April Hope Whispers

“For I know the plans
I have for you,”
declares the Lord,
“plans to prosper you
and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope
and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11

SAFE
by Victory Worship

“You are never far away
Always reaching out to save
My weakness covered by Your strength
And I am found forever safe
I found my fortress in You
And my soul is anchored with You
My resting place is in Your name
Forever safe”

Hope-Breathing Quotes

“I know the world is crazy right now, but I’m so thankful that God knows our names, understands our emotions and is intimately involved with the development of our faith.” ~ Lois Flowers

Darkness comes. In the middle of it, the future looks blank. The temptation to quit is huge. Don’t. You are in good company… You will argue with yourself that there is no way forward. But with God, nothing is impossible. He has more ropes and ladders and tunnels out of pits than you can conceive. Wait. Pray without ceasing. Hope.” ~ John Piper

“Hope is the silver shaft of sun breaking through the storm-darkened sky, words of comfort in the intensive care unit, the first spring bird perched on a snow-covered twig, and the finish line in sight. It is a rainbow, a song, a loving touch. Hope is knowing God and resting in His love.” ~ NLT Life Application Study Bible: Zephaniah introduction

Nature is a Retreat of Hope

““Be as a bird perched on a
frail branch that she feels
bending beneath her,
still she sings away
all the same,
knowing she has wings.”
Victor Hugo

Thank you to my brother John for these beautiful bird photos.
(🙂 Please respect copyright laws. 🙂)

Black-Necked Stilt
Roadrunner with a Lizard for His Lady
As part of the mating ritual, he carried the lizard from tree to tree and made a cooing sound.
Green Heron
Green Heron
Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron
Great Horned Owl

 

Depression and Anxiety Help and Hope Resources

“Seeing the people,
He felt compassion for them,
because they were distressed and dispirited
like sheep without a shepherd.”
Matthew 9:36 NASB

“There are seasons when
doubts and fears abound,

and so suffocate us with their fumes
that we cannot even raise a cry,
and then the indwelling Spirit
represents us, and speaks for us,
and makes intercession for us,
crying in our name.”
~ Charles Spurgeon

” In the same way the Spirit
also helps our weakness;
for we do not know how to pray as we should,
but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us
with groanings too deep for words.”
Romans 8:26-27 NASB

Trapped In My Own Mind: Three Lies Depression Loves by Sarah Walton

Depression does not mean God is punishing us, does not mean God is absent, and it does not make us useless.

“Depression of spirit is no index of declining grace. It is Christ and not the absence of depression that saves us. So, we declare this truth. Our sense of God’s absence does not mean that He is so. Though our bodily gloom allows us no feeling of his tender touch, He holds on to us still. Our feelings of Him do not save us. He does.”
– Spurgeon’s Sorrows, 38–39

Anxiety in Children: How to Recognize Symptoms and Help Anxious Children by Dr. Michelle Bengston

“In recent days, anxiety has been at an all-time high not just in our country but across the world. Think your child hasn’t been anxious? Don’t be so sure. On the podcast, we’ve recently started a series on how to defeat anxiety during times of crisis. I recently recorded a podcast episode with my son taking his “emotional temperature” in the wake of spring break being extended, school-going online instead of in person, and being unable to socialize as normal with peers (Helping a Teenager with Anxiety). After talking with him, I knew we needed to have further discussion about how to recognize anxiety in children and help them.”

The Story of the Oyster and The Butterfly: The Corona Virus and Me

Bonnie Gray offers this soul care resource from a therapist who helped her through healing from emotional childhood trauma – “This free book written by a psychotherapist and author Ana M. Gomez will help children understand and process their feelings about Covid-19. A wonderful tool to spark conversations with your child. Great for adults too!”

Rebecca Hastings offers a simple guided journal.

“I have been struggling with my feelings during the Coronavirus Pandemic our world is facing. That is expected. What I didn’t expect was to struggle with PRAYING through it. I know that God is here, even in this. But sometimes it is hard to find the words when our emotions are all over the place. That’s why I made this journal for us.”

On the guided pages, there are spaces to write who God is, what we’re grateful for, what we’re honestly feeling that day, what we ask God to help us with, and a place to write out a verse from His Word.

