Trees of Transition

Planting seeds of hope throughout our world through sharing photography and thoughts on teaching, cooking, and life transitions.


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Merry Christmas, Friends!

I’m valuing the people in my life more and more because relationships with God and people are what is important! I’m thankful we get to celebrate God wanting to know us so badly that He sent His son as a baby–Jesus. Merry Christmas, Dear Friends!
-Mary Hope

Copyright 2016


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Letting Your Heart Surface

Tears loosen the icy grip of fear:
Fear of letting down, letting people see, letting people close, and letting yourself just be real–pimples, farts, screams, smiles, hugs, and all.

A heart buried out of fear of losing love if not perfect or doing what others want.

A heart surfacing through the unconditional love of Jesus, shown through people: the hugs and kisses of a one year old nephew, of walking alongside sisters through widowhood and marriage, of brothers letting me into their lives, and parents’ nurture and prayer.

A heart surfacing through giving 100 percent, of being rejected, but still having hope to heal and teach again.
I still have hope…for my life, for my city, for my world…
An engaged heart means deeper pain, but deeper hope.

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Shooting Outside My Window

The sound of gunfire is not new,
But it is connected with hunting deer,
Not humans shooting at each other in a large city filled with babies in their mother’s arms, toddler’s running ahead of their parents down a street, and youth hanging out on the front steps.
At first I hoped it was just fireworks left over after Independence Day, but it has continued. An occasional pop, pop, pop…
On the building next to mine, R.I.P in black sharpie is written on the wall in remembrance of a guy who died there last fall.
It saddens me, scares me a little, but then I remember Who called me here, and peace returns. I have the best body guard in the universe.
I’m a foreigner here, in the state where I was born, but a city to which I am called to love.
Hope fills my heart for this place; the shooting will end, the love will overflow. I am honored to be part of the process!

God, please end violence in our cities. You are the One who brings peace.
I invite You, the Prince of Peace, into this neighborhood. Thank you for what You are doing here! It is beautiful. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Resigning From Trying to be the Savior: Reflections from a Suicide-Survivor’s Daughter

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I didn’t think I had a “hero-complex,” but now I know that I did. I wanted to be in charge. If change was happening that I didn’t like, I wanted to be in control and stop it or do it my way.

Three years ago when my principal was getting let go and a new one coming in at the school where I was teaching, after I had vented to a counselor about it all and how hard it was, she just looked at me and said, “You want to be the one making the decisions.” I didn’t want to admit it, but reality was, yes, I was uncomfortable with the changes, and didn’t want things to change.

Two years ago, from Halloween morning on when my Mom first told me, “I want to kill myself,” I wasn’t sure exactly WHAT to do, but I started trying to do something. I called and listened to her. I encouraged her. I told her I would help her get more help if that is what she thought she needed.

So a few weeks later, I helped my Mom sign herself into a psychiatric hospital. She got help for a few days, but then our family banded together to get her out before Thanksgiving. My sister and I took her into our house, and Mom stayed in my room for three weeks. She started taking medicine to help her thyroid, sleep medicine, and anti-depressants.
She got a little help from therapy, but we still didn’t know exactly what to do or how to help her.

Mom started feeling a little better, Thanksgiving was okay. We ate turkey together and Mom started being more honest about what she was feeling.

Then my Dad got in a car-accident, and she started nose-diving again. We couldn’t say, 
“There IS hope” enough to her, and it didn’t stick.

One Sunday morning, mid-December, my Dad was on his way to take my Mom to church, and my housemate and I were leaving a bit earlier. Mom was deeply depressed, and she tried to block my way as I left the house. I needed to get out of that house, and I knew Dad was coming soon, so I reassured her, “Dad’s coming soon,” and just left.

An hour later, after Sunday School, my sister called me and let me know my Mom had over-dosed on her medicine and was rushed to the hospital.

After I had left, Mom had tried to call a few people for help, but no one answered. Then she gave into the messages of death in her head, and took lots of pills. Dad got there in time to call 911 and get help, so Mom’s stomach could be pumped. They sedated her for a day, and she was in ICU for a bit. Then they moved her back to the psychiatric hospital. This time she did not want to be there. She did not cooperate. She was there for over a week.

