Groves of Lemon Trees

Do you ever hear or read someone’s story and afterwards feel totally thankful that your situation is not as harrowing? Maybe you read about someone’s difficulties and you feel compassion for them, but deep down you are relieved that you are not experiencing those things? Or maybe you read/watch/hear someone’s personal account that clicks with you and connects with you because you are experiencing something similar or it somehow resonates with you for one reason or another? Maybe you feel encouraged because you know you aren’t alone in the hard times? All of the above are just a few of the many reasons I started to write nearly four years ago.

I usually write whenever the inspiration hits. I’m not a “planner.” This can be good and it can be not so good. Usually I write because something reminds me of the imperfect world we live in. It’s kind of like the not so fun reminder makes me want to turn the negative circumstance into something refreshing, encouraging, and sweet. Something like lemonade. Sweet but maybe a little tangy. Like with lemonade, hopefully all the ingredients combine to make something real and refreshing. 

I learn as I go with writing. Sometimes I may add a little too much sugar. Other times I have a little too much lemon “tanginess” (is that a word?) Maybe I add too much water at times. Maybe sometimes though, the lemonade combination is just right. 😊

But one thing is for sure….I have groves and groves of the primary ingredient- lemons! God and life’s circumstances have ensured that I have an unending supply! It’s quite a beautiful grove, and at times I can not keep up with the abundance of the produce! Some of the lemons have gone to waste, due to limited time, limited resources, and being unable to handle the abundance. Yet many of the lemons have gone into making lemonade! Despite the variations in the different batches, my prayer is that it has all been real and refreshing. I pray the “lemonade” will continue to be that way.

I’ve decided to create a devotional from some of my “lemonade” so I am going to have to be a little more intentional about how I spend my writing time. I hope to still blog some, but I need to shift my focus to the devotional since my time and schedule can fill up quickly. The autism Mama life can be a busy one!

I pray that whatever circumstance life hands you, you’ll allow it to help you grow your grove or garden into something that will enrich, sustain, and refresh others. 

Blessings.

Your friend,

Tiffany

Hold On To The Right Things

I’ve been running down this road

Don’t even know where I’m going half the time

I’ve been hiding in my phone

I have been missing all the moments and trying to find

I’ve been pushing back regret

I’ve been lost inside my head

I’ve been wandering around like a ghost

But I wanna hold on to the right things

And let go of the rest

‘Cause time’s worth more than money

And I’m done buying what won’t last

‘Cause the years are just a vapor

And this life is just a breath

I wanna hold on to the right things

And let go of the rest

I’ve been wearing myself out

Trying to get this off the ground on my own

Yeah, I’ve been carrying this weight

Feeling that something’s gotta change, God, I know it

Oh God, I know it

I’ve been pushing back regret

I’ve been lost inside my head

I’ve been wandering around like a ghost

But I wanna hold on to the right things

And let go of the rest

‘Cause time’s worth more than money

And I’m done buying what won’t last

‘Cause the years are just a vapor

And this life is just a breath

I wanna hold on to the right things

And let go of the rest

You’re the one thing that will last forever

So I’m done holding on to what won’t matter

You’re the one thing that will last forever

So I’m done holding on to what won’t matter

You’re the one thing that will last forever (oh, oh)

So I’m done holding on to what won’t matter (you’re the only thing)

You’re the one thing that will last forever (oh, oh)

So I’m done holding on to what won’t matter

I wanna hold on to the right things

And let go of the rest

‘Cause time’s worth more than money

And I’m done buying what won’t last

‘Cause the years are just a vapor

And this life is just a breath

So hold on to the right things

And let go of the rest

~The Right Things, Chris Renzema

I heard this song on the way to Wal-mart this morning. It really spoke to me. How many times have I gotten lost in my phone? How many times have I forgotten that time is worth more than money? I want to ”hold on to the right things and let go of the rest.”

