The Stories Our Bodies Tell

Hello my friends. It is so good to be with you again. When I first started writing this post, my body seemed to be in a good place. I actually had half of this post written and then my body went through dealing with trauma once again. This time, however, I was able to implement some new practices and recover much better than I did in February. So, I will be sharing with you in this post what I have been doing to honor the stories my body is telling me. 

Our bodies have a story to tell. We are actually created to listen to those stories. When something triggers the pain, trauma, etc. in our bodies, we are usually responding to an old story—something that happened to us years ago. The traumatic part inside of us is alerting us that something inside us needs to be tended to. I’ve learned if I don’t stop to listen, or keep ignoring what my body is telling me, the pain, grief, anxiety, fear, etc. will come out one way or another.

“Each of our bodies is a system that longs for and is created to move toward healing. When we don’t allow our bodies to process their experiences, they will certainly tell us—even if it means through panic attacks, chronic illness, depression, or more.” Kolber

My mom’s health makes me feel like I am living on a rollercoaster emotionally. When she fell recently, I tried to be more attentive to what was happening in my body. I sensed that I needed to stop and listen more than I have in the past. I grabbed my journal and decided that my body was more important than my to-do list.

I know, from many years of experience, that one of the best things I can do is take the time to sit and ask my parts why I am reacting the way I am. The different parts of me have a lot to say. It is my job to listen and help my parts work through the issues so we can receive healing.

I know it might sound weird to get to know the different parts you have inside you. Since we have different stages of life, we also have different parts that experience those stages. They have a story to tell. They want to have a voice. They want to heal. 

When I am engaging with my parts, I always ask the Lord to be with us. I ask Him to be present and help us understand what we need to talk about. This work is holy and sacred. He helps me show compassion and gives me the ability to truly listen so healing can begin.   

If you are struggling with issues from trauma, I believe getting to know your parts is one of the best things you can do. They live in your body and they have one thing in common….you.

I was so out of touch with what was going on inside of me for so many years. I denied what my body was saying to me. And because I just kept powering through instead of taking the time to listen, the panic attacks started. The anxiety flourished. The depression darkened my soul. 

“When we assess our needs, we are absolutely thinking of ourselves as we “ought”. Learning to attune to ourselves is essentially the climax of trying softer—we are aiming to rewire our brains so they receive what they needed when they were young.” Kolber

God made us so that we can rewire our brains. For those of us healing from trauma, mental illness, etc.— this is wonderful news!!! This is headline news!!! What we didn’t receive when we were younger, can be rewired in our brains. Stop and let that good news marinate in your body, your brain, your heart and your soul.

Let me say this…I haven’t always been good at responding and listening to my parts. It has taken me years to understand the process and do the work that is required. The best advice I can give myself and you is…be patient; be kind; show compassion to yourself; listen; love yourself and your parts.

I want to share an exercise with you that has been extremely helpful to me when I am struggling with overwhelming anxiety. It is called grounding. Here is the explanation of how to do this technique in Aundi Kolber’s book Try Softer.

Before you begin, perform a body scan and mentally notice if you feel connected to your body. You can do this by picturing a laser beam across your body that starts at your feet and moves up to the top of your head. Can you feel your breath? Do you notice any tingling or other sensations anywhere? Don’t worry about figuring out where they come from; for now simply notice them. Next, do the following to ground yourself in your present environment.

     Name five things you can see.

     Name four things you can touch and touch them. 

     Name three things you can hear.

     Name two things you can smell.

     Name one thing you can taste.

Now repeat the body scan. Do you notice anything different? Use this exercise when you begin to feel disconnected or overwhelmed to help you move back into your Window Of Tolerance.

I like to be outside when I do this exercise. After I am finished, I stop to look for beauty around me. I listen to the birds chirping. I felt the wind blowing in my hair. The sun is shining. I get in touch with my body and the parts that need my attention. This exercise has helped me calm down. I feel like I have unloaded a heavy burden after I am finished.

“We know from Scripture that as Christ followers we are image bearers of our God; we were known by our Creator in our mothers’ wombs; we are temples of the Holy Spirit; we are members of a royal nation; and—my favorite —we are beloved. I think it’s fair to say that as we honestly assess our own needs, we are absolutely thinking of ourselves as we “ought.” Kolber  

Getting to know who you are is so important. I bought into the lie that “I didn’t matter” for too many years. You are important. Your issues are important. You are valued. You are worth every cent you spend to heal. 

