Friends of Hope

44326129_478776702531704_5555189539066085376_nI sat around the table with old friends and new. Stacks of brochures, letters, labels, and envelopes were piled on the table. Boxes were scattered across the floor, ready to be filled with envelopes to be mailed.

We came together for one purpose: prepare a mailing. There’s been lots of preparation leading up to that night. We’d designed brochures, drafted letters, written labels, contacted people, and so much more.

We’ve prayed. Lots of prayers.

And we’d cried and laughed together.

This was a group of people supporting Hope House of Central Illinois, a retreat home for parents and their families who are grieving the loss of a child.

These people I worked alongside were friends who had walked that dark road, and they are still walking it. They’re putting their hope into action so they can help others. They purchased the land and are hoping to break ground next year. Perhaps within a year, they’ll be welcoming parents and their families to stay several nights for free. Getting away on a retreat won’t take away the pain, but it might just give them a respite for healing and hope.

As I folded brochures and stuffed envelopes, I prayed about the people who would receive the letters asking for support. I prayed for the parents and families who will benefit from our efforts, despite not even knowing what they soon might be facing. I prayed for my friends, who continue to walk through grief every single day.

And I smiled as gratitude washed over me.

When you do life with others and walk with each other through the tough stuff, your rawness and vulnerability knits you together in friendship.

When you do life with others as you focus on a common purpose and hope for others, your mission unites you in friendship.

When you heal together, you grow together even when it hurts.

I am grateful for my friends. I’m excited about what they’re doing for others. And I’m thankful I get to be a small part of it.

If you’d like to learn more about Hope House of Central Illinois, click here.

Depression Pebble

photo-1525177433091-c100046c51a1There is something to take away from depression.

We have all experienced it. I’m referring to the less severe, acute, situational depression. The fog that settles in for days or weeks. The numbness of going through the motions.

We can’t see the take-away at the time. In fact, there is little we can see. Our vision is significantly limited. Sometimes, the only reason we move forward is because of routine. We know where we’re going because we’re repeating what we’ve done many times.

We have little energy or focus to reflect on what we can learn through the experience. All we can do is survive. But there is a pebble to pick up in the cloudy fog. There is something small to take along and examine in the light.

The pebble we carry out of the depression might give us a bit of understanding. Or it might not. It might give us a reminder of where we’ve been and how we’ve progressed. It might encourage us to continue to make one decision at a time, to be honest with ourselves and others, to build authentic relationships with others and with God so that when we’re in the dark fog again, we have a trustworthy foundation to orient and guide us forward.

Reach down and pick up the pebble. It is worth its weight.

Walk Into Relax

26608__2It took five miles for me to relax. Not five minutes but five miles. It had been preceded by several days of pesky issues, as well as some fun. I needed some detox. So, I walked my trail. I was five miles in when I heard myself sigh and felt my shoulders loosen. I settled in.

Relaxing isn’t always the goal, but when we carry what we shouldn’t carry, we need to listen to the warnings of tension, anxiety, and preoccupation. We need to stop spinning.

I think that’s one thing I like about walking. It is impossible to spin and walk at the same time. I would spin off the path or get sick. Instead, I look forward. I move forward. I get somewhere.

Maybe walking isn’t your thing, but find something (healthy) to focus on and stop the spinning.

I Forgive

photo-1496516440389-4f153a90fc37Forgiveness.

It doesn’t change the need for safety and health, for boundaries and guidelines, but it loosens the binding on my heart. It gives me freedom and peace. The ability to not return to a situation of hurt but to move forward into healing. A vulnerability not to the person who betrayed and belittled me but to God who will prune me, mold me, comfort me, and challenge me.

Two I Do’s and One I Don’t

photo-1488563191899-79b83cb52fb9Marriage begins by imagining what you want life to look like together. Then it becomes real, and you leave the fantasy behind. It’s hard sometimes, but you choose to say I do again and again and again. It’s messy sometimes. But choosing I do when it’s hard and messy is one of the things that makes it deeply relevant. Saying I do makes the sacrifices worthwhile, because we commit to togetherness. We commit to teamwork.

Until someone says I don’t.

Anybody can say I don’t at any time, even when you least expect it, even when you’ve been intentionally saying I do. It takes two I do‘s to get married, and only one I don’t to end the marriage. And those two words have ripple effects across many lives, whether it’s I do or I don’t.

What ripple effects are you creating in the lives of the family, friends, and community in which you’ve been building a life? The do or the don’t?

The Pain of Numb

photo-1461468611824-46457c0e11fdI know so many people who want to numb the pain in one way or another, but pain is an important indicator. If we constantly numb it, we ignore the warnings and reality check of what is going on in our lives and what we need to deal with. We lose precious time in honing healthy coping strategies. Avoidance may provide short-term relief, but it is not a long-term solution.

What pain do you need to face today?

Be honest about it, and respond.