The Gift

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NOTE:  Story narrated by Dr. Angela D. Stanley – please listen to the audio version of this short story on YouTube.  Click here to listen –  YouTube Audio Version

As she looked into the eyes of her beloved Miniature Maltese, Jelly, Diane felt a sickness come over her.  The first day she brought him home from the adoption center, she accidentally dropped grape jelly on the kitchen floor.  He didn’t hesitate to lick it up, so she decided to name him Jelly.  The dog was the only thing in the world she loved.  The thought of having to part with him caused her great anguish.  Maybe she could find a good family to take care of him. She just couldn’t worry about it anymore.  The decision was made.  No more contemplating…just a way to carry it out.

A cool ocean breeze sailed through Diane’s hair as she sat on a small bench facing the ocean.  This was a favorite place for her to visit whenever she was depressed or needed to think.  There was something about the ocean water that soothed and calmed her down.  However, today, nothing the water offered would change her mind.

Diane dreaded the fact that Christmas was coming up in a few weeks.  She loathed the Christmas season ever since her husband left her.  The pain of the memory felt like it was yesterday.  It was Christmas day and Diane had outdone herself preparing dinner for her and her husband.  As Diane looked around her home, she grinned with glee at her artistic flare and hoped her husband appreciated the effort she put into the Christmas decorations.

Diane’s gift to her husband was the latest iPad, but to her surprise, he didn’t have a gift for her.  She dismissed the hurt and reasoned that he was probably too busy to go shopping. She noticed he was acting a bit weird – sheepish and guilty looking.  The scent of roasted prime rib, garlic mashed potatoes, honey glazed carrots and fresh pine from the Christmas tree filled the house. As they sat across from each other at the table, Diane lifted her wine glass to give a toast to their love. Instead of clinking glasses, what came next would change Diane forever.

The voice was unrecognizable although it was her husband speaking.  He was saying, “I can’t do this anymore Diane.  I want out.  I need to leave.  In fact, I’m leaving today!” Continue reading

Thanking God For Life

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Dr. Angela D. Stanley, Founder & CEO – Hope In Darkness Global Foundation

I can remember like it was yesterday hearing the testimonies of thanksgiving unto the Lord. The preacher would say, “Does anyone have a burning testimony?” Pop up like popcorn! It never failed, young or old would say, “First giving honor to God who is head of my life…”. After the accolades were bestowed upon all who were deemed worthy, the person would say, “I thank God for life, health and strength!”

Although some of the testimonies were simply routine and riddled with formalities, those words were engraved upon my heart. I was reminded of them recently. Particularly, a few weeks ago when I had a brush with death. I became extremely dehydrated, had contracted a bad infection and was fighting a dreadful sickness which landed me in ICU at my local hospital.

For weeks I had been noticing extreme fatigue, blurry vision, weakness, rapid weight loss and a few other symptoms. I kept praying and pushing myself until one day, I could not push anymore. My legs felt like jelly. My strength was gone. My organs were going haywire. I collapsed, landing in my own vomit. My sister called 911 while she prayed relentlessly for me. I have to pause and thank God for my sister and her husband moving as quickly as they did because I could have easily slipped into a coma.

As I was whisked away by the EMT, I felt a peace that I could not explain. I knew the Lord was with me and He would bring me through. I was in such agony and so weak, all I could do was just lie there and trust God! I knew the spirit of death was lurking, but I was confident that the spirit of life was going to conquer him.

It was very prophetic, because just that morning, on our Hope & Life Line, the message was “You Shall Live”! Get this…the reference scripture was Psalm 118:17 “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.” How powerful was that!

I had to remain in CCU overnight with IVs and other contraptions involuntarily invading my beautiful supple skin. Okay, maybe I embellished just a little on the suppleness of my skin. 🤗 Shall I continue? Thankfully, I could breathe on my own and did not need oxygen. I was moved to a regular room once I was stable. I almost forgot…I was not able to eat or drink for a day. I was famished and at one point, I tried to drink the mouthwash and chew the sponge used to clean my mouth. Sounds a bit much but it is true. When my fast was lifted, I was so relieved to finally have some substance.

I was blessed by the prayers and love shown to me while I remained in the hospital for four days, but “Love lifted me!” I can truly say I know the true meaning of thanking God for LIFE, HEALTH and STRENGTH. If it wasn’t so precious and valuable, the enemy would not try to take it from us.

