Story

4 Healing Ways to Cope with Trauma

Trauma. It’s sometimes as fast as lightning—a car careening, a gunshot echoing. Other times it’s a slow burn—repeated abuse or manipulation leaving us feeling out of control, ill-equipped, unsafe, or all the above. But trauma always takes us by surprise. Something devastating happens, and we can’t stop it. But there are things we can do after the trauma, ways we can help ourselves heal. The American Psychological Association lists four ways to overcome trauma: Lean on your loved ones Face your feelings Prioritize self-care Be patient This list looks like it came straight from Scripture. What God has known all along, science is catching up to. 1. Lean on your loved ones God provides community and His very presence we can lean onto so that we can heal from trauma. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed...

The Three Best Words for the Brokenhearted

“I can invite You into those broken places and collaborate with Youin putting the fragments back together in new ways.” – Jesus Listens, July 3 In fresh grief, well-meant words can sometimes wound. Even now, I shake my head at the unhelpful comments I made as a young mom handing over a hot casserole and the painful comments said to me a few years later after my husband died. So when a radio host recently asked me for the three best words to tell someone in grief, I perked up. Maybe it’s “I love you,” I thought as I waited for his answer. Those words sure comforted me as a new widow. Or maybe it’s “let me help.” Practical love is so needed when life falls apart. But neither guess was correct. The three best words to say to someone in grief? You’re not alone. The deepest comfort comes w...

5 Ways Fasting and Prayer Can Boost Your Faith

“My soul thirsts for You—the living God. The deepest yearnings of my heart are for intimacy with You, Lord.” – Jesus Listens, June 30 You have the choice to change your life with a simple decision. If faithfully done, choosing to fast and pray will alter your existence, rock your spiritual world, and bring your life on this earth into God’s perspective. I was drawn to fasting when I read in Matthew 6:16 that Jesus didn’t say “if” you fast, but “when” you fast. I knew I needed to follow what I believed was a call to fasting, but where to start? Most think a fast only pertains to food, yet in scripture we read that Daniel fasted from specific things: “I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over” (Daniel 10:3 NIV). E...

Three Ways to Welcome Grief into Your Church

As the worship music swelled, my eyes filled with tears. It wasn’t the first time I’d cried in church since my husband died; I was a pro by now. I knew exactly what to do. Look up at the ceiling to keep the tears pooled in my eyes. Smile and take a deep breath to keep them from dribbling down my face. And, at all costs, don’t make eye contact. Don’t let the grief get out of hand. Before Rob’s death, I’d cried from time to time in church when I was overcome with the beauty of God, when a Scripture passage touched my heart, or when I recalled afresh the precious treasure of the gospel. They’d always been happy tears. Nothing to be ashamed of. Worthy of being shared, like joyful tears at a wedding or birthday celebration. These tears, though? They were borne of agonizing sorrow and dark grief...

Restoring Your Soul in Turbulent Times

I am all around you, to bless and restore. Breathe Me in with each breath. Jesus Calling, February 26 The longing for things to be good again is one of the deepest longings of the human heart. It has slumbered in the depths of our souls ever since we lost our true home, for our hearts remember Eden. Most of the time, this powerful longing flows like an underground river below the surface of our awareness––so long as we are consoled by some measure of goodness in our lives. While we are enjoying our work, or family, our adventures, or the little pleasures of this world, the longing for things to be good again seems to be placated. Times of Testing But when trials and heartbreaks wash in, the longing rises to the surface like a whale coming up for air, filled with momentum and force. This is...

A Broken Hallelujah Is Still a Hallelujah

“I can invite You into those broken places and collaborate with You in putting the fragments back together in new ways.“ – Jesus Listens, July 3 Have you ever stopped and marveled at how the Bible, including God’s chosen family, is filled to the brim with screw-ups and sufferers? This is my favorite thing about the Bible. All the screw-ups and sufferers that are in there. It gives me hope, because if there is saving grace for bottom-dwellers like them, then there must also be saving grace for bottom-dwellers like me. The unfiltered stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Rahab, David, Peter, Paul, Mary Magdalene, and others might make the middle class in spirit person’s skin crawl. Even though they are all considered heroes of the faith in the Bible and throughout the centuries, these “heroes” h...

