Monday, November 2, 2015

Confessions and war...

They say that confession is good for the soul. If so, I have a confession to make. I have an addiction. No, it's not alcohol or drugs or even food. I am utterly and hopelessly addicted to
Seriously, if you don't know what this is, you are missing out on something incredible.  I find myself at 1 AM, 2AM and sometimes at 4AM laying in bed with my phone screen lit up, watching live feed of animals at several South African bush locations. It's amazing. Throughout the day, my phone buzzes with notices of crocs, zebras, giraffes, hippos, eagles, impala, kudu, warthogs, wild dogs and elephants. But I freely admit that my favorite is the "Big Cat Alert".

When that notice pops up, I stop what I am doing and open the notice. I have even gone so far as to stream the live feed on my desktop computer at work (while I'm getting my work done, of course) so that I can see the Big Cats. I've watched lions and leopards come to the watering hole for a drink. I've watched them prowl around, sneaking up on unaware Impala.

                                           I Cannot. Get. Enough. Of. This.

Jeff has awakened in the middle of the night to find me completely enthralled at these animals, relishing being able to watch this happen live. I love it. I love being able to watch an Africa sunrise or sunset. I'm telling you, it's incredible to watch.

But recently, I watched something happen on that feed that struck a little close to home. And because I'm addicted I took a picture of it.

Do you see it? Look closely and you'll see that those poor Impala (or whatever they are) are in grave danger. Check it out.

Little did they know that lurking right beside them was this lioness, just waiting for the perfect moment to lunge and attack. And attack she did. And delivered the goods for her man, who seemed to enjoy it immensely.

This hits home for me. You see, I've been in a season of spiritual warfare. I feel like my senses are heightened tremendously because I feel the enemy prowling around me. It's been a long few months of warfare, and I sometimes feel like these unknowing Impala.

I feel it start on Saturday nights. Every. Single. Saturday. Night.

 I feel the dread of the upcoming Sunday. I literally feel sick to my stomach as I think about going to church. Now, if you know anything about me, you know that I love my church family. ESPECIALLY my Sunday morning bible study group. Those people are my FAMILY, and I love them fiercely. So, for me to dread seeing them is not normal. Not even a little bit.

I have cried more Saturday nights than I care to think about. And when Sunday morning comes, I'd love to tell you that I happily get up and do what I do without too much struggle. But that would be a lie. Instead, I'm angry. I shower while I'm angry. I put my makeup on and hate it every Sunday morning, despite the fact that I wear it exactly the same way every other day of the week. I get dressed and swear I have "nothing to wear" despite the fact that I have plenty. And I angrily throw clothes around while I change for the seventh time, grumbling under my breath about how stupid it is to  have to get dressed at all.

By the time I get in the car, I feel defeated. Completely defeated. I am tearful and grouchy and just want everyone to leave me alone. Our weekly stop at Starbucks does nothing for me except delay my having to face everyone else there.

My husband is gracious and loving and honorable and all good things. Truly. He prays for me. I know it because he tells me that he does, and I've heard it. He and I both know this is spiritual warfare, Satan trying to steal my love for the Church away.  But despite his prayers (and my own), the struggle remains.

I've cried out in my prayer time for the Lord to stop this, to give me back my love for community, for being with my church family, for the desire to fellowship. I've confessed everything I can think to confess, in case that's the problem. I've asked God to change me. I've even said I will go to another church if that's what He is trying to tell me to do. I stopped saying "no" to Him about a new thing I knew He wanted me to do, and I started actually doing it (another post for another time). And I confessed my sin in waiting so long to be obedient.

And yet.... here I am still feeling defeated and hunted.

And really, it shouldn't surprise me, should it? Here is what scripture tells me.

"Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that thesame kinds of suffering are being experiences by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all Grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen." (1 Peter 5:8-11)

There is a certain peace that comes in knowing you are not alone. And I'm not. Heck, I'm not even hurting that much. Yes, it feels awful to me. But when I think of the scope of suffering many of my brothers and sisters in Christ are walking through, this warfare I face is really nothing. But I also won't downplay it too much. Because when we downplay the fact that we have an actual enemy out to destroy us, we end up like those Impala. We end up as dinner. And I'm not ok with that plan.

