ENOUGH! Washington DC- are YOU mentally ill?! When will we learn…

Once again we have suffered great loss and much tragedy from these mass shootings.

Classrooms have become the front lines, not a safe haven or refuge. We mourn these precious lives lost yesterday in Florida, and we’re outraged it happened yet again.

It’s heartbreaking, frightening, completely devastating. What has bothered me in the midst of this heartbreak is the constant blame given to ‘mental illness’ as the main reason and underlying culprit of these horrific attacks. Not gun owner responsibility, not the actual reason why these individuals had possession of firearms, not investigating what really happened, not even the fact that some people are just evil. Because evil people, mentally healthy evil people, exist.

They do.

But no. The initial reports always blame mental illness and attach it to these criminals who have committed heinous crimes. That furthers the stigma we are so desperately trying to educate people away from. Granted- there are some extremely ‘mentally ill’ individuals that exhibit criminal minds or behaviors. And yes- there should be better resources and options to treat them or help them or keep them and everyone else around them safe.

So, you think it’s ‘them’ and not you? You think you’re mentally healthy? Think again

How about these statistics:

Almost 50 percent of Americans (46.4 percent to be exact) will have a diagnosable mental illness in their lifetimes, based on the previous edition, the DSM-IV. And the new manual will likely make it even “easier” to get a diagnosis.

-Robin S. Rosenberg, Slate.com

That’s staggering. Our culture continues to talk about ‘mental illness’ as if its a severely handicapping disease that only affects a very small percentage of people, people that we should be ‘afraid of or wary of, or careful around’. These people are regarded as less than worthy, not the same as, of lesser importance- and it’s NOT ok. With the new DSM-5 manual, this percentage will increase, and more and more people will be considered ‘mentally ill’.

What is NOT adequately acknowledged or understood is the actual high percentage of people – people you know- who SUFFER from some kind of disorder or possible diagnosis that falls under ‘mental health’. People who don’t identify as mentally ill, but ARE nonetheless.

Do you get anxious about particular things or nervous about certain circumstances? You may have anxiety.

Do you get irritated when things get out of order and changed or messed up from the certain way you prefer? You could be suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder.

Have you experienced some type of grief and are having significant difficulties in getting back to everyday life? Maybe you are experiencing a circumstantial depressive episode – depression.

Do you have trouble focusing, you have lots of nervous energy, and you like changing things up frequently? You might have ADHD.

Do you see my point?? We ALL have SOMETHING going on however mild or severe it may be. 46.4% of us have a diagnosable issue. If we keep attaching mental illness to criminal acts and regarding mental illness as a horrible, scary, frightening thing- where is that going to lead us? We demand equal rights and protection for every other group imaginable. We demand understanding and tolerance and education, and acceptance, but not for ‘mental illness’. Why?

Why, when these horrible things happen, why can’t we look at the individual and not the disorder? There are a GREAT many emotionally unstable people who shouldn’t be carrying guns, but not all of them have ‘mental illness’, and not everyone who has a ‘mental illness’ is emotionally disturbed.

Evil exists. It exists everywhere. Mental illness does NOT equal evil. Is this really a gun issue? Is it really a bunch of ‘deranged people’ that are committing these horrible acts? Or are these seriously evil people, who may test as mentally healthy? We would argue that Hitler was mentally deranged, but in his time, would he have tested as ‘mentally ill’? There have actually been many studies and comprehensive medical and psychological biographies done on the evil dictator – most of which have concluded, ‘that he suffered from nothing severe enough to take the blame for his crimes’.

-Erica Goode, ‘Insane or Just Evil? A Psychiatrist Takes a New Look at Hitler New York Times -Dr.Fritz Reidlich, author, ‘Hitler: Diagnosis of a Destructive Prophet’

https://mobile.nytimes.com/1998/11/17/science/insane-or-just-evil-a-psychiatrist-takes-a-new-look-at-hitler.html

Are President Trump and Hilary Clinton mentally healthy?? We know that BOTH would be accused of being ‘mentally ill’ and yet those were the two who we selected to represent each party in the race for the highest position of leadership in our country.

I’m tired of the stigma. So I’m speaking up. I’m speaking out.

Again.

I’m disgusted by both the right and the left and everyone else who adds to the problem of blaming ‘mental illness’ for criminal and unlawful activity.

If we had better understanding and better treatment options available and better support systems – maybe this wouldn’t be a problem. Maybe we would be emotionally healthy. I’m the end- it’s a heart issue, not a law issue. People will use whatever they can as weapons to enact evil. Our only Hope is to change hearts…

So Stop it. Stop the stigma.