My biggest fear is that I will lose my mind. I saw my grandmother, my dad and my brother die from mental and physical issues. And now, my mother is slowly losing her mind. I am scared. I’ve watched the mental decline in people I dearly love. That is one of the many reasons I work so hard to keep that from happening to me. I know I am in God’s hands and if that is my fate, then so be it. But, I am going down fighting every step of the way. 

May is mental health awareness month. I wanted to have this post done at the beginning, not the end of the month. Obviously, there was much more to learn before I finished writing it. I have to say that our mental health is so important!!!!! We need to listen to the cries of our minds, bodies, hearts and souls. They are crying for a reason. They want to be held and comforted. They have a story to tell us. We just need to take the time to slow down, listen and show compassion. 

I am not an expert on this issue. My healing has been slow. There are a lot of layers to go through. But, I am noticing this work is helping me heal. Just last week I listened to the part of me that felt like she didn’t matter. I cried and cried and then cried some more. I listened and found out that part of me has felt that way since I was a little girl. I’ve carried around the feeling that I didn’t matter most of my life. I tell myself every day now that I matter. I tell that part that she matters. 

“We are invited to connect to and respond to our internal world because we are deeply valuable and loved by God and because that is true, we can rest in the fact that our needs matter.” Kolber

As I end this post, I would like to recommend two books by Aundi Kolber. They are Try Softer and Strong Like Water. Aundi has experienced trauma. Her words and her techniques are so helpful. I am learning so much from her.

Thank you Jesus for all the wonderful tools you give to us! Thank you for your healing power.  Thank you for the ability to rewire our brains so we can receive what we didn’t when we were young. 

If you are struggling, hang in there! You are worth it! Keep doing what you need to do to help your body, mind, heart and soul. 

I want to dedicate this post to my brother David. His struggles with mental illness were devastating. But, I will see him again one day and his face will be glowing. His eyes will no longer be filled with darkness. He will be at peace and happy to be with his Savior. Oh, how I long to see him like that one day!!!

Until next time dear friends…. This is my journey to joy.

Healin’ Ain’t Easy

It has been a few months since I’ve been able to write. I experienced a situation a few months ago that triggered me and sent me into a tailspin emotionally and physically. My mind was reeling with questions and thoughts. My body was reacting with horrible anxiety. I couldn’t understand why I was triggered so severely. I was so confused and discouraged. So I decided, with the Lord’s help, I needed to go deeper into understanding trauma.

Everything that lives inside our bodies can at some point break down. We might need to have surgery to repair a bone that gets broken or take out an appendix if it ruptures. We might need to have our kidney stones removed. (I am far too familiar with that type of surgery!) You get the idea. Sometimes our bodies need to be repaired. But what do we do when our mind needs repair?

When we deal with PTSD or other mental issues, we can’t go in and remove our brains. Surgery isn’t going to be the answer. But, we can work on repairing the damage that has been done. Restoring our minds is definitely not a quick fix. It might take years to mend the damage that was done. But I am learning, that restoration can happen because we have a God who is in the business of restoring our minds, bodies and souls.

“Many of us feel deep shame around our feelings of anxiety or disconnection—as if we should be stronger than we are or just “get over” our fears. But what I want you to hear is this: It’s important that we honor our stories, and it’s vital that we understand and have compassion for the biological responses our bodies now have because of those stories. Many of our responses happen whether we want them to or not.” Aundi Kolber

My body has been biologically responding to the trauma that happened to me in my childhood for many years. I have suffered from anxiety, panic attacks and at times depression. Even though my father and the danger of his presence is gone, my body still responds as if the violence was still present. The fact that I haven’t been able to control how my body reacts has only made it worse. It has been a horrible battle for years. 

I was talking with my counselor and I realized something that I never have before. I’ve always told myself that I handled my abusive childhood better than my brother did because he was the one that committed suicide. I made myself believe I was the tougher one and he was more sensitive than I was. I think I did that because I had to be the stronger one in my mind in order to survive. Well, that was a lie. 

