The Suicide Text

Written by: Erin Bishop

the suicide textTonight while running errands I received a startling text from my daughter:

“Someone I went to school with just killed himself.”

I winced.

I called her right away. Her voice said it all. Shock. Confusion. Grief.

“Who was it?” I asked. She told me his name. It sounded familiar.

“Was he very involved at school?” I asked, trying to articulate any common warning signs.

“Yes”, she responded, listing off a few activities he was involved in. She added that he was a really funny guy and always seemed happy, and that even his best friend was stunned.

I’m not going to start sharing warning signs, teen suicide statistics, well meaning but thoughtless and cliché bumper sticker statements, or speculate how or why this poor young man ended his life. Anyone can find those statistics online and speculation doesn’t help anything.

This is where I am a mom.

As I drove home, I prayed and grieved for this boy’s mom and dad, his friends and loved ones. I imagined Facebook posts and shocked texts among his peers. As I drove by the high school he and my daughter graduated from just weeks ago I wondered if the principal had been notified yet.

And then I thanked God. “Jesus, thank you that it wasn’t one of my kids. Thank you that every day multiple times a day when this same thing happens across America and the world that this isn’t one of my kids.”

As a mom, I just can’t. I cannot fathom what his poor parents are going through, and I never want to. Oh how my heart breaks for them.

And my heart breaks for this young man. So young. So much potential. So much life ahead of him. Gone.

I sat on the couch next to my kids when I got home and said this, eyeball to eyeball and heart to heart:

“Do you know how much you are loved, and that if you EVER find yourself in what feels like a helpless situation you can ALWAYS come to me and together we will find a solution? There is ALWAYS a way out.” Both my kids nodded.

Will you please do two things?

  • Please join me in praying for this young man’s loved ones
  • Get eyeball to eyeball and heart to heart with your kids and other young ones in your life and talk to them about suicide? Let’s shine a bright light on this darkness and expose it and get those conversations started.

I think it’s safe to assume we have all been impacted by suicide in some way or another. It is an epidemic and by having intentional discussions with our loved ones, we very well may bring hope to the hopeless.

Balance, Busyness and Not Doing it All; and a Giveaway

By Brenda L. Yoder, MA

BALANCEI realized I only had two years with all of my kids at home and if something didn’t change, their childhood memories of me would be of an angry, contentious woman. That wasn’t the mom I wanted to be.

No mom dreams of being a yeller. New brides don’t anticipate the havoc they’ll wreak in their homes by being out of balance. Women don’t look forward to the times they snap at their kids in public because they’re stressed with too many demands.

But life happens.

It happened to me. Not just once, but so much that it characterized our family. It characterized me as an out-of-balance mom behind closed doors.

Out-of-balance living happens not in the once-in-a-whiles, but in skewed normalcy.

The kids just want to see you have joy” my husband said more than once. I didn’t realize the stress, anger, and mess I felt inside spilled out so much. Normally, you don’t see you own ugliness.

It affected them. I needed to take ownership of it.

I’m a mom of four kids within a nine-year span. After being home full-time for a decade, I was teaching 180 high school kids in our local school at the time of my unbalanced wake-up call. I loved teaching. I loved mentoring kids and pouring into their lives. I received teaching awards. Our house ran smoothly. My husband was an elder and I taught Sunday School. I ran two miles a day and had meals on the table every night.

We looked great with our picture-perfect image

But I was a mess.

In the stress, internal messiness, and out-of-control trying-to-do-it-all, relationships with my family suffered. While I did great with the teens I worked with, I was failing with my teen at home. As a mom to only one girl going through adolescence, I was reactionary, angry, and contentious with her. It overflowed to the younger kids and my husband.

My marriage was bad. My mother-child relationship was out of control, and something had to change.

Then, God reminded me that life with kids is fleeting and change needed to happen. I knew change wouldn’t happen overnight. I also realized

I didn’t like the memories my kids would have if I continued in my pulled-to-the-limit lifestyle.

I took a risk and changed what I could control. I realized I couldn’t change my husband or kids to meet my needs. I assessed what I needed for peace of mind, better life balance, and managing my anger.

