Have you ever looked back to the worst moment in your whole entire life and then looked around you at your present life? Can you see an immense difference between the two moments in time? This morning, as I was holding my son, I did just that. As I attempted to count my blessings, I found that I could not, for they are far too numerous. That realization caused me to stop everything I was doing (other than breastfeeding) and just praise God for His mercy and grace. He delivered me from what once felt like the pits of Hell. I cannot even begin to fathom how different the world would be without my kids. You see, the worst moment in my life is the moment I was pronounced dead at age 16 during a suicide attempt. I had totally given up on life because I figured that everyone who mattered had already given up on me. I was wrong. God had not given up.
At age 16, there was no way that I could even begin to fathom that my life would work out to what it is right now. I married my high school sweetheart. We have been together now nearly 20 years. We have two beautiful daughters and a very handsome infant son. I survived military life (which almost killed both of us) and I have spent years teaching Sunday school, working with kids – including special needs children. I’ve traveled to and lived in several different states and I’ve met people from all over the world. I have a great life, despite our struggles. None of this would’ve happened had God given up on me.
You see, when we’re at our worst moments and we don’t even have the strength to call on God or to acknowledge His existence, He’s still there anyway, saving us from the Enemy. He knows we have a purpose long before we know we do.
I did not call on God that day until the bitter end. I called on Him to bring me Home – to Heaven. He said “later” and sent me back to the World. Initially, I was outraged by the outcome of a failed suicide attempt. Now, I am praising Him for it. I cannot imagine a better life than the one He has given me.
To all who mourn in Israel he will give: beauty for ashes; joy instead of mourning; praise instead of heaviness. For God has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for his own glory.
Isaiah 61::3 TLB
You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.
Psalm 23:5 NLT
Let’s Pray: Lord, we thank You for the blessings You’ve bestowed upon us. We have experienced such intense moments of weakness that we could not even call out to You, but You in Your infinite Mercy came to our rescue anyway. You have replaced our mourning with joy and songs of Praise. All Honor and Glory rightly belongs to you, O Lord. How we love Your ways! In Jesus’ Name we Praise You. Amen.
How has God come to your rescue in moments of weakness? Has your life turned out better than you ever thought it could? In what ways?
Hi there! I’m Mandy from Nest Full of Birds. I just wanted to take some time to introduce myself and tell you a bit about Nest Full of Birds and why I’m writing what I write. Now, you’ll see on the blog that I write about some pretty bold, pretty risky things. I’ve really been through a lot in my life, and I’ve been blessed that God’s seen me through all of it. I feel a lot like Mary Magdalene, having been saved from 7 demons. I owe everything to God. God is my One True Father. I don’t have an earthly Father that I can turn to and for that matter; I really don’t have a mother either. God is it for me.
I was born into an abusive home and right away my mother had to flee from my biological father. He spent a lot of time in prison for drugs and just wasn’t a good person. I’m amazed that my siblings and I survived. It was a horrible situation. Then my step-dad just used me for trash. My whole childhood was rough. I’m a survivor of childhood rape and sexual abuse. Out of that stemmed a lot of issues with PTSD, anxiety, depression, suicide. I’ve had 4 suicide attempts – two before I turned 18. I died once, when I was 16, and I remember being so angry when I woke up. I truly wanted to die. But God wasn’t done with me yet and it took a long while, but I’m so glad He saved me.
I’ve struggled with homosexual tendencies. I made the choice to marry my husband, and I’m glad I did! We have two great kids and there’s no looking back for me. I truly fought a hard battle and am happily married to my husband, Anthony. As a result of the battle with homosexuality, I really struggled in the past with porn and alcoholism. I’ve struggled with self-worth. I’ve had a lot of people tell me what a sinner, what an awful, despicable person I am. The only thing they’re right about is that I am indeed a sinner, but fortunately, I’m saved by Grace. I’ve struggled hard with adultery and won that battle. All the glory goes to God for that one.
You know, I thought once I was married that all my troubles with my abusers were over. I was in a safe place, I wasn’t being abused anymore, but I just had no idea how to function in that kind of an environment. I didn’t know yet what to do with a good husband, a happy home and a quiet life, so I gunked it all up. I almost lost my marriage and my kids, but I turned to the Lord and I sought Him with everything I had. I wrestled hard for that blessing; I wasn’t going to stop until I got it. I knew I was made for more. Why else would God save me from so much?