What about you? Where is Satan trying to sneak in on you? Where is he prowling, just waiting for the right moment to lunge at you and destroy you? Maybe it's  relationship with someone of the opposite sex that isn't your spouse and is becoming less and less appropriate. Maybe it's what comes scrolling aross your computer screen and you think "Just one look won't hurt". Maybe it's a temptation to cheat on a test, take that which doesn't belong to you, make up one more lie to cover the last one you told. Maybe it's something altogether different. But I promise you this: If you are a follower of Jesus, Satan is there, waiting for the moment he can trip you up and defeat you.

Be ready. Be sober-minded and alert. Put on your armor daily, stand firm and let the Lord fight for you. Satan is already defeated.

So, Saturday night when that all-too-familiar dread rolls in on me, I'll recognize it for what it is and stand firm. And although it may not feel good, I'll rest in knowing that the Lord has me in his hands and will prevail in the end.

To Him be the glory.....

Friday, August 21, 2015

What I'm learning

I'm sitting at my favorite coffee shop for the 3rd time in a week. I have my bible, a book, my journal and my iPad. My heart is content as I sit and read and pray and write and hear the laughter around. I watch cars drive by, people walk by on the sidewalk outside the window beside my favorite table. I sip my sugar free vanilla latte. Life is good.

I'm learning to care for my soul. It's the only one I have, and truth be told it's not even mine. It's just on loan from God. When I borrow things from others, I try to take extra care to protect whatever I've borrowed, so why don't we do the same with our souls? Why do we get so burdened down in life that we neglect that which is central to life?

I'm reading John Ortberg's Soul Keeping right now. It's rich, let me tell ya. It's full of truths. It's full of conviction for someone like me who has neglected her soul in lieu of taking care of less important things. But today, I'm reminded of the importance of really taking care of ourselves.

This quote resonates within me: "The stream is your soul. You are the keeper. You are not the captain. You didn't make it, and you cannot save it from death".

All I can do is care for my soul. I cannot raise it from death to life; only the Creator can do that. I cannot take credit for making it at all. But I CAN nurture it, cultivate it, feed it...

How do we take care of our souls?

I personally think that looks differently for all of us. What is nurturing for me may not be what works for your. For me, it's time like this right here, reading the Word, soaking in His truth, sipping a great cup of coffee, breathing freely and resting in the knowledge that this is the day He has made for us to rejoice in. For you, it might look a lot different. For my husband, it's sitting on the swing at sunset, watching the sky morph into an array of colors that you can't believe possible.

But this quote, I believe, is for us all: "Arrange your days so that you experience total contentment, joy, and confidence in your 
everyday life with God".

What will that look like for you? How will you arrange today, this hour, this minute even to experience total contentment? How will you find joy? How will you experience confidence in your life with God?

I'd love to hear how you are doing this! Let's encourage one another to really take care of our souls today and everyday.

I'd love to pray for you in any way as you embark on this journey. Feel free to facebook message me or email me at


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

the art of being...

Sometimes I'm awesome and get it right. Sometimes I actually get up before the rest of the family and prepare a nice breakfast, spend time in the Word before I get my day going full speed ahead, and do the sit ups that I know I need. Sometimes I speak kindly and lovingly to my husband right from the start of the day all the way up to the end. Sometimes there aren't piles of laundry in the floor of the laundry room, and clothes are folded and put away neatly. Sometimes my floors are actually clean and sparkly, and my bathrooms are too. Sometimes I prepare elaborate meals for my family with joy, smiling and humming a favorite song as I chop, dice, and cook away. Sometimes I get to work early, a smile on my face, and greet every client with joy because I'm really honored to be able to serve them. Sometimes I relish the quiet of my drive home without any phones ringing or people calling my name. Sometimes I love the hussle of getting my daughter from one place to the next and actually enjoy the extra car time with her so we can talk. Sometimes I love checking homework because I get to see firsthand just how far she has come and I get to brag on her to her face.

But then sometimes I don't.

Many days I'm far from awesome, and feel as though I don't get much right at all. I rarely get up before our daughter, and truth be told, she's a master at preparing her own breakfast while I get myself ready. Many days my words are less than kind in the mornings as we rush to get out the door. More than I care to admit, the laundry is piled on the floor of the laundry room waiting to be washed or on the floor of the bedroom waiting to be folded because I just scraped it off the bed to the floor the night before because I was too tired to deal with it. Most days my floors are littered with cat hair and crumbs and shoes from everyone in this family. Although I do cook almost daily, sometimes it's something quick and prepared with grumbling about "why do I have to be the one to decide what to cook and cook it too?" Sometimes I get to work dreading the day ahead and what it will bring, not really feeling like being cheerful or kind to those around me. Some days I hate the drive home because of traffic, and I complain about sitting in the pick up line at school one. more. day. Many days I grumble that we are too busy as I drive from place to place yet again, a list going through my mind of what is left to do before I can go to bed that night. Many days I skip the workouts altogether. Some afternoons, I think that if I have to clean out the homework folder one more time, I might just scream because I'm over it all.

