Category Archives: My Life

Radio and a Revelation

cat with self esteemOkay, so last week was a very busy, very draining week. I was here in Grand Rapids, MI, mourning the death of our family matriarch, Auntie Margaret, separated from the remainder of my grieving family by thousands of miles… and missing them like I never thought possible. I was feeling nothing but the funk.

I was NOT inspired or ‘feelin’ it at all and felt a bit pressured to be radio-ready in less than an hour.
I am part of a group of fabulous women known as the FreedomGirl Sisterhood and we do a weekly blogtalk radio program, ‘FreedomGirl Sisterhood Radio’. These women are brilliant, godly, and are not easy to hide among. I’m sure the topic of the program, Self-Esteem and Self-Worth, had me heading for the doors, too! I just LOVE talking about self-esteem (sarcasm ON). Oh yeah. Pretty much any sort of touchy-feely, ‘look into my eyes and tell me how you love yourself’ moments are very uncomfortable for me and cause me to want to go sit in the corner and color in my adult coloring book. 
Anyway, on that gloomy day my friend and FreedomGirl Sisterhood radio co-hort, Shelly and I arrived at the recording studio. I quietly whined to her about how I felt like such a failure as a writer and how I’d probably never come up with another good idea for a book and that it’s all too hard, and blah blah blah… 
I never was able to finish my whining because I was rudely (just kidding!) interrupted by the head FreedomGirl, our fearless leader Pastor Dawn Scott Damon, who came bounding into the room. We were all headed out to do ministry related things after the recording, so we dove right in to the program. We did the open, then Dawn began teasing our topic before we opened it up and began sharing. 
Who knew that sitting right there in the first 10 minutes of recording the program that I was going to have a revelation!! Woo hoo! Isn’t it just like God to quietly step in to that place of void and insufficiency and cover us in the vulnerable moments? Seriously, people I have struggled my entire life with self-esteem/self-worth issues and I didn’t think I had anything to contribute to this radio show. 
But I listened intently as Dawn asked what the difference was between self-esteem and self-worth. Hmmm, I thought… that’s a good question. We batted that around a little bit as Dawn gave her answer. Her answer changed my entire perspective and gave me freedom to feel okay with liking who I am because of the way He sees me! Yay! 
Okay, so here’s my revelation:
Self esteem is pretty much performance based – the things that we do or say. Beginning when we are very young, our parents and caregivers teach us and esteem us when we demonstrate what we’ve learned. We are esteemed by those who work or study with us. We are held in high esteem in our churches and social circles. People really like us and what we do. It’s an ego thing. Self-esteem is really a circumstantial thing, in that its dependent on the accolades – which will eventually die down, and people will stop telling us that we’re fabulous…and eventually we’re left with just ourselves. Self-esteem is really a FEELING and oftentimes nothing more.

Oh, but self-WORTH… self-worth is based on only the TRUTH. Self-worth is really almost a foundational thing… a gut thing. A KNOWING that you and I are a worthwhile human being… that God made you and I and because of that ONE thing alone, we ARE truly worth it! Self-worth knows how to answer the door when doubt and confusion knock. They answer with the TRUTH  about WHO God says I am. That’s why its not circumstantial. Self-worth is based on TRUTH. And truth NEVER changes. Its always the same! Yay! 
Wow. There is freedom right here… truth is always freedom. I will tell you that doing radio that day was awesome. 
Listen to the podcast tonight at 8pm at www.blogtalkradio.com/freedomgirlsisterhood
and hear the FreedomGirls talk about the difference between self-esteem and self-worth.
Don’t miss it!

Courage

About 20 years ago, maybe longer, I played the part of the cowardly lion in our church’s version of the Wizard of Oz… called the Wisdom of God (or something like that).

cowardly lion
It was so much fun. Playing that part while one of my (best) friends (in the world) starred as Dorothy was such a hoot. To be frank, I don’t really remember much about it, except that it was fun! 
 

This morning I was sitting with two of my sister-friends as we prepared to record a radio show. We had breakfast and talked and laughed, and began to bat around our topic for the show:

Courage in a fast and ever changing world; courage and bravery in times of challenge (i.e., sickness, family conflict, death, loss of job, divorce, etc…), and what that looks like for a woman that is following Christ. 

