Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Have you had enough time?

One of my new favorite songs is "If I Die Young" by The Band Perry.  The message of this song is's about making the most of the time you're given weather you are given 2 years or 102 should be absolutely ENOUGH as long as we make the most of it...

When I think about this...I think UH OH!!  I have NOT had enough time...

I can think back on my life and I can name a MILLION things to be THANKFUL three beautiful boys, my husband, my family, my job, the fact that I have a roof over my head, I can walk on my two feet, friends, faith, and God's AMAZING grace.  But, these precious gifts become lost very easily for me...they become lost in my shame, my guilt, my fear, my regrets, my "if only's", my sadness, my pain, and my lack of trust...I spend too much time wishing my life would be different, and not enough time living my life each day.

I can choose how to live my life each day...that's such a beautiful thing...I get to decide for ME, not anyone, why do I choose to dwell on the bad things?  Because it is a natural part of life.  We tend to focus on the negative.  It's so much easier to think of something negative about ourselves rather than something positive about ourselves.  Those very good things that are part of our everyday lives get lost in is SO important to remember that no matter what you are going through, whatever the bad things are in YOUR life...YOU get to choose how you are going to live through it. 

So, what are you going to do TODAY to start living your life so you know that no matter what, it is absolutely ENOUGH?

I'm going to love myself...I'm going think about the negative things in my life only for a little bit--just enough time so I can think about how I will do it differently next time--and then, I am going to CHOOSE to move forward--with all the great and wonderful gifts that I have in my life.  If I can do this, then I know that when my time comes, I will have had absolutely ENOUGH time!


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Soul Branding

I recently came across a fabulous article about branding.

…In the traditional sense, a brand is created to encourage customer loyalty and reflect the values, culture and personality of a business. It is a statement about who the organization is and who they aspire to be. The article touched on business branding no more than this. Instead, it focused on “soul branding”.

What is soul branding, you ask? Well, my curious birds, I shall tell you. Soul branding is exactly what it sounds like. It is having a personal “brand” that defines who you have been in the past, who you are in the here and now, and who you would like to be in the future. It is a way for you to stay grounded. It is a compass that guides you through your life journey. It is a very concrete, yet ever-changing self-concept. A soul brand is the essence of who you are, what you do, and how you exist in this world.

The article suggests that your soul brand is created and molded beginning with conception, and continues to evolve throughout life. It is shaped by each of your experiences, how you grew up, your education, interests, strengths, and quirks. It is influenced by how you interact with others, with the surrounding environment, and most importantly, how you relate to yourself. It has always existed, and always will, yet it is dynamic and ever-evolving.

While we all have a soul brand, many of us are not quite sure of what our personal brand is. Many of us question who we are, and we forget that at any point in our lives, we may reinvent ourselves and reconstruct our self-concept. So often, we get caught up in the schtuff of life, losing perspective and losing sight of ourselves. When this happens, the author of the article suggests that we reflect back on our soul brand for guidance, reassurance, and encouragement. To do this, ask yourselves the following questions…

...Who have I been?
...Who am I right now?
...Who will I be?

…Take a moment and carefully consider each of these questions. Who have you been? Who are you right now? And who will you be? While it is likely that you have experienced many changes throughout your life, I am willing to bet that many things have also remained the same. I am willing to bet that you discovered a theme as you answered these questions. A theme that is very uniquely yours. That theme is the brand of your soul. It is who you are. The essence of your beautiful, fantastic self.

I love how grounding the idea of having a soul brand is. I love how reassuring it is to know who you are, where you have come from, what your values are, what kind of life you want to live. And I love knowing that at any given moment, we can adapt, amend, and reshape our soul brand. I love that it is a co-creation of our personalities, our life experiences, and our aspirations.

Take a moment this afternoon, my beloved birds, and ask yourself these questions. Be at peace with who you have been. Embrace yourself as you currently are. Introduce yourself to your future. Discover the brand of your soul and all the beauty, guidance, truth, and possibility it holds. 



Monday, August 29, 2011

Back to SCHOOL!

It is back to school time, can you believe it? I know Mondays are usually set aside for a calender of events. But, I wanted to take the opportunity to give some helpful tips to help kids (and parents)adjust to what can be a stressful time of the year.
As children make the adjustment to new teachers, new faces, new schools, resuming school routine and HOMEWORK, the transition can be overwhelming to both the children and the parents. Here are some tips from NMHA:
  • Express interest and excitement about the school year. Your child will pick up on your positivity.
  • Visit your child's school with him or her including classrooms, lunch area, restrooms, and playgrounds. This will help your child feel familiar with his or her surroundings.
  • Communicate with your child about his or her concerns about the upcoming school year. Listen to what they are worried about or have anxiety about. Let them know it is normal to have some of these feelings about the upcoming changes.
  • Spend time every day listening to your child about his or her day. It is important to give your child positive feedback about his or her new experiences.
  • Encourage your child to participate in activities and try new things.
  • Be a part of your child's activities and school functions."Children whose parents are more involved with their education have higher achievement, are better adjusted and are less likely to drop out of school."
  • Get to know your child. Learn how they develop not just physically, but emotionally and socially as well. Know how they typically behave or react to certain situations. This may help you identify when thing may not be just right.
As your child adjusts to back to school life over the next few weeks, let them know it is normal to feel anxious or stressed. These feeling typically last a few days or a couple weeks. If your child anxiety or stress seems to last longer it may be time to seek professional advise. Talk to your child's pediatrician, primary care doctor or mental health provider.

Friday, August 26, 2011

shut down.

