Saturday, October 31, 2015

I "Graduated" Therapy This Week...

I "graduated" therapy this week. That's hard to say. It's hard to admit that I need help. But I want to tell you what God has done in my life in the past year. I want you to know that choosing to go to therapy was one of the best decisions of my life. I want to publicly praise God for His faithfulness in my life.

I grew up thinking that only weak Christians needed therapy, that if someone would just have more Jesus in their life, if they would just pray more, they would be fine. I believed that depression was not a real thing. Mental or emotional issues were a sole result of a lack of faith and were a clear indication of one's shallow relationships with God.

Then my "perfect" little life hit a trial. A trial that lasted for over a year. And I couldn't handle it alone. Tim and I couldn't handle it. I was put in what was diagnosed as a toxic work environment. An environment that left me doubting my worth as a person. An environment that consistently tried to undermine God's word and the core of what I believe about God, marriage, and people. 

Here I was, newly married, madly in love with my hubby, and struggling more internally than I had ever imagined. During this trial we bought a beautiful home, found an incredible church home, made amazing Godly friends, adopted our furever Buddy, bought a cute little SUV...on the outside, life continued to appear perfect for us.

But what those outside of our family couldn't see was the nights that I would come home and barely make it to the couch in the piano  room and sob for hours, unable to move. Or the days I'd cry on the way to work because I was so emotionally exhausted from the day prior. Or the nights I couldn't make dinner because I was in bed depressed beyond words that I was a failure at every single role in my life. The times I closed my office door and sobbed, begging God to get me out of the situation. The lunchtimes that I went home to cry and pray.

When you wake up and wish you were sick throwing up rather than walking into a certain situation, I submit that you should consider getting some help! It's a miserable place to be. I did not realize until weeks into therapy that I had allowed my toxic work environment, and the lies being spoken into my life in that environment, to affect many other areas of my life. I began to believe, completely unaware of what was happening, that if what the work situation was saying was truth than I must be a horrible wife, friend, and Christian. This was where the pain was deepest. A job isn't forever, a coworker, a boss, they will eventually be gone, but if I'm a bad wife, friend, and Christian, those are forever. I am truly hopeless.

For months, Tim and I struggled through this. I had lows that I can't explain in words. Finally, Timmy said, "We cannot keep doing this. We have to get help." He had heard at both our last church and our current church about a counseling/therapy center that was centered on God's word. I remember making the call to schedule an appointment, crying through the call because I just knew I was having to ask for help because I wasn't the believer I was supposed to be. I was a failure once again. 

But God is faithful. Into my life stepped HELP*, my therapist, my gift from God. (*Don't want to publicly post her name.)

For a little over a year I have met with HELP faithfully, almost weekly. God has used her to change my life. He did not remove the situation right away. In fact, Tim and I and our friends prayed diligently for over a year before God changed my circumstances. I don't say this just because it's over, but I truly am so thankful for that time. Those painful, dark times taught me so much about my God. He has pulled me deeper and deeper, and I'm so thankful. As I told HELP a few weeks ago, God knew I needed her before I knew I needed her. God knew that she was going to be a huge impact in my life and my walk with God. 

HELP taught me to distinguish what was a lie from Satan and what was truth from God's word. It's amazing how easily deceived we are. That was a hard lesson to learn to, because I have always felt that I was a thinker and that I was able to easily distinguish truth and lies, and I learned through therapy that I'm quite good at it in other people's lives. I can easily see how lies are affecting others, and I am compassionate and intense about encouraging them to over come lies, but in my own life, it was exactly the opposite. I was drowning in lies about myself. I couldn't see the truth of who God has created me to be.

In the future, I hope to take some time to share some of the specific lessons God has taught me in the last year, but for now, the point of this post, is to tell you that:

1. Sometimes we need help. Sometimes we just can't do it on our own. And that is ok. God doesn't expect us to do life alone. He gives us community and friends and family. I know that personally I love to come alongside a friend and pray for her about a need or struggle. Don't believe the lie that there's noone to help you.

2. You are not the only person struggling in this area. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Since going through this journey I have met so many women who are going to therapy, there are 3 specific women in my life who I found out were also in therapy. Godly women that others would probably be shocked to know they are struggling through depression. That encouraged me. And that's why I write this post. It's hard because pridefully I don't want you to know I've been going through this. Only my close friends and family know. But God moved in my life in a powerful way this past year, and I believe it is my duty to give him the glory and praise for what He has done in my life.

3. The need for therapy or counseling IS NOT because of a lack of spirituality in your life. Don't fall for that lie of Satan. And if your church is teaching that you just need to suck it up and pray more if you are struggling through depression or emotional or mental issues, you need to run FAST. I'm not saying find the closest psychiatrist and jump on buckets of anti-depressants, but He graciously provides us resources and opportunities to grow and learn. Please don't let your pride get in the way of getting help. 