I know there are times when you may feel your life is not worth living. Thoughts may even plague you to just end it all because no one cares. Hopelessness, loneliness and discouragement may come as triple threats to you, but fight through it. Life looks good on you😄. Wear it well and live it thankfully. Your challenge may be debilitating and totally different from mine, however, both of our lives are precious. No matter how dark the hour, hope is always present. Begin to make a list of things you are thankful for. Make sure LIFE is first on that list. We only get one.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Spread Hope…Give Life

**Thank you for your contribution Dr. Stanley…your words of encouragement and love for life is greatly appreciated.  Our prayer is that everyone who visits this blog will be uplifted and always remember that there is hope for brighter days.**

Overcoming Unworthiness

OCTOBER IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AWARENESS MONTH

Thousands of women each year suffer domestic abuse at the hands of someone they love. National Coalition Against Domestic Violence – on average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men. Women between the ages of 18-24 are most commonly abused by an intimate partner. Click the link for more information:  National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.  

The National Domestic Violence Hotline – Toll Free 24/7

1 (800) 799-SAFE (7233)  and  1 (800) 787-3224

 

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Tina-Domestic Abuse Survivor

Tina’s journey is one of endurance, determination and finding self-worth. I was a little nervous at first asking her to relive painful memories of domestic violence, but I’m glad Tina decided to share her experience because her story will encourage anyone trying to escape domestic abuse, never to give up on the fact that they, too, can live a violent free life. We want this story to inspire, uplift and strengthen all who read it but, most of all, give HOPE.

Tina’s Story:

I can share what happened to me now. After years of physical, verbal, mental and emotional abuse, I was able to overcome the shame and unworthiness I carried for so long.  If you cannot forgive your abuser you can never move on and you will always be in bondage to that.  You have to let it go.  You have to find it deep down inside of yourself.  Only you can do it.  People can talk to you and assist you but only you can pull yourself out of that bondage.

The first time it happened, I was in shock. No man had ever put his hands on me before so this was beyond my understanding.  I shouldn’t have moved in with my boyfriend, Marc but I loved him and did what I could to please him.  Marc had invited a few friends over for a get-together which always included drinking beer – lots of it.  I’ve always considered myself to be a friendly and sociable person which irritated Marc and caused us to have many arguments.  After our friends left that night, Marc, who was drunk, accused me of flirting.  I denied the accusation saying I didn’t know what he was talking about and that’s when it happened.  He grabbed me by my mouth real hard and screamed, “don’t lie to me!”  I was numb with fear and disbelief.  What just happened?  I didn’t know what to do with it, so I brushed it off as him being drunk…he really didn’t mean it.

I was born in Honolulu, Hawaii.  Growing up, I was sort of a tomboy and gravitated toward sports more than the girly things.  The boys liked me being around them but some of the girls at school seemed to always have a problem with me and taunted me constantly.  Early on, I began struggling with negative views of myself not understanding why I was feeling unworthy. What was low self-esteem? Back then I had no idea what it was or that it could control my thoughts and actions for years to come.

In hindsight, moving in with Marc and his family was a mistake.  At first, everything was fine, but then living in his world I soon found out, first hand, about relationship abuse. Drinking beer was like a daily ritual with Marc and his family and they made sure there was plenty of it in the house at all times. I adapted quickly to my surroundings, although I didn’t like the dark atmosphere that permeated the house and how it affected the people in it.

I couldn’t understand what darkness Marc was dealing with that made him hurt me with seemingly no self-control or remorse.  For instance, Marc and I were arguing in the bathroom, suddenly he grabbed my head and knocked me against the wall cabinet then bashed my head on the toilet bowl.  Thank God his mother was in the house to stop him.  Even though Marc’s mother was there, she was never any real help to me.  She would always say “what did you say to him to make him mad” or “what did you do?”  Trying to convince my accusers that I didn’t do ANYTHING to provoke the attacks was useless, so I just took the blame. When questioned by outsiders about bruises and injuries, I responded with believable explanations – it was a method I learned to cover the truth.