And you know what?? It's all ok.

We don't have to be perfect. That's a big deal for me to say. I like to have it all together. I like for people to think I have it all together. I'm the one who struggles with wondering what others must think of me if my house is unkept and I'm sending my kid to school in dirty jeans because I haven't done the laundry. Sometimes I get in my mind that God is keeping track of how well I'm doing in these things, and I forget to simply be. To be with Him. To be with my husband. To be with my kids. To be with me. In peace and quiet and stillness.

No agendas.
No schedules.
No clocks.
No expectations.

Psalm 46:10 says "Be still, and know that I am God".

I need to stop. Be still. Take him in. Notice his works around me. Stop doing and start being.

Exodus 14:14 says "The Lord Himself will fight for you. Just stay calm".

We don't have to work so hard. He has this.

So today, you have permission (as if you needed it from me!) to be still. Say No. Take a breather. Grab a cup of coffee and sit while you enjoy it. Actually taste your food. Have a meaningful conversation, not just a hello/goodbye in passing with a friend. Take a walk and look at the beauty around you. Skip the laundry. Eat PB&J sandwiches for dinner and laugh together instead of spending all of your time in the kitchen cooking and cleaning. Sit and read a book with your kid, snuggled on the couch with your favorite blanket.

Slow down. The world isn't going to stop if you don't check something off your list. That laundry will still be there tomorrow. Spend some time with the Lord today, soaking up his goodness and mercy. And for goodness sake, love the people around you. Love them well.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015


I've lost 60 pounds so far. I have many more to go, but I'm on my way. Some of you will disagree with the means by which I've accomplished this, but I don't care. That wasn't a decision for you to make; it was between me and God.  In November, I had weight loss surgery. Now, I know that some of you are now thinking "Well, of course you've lost 60 pounds then. You took the easy way out! I'm not impressed with someone who cheats their way to a healthier weight!". I know that because I've heard that (not from many, but a few). And frankly, I don't care how you feel about it. That's not what this post is about. 

You see, I've lost so much more than 60 pounds. I've lost fear of being seen. I've lost insecurity, the alarm, panic, dread, tiredness, apathy. I've also gained a few things in this journey so far....a sense of confidence, belief in myself, self-awareness, deeper joy. And this has much less to do with appearance than I ever expected. Yes, I admit that I like what I see in the mirror much better this way. But I love what I feel inside so much more than I could ever explain in words on a page. 

Most of you reading this know my story. You know I was sexually assaulted as a teenager. When that happened, I was thin... very thin.  And after that event, I carried a fear of being victimized again for years. It led me to some really unhealthy lifestyle choices like over-eating and bingeing on food. If I'm blatantly honest, I wanted to be fat because in my messed-up brain, I was telling myself that "no one will want to rape a fat girl". ( I know, I know... ridiculous. I didn't claim to be a genius; I told you it was a messed-up brain!)

Every time, over the years, that I would lose some weight, I'd start to feel a little better about myself, and then WHAM! Someone would compliment me on how they noticed I was losing weight. Suddenly, I was that fearful girl again, sure that I was the next victim of some crazed rapist roaming the streets just waiting for the next not-so-fat girl to come along. I'd go home and eat myself into oblivion and jump off the wagon of healthy choices once more. It was a vicious cycle: hate myself for being fat, talk myself into doing something about it, be successful, get a compliment, hate myself for starting to look better, sabotage myself, etc etc. 

Let me tell you that this is no way to live a life. God tells us that He desires for us an Abundant life! Does that sound like abundance to you?? Not even close! I was miserable. And I was good at hiding it. I laughed and told myself (and others), "I may be fat, but I'm happy!". Liar, liar, plus-sized pants on fire! I was anything BUT happy. 

