Not a Day Promised

Battling mental illness through education and resources. "Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance." Proverbs 1:5

Friday, December 12, 2014

After all, I am your big brother.

by Collin Brooks (Carson's older brother) - original post on Facebook

I had a dream about you last night. I could see you and would chase you around town telling you I missed you. I finally got to you and hugged you, pleading for you to come back home.

From that point on, you were just out of reach. I became desperate to catch you, as if I could save you. After all, I am your big brother; I am supposed to protect you.

No matter how hard I strained nor how fast I ran, I couldn't catch you.

This morning, as I reflect on the desperation I felt in my dream, I find comfort knowing your heart was captured by the Lord at a young age.

I may not have been able to catch you in my dream, but I will see you again one day. We will run and play and praise the Lord who offered His life for us and, upon our acceptance of His grace, captured us in His arms forever.

I will wait patiently for that day, all the while joining our family in sharing your story. May the Lord, the only One who can save the souls of the lost and who tirelessly pursues us all, bless us in our endeavors.

I love you.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

My God Given Passion and Grieving

by Julie Brooks

I don't really want to mention this after such a perfect birthday yesterday, but I always want to be transparent, in hopes of helping someone else who may be struggling.

For me the 1st day of October brings memories of Carson Brooks. He was born on October 23rd. For me, it seems the days leading up to an event that is connected to his life brings back many memories; how we awaited his birth, the 1st time I saw his precious face, the joy he brought to our family as child #4. And, how looking back, I can now see signs of his bipolar illness beginning at an early age. 

At 3 or 4 years old, Carson would come to me and tell me, "My brain is angry," but he didn't know why. As Dave Matthews sings it, "My head won't leave my head alone."  

My desire to educate parents and others regarding mental illness is a God-given passion - because I have lived it. Not to mention my own depression, anxiety, and OCD (each treated with specific meds). All this to say, the days leading up to any event involving Carson is extremely difficult for me.

Grief looks different for every person. I still cry 2 to 3 times a week. I miss my boy. To those who are grieving, there is no book written that will tell you how to grieve. I believe God allows my tears to wash my eyes, renew His grace to sustain me and give me that added boost to continue knocking at Christians' hearts and the Church.  

We can make a difference!  We have the Holy Spirit within us, guiding us to get involved in learning how to minister to those struggling with mental illness. Statistics overwhelmingly point to the local Church as the 1st place a mentally ill person thinks to go for help. Statistics from two recent studies also clearly provide evidence that we (the local Church) aren't prepared to minister to the mentally ill.  

But we, as the Body of Christ, have what it takes to minister to those suffering!  We just have to stop ignoring that still small voice advising us to "carry one another's burdens." It is all about educating ourselves and then reaching out!

My heart aches to see all who are suffering with a mental illness, and how most people just pass by, as with the two who passed by the fallen stranger before the good Samaritan arrived.

I pray God gives me a platform that others can not ignore...to get involved in helping those with mental illness.

If you are hurting don't hesitate to call me (click here). I can listen, pray, and provide resources!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Martin's House

By Julie Brooks

For Mother's Day a couple of years ago I wanted a Purple Martin bird house.  They are the only birds that depend strictly on humans for their habitat.  

They are in our area from about March to July or so and then leave; time enough to greatly help curb the mosquito population and of course add new members to their family.  

Incredibly, the next year, they come right back to the same bird house (apartment).  Before they return we clean out their living quarters, so they come back to a clean home.

Purple Martins usually don't share their dwelling space with any other type of bird.  But, every year so far, our visiting Martins have allowed a sparrow couple to build a nest in another part of the bird house complex.

God just reminded me that this is a picture of how He wants us to be hospitable to others; others that may not look like or act like us.  I'm reminded also that He gives us opportunities to represent His love in human flesh.

The Bible says that we may never know when we might be entertaining angels He has sent our way!  I hope I can always be like my feathered friends and be the welcoming arms of Jesus!

P.S.  If you click to open the picture, you'll see a Purple Martin on the left side...he must be the greeter!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

She Awaits - Choose to Look Forward

The following is taken from a Facebook post, with permission, by my friend Glen Sorge.  I believe it is impossible to know the dark and devastating experience of a child that precedes their parents in death; unless the experience has happened to you.  Glen offers peace with his words to those who know of this experience.  Thank you, Glen, for the reminder that Christians can "Choose to Look Forward."