About a year ago, I started creating a list of songs that struck a chord with me in one way or another. Hearing this song also reminded me to share my “running list” of songs that I’ve discovered. If you get a chance to listen to any or all of them I pray the songs uplift, bless, encourage, and inspire you.

Your friend,

Tiffany

My Song List (Part 1 😊)

  1. God of Our Mothers and Fathers (Vineyard Worship)
  2. I Am Thankful (Leslie Jordan and Paul Baloche)
  3. Forever Amen (Stephanie Gretzinger)
  4. Insatiable (Jesus Culture)
  5. You’re Carrying Me (Vineyard Worship)
  6. I’m Listening (Chris McFarney)
  7. Canvas and Clay (Pat Barrett)
  8. Sing my way back (Stephanie Gretzinger)
  9. How To Be Yours (Chris Renzema)
  10. Nothing/Something (Pat Barrett/Dante Bowe)
  11. What a friend  (Chris McClarney)
  12. No Doubt About it (We the kingdom)
  13. Give me Jesus (Abby Gambia Upper Room)
  14. The Maker of the Moon (Elle Limebear)
  15. I Choose to Worship (Rend Collective)
  16. I Don’t Have Much (Josh Baldwin)
  17. Praise the Name (Melanie Waldman)
  18. Lovesick (Housefires)
  19. When You’re My Age (Lori McKenna)
  20. Love Came Down (Brian Johnson)
  21. Tin Roof (Blessing Offor)
  22. Blessed Are Those Who Follow You (Chris Renzema)
  23. Friend (Jervis Campbell)
  24. Let You Love Me (Jervis Campbell)
  25. Eden (Jervis Campbell)
  26. Hold Me Together (Jervis Campbell)
  27. The Right Things (Chris Renzema)
  28. Used To Be Mine (Chris Renzema and Moriah Hazeltine)

Perspectives

Perspective is a very interesting thing. We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are.
~Benny Perez

Measure not God’s love and favour by your own feeling. The sun shines as clearly in the darkest day as it does in the brightest. The difference is not in the sun, but in some clouds which hinder the manifestation of the light thereof.

~Richard Sibbes



Hope lives under the cloud of impending good. It’s up to you to choose your perspective. How you look at tomorrow directly impacts the way you live today.

~Katherine Walden

It is so easy for me to “get stuck” in seeing circumstances from my viewpoint. However, my view is so limited. All the while the Holy Spirit is high above all the circumstances capturing the entire, enormous beautiful picture. He sees the vast expanse of all of the good and the bad and how it fits together to make a magnificent masterpiece in the end. The storms don’t discourage, rattle, and upset him the way they often affect me. Yet He understands my humanity and is with me always to comfort, guide, counsel, and encourage. The following devotion is from Discover the God of More, Benny Perez on the topic of Holy Spirit Perspective. I pray it is an encouragement to you, also.

Your friend,

Tiffany


Holy Spirit Perspective

When we are facing battles, navigating the storms, and walking through the valleys, we must seek the Holy Spirit’s perspective. Getting a revelation of His perspective of our circumstances has the power to change what’s happening on the inside of us, which changes what’s happening on the outside of us. 

Perspective is a very interesting thing. We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are. Depending on how you are, you may not see something the way it really is. How you process what’s happening in your life depends on where you are at in your life. 

You need to know that regardless of your upbringing, by God’s Word and grace, you can begin to look at life the way the God of More wants you to look at life. That ancient Greek word used for ‘transform’ in the original text is metamorphosis—the same word that is used to describe the process of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. Our perspective needs to transform from a natural view to a supernatural view. 

If we want to see things from a Holy Spirit perspective, then we need to be spending time reading and studying the Word of God. If God has spoken a dream into your heart, the Holy Spirit will remind you of it when you are in the middle of a storm. If you are frustrated and discouraged because you cannot see the fulfillment of a dream yet, the Holy Spirit will give you the strength and wisdom to endure. 