 
Okay, so here’s the thing: I’ve pretty much spent my whole life being a big chicken. Yep, brave as I might have wanted to be – or at least looked like I was, I just wasn’t. I rarely took risks of any type, whether it was driving in the fast lane (or as I called it, the crazy driver lane) or buying a red onion instead of a yellow one. Risk was not my middle name, really, although it seems I’ve overlooked risk often when it has come to my physical health and well being. I have not been as conscientious with my health in my past as I am in my present. 
 
I have only recently chosen to participate as the primary caregiver in caring for my own spiritual, physical, and mental health. Because of my experience with CPTSD (complex post traumatic stress disorder), at times I just didn’t understand that I even had a choice about the simpler things like caring for myself. I am not talking about basic things. I knew the basics of self-care: shower, brush teeth, apply make-up (or as my Pastor, Dr. Richard K. Tanon would say, “paint the barn!”), and dressing myself. 
 
But beyond the basics, I didn’t care what I ate, what I drank, what I smoked, etc… you get the picture. 
 
I have most often stood on the sidelines, cheering others on asfearisaliar they move through life, but not really doing anything other than sticking my toe in the water to check the temperature. Fear kept me silently frozen in place. 
 
But today, right here and now, I’m ready to dive in heart first. I choose courage.
I choose to move and breathe and be courageous in my life. 
 
I will choose courage when my physical health is in a downward spiral, mostly due to my lifetime of unwise choices…. when my eyesight is failing and I’m not sure it can be saved. Courage.
 
I will choose courage when I am afraid. I will remember what He said to Joshua: ‘Be of GOOD COURAGE. Fear not…’
 
I will choose courage when I feel alone and abandoned. He cannot lie – so He will never leave me or forsake me. I can find courage in knowing that. 
 
Below are some of my favorite quotes about courage. I try to read something everyday that reminds me what it takes to be courageous. These help:
 
“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.” 
 
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” 
― Winston S. Churchill
 
“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
― E.E. Cummings
 
“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.”
― Coco Chanel
 
“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”
― Winston S. Churchill
 
“Bran thought about it. ‘Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?’
‘That is the only time a man can be brave,’ his father told him.”
― George R.R. MartinA Game of Thrones
 
“You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.” 
― William Faulkner
 
“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.”
― William G.T. Shedd
 

I recognize courage now. I think I’ve seen it in so many ways in my world. For some, courage means laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, or for someone else. For others, it may involve giving up everything they have ever known, or everyone they  have ever loved – for the sake of Something Greater.

But sometimes it doesn’t…

Sometimes courage is nothing more than gritting your teeth through the pain and the grief and the work of living every day, and continuing the slow walk toward a better life.

 

THAT’s courage. 
 
“Have not I commanded you? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be you dismayed: for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
bearandlittlegirl

Listen to FreedomGirl Sisterhood Radio tonight at 8pm EST as we talk about COURAGE. Join Pastor & personal freedom coach Dawn Scott Damon & award winning author Shelly Beach as we catch up and share about what we think about when the word courage is used… what does it mean to you? What does it look like for a Christ follower?

What does courage look like to YOU?

Please post your reply below.

The Truth About Trauma: Raising Awareness for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Please join my co-author, Shelly Beach and I, as we begin a Facebook campaign,

The Truth About Trauma:
Raising Awareness for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder


What is it?

Its a campaign to raise awareness about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), its symptoms, causes, and offer resources to help those suffering.

Why?

Many people associate PTSD with the mental health challenges faced by only those in the military when they return from combat. But according to the Sidran Institute for Traumatic StreLLFTE.best shot of bookss Advocacy and Education, approximately 8 percent of all adults will develop post-traumatic stress disorder during their lifetime.

Chances are that whoever you are, you or someone you know and love has been affected by trauma.

When?

Beginning today, July 28, 2014, through Friday, August 1, 2014, join us, Shelly Beach and Wanda Sanchez, authors of Love Letters from the Edge: Meditations for Those Struggling with Brokenness, Trauma, and the Pain of Life, as we share our knowledge, experience, wisdom and stories this week. We will be conducting a give-away of our latest book, Love Letters from the Edge, as well as offering free downloadables, resources, information and encouragement.  

Go to the Facebook event page, The Truth About Trauma: Raising Awareness for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and click ‘join the event’ for your opportunity to chat with the authors of Love Letters from the Edge, win a free book, get free downloadables, infographics and a treasure trove of information on PTSD and related trauma issues.

There IS  hope! 

‘Love Letters from the Edge’ FREE on Amazon Kindle TODAY ONLY!