By Glen Sorge (guest blogger)

The biggest decision that I made in my grief journey happened in a support group one Tuesday night. It was over six years ago, almost 2-years after Ashley (Sorge) died. I was sitting in that room on the couch next to Luicia Plaza Sorge.

I looked around the room at all of the sadness.  I listened to the stories of despair and hopelessness. And, I realized something. I realized that I didn't want to live in sadness and in regret of the past, which will never change.  

The one I miss is Ashley, and she is not in my past. She has gone ahead of me.

I can choose to bring with me all the memories of the past; but not her. What I do hold in my heart, and carry with me everywhere I go, is the love we shared. My faith in our Father God and His Word tells me that she is ahead of me, and that I will see her again. Though I still have sad times, I now also have joy and look forward to the rest of my life.

That night was the beginning of the biggest direction change in my life. We don't have to live in the sadness and the darkness for the rest of our lives. We can choose to look forward and look up. God's light CAN shine through us. And, we CAN shine His light into the dark places around us.

I choose to look ahead and shine!

Monday, May 5, 2014

"GLORIOUSLY RUINED"

by Julie Brooks

May is Mental Health Awareness month! 

To show my support, I have tinted my Facebook profile picture green, which is the color publicly recognized and used to raise awareness for good mental health.

My life revolves around my God-given passion to help and support those with mental illness and also the loved ones that care for them. That passion includes being transparent as well with my own struggles; depression, OCD and anxiety. 

One of my favorite authors, Kay Warren, shared in her book Dangerous Surrender that she became "gloriously ruined" when God gave her a passion to help those suffering with AIDS.

I so love and identify with the phrase "gloriously ruined." Through all that I have experienced; Carson's struggle with bipolarity, his suicide.  And with Carson's younger brother experiencing the devastating grief of losing his brother.  Being a mother, a home school teacher, a nurse, counselor and constant companion to Carson's younger brother, as he too navigates the challenges of his own bipolar disorder, God has shown me that I can never go back to thinking about mental illness in the same way. 

Kay further explains in her book that being gloriously ruined is not a bad thing. God has opened my eyes to the suffering of others; losing Carson, watching his younger brother struggle, and the countless other people God has allowed me to meet who also struggle with mental illness.

While it is painful to be gloriously ruined,  I believe it is also God-breathed.  My vision has been further sharpened to see the work we as Christians and our local churches must accept as a calling from the Lord; carrying one another's burdens includes the mentally ill.

During this month of May, please take the opportunity to learn about mental illness. Knowledge reduces fear of the unknown and covers stigma. Your selfless care for a loved one, a friend or a stranger with mental illness may just save their life!

Praising God that I am GLORIOUSLY RUINED for Him and His cause. Amen!

You can find helpful crisis and educational resources in our blog: www.notadaypromised.com, RESOURCES.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Day Forever Etched (6 Ways to Experience Life After Suicide)

The following blog was first posted September 24, 2013 on the Mental Health Grace Alliance website: www.mentalhealthgracealliance.org.  I wrote this from my personal point of view, about losing Carson to suicide, to offer hope and encouragement to all who take the time to read it.

by Julie Brooks

July 12, 2010 will be a day forever etched in mine and my family’s memory.  That was the day our 18 year old son, Carson, took his life (committed suicide).  He suffered from chronic Bipolar disorder.

There are no words to describe the pain of losing someone to suicide, especially your child. Parents are supposed to die before their children; not the other way around.
God’s custom made, unmatchable grace is the only reason I can say I am moving forward three years later.  God’s grace has given my family and I the energy needed to persevere, until we see Carson again, some day in Heaven.

Some of the ways I have found helpful to adapt to life without my son are:

1) Being Transparent – From the day we learned of Carson’s suicide, my husband, Todd and I, and our four children decided we would allow others to move through the grieving process with us.  We have been and are still forthcoming about the facts of our loss, our struggle without him, our lives when he was still living, and the hope we have in Jesus Christ that assures us we will see him again.  Carson suffered from a painful and unstable mental illness known as Bipolar.  He suffered painfully for so many years, from adolescence into his early adult life, so much that he felt he could no longer endure.  Our family never claimed his passing to be other than what it was: suicide.  We trust that Carson’s life was saved for eternity when he trusted in Jesus Christ at the age of seven.  We were and still are not ashamed that our child committed suicide; hurt, but not ashamed.