If it's appeared on your life radar, this is why: to teach you that dreams come true; to reveal that you have the power to fix what's broken and heal what hurts; to catapult you beyond seeing with just your physical senses; and to lift the veils that have kept you from seeing that you're already the person you dreamed you'd become.

And believe me, that was one heck of a dream.

have i posted this before...perhaps....but it is worth reading over and over again.
 "heal what hurts" - seems like a non-ending process.
.... for everyone. 
and that is alright. 
however, lifting the veils - that is not a bad idea...i lifted a few myself  these past weeks.

....spent a ton of time alone.
had some very good realizations.

my friend el said put it perfectly...

"....your heart and soul must have temporarily closed their blinds to get something done. growth is sure to follow."

....hello growth. welcome back. 

i hope your heart and soul have the opportunity to do the same thing.
i hope those around you LET your heart and soul close up.
escape for a bit. should try it.
maybe instead of taking THREE WEEKS ...
perhaps, every. single. day.  - for just a wee bit. 
save yourself some time alone. 
shutdown. reflect. find YOUR dream.
become MORE you than you were the moment before.
it's what we are here to do.
nothing less, nothing more.
just be you.

enjoy your weekend!


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Some days you're the Bug, Some days you're the Windshield

There's a facebook posting called "a little bird told me" put out by the Brave Girls Club that most of my friends follow. Earlier this week I re-posted this portion of one of their post..."if plants and insects and birds are created with such care and purpose how could it ever be that we are not created with the same care and purpose?"

One of my best gal pals commented: "...right? purpose....i love that word."

I was feeling extra sassy and replied: "God gave us free will; we face choices in life… bugs just face windshields. Just saying :)"

She responded: "HA! indeed. that is about as deep and as simple as it gets! :)"

This all got me thinking and I just can't seem to get this "God gave us free will" stuff out of my head. The world is full of choices. In some cases, I have been known to say, "too many choices". Like in the case of picking out floor tile... how is a person able to decide with all THOSE choices?

I know that the Brave Girls Club post was about everyone being created FOR a PURPOSE and me turning it around and talking about CHOICES and FREE WILL might not fit with what they were intending but that's where my mind went with it. That we need to ACT with purpose. Make our daily decisions carefully and remember there is an EFFECT from these decisions. Desired or not.

Like this blog, I decided to put it off, instead of writing it on Wednesday like I normally would. I put it off to take my brother's step daughter, Diamante to ValleyFair. She turned 10 years old last Sunday, has never been to ValleyFair and for that matter has never spent a day with my husband and I without her two younger brothers around. It was a great time and memories were made. She is already talking about going for the next few birthdays to come. But with that decision made, today is full of doing Wednesday and Thursday tasks. In this case, I'm happy with my choice and glad that I have the freedom to set stuff aside when I feel I can handle the effect that it will cause.

However one thing that all of us sometimes forget is to examine what affect our decisions will have on the others around us. In my case, taking the day to go to ValleyFair effected those that work with me. Yesterday and today, they either had to pick up some of my Wednesday tasks and today wait for me to complete something for their end of things to continue. With this blog, posting it later in the day may cause Friday's blogger to be effected... Maybe. Many times we don't even know who or what kind of effect has been caused by a decision we've made.

We need to cherish this free will we have been given. Handle it with as much care as possible. We won't and can't possibly make the best decisions at all times. But we can be sure to weigh things out and take others around us into consideration.

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011 w/ Pastor Paul

Today’s Focus: “How to Make Good Decisions”
The quality of life for all of us is determined by the quality of decisions we make. One man wrote: “Many people can make good decisions, but they won’t.” God makes available to us the resources to make wise decisions. Life is a series of decisions. Our decisions make us.
A new president of a bank asked an old bank president for advice.
- “Make good decisions!”
- “How do I make good decisions”, he asked?
- “From experience!”
- “How do I get experience”, he asked?
- “From making bad decisions!”

Scripture: James 1:5‑11
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double minded man, unstable in all he does.
9 The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. 10 But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business.

Our Main Points:
The significance of decision making. – “... a double minded man, unstable in all he does” (James 1:8). A good definition of being “double minded” is to be “two-souled”. Indecision causes instability like a confused drunk. Habitually, indecisive people are miserable. The ant asked the centipede “How do you know which leg to move next?” – The centipede thought about it so much, he could no longer walk.
For a marriage to work, one has to decide to be married to his/her spouse.

The steps for decision making. – Three practical steps:
1. Admit we need God’s wisdom. – “If any of you lacks wisdom...” (James 1:5a) All of us need wisdom. A definition of wisdom: Looking at life from God’s viewpoint... “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2).
2. Ask for wisdom. – “...he should ask God ...” (James 1:5b) The scripture above is written in the present tense... we are to keep on asking. “For the Lord gives wisdom...” (Proverbs 2:6) Compare James 4:2 with Matthew 7:7– “You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God” (James 4:2) – “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).
3. Anticipate it...“But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt...” (James 1:6)... “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Hebrews11:6).

The source in decision making. “... Ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:6). God gives to us ...Christ-likeness ... Comprehension... Confidence
Question: “In what areas do we need wisdom added to our lives?”

Our Final Thoughts:
God won’t make decisions for us. God’s wisdom is found in God’s word. We are to read and obey it.
We have the choice to live life either by chance or by choice. What is life’s greatest decision? Who is going to be number one in our lives?

For those interested in receiving Pastor Paul's messages, please e-mail Pastor Paul ( and mention you would like to be included.