I realize now, that I have to admit that I was just as profoundly affected by my childhood as my brother was. The trauma has nearly destroyed me. My story could have easily been suicide. The only way I am going to heal, is to honor my story; be honest with my feelings and help the different parts of me feel like they have a voice. I need to bring them into the presence of Jesus where there is always help and safety. 

“When we consciously or unconsciously feel we aren’t safe, our bodies automatically shift into hyper- or hypoarousal. This is an incredibly helpful instinct when we are in actual danger. However, the neuroception of folks who’ve grown up in physically or emotionally threatening situations can become skewed. This sense is exacerbated if they feel they don’t have a voice, choice, or way to set limits on experiences that feel threatening.” Aundi Kolber

I have to accept the fact that my brain developed differently than a child who was living in a safe environment. When I was growing up, I felt threatened daily because I was living in a war zone from the moment I woke up till the moment I fell asleep. Yes, I wish my life could have been different. But I am realizing that God is writing a different story for me. A story that I want to share with you. 

I have spoken often about journaling. It is still the best way I can communicate with my Savior. But now, I am trying to listen to my body more than I have in the past. I am trying to honor my story and be kind to myself. 

When my body is in full panic mode the last thing I think of is kindness. I have a lifetime of bad habits to change that include pushing through pain and willing myself to look okay. I am learning that I have to listen to my body, be kind to it, and figure out what I need to do to feel safe. I was not safe as a child and to be perfectly honest, I haven’t felt safe as an adult very often.

“If you grew up without a secure attachment, you may not feel you can reach out for help when scared—this is a clue that your experiences have made your “Window of Tolerance” smaller. We must figure out how to establish safety for our bodies. If we can listen to and respond to our bodies’ needs, whether that means releasing energy by getting outside or staying connected to ourselves through conscious breathing, our WOT will begin to grow, and true healing can occur. It is slow work, but friend, nothing could be more worth it.” Kolber

The kindness part trips me up a lot because I get so frustrated with the process. I get frustrated with my body reacting the way it does. My body can get triggered without my mind knowing what is going on. I just want to scream and cry most of the time. 

I am learning to befriend the parts of me that need someone to listen to them. I realize that might sound weird to some of you. But I have to tell you this has been an amazing experience. I have encountered a younger part; a teenage part; a very anxious part; a threatened part; an angry part: a fearful part; and many others that I can’t remember right now. Each time I listen to them, I learn and I heal. 

I want to pause and say something right now to you, your friends and your family. I/You did not choose to be abused. I/You did not choose to be yelled at or belittled. I/You did not choose to live in a home filled with anger and fear. I/You did not choose to live in a war zone every single day. I/You cannot help what happened to us. This is something that I/You are not just going to get over. Instead, we are going to get through it!!

I have spent so much of my time beating myself up because I couldn’t get over it. Maybe you have too. But, by the grace of God, I am going to get through it. I will get through this because of the work I put into healing and also the work of the Holy Spirit in me. 

I know our friends and families have a hard time understanding all of this because they haven’t lived it. They just want us to get better. There is a lot of stress and frustration out there with the process of healing. I know… because I have been on both sides. 

When my brother was really sick with OCD, I felt so helpless. I saw a darkness in his eyes. I just wanted him to get better. I did whatever I could to help him. Year after year I watched him go through so many different treatments and nothing seemed to help him. I know he felt alone, frustrated, scared and angry because we didn’t understood what he was going through.

Can I just say something about that? The next time you feel tempted to get frustrated with yourself, your friend, or family member… stop and take a moment to pray. Pray for yourself and that person. Love yourself and one another. Be kind to one another. Be kind to yourself. You will find more peace by doing that than trying to push through or put unrealistic expectations on yourself or that person. 

Healing is tricky. My brother and I grew up in the same household, but our bodies reacted very differently. He had his story and I have mine. I really wish I would have know then, what I know now, so I could have reacted differently. I think that’s true for most of us. 

His death set off a chain reaction inside of me that I have been dealing with for years. He was the one that uncovered the truth of what was happening inside my family. To be honest, my body and my mind wasn’t ready for the truth to come out. But, ready or not, I have been on a journey that I wouldn’t trade for anything because it has brought me into a relationship with Jesus that I didn’t know was possible. 