I began saying “no” to things to work on the internal mess which needed healing. I said “yes” to repairing relationships and making time for God.

All of these took risk. Financial, personal, and lifestyle risks.

There’s more to this story, which is in the my new book, “Balance, Busyness and Not Doing It All.” The book is a practical, spiritual, and personal tool to help women and moms find what’s most important during the busiest years of parenting. It’s part of a larger story of living life well being the storybook image that you can learn about at brendayoder.com.

I never intended to write a book when change happened. It was truly for survival and healing for me and my family. But as I speak to and counsel women, it’s a familiar cry from most all moms:

How do you balance all the roles and responsibilities you have?

The answer is—you don’t by trying to do it all. It’s found in God’s word, a relationship with Him, and understanding yourself more.

So join me in balance, busyness and not doing it all. I’m still living it while raising kids. Busyness never goes away. Balance is how you live life while it’s happening.

What do you struggle with as a busy mom? What questions or struggles do you have?

Comment below and you’ll enter to win a giveaway for one copy of Balance, Busyness, and Not Doing It All. I’d love to hear from you!

To purchase the book, go to balancebusynessandnotdoingitall.com or Amazon.

 

Brenda is an author and speaker with a Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and a BA in Education. After teaching middle school and high school, she’s a currently a school counseling professional with a private practice. She was twice awarded the “Powerful Connection” award for teachers.

She’s a parenting columnist for 10 To 20 Parenting, Choose Now Ministries, and Whatever Girls. Brenda has been featured in Chicken Soup For The Soul:Reboot Your Life and two books, Who Do You Say I Am and Balance, Busyness, and Not Doing It All are releasing in 2015. Her ministry, Life Beyond the Picket Fence, can be found at brendayoder.com where she writes about faith, life and parenting beyond the storybook image. Brenda is a wife and mom of four children, ranging from middle school to young adult.

Brenda is active on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

un•STOP•able

By TakielaBynum©

UnstoppableThe LORD Almighty has sworn, “Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will happen.” Isaiah 14:24 NIV

Droplets formed on the rim of her brow and she clenched the life in her belly. Her body quivered while uncontrollable sobs escaped her petrified soul.

Again…he spun the barrel of the gun, gave a quick flick of the wrist and pressed it against her temple.

He enjoyed the game of life and death, also known as Russian Roulette.

Before I took my first breath, while in the secret most inner parts of my mother’s womb, evil attempted to murder me at the hands of my father.

This was the first of many attempts on my life, but my God had a plan and a purpose that would not be thwarted (prevented) by anything or anyone according to Job 42:2 which states:
“I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.

God can do ALL things. There is nothing He can’t do, including preventing a bullet from leaving its chamber. Although we may sometimes forget there is (absolutely) nothing He can’t do, don’t you simply love being reminded of what He can do (and has done)? The world is full of miraculous displays of love and power that can only be accredited to our majestic Lord and Savior.

God has a plan and a purpose for each of us, not even death can touch us without the Lord’s consent. Isaiah 46:10 says “I make known the end from the beginning…I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’ The Lord has made it quite clear that He is in control and His plan and purpose will prevail. Not our plans, not the plans of those who hate us, not even the plans of those who love us, but only the Lord’s plan will stand. The Bible states in Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. This Scripture gives me peace during the unsure moments in life. God Himself is quoted saying His plan is not to harm us but to prosper us, to give us hope, and a future.

Let us pray…

Heavenly Father we love You. We absolutely adore You. We believe with all our heart that You can do all things. We believe that You have a plan and purpose for our life and no plan/purpose of Yours can be stopped by anything or anyone. You are all powerful, all knowing, and everywhere all the time, there is none like You. I trust that Your plans are what’s best for me and You are not out to harm me. Forgive me for the times I’ve doubted You. Forgive me for the times I’ve thought You didn’t care or love me. From this day forward, if I ever doubt, please bring Your loving words back to the forefront of my heart to remind me that Your plan is one of hope and prosperity. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Inner Vows: Auto-Fortress 101

by Nancy Bentz

Inner Vows: Auto-Fortress 101

Twined heart WEG

Jesus had some things to say about our heart. In Luke 6:45, He was unmistakably plain when He stated:

 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil {Greek- ‘hurtful’} man brings evil {‘hurtful’} things out of the evil {‘hurtful effect or influence’} stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

If only our heart would stick a sock in it sometimes!