Last year, I published a book , and something remarkable started to happen within me. I was already healed, redeemed and set free from the assault I had endured. But as people read my book, ladies started coming to me and sharing their own story, and I began to realize more than ever before that I was created for a purpose, and that purpose had NOTHING TO DO WITH MY WEIGHT. And slowly, I started to stop obsessing about it so much. And before long, I began to realize that I was no longer a victim at all, but truly a survivor. And so I didn't have to worry about being victimized in the future because I'm not that weak 17 year old girl anymore. I'm a strong, courageous and active 42 year old woman with a purpose and gifts and joy. I wanted more, and I wanted it to start with health. You see, I fully believe that I cannot live up to my full potential if my body is not up to its full potential. And so, I began to desire change, from the inside out. 

The weight came off very quickly in the beginning, and people began to notice right away that I was changing. Most did not know I'd had surgery, and some are just finding out right now! I was elated to realize that when people commented on the change in my body that I wasn't scared. I was empowered and encouraged, and y'all, let me tell you that encouragement is a HUGE motivator! 

There have been days that this is very hard, very emotional for me. Weight has been my safety net for years. It has been the reason I've felt I wouldn't be hurt again, as strange as that may be, and so it was hard to let that go. But God is sovereign, and He spoke (and still speaks) love and encouragement to me daily, moment by moment even! I poured into His word to learn who I really was- way more than the sum of what has happened to me in life, but a creation of His perfect design, made to make Him known. There is power in knowing who you are and WHOSE you are, my friends.  So, on those days that I cried  whined a lot, and said stupid things like "I'd rather be fat than feel like crap!", my wonderful husband would hug me close and remind me that this too shall pass, and I was not walking alone, and I really could do this thing. 

And I am. I AM doing this thing. 

I'm running, sort of (I'm still fat, y'all! I'm trying to run!) I'm doing push-ups and sit-ups and crunches and leg lifts and weights. I'm eating mostly proteins and veggies. I'm drinking water like crazy. I'm taking enough vitamins to strengthen an army. I'm walking daily with The Lord as I live on this earth (Ps. 116:9) and I'm thrilled. I'm holding my head high, even when the scale has a number I don't like or it doesn't move at all for a few days. I'm walking with confidence because I was made in the image of my Savior, and he really doesn't make junk. I'm no longer hardly ever calling myself derogatory things (Old habits die hard!), and I'm smiling when I look in a mirror even on days that I don't feel like it because we all deserve to be smiled at by ourselves. 

The fact is that there is more in this life for me. I'm 42 years old, and I believe with all my heart that my best days are ahead of me, not behind me. There are adventures to fulfill, tears to shed, laughs to bellow out, jokes to tell, necks to hug, races to run, mountains to hike, songs to sing, books to write, and on and on. I intend to do those things and so much more in the best health I possibly can. And I intend to do them all for the One who gave me this blessed life I live. 

I hope you're living your life too. I mean REALLY  living it! If you're not, and you want to hear of this Jesus who gives me the Hope I have to be able to walk through this life I live, I'd love to share him with you. I promise, He's the best. 

Go live your life.... and live it well, my friends! The best is yet to come! 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Fifty Shades of H-E-double hockey sticks NO!

February... the month of love, where hearts abound, love songs ring through the speakers, and roses suddenly escalate in price. I can't even comprehend how much money will be spent on chocolates, stuffed animals, diamonds, flowers, and dinners out to celebrate the ones we love. Frankly, I'm so grateful to have a husband that treats every day like Valentine's Day and celebrates me every minute. We don't need gifts on February 14th, but I digress.

February 14th also marks a monumental occasion that is flooding my Facebook page and my tv screen even as I type these words. It's the release date for "Fifty Shades of Grey".

Let me preface this by saying that I realize I have a lot of friends who will see this movie, and I'm taking a risk I guess of being kicked out of the cool club (not that I ever entered) just by writing my thoughts. But that's ok with me. I feel quite strongly about this subject, so I am compelled to write these words.

I'll also admit that I read a lot of the book. Several people were talking about it, and I wanted to be educated enough to at least discuss it with people. And I find it hard to argue against something when I really don't know what I'm talking about it.

I couldn't finish it. I was actually sickened by what I read. I had my first nightmare in years about being raped. I closed it and returned it to its owner and swore I'd never do that again. But I read enough to speak to its reality.

Fifty Shades of Grey is nothing short of porn. I believe wholeheartedly that while guys are visual and more prone to be tempted to look at pornographic pictures, us gals are emotional and so some ladies flock to pornographic writings to fill a void. And my heart is broken over the more than 100 MILLION people who have purchased this book. What kinds of voids are those folks, primarily ladies, trying to fill with this? Because whatever it is, this won't work.