American Psychological Association’s COVID-19 Information and Resources

Resources relevant to our mental health during this pandemic and continually updated by APA for psychologists, health-care workers and the public

Crisis Hotlines and Resources

“Need to talk to someone? Specialists are available for confidential telephone counseling.”

Covid-19 Resource and Information Guide

Helpful guide from NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) – simple actions to aid our mental health and calm our anxiety, preventing and addressing social stigma, questions answered, helplines, and more

“I often feel very grateful to God that I have undergone fearful depression. I know the borders of despair and the horrible brink of that gulf of darkness into which my feet have almost gone. But hundreds of times I have been able to give a helpful grip to brethren and sisters who have come into that same condition, which grip I could never have given if I had not known their deep despondency.” ~ Charles Spurgeon

Blessings
by Laura Story

When It’s Hard to Let Go and Trust God to Catch Us

Courtesy of Jeanne Takenaka

Heavy emotions can feel like an undercurrent tugging us down into discouragement and depression, can’t they? We can keep trying to desperately cling to our only HOPE. But sometimes… Lord, I can’t hang on anymore…

I sometimes feel so overwhelmed with sadness over all the sorrow and suffering in the world, and this Covid pandemic has my emotions all over the map. But I often trap them inside. I feel compelled to show others I am strong enough to handle them on my own. Including God… I allow burdens, that of others and of myself, to weigh me down too much instead of truly surrendering them over to God who alone has the power to rescue, redeem, and restore.

I even fight against the way God chooses to redeem and revive. I forget not a tear is wasted. I forget that our hearts are transformed the most through suffering. I forget God has the power to paint beauty out of ashes.

Before this Covid crisis hit us, I downloaded a free devotional book about Finding God’s Presence in Everyday Living. When Jeanne Takenaka wrote it, she had no idea how fitting it would be for such a time as this.

One morning my heart nudged me to get back to reading it. The first words I read expressed my feelings:

“Have you ever felt like life was overwhelming you? Like thing after thing was piling on you, stealing your strength and leaving you gasping?” (Jeanne Takenaka)

Oh yes, that is how I feel, Lord! Please help us!

Then towards the end of the devotion:

“When the ground beneath us shifts, God’s mercy upholds us. He is always with us, in every season. 
 
We can find reassurance knowing our Father’s got us. He’s holding our hands and sharing His consolations with us when we need them most.” (Jeanne Takenaka)

Yes, Lord, I want to believe
Your mercy will hold us up!
I believe, please help my unbelief!

The ground beneath us has shifted drastically throughout this entire world. We may feel like we’re free falling into a deep, dark hole. Simple everyday things we thought we had control of have been taken out of our hands.

But God…

God’s got us, and His mercy will uphold us, no matter what we’re going through. So why am I still afraid?

You know how a well-adjusted child jumps into the arms of a loving father? Trusting with all his heart that Daddy will catch him?

When our trust has been so broken in life, even when we have come far on the journey of healing, fear can suddenly pop up. Lack of control over our lives may trigger fear of trusting others, even our Heavenly Father. Even when He invites us, “Come, My child. Jump into My arms. I’ll catch you and I’ll hold you closely in My loving arms. I won’t harm you. I’ll fight for you. So trust Me, My child! I’ve got this! Trust My way and My timing. Relax, let go of your grip on control, and surrender your heart and life to Me. Let yourself fall into My arms!” 

Desperately, we keep holding onto some form of control. Is He really safe? Will He truly catch us? Will He hold us and get us through this?

God has promised He will!

“The eternal God is your refuge and dwelling place,
And underneath are the everlasting arms;
He drove out the enemy from before you,
And said, ‘Destroy!’”
Deuteronomy33:27 AMP

And you know what? God doesn’t condemn us when we slip and find ourselves not trusting Him again. He understands that struggling journey far better than any person in the world does. He accepts us just as we are in all our humanness. He understands how our emotions can take us all over the map. But He never gives up on us, even when we give up on Him. He holds His arms open wide and keeps coaxing us to let go and fall into His arms of mercy and unfailing love that He has promised will support us!

“Unless the Lord had given me help,
I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.
When I said, “My foot is slipping,”
Your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.”
Psalm 94:17-18

Just Be Held
by Casting Crowns
“Hold it all together
Everybody needs you strong
But life hits you out of nowhere
And barely leaves you holding on
And when you’re tired of fighting
Chained by your control
There’s freedom in surrender
Lay it down and let it go
So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held…”