Anyone that has been through an abusive relationship can relate to the terror of having someone come at you in a blinding rage. They can attest to the fear of trying to leave and, if caught, the consequences that follow. I have been thrown across tables in restaurants; dragged out onto the street and beaten in front of strangers; choked; kicked; punched; and pushed around a lot. Once, I tried to leave and as I ran to the car, I was able to get in but couldn’t get the keys in the ignition right away.  Marc came up to the driver’s side window and kicked it in on my face.  I had broken glass embedded in my cheek, over my eye and the side of my head. I didn’t go to the hospital nor did I call the police.  I was afraid.  Once again, I made excuses for his behavior and stayed.

Why would I stay after being beaten so much and told over and over I was nothing – worthless?  At that time I didn’t believe in anything although I knew there was a God.  I was raised Catholic but I didn’t know how to have a true relationship with Jesus. I set myself up with my thoughts – thoughts that nothing was going to change; this is the best I can do; nobody else would want me; etc.

I relied on my own strength to make it through times when I felt utterly alone, but deep down, I knew God was giving me that strength and was watching over me.

There were many more violent attacks from Marc through the years but this particular incident caused me to wake up.  As usual, Marc had been drinking at a party his family was having at the house.  I loved to socialize so that’s what I was doing.  After everyone left, I went into the house and Marc followed me in and started an argument, like he always did.  Out of nowhere, he punched me in my face, then my arms, back, legs and head many times.  I didn’t think I was going to live through it and then, finally, he stopped and fell asleep.  I’m guessing all the alcohol he drank made him pass out.  I made up my mind then that I was going to leave him.  I couldn’t take the beatings any more. Continue reading

October-Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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About 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. In 2016, an estimated 246,660 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 61,000 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer. U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Ladies, please take time to get yourself checked out.  Early detection has saved thousands of lives. Do your research and throw out the misinformation. If you do not have health insurance, check with local hospitals or look for Breast Cancer Health Fairs, as they may have a program to assist women with getting free mammograms.

We at Hope in Darkness Global Foundation are praying for the many women and men who have been diagnosed with breast cancer as they need daily encouragement and strength to complete their journey to healing. Let’s continue to celebrate and rejoice with those who are fighting hard to overcome cancer.

For Breast Cancer FAQs, resources and information, please visit breastcancer.org and nationalbreastcancer.org.

Thank you for visiting our blog!

Blessings and remember there is always hope for brighter days.

 

 

 

Hope In Barren Times

desert-1305049_1280I long for the buds to bloom into beautiful green leaves again.  I miss the chirping of the birds that made their homes on my branches.  Fruit that once hung from my limbs have withered away and none have come in its place.  The humans who used to laugh and play under the shade I provided have abandoned me for another.  I can no longer feel the water flow through my roots-roots that kept me strong and vibrant.  I’m thirsty, lonely and purposeless.  Years that could have yielded great productivity, growth and potential were stolen from me through drought, enemy invasion, neglect and abuse.  Now, I’m host to scavengers, the hot sun scorches my dreams and the night is witness to tears of hopelessness.  I want to be alive again; to thrive and flourish once more. Give me back my value, my purpose, my joy, my life, cried the tree in silent despair.

Is your life empty, bleak, and void of achievements?  Do you feel useless, lifeless or unproductive?  Have you lost sight of your real purpose or feel you have no real value; that you have nothing to contribute or deposit?  Then you may be experiencing a form of barrenness.  That place where nothing you do is successful; that place where you try to understand what the good Lord is doing in your life – but can’t get it; that place where it seems everything is being stripped from you; that place where you can truly relate to the story of Job in the Bible.

It wasn’t obvious at first. The drying out was systematic and subtle.  Lucrative opportunities were plucked right out of your hand when you were sure it was yours.  Relationships once strong and supportive are now on shaky ground.  Places you believed needed your gifts and talents no longer ask for your help.  The creative flow which you prided yourself on, is now devoid of fresh ideas.  Your hardships have begun to wear you down and the enemy has depleted your strength and your faith.  The once fertile ground is dry and nothing is growing around you anymore.  The fruit you once displayed for all to see has suddenly withered away and you are bare.  Regardless of how one may have ended up in this state, God has in reserve for us a powerful plan of restoration.