You cannot fill a void in the heart with images of violence and domination. You cannot fix loneliness with words on a page that speak of torture and tearing down the essence of a woman. You cannot replace poor self esteem with graphic scenes of sexual perversion. It just doesn't equate. We weren't created to be "fixed" with trash.

I have sat hand in hand with ladies who have suffered severe violence at the hands of a domineering man. I've seen with my own eyes their scars, leftover marks reminding these ladies of just how horrendous humans can be. I've sat weeping as ladies have told me their stories of being trafficked, bound, beaten, raped, ridiculed, terrorized, threatened, and more. I've wept with ladies who had to come to terms with the fact that the child they were carrying in their womb shared a genetic line with the man who had mutilated, sold them to others for their financial gain, and followed through on threats to bring even more hurt if they fought. I myself carry the scars of a man who forced his power over me.

With all of that in my heart and mind, I cannot for the life of me understand that something like Fifty Shades of Grey is seen as entertainment. Folks, sexual perversion is NEVER entertainment.

The Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network (RAINN) tells us that an American is sexually assaulted every 107 seconds.
That's more than 800 a day just here in America.

According to the A21 Campaign, there are 27 MILLION people in bondage(Slavery) around the world. The average age of those victims is 12.

When I read statistics like that, I can't for the life of me understand how we can be so flippant about something like Fifty Shades. You see, when we trivialize sexual deviance, we make people think it's "not that bad". We become immune to its effects, to its vulgarity. We normalize what is far from normal. And when that happens, it's a slippery slope. Suddenly, you have little girls watching this filth that we call entertainment, getting those images of perversion in their innocent heads and starting the spark that says "this is normal between and man and a woman". NO!!

If we want Truth, we have to go to Scripture. And God's word tells us that we are to guard our hearts and keep our eyes to ourselves (Proverbs 23:26).
When we look at things we shouldn't, the bible says this: "Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are  bad, your body is also full of darkness" (Luke 11:34)

1 Thessalonians 4:3 tells us "It is God's will that you should be sanctified; that you should avoid sexual immorality".

I really want to honor God in my life. I don't get it right all of the time. In fact, I screw up a LOT. Blogs and Facebook are often a farce because I get to pick and choose what I show to the world about who I am. But God sees it all- the good, bad, and ugly. And you know what? He loves me despite it all. He loves you too, even if you have a burning desire to see Fifty Shades of Grey. Heck, He loves the makers of this movie, the writer of this book. It's not a question of His love for me or us. The question is about our love for him.

Do we love him enough to lay down our desires? Do we love him enough to lay down the voids in our hearts and trust Him to fill them with good things rather than the trash the world will heap on us? Do we love him enough to say "no" when the world is screaming "Yes"?

I can't find one good thing to say about this movie. Not one. I can't find one thing about it that would justify my watching it. I can't even think about it without the images of my friends who've fallen victim of these kinds of lies and deviance filling up my head. And so I beg you to reconsider if you are one of the many who are making plans to see Fifty Shades. Consider the harm it really can cause. Consider the way it objectifies a women as a sex toy, dehumanizing her for the pleasure of a man. Consider that there are those today who really are trapped in this world, and it's not entertainment; it's torture.

Let's choose to be different. Let's choose love instead. Because love- real, authentic love- wins.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Update: A different kind of anniversary

It's been two years today since this happened. Two years of healing, of talking, of growing. Most importantly, it's been two years of watching life come back into our son. It didn't happen overnight. It didn't happen without hard work, tears, wrestling fears, and lots of prayer. It happened though, and for this healing I am eternally grateful. My son is not alone in this fight. Millions of others suffer depression, yet they never take the step to ask for help. Many give up completely and follow through with a suicide plan. It's hard for me to even write those words, knowing the reality for so many other parents is not as beautiful as ours.

I don't post this for pity or attention. I post this so that others know they are not alone. Bryan has said he is fine with letting people know if it encourages even one to seek help, to speak out. I'm so proud of him. I'm so thankful for his life. I'm so humbled to have been chosen as his mom.

This is a fight that our world must keep fighting. As followers of Christ, we must bring to light the reality of depression and its effects. If you need help, please don't wait too late. If you think your child needs help, please talk to them. You might be surprised at how much they tell you simply because you asked.

