Retreat and Surrender

As part of National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo), I am taking part in a daily blog post challenge through the BlogHer website. Today’s prompt:

When you’re having a bad day with your mental health, what do you do to help yourself?


Where do I even begin?

I guess, since this is November, I have to start with Thanksgiving. Not the holiday, but rather the ever-present need to be thankful for all God has given me.

I am thankful for not being afflicted with a clinically diagnosed mental health issue (although I have members in my family who have). I am thankful for not be saddled with a medical condition that requires a daily regiment of medications (although I have members in my family who have). I am eternally grateful for the health and well being of my two teenage children (although I have members in my family who can’t say the same).

Yes, life sucks sometimes. It’s cruel and unfair and it can be consistently inconsistent. Yet for every crappy day, my experience has taught me it can always be worse. I know that sounds quaint or trite, and yes, I know I’m perhaps oversimplifying the big picture; but there is truth in the anecdotal, albeit cliché saying, “this, too, shall pass.”

There is no one right answer for handling adversity or managing those ‘mental health’ days. The prescription for getting through the storm is as unique as our fingerprints. Still, as a person of faith, I believe there is one common denominator.

I used to surrender my crap to really, really loud music. Pop in the Van Halen, turn the volume up to eleven, and just let Eddie’s shredding on his guitar take me far away from where it is I was. When that didn’t work, I’d hand my problems over to alcohol. My happy place was inevitably found at the bottom of a bottle of booze. But ear drum and liver damage aside, what I was truly wrecking was my soul.

booze

Over the last decade, I’ve learned that everything in my life begins and ends with God. To put it in a mathematical analogy, He provides the parenthesis of my minutes, hours, days, years, and life.

(me), where ( = God and ) = God

Not only is this perspective highly effective when it comes to pressing through the tough times, it is absolutely liberating as well. Being able to surrender my problems to the Lord has helped me elevate above the worldly problems that arise and overcome them while minimizing the mental and emotional impact on my life. Please don’t get me wrong, just because I believe in God and have a relationship with Christ does not mean my life is easy and nothing bad ever happens. That’s not what I am saying. Rather, when the *bleep* hits the fan, dealing with it all becomes a less stressful situation because of my faith in Him.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

– John 16:33 NIV

For me, it all begins and ends with prayer. Effective, focused, and intentional prayer is how I get through the ‘mental health’ days. Sometimes God is immediate with His blessings and opens my eyes to the solution I am seeking. Sometimes He’s not, and the blessing is in the growth that results from the pressing through the tough time. Either way, I’ve found that when I make my time with God a PTA meeting (Praise, Thank, then Ask), there is no problem too great for Him to resolve.

PTA

When tough times arise, I now turn down the volume of the world and inebriate myself with the Holy Spirit. It’s not always easy, but that’s the thing with faith; it’s not supposed to be.


nablopomo

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Friendly Friday – Mary Graham

I don’t know Mary Graham. I had not heard of Mary Graham until this morning when my wife shared via Facebook on of Mary’s blog posts.

The title of the post is My Husband Is Not My Soul Mate. I was instantly intrigued given my previous experience with love and the idea of soul mates. Once I read Mary’s post, I was blown away. She was able to perfectly capture the thoughts in my head that I’ve never been able to put into words.

As a result, I am now a fan of Mrs. Graham, and I would like to share her work with you. I am excited to dive into her posts, and I hope you find her work as excellent as I do.

Please check out her sight Trusty Chucks and follow her on Twitter (@themarygraham).

 

Mary Graham

The Hiatus

I haven’t written since May 10. That’s 17 days with no post to my blog.

When I started the year, my goal was to post something – anything – once a day. I enjoy working on my ‘traditional’ blog posts; 500 – 1000 word entries that read as editorials and run the gamut of topics, from sports to parenting to faith to politics, etc. As much as I enjoy these posts, they are time intensive. In addition to the writing, there’s the editing and re-writing that’s required. For presentation purposes, I usually add an image to the post (which can be time consuming when I can’t find an image that’s just right). And then, of course, there’s the sharing of the post across various social media.