True story:  A lady I know fell in love, married and moved far away from her family. During her marriage, her husband became abusive to her, emotionally, mentally and physically. She wanted to leave but was afraid.  After some time, the lady left her husband and fled back to her family.  When she returned, she had nothing except for the clothes on her back.  She was like the tree…barren, lonely, hurt and hopeless. But, the Lord kept his promise of restoration to her.  After years of personal struggle, school and determination, the lady bought a home, a new car, got a degree and everything that had been ripped from her life the Lord restored to her, over and over again.  Today, she is thriving in her church, in her personal life, in her faith and her testimony speaks to the goodness of God and the truth of His word.

Ecclesiastes 3:1, 2 “Everything that happens in this world happens at the time God chooses…the time for tearing down and the time for building.” (GNT)

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Your Life Is Worth The Fight

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FIGHT BACK AND LIVE

“I am depressed, worry constantly and have zero hope. I just want out of this misery.  I see people enjoying life and it hurts because I am unable to.  I isolate myself because of depression and always feel out of place.  Don’t think the kids would weep too much and my wife would totally understand because I have talked about it for so long and she knows I’m miserable.  Not even my shrink really listens.  Just writes another prescription and walks you out.  I am so miserable I look at it as just taking up space for others that want to be around.  Misery free seems so awesome. May soon happen.”  Excerpt from a blog-Talkingaboutsuicide.com (7/5/15), comments by a man named Greg.

My heart broke when I read the comments above and it made me think about the thousands of people who think about suicide on a daily basis. Greg revealed just how far he had plummeted into depression and despair.  He contemplates many reasons why he should end his life but not one reason why he should continue to live.  The one thing needed, he didn’t have – hope that, any day, his life could change for the better.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:

“Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death.  Each year 42,773 Americans die by suicide.  On average, there are 117 suicides per day.”

Greg is just one example of people all over the world that grapple with thoughts of ending their lives.  Some believe that once they’re gone, they will no longer be a burden to anyone; they won’t continue to disappoint those close to them; they will be free of the pain, misery and hopelessness they struggle with every day; or that they can just sleep and not have to deal with their horrible life anymore, etc. Like Greg, many have made up their minds to give up and not put more effort into escaping from darkness.

Fight For Your Life

“Fight the good fight of faith….” (1 Timothy 6:12 KJV)

The Bible encourages us to fight with faith, trusting in God to work out our problems, and at the same time, loving every opportunity to live.  We all have experienced hard times and have had to deal with extremely difficult circumstances, but, let me say, through faith in our God, we are able to overcome those harsh trials and emerge a stronger, healthier person after.

The “Rocky” movies are a great example of determination, endurance and victory.  I especially relate to Rocky IV, where Rocky Balboa comes out of retirement to avenge his friend, Apollo Creed, who was killed during a boxing exhibition match.  Rocky’s opponent, Ivan Drago, was intimidating and scary to look at.  He was massive, fierce, Continue reading

DRAINING OUR LOVE

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Picture by Shon Ejai – Pixabay

How much more can we take America?  We barely got through the shooting in Orlando, Florida when five police officers were killed in Dallas, Texas.  Then before the nation could dry its tears, there was a terrorist attack in France, killing dozens, and a coup attempt in Turkey.  Hoping that emotions had finally calmed down and our citizens were getting back to normal, today three police officers were killed in Louisiana.

Words cannot describe the emotional and mental toll these events have had on communities, families and individuals across the Country.  Back to back funerals, memorial services, coupled with protests and marches, have dominated prime time news and social media.

This is one of the darkest times in our Nation’s history.  The question has been asked over and over…what can we do to stop this violence and senseless killing?  Can America ever be healed?

Continue reading

Life Weekend in Atlanta

Dr. Angela D. Stanley is a visionary with a big heart and an advocate for those who have lost hope.  Dr. Stanley’s dream of a global campaign to “defeat depression and suicide one person at a time”, became a reality over two years ago. With hard work and many sleepless nights, I Wanna Live Global Campaign Hope & Life Empowerment Gathering will host its 3rd Annual Life Weekend in beautiful Atlanta, Georgia.

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You won’t want to miss this life changing event. Last day to order your T-Shirts is July 15, 2016. Last day to register for the Life Weekend is September 2, 2016.   Last day to RSVP for the Gala and Hotel is August 22, 2016.  Prepare for a weekend of fun, health education, charity gala and much more.  For more information about the Life Weekend and how to register, visit www.hopeindarkness.org.

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Hope to see you there!

Karen P. Brand, Hope In Darkness Contributer

“Giving Hope For Brighter Days”