So, in order to honor my brother and my story, I would like to keep writing as many posts as I can to share with you what I am learning and also what I am implementing in my healing process. There is so much to tell you. I am like an onion that is having its’ layers peeled away one at a time.

I look forward to sharing with you. I have already talked about journaling, which in my opinion, is instrumental in healing. Knowing you have an empathetic witness, which is what I talked about in my last post, is key. You also need to have a counselor and a support system. I will talk more about honoring your story, befriending your parts and being kind to yourself and so much more in my next posts. 

Until then my friends…This is my journey to joy!  

The Empathetic Witness

I’ve always loved to read. When I was younger, you would find me reading Nancy Drew Mystery books. I love a good mystery! Oh, how I miss the summer days of my youth, where I could read all day if I wanted to.  

The last 23 years of my life, I’ve been reading books to help me with my anxiety. I fondly call them, “Helping Laurie Stay Sane Collection.” Let’s just say that I have a huge collection! Those books have given me the tools I’ve needed to help me navigate through my issues with anxiety.  There is a quote, that I would like to share with you, that popped up more than once in my book collection. “Trauma is not what happens to us, but what we hold inside in the absence of an empathetic witness.” Gabor Maté

When I read that quote, a light went off in my brain. I actually cried because I didn’t fully understand I had an empathetic witness to all my pain, anxiety, depression, anger and everything else that was bottled up inside me. Even though I had Jesus in my life, I didn’t understand He could handle me and my trauma. Frankly, I didn’t think anyone could. 

Jesus is able to be our witness because of what He endured while He lived on earth. He went through deep trauma and deep pain. He was misunderstood. He was tempted and left all alone. He experienced so much anguish that He sweat drops of blood. He knows how we feel people!! He is the only One in this world that really knows.

We can have amazing friends. We can have a loving family. We can be involved in church and Bible studies. We can be in small groups. We can have wonderful counselors. I am blessed to say that I’ve had all of that. But, nothing compares to sitting down with Jesus and asking Him to be my empathetic witness. He is the only One who can be what I need. 

This is exciting news!!! It took me a long time to realize what I had right in front of me. Let me share another quote with you. “Your experience of lacking protection, places you in the center of Christ’s story. Our experience of defenselessness can become part of the story of courage overcoming the world.” K.J. Ramsey 

If you are like me, and you haven’t been protected in the past, I want to share with you why you might be a nervous wreck. Our trauma rewires our nervous systems. I have learned a lot about the nervous system in the last 23 years. The information I am going to share with you has helped me tremendously understand myself better and hopefully this information will help you too. 

Our brain’s first job is to keep us alive. Our nervous system is constantly searching within us and outside of us to make sure we are safe. It works like a surveillance system. People who have experienced a lot of trauma, have extremely sensitive surveillance systems. We have an alarm system that gets tripped a lot more often and easier than others. That’s why I have always envied people who are much calmer than me. I don’t know what “calm” or “relaxed” feels like very often. 

I know that’s why I have been told that I am “too sensitive.” I used to get so mad when people would say that about me. Now, I know there is a reason I am that way. My eyes have been constantly on the look out for danger and for safety most of my life. That’s why my nervous system has been severely affected. A situation you might think is harmless, might make my heart race. I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve been in a movie theater and experienced severe anxiety over what I am watching. Nothing is directly happening to me, but I am getting triggered by what is happening on the screen. 

I’ve felt like I am the biggest “weirdo” because of the way I’ve reacted to things in my life. I’ve also felt extremely alone with my feelings. I didn’t feel safe expressing my feelings because I was afraid of the reaction I would get. I would beat myself up mentally all the time. I’d ask myself, “Why do I react this way? Why can’t I be normal like everyone else? Why can’t I calm down? Why or why can’t I find anybody that reacts the way I do? Why do I have to be like this?”

I felt that way for so many years, until I finally realized I had Jesus. And that was a game changer for me. We need an empathetic witness in our lives. Our trauma; our bodies; our minds; our souls and our emotions need Him. Our nervous systems need to connect to a relationship that shifts us into regulation. 

“Our past experience of our stress being ignored, shamed, or silenced can build us into people who expect to be alone with our pain.” Ramsey  If you are a highly sensitive person, I suspect you have felt alone like I have. Our pain has to have a place to go if we are going to be healthy emotionally. That’s why I journal. I get it all out on paper. I talk to Jesus when I write. Journaling has been the tool that has helped me connect to Him.