When we had the family meeting about where she should go next, I was protesting having her go back to my parents’ farm out in the lonely country where this depression had started. I was saying, “She can’t go back there!”

The case worker looked at me and said, “You can’t save her. If she wants to kill herself, you won’t be able to stop her.” It felt like someone had kicked me in the gut. I stopped talking, and let my family do what they thought was best. Hearing that truth was hard, but it was what I needed right then. It helped me step back and stop trying as hard to save the situation.

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A few days later my siblings moved Mom back to the farm. Several of them stayed with her and Dad for a few days right before Christmas. On Christmas morning we ate together, had a few presents, and then everyone left except me. We went to church, but it was a sad Christmas. I knew I couldn’t save my Mom or pull her out of this depression. I couldn’t fix my parents’ marriage and communication issues.

As the sun set, I waved good-bye to my parents on Christmas night and resigned my job as Savior to my Mom. I let her make her choices: a few days later, she made another suicide threat, but a friend was with-it enough to call 911 to get help. Mom was taken to the country psychiatric hospital, where there, she received excellent attention from a psychiatrist and started to forgive herself and the eventually the depression lifted. The psychiatrist let my Dad know he could either have his farm or his wife. My Dad chose his wife, and they moved into town.

It took me several months to get out of survival “don’t feel” mode, and then feel the sadness of the situation. I had to forgive myself for leaving that Sunday morning; but God protected my Mom without me. Jesus is the Savior, not me.

To hear more of what helped during this time–please read the piece I wrote called, “There IS Hope….”
https://treesoftransition.wordpress.com/2013/12/19/there-is-hope-walking-alongside-someone-suffering-depression-during-the-holidays/

To hear my Mom’s story through this time, please see her message that I shared on my blog:
https://treesoftransition.wordpress.com/2013/12/26/he-brought-me-through-a-message-my-mom-gave-to-share-her-journey-through-mental-illness/

Now, two Christmases past this hard time, I am so thankful my Mom is doing well. Medicine helps, facing issues and getting counsel helps, moving to a new home helps…
These experiences helped me know that people will make their choices, and we can’t fix them. There’s a healthy balance I’m learning to walk about when to help and when not to. People in depression do need support, but just know that you can’t save them.

Stepping back, letting go of control was what I needed to do then, to let the consequences happen to the people’s choices, and resigning from being the Savior was my role in the story right then.

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He Brought Me Through– A Message My Mom Gave to Share Her Journey Through Depression

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by Anne Campbell   December 5th, 2013
Do you know that if you’re an inpatient in a psych ward, you can’t have shoelaces in your shoes???   
Do you want to hear how I know that?
Because two years ago – in November and December of 2011 – I was three times in the psych wards:  twice in Linden Oaks in Naperville, Illinois, and once, the last time, in the third floor psych ward of Ottawa Regional Hospital in Ottawa, Illinois.  And because shoe laces might be used as a means of killing yourself or someone else, they are not allowed.  So you walk around with loose shoes.
It was an interesting, wrenching, terrible time.  But God is faithful, and He brought me through mental illness and out the other end into mental health.  And He can do the same for you.
Are you curious why I was so suicidal?  Why did I wrestle day after day with the temptation to put my head on the tracks in front of an oncoming train?  Why did I overdose on December 11th, 2011 and spend 36 hours in the Intensive Care Unit of Edward Hospital?
For me, there were several ingredients of severe depression:
–several relatives [mother, sister, grandpa] who had talked about suicide, attempted suicide, and  a godmother who did take her life
–months of insomnia
–a malfunctioning thyroid
–a marriage that was not yet healthy
–and a deep, deep layer of lies in my gut that had been laid down when I was an infant and child.

How could lies get into my gut?  In my case, they came from years of trauma – physical, emotional and verbal abuse.  I had internalized my sister’s hatred for me.

While I was going in and out of the psych wards, my friends were praying, my family was praying, and God was unfolding His wondrous redemption plan.  But I was miserable.  And I am guessing that some of you who are listening are miserable – even now.  Almost without hope,  desolate… about at the end of your rope.
But on this day I am putting a candlestick on the table.  And I’m fitting a tall, white candle into it.  And I’m striking a match and lighting the candle.  I’m lighting a candle of hope for you.  And I’m putting this candle on your dresser where you can see its steady, glowing light.  Because God did this for me,  He can do it for you — if you give Him permission …. If you cooperate with God’s plan for your healing journey.

