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It's ok to not be ok

Editor's note: Jenna Bezold has served as our student ministries intern since July 2017. She will be leaving us at the end of February. She and her husband Jake are jetting off to Kenya, where Jake will do a stint for medical school. Please be praying for Jenna and Jake as they begin this new adventure.

A few months back, as Elia and I were planning for the upcoming year, we wanted to do a series on mental health. It is obvious that mental health is a “hot topic” these days, and not at all unfamiliar to middle and high school students. It doesn’t take long to see that many students are struggling with anxiety, depression, or thoughts of suicide; or they know someone who has. In fact, in Indiana, suicide is the second leading cause of death for teens ages 15-25. Elia and I knew it was an important, prevalent matter, and we wanted to address it. We decided to do a 2 week series, the first week focusing on anxiety and depression, and the second week focusing on suicide. Knowing that we are not equipped or educated in these areas, we wanted to bring in someone who was. We got connected to Mandy Baldwin through a member here at ZPC. Mandy was a pastor at a local church for over 15 years, and spent 12 of those working with youth ministry. After realizing that counseling and teaching were what she loved most about her role in youth ministry, she went back to school to get her master’s degree in counseling.

According to Mandy, it’s important to address the issues of mental health and suicide because “it is something that influences everyone, and also the most difficult thing to talk about, especially for people of faith.” She explains that in the faith community, struggling with depression and anxiety can look like a lack of trust in God, so people affected by anxiety and depression often struggle talking about it. But, as she continues, “we have a God who loves us, is for us, is fighting for us and desires good things for us. He is with us, not against us. That means he stands with us in our struggles and hurts; depressions and anxieties; griefs and wounds.”

Mandy talked to our middle school students (7th and 8th graders) and our high school students this past Sunday. She talked about depression, suicide, and her own journey, all the while encouraging students that they are not alone. She had students repeat this mantra:  “it’s okay to not be okay, and you don’t have to stay that way.”

We’d love for you to watch one or both videos and hear her messages, and hopefully, have some engaging conversations with your family.

Please leave comments below or feel free to reach out directly to with any questions or comments.

Middle School Video

   

 

 

 

High School Video

Posted by Jenna Bezold with

No greater love

Editor's Note

About the author: Liz Todd has been a member of ZPC since 1987. She has served on the Board of Deacons as well as two terms as a ZPC Elder. She has also sung in the ZPC choir since its inception, taught adult Sunday school, and been a part of The Great Banquet. She states "My greatest achievement, of course, is that I accepted the Lord Jesus as my Savior some 42 years ago."

About this post: This blog post is part of a series of daily devotionals where we are exploring traditional Advent themes of hope, joy, peace, and love. To sign up to receive text notification of these posts, text zpc advent to 39970. Advent booklets are also available at the ZPC Welcome Center. We welcome your comments and questions each day.

TODAY'S SCRIPTURE: LUKE 2:1-20

As a child my favorite hymn was Away in a Manger. I probably did not know too many hymns at that young age, but this one stuck out to me. I would ask my mother during months other than December, “When are we going to sing that hymn again?” I now understand it was only sung at Christmas and not throughout the year. Yet the message of this birth carries us to the end of our lives on Earth and into our next life in heaven. We will be with him, surrounded by the love of God because of a baby in a manger.

This gift of God, sending us a baby, was the beginning of his physical act of love in the form of a man so we could understand. We know from Old Testament scripture that the world would receive a Messiah, a Savior who would save us from our sin. Now the time has come to start this “love walk” with our Messiah Jesus. Now, I understand that this baby was to become the answer to all the sins and hurts the world throws at us. We are to grow up in Christ just as he grew into a man, so he could save those who turned to him. It starts in Bethlehem beside the manger of the baby Jesus and ends at the cross on Calvary.

How interesting that the Shepherds were the first ones to visit and worship this child. Those who sacrificially looked after their sheep are an example of how Jesus lovingly and unconditionally becomes our shepherd. He rescues, comforts, leads, guides, teaches, and most of all loves us no matter our condition. There is no greater love than this.

WOW and backwards WOW! What a gift the world has received. This baby truly has come through the Father’s unconditional love to us, the sheep, who have lost their way. No other religion even mentions the word love, which we are given unconditionally, through this amazing birth. 

Who can we invite to participate in this holy birth?

Prayer:

Father,

Thank you for this unfathomable gift of love that only requires us to say:  “yes, I believe and accept this baby as my Savior.” Let us hurry to his manger, as the shepherds did, so we too can worship and wonder at his birth. May this Christmas bring great joy and love as we accept what you have given us in the Christ Child.

Posted by Liz Todd with

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