Problem is, hearts hurt. And when they do, they go into auto-fortress mode. Hello, Inner Vows – the promises we have made to ourselves in order to protect our heart from hurt. Promises such as:

I will never get angry” (like my father did).

I will never trust anyone ever again” (because they always lie to me).

I will never be like _____ or do what _____ did.”

“I will make others give me _____” (something I didn’t get) or “pay for _____” (something of my pain).

I will always be strong” (because I get in trouble for being weak).

I can’t cry” (because it shows I’m weak; so I can be accepted as ‘one of the guys’; it’s embarrassing…).

I won’t make mistakes” (because I get punished / humiliated / shamed when I do).

I will always do everything perfectly” (because it’s not ok to make a mistake!).

Can you hear the shame-based messages in those bold Inner Vow mantras?

Like a Poker player’s ‘tell,’ Inner Vows give themselves away  when you hear yourself or someone else making strong statements preceded with “I will never,” “I will always,” “I can’t,” “I won’t,” “I will…,” etc.

The sad and binding thing is, Inner Vows honor the lie. Whatever we have declared (vowed) we will never, always, will, won’t, can’t be or do – becomes a part of the fortress we erect to guard ourselves from pain. This.Does.Not.Work. Our heart still gets wounded in spite of our efforts to prevent it ever being hurt again.

But what does work are the powerful Inner Vows which, simply put, are another form of bitter roots. Command Central I.V. is like a slow drip in the background, governing how we think, act, and feel.

Before we know it, we have a stronghold of Inner Vows, with matching habits we use to fulfill them.

“I’ll just withdraw” may be fulfilled, for example, by refusal to talk when around others (shutting them out) or isolating oneself from others (which makes for a Lonely Heart Club of one member).

Whenever we rely on our own strength (especially through Inner Vows that are operating) we enter our own idol contest, believing we are the only one who can or should control our life. We enter into agreement with the enemy’s lie, which started with Eve of Eden (Genesis 3:4-5). We enter a prison of repeated attempts to control our life responses.

Pffffft. That’s like starring in Groundhog Day. Over and over…

***

Dear fortressed one, our flesh and our heart fails. How it fails. Yes, I know that’s hard to hear, especially if your Inner Vow of choice is to always do everything perfectly. But we are not left to ourselves, PTL!

God is the strength of our heart. (Psalm 73:26)

He is not a meany out to get us (as we may have vowed about mom or dad, a teacher, siblings or the school bullies), but He does require that we enter into true repentance because He knows it is powerful to the pulling down of the stronghold of the lie we entered into. (II Corinthians 10:4)

If it was easy to trade our self-reliance for His strength, we’d be all over it. Be encouraged though, for that which does not come easily does bring breakthrough when we choose to recognize, confess, repent, renounce the lies, and rely on God to strengthen and govern our heart.

There’s more to consider regarding Inner Vows. For now, I’ll leave you with a point to ponder:

Can you think of times you protected your heart from hurt /pain by making a ‘promise’ to yourself? Write down those “I will never,” “I will always,” etc. Inner Vows.

Let’s pray: “Father God, I confess that I often default to relying on my flesh and heart, which proves to be frail and overwhelmed and still gets hurt. Teach me, show me, invite me, love me into turning to You over and over again, until practice works within me the habit of relying on You, the only true strength of my heart. Holy Spirit, guide me into all truth (John 16:13), freeing me from Satan’s lies.” Amen.

Hoping to SEE you next month at Whatever Girls Live – with mug in hand!