Our prayer for this week is...Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, You know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance at times in asking. Have compassion on our unworthiness and blindness and graciously keep us on a path of understanding and acceptableness in Your sight through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ, we pray ~Amen.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Every Thorn Has It's Rose

"A certain man planted a rose and watered it faithfully, and before it blossomed, he examined it. He saw the bud that would soon blossom and also the thorns. He thought to himself, "How can such a beautiful flower come from a plant burdened with these ugly thorns?" Saddened by this thought, he neglected to water the rose, and before it ever had the chance to bloom, the plant died.

So it is with many people. Within every soul there is a unique and beautiful rose. The blessed qualities planted in us at birth grow amid the thorns of our faults. Many of us look at ourselves and see only thorns and defects. This causes us despair, thinking that nothing good can possibly come from us. We neglect to water the good within ourselves, and eventually that part of our soul dies. We never fully realize our potential.

Some people will never see the rose within themselves, so someone else must show it to them. One of the greatest gifts a person can possess, and give to other people, is the ability to reach past the thorns and find the rose within.

This is the characteristic of love: to look at a person, and knowing his faults, recognize the nobility in his soul, and help him realize that he can overcome his obstacles. If we show him the rose, he will conquer the thorns. And he will blossom.

Our duty in this world is to help others by showing them their roses, not their thorns. Only then can we achieve the love we should feel for each other; only then can we bloom in our own garden."

~Author Unknown~

Isn't this a sadly beatuiful story? And isn't it true?

We all have days that we overlook the glory of our roses and instead focus on the ugliness and pain of our thorns.

As the story tells, there are people in this world that are gifted with the ability of helping people see the magnificance of their roses, empowering them to realize their potential.

The story says that this gift if the gift of love.

And so it is.

Do you think, though, that we may be able to give this gift of love to ourselves? Is it necessary that another person do this for us? Or is it possible that we may learn to do this for ourselves?

Give yourself a gift of love. Find your roses. Get lost in your beauty. I know it's there. 


Friday, August 19, 2011

what? you too?

{whoever that is}
i have shared my story and won't repeat.
just click on the word "me." above.

we share our stories because we feel we need to.
we want to prove our worth when we step into help others.
{i have actually been questioned and judged on how i am qualified to help...little miss "perfect life"... what good is she? - if they only knew.  so i share.}

we prove ourselves by sharing our pain.  
sad but true.  
what a GIFT our pain becomes....isn't that beautiful? 

  you know those opportunities.
you start to talk. surface stuff.
you might have known this person for years - or maybe just moments.
doesn't matter.
this time is different.
there is small talk of this and that...and slowly your soul tells you more is needed.

.... you start to share your story, you become a little more translucent - your struggles are revealed and right in front of you - eyes soften...walls come down.  this is a moment of healing, it is even a little magical if you ask me.

"Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: 
"What! You too? I thought I was the only one."
C.S. Lewis worth it. 
we UNDERSTAND from a deeper personal level than one could possibly know at first glance.

however the REAL HELP comes when they know where we have been and can SEE THAT WE HAVE RISEN, 
we HAVE MOVED FORWARD through the hurt, 

reality is this.

i don't know one thing about losing someone i love to suicide.
it is not comparable to anything i have ever experienced, and i won't fake that what i have experienced in life makes me all knowing and knowledgable. 
i am not. 
i won't say because i have known pain that i understand.
i don't understand.
i don't know the guilt. 
i don't know the isolation that comes from it.
or the shame...that is so un-necessary - but unavoidable when someone you love has ended their life.
i don't know what it is to travel back in time consistently and wonder the "what ifs"
i won't for ONE MINUTE stand here and think i can fix anything in the lives of those who have suffered this way.

i only know ONE THING - 
i love the people in my life who know this pain all too well.
and....that qualifies me. 
it gives me the right to offer the one wing i have....
to those who have lost.  to those who are anyone that needs it.
really... it is all any of us can do.
plain and simple.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Success in Our Setbacks

Perseverance: “What we hope to do with ease we must first do with diligence” Samuel Johnson. This is a quote that hangs on my bathroom wall. I joke with Chris’s dad on why it’s in the bathroom. He and I don’t share each other’s style of humor but we do both find it funny on how I selected this room for this quote.

If you have read Tuesday and Wednesday's blog, you will know that we have all decided that sharing each of our stories would be beneficial to explaining the “why now” questions we have been asked. Or better said the why us questions of who among us has insight to dealing with struggles. At first this made complete sense to me. Of course those that we are trying to reach are going to want to know how they could relate to one or a few of us “Wing” people as some have coined the group. But then as I thought about it more, I also look at it from a different angle. Doesn’t everyone have a story? Who can honestly say that throughout their lives they have never struggled with something along the way?

I find myself being very adamant (a word I find myself using a lot lately) that we, the group, us “wing people” are not meant to be an assembly of countable members. I’m striving for everyone that has ever reached out to help another person to see their own wings. To be aware that it is due to us all having a story, a past, and have struggled ourselves, that we have that human nature to comfort others around us.

When I first hung that quote on my bathroom wall, over ten years ago now… I used that saying to push me to achieve at work and to be successful in business. Today I read this quote on perseverance and discover a new meaning for myself. I uncovered within myself that I have overcome many things by pushing through, learning from and applying. To do my very best at being diligent to not repeat any actions that was harmful to me or the people around me. But most importantly I find within myself the divine grace that with God I can persevere from anything life hands me.

Biblical prescriptions for a better life w/ Pastor Paul

Today’s Focus:
Trials in life are common. They happen to all of us. But not all of us know how to handle them well. Today we examine three important principles about problems that will help us respond properly when they enter our lives.

Scripture: James 1:2‑5
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

Main Points:
Things we need to expect. Problems are unavoidable. “... whenever you face ...” (James 1:2). If we don’t have problems, we’d better check our pulse!
Problems are unpredictable. “... whenever you face ...” (James 1:2). Like falling on the ice, it’s not something we can plan.

