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

Monday, September 14, 2015

Blessed to be Able

by Julie Brooks

Blessed to be able to see God's miracle minutes! 

Just as we must have faith that God is present in every minute of our day (1,440), even though we can't physically see Him, all we have to do is look around.

He is there...in the wind, blowing the leaves on the trees...helping us calm a child...making a difference with a gift of a smile to someone...helping those suffering from the invisible pain of mental illness.

God is absolutely amazing! He has a plan. And I want to be right in the center of it all!


I surrender, Lord, to whatever You have for me to do...even if it is invisible at the moment!

#warrioretteinGod'sMentalHealthArmy
Looking beyond the surface!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Unquestionably Mom. Undeniably Committed. Dangerously Surrendered.

A Mother's Day Tribute to my incredible wife, Julie Brooks and Sister in Christ, Kay Warren

by Todd Brooks

She remembers. 

The journey of hosting her child's life blood as God formed him from a thought to a miracle within her womb. The flood of emotions that accompanied the very moment her physical pain of birthing yielded the most personal introduction to his life, from her life. The unmistakable God-ordained assignment of "blessed" when she cradled his tiny body to her bosom for the first time.

The remarkable years.

That first smile, it turned into a short cackle, then flowed a laugh so sincere and mighty it had her thinking things might be survivable after all. The first time he fell asleep mid-chew, sitting up in his high chair. Dozens, maybe hundreds of crayon Picasso's, memorialized on every inch of the refrigerator (or anything a magnet would stick to). The honor of first-name recognition as bestowed on her by remarkable pediatricians and their staffs. Intense perseverance, that of a master mechanic, as she navigated car seat buckles, child-proof locks, bouncy swing failures, all-the-while maintaining her full-time diaper changer/phone operator/caretaker and lovely lady game face.    

He rolled over, he crawled, he walked, he talked. Oh, my!

How would she ever work up enough courage to walk him into pre-K that first time, letting go, letting God, seeing him turn away from her to his teacher and continue on out of sight, "Mommy will see you again before you know it."

Growing pains.

The intensity of growing up, making friends, losing friends, that one best friend, the first girlfriend, and of course the most important friend, when convenient mostly, to confide in when having trouble with all the other friends. Too young to decide on his own, then thrust into recalling many lessons he learned from her, practicing them, winning, losing, failing, succeeding - how so very hard it was for her to stand away long enough to let him learn about life. (but she was still there for him)

Finishing the race.

Neither did we know the timing of our arrival on this earth, nor do we know in advance when God will call us to Himself from this earth. It is for God to know and for us to run the race. To run the race without abandon, for His race is the point of life. The race, our God-ordained life's journey, planned to take us down a narrow path, the quickest route to Him. Oh, but the twist and turns we opt to take along the way, away from Him, for ourselves; yet our forgiving God allows us to return back to the race because He adores us and He alone can restore our faith in Him.

On that day.

Along the way, a Decision of providence is made, with the utmost care and consideration involved, the culmination of divine prerogative from the highest Authority, a decision that has all of Heaven rejoicing, for he is being called Home. The decision, though, not one she would ever wish for but one she must endure by faith, relying on His grace, for the grief of losing him will be great, but blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.

In that instant.

The pain she experienced in birthing him was nothing compared to the emptiness that continues when she now looks for him, even though she knows he is not there. But, she knows where he is and that she will see him again. In the moment of his physical death, the hand of his Savior was there for him. Time stopped for him right then. Death stopped, pain stopped, degeneration stopped, medicine stopped, fear stopped, anxiety stopped, depression stopped, agitation stopped..it all stopped. Absent from the body is present with the Lord!

Restoration.

With seamless transition, with everything made new and immaculate, instant restoration for him - and eternity began. So did great celebrations of the untold many in His Kingdom, all wanting to meet her boy, to rejoice in his arrival. Finally. Rest for him, healing, newness, all burden lifted - oneness with the Lord. A Promise kept.

Eternally tethered together.

The Lord designed him, gave him life from her through the umbilical cord. The Lord designed her. The Lord hears her every thought in advance, gently wipes each tear that washes her eyes and divinely makes certain the Holy Spirit maintains the umbilical connection between her and her boy, through memories, dreams, the promises of His Word, close community with believers, her husband, her family, her extended family.

He waits for her.

Rejoice! And again I say rejoice! Have no fear. Though she may wash her eyes with tears of loss, she should look forward. She should set her eyes upon the future. Continue the race for Him. The past cannot change, but the future, the future is bright with promise, promise that you will see your boy again. Amen.

I love you Julie Brooks! Happy Mother's Day. (Happy Mother's Day to you too, Kay, and to so many other Mom's that know this day will forever be changed. God is with us. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.)

Picture (May 2015): Julie Brooks with Kay Warren. Both moms. Both sold-out believers in Jesus the Christ. Both lost sons to suicide. Both with hearts bound by sorrow. Both have dangerously surrendered to God's plans for them. Both are Warriorettes in the Lord's Mental Health Army. No regrets. No turning back. Education, love, community and the local Church are the focus. Committed to running the race. 

  

   



Sunday, March 22, 2015

Word Picture - Cattle Guards and Mental Illness

by Julie Brooks


My sister and brother-in-law's T5 Ranch is located just outside of Anderson, Texas; a 450-acre beautiful picture of God's nature and clear skies.

I reflect on the time my youngest son, Pierce, and me spent there last Sunday.

When I took walks, the path I followed took me across several cattle guards. As you can see in the picture, there is solid footing for a human to carefully cross over, but the wide open weave pattern of the heavy metal grate makes it just about impossible for cattle to cross.

