I recently read a book called Hope Prevails, by Dr. Michelle Bengtson and asked to write a review of the book. I struggled this time putting words to the page. I think part of me knew if I wrote something, I would have to admit, out loud, that I have battled depression. Not always, but there have been times. I don’t think I’m the typical person, I’ve been able to pull myself out of it. I know this isn’t the norm, but I know the suicidal thoughts I battled and the belief that things would get better if I just ran away, are all too typical.
I think this made me blind to the struggle others have who battle depression; if I could ‘just get over it,’ why couldn’t they? It is also one of those things we don’t talk about in the church, because someone may think you are less spiritual and disconnected from God if you are going through it. This idea couldn’t be further from the truth. As a matter of fact, I was surprised to learn that Dr. Bengtson, a neuropsychologist, battled depression herself. I mean, if someone who treats depressed patients becomes depressed, what hope is there for the rest of us.
“I’m here to tell you the secret is out: even Christians get depressed.” – Dr. Michelle Bengtson
That is where Hope Prevails comes in. This book is Michelle’s (she was Michelle to me before she was Dr. Bengtson) journey through depression and what God did in her life to bring her healing and how she wants to bring healing to others.
So what do I like about this book? Short chapters! I think that alone is good medicine. I would guess that a person hungry for help wouldn’t want to spend a ton of time reading a chapter to feel discouraged at the end. That is not the case here. At the end of each chapter, she includes a prescription; a few questions to help you in your healing process. Let’s be real here; they are probing questions, however, if you truly want to receive healing than you need to be true to yourself. These questions will do it for you, and the answers are only between you and God.
That’s great because, after that, there is a prayer for you to pray, then something I have never seen in a book before and I believe it to be genius: a playlist. Each chapter has one, with the songs correlating with the topic of the chapter.
“Listening to praise and worship music helped me to hold on when it seemed my grip was failing.”
As if the playlist isn’t cool enough, someone has already set it up on Spotify. Just search “Hope Prevails.”
I would say, if you are reading this and you battle depression, get your hands on this book. If you have a loved one that is battling depression, get your hands on this book. If you feel you are at the bottom of the well with no chance of getting out, get your hands on this book. It will not just give you encouragement to make it to the next step, but it honestly will give you hope for your future.
We have all heard the saying, “Don’t blink or you’ll miss it.” That was me, already into May; last month flew by in a blur! Every few days, I would think I had something great to write about, and before I could get pen to paper, something else amazing would happen. I intended to write a bunch of different posts, but as one month faded into another, I thought I would just do one that talked about all the wild and crazy things God did during the month of April.
Convoy of Hope – San Antonio
At the beginning of the month, I traveled to San Antonio to participate in a Convoy of Hope Event. Convoy of Hope goes into the 50 largest cities in the US and does a one day Poverty Free day. It is amazing! That day, more than 4000 people came out to get everything from free haircuts and family portraits to job services and medical screenings. In addition to all of that, every adult left with at least two bags of groceries. Everything was free and no questions asked. It was an unforgettable day.
What made it so amazing was the people. I talked to people that were there to receive, people that were there to give, and people that didn’t know why there were there, a friend told them about it, so they showed up. People were happy to be there. They were so willing to share their store. I met a woman whose name is Cat, not because her name is Catherine, but because she loves and has cats. I don’t know if there is a typical ‘cat lady’ story, but I do know that she loves her cats and is very content with her life. I met a couple who passionately love Jesus; they are former missionaries, but they are currently homeless and living in a shelter. They are totally okay with it because they believe God has them there for a purpose and then He will move them somewhere else.
Matthew 7:24-25 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain fell, the storms raged, and the winds blew and beat against the house; yet it did not fall because its foundation was on the rock.”
They knew, come what may, that God was their strength. I was extremely moved by all of the people I met in San Antonio and honored to say that 3419 people received prayer and 132 people made decisions to follow Jesus. Awesome day.
So, I meet with some other writer/speaker ladies a couple of times a month. At the beginning of April, we were not able to meet on our usual Friday morning, so we decided to meet on Thursday and at a different location. If you take nothing else from this post today, please do this: Be willing to let God rearrange your schedule. As we are sitting in this restaurant, talking about a project we want to explore, a young man comes to the table. He explains that his family is homeless and wondered if we could give them some money for gas and a little food.
“Let God rearrange your schedule.”
I wish I had time to tell you everything that occurred, but the short story is, we prayed with the mom and her two sons. It was a moment that I will not forget. We were able to speak life to this little family that did not feel like they had any hope at all. She is a strong woman who does not want to take “a check,” and makes sure her boys are in school every day. I am so thankful I was able to share with her that her story is not complete, there are still pages to be written. I pray for her and her boys and hope I will see them again.
Out of the Mouths of Babes
I use to think that was a weird statement when my Mama would say it, but now I understand. The very next day, I attended a Fine Art with the youth from my church. We were there with several hundred other teens from all over South Texas. Can I just say, God gives out the coolest gifts to people! Two things marked my weekend. First, an eighteen-year-old girl, who preached the word like a seasoned professional. Her message? “Jesus is a Feminist.” Now, before you go all crazy & start yelling ‘blasphemy,’ let me tell you, this girl BROUGHT IT! She spoke of the Ten Commandments and how Jewish law added laws against women, but Jesus stood against those laws.
“Jesus treated women with great respect and dignity. He gave women status and respect equal to men.” – Eden
Beautiful and powerful!
Then, there is my sweet Molly. It is her last year to compete at Fine Arts; she is aging out. It is also the first year she is competing because we did not know there was a level for college-aged folks. She performed in three areas, Drama Solo, Human Video Solo, and Vocal Solo. Now, I am her mom, I may be a little bias, but my girl brought her best, and I cannot be more proud of another human, ever!
Running a close second would be the students from our church, who lined both sides of the hallway and applauded and cheer for Molly after her performance. As a mom, I was so moved to see people honor my daughter in such a way. I will never be able to express to them what this did for my heart and what a moment it was for Molly, who needed that affirmation from her peers. It is a moment I hope she never forgets. She is performing at the national level in August, and I know that she will put all of her heart into it like she always does. Molly is a Rock Star!
Capitalism meets Philanthropy.
My friend was telling me about this cool store she went to recently and said we needed to visit the store. Because I love to shop, I agreed, and we made a plan. She had already filled me in on what they store was about: believes in fair trade, owned by Christians, cool couple, gives back, etc. All of this sounded great, and since I had just started to understand what fair trade is, I fell in love with the concept.
When we got there, an adorable woman greets us, recognizes my friend, and gave both of us hugs. She told me about the store then left to talk to my friend about gifts for her son’s upcoming wedding while I wondered around. Where do I start? It’s a boutique of sorts, with cute clothes and awesome shoes. It has home decor and trendy t-shirts and hats. But the part of the store that impressed me the most stood in the middle of the store. It looked like a little room, with old doors and a shiplap wall. On the back wall were small nails and tags hanging from each nail. They were prayer requests. It was the prayer room; you can leave a request, take one to pray over or simply pray while you are there. One of the ladies that works there told me she often prays with people in the prayer room. It blew my doors off. Of course, I left a prayer request, and I prayed for someone else’s need.
The Prayer Room blew my doors off.
The store is not close to my house, but I guarantee I will visit again. Did I tell you that they give a portion of the proceeds from the store to different charitable organizations and missions? Hence the name, Philanthropy.
What an overwhelming month, full of God’s amazing grace and mercy. It is the middle of May already, I can tell you, it hasn’t stopped with the change of the month.