There’s a story that fits well here about a man riding a subway and getting motion sickness. He was standing by the door and when the train lurched to a stop the doors opened. He lost his “lunch” then and there on a man who was waiting to board the train. He just froze, the doors closed, and the train moved on. Now that’s something that’s unpredictable!

Problems are unique. “... trials of many kinds ...” (James 1:2). Trials come in all sizes, from the front door and from the back door, directly and indirectly, intentional and unintentional, from above and from below, etc.

The purpose of problems. Things we need to know. Problems purify or faith. Like the heat in fire purifies silver and gold. “You know that the testing of your faith ...” (James 1:3).
Problems fortify our patience. “The testing ... develops perseverance ” (James 1:3). Perseverance is staying put under pressure.

Problems sanctify our character. They can make us more like our Heavenly Father. "...So that you may be mature and complete not lacking anything ” (James 1:4). God’s number one purpose for our lives is to mature spiritually like Jesus Christ.

The power for problems. Things you need to do. Rejoice: “Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials ...” (James 1:1). To “consider” here means to make up our minds in advance. Request: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). A better idea than asking “why” is to ask “what” is it I’m to learn in the midst of all this? Relax: “But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt...” (James 1:.6).

Our Final Thoughts:
The Evil One wants to use problems to defeat us!
God wants to use problems to develop us!
James 1:12 shares the reward of our patience and obedience: “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”
Wisdom is seeing life from God’s perspective.

Our prayer for this week is that we expect God in the midst of the unexpected. ~Amen

Sara Lester
(My story is yet to come)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

We all have a story

I have shared this story before, however, those of us involved with Wings of Hope thought it would be great for all of you to know our "stories."  Why?  Because we ALL have a story...a story about how life has changed us...a story about how we are made whole...and story of what makes us who we are today.  

Here is my story and this is why Wings of Hope has great meaning to me...

My story starts long ago.  I was young.  First grade maybe (I don't remember exactly how old).  I had a normal day like any other, and something happened that changed my life.  I was sexually abused.  I can close my eyes right now and see this happening to me.  I knew this was not something that should be happening to me, but I was scared...and so, I didn't tell...anyone...for 20-some years.

...It can only go up from here...

I continued to live my life.  I tried to forget about that day and not think about it...and I did for days, sometimes weeks, and even months (if I was lucky) at a time.  I played.  I laughed.  Then some tough times came for my parents.  My dad had an affair and they separated and we moved...then a year later, they got back together and we moved again. 

...It can only go up from here...

By this time I was a 7th grader.  I remember being so scared when I walked through the doors of the NL-S schools because I was now "the new girl" for the second year in a row.  I had a lot of anxiety about fitting in and worrying that I wouldn't have any friends.  That wasn't the case.  I made friends very easily.  I laughed.  I had fun.  I laughed.

...It can only go up from here...

I wasn't feeling that laughter on the inside.  I was not happy on the inside.  I put a smile on my face though.  I thought that if I smiled on the outside, It would make me smile on the inside too.  That wasn't the case.  Why wasn't I happy?  My family was back together.  I had friends.  I went to church.  I was on the varsity track team in 7th grade.  My parents had good jobs and we were not struggling financially.  None of that made me happy because that is not what I was seeing or feeling.  I wanted more friends.  I wanted to be skinnier.  I wanted to be prettier.  I wanted to run faster and jump farther.  I remember saying to myself (and have said this to myself many times in my lifetime) "If I do _______" or "If I have _______, then I will be happy."  Wrong!  It got to the point where I just didn't want to be sad and I didn't want to deal with this pain that I had inside.  It was pain that I didn't know where it came was just there.  It was an empty, lonely, pain.  I couldn't imagine that anyone could understand what I was feeling or that anyone else ever felt the pain that I was feeling.  So, I didn't tell anyone how bad I was hurting. 

...It can only go up from here...

One night before going to bed, I went to the bathroom, gathered the pill bottles and started swallowing them.  I was not thinking of anyone or anything.  I wasn't even thinking about dying, I just wanted the pain to be gone.  I went to my bed, laid down, and closed my eyes.  During the night I woke up.  I could hardly move.  I tried to sit up as best I could and turned to get out of bed.  I put my feet down on the floor and went to stand up, but fell down because I was so weak.  I laid there on the floor of my bedroom the rest of the night.  I cried.  I cried because I was scared.  I cried because I was sad.  I cried because I needed to cry.  I woke up in the morning and did not tell my parents what happened the night before.  I remember being thankful I was alive and thankful I was able to stand up and walk...because then I didn't think anyone would have to know.  I thought I had hit rock bottom...I would realize later in my life, that this was no where near rock bottom. 

...It can only go up from here...

My parents found out.  Of course they were worried and scared and got me the first available therapy appointment.  I went to therapy...but I just said what I thought they wanted to hear because I didn't want to be there.  I took a prescription medication for depression.  A short while later I stopped going to therapy and taking my medications because "I didn't need it anymore."  The years went on...I always felt a strong urge and need for perfection because I was the "Pastor's Kid."  So, when I didn't get an "A", I didn't get first in track, I wasn't as skinny as I thought I should be etc...I was disappointed in myself.  I felt sad, alone, and carried a lot of pain.  In high school, I began experiementing with alcohol, chemicals, and sex. 

...It can only go up from here...

