Featured Page: EndTheStigma

UPDATED 1/4/17: There has been some confusion about the End the Sigma page – I am not the creator, but after I published this blog, I was accepted as part of the Facebook and Twitter moderation team. Please direct any questions about the End the Stigma badges to the Facebook page!

A new Facebook page has been born, and already its effects are felt around the Facebook community. End The Stigma is a Facebook page created on January 1 and has rocketed to over 9000 likes in three days (as of this writing) and continues to climb through shares, comments, and likes on its beautiful images.

It means what it says: the goal of the page is to end the social stigma surrounding invisible illnesses, particularly mental diseases and neuro-divergent disorders, by creating and sharing square “badges” with the hashtags #endthestigma and #youarenotalone. Also included are #1in5 (referencing that one in five people will be diagnosed with a mental disorder at some point in their life).

According to the first post on Instagram, the founder Kat was inspired by Carrie Fisher and her mental health advocacy.

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Hello, I am Kat. I personally have struggled with my mental health for many years. It wasn’t until I was 19 that I received my first official diagnoses, #bipolar 1 with traits of BPD. Almost 10 years later I still have frequent struggles in maintaining my mental health. When @carriefisherofficial passed, I was heartbroken. Leia was my childhood hero, and Carrie’s outspokenness about her own struggles with Bipolar made her my adult hero as well. I decided it was my turn to step up, and make any increase I could in mental health advocacy. I never imagined that my small post on Facebook would grow by thousands. You are all strong, and you are all brave. Thank you for being a part of #endingthestigma #endthestigma #mentalhealthawareness #1in5 #youarenotalone #endthestigmabadges

A photo posted by End The Stigma Official (@endthestigmabadges) on Jan 2, 2017 at 5:20pm PST

After a terrible 2016 for mental illnesses (politics, shootings, stabbings, and court cases all vilified or laughed at people with mental disorders), we need this. We need to stand up all around our family and friends and declare that mental hospitals aren’t fodder for Halloween scares, that not everyone who is depressed is a school shooter, that PTSD happens a lot to veterans but can happen to rape victims, crime victims, and after other traumatic events too.

Let’s start off 2017 by showing our scars in the most vunerable way possible – by broadcasting it on social media and having brave conversations with families, friends, and strangers.

You can find my personal story on the End The Stigma page along with my 8-badge image and an older photo of me.

endthestigma-me

1000Joys of 60 Days [167-289]

Life has gone on, and so has the list of my #1000joys.

A good chunk of these have not appeared on Twitter since they happened during my Social Media Fast in June, and some are brand-new from our recent vacation.

Not sure what this is about? Read more about #1000joys, my journey to tweet my way to a life of thankfulness.

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167: Clearance party items

168: A cold Whiskey Pepsi

169: A husband with a fashion sense

170: The rain held off until I got home

171: A great discussion on the fruits of the Spirit versus the desires of the flesh and what it means for us today

172: Plans that fall through that lead to much-needed alone time

173: The laundry-toting husband

174: Crockpot dinners on crazy days

175: The blessing of marriage

176: Seeing the joy on the bride and groom’s face as they see each other

177: Being a helping hand

178: Praise music that fills the house as my husband practices for worship team

179: Sleeping in after a long day of travel and joy

180: Good weather for a wedding on a cold day in May

181: Hugs from surrogate parents

182: Tears of happiness at a mother-son dance

183: Arriving safely home on flooded streets

184: Last-minute potlucks at work to celebrate a birthday

185: Hand-me-down bookcases

186: Four-day weekends

187: Sharing secrets and squeals with tom-boy friends after a long day at work

188: The flicker of a candle

189: Reading books in bed

190: Family jokes and bad puns

191: The white noise of a fan to beckon sleep

193: Best friend phone calls

194: Long talks with my dad

195: Business lead waiting in my email

196: Quick and yummy dinners with just enough leftovers

197: Neighbor reconciliation

198: Call backs from new clients

199: Resonating with a stranger about shared life experiences.

200: The buoy of a sad heart when God doesn’t give up on your dreams when you were about to.