Thriving in the Empty Nest

“My times are in Your hands, so my best response to the circumstances I face is trusting in You. You’re training me to feel secure in the midst of change and uncertainty.”– Jesus Listens, August 28 The empty nest arrived as a harsh surprise for my wife and me. We were so busy preparing our youngest daughter to leave for college and managing our new “adult” child relationships with our other two kids that we didn’t talk about the empty nest. We were not prepared for what hit us. As we dropped off our daughter at college, we got back in the car to make the five-hour drive home. Periodically, I looked over at my wife, Cathy, and I would see a tear falling down her cheek. “Are you okay?” I asked. As she wiped her eyes, she mumbled, “I know it will be okay, but for some reason I have two deep e...

In the Midst of Depression and Anxiety, There’s Hope

Please be advised: This post contains references to suicide and suicidal ideation. In 2001, I attempted suicide. I came to a place where the emotional pain was too heavy, the darkness too strong. Hope was gone, and God seemed far away. As a Bible college student, a pastor’s wife, and a long-time believer, depression felt like a failure, and two lies became poison that led me to feel like there was no way out: I am worthless. I will never be well again. If you have also struggled with these lies, my heart-felt desire is to free you. There is one name that proves both wrong: it’s in the beautiful and incredibly powerful story of Jesus. I am worthless. Jesus’ life and death prove this isn’t true. Until I faced off with depression, I didn’t realize that my version of God’s love involved provin...

If You Don’t Mean It, Don’t Say It

“When you collaborate with me . . . My Love will grace your words.” – Jesus Always, June 21 When my husband, Benjamin, was away at training camp, I was home alone with the kids for about six weeks. And by alone, I mean alone, 24-7. During this time, when I was pregnant, with little ones running around, a new friend and I were talking on the phone. She had guests coming for dinner that night. She asked, “Kirsten, do you have a slow cooker?” I laughed out loud because that question practically answers itself. I’m all for throwing a few ingredients into a pot in the morning and then, hours later, having the delicious aroma of roast, potatoes, carrots, and onions floating through the house. Is there anything more satisfying in the world? So, short answer: yes, I have a Crock-Pot. “Really?” she...

Walking with Loved Ones Through Mental Health Challenges

“Teach me how to show Your Love to others.”– Jesus Listens, February 10 “Sam had that ‘going away’ look in her eyes last night. I need to check on her today.” The “going away” look was all too familiar to Deidra. She had walked with Sam through the ups and downs of mental health challenges for twenty years and was experiencing pain only found in the deep waters of friendship. She knew when Sam was’t regularly taking her medicine, her eyes looked disengaged and disinterested. It was a look Deidra recognized since the same look preceded two trips to the emergency room and one long stay in a mental health hospital. Supporting Those With Mental Health Issues Walking with friends and family who are navigating mental health challenges is a privilege often filled with immeasurable pain. The ...

Hope, Grace, and Love: Teaching Kids the True Meaning of Easter

“The truth is, I love you so much that I died for you. There is nothing you can do that I won’t forgive.” – Jesus Calling for Kids, May 15 On Easter morning as a young girl, I remember posing in the front yard wearing a floral dress with lace-trimmed socks and white patent-leather shoes. My hair had been curled with sponge rollers the night before, I had big bangs my kids giggle at today, and there was a not-so-pleasant smile on my face. It was all for that once-a-year photo opportunity my parents used to get a snapshot of me all dressed up in front of the pink azaleas. After a few photos, we’d leave for church, where I’d pay attention to small details the preacher mentioned rather than the message he was teaching. When we came back home, it was finally time for my favorite part of the Eas...

In Marriage, Opposites Attract – and Creates Opportunities to Flourish

“Your relationship with Me provides a rock-solid foundation for your life.” Jesus Calling, August 14 Scripture’s account of creation shows how everything is made of difference and relationship:  light and dark, water and earth, vegetation and animals. These relationships were constantly in flux, as they remain today. Continents shift, weather patterns fluctuate, animals migrate, patterns of life cycle again and again. These forces of opposites work together to keep the planet spinning and flourishing. The First Marriage Some point to the creation of Adam and Eve as “the first marriage,” as a way of looking for a pattern of life together. But too often, this idea has a consequence of suggesting that marriage is the pinnacle of relationships, what most men and women should be living and...