I became pregnant at 17.  I will never forget the day I walked down the hallway at school and everyone stood by their lockers and whispered and stared as I walked by.  I even remember hearing the words, "Oh my gosh!  Isn't her dad a pastor?"  I wanted to crawl inside a hole and die.  Not only had I disappointed my parents and myself, I felt as though I had disapointed others in the community.  I remember being anxious for prom and graduation my senior year because I felt like everyone was going to remember me as "the girl that was pregnant."  I had my son my first year in college and my parents and family were very supportive. 

...It can only go up from here...

I met the love of my life and Dylan (my son) and I moved to Moorhead so we could be with Wayne.  I finished my bachelor's degree there.  We moved back to Sunburg and raised our family.  Between my 2nd and 3rd son, I struggled with depression some more, and more so...struggling with my self image.  I had an eating disorder.  I ran at least once, if not twice a day.  Most meals that I ate, I threw up.  I got pregnant with my 3rd son and I knew for his health, I couldn't do that anymore.  So I stopped.  And I didn't tell anyone. 

...It can only go up from here...

After I had my 3rd son, I had pretty severe post-partum depression.  I remember crying a lot as I tried to hold myself together for my three boys.  Then, it got to be months later, and I still felt this way.  I knew I had depression and I knew it had come back in full swing, but I wasn't going to deal with it.  It got to the point where nothing anyone could say or do would make me happy.  I was expecting the world around me to make me happy.  I had a husband.  I had three beautiful and healthy boys.  I had a house.  I had a good job.  I had it all...but I couldn't find happiness.  I felt so sad all the time.  I would go to work, come home and slap some supper on the table, lay down on the couch, and then be sleeping by 9pm.  There was so much time I missed out on with my family because I wasn't ready to "deal" with my baggage.  My marriage started to crumble down around me. 

...It can only go up from here...

I knew at this time I needed to see a counselor.  I knew what I was feeling was not good...for me, for my boys, for my husband.  I needed help and I was ready for help.  I also went to my medical doctor at this time because I knew I would need to be back on my depression medications.  I started my medications again and I went to therapy weekly.  I really began to learn and understand that depression is a disease.  I began to realize that I need to make myself happy before I can expect happiness from anyone and anywhere else.  I realized that life was worth getting up off the couch and living each day.  I was learning to deal with my self esteem and the eating disorder that I had.  I was dealing with my parent's divorce and working through the pain that caused me.  And I was praying and involving God in my healing...however, there was one thing that I was still keeping in...the sexual abuse.

...It can only go up from here...

I felt the best I had in a long, long, time.  Our health insurance changed and our new insurance no longer covered mental health services (ie. counseling).  So, I stopped going to counseling.  My husband and I struggled more in our marriage and we basically fell apart.  I remember the day very clear...only a year ago...that I tipped my prescription medication bottle up to my mouth again.  I wasn't thinking about my family, my boys, my friends, or about dying.  I just didn't want to deal with all the pain that I new was going to be ahead of me.  My husband rushed me to the hospital.  I remember being very scared, very sad, very hurt, and very empty.  As I lay in the hospital room that night and the following day, I knew my life had to change.  I knew I had to start living for myself and for my boys.  I made it through this two times now, so He must really want me to be alive...therefore, I knew I had to start living. 

...It can only go up from here...

It was at this time that I opened up about my sexual abuse twenty some years earlier.  I knew that if I wanted to heal, I needed to heal all of me.  I went back to counseling and really worked on healing my old wounds.  My husband and I separated and I moved.  This was not at all easy, but gave me the chance to really find out who Angie is.  I don't really think I ever lived my life for me.  I was living it for everyone else around me.  I began to smile.  I began to laugh.  I will never forget the day I was playing outside with my boys and Isaac said, "Mom, you're really a lot of fun!"  I cried and was so sad that I had never heard this from my kids before...but at the same time, happy because I was finally ready to change my life. 

...It can only go up from here...

I have definitely had struggles through this past year.  I have been filled with more emotions that I ever knew anyone could ever have.  I cried more than I thought that anyone could ever cry.  I was trying to work through a lifetime of issues.  I got to the point where I stopped counseling again and I stopped my medications because taking that medication everyday was a constant reminder that "something was wrong" with me.  A couple months ago is when I think I hit rock bottom.  I felt so sad and so alone and so empty.  I sat on my bathroom floor and cried and cried and cried.  I cried until I had nothing left to cry out.  I cried because I was scared of the future.  I cried because I upset and mad about my past.  I cried because I needed to cry.  However, this time instead of reaching for a pill bottle, I folded my hands and prayed, "God, I need you now!"  It was at that moment that I felt an embrace and a sense of relief come over me.

...It can only go up from here...

 I knew I had just hit rock bottom and I knew that I could only go up from here.  Back to therapy and back on my medications I went.  This time, I thanked God for people like my counselor and for the medications that are here to help me along.  I have come to accept that depression is a part of my life.  I know that I will be taking that little blue pill for the rest of my life.  I know that I will have to "check in" with my counselor here and there to make sure I am still on track.

...It can only go up from here...

The biggest thing that I have finally learned at 29 years old is that there is no day that is not worth living for.  I know there will be some dark days ahead, but I know they will never be too dark.  There are people willing and ready to reach out and grab your hand, you just have to be willing to give them your hand and let your happiness in!

"Each of us has only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another." ...I am only here because I found the courage, wisdom, and strength to reach out and embrace the wings of those around me as we carry each other on this journey of life...together we can spread our wings...and we can ALL fly!


Story Time

Last week, Wings of Hope got to talking about the “stories” that each of us have.  The kind of stories that are very personal, and sometimes very painful.  The kind that are full of pleasure and pain, triumph and struggles.   The stories that shape us into who we have become. 