We must view our storms and valleys from the perspective that God is above them. And if God is above it, and you are in Christ, and the Holy Spirit dwells within you, then you will surely arise from it and get to the other side. 

The Holy Spirit is above all things, so we need to get the same perspective the Holy Spirit has over the situation, rather than the perspective that I have over the situation. No matter what voids are there, what darkness is there, what the enemy is trying to do in your life— the Holy Spirit is hovering above your situation. The God of More is about ready to turn it around on your behalf!

Mesmerizing Music

Today is my Sunday to keep Landon. My husband and I take turns going to church with our other kids so we each get the chance to go. Landon’s behaviors make it very difficult for him to sit in a service for very long. Thanks to technology, we have the ability to watch online.

While I was watching/listening to the praise and worship part of the service today, I remembered a praise and worship artist I recently discovered while listening to Pandora the other day. I absolutely love music as it seems to touch parts of the soul in a way that nothing else can. Beautiful, truth-filled lyrics combined with mesmerizing sounds produce this undefinable almost magical quality to me. Some songs just seem to draw me into them and keep me there for awhile. Anyway, I love discovering new to me worship artists, so I wanted to share. I encourage you to check out Jervis Campbell. I originally heard his song Friend on Pandora, then heard Let You Love Me. After that, I was hooked. 😊 Then I searched on YouTube and listened to Eden and Hold Me Together.

Here are the lyrics to Eden. Hope your day is blessed and beautiful.

Your friend,

Tiffany

Eden
Written by Jervis Campbell
[verse]
Born and raised in the darkness still my soul did sing out
of a hope that brought tomorrow Of a love that covered me
And the times I felt the farthest Still your love did cling
Oh by faith my feet were grounded Couldn’t fight your gravity
[chorus]
You’re the bones inside my body
You’re the fire that fills my lungs You’re the reason I’m still standing You’re the strength to carry on
And I wanna know you like it were Eden Like its only the two of us
Oh I wanna walk among your presence
I want to feel your faultless love
[verse]
So take me out from the harbor And by your light you lead, oh I wanna go to your still waters I wanna sail your silver sea
And I know this life it gets harder But as long as it’s you and me Oh I wanna go in full abandon
I wanna give you everything
[chorus]
[bridge]
I just want to feel it Your faultless love

The Hope Plant

“It’s always something, to know you’ve done the most you could. But, don’t leave off hoping, or it’s of no use doing anything. Hope, hope to the last!”

~Charles Dickens

“Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all… As long as matters are really hopeful, hope is mere flattery or platitude; it is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength.” 

~Gilbert Keith G. K. Chesterton

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

~Romans 5:3-5

The Hope Plant is the title of my first book. Somehow I totally forget that I ever wrote it. I seriously forgot! Quite honestly, it’s probably because it’s about one of the hardest times in my life. I guess in some ways I’d rather forget. I’m glad I remembered today though.

So, to sum it up briefly, the way this book came about was through some pretty horrific health problems I faced during and after the birth of my third child. I intended to write a full length book about it, but life happened, Landon was diagnosed with autism, and the chaotic life has not stopped yet. (Yes this is an excuse about why I didn’t write the long version of the book, but it is definitely true.)

However, I have an uncle who really, really wanted me to write a book. So, as a 60th birthday present for him, I wrote a much shorter version of The Hope Plant using a site called StoryJumper. My daughter used StoryJumper for several years to write her stories and encouraged me to use it too.

I didn’t use any kind of formal structure or method to write this book, I just kinda wrote it. 😊 It is written like a children’s book in that the plant is personified, and it glosses over the health problems for the most part. The overall theme of hope and the simplicity of the plant is somewhat childlike. It does mention miscarriage/death in part of the story, so that part is more adult themed. (So I obviously did not have a clear picture of who the audience would be other than my uncle at the time I wrote this version.)

All of that to say, I think at times God wants us to look back and remember how far we’ve come. I felt like the Holy Spirit nudged me today reminding me of the book and said ”Look, remember this hard time, you got through this, and you’ll make it through the difficulties you are facing now. Trust me.” What better way to remember than reading a written reminder of how God used a plant to help me have hope.

