Search Results for: hope

Graceful Hope

Hope tilts the heavy head towards heaven,
widens weary eyes to witness rescue,
and laces up slippers for
you to dance in the fire of despair.

The Promise of Hope

I am a seed, DNA of hope, dying
to self so that others might live. Elevated
by Holy Spirit wind, to disperse
gospel truth. Trusting no
matter the path blown,
God will snuggle me deep into the
rich soil of His love and I
awaken, blooming in the Promised Land.

Turning Your Page

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.

Genesis 12:1

Do you trust God to lead you to good places in your depression? or grief? Abram knew nothing about God or his trustworthiness. God called Abram. Abram went. Why? There is always an initial intentional act of the will to follow God and leave the familiar, those things that once grounded and rooted us to strike out and follow where God leads. You may not know much about God’s character, yet, but he knows yours, and when he calls you into unknown places he also equips you to get there.

  • List ways God is leading you through grief, depression, circumstances?
  • Do you have a clear idea of God’s promises, (his covenant) with you? Here is a resource to begin exploring the promises of God. Bible Study Tools
  • Pick one way you will step out in faith today to trust God.

Master, you have authority over my life. I once feared and even loathed your control. Now I find security and comfort. Guide me in the way that leads to your everlasting glory. Amen

Tree of Hope

Tiny oak, planted and watered with tears,
You grow slow, intentional, strong, in the windy bend of grief.
Hope remembers loss and drops treasured seeds of compassion
in my soul. Love, the fruit of grief.

Thank you to the neighbors and friends who remind me to keep growing and hoping in grief.

Turning Your Page

Friendship is a gift. When you open your heart to your neighbors, family, and friends, they help you to remember forward. Love the person who died and creating new memories at the same time.

  • What are some of the best ways friends are helping you to grieve with hope?
  • How can those in your circle encourage and help you?
  • What is one thing your friends can help you create in memory of your loved one?

Hope, A Festival of Living: A Community’s Future After a Suicide

I look for hope in the aftermath of my son’s suicide. Last year, I encountered hope playing, speaking, supporting, and praying, inside a high school gymnasium. Almost ten years after Chelsea Ryann’s death her parents, Matt and Jennifer Westwood continue to encourage their community to reach out and reach into to the lives touched by depression, through Chelsea Ryann’s Festival of Hope.

An impressive pool of volunteers, organization, and outreach opportunities greeted me as I explored the many activities offered. People, inflatables, crafts, information booths, joy, and sorrow, connected me to the community. Displayed throughout the Chelsea Ryann Festival of Hope was a God who cares, a community involved, and a family who remains faithful through the hardest of experiences.

Matt and Jennifer took the time to engage individuals and ask how each person was doing. Compassion and understanding were evident in the couple’s eyes, as they hugged me and mourned my loss as well as their own. Both parents admit we didn’t believe mental health was a problem until it became our problem.

Since Chelsea’s death, the Westwood’s immersed themselves in the world of depression and suicide, while also holding tightly to the truth of who they are in Jesus Christ. Suicide touches every age, gender, and demographic and they feel they are responsible for showing their community faith in action.

The Value of a Life

I participated in the Memory Walk held on the outdoor track where photos shared Chelsea’s story, and signs of encouragement lined the infield, “You Matter”, “Don’t Let Your Story End”. “Chelsea was a smart, witty, amazing daughter, friend, and sister. We had 16 beautiful years with Chelsea”, Jennifer stated in a recent video on their site, but they wish for more experiences with their daughter. In the ten years since her death, many of her friends have graduated from college, married and are starting their families. But Chelsea has no new memories to share.

Chelsea loved hiking at Red River Gorge and once successfully carried her injured friend down the mountain without help. She was up for a challenge and became an innovative problem solver. Matt smiled as he described her as a wiz at Trig. But, as she entered junior high, the outgoing, vibrant Chelsea they knew, was slowly crowded out by dark thoughts, self-hatred, and deteriorating mental health. The school, community, and church rallied around Chelsea to support and encourage her.  But in a moment of despair, Chelsea ended her story in 2009.