I wasn’t made to be trash. I wasn’t made to be treated like trash and I certainly wasn’t made to be rolling in it, either. And that’s a lot of what I’m writing about on Nest Full of Birds, because at the time I was going through all of this, I couldn’t yet see the bigger picture. I figured there was a light at the end of the tunnel, but since I couldn’t see it, I was getting really discouraged. It’s my mission here at Nest Full of Birds to really bring that message to you.
You’re not stuck in the place you’re in now. You’re not trash.
God has healed me from a lot. It’s because of Him that I’m here right now, talking to all of you. God says in Jeremiah 1:5 that “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.”
The King is enamored with your beauty and of you, He is well pleased.
You are not stuck in the place that you’re in right now. God will make a way out of whatever situation you’re in, whether it’s healing or deliverance. You can and should repent and be free from whatever is holding you back. God is ready to hear your prayers right now.
God has done this for me, and He can do this for you if you allow His power in your life. Philippians 4:13 says that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Yes you can!
Allow God’s power to over take your lives, beloved Brothers and Sisters.
You are not trash. So I’ll end here, summing up my story and the content of Nest Full of Birds with this scripture from Psalm 23, the Living Bible translation.
Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need! He lets me rest in the meadow grass and leads me beside the quiet streams. He gives me new strength. He helps me do what honors him the most. Even when walking through the dark valley of death I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me, guarding, guiding all the way. You provide delicious food for me in the presence of my enemies. You have welcomed me as your guest; blessings overflow! Your goodness and unfailing kindness shall be with me all of my life, and afterwards I will live with you forever in your home.
A few weeks ago, my very young cousin, Andrew* took his own life. While Andrew was only 23, in some ways, he was much older. Andrews mother was at war with cancer for most of his life. She aggressively fought many battles against cancer, and a few years ago, she lost the war. This loss hit Andrew very hard. I too know the pain of losing someone close to you (though it was not my mother) and I can empathize with Andrew. The death of a loved one can bring you to dire straits and it is very, very hard to move on without them.
Andrew’s suicide brought out more emotions in me than I was prepared to deal with. The news of his suicide hit me square in the heart. It felt like someone had punched me in the gut and I was struggling to stand upright. My heart has been heavy for weeks. You see, I had my own bout with suicide attempts as a teenager and as a young wife. Each time I woke up, I was very angry that I was still alive. How dare someone force me to live a life I never wanted?
I understand now.
Suicide is a selfish, self-centered permanent end to a temporary problem. It leaves behind hundreds of mourning loved ones who have no answers, but carry the heavy load of blame and guilt.
“What if I had just said…”
“He called me once for help and I should’ve…”
“I thought something was off, but I ….”
And more. There is so much more that each of the survivors carry. Guilt they may never speak of, for fear that it may be true. But, it isn’t true. This is a choice that Andrew made for himself, and that is something that we all need to remember. Andrew knew that this is what he wanted, even if he didn’t understand the consequences when he pulled the trigger on that gun.
That may sound harsh to you, but remember, I’ve been on the side that Andrew has been on. I understand the basics of the journey to the point where suicide seems to be the only option, and I remember precisely the amount of selfishness and anger necessary to shut out the rest of the world and develop a “damn the world” attitude. I remember pulling my own trigger of sorts, and I remember feeling relief when I fell asleep, thinking it was all over. I understand how Andrew got to that point, and I even understand to a point, why he felt it was the only way. This isn’t a popular viewpoint amongst my family right now, but it’s still a valid one, especially for my own healing. I was very, very lucky. I’m still here. I failed. I wish Andrew had failed, too. I wish he had never known the kind of pain that drives someone to thoughts of suicide in the first place. I wish he and I had known each other better. Maybe I could’ve spoken Life to him? (There I go…survivor’s guilt.)