Nanc

Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography/Freedigitalphotos.net

Whatever Girls Live

Daring to be Truthful (part 2)

By Shannon Ethridge

Daring to be Truthful (part 1)

Last time we described the battles that several young women have faced, and now I’d like to tell you a little bit about my own sexual and emotional battle…

If anyone had asked me when I was twelve if I wanted to remain a virgin until marriage, I would have said, “Of course I do!”

At thirteen, I would have said, “I think so.”

By fourteen, I would have replied, “Maybe.”

At age fifteen, my response would have been, “I don’t see how that is possible.” Unfortunately, my innocence became just a memory that year. I was coerced into sex by an eighteen-year-old boy that I had just met, and I mistakenly said nothing to my parents. Because I kept this secret, no one helped me heal from the abuse.

A few months later, my parents allowed me to begin dating. Because I believed that my virginity had already been stolen from me, I didn’t feel I had a reason to withhold my body from most of the young men I dated. Sex became a routine part of my romantic relationships—the price that I felt I must pay for the attention and affection that I craved.

No Exemptions from Sexual Temptation

As you read about the darker side of my younger days, you might think I was a messed-up girl from a dysfunctional home and a bad neighborhood, or that I wasn’t a Christian, or that I wasn’t too smart.

Wrong.

I grew up in rural Northeast Texas with educated, middle-class parents who were faithfully married to each other. My family lived in a modest home in the country where safety was never an issue. Mother took me to church regularly, and I confirmed my belief in Jesus Christ at the age of twelve. I even served as president of my youth group for several years. I got straight As in high school and went on to graduate from college.

As my life shows, you don’t have to be messed up or even come from a messed up family to make irresponsible decisions that will mess up your life. Not even “good Christian girls” are exempt from sexual temptations. Not even you.

Are YOU Engaged in a Secret Battle?

If you’re ready to face the intensity of your own private sexual or emotional war, answer yes or no to the following questions.

1.   Do you watch television shows or movies with sexual jokes or graphic sex scenes?

2.   Does the music you listen to talk blatantly of sexual desires outside of marriage?

3.   Do you ever act overly friendly or seductively to get a guy’s attention?

4.   Do thoughts of having or keeping a boyfriend consume your mind to the point that you find it difficult to concentrate on anything else for any length of time?

5.   Are you looking for or entertaining the idea of a serious romantic relationship even though it will be several years before you are ready to get married?

6.   Do you consider certain sexual activities okay simply because they won’t result in pregnancy?

7.   Do you feel that your virginity has already been stolen from you?

8.   Do you feel as if you are “damaged goods” that a “respectable guy” wouldn’t want?

9.   Do you believe it is ever okay for a couple to live together even though they are not married?

10.   Do you believe it is ever okay for a couple to have sex before marriage?

11.   Have you ever lied to your parents about where you were going or whom you were with because you knew they wouldn’t approve if you told the truth?

12.   Would you lie to your parents in order to go out with a particular guy you liked a lot if you knew you could get away with it?

13.   Have you ever made out with a guy just because it seemed like the thing to do?

14.   Are you anxious to get out from under the control of your parents and gain your freedom to pursue any relationship you want?

15.   Do you go into Web sites or chat rooms that you know your parents would not approve of?

16.   Have you ever given your phone number or physical address to a stranger you were flirting with over the Internet without your parents’ knowledge?

17.   Have you set rules or guidelines for your behavior or your relationships that you’ve already broken?

18.   Do you hide certain things, such as steamy love letters or magazines, or do you have to erase your computer’s browsing history?

Whether you are just entering puberty and new to this struggle or an experienced young adult, you can design a rock-solid defense to avoid becoming a casualty of this war. Whether you are sexually pure, hanging on to your virginity by a thread, or currently fooling around with a boy, you can maintain and/or reclaim your sexual integrity not just throughout your youth, but throughout your whole life. By learning to guard your mind, heart, and body against sexual compromise and understanding God’s plan for your sexual and emotional fulfillment, you can maneuver your way through your teenage years with grace…and without regrets.