When I’m not in the mood to invest and hour or so into a post, I’ve gotten away with posting just a picture (see my Serenity Saturday posts) or sharing a funny video from YouTube. Yes, it’s basically cheating, but in the grand scheme of blogging, it’s sharing content and helps keep traffic flowing to my page. So when I think about the past seventeen days and the fact I haven’t done squat, I cringe.

Did I lose readers? Did I plummet on some non-existent ranking of relevant bloggers (from 16,548 to 18,231)? Did anyone care?

I care.

As much as the break was nice, I missed the writing process. I missed the sharing process. I missed being an active part of this virtual community. And it’s not so much a personal, ego thing as it is a matter of active learning. In writing, I often force myself to deal with challenges of word choice or argument structure. I learn from the little bit of research I am sometimes forced to complete. I also learn a lot from the feedback I receive. Having been away for travel, I am eager to jump back in the saddle and share some of my new experiences through my blog. I’m eager to get writing again, even if it’s just a little at a time.

Friendly Friday – Kim Randall

Are you familiar with the ‘It’s a Small World’ ride at Walt Disney World? You know, the one with the little boat that that takes you around the world (so to speak) and shows you how we’re all interconnected, all the while filling your head with the mother of all ear worms.

It’s a small world after all …. it’s a small, small world.

Well, the world of social media is like that. If you spend a good amount of time on one of the bigger social media platforms, you’ll quickly come to find that most of the ‘players’ in that arena seem to know each other or are connected in some shape, way, or form. This is especially true with Twitter. Twitter, to me, is a more open space than other platforms, and seems to the general meeting place of the social media world. If Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and others are ‘rooms’ in a hotel, then Twitter is the lobby where most people congregate.

I am fortunate to have a healthy online presence, and I cherish my circle of social media friends. However, when I think back to how I got plugged into this small world, one of the people I always point to is my friend Kim Randall.

Kim is a fun-loving and inspiring woman. She also happens to own her own social media marketing company, and has helped launch or coordinate a number of other social media related services or brands. When I starting putting together a list of Kim’s entrepreneurial exploits, I quickly found it to be quite exhaustive. Here are a few:

I first me Kim when she was a presenter of a Tampa-area social media class. We exchanged information and, of course, connected on Twitter. We both took part in organizing the Epic Thanks Tampa Bay event back in 2010, and we’ve been good friends since.

Kim is a great resource when it comes to social media and online marketing. She really knows her stuff, and has been very successful in building a presence for various brands and companies. I know whenever I am in a jam with either a question or a ‘how do I do this’ moment, I can reach out to Kim for an answer.

What I love most about her, however, is that despite her incredible success and unmatched expertise in her arena, there’s no pretentiousness about her. Kim is a down-to-earth and easy to get along with person. In the ever-evolving world of social media, she’s the first to tell you there is no such thing as a ‘social media expert’, and Kim understands the vast majority of people still consider themselves novices when it comes to inter-connectivity in an online community.

I am very blessed to have Kim as a peer, mentor, and friend. And if you’re on Twitter, it’s very likely she’s already a connection of yours, too. If not, be sure to follow her at @_kimrandall. You can also check out her endeavors by following the links listed above.

In our ever-shrinking world, Kim Randall is a great person to know.

Happy Friday.

Kim Randall

Friendly Friday – Courtney Perry

Serendipity. I like that word. I like what it means (an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident), and I like what it stands for. Some people claim serendipity is a function of fate. Others think it’s simply a matter of luck or coincidence. As for me, my personal philosophy is that coincidence is God showing off, and serendipity is just another way of describing God’s mysterious ways.

Lee and I volunteer as leaders of growth groups through our church. Growth groups are semester long sessions in which we meet as a small group and study either a book or a particular part of the Bible, etc. The purpose of growth groups is fellowship and to do life together with the other members of our church. It’s all about expanding the ministry from inside the walls of our church building to inside the homes of others.

Due to logistics and my general laziness to keep my house tidy, our particular group was hosted at the house of our friends Mark and Renee. Through the course of several semesters, we got to know Mark and Renee very well, and by extension – as well as through the power of the Internet and social media – we got to meet and know their four daughters as well. We’ve met two in person and connected with the other two online. And there is one daughter in particular I’d like to introduce you to.