2) Realize – My life will never be the same.  I carried this child to his birth, cared for him as a baby, grew with him through life changes, suffered with him in his despair, and now, I’ve outlived him.  It’s as if his death became a pulled thread in the fabric of mine and my family’s life.  That thread extended into areas of our family blanket that to this day we are still having to pull, stretch and adjust to.  At times, that pulled thread moves in concert with the rest of the fabric; all is well, and I remember joyful events.  At other times, that pulled thread has affected other threads, that have pulled other threads, and so on, and, it’s like a cold chill, a dark reminder that he is no longer with us.

3) Educate and Be Available to Others – God has given me an opportunity to give purpose, hands and feet, to my sorrow.  I no longer need to help Carson because he is in Heaven – healed from his pain.  I can use my experience to touch others.  God has given me a passion to educate others about mental illness and suicide.

4) Tears – I allow myself to cry whenever I need to.  I will continue to grieve the loss of Carson’s life, until the day I see him again in Heaven.  Three years later, my husband and I still (and will continue to have) what we call “Carson Moments,” where out of nowhere the pain of him not being here floods our thoughts.  Realizing that will happen, I endure, cry and recover my thoughts to God’s present day blessings and plans.

5) God’s Miracle Minutes – As we raise and support our youngest child, who also suffers with Bipolar disorder, God gave me a word picture.  There are 1,440 minutes in each day.  We can choose to see our completed day as “all good” or “all bad.”  Or, we can choose to live in the minute and look for God’s miracles – the ones we normally wouldn’t recognize without being consciously aware and on alert to see.  Acknowledge God’s work in the miracle of that minute, and as a bonus, bind the enemy, since he can’t occupy your thoughts when you are praising the Lord.

6) Live Without Regrets – Hug.  Tell a loved one you love them.  Encourage someone.  Pray for someone.  Make that phone call to someone now, because “Not a Day Is Promised.”
Please visit our website, www.notadaypromised.com.  You’ll find our transparency there.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Giver of Grace

By Julie Brooks, R.N. and Warrior-ette in God's Mental Health Army,

Today, with all the "WHITE" STUFF" outside I am reminded of a few things:


1)  I am blessed by Jesus Christ, who shed His grace on me, that I might be forgiven my sins, and that I have accepted His free gift of salvation for all of eternity.  He has made me whiter than snow.  Amen!

2)  As a Christian, I can feel the warmth of God's presence when I choose to tap into it.  Just by praying and inviting Him into my day, and of course His minutes...that can become transformed into miracles (see my August 2012 Post, "God's 'Miracle Minutes').  What a blessing!


3)  The cold weather reminds me of those struggling with mental illness.  Even on the sunniest of days, their minds seem (sometimes) "frozen" in pain; waiting for God to bring someone who wants to come along side them, sit with them, listen, and let them know they and God love them - just the way they are.  Someone who is also willing to journey with them to find help and hope for them.  Think of them as a family member left out in the cold...you would want for them God's warmth and your caring attention.


4)  There is so much we can do to help decrease the chill in their life: a smile, asking, "Are you feeling okay today?", just noticing them, asking how their day has been...and truly focusing on their answer.


5)  Asking the Lord to help us be His "heater" for them, to warm their heart from the inside out. Realizing that your selfless time with them is treasure being stored for us in heaven, realizing with excitement that our time given could result in their asking Jesus into their lives!


6)  On a personal note, the chill of this weather reminds me of the "Carson hole" I have in my heart.  No matter the amount of coats or blankets I have over me, a chilling wind freely blows through when this hole is open...and I am reminded how much I miss him...but I am also reminded of God's grace that puts His supernatural bandage on my heart...encouragement that one day, when I get to Heaven, I will no longer need God's bandage on my heart...because it will be made whole the day I see Carson.


7)  I pray whoever reads this knows that their selfless time spent on someone struggling with a mental illness WILL make a difference for him or her; and for them as well, for they become a giver of grace!  


Use God's 3D glasses to see those hurting...smile, and educate yourself in how to help instead of just walking by leaving that child of God without a blanket and God's warmth.  We.  You, can make a difference, one by one! 


Missing you Carson Chandler Brooks!  I will never grow tired of helping God spread His message of hope!  AMEN!