Free on Kindle TODAY ONLY!!

 

July 21, 2014

 

Love Letters from the Edge:

Meditations for Those Struggling with

Brokenness, Trauma, and the Pain of Life

by Shelly Beach and Wanda Sanchez


Millions of women in the United States battle with after-effects of suffering so great they’ve developed post-traumatic stress disorder—the same suffering LLFTE.best shot of bookexperienced by soldiers who’ve been in combat.

Sexual and physical abuse, catastrophic accidents, abandonment, natural disasters, invasive medical procedures, and many other painful and overwhelming events can trigger symptoms they are little equipped to deal with and hard-pressed to recognize.

Love Letters from the Edge provides a voice for those struggling to express this pain and reveals intimate encouragement for those in desperate need to hear God’s words of love and deliverance. This heartfelt devotional focuses on the profound laments in the book of Psalms. Each meditation begins with a letter from someone in the throes of despair and then offers a tender response
to their pain from God’s perspective.

Fresh, honest, and intimate, Love Letters from the Edge will reach readers who never expected to hear good news from where they are and point them toward the hope and healing of Christ. 

Get your free Amazon Kindle version of

 

Love Letters from the Edge: Meditations for Those Suffering from Brokenness, Trauma and the Pain of Life


TODAY ONLY!!

Monday July 21, 2014

Happy one month birthday to my baby!

It’s been one month today since my life really changed! I mean, I’ve heard about what parenthood does to your life – and I admit, its a little befuddling at times.
Well, I guess its time to show my baby to the world. I’ve probably talked about her a little bit over the past year… its been an exciting time while also being a little scary.
Here’s the news:
woman hugging books

At 52 years of age, I just became a parent! A mom. I love that word! Yes, I guess now is a good a time as any to let everyone in on the fabulous news….

IT’S A BOOK!! 
 
Date of Birth.: June 1, 2014   Time: 12:01amEDT
Measurements: 5 inches wide and 7 inches long
Weight: 10.6 oz.
Color (of cover): beige’s & blue’s, mostly, with a little black & white thrown in
                  APGAR: 8.5 

Woo hoo!!

I must admit that carrying her to full term was nothing short of a miracle! Many times along the way I wondered out loud what in the world I was doing, whether or not I could make it through the actual birthing process and deliver a beautiful, healthy, happy masterpiece. 

So allow me to make the formal introductions:

Fellow bookworms, writers, readers, etc… meet my heart, my work of love…

my new BOOK! 

Her name is ‘Love Letters from the Edge: Meditations for Those Struggling with Brokenness, Trauma and the Pain of Life’, and I am so honored to have been given the gift of this book.
Who’da thunk it?
www.LoveLettersfromtheEdge.com
 

Truth Slam

UrbanDictionary.com defines the term ‘poetry slam‘ as

 

“a type of poetry, usually a competition, expressing the personal story and/or struggle of the poet, usually in an intensely emotional style.
Very powerful, sincere, and moving.”

 

Now I’ve seen many a poetry slam and have always admired the courage and guts it takes to get up in front of a group of mostly strangers and lay all your ‘stuff’ out there for all to judge. I  don’t think I could actually DO that – do you?

 

For me anyway, when I feel wobbly and shaky, and the committee chatter from my broken parts (i.e., the voices that talk at us or the words/names that are thrown at us in our heads) is loud and chaotic, that I need to have my own slam…


truth signsla
m!

 

Its been confirmed by multiple sources, including myself, that I am in a funk. I have been in a really gnarly place lately. I’m talking abouta very familiar, very unwelcome place where I spent too much of my life in years past, trying to convince everyone including myself that I was doing just fine, thank you very much! I was a woman that worked hard,  loved my family and friends, and thought that if I just kept pluggin’ things would get better… somehow, some way.

 

But they never did. They became worse with each passing year, until I was obsessed about how to die. I believed and listened as the lies were flung around inside of me in the dark. And they all said the same thing: 

                             

 

You are worthless. I hate you. You don’t deserve to be alive.

 

 

 

The lies were so entrenched in my soul and my spirit that I bought them hook, line and sinker. I was broken, feeling hopeless and was losing the battle to stop hurting myself with my words and actions…
I simply couldn’t find a way to hang on any longer.

 

Then I learned about the POWER of Truth:
 

God.
And there you have it.  Simply God.