Thinking back on the day of Chelsea’s suicide, Matt said, The enemy was certainly prowling around that day. The enemy wanted people to think that it was their fault that Chelsea took her life. He looked at Jennifer, I think we both knew we are going to stand strong for these people who have now flooded our living room with tears and regret, and guilt. The Westwoods felt protective of their immediate family and the house full of friends experiencing shock. “We chose the path we did because that is what we believe”, they both stated firmly. “We realized we had to stay strong. Jesus calls us to emulate him, as much as we can”, because others were watching.

Emulating Christ in Grief

Suicide destroys many marriages but faith, family, and the adversity already experienced strengthened Matt and Jennifer’s relationship. Such commitment did not go unnoticed by the community, others asked how their marriage remained secure. “Why wouldn’t it, was Matt’s response. We need each other. The simplicity of their belief and strength of their convictions emerged from years of practicing a united front. “Never losing hope. That is what got us through. There were highs and lows, but knowing God was always going to be there for us. He’s got our back, even through the difficult times. I never gave up hope,” Jennifer stated.

The Westwood’s teach others through their talks on suicide to lean into the lives around them and ask how they are doing. Jennifer emphasized, “How are they really doing?” They take back the date of Chelsea’s death in March by preparing care baskets for neighbors and friends and visiting to encourage. “Because we have made ourselves vulnerable and open, we have a lot of people who approach us, not just for teen suicide, but for a lot of things.” A prominent man in the community who shared with them he was struggling with depression serves as a powerful illustration for going deeper with our circle of influence. Matt shared, “All these people around him knew him, but very few knew he was battling depression. Because on the outside everyone was like, I want to be that guy. But no one took the time because everyone assumed, he was okay.” The community reached into Matt and Jennifer’s lives as well. Supporting them at work with understanding, time to grieve, and a listening ear.

Jennifer marveled at the support they received and realized how many resources God blessed them with. Being surrounded by so many amazing people “helps us not to lose our hope”, She affirms.  Many of those same people who loved Chelsea then, love her now through supporting her memory at the Festival of Hope.  Chelsea’s grandparents, siblings, extended family, church and community open their hearts wide to offer hope in the midst of their own sorrow and grief alongside Matt and Jennifer.  As I completed the loop, I felt valued, my individual story nurtured and ministered to by the strangers I now call friends.

Signes around the track encourages that your life matters.

Establishing a Habit of Hope in Community

Through prayer, openness, and vulnerability, Matt and Jennifer designed Chelsea Ryann’s Festival of Hope with their community in mind. Inspired by the work of the American Foundation for the Suicide Prevention’s Community Walks, Chelsea’s family began working with their local community to support individuals and families struggling with depression. They enlisted the help of school resource officers, teachers, friends, and community professionals. Now, beginning their preparation for their 4th festival which will be held this Saturday, October 20th, they encourage us to both celebrate life and value the journey of anyone wrestling with depression. Matt and Jennifer remain steadfast and determined to continue their story to completion. It is good to know their loss is not the last chapter. Chelsea’s story is part of a bigger story. One that includes others experiencing depression embracing hope in Christ Jesus through a community’s testimony of perseverance.

Patty Mason Interview Part 3:Offering Hope as Caregiver and Church

There is no degree needed to help others, whether you are caring for a loved one or ministering to others wrestling with depression. Jesus used fishers of men. Patty testifies, in her book Finally Free: Breaking the Bonds of Depression Without Drugs, that the only requirement is that others can see—you’ve been with Jesus. 

If you are in the Nashville, Tennessee area, Patty is hosting a book launch on Monday, September 30th, from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm at Branches Counseling Center in Murfreesboro. Come meet Patty and be encouraged by her testimony. It was a pleasure presenting Patty’s story to you.  