I feel a responsibility, as someone who has failed at multiple suicide attempts, to speak the truth – to speak life to anyone who has been on either side of “the ledge” and to offer some wisdom and strength. You can’t make someone listen to you. If they have it in their heads that this is what they’re going to do, nothing you say or do will pull them down. They have to pull themselves down. You can wait patiently for them on the sidelines, remind them of their responsibilities and blessings here on earth, and you can speak Love to them, but you cannot decide for them whether or not they will in fact “jump”. You also have to decide whether or not you’re going to take that chance, knowing that they may jump no matter what you say. They have to decide whether or not to listen. You don’t decide that for them, no matter how loudly you scream, or how much you love them.
For those who are on that ledge, fight. Get angry. Yell at the walls, yell at the wind. Punch a pillow and yell at that. Tell the universe how much it sucks and how much you hurt. Act a little (or a lot) crazy and do what I did. Go in the bathroom, shut and lock the door, and yell at the walls about how much you hurt, how unfair life is, and how nothing works out for you. Tell the walls to go fuck themselves. Say it again, and picture the person you’re really mad at. Start yelling at the image of that person. Yell until you can’t yell anymore. And then just start crying. You’re going to need to cry, a lot. And that’s OK! Remember, you’re alone in that bathroom, the door is closed, and you need this. You have to get this anger out, or it will consume you. You cannot get on that ledge. You cannot take that bottle of pills in your cabinet. You cannot pick up that gun. In fact, flush those pills down the toilet. NOW. It doesn’t matter if they’re not yours. Get rid of them. NOW. Throw them out a window, in the trash, in the hall. Get them out of your sight. If it’s a gun, get rid of it, right now. A knife/razor/whatever you’re using to hurt yourself – get rid of it NOW. And keep yelling. If you have to go in that bathroom every day and yell, do it. Don’t come out until you’re weak from crying and yelling. If you have roommates or children, I’ve found that whisper yelling works just as well, though you’ll need a large glass of water afterwards.
It’s not silly. It’s life. And whatever is hurting you, it has to come out. You may not know the words to use, but I’ve found that by simply yelling every word, every insult imaginable, I’ve found my voice and I’ve discovered over time the words to use. I’ve also discovered that I’m not really alone in that bathroom after all. Jesus has been there with me all along, with His arms around me, loving me in the middle of my “hate sessions”. He’s listened, and He’s healed me. He’s offered me His strength, and His comfort. And when others have thought I was nuts, Jesus knew the truth all along and He brought me through that. I was never alone in the bathroom, and I pray you know that Truth, too. You are never alone.
Everyone needs a safe place to unload their pain. For some, it’s therapy. Honestly, I had so much therapy before I was even ready for it, that I learned too early on how to manipulate it and use therapy to my advantage to gain sympathy for issues I never had, so that I could cover up the serious stuff I was really going through. I used therapy to mask my true pain. This is a truth both sides need to know about. Therapy isn’t for everyone, even Christian therapy. I manipulated that too, even as an adult. It took about a year and a half of those bathroom “hate sessions” for me to even figure out what was going on in my own life. Once I faced the truth and stared it down, I was able to move on. But I had to make that choice for myself. I chose to do it for several reasons, some of which are noble and some of which aren’t. But the point is, I made the choice and I’m now looking forward to a life of more choices, rather than having ended my own life and my ability to choose for myself what I will and will not accept.
I will not accept negativity. I may come off as a hard ass to some, but I’ve fought a hard battle and wanted to die more times than anyone except Jesus knows about. I’ve won this war, and I’m going to continue winning every battle. I’m here to stay. I’m here to offer you some of that strength I had to beg, borrow and bleed for. Take it. And know that you are more than whatever battle you’re fighting today. You are so completely worth the effort your friends, family, teachers, loved ones put into you. You’re worth the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross, too. You are so much more than you ever thought. I hope someday you punch the devil in the nose and steal that strength back from him, so you can see it, too.
*Andrew was not his real name, but for privacy of the family, I have changed his name.
It’s no secret to those who know me that I’ve been itching to get back to school. A few years ago, I tried out Seattle’s Art Institute, intending to earn a Bachelor degree in baking (yes, you can do that), but was cut short due to hardships in my life. At the time it seemed utterly devastating to me, but as time passed and the wound healed, I realized that baking is more of a hobby than anything.