Preparing Your Daughter for Every Woman’s BattleEvery Young Woman’s Battle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Daring to be Truthful (part 1)

By Shannon Ethridge

Truth or dare. You’ve probably played this game with girlfriends at a slumber party, or perhaps been warned by your parents not to play it at all. It’s a game where you agree to do anything another player dares you to do, regardless of how embarrassing or disgusting it may be, or else to tell the absolute truth in response to a particular question, regardless of how private or humiliating your answer may be.

As a young girl, I usually chose the dare because I didn’t want to answer the questions they’d ask, such as: Who do you think is the cutest boy in school? How many boys have you ever kissed? How far have you ever gone with a boy?

Sometimes the truth hurts, and it’s much easier if we can keep it hidden. As a matter of fact, sometimes the secrets we harbor are so painful that we don’t want to face them at all. We assume that these secrets will go away if we don’t think or talk about them with anyone. But the opposite is true. Shameful secrets fester like a splinter in a finger, and it’s much better to name the secret and to let someone help us remove it from our lives so the wound will heal.

Let me tell you about a few girls who are finding this out the hard way…

Molly’s Private War

Molly’s secret struggle began when she stumbled upon a pornographic website and later chose to stumble onto it again…and again…and again.

I feel so bad, not just because of what I’ve looked at, but also because I exposed two of my very best friends. I’ve tried very hard to forget what I saw, but I feel dirty and guilty, and I’m sure they do too.  I don’t want anyone else to find out, because I know that they would be disgusted and disappointed in me.

 

If Molly had known how addicting pornography can be, I’m sure she would have avoided it altogether. If the temptation to look at pornography has become a problem in your life, know that you can break free by simply starving your appetite for it.  Whatever you feed grows.  Whatever you starve dies. 

Lauren’s Personal Battle

Lauren attended a sexuality conference when she was in junior high and made a pledge to remain sexually abstinent until marriage. Now in high school, she is disheartened by the choices her friends are making and can’t help but wonder if it’s realistic for her to maintain her pledge.

I went to a dance at my school and most of my friends were freak dancing, moving around like they were having sex with their clothes on, and doing nasty stuff with each other—girls with guys, girls with girls, anything goes. Everyone looked like they were having so much fun, and they kept telling me to lighten up and join the party. The girls who don’t seem to have a problem with it are really popular with the guys. I try to remind myself that they are popular for the wrong reasons, but sometimes I wonder if I’m being too prudish and am missing out on all the fun it seems that everyone else is having.

Like Lauren, you may feel all alone in your desire to live a life of purity, and perhaps you are wondering if it’s even possible. Don’t be discouraged. It is possible, but only with God’s help and a heart of surrender to Him.

Emma’s Secret Struggles

Emma felt very insecure in her early teens and believed something was wrong with her because guys never seemed attracted to her. Even though she had good relationships with her parents, she wanted to be pursued by a young man. In order to make herself look more like the popular girls at school, she started dieting and exercising feverishly to lose weight.

It didn’t take long for my weight loss obsession to turn into a serious eating disorder. I felt desperate for boys to notice my slender body, and I craved compliments like crazy. When a guy did compliment me, it puffed me up with pride and I felt like I was really something. I would hang around him more as some sort of “payment” for the attention he gave me as well as a “security deposit” so that he’d keep the compliments coming.

Over the next three years I got into a couple of relationships that I thought were serious, but the guys weren’t so serious. I gave these guys all I had, including my body, but eventually I got dumped for the next girl. Every time I experienced another breakup, I wondered what was wrong with me. Why didn’t he want me anymore? Was I not attractive enough? Was I still too fat? Abusing my body and giving it away was how I tried to get the attention and affirmation I wanted from a guy, but what I got was never enough.

The battle to be thin enough, as well as the battle to get your emotional needs met by any boyfriend, can seem like a never-ending one. If you’ve found yourself craving a relationship so much that you engage in behaviors you are not proud of, I’m glad you’ve chosen to visit this blog.  In my coming posts, I’ll try to help you gain a healthy balance between your natural, God-given desires to be loved and your ability to avoid sexually tempting situations.

(to be continued…)

Preparing Your Daughter for Every Woman’s BattleEvery Young Woman’s Battle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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