 

What I have learned is that God sees the big picture and knows the whole story from beginning to end. I do not.

  – Truth is the greatest weapon I have.  It’s what kills lies.

 


TRUTH kills lies!

 

All of the destructive, soul killing lies that bounce around in my head – wildly out of control –
are DEAD as soon as TRUTH is thrown into the mix.

 


It’s called FREEDOM. Truth really DOES set us FREE!!

 

 

 

So when those lies start running around causing trouble, I need to remind myself to remember the TRUTH.

And the truth is what God says it is. Period.

Truth that tells you that ‘you are LOVED unconditionally, to the moon and back, by the Creator of the Universe!

 

Truth that SEES me, and yet beckons, ‘Come to me with your weariness and burdens and I will give you REST,’ and ‘Whosoever will, let her come…’

 

Truth that tells me that He is who He says He is! I am who GOD says I am! The head and NOT the tail!

 

Truth that willingly climbed onto a tree and chose to love me like no one else ever would.

 

Its right HERE…when I’m in this place of regret and remorse and shame, that I find this immovable, unrelenting TRUTH… and it brings FREEDOM!
                                             
What about YOU? Are you bound by something and its keeping you from God’s best?

Are you struggling to get & stay FREE from something?

What do you do in those moments?

 

Grateful.

The calenLove Letters from the Edge: Meditations for Those Struggling with Brokenness, Trauma, and the Pain of Lifedar confirms what I suspected when I woke yesterday morning: it was the official publishing date, June 1, 2014, of my first book – or any book for that matter!

Wow. No, really. WOW. WOW! How the heck did THIS happen? What the heck? Exactly WHO the HECK do I think I am?

I actually feel the urge to let myself giggle – just let that almost hysterical giggle that is bubbling up inside of me just SPILL OUT! Loudly. For a long time. I mean, who would have thought that I would be doing THIS? It really is a miracle whether you know it or not.

 

So am I. A miracle. A grateful miracle.

 

Let me cut to the chase, ok?

Not too long ago I was soul-sick and dying. Right there in front of people, I was bleeding out, gasping for an unrestrained breath, and grasping at anything that had the potential to ‘fix’ me. I needed something, anything, that would help me make it through the next moment, day or year without shooting myself or stepping out in front of an 18-wheeler barreling down the highway. 

So grateful that the God of the universe listens to His people when they pray – and that prayer really DOES change things… and PEOPLE!

 

 Love Letters from the Edge: Meditations for Those Struggling with Brokenness,
Trauma, and the Pain of Life

is the name of my book.

It’s co-authored with my friend and mentor, award-winning author Shelly Beach.

It’s not a ‘comfortable’ book because it deals with trauma.
And brokenness. And doubt. And hard questions.

 

But the name of the book speaks of love letters because after women give voice to the pain, lament and trauma of their life – God responds with words of TRUTH and LOVE. He speaks words of a Father who loves His children… most especially the wounded, sick and broken among us. He writes a love letter in response to our pain and questions – and still calls us His very own and continues to love us more than anyone ever will.

If you know someone who is struggling to ‘get it right’, but no matter what she does or how many promises she makes, she just can’t stop doing the things that harm her and cause her to walk in shame, she needs to know that there is HOPE. HOPE for wholeness and healing.

Hope for a good life when trauma, not symptoms, are processed.


Hope. Because there is God.

 

Check it out at www.LoveLettersFromtheEdge.com

 

Don’t buy the lie!

fearisaliar

Befuddled.

That’s what I am. 
Today is one of THOSE days.

I don’t know what God was thinking when He placed the gifts inside of me that He did! It seems like lately I battle this sinking feeling that I am not going to be able to pull it off! Must it all be so hard? Not that things need to be easy… they don’t. But how about just not so hard? 
 
Yesterday I told my BFF that I’ve been fantasizing about just dropping everything that I am involved in – and just walking (or running!) away into the sunset. Forever.  Yep… I am having moments of wanting to quit.
 

But all I really am is AFRAID.

 
Afraid of failing. And that fear of failure causes me to want to run. I don’t want to embarrass God. 
 
I don’t want to be afraid of saying the wrong thing or of offending people. I don’t want to get in the way of whatever plan God has for the people who will see/hear me speak.
 
Simply because of time, I worry about not being able to do everything I am supposed to be doing: speaking, writing books, blogging, producing, singing, etc…
 
All I have ever really wanted is to be a successful Christian – a Christian who is rooted and grounded, who knows how to utilize the weapons of warfare; a strong woman of God who isn’t tossed around or taken by surprise by any of the adversary’s wily tactics. 
 