Here is our story, as told one year ago today:

One year ago today, I sat in this very chair that I now sit typing. Across from me was our son Bryan. It was a rather typical Tuesday afternoon, and we were going through the day's homeschooling assignments. I asked a simple question while I looked over his workbook, but he never answered me. I looked up to find tears running down his cheeks and a look of defeat on his face. As I reached across the table to touch his hands that were shaking, he said "I cannot do this anymore".

Those words changed the course of not only that day, but the whole year that followed. What I heard next pierced deep into my heart. My son looked down, unable to make eye contact and said, "I want to die. I want to kill myself mom. I'm not safe."

If you've never heard those words from your child or a loved one, you can't understand how I felt. Jeff got home shortly afterward, and he too heard those words.

We were shaken.

For those who may not know me well, let me explain that I am a psychiatric nurse. I do this stuff for a living. I've heard many people, young and old, utter those same words throughout my career. I've hurt with them, rejoiced in healing, grieved when things didn't get better. But never once had I sat in that spot as the mother of a child who was severely depressed. Bryan had dealt with some mild depression and anxiety issues in the past, but it had never gotten to this point. In fact, he had done so well in the year previously  that he had gone off all of his medication.

Yes, there were "signs". He was not sleeping as well. He was a bit more irritable. He was a little more withdrawn from us and from friends. But really, we had no way of knowing it had gotten this bad. You see, Bryan hadn't wanted us to know it was that bad. He had done a fantastic job of making it look like things were okay. I can't tell you how many times I've thanked God that on that Tuesday last January, he decided that he'd had enough.

Because Bryan not only was voicing suicidal thoughts, but he had a plan for harming himself, we had no choice but to hospitalize him for safety. It was excruciating to leave that hospital that night without him. I wanted to scream. I wanted to offer to stay home with him all the time until he felt safe. But in my heart, I knew that he needed to do this. He needed to go and learn that he had a voice and that he could learn to help himself. I still firmly believe that while it seemed that the hospital stay did little more than provide him safety while his feelings were intense, in all actuality it showed Bryan that when he voiced his feelings, he got help. It's important for people to know that they are heard, and Bryan knew it.

In the year that has followed, I've watched my son overcome. He's overcome depression. He's overcome suicidal thoughts. He's overcome stigma. He's overcome the overwhelming anxiety. He's overcome fear.

Is he perfect? Heck no! (are any of us?) But he has a strength that I had not seen before this year.

Today, I asked him what has been the key for his healing. Typical of Bryan, his first response was "I don't know. I got happy.". But when he answered seriously, he said "I started taking my faith seriously. It's not perfect, but I know I have God.". He also made changes in some of the music he had been listening to prior to this time last year, changing from some really dark and sad stuff to more positive music (Yes, screaming music can still be positive). And he's worked hard to be with people. As an introvert, that's not easy, and I've watched with pride as he has come out of his shell more this year and put himself out there to be in relation with people.

I write this today with his permission. I write this because depression is no respecter of persons. It hits the young and old, rich and poor, white collar and blue collar, fat and thin, athletic and non-athletics. It doesn't care if you're from a family of faith and pray every day; it still creeps in, telling you that you're not good enough, not smart enough, not talented enough, not...... Depression sucks the air from your lungs and leaves you gasping. It sharpens its claws on your heart, ripping it to shreds before you know what hit you. It replaces optimism with fear, unbelief, panic and paralysis. 

Depression kills.

Our family is one of the lucky ones. In my heart, and because of conversations with Bryan throughout this year, I believe that had we not sat down together that afternoon, Bryan wouldn't be here today. I believe that had I not listened that day, this would be a whole different kind of anniversary for us. To say that I celebrate this day is an understatement that I cannot begin to explain. Our family can rejoice even while countless other families stare at an empty chair at their tables tonight.

If you're reading this, and you are experiencing any of the things I've written about, please get help. Call 1-800-783-TALK if you don't have anyone you can talk to. Call your best friend. Call your mom or dad. Go to your spouse. Call your doctor. Call your church and talk to a pastor. Talk to someone. And if you suspect that your child (or spouse or friends of whomever) is suffering, don't stop asking questions and telling them you love them. Because let me assure you that it's worth them being aggravated to let them know you are here. Our family can attest to that, and Bryan will assure you that we've never let him rest in that area.

I've witnessed God's healing in many areas of life. This one is extra special because I've watched as God has breathed life into our son again. And y'all, that is a beautiful thing.