I refuse to let this past year be a waste in my walk with God or in my relationships with others. I believe that honest, authentic lives are how we walk alongside others. I could sit quietly on my last year, bask in the presence of God, privately glorifying Him for all He has done, but I believe He has called me to be real and use this personal example to help others. God has given me an incredible new job situation. Yesterday I had the opportunity to pray with my boss for his daughter who is sick. God has completely transformed this area of my life, and I am grateful, but I don't want to forget what He taught me either.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, mental issues, emotional issues, etc., I encourage you to get help. Pray about where you might find that help (sometimes churches have a counseling ministry but don't be afraid to go outside your church building). If you are in the Pittsburgh area, I HIGHLY recommend Grace Wellness Center. They are licensed counselors and they accept insurance. This is the real deal, not a hokey, strange religious group that tells you how you just need to pray more. They truly know how to help you. We ended every session in prayer and often when I would be sharing a 'lie" that I was failing at, HELP would say, "Well, Jesus had a similar situation like that, how did He respond?"

Tim and I have been married for 2.5 years. I spent almost all of that in a very dark place. I'm thankful that God is healing my heart, and moving me past this trial. I'm thankful for the incredible, Godly man God has given me who has patiently loved me through many ugly cries. He has surrounded me with unconditional love even when he couldn't understand what I was going through. I'm thankful that the past month, Tim and I have seen a wonderful change already. The other night he said to me, "I really like your new job." That was code for "I like how things are different in our home now that you are out of that toxic environment." We have definitely noticed a change, but I believe had I gone through the trial without therapy, things would have ended very differently. I believe I would still be struggling inside, I would not be where I am in my walk with God, and our marriage would have suffered. Please don't let pride get in your way of getting help if you need it!

If I can help you in any way, even just to pray with you about your struggles, please email or message me. I have seen firsthand that God can do big things in our life when we lay aside our pride and fear and just trust Him. I also know that in my future there might be times again where I will need help, but next time I won't wait until I'm in such darkness before I seek help. God wants me to live a full life that brings glory to Him and draws others to Him. If that means that I occasionally might have to spend some weeks in therapy so that I can grow deeper in my walk with Him, sign me up.

From one broken Jesus lover to another,

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

by Tiffany Nussbaum

The aroma of apple spice and pumpkin flavored candles through the house, a pumpkin spice latte in your hand, getting out the scarves and boots, making memories around bonfires, or the beautiful colors of the leaves as the trees change, make fall one of the best seasons ever! Fall is a form of perfection in many ways and is a relaxing season! Just take all of it in because before you know it, winter will soon be appearing! While fall zooms by really quickly, let’s just stop and think of some valuable things that this wonderful season can teach us! A lot of the time we are focused on so many things that we don’t realize the learning moments that can strengthen us spiritually!

First of all, let’s look at bonfires—there is no better way to spend a chilly night than being wrapped up in a blanket with hot chocolate cradled in your hand listening to classical music in the background! These nights are the best nights of fall! Maybe sitting in a circle of friends, making up ghost stories, singing hymns, or even having Bible studies around the low glow of the fire encouraging each other! Bonfires remind me that the atmosphere around us is pitch dark when we light the match for the fire; the world is a pitch dark place in need of a spark of light of Christ to lead them to that greater Light. We are commanded to be that light, to go out into the darkness like that bonfire! Matthew 5:14 “Ye are the light of the world..” Yes, we may dim at times, but when that happens we add more wood (in our case more spiritual guidance or encouragement in the form of friends, family, pastors, teachers, the Bible), and we start lighting up for God again. This world gets darker, but with God’s help, guidance, and strength we will be able to get brighter and be used for His glory!  We have to be willing though! Take that first leap of faith…even if you are unsure of the first couple steps Have faith.  Seek Him. If you fall, God is right there to catch you and help you try again. The world will run after you to try to get you down and extinguish your light, but isn’t it nice to know that we can run to God where He will greet us with outstretched arms and help us shine brightly for Him?!

Now think about the changing trees—don’t you love walking through winding paths in woods and getting lost by the colors of those leaves and thinking how marvelous God is for creating them! Just like trees change, people change too! Sometimes that change is for the better and it creates a beautiful outcome like the colors of the leaves. People may get discouraged thinking that fall is a season of things dying, and they don’t see any beauty in it! Don’t think of it dying, but think of it changing. It will come back in the spring with new leaves and a new beginning! Maybe we need to do some changing in our lives by getting rid of things that keep us from changing and growing in Christ. You may think that you are just dying, but the outcome will be a beautiful one as you walk closer to God. Just let go of your fear, and you will see a difference! Letting go can be so difficult, but embrace the change, knowing He is with you! Or maybe you feel dead physically or spiritually like the tree that has lost all of its leaves. Dive into the Word, and let God guide your footsteps and your life! You will start feeling a change when you allow Him to work in your life! That beautiful change will be coming soon… be patient. A new season is around the next corner!

Pumpkins are another sign of fall…whether pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin pie, pumpkin carvings, or decorations. Fall wouldn’t be the same without pumpkins! We also wouldn’t be the same without God carving and molding us like we do the pumpkins! Some people may get bitter at God for allowing certain circumstances in their life, but what they need to realize is this…God is “carving” them in that area for a specific reason! God doesn’t carve our live just for fun, but because we need to learn something valuable. When He is done we will behold his masterpiece! Don’t doubt Him; have faith! Trust God and know that He has a reason. How true is this following little quote that I came across?