#stopthestigma #splintersofHope

Advertisements

Change: Glorious or Mundane? Reflections on 2017

It’s perplexing how we develop our devices. The sequences of events that shape our dysfunction without us ever knowing. The stealthy manner in which unhealthy behavior manifests itself in our lives and stains our hearts. It breeds blind eyes for the holes in our development. Our blemished hearts appear to be whole and ‘normal’, as they beat with pain that we’ve grown accustomed to, and so, we don’t notice, until…

Until the pain of staying the same is so far greater than the pain of change- THATS when you change.

That’s when I changed…

Holding on to hurts, pain, allowing myself to become embittered, clinging to resentment and anger… it was not only paralyzing me, it was infecting my heart on deeper levels, spilling into relationships and family dynamics wreaking havoc. I was suffocating on my own self inflicted bile. I knew I couldn’t stay in that place. It was more so out of fear of the unknown that I didn’t want to change. So many variables that were outside of my control were at play.

⁃ if forgive, what if that person hurts me again?

⁃ If I risk loving what if they don’t love me back?

⁃ If I never get an apology, how can I ever move on?

⁃ What if I’m empty when I give up my anger?

⁃ What if something worse happens?

The list continues… We could come up with reason after reason how ever logical or illogical they may be.

“Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God – what is good and well-pleasing and perfect.”

Romans 12:2 NET

Change can be exciting and new, thrilling and glorious. Change can be small and seemingly insignificant, slow, mundane. But change is inevitable- it makes us grow, or propels us to be someone different, somewhere different.

As I reflect on the last year, and all the pain and sorrow, all the discomfort and awkwardness, all the sadness and tears and confusion we waded through, I can’t help but remember… All the JOY, the lessons, the wisdom, and the overwhelming love we experienced along side, mixed in together with everything. I think it’s the love that stands out the most. The love we received, and the love we chose to give, at times in spite of wanting to give it, or in spite of it not being deserved, we gave and we received the love of Jesus.

Remembering His faithfulness and goodness is what carried and still carries us through.

Things like: The love of people showing up with meals, with supplies, with empathy, with open arms and tear stained faces, just to be with, just to sit with, just to experience with.

Complete strangers coming together to help others whose lives were devastated by flood, by fire, by the evils of men.

Healing that comes from being honest with each other in friendship, in relationship, because people are worth being honest with, because Jesus says so.

Deepened relationships because of traumatic experiences that were experienced TOGETHER.

Unity in suffering.

Unity in comforting each other.

Forgiveness. Chosen forgiveness, Because He forgave us, and makes us able to forgive in circumstances we think are impossible, and were impossible, without His love.

Love that changes hearts, and minds, and lives. Change that restores that which was wounded. Change that brings life to where there was only death.

When Jesus came, He changed everything, at least in mans estimation. We didn’t understand His sacrificial and constant love.

The biggest lessons and deepest blessings for me, came from surrendering my grip on staying comfortable complacent. Only through trusting Him, our Only Hope-even if that meant painful circumstances, did we find the courage to accept change, accept heartache, accept answers to prayers that we didn’t like, accepting loss at an unspeakable depth and degree.

Surrender, acceptance, trust.

I don’t know what 2018 will hold. Maybe it will be glorious, maybe it will be mundane. Maybe it will be better than 2017, maybe it will be worse. Maybe it won’t compare in any way.

Maybe it won’t matter because I won’t be the same person I was in 2017 anyway…

You were taught with reference to your former way of life to lay aside the old man who is being corrupted in accordance with deceitful desires

to be renewed in the spirit of your mind “and to put on the new man who has been created in God’s image – in righteousness and holiness that comes from truth.”

Ephesians 4:22-24 NET

I do know that in 2018, I want to trust and obey more. I want to love more. I want to be a more effective disciple of Christ. I want to forgive more. I want to worship more. I want to share more. I want to write more, I want to impact more lives, I want to be a better friend, and better mother, a better wife. I want to be a better lover of Jesus.

I’m going to keep surrendering, I’m going to keep trusting, keep obeying, keep accepting what He allows life to hand me, and what He blesses me with.

No.

Matter.

What.

Change is inevitable. Growing is changing, for the better, for a more mature version, a wiser version, a closer to who He made me to be version.

I’m almost ready for 2018. Are you?

Loved?

One of the most important and one of the most difficult lessons I’ve learned this past year is this: I can’t make people LOVE me the way I want or need to be loved, or to love me at all…

BUT Christ loves me so much, and I CAN share HIS love with others, and love them well, REALLY WELL, because HE loves them well.