Like you, I have a story.  And there are parts of this story that I would like to share with others in hopes of making some sort of a difference to someone.    It is the same part that I shared just a few months ago.  And I share it again today, because I think it is important to reach out.  To help.  To show the world that no matter who you are, where you come from, or what you have been through, you are just as human and worthy of love as everyone else on this earth. 
So, before you read any further, please ask yourself the following questions:  Am I nonjudgmental?  Can I listen to someone’s story with an open heart and an open mind?  Do I have sensitivity and positive regard for others?  Do I want to learn, to become more aware of myself and the people around me?  Am I capable of making a positive difference in the world?

If you answered “yes” to these questions, please read on.  If you did not, kindly leave me alone.
…When I was teenage girl, most people saw a bright-eyed girl that was about to light the world on fire.  They saw someone who was happy, likeable, and smart.  They saw someone who came from a stable and supportive home, someone who had a great life ahead of herself, someone that had it very good.  And you know what?  They were right.  I had (and still do, may I add) a very good life.  Yet despite all these wonderful things going for myself, I struggled with my mental health: I developed a life-consuming eating disorder, I battled depression, and I was positively ridden with anxiety. 

My battle with my mental health began when I diagnosed with Anorexia, which later evolved into Bulimia and EDNOS.  To complicate matters, I was later diagnosed with a mood disorder that involved depression and anxiety.  In a nutshell, I was deathly ill, I was anxious, and I was depressed.  I felt like I was losing my mind.  I was desperate for happiness, yet I just couldn’t seem to find it. 
As I became more and more ill, I isolated myself and no longer confided in any of my friends.  Because few people could identify with what I was going through, I felt very alone.  I felt that no one understood me, and I felt judged for struggling as I did.  To add to my strife, I also felt immense guilt for the pain that I knew I was causing my family.  Not only were they worried sick about me, but they did not know how to help me.  On top of that, I felt that I was a constant stressor in my parents’ and sister’s life, and I knew that I was costing my parents financially as they paid for my therapy, my hospitalizations, and my medical expenses.

As my struggle continued, I became very reckless and had little regard for my own well-being.  I experimented with chemicals, I abused pills of all sorts, and I made terrible decisions regarding my mental and physical health.  For months this continued, and I spiraled deeper into my eating disorder, becoming more depressed, more anxious, and feeling much more alone than I had ever felt.  I remember a time when I honestly felt that I was losing my mind.  That I had no control over my life.  That the suffering that I had brought on myself was too great.  That there was no hope for me.
One evening, after life had started looking a bit more hopeful for me, I relapsed.  I recall lying on my bedroom floor, crying, yet unable to reach out to anyone.  In sort of a fog, I walked into my bathroom, grabbed my prescription sleeping pills and took everything left of the bottle, washing it down with an antidepressant or two. 

And then, I fell into a deep sleep. 

And then, I woke up.  And I started crying.  I cried until my heart had emptied all of my tears.  I cried because I realized that I had hit my rock bottom.  I cried because I realized how lucky I was to have woken up.  I cried because I knew I was not healthy, because I didn’t know how to get healthy.  I cried for the pain that I felt, that my family felt, and I cried because I realized that had I not woken up, they would have experienced a pain unparalleled to anything they’d ever imagined. And finally, I cried because I needed to.
…Did I really want to die?  No.  But I was desperate for the pain to end.  Was I thinking about anyone else at the time?  No.  I wasn’t really thinking, not even about myself.  Did this experience teach me a thing or two?  You better believe it. 
It made me realize that I am supposed to be alive.  And while I am alive, I might as well live.  It made me realize that there is no day so dark that you cannot live through it.  It made me realize that I am ultimately responsible for myself and my well-being, but that I needed to reach out for help, and commit to my own happiness if I wanted to get better.
And I am happy to say that is what happened.  It was a very long, windy road, but I got myself well.  In fact, I got myself better than well.  While I have certainly faced many struggles since that day, I have learned that I never had it that bad.  That there is nothing I cannot live through, learn from, and be stronger because of it.  I have found happiness.  I have found peace.  I have found self-love.  and I have made a life that is very much worth living.

So my darling birds, I need you to also know what I learned.  If you are suffering like I did, know that there is a better life ahead of you waiting to be lived.  Know that no matter how lonely you feel, you are not alone.  Know that there is nothing on this earth that you cannot overcome.  Know that there is help out there, but also know that you need to try to help yourself.  Know that things don’t always get better fast, but they will get better.  Know that your pain can be turned into something positive, for yourself and for others.

And for my birds that are not suffering in the same way I did years ago, know that people’s pain is relative.  Know that even when people look as though they have it all, they may not have it all together.  Trust your instincts when it comes to your loved ones, and trust that you can make a difference.  

It is time to make a difference in our community.  It is time to embrace life and encourage others to do the same.  It is time to reach out, to show compassion.  It is time to be brave, to tell your stories, and share your feelings.  It is time to make a positive impact in your life and the lives of others. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Manic Monday! 8.15.2011

Manic Monday!!             

Wings of Hope would like to congratulate all the AMAZING athletes in the Green Lake Triathlon. I was so impressed with their determination and endurance! It was a wonderful reminder that even toughest battles can be won with encouragement and support. And as sometimes life can feel like an uphill battle, we too can win the fight with support, determination and encouragement.

Have you checked out the pathway at the Fountains of Hope? It is complete and looks beautiful! I big thank you to Chris, Noah and all who helped make the pathway.

Upcoming events:

New London Music Festival is this weekend, August 19 & 20, 2011. Come check out the shopping, art, and music in beautiful downtown New London, MN.   The music festival will be held at Neer Park from 12pm-6pm on Saturday.  Join us good food, great tunes, and family-friendly fun!  Wactch for Wings of Hope as we lend a hand and support our community. 