“How is being a Christian like a pumpkin? God picks you from the patch, brings you in, and washes all the dirt off of you. Cuts off the top and scoops out all the yucky stiff. He removes the seeds of doubt, greed, etc. and then he carves you a new smiling face and puts a light inside of you to shine for all the world to see.”

So let’s be aware that we can learn valuable lessons from even the smallest things in life. Allow God to carve and change us to be a bright light for Him to the world around us! And let’s not forget to enjoy the beautiful fall season He has given us!


Tiffany Nussbaum is from Indiana (the state). Her dad and Vickibeth's dad have been best friends for over 30 years! The two families are more like family than friends and have enjoyed years of fellowship and fun. Tiffany graduated in 2015 and plans to attend Pensacola Christian College in the future. When she's not working or spending time with her sister, she's helping her mom wrangle in her two younger brothers. Tiffany has a heart for Jesus and desires to serve Him with her life.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

How Willing Are We?

If you were to ask me if I am willing to give up things for Jesus, I'd say, "yes, of course." (See my recent post Confronting my god, HGTV) We give money every month to our church; we support two Compassion kids; we try to use our financial blessings to help others. Going into this past Sunday, I was feeling pretty confident in my "giving attitude." 

I was sitting in Sunday school and the teacher rather briefly brushed over the story of Mary anointing Christ with the expensive oil. Listen folks, I grew up in church. I probably heard this story before I was old enough to talk. Very basic story. Woman loves Jesus. Pours expensive oil on his head and feet. She wipes his feet with her hair. The disciples complain about the money wasted. Jesus rebukes them. THE END. But this time I saw the story in an entirely new light. I can't get these thoughts out of my mind.

Now, humor me for just a few moments? I know that the story I gave above is basically what the Bible states, but what if we stop and try to put ourselves in Mary's shoes--um--sandals. Would you do me a favor and just read the story one more time? It’s only a few verses, but they pack a big punch…

While He was in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper, and reclining at the table, there came a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard; and she broke the vial and poured it over His head. But some were indignantly remarking to one another, “Why has this perfume been wasted? For this perfume might have been sold for over three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.” And they were scolding her. But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you bother her? She has done a good deed to Me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them; but you do not always have Me. She has done what she could; she has anointed My body beforehand for the burial. Truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.”

First of all, scholars equate 300 pence or denarii to be about a year's salary (one would be roughly equivalent to a day's wage). Did that just make you wince a bit? I did. A YEAR'S SALARY. That's a whole lot of moolah!  Now we don't know whether she worked 3 jobs to save up for this expensive gift for her Lord or if she was gifted with the costly perfume, but no matter how she acquired the vial of expensive oil or perfume, the point is it was really expensive. The average yearly salary in the US is a little over $46K. Are you gaining some perspective yet? To put this practically, let's say you have been saving up to buy your dream vehicle, and on the way to the dealership, you suddenly feel led to drive to your church and hand them a check for $46K. People would think you were insane and that you totally wasted the money. And that's exactly how the disciples responded in Mark 14. But Jesus rebuked them.

Here we are, 21st century Christians thinking we are oh-so-spiritual because we give 10% to Jesus. If we stick with our average American example, that's $4,600 a year. Now, the issue I'm trying to present, is not that $4,600 is not enough and it needs to be $46K and you should live in a shack to make that happen, but what I am trying to express, and the truth that has overwhelmed me for the last week, is how incredible Mary's gift truly was. To me, a “bottle of expensive perfume” was a nice gift, but not a sacrificial gift when I read the story. The most expensive perfume you can purchase at Macy’s is $300. We blow that on silly things. But this wasn’t a day’s salary, or even a week’s…it was costly. But there’s nothing in the Biblical account that makes us think she hesitated for a second to bestow her beloved and costly treasure on her Savior, her greatest treasure.  

Now if I was the one in the situation, I would probably have dripped several drops on Jesus, after all He is deserving of all reverence and honor, and I would have felt quite pleased with my gift, but that’s not what Mary did. The Bible says she broke it open and poured it all out for Christ. She had no intentions of saving some for herself. I have no idea if this concept convicts another person in the world, but o my soul, am I convicted. I’m having a hard time even putting this into words because I’m so overwhelmed at my lack of willingness to give all to Christ. I want to be willing, but last Sunday when I had to ask myself, “Vickibeth, would you give up your entire year’s salary if Jesus asked you to?” I am afraid my answer was a silent, shameful, looking at my feet response.

So I challenge you to examine your heart. Ask yourself the difficult question, “If given the opportunity that Mary had, what would I have given Him?” The truth is, we have opportunities to give to Jesus all the time with our finances, our time, our talents, our hearts. The question is, what will you do with these things? Will you bestow them with abandon on your glorious Savior? Or will you continue to live the American dream, and drop small tokens of your time, finances, and heart on Jesus expecting Him to be satisfied with your token when He gave you His all?