It took a long time for me to really feel close to Him; to trust Him and to get my feelings out. It took years to be honest, open, transparent and ask questions. It takes time for any relationship to develop. You have to be patient with yourself. Intimacy takes time to develop.

You might be thinking you don’t know how to connect with Jesus. I would like share what I’ve done. You have to do what is comfortable for you. Remember, I’ve been at this for 23 years. I am sharing what has worked for me. 

I always have my notebook and a pen with me. I go to a place in my mind where I feel happy and at ease. My place is usually a garden, but it has also been the mountains and the beach. All those places make me happy. Then, I open myself up and talk to Jesus. I share how I am feeling. I ask for His help with whatever is bothering me. I speak to Him through the words I am writing on the page. It’s very similar to writing a letter to someone. I tell Him things I’m learning and I ask for His input. 

We have conversations. Not audibly, but inwardly. He teaches me. He guides me. He shows me the way to go. He speaks to me through the words I write. It is the most beautiful thing to experience. He heals with His words. He loves with His presence. I can see Him sitting down and talking to me. I love being with Him. There isn’t anything that compares to being with Jesus. 

You might be thinking you don’t know if you can do what I have done. That’s ok. You have to do what feels right for you. The important thing to know is the fact that you have an empathetic witness who wants to be with you. He wants to hear from you. He wants to help you through your pain and your trauma.

I have been in counseling off and on for 23 years. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for their help. I have tried EMDR therapy. I have tried tapping. I have done breathing exercises. I take medication. All those things are wonderful, but I am here to tell you, nothing compares to connecting with my Savior. NOTHING!!!!!

Before I end this post, I don’t want to imply that we don’t need friends. We do need friends. I have the best friends in the world. I am saying that we have to realize they don’t have the ability to truly understand what we have been through. Sometimes we can put too much pressure on people to be what we need them to be. That’s an easy trap to fall into. People don’t always react the way you need them to because they simply don’t know how to react. They don’t have counseling degrees. The sooner we realize that, the better off everyone we will be.

I hope this post has been helpful. I pray God will use it to help you connect to Him. Life with Jesus is the great adventure!

Until next time dear friends. This is my journey to joy!!!

Me And My Spiral Bound Notebooks

Hello my friends! It is a beautiful sunny day in Indiana. Oh, how I long for the sun to shine in the wintertime. Sunshine just helps me feel better mentally. How about you? In my last post, I talked about the importance of reaching out for help when you are struggling with your mental health. I spoke about how important it is to get help from counselors or a pastor. There are many other important aids available like taking medication, prayer, reading, and journaling. Everything I mentioned is a vital puzzle piece in your story.

Journaling has been one of the pieces that has helped me open up spiritually and emotionally. Now, before we get started, I know some of you might be rolling your eyes and thinking, “There is no way I have time, nor do I want to sit down and write words on a piece of paper.” I get that! I understand your feelings. I used to feel the same way. But, if you want to build intimacy with God, in a way you never thought was possible, I would like for you to keep reading and consider it. This is a new year, so why not try something new?

I will never forget the first time I entertained the thought of journaling. I was going to a Bible study at my church. I was listening to the teacher talk about the impact journaling had in her life. While I was listening to her, I started thinking, “Lord, I don’t know if I am going to be able to do this. But, I am willing to try because I need as much help as I can get. If this is something that will help me, please give me what I need to do this!” 

When I got home that day, I couldn’t get her words out of my mind. So, I went to the store, walked over to the school supply aisle and bought a spiral bound notebook. It wasn’t one of those fancy leather journals that we have today. It was just a plain old spiral bound notebook. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on a journal.

I took that notebook home with anticipation in my heart. I felt very accomplished that I had taken a step towards attempting something new. The idea that journaling could make a difference in my life made me want to try it even more. I desperately wanted to move towards healing and I was hoping that journaling would help me move in that direction.

When I opened my notebook to the first page, I really didn’t know how I was going to start. So, I wrote down the date, January 3, 2001. Then, I noted what I was learning in my Bible Study and a scripture that meant something to me. And finally, I wrote a prayer to God to help me stay close to Him. That was my very first page of journaling. 