Out of the Darkness Community Walk is September 24, 2011 in Willmar, MN! We encourage everyone to come and support Mental Health by walking, donating or just cheering us on!! We would love to see each and every one of you!!  

We want to hear from YOU!! Wings of Hope have a public meeting in the works! We are excited to hear about your ideas and invite you to contribute in any and all ways you would like. Stay tuned for more details.

Stubbornly persist, and you will find that the limits of your stubbornness go well beyond the stubbornness of your limits. ~Robert Brault.

Friday, August 12, 2011

{that is all i've got today}


Thursday, August 11, 2011

How do I accept that?

Pastor Keith shared this story last Sunday....Two traveling angels stopped to spend the night in the home of a wealthy family. The family was rude and refused to let the angels stay in the mansion's guest room. Instead the angels were given a small space in the cold basement. As they made their bed on the hard floor, the older angel saw a hole in the wall and repaired it. When the younger angel asked why, the older angel replied, "Things aren't always what they seem." The next night the pair came to rest at the house of a very poor, but very hospitable farmer and his wife. After sharing what little food they had the couple let the angels sleep in their bed where they could have a good night's rest. When the sun came up the next morning the angels found the farmer and his wife in tears. Their only cow, whose milk had been their sole income, lay dead in the field. The younger angel was infuriated and asked the older angel, "How could you have let this happen? The first man had everything, yet you helped him. The second family had little but was willing to share everything, and you let the cow die." "Things aren't always what they seem," the older angel replied. "When we stayed in the basement of the mansion, I noticed there was gold stored in that hole in the wall. Since the owner was so obsessed with greed and unwilling to share his good fortune, I sealed the wall so he wouldn't find it." "Then last night as we slept in the farmers bed, the angel of death came for his wife. I gave him the cow instead. Things aren't always what they seem."

Ok so things aren't always what they seem. I can accept that. In fact, I have lived by the saying "things happen for a reason" for most of my life. My friends have heard me say it many times and at times disagreed with it. My husband has, in some situations, asked me not to say it. Understandable of course. But then there's something that happens to you... a something that is so painful that it shakes you to your core. In my case, my little brother taking his own life... you may or may not know my story. You may or may not relate to my story. But I bet you too have a story.. a story of when the world as you know it is pulled out from under your feet. Causing all that you thought to be true to feel, at the moment, like a lie. "Things happen for a reason"??? Wow, please tell me how to continue to accept that. How do I NOT get wrapped up in the Why God and Why ME questions...

Trust. That's all we can do is trust. My husband and I found ourselves within a prayer group two Sundays ago... something very new to us and a bit uncomfortable. Something incredible happened to us, everyone there were strangers, no one knew what we walked in with on our hearts. But as the people began to pray (out loud and all at once, something again very new to the both of us) they started to feel what was on our hearts without us saying anything. Without us expressing a word of why we were there. In a town that doesn't know us one bit... no way that they could have heard our story but they could feel the bruises on our souls. God shared our story for us.

God doesn't cause the bad things that happen to us. But he has given us a promise that He will turn this bad experience into something good. With faith, God will give purpose to these experiences. If we believe that God is in control, he will ultimately turn evil into good. This is the trust that I'm talking about. We may not understand it or see the reason but if we have faith, we can trust that the outcome will have a purpose. And sometimes God's purpose is not for us to understand but to trust, "things aren't always what they seem."

Our prayer for this week is that we know that we are a follower of God, living with certainty about the Father’s love and direction for our lives.

Sara Lester
Wings of Hope

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sticks and Stones

...I was curious, so I looked up the definition of “thick-skin”.  Here is what I found:    

Thick- Skinned, adjective
a. Not easily hurt by criticism, insult, etc.
b. Callous, unfeeling, hardhearted, etc.
c. Largely unaffected by the needs and feelings of other people;

For good measure, I looked up the definition of “thin-skin”.  I found the following:

Thin-Skinned, adjective
a. Easily offended by criticism, rebuffs

…Most of us, when we are honest with ourselves, must admit that we fall somewhere in between these two definitions.  Most of us are not entirely thin- or thick-skinned.  And personally, I think that is the best way to be.  Who wants to be considered callous, unfeeling, and insensitive?  Conversely, who wants to be considered a baby?  No one.  Most of us would like to be sensitive and empathic enough to be emotionally available to ourselves and others.  To open our hearts to those that we care about, even if that means we're vulnerable at times.  Similarly, most of us would also like to have a strong enough sense of self to know what comments or actions to take to heart, and what we are better off ignoring.

So why then, would someone call me thin-skinned as if it were such a bad thing?  Why are we told to toughen up, or pretend not to be hurt by someone when we really are?  Why do we often act as if we don’t care?  That we are unreachable by the words and actions of others? How confusing this is.  We are told to be tough, so we act tough, but then we are also expected not to hurt the feelings of others.  Yet, if we are all as tough as the act we put on, why does it even matter if people are terrible to us?

It matters because we really all are sensitive beings.  Because sometimes we do get hurt, whether we are comfortable admitting it or not.  Because we also care about the feelings of others and do not wish undue harm upon them. 

So, the next time someone calls me thin-skinned, I won't be taken back, whether they hurt me or not.  I will decide what I will take personally, and what I will not.  And I will not be afraid to admit that I have feelings.  That I am not above being hurt by others.  I will remind myself that it is a privilege and an honor when I open my heart to another, and that it takes courage and strength to do so freely.  And if that privilege is taken advantage of, then I have the choice to take that privilege away.  