Scripture to meditate on:

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people” (Matthew 4:19).

“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).

TPOS: About seven years after your experience, you became the caregiver for your husband as he too battled depression. What words of encouragement do you have for caregivers?

It is challenging to take care of someone who is battling depression, so do not feel guilty for taking care of yourself, it is vital. You will also feel a lot of emotions yourself, maybe even frustration or anger. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling that way, many of those feelings are perfectly normal emotions. This is a lot to take on.

TPOS: How does a caregiver take care of themselves during their loved one’s crisis?

Eat well, stay hydrated, make sure you are getting enough rest, stay in the Word. In fact, my relationship with the Lord went to a whole new level. I clung to Him during that season of my husband’s depression. Join a support group. Get into a bible study. Take breaks. Go have lunch with a friend. Take a bubble bath. Give yourself time to recover and recuperate. 

TPOS: Is the Bible silent on depression and our response? How can we encourage others through God’s Word?

The Bible is not silent on depression. Even though it doesn’t use the word depression, it uses words like despair, gloom, downcast, oppressed, misery. God’s Word is life. Continue to speak that Word of life over people. I encourage others to speak God’s Word out loud. Often, I would take the Bible and march through my home and proclaim the Word of God out loud.

TPOS: Why is it easy to hide depression?

Actually, it is not easy to hide depression. It’s work. It’s a conscious choice to hide the depression. There’s a stigma, and as Christians aren’t we supposed to be exuding peace and joy? Aren’t we supposed to be happy all of the time? We don’t want to admit, especially to our church, we are not okay. We come to church and often wear the mask more because we think we have to look like we’re okay.

TPOS: As a newly freed from depression, a believer in Christ, what training did you receive to share hope to others? 

None. I was just invited to share my story. God gave me a testimony, and testimonies have a way of reaching people in ways nothing else can.

TPOS: What does the church do well in addressing depression?

The church is really good at encouraging people to stay in the Word. They can be a wealth of information and can help you find direction. They can guide you to counselors, resources, and contacts to find help. I would like to see church leaders receive training on depression and how to handle depression, rather than referring them to others. It would be great if people could actually come to someone in leadership who knows how to talk with them, direct them, and help them see the root. In Finally Free, I offer tips on how to handle someone who comes to them with depression. 

TPOS: In what ways does the church need to grow in its response to believers wrestling with depression? 

As mentioned in Finally Free, it’s important to treat the whole person—body, soul, spirit. 

Encourage pastors and leaders that their input, encouragement, and inspiration as a spiritual leader is so important, because the spiritual element of the treatment plan is often missing.

TPOS: What should be the church’s response to unbelievers struggling with depression? 

I was a non-believer battling depression. Once I started to turn to God, that is when I was set free from depression. In the book, I address depression from a Biblical perspective. For example, sin and rebellion can bring on depression. Living separated from God and doing our own thing can bring on depression. I was released from depression by turning to Jesus and allowing God to be my life.

TPOS: How does a church begin developing a ministry of awareness and discipleship for those wrestling with depression?

We offer basic training for the church. Our materials help train leaders to see and address depression from a biblical perspective. We explore the causes of depression from God’s Word and what God says will help cure that depression.

TPOS: “…unless we’re familiar with depression, it can go undetected until something drastic happens.” What should we watch for in our loved one?

Watch for changes in their normal behavior. Is there a change in eating habits—gaining or losing weight? Do they start sleeping more than normal? Do they start turning to drugs and alcohol? Are they pulling away from friends or activities they once enjoyed? 

If you are dealing with a teenager, it can be difficult to determine if they are dealing with depression or if it is peer pressure, academic stress, lack of sleep, or a bad diet. This can be difficult for even a trained counselor to discern. I have a teen and depression sheet that offers keys to building communication with your teen, warning signs, knowing when to get help, and helping your teen to beat depression, I’d be happy to send out if you email me at patty@libertyinchristministries.com

TPOS: How can lay people reach into the lives around them struggling with despair?