My first journal entry was written 22 years ago. I am currently writing in my 28th notebook. I still prefer a spiral bound notebook. I guess I am a student in my heart and love using notebooks. You should use whatever makes you feel comfortable.  

There are days I only write a few words and there are days I write page after page after page. For me, it is the absolute best tool for getting my feelings out. Journaling is therapy. Journaling has brought me closer to God than I ever thought was possible. Journaling has given me intimacy with my Savior. 

My notebooks are filled with conversations that I’ve had with God. He is my best friend. He knows me better than anyone else does. He knows what is best for me and He knows my heart. 

Writing has also helped me get my feelings out in a constructive way. It has helped me sort through my trauma, my issues, my depression, my anxiety, my panic attacks, my relationship with God and my relationships with others. 

It is kind of hard to explain what happens when I write. God meets me on that page. For me,  journaling is a holy work. He speaks to me and shows me what I need to learn. He comforts me and shows me the way I should go. He heals me with His words. He gives me wisdom. He loves me with His great compassion.

Look, I know it is hard to open up. It took me a really, really long time to build intimacy with Christ. I had so many trust issues that I didn’t realize I had. Every day I had to learn to trust Him. It took a long time. But, now that I look back, I am so grateful I kept at it. 

I kept talking to Him. I persistently asked questions. I wrestled with Him over so many different issues. The conversations that are in my notebooks are about everything I have doubted or   wondered about. Everything I have questioned, or was angry about, or longed for, or cried and cried over (that happened a lot!!), or laughed about, or mourned over. Everything that has happened to me before I started journaling, and everything since, are on the pages of those notebooks. 

I have also written down scriptures that have gotten me through my suffering. I have filled many pages with what I have learned from Bible studies, books and my reactions to the things I have learned from counseling and from sermons. Those tear and coffee stained pages are my testimony that you can heal. You can move forward. You can have intimacy with the Trinity.  

Sometimes it’s just hard to get things out verbally. That’s why I talk to Him through words written on paper. It is so important to seek Him. He wants to help us through every difficult situation that we face. He wants us to open up to Him.

I realize you might not be like me. That’s okay. Journaling might not be for you. You might not want to entertain the thought of writing your feelings down on a piece of paper. You might feel more comfortable talking to God verbally. That’s great too! I am here to encourage you either way. 

I am here to cheer you on to communicate with God in a way that you haven’t before. He wants a relationship with you. Invite Him into your life. He wants to help you. He is always near. All you have to do is talk to Him. If you pursue Him, you will find Him. You will get to know Him in a way you never thought was possible. Go after Him with all your heart!!! 

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

Until next time dear friends. This is my journey to joy!!!

Reaching Out For Help

Hello everyone! Happy New Year! It has been awhile since I’ve written. It feels so good to be back at it again. I am excited to see what God is going to lead me to write about this year. There is one topic that is always on my heart and that is mental health. So, why not start talking about it with a new year ahead of us.  

As the new year begins, there is a tremendous amount of focus on physical health. Yes, our bodies need to be taken care of, but so does our mental health. Our mind is so crucial to our well being. If you are in a bad place mentally, it can damage you physically. 

Because my childhood was filled with abuse, there wasn’t a day that I didn’t experience trauma. I coped by shoving my feelings deep down inside me which caused a lot of intestinal issues. Those issues were a constant problem for me for many many years. 

I really didn’t realize how damaged I was until I was in my thirties and depression set in. My doctor told me I had a chemical imbalance and needed to take medication. I had a baby and a toddler at the time and felt so overwhelmed with everything, so I gave in and took the medication. I didn’t even think that I needed to talk to someone about my past. The thought never crossed my mind. 

When I turned forty, I started having horrible panic attacks. Anxiety also became a constant companion. I felt like my body was reacting to a five alarm fire! I didn’t understand what was going on inside me. Those horrible attacks made me feel like I was going to die. So, I went to see my doctor to get help and was put on another medication. In the back of my mind, I began to think that I might need to see a counselor. But, I didn’t act on my thoughts until I had a conversation with a dear friend of mine.  

