cognitive Behavior Therapy is an effective method of depression treatment.

We can choose to pursue the renewing of our minds.  Changing depressive thought patterns can cause a transformation. God hates these negative patterns because of the damage it does to us. And I believe that there is divine aid He gives us in the renewing of our minds.

We begin thought replacement with “new” thoughts. Scripture can give us words and phrases we can use whenever a negative thought occurs.

Here are a few scriptures that might give us a start.

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil for your rod and staff comfort me.” Ps 23:3

”The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”  Ps 34:18

“Come to me all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give your rest.” Matt 11:28

“If God is for us who can be against us?” Romans 8:31

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand”  Is 41:10

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned, the flames will not set you ablaze.”  Is 43:2

“God is our refuge and strength an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, thought the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.”  Ps 46:1-2

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain for the old order of things has passed away.”  Rev 21:4

Finding promises that speak to your heart can be used to substitute negative thoughts.  As you catch a negative thought, substitute a positive one.

‘God help me to think of your promises today.’  

When Your Depressive Thoughts Go Round and Round by Rick Qualls

When Your Depressive Thoughts Go Round and Round by Rick Qualls

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,”  Romans 12:2

My depressive thoughts go around and around. Some scientists believe that this has a physiological origin.  Thoughts develop neural pathways.  The more frequently the thought the stronger the connections.

So what can we do?  

Cognitive Behavior Therapy helps an individual discover distortions in thinking and begin to replace them with realistic and positive thoughts.  

There is a milli-moment between an event, the thought, and its interpretation.  The thought elicits a feeling.  Rewiring of these milli-moments is possible.  Realistic thoughts replace negative interpretations. Cognitive Behavior Therapy is an effective method of depression treatment.

We can choose to pursue the renewing of our minds.  Changing depressive thought patterns can cause a transformation. God hates these negative patterns because of the damage it does to us. And I believe that there is divine aid He gives us in the renewing of our minds.

We begin thought replacement with “new” thoughts. Scripture can give us words and phrases we can use whenever a negative thought occurs.

Here are a few scriptures that might give us a start.

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil for your rod and staff comfort me.” Ps 23:3

”The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”  Ps 34:18

“Come to me all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give your rest.” Matt 11:28

“If God is for us who can be against us?” Romans 8:31

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand”  Is 41:10

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned, the flames will not set you ablaze.”  Is 43:2

“God is our refuge and strength an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, thought the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.”  Ps 46:1-2

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain for the old order of things has passed away.”  Rev 21:4

Finding promises that speak to your heart can be used to substitute negative thoughts.  As you catch a negative thought, substitute a positive one.

‘God help me to think of your promises today.’  

How to Punch Your Depression in the Face by Lindsay Hausch

How to Punch Your Depression in the Face by Lindsay Hausch

I love writing. I love the pang of the keys beneath my fingers, the feel of the sticky squares of my aqua blue keyboard cover. I love the moving cursor, and the pumpkin candle I burn each time I write. Coffee tastes better when I’m writing. And the silence. Oh how I love the silence.

Anxiety and depression can try to trick me out of writing. They tell me its waste of time and frivolous. My anxious mind tells me my words aren’t worth anything, and my depression tells me I don’t have enough energy. Voices in my head echo behind my concentration, clamoring for my attention, to distract and stop me. If I listen I can believe the lie that writing is lazy, and I should be doing other things, or that it isn’t a worthy effort. I can let these voices steal from me my enjoyment of one of my most favorite things in the world.

You might not be a writer, but my guess is there’s something you love as much as writing. Maybe its dancing, running, painting, making people laugh, cooking, fixing old things, hiking in nature, or sitting in silent meditation. Don’t let your anxiety or depression
steal this from you. You need it to restore, what your monsters try to leech from you. You need it to find your joy and your heart song. You need it to untangle the knots of your confused and weary soul.

I think of those kids who carve “I was here” in a bathroom stall, or a table, or the side of a mountain, as if being there is simply enough. We believe we have to be something, prove something or do something, when sometimes proof of life is all we need. And like a mom asks her kid at the end of a full day, “Did you have fun?” Maybe we need to ask ourselves that. And if the answer is yes, take it as a job well done. When you can look your depression in the eye and say, “I lived today, what can you say to that?” then you’re fighting the good fight, and taking back your passion.

Sometimes you might do the thing you once loved and find no pleasure in it at all. I challenge you to go through the motions until your body finds the old rhythm.

And at the end of the day, after you do that thing you love, and fight to rediscover the joy in it, whisper a prayer. Because prayer is the greatest proof of life there is. Its a sucker punch straight in the face of your greatest fears, and worst depression. As you go through the words, you will slowly find your passion again, and God will quietly carve on your heart “I am here.”

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