201: A delicious dinner with visiting grandparents

202: Dog-kisses from my best childhood friend

203: Talking life, love, and money

204: Hazelnut coffee in the morning

205: Writing up a contract for my dream job

206: Sleeping in on Saturday morning

207: The exciting feeling of a brand new day arriving

208: Hot showers on a warm morning

209: Saturdays at home with my darling love

210: Unexpected sibling nights

211: Watching brother-in-laws playing video games together

212: Realizing that life can be interesting

213: Checking items off the to-do list

214: eBooks to that save time, money, & sanity

215: Used bookstores and the smell of old books

216: Celebration of singleness & marriage

217: Doting on a wonderful friend with all the pomp she deserves

218: Cocktails

219: Hot wings & high heels

220: Word games

221: Telling love stories & heartbreak tales

222: Baby James giggling, smiling, & snoring

223: a cool breeze on a hot walk

224: lunch-ready leftovers

225: God’s tugging on my heart for more time with him and less about me

226: Orange lilies blooming

227: A racing heartbeat after a mile walk

228: Owls dancing on the moon

229: Color-coded water bottles

230: Grass clippings and rain puddles

231: Evergreen trees with budding pinecones

232: Women telling stories of body image growing up

233: Being an hour early then ten minutes late

234: Netflix binge-watching sessions

235: Fixed water pipes & resumed water pressure

235: Gin and tonics

236: YouTube shows

237: Custom lockscreens with Bible verses

238: The calmness of starting a new adventure

239: Free long-distance calls

240: The blessing of being so close to family

241: Relaxing weekends

242: Productive wedding meetings

243: Breakfast burritos and morning musings

244: Psuedo-bachelorette parties and real life talks

245: Spiritual mothers and mentors throughout my life

246: Fiber therapy in mustard yellow

247: Binge-watching TV shows

248: Beautiful rugs with exotic patterns

249: 15-minute cleanups to spruce up the house

250: Blueberry bagels and cream cheese

251: Sharing of burdens – past and present

252: Adoption approval for Kayte and Ryan

253: Being real about life, love, and loss

254: A caring hug

255: Fresh fruit on a summer day

256: Hot summer rains

257: Texts of encouragement

258: Sudden showers

259: The smooth glide of yarn over needles

260: Elena’s safe arrival into this world

261: Ever-changing melodies of an electric guitar

262: Sleeping in on days off

263: Walking the same paths from a decade ago

264: Lively spiritual discussions over donuts and coffee

265: Sharing knowledge at a scenic overlook

266: Gender-bending menu choices

267: Puppy kisses

268: Hot tub talks under the stars

269: Wind-swept hair during speed boat rides

270: Experiencing the sublime

271: Playing in the sand and silt

272: A good grip on a great camera

273: Reliving the joys of a fun morning through photos

274: Free pedicures in red clay and sand

275: Rain that held off just long enough

276: The sound of rushing waterfalls

277: Quick read books

278: $3 shoes

279: Community of prayer and petition

280: Frothing coffee

281: Howl of the hunt for chipmunks

282: Sweet cantaloupe

283: The comfort of my own bed

284: Gentle wakeup calls

285: Playing video games late into the night

286: Sunday truth from SheReadsTruth

287: Wild and crazy dance moves

288: Building relationships over southern cooking

289: Homemade spaghetti sauce

What I didn’t learn in June

So I’m here. I’m back from my 2-week social media fast. (Read more about the lead-up at June Media Blackout)

What strikes me the most looking back is what didn’t happen during my self-imposed blackout.

I didn’t log back on and become disgusted at the always-logged-on world. In fact, I found I could live without it easily but I realized how much I had missed out on while I was gone. Photos, events, conversations, and important updates that I was oblivious to – not to fault anyone but myself for not checking those media, albeit intentionally so.

I didn’t come back to social media with a holier-than-thou attitude. I came back to vibrant communities still carrying on important conversations and bonding.

I didn’t leave social media and feel free. It was difficult. It was intentional. After awhile, I did cave and check how many notifications I had – but I didn’t click on them. It was isolating knowing that there were things happening and I wasn’t a part of them but it was a reminder to refocus on the reasons I was doing it.

I didn’t come back from an intense spiritual high or mountain-top experience like I’d hoped I would have. There certainly were moments where I keenly felt the pull between breaking the fast and picking up a Bible and it wasn’t a choice, it was obvious. Removing the distractions certainly made those choices easier but they were still choices.

I didn’t meet my own expectations. I didn’t journal every day, spend hours in prayer, work on all my projects, or gain tons more free time.