Dyan strongly encouraged me to call a counselor she knew. Even though I was desperate for help, I put off calling her for several days. Dyan kept reminding me that I needed to dial the number and make an appointment. So, I finally did. I am so grateful that I had someone in my life to stand by me and push me in the right direction. My life could have taken a much darker turn if I wouldn’t have reached out for help.  

I haven’t quit seeking help in some form or another for twenty three years. I take medication to help with my depression and anxiety. Thankfully, the panic attacks rarely happen any more. I have read books, participated in Bible studies, prayed, cried out to God, and written in countless journals to get my feelings out. I have spent hours alone with God. I am happy to report that I am healing day by day. One little step at a time. 

When I started writing this blog, I knew God was leading me to do it. My purpose has always been to help people and share what I am learning. I want to point you to Jesus because He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. John 14:6  He is the reason I am here today. I am stronger in my faith and closer to my Lord than I have ever been. I want that for you too!

I know how the pain of life can become so intense that you just want it to go away. You might think the only way the pain will go away is to end your life. That is not the truth!!! I am living proof there is another way. There are counselors and pastors out there who can help you with your pain. There are people who would love to pray for you and encourage you. There are so many resources for you.

Every December, I read Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift. It’s a wonderful devotional to help you get ready for the birth of Christ. I highly recommend reading her books and devotional. I want to share a verse with you that has meant a lot to me. 

“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

Jesus took on flesh and came to earth for us!!! He came to experience human feelings and human bodily functions. He cried. He felt anger. He laughed. He smiled. He saw how people treated others. He ate. He drank. He healed. He worked. He taught. He lived His life doing His Father’s will. He had friends. He loved and cared for others. He came to earth to be the answer we all desperately need. He built relationships with people and He was there for them when they needed Him. And…..He is here for us too!!! 

That’s the bottom line. He is here for us. When you think there isn’t anyone who cares—He cares. He feels your pain. He feels your hurt. He feels everything you feel. That’s how much He loves you. He is the Way you are searching for. 

I know this, because I live this every day. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Him. I cling to Him and ask for help every single day. I am not perfect. I make mistakes all the time. I don’t always get it right. But, He is still here helping me and forgiving me. There is always a way through with Him by my side. 

Before the new year, I asked the Lord again if He still wanted me to continue to write. I was journaling at the time and the Holy Spirit started speaking to me deep in my soul. Let me share with you what He said to me. (It is awkward and hard to share this!)

“Laurie, you have gone through many things. We want you to share your story. Speak, little one, speak. You have a voice. Your story needs to be heard. We want others to hear your story and your struggles. We know how much you want people to know us and have a relationship with us. You were created for such a time as this. Share what you have learned and continue to learn. You were made to do this.”

So, here I am, feeling very humbled and encouraged to keep writing. I really want to know if there are topics you would like me to write about. Would you like to know what books I’ve read? Would you like to know what scriptures have meant a lot to me? Can I help you with journaling? How can I encourage you?

God always has a plan to use what has happened to us for good. He is always good and He can’t be any other way. That’s a fact!  One of my many favorite verses in the Bible is Genesis 50:20. “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

God has taken the evil that was done against me and used it for good. And, He will do the same for you! Please believe that! 

Let me share something I read on Instagram the other day. “God is always working. Sometimes you can’t see it. Sometimes you can’t feel it. Sometimes you can’t grasp what He is doing. But that’s what faith is, it’s believing in the goodness of God in spite of what we can see.” From Living Christian

I think believing in the goodness of God, in spite of what I see or have seen, has been one of my biggest challenges. And… it might be for you too. I have to focus on God and not what is happening around me. I have to look at who He is, what His word says and believe Him over what the world is telling me. I know how hard it is to do that!

I am truly amazed at what God has done for me. I am struck by His goodness and mercy. I am so grateful for His work in my life. I wouldn’t want to live my life without Him. I am healing every day. Healing takes time. But, every tear I’ve cried, and there have been a lot!, every prayer I have prayed, there have been a lot of those too, every book I’ve read, every counseling session I’ve had, every single thing is being used for good in my life. 

I really hope 2023 can be a year that draws you closer to God. I pray my words encourage you to reach out and get help. There are so many good counselors out there. There are so many resources that have been tremendously helpful to me. I would be glad to share any of those with you. You can message me with your questions. 

Until next time dear friends. This is my journey to joy!