Tears to Joy

Tears to Joy: January 2016

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Ten Years Ago...

Ten years ago today I experienced the worst day of my life. There was a knock at the door from a man wearing a cleric's collar. I knew before he ever opened his mouth the message he had come to deliver. My husband, the man I loved with all my heart, was gone.

At the time it was difficult to even breathe. So many thoughts raced through my mind...things I needed to do...questions without answers...fury and overwhelming sadness flooded the depths of my being. I felt completely and utterly undone.

Ten years later I sit at my desk amazed at how God not only put the broken pieces of my life back together, but also created a beautiful mosaic that I never would have imagined from all the hurt and pain. On a weekly basis, I am able to offer hope to others whose lives have been touched by suicide. This was not a task I ever wanted, but it's one I am glad to offer.

I want to take a minute and share with anyone reading this who might be contemplating suicide. Many say that suicide is a permanent solution for temporary pain. I want to add something to that. While it may feel like suicide is the only way to end the pain, the pain doesn't stop after the suicide. The pain is transferred to your loved ones for years to come.

While God has brought healing into my life, the scars from the past remain. I still have hurts and at times tears from the pain Michael brought into our lives when he decided to end his. Don't believe the lie that your loved ones will be better off without you. Leaving them only changes the content of their pain. Talk to someone about your hurts. You can call the Georgia Crisis and Access Line 24 hours a day 7 days a week at 1-800-715-4225. You are not alone. There is help available.

I have journeyed a path I never would have chosen, but along the way God has shown me beautiful things I'd never seen otherwise. I have been given a second chance at love (Jeff, you're the best!) and a precious daughter that I adore. I've experienced sacrificial love from the Body of Christ and I've experienced the peace that surpasses understanding.

As I reflect on the past ten years, my feelings are mixed. There are hurts. There are sorrows. There are joys unspeakable. One thing has remained constant -- the peace that surpasses understanding that only Christ can give. I pray that you experience that peace as well.

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Monday, January 18, 2016

Prayer Team Needed

Four years ago, a dream came true for me. Tears to Joy, the book describing my journey through my husband’s bipolar disorder and suicide, was finally published. Many of you celebrated with me. It seems like only yesterday.

If all goes well, I will finish my dissertation and graduate with my doctorate in Professional Counseling this year. Knowing the finish line is in sight begs the question – What’s next?

There are so many good things I could do, but I want to be intentional to do what God wants and not what I want. At this time, I plan to continue working as a therapist and as a professor. However, I would also like to spend more time focusing on developing my ministry, Tears to Joy. In order to prepare, I believe the best next step for me is to develop a prayer team to partner with me in this ministry. I am looking for a few select individuals with whom I can share very real prayer requests as I seek God’s direction for this ministry.

God may bring this ministry to your mind and I ask that when He does, you pray for me whether you are a part of the prayer team or not. For those on my prayer team I am asking them to set aside at least 15 minutes twice a week to be intentional about praying for Tears to Joy. I am looking for people with a heart for ministry, particularly for the brokenhearted, that are committed to prayer and fasting, to walk alongside me and seek God’s face on behalf of this ministry.

If you are interested in being a part of my prayer team, please email me at natalie@tearstojoy.org for more information. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Favorite psychological movies --- Go!

I love to snuggle in a warm blanket and watch a good psychological movie that portrays mental illness in a real life context. One of my favorites is an old movie I show my Human Growth and Development classes called, The Bad Seed. Also among my favorites are A Beautiful Mind and Shutter Island.

I am looking to expand my library. What are some of your favorites?

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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Taste and See

I have resolved to start 2016 without sugar -- no sugar, no artificial sweeteners, and minimal carbohydrates. The first few days were rough, I won't lie. The withdrawal symptoms included headaches, aches and pains, and even an upset stomach. I pushed through and finally, I am beginning to feel myself again.

Why would I do this? One word -- my health. Last year I spent 60 days sugar-free and I had more energy, better focus, and felt much healthier. I want to take better care of myself so that this vessel can be used however God sees fit.

What surprised me is how obsessed I had become with food. Since I gave up sugar, I am hungry much of the time. I think throughout the day about what foods I can have and research recipes that fit into my new diet. Eating healthy has become a focal point in my thoughts.

I prayed and asked God to show me a verse to strive to live by for 2016, and he led me to Psalm 34:8 which says, "Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him." 

Ha! God has some sense of humor! Taste! As I have reflected on this verse on the first few days on 2016, I have viewed this in a new context. As I wean myself off of sugar, other healthier alternatives taste better; as a matter of fact, my taste buds are heightened and food tastes better in general! As I spend more and more time with the Lord, he wants the things of Christ to appeal more and more to me, and the things of the world will be less entreating. The more I delight myself in Christ, the more I recognize and acknowledge his goodness! 

Oh that I would spend as much time dwelling on God's Word as I do on what I can and can't eat...I think this is what God is teaching me. The more I feast on his Word, the more I will want to taste of its goodness. For now, my meditation is on the first half of this verse, but I am not ignoring the latter part.

"Blessed is the one who takes refuge in him." Refuge. A place of peace. Safety. Quiet. As I sit quietly and taste -- no savor his goodness, I am blessed. No longer will I be consumed with the worries of the world; my focus will be on the goodness of God Himself. 

Oh that we would truly taste and see in 2016!

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