My wish for you today, my sensitive and caring birds, is that you have the softness of heart to be emotionally available with others.  That you are strong enough to also be vulnerable.  And too, it is my wish for you that you are self-assured and secure enough to also stand up for yourself and know what is worth taking personally and what is not.  It is my wish for you that you are able to find this intricate balance so that you may love and be loved by others and do so with confidence, resilience, and consideration.




Happy Tuesday!
Another busy week at Wings of Hope.
Have you stopped by to see the pathway at the Fountains of Hope yet?? If you have not stop and check it out! It is looking fantastic!
Look for Wings of Hope at the Green Lake Triathlon this weekend! Come help us support these amazing athletes! This event takes place in Spicer Mn.
Wings of Hope will be at the New London Music Festival August 20th in downtown New London. Fresh, funky and all-natural, the New London Music Festival is "Minnesota nice" with a twist. Join us for a family-friendly day of eclectic music in Neer Park, a shady peninsula surrounded by the scenic Crow River. Our garden-grown and homemade meals and refreshments are the summers best, and the kid-zone is full of wholesome fun. Bring a chair and a friend. While you're in town, take a stroll through New London to enjoy the charming village atmosphere, gift shops, art studios and more.
We look forward to seeing you all.
Thank you for your support.

Monday, August 8, 2011

...out of turn...out of the ordinary.

i am supposed to post on fridays.
today is tuesday.
i am ahead of myself
....for once.
that NEVER happens.
someone mark this down as a modern miracle.

at any rate.

i wanted to share something that i realized.
just today.
well...maybe i have known this all along, but it is still worthy of mentioning.

here is the simple facts:

i wake up EVERY morning.
with the same thoughts.
what have i done WRONG. 
what can i be sorry for.
what should i feel guilty about.
what needs to be fixed.

it either is something with my husband.
or my kids.
or work.
my family.
my past.
my present.
my future.
my friends.

AKA: guilt.

 my first thought is something.
something to DO BETTER.
something to use AGAINST myself.
something to IMPROVE.

i think back to my mistakes.
my regrets.
my "do-overs"
isn't that dumb?
do you DO THAT?

for awhile - i tried to stop this cycle.
instead i would wake up with thoughts of gratitude.
what can i be thankful for.
it was an added effort for me....but i did it.
i would lay in bed and think of ALL the of the "beautiful" in my life.
everything that was going RIGHT.
not WRONG.

today i realized something.
it is not one or the other.
it is not GUILT or GRATITUDE.
it is a mixture that makes it all worth it.

without feeling the guilt for the things that have taken us off course...
we can't feel the delight in the gratitude for being where we are.

we are meant to get off course.
we are meant to second guess.
we are meant to say we are sorry.
it is alright - and in the same token
these things all create the opportunity to be grateful for what is going right in our lives.
even the smallest things.

so tomorrow....i might try something different.
i will run through all the things that need improving.
i will be vulnerable to the parts of me that are so far from delightful.
because those things are to be celebrated JUST AS MUCH as the things that are "oh so perfect".
cut yourself some slack.
love all the imperfections.

recently my dad told me that "every failure is a success".
wise.  man.

failure gives us the opportunity to look at something through an entirely different light.
or maybe more than an "opportunity"  -it FORCES us to do so.

so fail.
feel guilty.
but only for a moment.

but don't get stuck there.
move on.
know better.
DO better.
stop the blame.
take responsibility.....
forgive, forget.

life is short.
let guilt and gratitude be your teacher.
not your excuse.


one more thought for the day:
"...the opinions that OTHERS have of you will only matter to the very degree that they can influence your own opinion of yourself" 
- amir zoghi.
hold true.
guilt, gratitude or is YOUR journey.
always has been, always will be.

Friday, August 5, 2011

...have your own. :)

another post on individuality.
'cause i happen to LOVE individuals. are WONDERFUL just the way you are
...and so is
everybody else.

Sometimes we want the kind of acceptance that we
are not willing to give. Yet life is a two-way street,
and we do so much better when we send to others
what we want them to send to us.

Just a gentle reminder today that you are wonderful,

and, guess what - the person right next to you is, too!

-neale donald walsh

i love this. 
what a sweet gentle reminder to just accept.
just as they are.
{including yourself}

wasn't there a movie called "the world according to GUMP?" - or something of the sort?

we all live that movie every day.
however...the accurate title would be - 
"the world according to ______________ {insert your name}"
that isn't selfish - it just IS.

we all look around and see things ONLY from within our heart.
what we find inspiring just might be a JOKE to the next person.
that is alright.

what we find entertaining, might bore the heck out of the next person.
that is alright.

what we think is right or wrong, might be completely opposite to the person right next to you.
that doesn't make them evil or wrong or just makes them....THEM.- and YOU....YOU.
how entertaining would it be to find out WHY you have opposing views? 
which, yep -  happens to be ALRIGHT.

here is the beautiful thing.
those opposing views...seep into your soul, and save you.
 be thankful that people are strong in their beliefs, their experiences, and themselves.
be thankful you are different than the next guy...cause he just may have that little something that changes your life.

what a wonderful world we live in...
do you see it?
through all the struggles, through all the pain and hurts...
do you FEEL the love?
all the DIFFERENT kind of love surrounding you always.
hang in there, YOU are WONDERFUL - just like the person next to you.
be sure to reach out and discover exactly WHY that is. the first step.
understanding is healing.

YOU have your OWN...
your own ideas.
your own journey.
your own life.
your own experiences.
so OWN them...share them.
YOU have YOUR OWN wonderful.
....and so does "THAT GUY"....