Source: Project Management Tips // http://pmtips.net/

Was it a success? Yes, I survived. It wasn’t all mediocre and depressing either. I have opted to only download certain social media apps back to my phone to limit the pull of some sites on my constant need to add or check updates.

Will I do it again? If I need to, yes. It’s a repeatable exercise, and one that has various positive outcomes and will differ every time.

Do I recommend a social media fast? It depends. High expectations are likely to go unmet, while low expectations can defeat the purpose, whatever you determine that to be.

I’m still processing much of what did (or didn’t) happen during those weeks and trying to get caught up on what I missed. I do want to engage anyone who has questions or comments, so please reach out here or by email.

June Media Blackout

Social Media Fast icon from http://www.ourfreakingbudget.com/

I’m doing it – I’m jumping on the “social media fast” bandwagon.

That still, small voice tugged at my heart this morning when I browsed three social media sites in order to wake up and that’s before I even got out of bed. That’s not the only thing – I ignore the bible reading in my email (or phone notifications) and I procrastinate on doing homework for bible studies until I need to leave the house.

Something’s got to give in my life until I can get my heart back where it needs to be.

Back to the first love of my life – God my father.

I’m done denying it. I’m a wreck right now. I need to cut out the noise to help me focus on the Nourisher.

I’m going to keep this short and sweet – June 15th through 30th is going to be a media blackout on my Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and WordPress and and other social media that I imbibe daily. I’m removing the apps from my phone and tabs from my computer(s).

Instead of posting/updating/tweeting/pinning, I’ll be keeping a written journal of my prayers and #1000gifts, , delving into Scripture, reading read books, and working on some personal projects that have been on the back burner for too long.

I’ll still be available by email and text message, and I would love to hear from you regarding prayer requests, life updates, or check-ins.

This may not mean much to you, but it means getting my life back. And that’s worth all the social-media-free boredom in the world to me.

OTL Takes Indy – Recap

From left to right: @orangelikejazz, @philadowlphia, @jenniekerns, @nrulason, @taymabelitini, @maggiehjohnson (not pictured: @a_twarek)

From left to right: @orangelikejazz, @philadowlphia, @jenniekerns, @nrulason, @taymabelitini, @maggiehjohnson (not pictured: @a_twarek)

Yesterday I was privileged to be a part of a lunch/gathering of seven women from around the Midwest in an amazing day of friendship, laughter, and grace. I left the meetup feeling that I was overflowing with love, both of these women I had just spent time with and of the presence of God that permeated every space we occupied.

The first thing you must know is that we all participate in the online community Overcome The Lie and we live within a 6-hour radius of Indianapolis, Indiana. The idea started as a lunch, but it really became so much more – there was food, to be sure, but also sharing and bonding and lots of selfies.

The second thing you must also know is that the dress code of wearing a dress for the meetup was totally inspired by the amazing summer-like Indianapolis forecast and it snow-balled with fervor. (Pun intended – it was almost 80 degrees in April!)

And lastly, you must also know that we started to use our own hashtag leading up to, during, and now after the event: #OTLtakesIndy, on Twitter and Instagram.

On the schedule for Saturday was a mini-sleepover at Maggie’s house, a relaxing morning of muffins and bagels, a Chipotle trip for lunch, a walk around Monument Circle, baking oatmeal-cranraisin cookies, and reflecting on where Christ has brought us from to where he has brought us to over the course of our individual journeys.

If it sounds like a lot for 24 hours, I can assure you that it was, but it never felt overwhelming or forced. (Maybe this is just my extroversion coming out, but you can ask the others their perspective too.)

It felt like community – because it was.

I find it a little amazing that only 3 of us had met in person before this weekend, and we all parted for home as close friends like we had known each other for years. This is a testament to how social media is changing the way we learn about each other and form relationships but also serves as proof that being in the same room is a catalyst for growth. We exchanged phone numbers, posted selfies, ate more food than our stomachs could handle, and laughed all the calories away with some down-right crazy shenanigans. Above all, I felt the glue of Jesus drawing us together in a powerful way that transcended our personal struggles, situations, and schedules to offer us holistic spiritual nourishment while we “did ministry” together and to each other.

Quotes and conversations fill my mind covering scary pasts and current fears, difficult roads and spiritual highs, favorite TV shows and making meal stone-soup style. Moments of teaching from Maggie about feminism, all-around wonder at God’s creation and the imagination of man, learning where God is leading us next – these are the nuggets of friendship I will cherish.