I’m not sure if this link to my book will work. I am very technologically challenged at times. 😊 The link can be copied and pasted if it doesn’t work or if you’d like to look up The Hope Plant (Tiffany Vaughn Guy) at storyjumper.com. (A funny, little caveat…some of the books listed under my name on the site are books my daughter wrote several years ago. She has always been so creative and quite the little author. 😊)

https://www.storyjumper.com/book/read/87364535/The-Hope-Plant

Today I pray you have hope and never lose it, no matter how dark circumstances may be in your life. We are not promised an easy, problem-free life, and often we find ourselves in difficulties that seem to almost drown us. When the storm clears and the difficulty subsides, we can look back and see (sometimes even read) of how God helped us endure. Through it all, the most comforting, reassurance of all is that Jesus never lets go of us. We can always trust in that. He is our Hope.

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
~Romans 15:4

Your friend,

Tiffany

Today’s Ramblings 😊

  1. I’ve gotten some good feedback recently about the mental health posts I’ve shared. I would absolutely love to write more on this topic, especially if it is relatable and encouraging.  I’m reading, researching, and praying for guidance and wisdom on writing more about Christianity and mental health. There are some great resources already available on this topic which I’m reading through. I truly feel this topic needs to be addressed more and the stigma of mental illness lessened and eliminated.
  2. On another note, I recently finished reading a book called Wrestling Hurricanes (Tiffany Haines). I definitely recommend it. It was about the author’s search for over a decade to find answers for her three children’s mysterious and severe health problems…which turned out to be PANS (Pediatric Acute Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome). Through nearly two decades of struggles, Tiffany explains how she learned the depth of the concept of the Glory of God in her life.  It was a super good book!
  3. Finally, I’m thinking about the possibility of creating a devotional book with some of my blog posts. I came up with five categories/chapters/sections for the blogs and a possible title for the book. Book or no book, it makes me happy to encourage others. We will see what happens…

Blessings.

Your friend,

Tiffany

Enough

Valentine’s Day may not be a happy day for everyone, but whether it is or not, you will never be more loved than you are right now. Earthly love may be temporary, but Heavenly love is eternal. The song Jireh (Elevation Worship and Maverick City Music) came to mind this morning, even though I had not heard it in awhile. It’s kinda long, but the lyrics are so good.

Happy Valentine’s Day. ❤️

Your friend,

Tiffany

 

I’ll never be more loved than I am right now
Wasn’t holding You up
So there’s nothing I can do to let You down
It doesn’t take a trophy to make You proud
I’ll never be more loved than I am right now, oh

Going through a storm but I won’t go down
I hear Your voice
Carried in the rhythm of the wind to call me out
You would cross an ocean so I wouldn’t drown
You’ve never been closer than You are right now
(Let’s sing it loud y’all)

You are Jireh, You are enough
Jireh, You are enough
And I will be content in every circumstance
You are Jireh, You are enough

Forever enough
Always enough
More than enough
Forever enough
Always enough
More than enough

I don’t wanna forget how I feel right now
On the mountaintop
I can see so clear what it’s all about
So stay by my side when the sun goes down
Don’t wanna forget how I feel right now (Jireh)

Jireh, You are enough
Jireh, You are enough (so I will be)
I will be content in every circumstance
Jireh, You are enough (He is always enough)

He’s forever enough
Always enough
Always more than enough
He is, He is
Forever enough
Always enough (He’s everything, He’s always)
More than enough (yeah)

I’m already loved
I’m already chosen
I know who I am
I know what You’ve spoken
I’m already loved
More than I could imagine
And that is enough, oh-oh

I’m already loved (I’m already loved)
I’m already chosen (I’m already chosen)
I know who I am (I know who I am)
I know what You’ve spoken (I know what You’ve spoken)
I’m already loved (I’m already loved)
More than I could imagine (more than I could imagine)
That is enough (that is enough)
It’s enough for me, oh

