Above and Beyond

As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart. 

~Proverbs 27:19

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

       ~ Matthew 6:21

I just love “above and beyond” people.    An example for me is my son’s psychiatry nurse practitioner. She always answers my questions, works with Landon’s complex issues, brainstorms with me about new things we can try, prescribes his medication and changes his medicine if needed. We’ve worked with her for the last 4 years or so. She answers my questions promptly and actually cares about Landon. She never gives up on him. She is getting another job soon and will be so missed! I’ll always remember how she worked tirelessly for Landon even when some doctors wouldn’t and told us so.

Other amazing people immediately come to my mind who I know either as a teacher, nurse, friend, doctor, pastor, etc. and it isn’t a super long list. They care and do what they do with excellence. They really shine especially when they move, leave, retire, etc. and are replaced by those who don’t seem to care as much and sort of half-heartedly do things.

It’s hard not to compare, but I like to think of how much more this makes me appreciate the “above and beyond” people.

Those who put their whole heart in.

Those are my people.

They always will be.


Blessings.

Your friend,

Tiffany

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!

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

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

Mental Health Perceptions- Part 2

Yesterday, I posted part 1 of Mental Health Perceptions. (Today I am writing this as I am caring for my son with autism, so I hope you are able to overlook any spelling/grammatical errors I may make. 😊)

To quickly recap I listed the following three thoughts I had regarding the way mental health issues are treated by many (not all, of course.) Those three points are:

  1. not real, all in someone’s head
  2. not an illness or not having a physical/physiological cause
  3. indication of having a spiritual problem

I discussed point one yesterday, and today will explain my thoughts on the next which is that mental health issues are:

2.Not an “illness” having a physical/physiological cause.

I am not a doctor or by any means saying all mental illnesses have a physiological cause, but I believe many if not most do. Whether a psychological event caused the physical component of the mental illness or the mental illness caused a physiological issue within a person’s body, it is a real illness often with a physical component. Perhaps the correct tests, documentation have not been given. Even, if it can’t be seen or hasn’t been measured, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. A person’s words and behaviors prove otherwise. I was studying this topic several months ago and found the following regarding mood disorders such as clinical depression, bipolar disorder, indicating neural dysfunction within these illnesses. (Sorry, if the following is overboard on the medical jargon, just felt it really explains the physical/physiological nature of mental illnesses.)

“Several studies suggested the neural networks modulating aspects of emotional behaviour to be implicated in the pathophysiology of mood disorders. These networks involve the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) and closely related areas in the medial and caudolateral orbital cortex (medial prefrontal network), amygdala, hippocampus, and ventromedial parts of the basal ganglia, where alterations in grey matter volume and neurophysiological activity are found in cases with recurrent depressive episodes. Such findings hold major implications for models of the neurocircuits that underlie depression. In particular, evidence from lesion analysis studies suggests that MPFC and related limbic and striato-pallido-thalamic structures organize emotional expression. The aim of this paper is to review the contribution of the most relevant studies with single photon emission tomography (SPECT), positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to the understanding of pathophysiology of major depressive disorder (MDD), with particular focus on the reversibility of functional correlates with treatment.” (Anatomical and functional correlates in major depressive disorder: the contribution of neuroimaging studies Silvia Rigucci et al. World J Biol Psychiatry. 2010 Mar.)

“Although mood disorders constitute leading causes of disability, until recently little was known about their pathogenesis. The delineation of anatomical networks that support emotional behavior (mainly derived from animal studies) and the development of neuroimaging technologies that allow in vivo characterization of anatomy, physiology, and neurochemistry in human subjects with mood disorders have enabled significant advances towards elucidating the pathophysiology of major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar disorder (BD). In this review, we integrate insights from human and animal studies, which collectively suggest that MDD and BD involve dysfunction within an extended network including the medial prefrontal cortex and anatomically-related limbic, striatal, thalamic and basal forebrain structures.

(Abstract from Neural circuits underlying the pathophysiology of mood disorders Joseph L Price et al. Trends Cogn Sci. 2012 Jan.)

Again, medical jargon aside, the basic gist of the above sources indicate an actual, measurable dysfunction within different parts of the brain in certain mental/mood disorders….you know like an illness affecting any other organ of the body. 

I’m sure this is widely understood and known among doctors and those within the medical community and has been for some time. Unfortunately, there still seems to be a huge chasm in this understanding among the general public…at least from my point of view.  This understanding is so important for those who have a mental illness to get proper and effective treatment and for it to be classified by all as an illness like any other. 

I know that was a lot of info. 🙂 Next time I’ll wrap this whole discussion up with thoughts about spirituality/religion and mental illness.  

Blessings.

Your friend,

Tiffany

43 Nuggets Of Truth

Tomorrow is my birthday. 43 years. Seems like such a big number, although as a kid I thought 30 was old. 😂 Here are 43 nuggets of truth that came to mind today as I was thinking about what 43 years have taught me. What nuggets of truth have your years taught you? 

Your friend,

Tiffany

  1. Laugh.
  2. Ask questions.
  3. Don’t worry about what others think.
  4. Trust my gut feeling.
  5. Get lost in the music.
  6. Worship-get lost in God.
  7. Play board games often with the kids.
  8. Read…a lot.
  9. Let go of perfection.
  10. Smile anyway.
  11. Cry sometimes too.
  12. Enjoy hugs.
  13. Understand that others are life long learners too.
  14. Forgive others, but don’t let them take advantage of my kindness.
  15. Always look for the good, but admit when it’s hard.
  16. Sing on long drives.
  17. Pray too.
  18. Accept those magical little moments in life as God blowing me a kiss, not write them off as just coincidences.
  19. Let the puppy lick my entire face.
  20. Let the dirty dishes pile up sometimes.
  21. Let the laundry pile up, too 😂
  22. Sleep in…if I’m able to.
  23. Snuggle in a soft bed filled with pillows under piles of blankets.
  24. Take regular walks and turn my face up towards the sky and sun.
  25. Appreciate who I am and how far I’ve come.
  26. Hold my kids a little tighter for a little longer.
  27. Encourage others when the opportunity arises.
  28. Keep being sincere.
  29. Read the Bible more.
  30. Don’t worry about what the mirror says about my age. 😂
  31. Pray that my heart shines in my eyes.
  32. Love people more, even the hard people.
  33. Go on more cruises.
  34. Visit the beach as often as possible and get in the water.
  35. Build the sandcastles.
  36. Destroy the sandcastles.
  37. Jump in the leaves.
  38. Take the picture.
  39. Let them take the picture of you.
  40. Give more.
  41. Ask for help.
  42. Have less expectations.
  43. Never stop believing even when it seems impossible.

Inspirational Quotes

I ran across the following this morning from Inspiring Quotes and it really spoke to me. Then I backtracked and found some other cool quotes. 😊 Hope you enjoy! Blessings.

Your friend,

Tiffany

An often overlooked English poet of the mid-19th century, Sarah Williams is best known for her poem “The Old Astronomer,” in which a dying astronomer offers his last words to his student. Grappling with mortality is a prominent theme in Williams’ writing, and in particular this poem, which she wrote while battling cancer not long before her own death. In this line from the poem, she urges us to value the bright spots in our lives, and to make peace — however we each can — with the impermanent nature of living.