Faith and Hard Work

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Recently I was once again asked to share a message about mental health, faith, depression and trauma recovery. I’m always honored to be a source of hope and encouragement to others, especially on these subjects because trauma recovery and mental health are so much a part of my story.    

As a Behavior Designer, one of the most important tools I’m blessed to share is the truth about the science behind human behavior and the fact that it’s not random or unpredictable, it’s systematic.  The gift that comes from learning, understanding, and accepting this creates a feeling of empowerment and self-compassion that can lead you to sound victory in your healing journey.  

Now, even though there is a fail-safe, proven system for human behavior, regardless of the objective you most want to achieve, the first step is and always will be, you’ve got to be willing.  Mental health, emotional strongholds and trauma recovery are no exception.

I’m a very visual person, so the best way I can think of right now to explain this comes from one of my favorite movies, Final Fantasy – The Spirits Within.  In the film, earth has been infested by an alien species that has the ability to devour souls – often leading to sudden death but only if they consume you.  If they just touch you, even the slightest touch - then you become infected and will soon after die unless you begin treatment.  The lead character Aki has become a warrior for wellness and has devoted her life to finding the cure that will heal what they call ‘The Spirits Within.’  

Depression and trauma recovery are very much like what you’ll see in the film. Regardless of what caused the ‘infestation,’ once you’ve been infected with sorrow it can make even the thought of getting out of bed and receiving hope for the new day exhausting.  It creates a spirit within that causes you to struggle to find your way through the darkness, but there’s always a way. 

In the movie, Aki begins to lose faith and she becomes deeply discouraged, but then her mentor Sid - a Scientist working with her to find the cure, looks her in the eyes after she shares her fears and says confidently, we will do this - with “Faith and hard work!” 

And that’s what I pass along to you today. 

I promise you, the resources that you need are there.  The support you need is there.  The tools you need are there. God has designed you in such a way that every tiny choice you make toward wellness will produce a harvest if you have a willing heart and mind , but first you must accept and commit to a healing journey. 

And no, what happened to you that caused your sickness of heart and mind was not ok. It was hard and awful and in many cases -  it certainly wasn’t fair or deserved.  But the reality of your situation right now is that if you are stuck in sorrow and depression, it’s time to commit to take courage, have faith and work hard to find your way back into the light.    

Please be compassionate with yourself as you journey along, recovery is often two steps forward and sometimes 3 steps back. Celebrate every tiny step you take forward and share your story with the safe people in your life.  Pray for a mentor or guide to help you. Find the right trauma recovery and mental health specialist for your needs and don’t apologize for being human.  Sorrow and sadness are right responses to many of the challenges that we face in this fallen world, but you don’t have to stay in the darkness for good.   Your situation is not your destiny and God is with you, He is for you and He can do anything but fail. 

He’s planted the seed in your heart to be well, He’s given you faith to believe, and He’s with you always.  I pray that you will make time to take courage, slow down, armor up, and train hard.  Learn your gifts and trust your allies. Love well, and do the work. Because you are beloved.

* * *

Here is the I song shared during my interview on 90.1FM & special thanks to Artum Sapegin for this beautiful image!

Scriptures to consider for mental health and trauma recovery:

Proverbs 12:15 - The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise person is the one who listens to counsel.

Proverbs 11:14 (ESV) - Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.

Proverbs 1:5 - Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance.

Psalm 103:2-4 - Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy.

John 5:6 - When Jesus saw him lying there and realized that he had spent a long time in this condition, He asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

Click here for some of my favorite resources that may help you to take your first tiny steps toward recovery.

Uprooted by Kindness


We’re finally home! As we face the ongoing task of organizing what we have left and replacing what was lost, only my closest friends know just how difficult this 3-month displacement was for me on a deeply personal level. As I think about these things, I’m often overwhelmed with joy as I remember the many who came alongside us in so many wonderful ways. 

My life motto is “Kindness is a Superpower” and this experience of losing access to home due to fire opened up an opportunity for many who joyfully welcomed the chance to be a blessing to me and my family.  The big news is that for the first time in my life, blindsided by this fire that damaged every square inch of our home, my heart and spirit were tired enough to accept.  

I spent a portion of my childhood homeless. We slept in the car, in shelters, public restrooms, and once in a woman’s dirty, gasoline smelling garage for an extended period of time.  When you’re a little girl, surrounded by garbage and hungry it affects you in ways that you’d never expect.  That initial experience of homelessness in my formative years influenced every choice I made an adult. And I worked hard to keep my 1st childhood vow:  ‘When I grow up, I will never be homeless again & I will always be able to go home.’  Nope – Life always has its say.

On the other side of that coin, is the fact that I became extremely determined and self-reliant. Not long after that terrible chapter in my life, we moved to Germany and during a middle school trip to one of the largest death camps, I made another vow: ‘I will be a part of the good in this world, no matter what.’