I’m already loved (I’m already loved)
I’m already chosen (I’m already chosen)
I know who I am (I know who I am)
I know, I know what You’ve spoken (I know what You’ve spoken)
I’m already loved (I’m already loved)
More than I could even fathom (more than I could imagine)
And that is enough (and that is enough)
Yes it is, it’s enough, it’s enough

And that is enough (that is enough)
What His truth says is better than anything
That is enough (that is enough)
What He’s declared over us, it’s true
That is enough (that is enough)
That is enough (that is enough)

That is enough (that is enough)
Jehovah, You are (that is enough)
El Shaddai, You are (that is enough)
When I have You, I have everything (that is enough)
When I have Jesus, I have everything (that is enough)
That is enough (that is enough)

‘Cause You are enough (You are enough)
You’re my portion (You are enough)
You’re my portion (You are enough)
More than enough for me (You are enough)
Say, You are enough (You are enough)
So I am enough (so I am enough)
You are enough (You are enough)
So I am enough (so I am enough)
Say, Jireh

Jireh, You are enough (Jireh)
Jireh, You are enough (yes Your are)
I will be content in every circumstance
Jireh, You are enough, oh-ooh (You are)

If He dresses the lilies with beauty and splendor
How much more will He clothe you?
How much more will He clothe you?
If He watched over every sparrow
How much more does He love you?
How much more does He love you?

If He dresses the lilies with beauty and splendor
How much more will He clothe you?
How much more will He clothe you?
If He watched over every sparrow
How much more does He love you?
How much more does He love you?

If He dresses the lilies with beauty and splendor
How much more will He clothe you?
How much more will He clothe you?
If He watched over every sparrow (don’t you worry!)
How much more does He love you? (Our Father loves you)
How much more does He love you? (How much more?)

How much more does He love you? (How much more?)
How much more does He love you? (How much more?)
How much more does He love you? (How much more?)
How much more does He love you? (How much more?)
How much more does He love you?

It’s more than you ask, think or imagine
According to His power working in us
It’s more than enough
It’s more than you ask, think or imagine, oh yeah
According to His power working in us
It’s more than enough (let’s go y’all)

Okay It’s more than you ask, think or imagine (so according)
According to His power, it’s working in us (how much more does He love you?)
It’s more than enough (how much more? Sing!)
More than you ask, think or imagine (so according)
According to His power working in us (how much more does He love you?)
It’s more than enough (one more time, sing!)

More than you ask, think or imagine
According to His power working in us (how much more does He love you?)
It’s more than enough (how much more?)
It’s more than enough (how much more?)
More than you know (more than enough)
It’s more than enough (more than you know)
More than you know (more)

Jireh, You are enough
Jireh, You are enough (You’ve always been enough)
And I will be content in every circumstance
Jireh, You are enough

And I will be content (yes) in every circumstance
Jireh, You are enough

Ocean Reminders

Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be.

Deuteronomy 33:25

So I have been extra, extra tired lately. Like zero energy. I’ve been sleeping well at night (for me…insomniac here) yet I’m still tired. I’m not sick or anything and have been taking vitamins, etc. Life is tough living with a child with a disability, plus 2 typical kids and busy schedules. I am not complaining….I love all of my babies. (Yes, Landon’s situation is draining, but my motto is just keep swimming.) 

Anyway, Wednesday I was waiting in a long line in the pharmacy drive thru to pick up one of Landon’s medications. The line is regularly long and so my older son and I planned to do some homeschool work while waiting. We brought reading and math to do, and started in on the story first. The story was an excerpt from a true story and caught my attention right away. It was about a young girl in 1856 (Abbie Burgess) who was left with the task of taking care of her family, home, and twin lighthouse towers while her father was away getting supplies. While the father was away, a terrible storm occurred and Abbie had to ensure her ill mother and siblings all survived all while tending the lights in the lighthouses. The house flooded and food supplies ran very low and had to be rationed. The storm lasted for over two weeks and Abbie had a treacherous task in front of her, but she never lost hope and God provided the strength she needed until her father returned. When her dad arrived back to the lighthouse, he told her he knew everything would be alright with the family and the lighthouses because he had faith in his daughter to see things through the terrible storm. 