Listen. Be supportive, don’t criticize or condemn what the person feels, even if what they are saying doesn’t make any sense. Sometimes a depressed person just wants to talk about what they are going through, and not feel like they are alone. 

TPOS: How can we pray for your ministry?

Pray for Finally Free, that God would open doors and allow us to continue to offer this message of hope. Pray for those reading it, that their lives would be changed by hope and healing through Jesus.

TPOS: Final thoughts?

You are not alone. There is hope. What I thought was devastation, God saw as an opportunity to draw me near and change the trajectory of my life. Depression is not the end; it can be the start of a beautiful beginning.

Finally Free

Patty Mason is an author, national speaker, and the founder of Liberty in Christ Ministries. For more than two decades, Patty has shared her story of God’s redeeming grace and deliverance from depression before numerous audiences, in several books, blogs, and magazines, such as Lifeway’s “Living More,” as well as radio and television programs, including American Family

About Patty

Spark of Hope in Crisis

Spark of Hope in Crisis

A spark of hope in crisis starts with a willingness to engage others. That is how my testimony of my grieving with hope started in 2014. I didn’t one of his friends going through life not knowing that they were loved, seen, and valued by me. It was all I had to offer them, but that is powerful, and enough.

 

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:12-13

Turning My Page

A chance encounter with Ginny Shepherd sparked hope in me. This petite dynamic woman has been a part of the fight against despair for a long time. The opportunity to interview her was a delight. May she inspire you to not feel helpless on either side of a crisis. We aid others in crisis through our sharing what gives us hope, as well as find the courage to press forward in our own journey through community.

Good-Bye was an opportunity to offer hope, for Ginny Shepherd, a five-year veteran of the crisis hotline in her region.

She has a long history of standing in the gap for those in crisis. Both her own family and anyone who crosses her path. Becoming a volunteer for a crisis-hotline and later a director of training, was a natural progression in her pattern of helping others.

Ginny and her siblings wrestled with many physical and emotional challenges after losing their father at an early age. This experience and its aftermath introduced her to both good and bad ways of handling trauma and depression. She was acutely aware of what worked in mental health care and what was utterly useless in helping those on the edge of suicide.

As an adult, working for many years in the education world, Ginny observed young men and women with various levels of complicated problems. She took the opportunity to listen, encourage, and find great resources of hope for her students. She often referred students to counseling, and or campus chaplains. A friendship developed with the on-campus chaplains and his wife, who were involved with the local crisis hotline.

When thinking about becoming a crisis hotline volunteer, Ginny says, “I resisted at first because I didn’t see that I had any kind of qualifications.”

Drawing on her own experience with tragedy, and help she offered her students, she thought the crisis training was at least worth exploring. “Serving as a crisis intervention worker is a great opportunity to learn about one’s ego. We become more aware of the voices inherited from our parents, family, ministers, and teachers that may not be the most helpful in being a pathway for a person in crisis to walk on. You want to serve as a bridge and conduit.  Help the caller in crisis hear what they are saying and know they are being listened to. They are seen as a valuable person.”

Working a crisis hotline is not for everyone. Becoming aware of strengths and weaknesses is essential. “We learned the difference between empathy,” what we strive to practice, “and sympathy, defined as a negative emotion for a crisis worker. With empathy, one is, shoulder to shoulder with the caller, sort of at their side. With sympathy the tendency is sort of looking down on the caller. Training gave volunteers the opportunity to work out the bugs in their vocabulary.

We were not supposed to use the pronoun “you”, but it was easy to slip into giving the caller a to-do list.

 For the fixer, it takes reprogramming responses to someone in crisis. 