People will hurt us, people will let us down, some people will even stop actively loving us. That’s literally happened to me over the last year. Abandoned. Rejected. By Family. It was devastating.

Christ ALONE is the perfect Love that casts out fear. His love is supernatural, it’s amazing, it’s healing, it’s restorative, it’s transforming and it’s sacrificial. His love is perfect. As His beloved I have access to that powerful kind of love, not because I myself posses that kind of love, but because it is bestowed upon me, it’s poured on me, it springs up within me by the power of Christ working in my life and in my heart.

He loves the unloveable – He loves even me. A tired, washed up mother of two, recovering codependent, worrier, unworthy, unrighteous, broken woman who is Much Afraid but has been declared BELOVED by the God of the Universe, the Good Shepherd, Emmanuel.

I’ve been transformed into Grace and Glory and given abundant life to share and pour out to others so they too can see how beloved they are, and be transformed into who Jesus made them to be. Only a Love THIS powerful could have done THAT.

For any who feel alone, discouraged, abandoned, left out, cast out, pushed aside, thrown away…

For any who feel like Christmas will lack joy and instead bring pain or hurt…

For any who still yearn for Someone to love them…

He does. Love YOU.

My (actual and only meaningful) Christmas Wish

This has been a rough year for me. It’s been a really hard year for my ‘framily’, and for SO many of my friends.

Life is hard. Life can be devastating.

I don’t need to list all the ways and reasons. I don’t need to retell of the devastation and tragedy and disasters.

We shouldn’t forget, but how can we not remember. It’s ongoing.

How do we make it through? How do we carry on? How do we pack up all the grief and sorrow and sadness and sling it on our backs and take a single step?

I know. I know it sounds cliche to say ‘Jesus’. How is it Jesus? How can a ‘man’ from 2,000 years ago who we can’t see, how can a ‘legend’ in some of your opinions, how can a ‘relic’ in other of your opinions, change hearts and lives and being hope and being peace, and being joy, and love??

Because He’s real. He’s Almighty God. He’s ancient prophecy fulfilled. He’s whispering ever so gently into your heart and knocking on the door to your soul. He is the Son of the Most High, and he’s also the only guy who walked the earth that was and is God. He’s unfathomable and yet relatable. He’s divine and yet mortal.

He is Hope.

He is Peace.

He is Joy.

He is Love.

I don’t know where some of my friends are spiritually, maybe you don’t believe in a higher power. Maybe you want to but maybe you are hurt and angry with current circumstances. Maybe it’s something that doesn’t make logical sense to you. Maybe you just don’t believe and you don’t have a reason.

I get it. It’s not my job to judge.

But it is my job to speak up and share MY story. My journey, my song. Maybe it will change your mind, maybe it won’t. Maybe it will make you think, and maybe you’ll think ‘well that’s nice for her‘.

I did title this ‘My Christmas Wish’ so I’m going to share it with you:

I want to make sure to say this clearly-

The only reason I am here on this earth is to point you back to Jesus. If I have ever failed in that, it’s because I am human. If I have ever succeeded, it’s because of the grace and love of God. Every good thing that I have ever accomplished or been, is because of God and His grace and His overwhelming love.

This life is tough and filled with uncertainty and unfairness and injustice and riddled with people who pretend to speak for God. But just because some apples are bitter and full of rot, doesn’t mean all apples are rotten.

Please, if you have ever wondered about your spiritual life, if you have a need, of you feel abandoned or hurt or angry and alone, or even have questions about what happens after you die, if you’re just curious or wondering, call me. Text me.

Or somebody.

Don’t go it alone anymore.

I am grateful that I serve a God that is good, kind, full of grace, who loves us.

And my wish this Christmas, is that amidst the heartache, turmoil, hardships, and sorrows of life, that you get to meet Hope. Because Jesus is Hope- and He came to earth as a human to BE that Hope for you. You don’t have to do this life alone.

#HopeHasYou #ChristmasHope

#notalone #splintersofHope #christmasWish #adventreasons

Joy: the 3rd week of Advent

Joy.

The third week of advent.

What exactly is joy, and what does it mean to you?

Is it that happy warm feeling when we feel that all is well? The anticipation and excitement of something on the horizon that will make us happy? Good feelings of positivity and always looking on the bright side?

If so, how long is this feeling supposed to last? I mean really, is it a magical feeling like when you step into Disneyland for the first time, but then by the end of the day it’s worn off because you’re exhausted and have sore feet when you leave the ‘Magic Kingdom’?? Is it sustainable or is it fleeting?

The Bible says:

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5 : 16-18

My joy is not dependent on me.