All of this came to mind as I sat in my newly restored living room last week, praying with a thankful heart for all the ongoing love and kindness we’ve received over the past quarter of 2019.  That day, I discovered a wonderful new series on Netflix called “The Kindness Diaries.” It chronicles the adventures of Leon Logothetis, who embarks on a quest to prove that there is genuine goodness and kindness in the world, you just have to choose to take notice of it.  

In episode 1, Leon meets Willy and Cheryl who gave him shelter, food and invited him to join them on a visit to a neighbor celebrating her 96th birthday, so she wouldn’t have to spend it alone.  Inspired by their faith - they served, shared and loved despite their personal struggles.  Leon said that their example proved to him that ‘Human beings can literally manufacture hope through acts, even the simplest acts of kindness.’ Later in episode 11, he visits the ‘Killing Fields,’ of Choung Ek in Cambodia and the largest death camp.  Just as I did in the 7th grade, he left “shaken to the core” and more determined than ever to find kindness and love, and ‘the light within us that will always triumph over the darkness.’

As a little girl living in chaos and poverty, I somehow figured out something miraculous:  There really is more goodness in this world than evil, selfishness, poverty and suffering.  The secret to experiencing this kind of joyful reality is in learning how to look for and find the good in every circumstance, every day, no matter how small, with a thankful heart. And choosing every day to do our part to shine the light that we’ve been entrusted with.

The love I’ve experienced in the last 3 months has amplified my desire to carry out that 2nd childhood vow. But it’s different now, I have new wisdom and strength fueled by the joy of knowing that my prideful seeds of self-deception about my ability to take care of myself were uprooted by kindness.

Though I could never thank you enough…I’m a writer, and so I wrote this blog as my way of saying, Thank you!  

To everyone who prayed, gave money, visited us in the hotel, offered us space in your homes, brought us clothing and food, hosted us in your home, kept me company at 2AM when I couldn’t stop crying, and to everyone who called, texted, and messaged several times a week, just to see if we needed anything.

Thank you, with all my heart.   Because of your acts of loving kindness, with each passing day - I felt less of the effects of the fire, and more of the love of God. 

Yes, life will have its say, but God has the final word. And I will always be thankful!

“Be Brave. Be Present. Be Wise. Be Faithful. Be Kind to Yourself & Others, and Be Blessed.” ©

Thank you @Sushobhan for this beautiful image!

There is Only Today, and It's Enough


This morning on the Today Show, they featured an interview with Neenah Pickett, the creator of the 52 Weeks Blog where she chronicled her journey to find a husband in one year.  She started the blog a decade ago and as of today, she is still waiting, and hoping.  

One of my favorite parts of the interview with this strong inspiring woman is that she talked about the importance of choosing ‘radical acceptance.’  Often in life, we have great hope that things will work out a certain way. We strive, we dream, and we have a culture here in the United States that tells us every day that if we just work hard enough, ‘No matter how your heart is grieving/If you keep on believing/ The dream that you wish will come true.’ *

But what do you do when you dream, you hope, you work and you believe, but like Neenah or me, a decade or two passes and you’re still waiting?

This is a really tough question, but I think it deserves to be asked and not ignored. Last night, right before slipping off to sleep, a simple thought settled in my mind:

We have this day, only today and it’s enough. There is no tomorrow.”

For some strange reason, this thought gave me a hope and peace that I didn’t expect.  And I was so thankful for it. I slept well, straight through the night.  I think the reason it brought me peace is because it was a statement of radical acceptance.   

Neenah Pickett talked about the many people who have been encouraged by her blog over the past 10 years and the community she’s found with other singles who have become dear friends in the journey.  She shed some tears as she talked about having a hysterectomy and had to let go of dreams to someday carry and give birth to her own child.  But she always returned to hope and offering encouragement to those who were willing to receive it.  She still extends an invitation to those who want to join the community with others who are still looking for love and refusing to give up hope. She’s accepted her call to be an encourager, even when it’s hard.

I don’t know what dreams you’re holding on to today, or what weary hopes you may feel burdened by, but as a woman of faith, I offer you a couple of words of encouragement that have often helped me. 

They’re simple words offered by Jesus to His followers, that when we’re discouraged and tempted to lose hope as we buckle under the weight of dashed dreams, unmet expectations and unmitigated regret, we need only remember:

“Always pray, and never give up hope,” and “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” *

Thankfully, my tomorrow did in fact arrive (yay God!), but like Neehah, I found peace in radical acceptance: Acceptance of the fact that I have this new day, this moment to share kindness, encouragement, love and light in a way that might help someone else to be strengthened for their next step. And If you need encouragement today, I pray that someone is you.

“Be Brave. Be Present. Be Wise. Be Faithful. Be Kind to Yourself & Others, and Be Blessed.” ©

*A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes - Lyrics

*Matthew 6:34 and Luke 18:1 - The Bible

Thank you @FrankMckenna for this beautiful image!