“Boy, we had excellent training,” Ginny declared. Professional psychologist, hospital workers, police and men, and women working the crisis phones for many years, equipped the trainees with confidence to stand in the gap for those in crisis. Much of the training involved role-playing. The trainer would take on the role of a caller, and the volunteer would respond. “We were taught to respect the place the caller is in. “And for heaven’s sakes, no judgments, and no guilt, no coercive language, no manipulation language, just trying to help the caller clarify in his or her mind what was going on. Clear away the static. When you are in a crisis, your blood pressure goes up, and your head feels like it’s pounding. It’s hard to think. 

So much of the beginning of a crisis call is calming a person down by reassuring and listening.

Anyone in crisis, particularly the young, have so many thoughts and feelings jumbling around in their mind. They are not used to someone listening to them.” Once she began answering the crisis lines, regular in-service training increased her understanding of clients. The collaboration refreshed Ginny in the everchanging nature of the calls received.

Callers were not always someone you would sit across from and enjoy a coffee chat, Ginny explained. Learning to treat all callers as valuable took a lot of training. The crisis organization brought in a local director of a battered women’s shelter to help the volunteers understand and address the unique dynamics of domestic violence calls. Ginny learned that in domestic violence situations often the batterers are in as much internal pain as they inflict on their spouse. “That was a revelation to me.” She went on to say, one of the miracles of life is that God does love all, and that capacity of of offering the spark of hope in crisis is very difficult to achieve.

To spark life in desperate situations takes practice, accountability, and flexibility.

Ginny feels she received all of these gifts through the speakers and experts in the field.

Traumatic calls ranging from suicide threats, domestic violence to pedophiles and everything in-between are bound to take a toll on the strongest of volunteers, but Ginny credits her five-years service to the training received. The initial training always emphasized, you’re not here to tell people what to do, you are not here to solve their problem, you’re here to listen and to hold up that person so he or she can believe that they have the chance to solve their problem. Effectively, Ginny’s job was to give control over their problems, back to the caller. We practiced active listening. Reflecting to the caller what we hear them saying.

And if you get it wrong?

“Don’t worry they’ll tell you.”

The goal was to help the caller to experience that moment of thinking, maybe I could or maybe I can.  As she helped the caller see they could work through their trauma, she says, “and then you cautiously lead them into a referral.

Connect them with the experts, the best possible resources.

Ginny adds, “There was always a professional on call, that if we got into a really difficult phone conversation, we could explain to the caller. I have another phone here to call someone to help me. Or, you could call someone after the phone call for help.”

She found herself in such a situation after a three-hour suicide call. “A tightrope-walking situation,” she says. The call started with just wanting someone to tell good-bye to but ended with a “well maybe I don’t need to say good-bye.” But Ginny still felt unsure, questioning if she had done all she could. She contacted the expert on-call, and he went through the call, reflecting her responses, and reassured Ginny she had done all she could to respect and offer hope to the caller.

Her recommendations to those who want to offer the spark of hope in crisis to others:

“We may fear that we don’t have the right words, but we can communicate to the person in crisis, contemplating suicide, that we see you, you are present in my life, and I care about your life.

I think all people crave to be understood and a common cry from a person is you don’t understand me. My best estimate of what to do is to say, Help me know you, help me to understand. That puts the power back into the hands of he or her who feels they have no power. Helps them to reach out on their behalf,” Ginny says.

Often call in because they feel no one in their sphere of influence understood. “You don’t know if a family member has just trodden into quicksand.” Our response should be, “Give me a chance, I’ll try.” In a call, there is always that moment where there is a spark of insight. There’s that first glimmer from them of ‘oh maybe.’ There’s a little spark of hope, and it is a very tender and tenuous moment. You wait to hear that in their voice and then tread very lightly. Ginny spent years listening for that spark, and you and I can hone the same skills.

Turning Your Page: Developing the Spark of Hope In Crisis

You may feel ill equipped to offer the spark of hope to those in crisis around you. But as Ginny shares, it does take training and practice to develop a consistent method of intervention, but there are lots of opportunities for training. Start where you are. The bottom line is that you have experiences and things in life that have torn you down and built you up. What are those, how did others help or hinder you? Utilze where you are and step into the lives of others. Sometimes the gift of your presence are all that is needed.