Okay so this story totally touched me (and might have even made my eyes misty.) I could totally relate to her feelings of having a seemingly unending, daunting task to complete all while her strength and energy were being depleted by the storm. Yet, she persevered, kept the faith, and made it through. Just as her Father knew she would.

Later that afternoon, I was catching up on a daily devotion and I ran across the verse above from Deuteronomy that I’ve never really paid attention to before. I read it a couple of times, and I wasn’t sure what it meant so I looked it up. I found an excellent commentary from BibleHub called MacLaren’s Expositions explaining the verse:

There is a general correspondence between those blessings wherewith Moses blessed the tribes of Israel before his death, and the circumstances and territory of each tribe in the promised land. The portion of Asher, in whose blessing the words of our text occurs, was partly the rocky northern coast and partly the fertile lands stretching to the base of the Lebanon. In the inland part of their territory they cultivated large olive groves, the produce of which was trodden out in great rock-hewn cisterns. So the clause before my text is a benediction upon that industry-’let him dip his foot in oil.’ And then the metaphor naturally suggested by the mention of the foot is carried on into the next words, ‘Thy shoes shall be iron and brass,’ the tribe being located upon rocky sea-coast, having rough roads to travel, and so needing to be well shod. The substance, then, of that promise seems to be-strength adequate to, and unworn by, exercise; while the second clause, though not altogether plain, seems to put a somewhat similar idea in unmetaphorical shape. ‘As thy days, so shall thy strength be,’ probably means the promise of power that grows with growing years.

So Deuteronomy 33:25 is a blessing given (in the region of Asher) to have strong, protective footwear because the areas one would have to walk through would be hard, rocky, difficult. This really spoke to me when I read it. I can totally relate to a hard, rocky road in life at times. The remainder of the verse encouraged me even more, as I have been so tired lately. It is the promise of having strength for each day for all your days. 

I love the ocean and I always have. Both the lighthouse story and the verse from Deuteronomy are such encouraging reminders to me. I don’t think it is a coincidence that two reminders about enduring strength and overcoming storms came to me that day. So I wanted to share it.

Friends, I pray God provides you with the encouragement, strength, and faith you need to persevere through whatever difficulties you are facing. I know at times we all have rough, rocky paths to walk. I pray your shoes are strong and protective and that your fortitude and faith are even stronger. God promises to see you through the storm, whatever that may be.

When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.

~Isaiah 43:2

Your friend,

Tiffany

Mental Health Perceptions- Part 3

I often feel very grateful to God that I have undergone fearful depression. I know the borders of despair and the horrible brink of that gulf of darkness into which my feet have almost gone. But hundreds of times I have been able to give a helpful grip to brethren and sisters who have come into that same condition, which grip I could never have given if I had not known their deep despondency.

~Charles Spurgeon

A tendency to melancholy let it be observed, is a misfortune, not a fault.

~Abraham Lincoln

Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say “My tooth is aching” than to say “My heart is broken.

~C.S. Lewis

My last point, but definitely not least, from my thoughts on mental health is the idea that if a person deals with a mental illness it is:

3. An indication that the individual has a spiritual problem or not enough faith.

I have actually heard sermons and been in church services which indicated that those who were depressed or suffered from anxiety had a “spirit” of depression or anxiety. To me this type of statement seems to indicate that the illness was somehow due to a weakened spiritual state of the person. That the person had a choice in allowing some type of mental illness in occurring. The implication being that the mental illness would not have happened if the person would have been praying enough, reading the Bible enough, attending church enough, thinking of others first, etc.

