mental health

Trust In The Midst Of Trials

Photo by  Maria Stiehler  on  Unsplash

This post is different.

Usually, when I share something, it’s from a rearview perspective—I’ve experienced something, learned a lesson or had an “a-ha” moment and I want to share it with you.  

This post is different.

I am very much in the midst of the circumstances I’m sharing today.  I don’t know how this story will end, but I feel God prompting me to share the journey, not just the final destination.

For the past six months, I’ve battled minor health issues and major anxiety brought on by those health issues. This battle has robbed me of more joy, contentment, memories and emotional wellbeing than I care to think about.  It’s made me a mediocre wife and a mom with a short fuse (at best). It’s caused me to throw myself into my job—because work is (usually) something I can control, unlike my emotions these days.

Last week, everything started to fall apart. I went to the doctor for a (minor) issue and came home with more questions than answers and a body so wracked with fear, stress and anxiety that I was barely able to function. What followed for the next seven days were more inconclusive tests, pain radiating throughout my entire body, one epic meltdown in front of my husband and a child who missed show and tell day.

And that job I thought I could control? I cancelled meetings, moved a final exam and made careless errors.

At multiple points during the week, I cried out to God, begging him to “show Himself” and “help me.” These are prayers I’ve prayed hundreds of times over the past six months. Mostly, I’ve heard nothing in reply.  

Sometimes God is unexplainably silent; and while His silence is never due to lack of caring or love, it may not be for us to comprehend this side of Heaven.  

In my desperation last week, I remembered the story of the persistent widow in Luke 18:1-8. The widow petitioned a judge—who was neither a Christian nor a good man—for justice. He refused her request for a while, but after a period of time, she wore him down and he granted her request.  

Jesus used this parable to encourage the disciples to pray and not give up, saying in Luke 18:7 “will not God bring justice for His chosen ones who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, He will see that they get justice, and quickly.”

So, I kept praying. I’M STILL PRAYING. I’m claiming the promises of Hebrews 4:14-16. I’m trusting that Jesus is interceding for me before God and I’m approaching the throne of grace with confidence. I’m also choosing to believe Psalm 41:3 and 42:11—that the Lord will restore me to full health and my downcast soul will yet praise Him.

 And when those promises seem empty, I’m focusing on the ways that God has shown up in my life over the past year: the lump in my breast that they literally COULD NOT FIND on an ultrasound or mammogram, the pre-cancerous mole that was removed without need for further treatment (save annual mole checks) and my father-in-law, who was diagnosed with stage three Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in August 2018, ended chemo last month and as I write this is playing at the beach with my boys.  

When circumstances cause us to doubt God and His goodness, we must call to mind His promises, remember His history of faithfulness in our lives and above all else, we must NEVER STOP PRAYING.  

I’m currently reading Jennie Allen’s “Made For This.” In it, she talks about praying an “anything” prayer…of “laying your life in the hands of a reckless, invisible God,” because our time on this earth is short and pointing others to HIM is all that truly matters.  

This post is my anything prayer.

This is my testimony in the midst of trial that God is who He says He is. That He is good regardless of what my circumstances tell me. That HE WILL COME THROUGH…if not in this life, then the one to come.

Today, I go back to the doctor to ask for more tests…

 I DON’T KNOW HOW THIS STORY IS GOING TO END, BUT I TRUST GOD WITH THE OUTCOME.

 If you find yourself in similar circumstances today, know that you are not alone. I see you. I feel your pain, both physical and emotional; and I’m sorry.

 In her book, “It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way,” Lysa Terkeurst says:

“Perfection intimidates. Compassion inspires. And in that you will finally find the why. Why did this happen? Because there’s someone else in the world who would drown in their own tears if not for seeing yours. And when you make one other human simply see they are not along, you make the world a better place.”

We may never know the reason for some of the suffering we experience, but our questions and our tears can unite us if we let them.

 

On Mental Health Awareness and Being a Crappy Christian: An Interview with Blake Guichet of Magnolia Ink

blake guichet headshot.jpg

Can I be honest? I struggle with social media. I vacillate between feeling inferior and alone because it looks like everyone is doing something infinitely more awesome than me or feeling like I'm part of the problem. On an Internet where people only the show the highlight reel of their lives, it's rare to see someone whose feed--and whose life--is beautifully honest. 

When I think of my friend Blake Guichet, those two words come to mind: BEAUTIFULLY HONEST. One look at her Instagram feed (@thegirlnamedblake), and you'll know I'm right. Blake is both beautiful and honest. She's also a talented writer, a mental health advocate and a self-proclaimed "crappy Christian." And did I mention that she's hilarious??

Blake and I connected through the RISE conference, and though we didn't get the chance to meet face-to-face, I felt confident enough in who she was as a person (and in her amazing graphic design skills) to ask her to re-design This Is Thirty Four. Every interaction I've had with her over the past few months--and everything I've seen her post on social media during that time--has only confirmed that Blake is as real deal. 

Blake's Instagram feed offers daily encouragement to me to be more intentional (you know I love that word) in the way I'm living my life. Her heart for Jesus and for others shines through in everything she writes. So, read this interview and be encouraged by Blake's words; and then go follow her on Instagram. You'll thank me later! 

Jenn Prentice (JP): Hey Blake! Thanks for doing this interview. For those that don’t follow you on Instagram (but will after this interview), tell them who you are.  

Blake Guichet (BG): I’m a born and raised Louisianian, like in the “never lived anywhere else” sense. I graduated from LSU in 2011 with plans to move very far away and begin my career as a writer/speaker, but God had other ideas. I met my now husband, Jeremy, about two months before I graduated, fell head over heels in love, and kept my roots right where they were. We got married a year later, had our first daughter, Pacey, a year after that, and our second daughter Elliot two years after that. We’ve packed a lot of life into the last seven years, but it’s pretty dang beautiful.