One of the issues I’ve noticed in my community for the last dozen years or so is that slowly, the mental health programs are creeping away. Except now, it’s not such a slow decline as it is a rapid decline in education, in funding, and in the programs themselves. There is a lack in trained mental health employees (because there is no funding available to pay more than the bare bones essentials, and even then their salaries are minimal), and the issue has gotten so bad, that the state has had to step in and take over a lot of programs due to a lack of community funding.
Looking around from the middle of this crisis, it’s as if everyone wants to simply deny that problems exist at all in this beautiful utopia! You can’t simply place a band-aid over a deep gash and cross your fingers, hoping the situation will get better. No, that is how life-threatening infections begin, and we’re seeing that here in Curry County right now. Many life saving programs have been swept away, leaving thousands of people without treatment that they desperately need. This is very sad, especially since the epidemic not only affects those with inadequate care, but the tax payers, local/county/state government, children, families – the community at large. It affects each one of us! We’ve seen an increase in crime, in child abuse, in homelessness, in poverty and in frustration among the general population. Many people are wondering who is going to stop the madness, yet what has been forgotten is that we are all responsible for what is happening. Each one of us has a responsibility to contribute to the solution. Are we willing to step up and do what we can to make a difference? I am.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
In my teenage years, I was severely depressed. At age 14 I was prescribed Prozac to manage symptoms of depression and PTSD. It was 1998 and medical professionals did not know then what they know now. The Prozac caused me to become almost immediately suicidal, and a few months later, I had my first suicide attempt. I was 15 years old, thinking I had nothing left to live for. Praise the good Lord that He has had other plans for me and I survived! My psychiatrists and other mental health professionals adjusted my medications for the next eight years, through two more suicide attempts, and psychotic behaviors I’d never exhibited before taking psychotropic medications (yet were now controlling my life and seriously depleting my quality of life). Finally, at age 22, I’d had enough and I begged my psychiatrist to remove me from all medications.
What I learned through my own journey to health and healing is priceless. For years I was angry with “the system” and I wanted to lash out and scream and yell at everyone who’d ever made a mistake, but now I realize that it wasn’t a mistake and screaming and yelling will not change anything for the better. Instead, I’m going to embrace who I am today. I’m going to stand up and thank those that worked so hard to help me, and I’m going to fight to get them what they need to do their job. I’m going to share my experiences, because they’re valuable! Most of all, I’m going to make sure that I’m in a position to extend compassion, empathy and healing to everyone in my path, because that is exactly what I have needed. I know firsthand how long the road can feel when overcoming the obstacle of poor mental health.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
Recently, I was encouraged to embrace my dream of working within the mental health field, so I jumped on the chance to research the steps. I found that Walden University has a top-notch Psychology program, all the way up to Ph.D! I’m now enrolled and will begin school in just a few short weeks. I am really excited! One of the first assignments I was given prior to entering classes was to write a short committment statement about why I had enrolled in Walden U., what I hope to accomplish, and state my level of committment to completing the program. I’ve already shared my personal committment statement with my closest friends and family, but I want to share it here with all of you as well. My hope is that as I share my own journey into giving back to my community, it will inspire and encourage you to do the same. If you’re already actively involved in community outreach, then my prayer is that this will encourage you to continue persevering through every obstacle.
Here it is, my personal committment statement:
I, Mandy T., am committed to improving the lives of my family, my community at large and myself by dedicating the next 8 years of my life to higher education at Walden University. It is my dream to see an alcohol and drug rehabilitation center in Curry County, Oregon. Currently, there is not one and many people with addictions are simply labeled as repeat offenders and locked away in jails and rare state hospital beds, as the local and state government is overwhelmed, understaffed, and low on funds to properly care for those who desperately need help.
With God’s help, I will complete a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and continue moving forward in my studies until I have completed a Ph.D in Psychology, earning the privilege of serving and giving back to the community that raised me into the woman I am today. I know that there will be struggles that I will have to overcome, but my God is bigger and I am not a quitter.
While I am in school, I will continue to pray for my community, and to support the efforts to bring in more money and awareness towards the needs of my community, especially in regards to a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center.
I start school on December 2nd and I will greatly benefit from your prayers! It is not in my strength, but in Christ’s that I move forward.
Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.