Of course this line of thinking is incredibly flawed! It’s like saying a person has a “spirit of cancer or a spirit of a broken leg.” This sounds absolutely ludicrous….because it is!

Now is it possible for a person with a mental illness to not know God or need to grow spiritually? Certainly, we are all made up of a body, soul, spirit and all three are interconnected and impact the others. However, there may also be room for spiritual growth in someone who is overweight, has high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc., too! Just saying. So automatically putting those who have mental illnesses in a category of “not having enough faith,” not having a relationship with God, etc. is a false notion. Other types of illnesses are not usually labeled/categorized the way mental illnesses can be by some in the church. 

Those within the church or religious groups are most certainly not called to make this type of judgment about others. At most, Christians are called to examine spiritual fruit in others. Do they show love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? They honestly might! And maybe, just maybe, if the spiritual fruit isn’t there, it could be because the tree (or the person) needs to be nurtured and restored to health! Also, no one is perfect! We all have weaknesses God has to help us with. Just some thoughts here…

Some of the greatest Christian leaders of all time suffered from depression. Mother Teresa, C.S. Lewis, Charles Spurgeon, and Abraham Lincoln are a few that come to mind. Were those individuals less than others because they carried the burden of a mental illness? I believe they were even more amazing because of it. The determination, strength, perseverance, depth of character, profound ability to love and empathize with others are just a tip of the iceberg in what made these individuals incredible. They were awesome not just in spite of, but because of their illness. Their weakness became their strength.  To be sick and still shine, to lead, to love like they did, makes them seem like superheroes to me.

And to question whether or not they were close to God or had enough faith seems ridiculous. The fruit of the spirit in their life shows that. The fact that they persevered through life’s ups and downs despite the difficulties, is nothing short of amazing! God was definitely at work in the life of each of these individuals.

I guess this wraps up the thoughts I wanted to share on mental health perceptions. This topic is definitely something I feel pretty passionately about. One reason is due to the number of suicides I have personally known about. It breaks my heart that those who were struggling did not for whatever reason have the emotional/psychological support that they needed. It makes me sad to think it may have been because of a stigma that they didn’t reach out for help or others didn’t reach out to the person struggling. It is surprising and awful to me to hear it said “we didn’t know they were going through anything” or “if only someone knew.” 

The stigma of mental illness needs to change. Mental illness is most definitely not an implication of an individual’s lack of faith. If anything, illness of any kind should cause those of faith to reach out, to be of service, and to offer compassion and love. We are called to love others as Christ did.

The people with very hard problems are understood by God. He knows what wretched machines they are trying to drive. Some day he will fling them away and give those people new ones; then they may astonish everyone, for they learned their driving in a hard school. Some of the last will be first and some of the first will be last.

~C.S. Lewis


Blessings.

Your friend,

Tiffany

A Heart That Truly Cares

A friend shared the following quote recently. I know people who are much more preoccupied with appearances and material things than what really matters-having a heart that truly cares about others and loving God. I read a quote the other day that said to teach your children two things and you’d taught them well: to love God with all of their heart and to have a heart of compassion for others. The things that actually matter are loving God, loving others, and sharing hope with all. The following quote by Jenn Kish (along the same lines) resonated with me too.

On the day your life is required of you, it won’t matter if you kept a clean house.

No one will ask what shade of grey your walls were painted.

There will be no chatter about the type of car you drove or how many bedrooms were in your home.

What will matter to people, is how you made them feel.

Did you make them feel loved? Less alone? Important?

Did you point them to Jesus?

On the day your life is required of you it won’t matter if you have five dollars or five million dollars.

What will matter to you, is what you did with Jesus.

~Jenn Kish

My prayer has always been that others feel loved and and significant when they are around me. Never “preached” to, judged by, or ignored. While no one is perfect, I hope others feel Jesus’ love from me. All the other stuff has never been or will ever be important.

Blessings, friends.

Your friend,

Tiffany