So now I’m a work from home mom wearing a lot of hats – business owner, graphic designer, writer, sometimes-blogger, and I’m sure a whole bunch I’m forgetting. But I love it. I love our life, and I’m thankful that God’s plan is always better than our best-laid ones.

JP: Well, from my perspective, you are rocking each of the hats you’re wearing, especially Magnolia Ink. Tell me more about your business.  

BG: Magnolia Ink is my branding and website design business, officially born in July of 2017, but it had been kind of lurking in the background in an unofficial sense for years before that. My number one priority in my business is using my abilities to enable other business owners to move forward towards their dreams with a brand and a web presence that accurately represents them.

JP: From working with you on the redesign of This is Thirty Four (thank you for that, by the way), I know that you have a well-oiled process for designing people's websites and branding. How did you develop that process? Or maybe a better question is: what lessons did you learn early on that led you to develop such a great process?

BG: This question cracked me up because my process is built exclusively off of trial and error. I did (& still do) a lot of “business” things wrong, have to learn lessons the hard way, & put policies in place to ensure they don’t happen again. But I definitely love where my process is now. My two week turn around for a brand and a website is really attractive to a lot of people because it enables me to focus on one client at a time and give them the attention and product they deserve. My business is super automated so that I spend minimal time on the small stuff and maximum time on the things I love and with my people.

JP: You have a beautiful blog yourself, but you recently took a step back from blogging. Can you talk about that and why you chose to step back?

BG: Honestly, I felt like God was telling me to. Is that a super Sunday school answer? I just started to feel like the blog isn’t where I needed to be putting my energy. So I stepped back and asked Him how he wanted me to move forward, knowing He’d be faithful to funnel my desire to serve Him with my words and thoughts to something else.

JP: So, what does rest and simplifying and scaling back mean to you right now?

BG: It means keeping my heart in check above everything else. It’s asking myself “why am I doing this, what is my intention? Is it to achieve and to feel better about myself, or is it to glorify the kingdom and use the gifts God gave me?” It feels weird to say that encouraging and challenging others is my “gift,” but I’m learning to lean into that a little more. I recently launched an email campaign where people can subscribe, and I’m sending out a weekly email with everything from Biblical insight to my favorite bra, and everything in between. It feels like a perfect middle ground between blogging and nothing at all. It’s much more personal and more private, but still a huge way to connect with people and continue building a community.

JP: Speaking of connecting with other people, one of the things that I think a lot of people can connect with you on is mental health. You're extremely open about mental health and the importance of managing your mental health. Can you talk about your own struggles and some of the things you've learned?

BG: I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Clinical Depression when I was 20, and it’s taken me about nine years of walking through life with those disorders before I started really openly talking about it. But the biggest thing I’ve learned is that pulling the things that Satan wants to be left in the dark - our struggles, the things he can pin us down with - that’s where the power is. Pulling that stuff into the light and declaring that Jesus already has victory over them, that’s when we win. Because then we get to join in with each other and stand next to our sisters and brothers and then no man is an island.

JP: You have a list of resources for people who are struggling with anxiety/mental health issues. Talk about that and how people can get access to it.

BG: Yes! I put together Through the Waves: Prayers & Verses for the Anxious Heart honestly as a resource for myself at first, but as I cultivated it and really leaned into using it, I realized so many people could benefit from it as well. So you can find it on my blog at https://www.thegirlnamedblake.com/home/through-the-waves

JP: I think pretty much everything I write starts out as something I need to hear and then ends up as something I share with other people in the hopes that they might benefit from it too. I know your resource guide is touching a lot of people’s hearts and minds and helping them in their journey.

 Let’s lighten things up a bit.  You are such a fun person to follow on Instagram because you are so freaking funny. What role does humor play in managing anxiety/mental health?

BG: Hah! This question made me laugh out loud the first time I read it. I don’t know if I’m funny as much as I am painfully honest, but I think sometimes that translates to funny. I absolutely have had to learn to laugh at myself & my circumstances. I honestly use sarcasm as a bit of a defense mechanism, sometimes to a fault (ask my husband). But being able to allow things to roll off your back and have a snarky comment to go with it makes life a little less heavy and can make it feel like the walls aren’t always closing in.

JP: And speaking of funny, you want to write a book, potentially entitled "Confessions of a Crappy Christian." I would read that book. I feel like that describes my life...or at least my journal entries..can you talk about your faith, the role it plays in your life and what it means to be a "crappy Christian"?

 BG: I think that’s going to end up being the official title of the book because so many people identify with it. I know some Christians will probably be highly offended by someone describing themselves as “crappy” in their faith, but my heart and prayer for this book are that not just Christian women are reading it. I want people who have heard about Jesus but are maybe turned off by this idea of perfectionism and holier-than-thou believers to pick up the book  and see someone who loves Jesus more than anything, telling the story of how often they get it wrong, and how much Jesus still loves them because of it.

JP: Yes! Yes! YESSSS! I think that’s a message we all need to hear, regardless of where we’re at in our faith journey. Well, you know me well enough by now to know that I could talk to you for hours. BUT, I am going to end the interview with the question I ask everyone: At the end of your life, what type of legacy do you hope to leave?

BG: Dang. This is a good one. My first thought is my girls. I want my legacy to be two strong, deeply rooted, on fire for the kingdom women who are consistently rocking the boat and confident in who they are in Christ. I want people to remember me as someone who made them feel a little less alone in their day to day crap, who challenged them to be the best version of themselves and maybe made them laugh along the way.

blake guichet family .jpg