That’s where I’m at today. Relax, my friend… I am NOT quitting. I just feel like running away – but I have choices today. I can make the choice to listen to the lies that say I will be an embarrassment to God – or confront that lie with the TRUTH about how God sees me: I’m the apple of His eye, y’all!
 

Today, I can choose to listen to His voice as He whispers in my ear and tells me that He is so tickled by me that He sings over me!

Wow. I make God sing!
 
Today I know that it doesn’t matter what the situation LOOKS like. It doesn’t matter what I see, what I hear, what I smell, what I touch or what I feel. I know that He sees me as His beloved daughter and that He couldn’t possibly love me (or you) anymore than He does at this very moment!
 
With your whole heart and both feet, step into the position that God has placed you in! Don’t buy the lie and let fear paralyze you and keep you from using the gifts that God has placed inside of you.

He loves you like crazy and you make Him smile!

 
Zeph. 3:17: The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Broken Places: A View From the Other Side (Part 4 of 5)

And in that first phone conversation she wasn’t ready to tell me.

But whether implicitly or explicitly, one thing Wanda told me in our first conversation was that she was divesting of her possessions and giving them to the people she loved.

She had stopped working in an office with people she’d worked with for a decade – to live and work alone at home. Her family even called her “the hermit.”

She was terrorized by nightmares and flashbacks. Symptoms she’d suffered with for years were escalating.

And coping mechanisms that had helped her control
the pain of PTSD were no longer working.

Wanda believed she was broken beyond repair. But it was easy for me to see that everything about her made sense–that from the time she was a child, she had created a way to cope with the pain of her life. But the coping mechanisms were failing. They ALWAYS do.

The problem was, she’d already tried drug rehab programs, eating disorder clinics, counseling, therapy, and cried out to God for years for healing. She believed she was “unfixable.” And she’d had friends for ten years who had never seen her face and who only knew her through Internet relationships.

I wasn’t sure of anything – except one thing: God. I WAS sure that He is who He says He is… and that He loved Wanda more than any of us ever could. And that He was reaching out to her through… me!

In spite of all the efforts Wanda had made to address her PTSD, I believed Intensive Trauma Therapy in Morgantown, WV could help her. And not only help her, give her back her life. I believed God had put Wanda’s name in my head, picked three songs that told her story, and urged me to call her. Then a week before I called her, he made sure I knew about Allen, a young man who was healed of a lifetime of  struggle with PTSD at Intensive Trauma Therapy in just five days of outpatient treatment.

I figured God had set everything up in the first place,

and He had the details all figured out.

 

During that first visit, Wanda and I went to a public park and completed the intake forms for Intensive Trauma Therapy. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t pretty.

To be continued…

Broken Places, Part 2

woman-with-head-in-hands.2

The darkness. The compulsion to die. I couldn’t shake the obsession… no matter what I did.

I prayed.  I read the Bible.  I ate. I ate more.  I got high. And tried to get higher each time I used. I got numb. I zoned out.

For months, my prayers had been short and to the point: 

“HELP!”

Even though I was emotionally numb, I was also in intense emotional pain, and that confused me even more. In order to simply move through my days, I had to “go away.”

 

Moments ran into moments ran into minutes ran into hours ran
into days ran into weeks ran into months ran into years.

 

And no matter what I did, I was drowning under the crushing feeling of hopelessness. I didn’t feel that I had one single reason to be alive. I was loved, I knew that. I had a wonderful family, immediate and extended, and they loved me. But that means nothing when all you feel is a deficit of hope. I felt a bottomless emptiness.

 

At the end, I was constantly battling to simply stay alive. I was battling NOT to swallow a handful of pills. I was battling NOT to blow my brains out. I was battling NOT to drive over a cliff or step off the curb into the path of an oncoming 18-wheeler. 

 

I was exhausted from the never-ending battle. Nightmares were a regular occurrence, so I stopped sleeping.

 

I was nearing fifty, and nothing I was doing was working anymore. All of my coping mechanisms, unhealthy and/or dangerous, were failing me. The darkness pushed me into a corner. I felt like I had to remind myself to merely take a breath.

 

 I was in trouble, and if I was going to live, I needed help.

 

Enter Intensive Trauma Treatment… 

(to be continued)