As a blogger, I like to read other bloggers’ work. I will be the first to admit, however, that it is very hard sometimes to keep up with all my friends’ blogs. RSS readers come in handy, but sometimes I just need to stay up late and do nothing but read, read, read. And how I thoroughly enjoy reading the words of Courtney Perry.

Courtney writes in an open and unabashed fashion that makes her words ring true and connect easily with the reader. Not only is her writing transparent, a writing style which I greatly admire, but she is also clever, witty, and thought-provokingly deep. Courtney is refreshingly honest, and her work has opened my eyes to the world of food allergies, sleeping disorders, and anxiety. Not only has it opened my eyes, but it’s also caught the attention of editors at The Huffington Post. She’s had multiple pieces featured on Huff Post, her most recent this past Tuesday about conquering panic attacks

I like to think Courtney and I have established a great online camaraderie, and I look forward to each of her posts. As I think about how it came to be that that I was introduced to her brilliant writing, I truly believe it was not mere chance, but rather God putting His serendipitous plans in motion. After all, us bloggers have to stick together.

Courtney Perry

Be sure to check out and follow Courtney’s personal blog at theothercourtney.com

Friendly Friday – Kendall Lyons

Have you ever had a tough time explaining how you met someone? “Hey, how did you guys meet?” You stumble across um’s and awkward pauses until you figure out the best way to explain a peculiar story. That’s pretty much the case with my friend Kendall.

I had the great fortune of traveling to Colorado last summer to attend the Wild at Heart Boot Camp hosted by John Eldridge and his Ransomed Heart Ministries team. It was a great men’s retreat the opened my eyes to all types of new directions in my faith walk with Jesus, and allowed me to realize the warrior that lives in me, fighting everyday here on earth for the kingdom of God. It was four days of reflection, introspection, and fellowship with the hundreds of other men at the retreat.

In those moments of fellowship, we’d congregate around the fire, introducing ourselves and sharing life stories. I traveled to the retreat with my friend Jeff, and I told him I’d meet him down at the fire once I grabbed some stuff from our dormitory area. Upon my arrival, he peppered me with questions.

“Hey. Do you know this guy named cartoon daily?”

“Cartoon daily? His first name is cartoon?”

“No. That’s his Twitter handle. Cartoondaily ….. something.”

“What? What are you talking about.”

“I met this guy and he happened to mention he’s a blogger. I told him I was here with a buddy of mine who also is a blogger. I mentioned you’re danaCreative, and he said he knows you.”

“Wait. What? He said he knows me?”

“Yeah. Says he follows you on Twitter … or something like that.” (my friend Jeff was not very keen on the details that evening)

So after the sketchy conversation and upon returning home, I did some research and found @CartoonDaily1, better known as Kendall Lyons.

The Internet is a great tool. So much so that it allowed two complete strangers, both with a penchant for writing and a mutual love for Jesus Christ, to come together in a really unexplainable way. I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Kendall in person, but we’ve interacted quite a bit since the retreat, and I am a fan of his work.

Kendall is a youth minister and a writer – he just released his book “22 Life Lessons for Personal Growth” – and a dedicated man of God. In addition, Kendall is a talented artist and self-proclaimed cartoon fanatic. I look forward to growing in this friendship with Kendall, and I smile knowing there is another warrior out there working hard to kingdom build here on earth.

You can find Kendall via his blog at KendallLyons.com. Please take a moment to check out Kendall’s animated mini-bio for Draw My Life. It’s excellent.

Happy Friday!

208/365 The Write Stuff

Even though it’s waaaaayyyyyy across town for us, Lee and I are members of the Brandon Christian Writers. To use their words, BCW is “a place for Christian writers of all genres to gather for fellowship, encouragement, and learning.”

The other members are all so very friendly, constructive, and inviting, and Lee and I always leave the monthly meeting reinvigorated to write.

Regardless of your trade, profession, craft, or hobby, if you want to get more out of it, I invite you to find a group in your area that is devoted to what you do. It’s in sharing and experiencing together both the successes and failures that we truly learn. And as my college marketing professor used to say, “If you’re not learning, you’re dying.”