  • Write down the names of people in your life that have encouraged you and offered hope. Send them a note of encouragement or thanks.
  • Read 1 Corinthians 13 which is a guide for speaking life into others. What are some of the ways we can do harm to others? How can you show faith, hope, and love?
  • Write down a three minute and five minute testimony sharing what you have learned or are currently learning about hope

Lord, I need your spark of hope in my crisis. Use others to speak life when I am overwhelmed. Equip me to offer hope when I cannot see your faithfulness, promises fulfilled, or unconditional love. Amen

Seeing Through the Pain: Message of Hope

Luke 12:22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

 

Dear Page Turners,

A little goldfinch visited today. I am quite sure she was at my window a year ago, her strange behavior the same. She is more interested in what is going on inside our house than anything outside. She sits, looking directly at me, tilting her head. Then she lands on the sill to get a closer look. Neither the barking dog, nor the kids frighten her away.

She is a love note from God. Love notes are moments when God does something that wows me! I’ve received many of them throughout the years, but this was extra special because it reached through the haze I walk through these days and stirred my heart. My problems are deep and many layered, but God’s is faithful.

She sat there looking at and declaring with every little twitch of her head. “He loves you, he values you, and he is providing for you.” She spent about an hour with me her last visit, but I easily dismissed the visit as a passing “interesting” moment until she returned today.

How quickly I can forget He loves me, when the mess of the years problems seem insurmountable. Having her suddenly appear as I walked into the office took my breath away. God knew I needed to be reminded of hope. He knew that I was struggling in my exhaustion to even look for his many provisions for my family. So he made his promise clear through my little feathered example.

Are you soured by circumstances? Cynical about the knowledge that God is good, because all you see and feel is bad? Frantically scrambling to fix whatever is wrong in your life? Come to the window with me. Look at a little bird whose only thought today was to serve her master in a big way.

May I be that little bird for you. Tapping on your heart to remind you that God sees and values you, and he is very much in the midst of your loneliness, your despair, and your prayers!

 

Love,

Karisa

Christmas Hope Born in Grief

Ephesians 3:…16 I pray that out of the riches of His glory, He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to comprehend the length and width and height and depth of His love,…

Grieving Christmas is a list of juxtapositions. We are celebrating the birth of our savior, but we have lost a child. We are connecting with family members, but there is always one missing. We are opening gifts, but feel guilty for moving on without Jonathan.

God shaped the tangled vines of grief into beauty, by coming into our brokenness through Jesus, and he means for us to do the same. We display His identity, through joy, in the harshest of times. I’m not suggesting a forced, faked happiness, but a love that bubbles up in your pain, not in spite of it.

Christ didn’t come when everything was hunky dory in the world. He came in our desperate hour, when our losses outweighed our gains, and when the boot heel was on our throats.Israel was crying out for a savior, and as God in flesh took his first cry of humanity, our grief was changed to worship. Hope was born to the wise and the lowly, to shepherds and kings, to women and children, and to the poor, sick and needy. He was born in grief and raised us to new life in love.

That love enables me to shape grief into a new story. Not of what is lost, but what is gained. I fix my eyes ahead because Jonathan lived. His life is still changing mine. What I see as I grieve with hope:

  • Lives encouraged
  • God’s presence with us
  • Laughter is good medicine
  • My kids comforted
  • My family growing
  • Love poured out to the downcast
  • Souls saved from despair
  • Hope shaping my grief into joy

Open the gift of grief and allow beauty to be formed from the ashes of those things we cherished most on this earth.Loosen your grip on what isn’t and open your hands to the gift of what is and will be. What hope do you see this Christmas?

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Suicide Hotline

National Suicide Hotline

If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call the National Suicide Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or go to the website at  SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.