On one of my walks, God gave me a word picture, that as Christians we can choose to navigate new challenges in our lives. Challenges that seem impossible to accomplish, but when accomplished result in help to those that live with invisible challenges like mental illness. 

To cross that cattle guard or any other obstacles, we can ask God to show us how. And, since we as Christians have the Holy Spirit within us, allot of times it comes down to faith and not giving up on the calling God has given us. 

We need to be strong, in God's strength, to make it to the other side of the cattle guard; to then assist those who need help navigating the cattle guards they happen onto; the obstacles in their lives.

I believe in my life God has called me to spread the word on mental illness; in this blog, on my Facebook Page, emails, texts, chats, visiting with people I don't even know. No word that goes forth from His mouth returns to Him void. I educate, share a message of hope, identify resources, make myself available to individuals struggling, help families understand their loved one's mental illness; rewind and do it all again.
I grow weary at times because I can't see progress as fast as I want. I believe that comes from living in the trenches, struggling myself with treated depression and anxiety, losing our 4th child Carson Brooks to suicide due to unstable bipolar, and having another child who struggles with bipolar.

I see the pain everyday. 

I could use your help. I would love for others to join me in learning how to cross over your obstacles (even if it isn't a cattle guard) to join God's MENTAL HEALTH ARMY; to help those who struggle in painful silence with mental illness, or if you yourself are struggling with a mental illness. 

Contact me 424/BJOYFUL (424/256-9385). Take that 1st step! Call me if you have questions. God will hold your hand, and I will be there to cheer you on!

Julie Brooks, BSN
God's Mental Health Army. 

Running towards Jesus with open hands.
Dangerously surrendered to whatever He calls me to do.

www.notadaypromised.com

If you live in the Dallas area, Todd and I lead a FAMILY GRACE GROUP, a support group for caregivers of those struggling with mental illness. We meet at our church, Fellowship Church, Grapevine, Texas, the 1st and 3rd Thursday of most every month of the year (www.fellowshipchurch.com > Get Connected > Member Care > Family Grace Groups).

Saturday, February 21, 2015

"I couldn't see healing."

by Julie Brooks

It has been 30 plus years since I was in nursing school and earned my BSN. I look back at my Psyche rotation at the Waco VA Hospital. We were in a locked ward, given a key and told to guard it with our lives.

It was a hard rotation for me, one of my least favorites; I think partly because I couldn't see healing. These precious people where children of God, yet society didn't value them because of their extreme mental illness.

Fast forward 30 years, after loosing an 18-year old son to suicide at the prime of his life (unstable bipolar), navigating and praying another son through his bipolar, seeking daily to know which meds may need to be tweaked, homeschool challenges, calls from many hurting people that either care for mentally ill loved one or are mentally ill themselves; seeking solice. 

It all reminds me that God is not into perfection.  If He were, He would have made us all perfect to begin with. And if He made us all perfect at the start, why would we need Him or His present day miracles and answers to prayers? 

Oh, how I view things differently today! If I went back into nursing, would I choose what was once my least favorite area of nursing, Psychiatric nursing? I think so. (God has a way of changing our hearts through life circumstances.)

But, don't worry, you don't have to be a nurse, counselor, Psychologist or Psychiatrist to be used by the Lord in coming along side those hurting with mental illness. 

As an example, there's an organization Todd and I are associated with; Mental Health Grace Alliance, based out of Waco, Texas. We've come to trust deeply in them for their knowledge, their personal experience with mental health issues, their encouragement, and most important to us, the educational resources and curriculum they've written, designed to be led by the layperson, not the paid professional. 

We use their curriculum to lead a support group (Family Grace Group) at our church, for individuals that directly care for family or close friends with a mental illness. MHGA has also written layperson-led curriculum (Living Grace Group) for the individual struggling with the mental illness. Click on the RESOURCES tab in this blog, or click HERE for more information and a direct link to MHGA.

If you're not motivated to lead a support group, I invite you to be an encourager to those who may just need a smile. A simple, "Tell me how you are doing today?," can sometimes shift chemicals in the brain resulting in a much needed and refreshing mood change for the stricken. 

You can make a difference; you can change a life. God gave us all ears to listen, a mouth to speak, eyes to show understanding and lips to smile with. Ask the Lord to give you the "want to," the willingness to want to help.

Be mindful of your words. Words can create stigma. Even when you make a joke or speak in jest, your words can be received/perceived quite differently by the individual that suffers from bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, OCD, ADD, etc.

You may say something meant with no ill intent, something off-the-cuff, spur of the moment, directed in jest; i.e., "those people are crazy," "don't hang around the Cray Cray," "that guy is a psycho." Trust me when I tell you that such words serve only to drive the wounded deeper into despair and even further from asking for help. 

Turn this situation around. If you were speaking to someone enduring chemotherapy, would you make jokes or say things in jest about cancer patients? No. You would monitor your words more carefully, knowing that such words don't lift up but tear down. With His help and purposeful practice, we can all become encouragers instead.

God has given me a passion for the mentally ill. I live it 24/7. I once asked Him to break my heart for what breaks His, and I am so very thankful God has taught me much through pain.

Ask God for the "want to." If you don't know my God, just contact me...we are building an Army to help those struggling in silence. As I have said, I will not give up until I am Heaven bound. I am currently reading THE CIRCLE MAKER by Mark Batterson. I AM drawing circles and so encouraged!

Julie Brooks R.N.
Warriorette in God's Great Endeavor to build His Mental Health Army