If it were, I wouldn’t be joyful. But there is joy amidst tears, Joy amidst sorrow, Joy amidst suffering.

When anxiety was great within me,

your consolation brought me joy.

Psalm 94:19

Joy is my Lord Jesus.

And no matter where I am or what is happening, He is with me, He has me.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Romans 12:12

My joy is not dependent on me.

Nothing can steal Him away from me, or me away from Him. His goodness, faithfulness, love, mercy, patience, kindness, grace, truth, favor… none of it is dependent on ME. It’s always wholly dependent upon Him. It’s because of His dependable and steadfast – 100% of the time, all the time, all ways and always that my trust in Him and for Him is strengthened.

Therefore, I have joy.

If we look at JOY as something that comes with our faith, our trust in the Lord Jesus, then it’s not dependent on us. It’s dependent on Him. It takes the pressure off of us to be happy all the time. I’m not happy all the time, but I have joy because Jesus has me. Joy that is not shaken, joy that cannot be taken, joy that cannot be broken, joy that cannot be stolen. Joy is knowing Who goodness come from, Who salvation is, Who loves us so much he came to set us free. Joy is hope and peace together, calmness in our hearts because we know Hope Himself will carry us through- that’s joy.

My joy is not dependent on me.

The shepherds heard it first- Behold, I bring you tidings of great JOY!

And the angel said unto them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

Luke 2:10

The fulfillment of the promise for a messiah- this was it!

His promise to you for salvation, for hope, for peace that endures, and for joy that exceeds anything you’ve ever known is here for all to accept.

Joyful ness. Being filled with joy.

It doesn’t depend on us.

It’s made complete in Him.

Not so Magic Beans

So often, I talk to God about how I want to be the taco.

🌮

It’s an ongoing theme in my relationship with Him.

Yup. On the Mexican food plate of life, < strong>I want to be the taco

Come on, it’s the main feature. It’s crunchy, golden yellow shell, filled with (preferably) tasty shredded beef, and topped with lettuce and tomatoes and a tiny dollop of sour cream and then shredded cheddar. Yum.

I want to be the taco…

An authentic Mexican food kind of taco. Not a taco supreme or fast food taco. I mean a beautiful golden taco, featured on the menu, carefully set on the center of the plate, set before watering mouths.

I want to be the taco…

It’s pretty and it tastes SO good. Everybody likes the taco. It’s why we have Taco Tuesday!

But then in my prayers and conversations with God, He gently whispers, ‘Steff, you’re not supposed to be the taco, I need you to be the beans.’

What!?!?

I don’t wanna be the beans, the beans are blah, the beans are boring, even my son doesn’t like the beans and let’s them sit there on the plate and go cold and uneaten.

No.

An internal argument begins…

One of prayer, but an argument nonetheless…

Me: I don’t want to be the beans Lord. I really really would like a chance to be the taco.

God: But Steffani, my child, my beloved, I made you to be the beans. Palate cleansing, they help cool the sting of the hot sauce.

Me: So, I’m the beans.<<< : Yes, the beans. And so the struggle and conversation goes on. But Lord … No Steffani, you are the beans. And then I think, well, the beans DO have sustenance, I mean, they ARE a staple. They DO soothe the palette after burning your mouth with hot sauce…But no!!! No. I still do NOT want to be the beans Lord. People don’t notice the beans, they don’t eat all the beans. I don’t really have a choice here do I?? So many other people want to be the taco too. In fact, we have a LOT of tacos, a lot of wanna be tacos, a lot of fast food tacos. Look at Hollywood, the music industry, politics, Highschool campuses. Even in our christian circles we have celebrity status individuals. People that are featured and regarded. Even in congregations there are super star members, tacos, highlighted and ‘respected’ for their righteousness or their brokenness or their willingness to serve, or their whatever… The world needs more beans. And while I wish I could be the taco, I recognize the need for being the beans. The sustenance, the common, the regular, the plain. The ones who are always there. The constant, faithful, trustworthy, the ones who don’t need to be the center or the highlight, or the regarded. Maybe some people think I’m a taco. I don’t feel like one. I secretly (well not now) want to be a taco, but it’s really never worked out. I just know that with a little seasoning, a sprinkle of cheese, I’m going to be the best side of beans I can be. When I wrote this initial article, it was merely a Facebook post, and it was about a year ago. I hadn’t fully embraced it, I didn’t want to. A year later, and my heart is still yearning to be the taco… but I know through opportunities and examples of His faithfulness over the last 12 months, I’m the beans. em>I may not be the taco, but at least I’m on the plate. ❤️💔

#BetheBeans

#makeitontheplate

#splintersofhope