Thoughts on thoughts, community, and friendship while on Monument Square.

Thoughts on thoughts, community, and friendship while on Monument Square.

So what’s the point of this ramble about my amazing weekend?

I’ve been ruminating on this since I left.

And this is it: God can use social media to build his church, but it’s still through the interactions with each other, online or offline, that we feel his presence move through us – the people. Online or offline, God is moving in our hearts and lives to bring us closer to him. Sometimes he does that by bonding over loving burritos or in wearing dresses – but sometimes he works in 140-character messages of hope, grace, and love.

There really isn’t much more to say but there is something I want to know from you:

If you could meet one internet friend and spend an entire day with them, who would it be, what would you do, and what would you say to them?

Follow us on Twitter: @orangelikejazz, @philadowlphia, @jenniekerns, @nrulason, @taymabelitini, @maggiehjohnson@a_twarek) or join the community at @overcomethelie

Waiting for the Morning [a #SheSharesTruth post]

There are few things I love more than building community, sharing struggles, and learning about the Scriptures.

Today’s post is inspired by and a part of the #SheSharesTruth blog linkup.

She Shares Truth

Repetition is always there to remind you of something, repetition draws our attention to it, and repetition wants to show you something important.

Do you know where I’m headed yet?

Psalm 130:6 has some very obvious repetition:

I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.

There is so much in these words. Israel was waiting for God to show himself, more than the watchmen on the tower wait for the morning to rise and for their work to be over, for the enemy to be fended off for one more night, or for the Lord to reappear in the deep shadows in all his glory.

The watchman is not the only repetition here. Look at Psalm 130 a little closer with me.

Psalm 130

A song of ascents.

1 Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
2 Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.

3 If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.

5 I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.
6 I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.

7 Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.
8 He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.

We no longer need to wait for our Lord and Savior because he has already come back to relieve us from our watching, our waiting, and from our sins.

And yet…

We still resonate with these words.

We feel the burden of the watcher. We know the biding of time. We understand the need for hope, for rescue, and for grace.

Psalm 130 could be summarized like this: We cry for mercy. We know we cannot stand before you, but we want to serve you. We hope in the Lord’s coming presence, for his redemption of our sins.

The words of the Psalmist bring us more peace than that summary ever could. Trust in his goodness. Believe in his mercy. Hope for his redeeming work on the cross – Israel waited for his return like the watchman for the morning, and we know it came in his darkest hour, validated by his resurrection.

Read this truth:

With the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.

Psalm 130: 7

Now go live that.

One Thousand Tweets

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

One of the beautiful side effects of cutting TV from my life for 40 days is that I actually allow myself the time and space to read.

Last week’s snow day was a perfect example of what can happen if I simply step aside from my life as it is, and allow my life to be what I need it to be.

When I first received the book as a gift more than a year ago, I read the first chapter or so of Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts, but this week I sat down and read it. I couldn’t stop, and honestly didn’t want to either.

Ann’s story of tragedy and the redeeming power of being thankful is contagious in this book.

While I haven’t finished it yet, I mulled many times this week over her words and digest the idea of eucharisteo more fully.

Overcome The Lie

At the same time, I have been using Twitter more often to keep up with the Overcome The Lie community. It has taken me close to three years on Twitter to find a niche that is engaged plus genuine new friends that are both uplifting and amazing.

As a result of this surge in using Twitter, I’m finally creeping up on the 1000th tweet mark.

I don’t believe in coincidences.

So in addition to the OTL 40-day Challenge reading the daily messages about God as our Father, fasting from TV, spending time in prayer, and finishing up some languishing projects, I’m going to begin tweeting my way to 1000 everyday gifts.

I’ll be using a pretty simple system: using the hashtag #1000joys and a number, I’m accepting the One Thousand Gifts dare to “Live Fully Right Where You Are” and will tweet it for you to read or not, as you choose.

Every week or so, I’ll do a round-up post of the newest ones with a full listing after I’ve hit 1000.

It’s a small step to getting my life more aligned with joy, peace, and patience – several of the places I struggle in. I’m trying to not only think about, but live out, this giving of thanks:

Charis. Grace.

Eucharisteo. Thanksgiving.

Chara. Joy.

One Thousand Gifts, page 33

If you want to join me, start your own list of 1000joys on Twitter, Facebook, or other social media. I’d love to hear about it on Twitter, in an emailor comment below!