M.G.vine

Back to the bitter end of the year 2011:  it was a living nightmare.  Days and nights of mental agony, shame, torment, desolation, being hammered relentlessly by Satan’s lies, hopelessness .  0, there are no words that can catch the depth of my despair.  It was the worst Christmas of my life.
But at the end of December 2011, the days started getting longer, and something new was happening in me.  Praise be to God on high.  God hadn’t forgotten me.  He was moving.  God is faithful.
I was in the psych ward at Ottawa hospital and the thyroid med I’d been put on at Linden Oaks in mid-November was starting to work.  A new psychiatrist, Dr. Dyers, listened to me carefully and he prescribed meds that helped my sleep.  I hadn’t had three good days in a row for months,  but in the Ottawa hospital  that changed.  There began to be days when I could read the Bible and believe it.  Days when I used crayons to color the edges of the papers they gave us in our sessions on anger management  and how to avoid distorted and dangerous thinking.  Days when I smiled and gazed with appreciation at the flowers my friend Monica had sent me.  My husband, bless him, was willing to consider making changes in our living arrangements, and my heart lightened when I realized that I would not have to move back to the isolation of the farm where we had lived for 22 years.
O God was moving!!!!    I got discharged, put the laces back in my shoes, and my husband and I rented an apartment in town.  I started regular visits with a therapist.  That was January of  2012, and hope was getting stronger….
It was not hope in myself.  It was hope in Jesus Christ, the One who had died for me.  I had hope that His love and shed blood would and could make the difference for me.  He was lighting the way.  He was  putting a new song in my heart.
But remember I spoke of lies in my gut?  They were still there – undetected and lethal, like snakes.  In therapy I told my counselor that every time I thought of my older sister I would cry….   In many ways I was getting stronger – taking care of my hair again, swimming at the Y, enjoying the sunshine and patterns of shadows and blue sky.  But the lies were still there, the snakes coiled within.  And God knew it.  He had a plan.

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God put it on my heart to write a letter to my sister, the one who had abused me.  It was a letter that I never sent but a letter that changed my life forever.   I did it on Monday April 23rd, 2012, in the afternoon, in our church sanctuary on a pew near an eastern window.  It was the safest place I could think of.  And it was right before a therapy session so I could get help quickly if I needed it.
And the words poured out – I scribbled them down in my notebook.  And I relived the trauma and felt the terror and pain , but also – coming into focus for the very first time – were the lies that my sister and Satan had etched on my soul:  Anne should die.  Anne is not valuable.  Anne is not protected.  Anne is not wanted.
In that letter I did spiritual warfare,  and I broke the covenant with death that had been placed on me by Satan.  I repented of my own pride and my judgments of my sister, and I asked God to wash me clean.  And I forgave my sister – deeper than ever before.  And I exposed the lie “Anne should die”  and the light poured in and the lie got revealed and expelled and rendered powerless.  Then I was no longer entangled in the death message.  On April 23rd, 2012 the trauma inside me died!!
And into that deep and hidden place inside me, now freed from darkness, God’s love – bright and radiant and energizing – came flowing, dancing, pouring in.  And it’s still pouring in!!!  I’ve been more able to receive and share God’s love than ever before.  I am no longer a victim.  I am a daughter of the King!  I know for sure that Anne should live.  Anne is valuable.  Anne is protected.  Anne is wanted.

So I rejoice that on this day I can set a tall white candle on your dresser, and it’s lit with a steady flame.  I share my hope with you –hope in Jesus Christ, who came to set the captive free  [Luke 4:18} and destroy the works of the enemy [1 John 3:8].  He came to give us life and life abundantly [John 10:10].

In closing I share a verse with  you from Psalm 118:17.  It really fits.  “I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the LORD has done.”
O, dear friends, He has done great things for me and He can do the same for you.  To our mighty God  be glory and power for ever and ever.  Amen.

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