Posts tagged suicide
Why Your Child Needs a Counselor

In light of the most recent school shootings, I have come to the conclusion that our schools need less teachers and more counselors. As a teacher who is around children from ages 10-18 all day long, I can tell you without a doubt- your kid needs counseling. Even if he is not going through his parents’ painful divorce, a relationship break-up, struggle with pornography or a thought of suicide- he certainly knows someone else going through difficult times, and is trying to process it with them. Our kids need someone with clarity and insight to help them process through everything that is coming in and happening to them. Not only do our kids need it, they are desperate for it! School counseling offices across America are so booked that there is not enough time in the day to meet with all the kids that want help. Our kids are crying out for help. 

It is striking how desperate our culture is for counseling. Even as far back as 2004, one study from the American Psychological Association stated that over 50% of the people polled said that someone in their family has received or is receiving counseling, and 9/10 people said that they would go to or recommend a counselor to a loved one if a problem came up. A follow up article from 2014 shows that the trend has only been increasing year after year. 

Why are people so desperate to find a counselor? I think it is because they are realizing they do not have within themselves the answers, freedom, and healing they so desperately desire. American culture is beginning to come out of the “just look within yourself” fad, and finally coming to the realization of its inadequacy.  

The problem is, our kids need way more than an hour a week with a counselor to help them handle what is coming at them every day- in fact, even an hour a day is not enough. What our kids really need is a counselor who will be on call every second. When they are in a moment of panic, they need to be able to call a counselor immediately for the advice and wisdom they need. So where do we find the money and enough counselors to sit with our kids and help them process through everything at any given second?

We can’t do it. America is building a flawed system. No matter how much money we put into providing counseling or how many counselors we train and send out, we will still never be able to fully meet the need out there. 

But there is another option: 

 “It is to your advantage that I go away, for it I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you”. – John 16:7

“I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper to be with you forever- even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” – John 14:16

“When the spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.”-John 16:13

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you”-John 14:26

“His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor…”- Isaiah 9:6

The reason that people are so desperate for counseling is because we were actually created to desire and need counseling in order to survive. This is why Jesus said that it is better for him to leave, so that he can send us the Helper, which can also be translated as Counselor. Jesus died so that we could have access to him 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We were not meant to figure this out on our own!

The reason America is quickly becoming such a counselor desperate culture, is because so many people are disconnected from the personal counselor Jesus died for us to have. Without knowing the Holy Spirit, people are left completely on their own to try and figure it out. Yes, our children need to see a counselor- but more so than just paying a stranger to advise them, why not also teach your children to know the Holy Spirit- the only counselor who will give them perfect and flawless advice? He alone can be with them every second to teach them, guide them, equip them and lead them into abundant life. Not only is he our guide, but he actually has the power and tools to equip us and empower us to do things we could never do in our own strength. He is so much more than just a comforter or friend- He has all the resources of heaven at His disposal! 

I am not saying that human counselors are not incredibly important and beneficial. I have benefited from counseling myself, and have many amazing friends who are counselors and see people walk into freedom every day. However, what I am saying is that there is so much more available to us. How much greater would that freedom be if we also had access to the Holy Spirit in addition to amazing counseling? 

Parents, I beg you. For the sake of your children, for our country, and for the world- teach your children not just to know about the Holy Spirit, but to actually know Him as their friend, helper and counselor. It is in doing so, that we will see this world begin to look a little more like heaven. 

Here are some tips on how to teach your children to know the one true counselor: 

  1. Teach them to pray daily that God would help them to hear and know the Holy Spirit. The first step to hearing God’s voice is always inviting Him to speak. He will find His own unique way for every individual to answer that request, but it starts with an invitation that He is eager to answer! 
  2. Read scripture to your children, have them memorize scripture, play worship songs and immerse them in God’s truth so that the Holy Spirit can bring those truths to mind at the right time. 
  3. When they are struggling with an issue, have them pause and ask God to put a piece of wisdom in their mind regarding the situation. Then, ask them to share with you what came to mind. If it does not line up with scripture, you can help use that to correct them, however, more often than not, you will be amazed at the wisdom God gives them!
A Single Mother Watching God Redeem the Story

In the spring of 2002, I was finishing my junior year of college at a notoriously hippie-dippy party school in the mountains of North Carolina. At 21 years old, I’d spent years looking for something to numb the hurt of a messy and damaging childhood. Even though I’d grown up in the church with a mama who loved me well, I couldn’t escape the adverse effects of my family falling apart when I was in middle school. My heart was like a stew with meaty chunks of trauma and four varieties of immaturity floating in a soup of survival mode. College life introduced me to the flavors of drugs, drinking, and attention from men as everything came to a boil.

In the sunshine of a crisp April morning in the Appalachians, I smoked my last cigarette. I knew it was my last cigarette because I knew I was pregnant and once I took a test, that was it. I’d been in denial for weeks, convinced it was only PMS. I couldn’t remember my last period, but it seemed long overdue. My boobs were so huge and sensitive that putting on a bra was a production of wincing and moaning. As acceptance set in and I looked at the evidence, a test seemed like a necessary formality.

I walked across the highway to the drug store and bought a pregnancy test. I played it cool with the clerk. I told her the kit was for a friend—that she was too embarrassed to come in and buy it herself. When I got home I peed on the stick and then couldn’t bring myself to look at it for nearly 20 minutes. My roommate was asleep in the next room, but once I got up the nerve to turn the thing over, she was startled awake by a shrieking F-bomb. 

“What!? What’s the matter?!” She stumbled into the room, brushing the hair back from her sleepy face. I threw the stick on the floor and started crying, 

“No! No, no, no, no, no!” 

She hugged me and didn’t say much. What was there to say?

I called my older sister to get her advice on how to tell our mom. She told me to come to her house in another town. She said she’d take me home to Charlotte the next morning and we’d tell our mother together. That evening my sister and her husband made sure I knew my “options”. I told them that my options were parenting or adoption. End of discussion. 

“Just hear us out. You’re only 21. You have your whole life ahead of you. You have to be sure about this.” 

As I listened to them talk me through the reality of my situation and tell me that this could all be over if I wanted it to be, I sobbed and pleaded with God for answers. For a split second I did just want it to all go away. As quickly as the thought entered my mind I became nauseous with indignation. Abortion was NOT an option.

“I’m having this baby.”

The drive to my mother’s the next morning felt eternal. At first I was completely stoic. We were almost to Charlotte when the tears started flowing. I couldn’t stop crying. As we got closer to home my sister called our mother. 

“I’m bringing Tia to the house. Can you meet us there?” 

My mom sped home from work at 11:00 am on a Tuesday. She came rushing in the door and the instant she laid eyes on my tear-stained face, she knew. “You’re pregnant, aren’t you, Sweetie?” All I could do was sob in her arms. 

“It’s okay, baby. We’re going to take care of this. Everything is going to be great, you’ll see.” She reassured me until we both fell into bed, emotionally exhausted.

After finishing the last few weeks of the semester I moved back home with my mom where I encountered a loving reception from the Church I’d grown up in. One special friend of my mom’s who had known me since I was nine years old gave me card that read, “Be happy, Tia. Your baby is already loved.” I think that card was from Jesus himself. The words wrapped me in acceptance. Knowing her stance, and hearing words of support from other families in the church took the sting out of the humiliation of my growing bump that lacked the legitimizing left hand accessory.

For a few weeks I talked and prayed through whether or not I would parent the baby. My gut had told me I would be his or her mother from the moment I knew I was carrying. The catch was how I would be able to support myself and a baby without any involvement from the father. After some discussions with family friends, I decided to go to nursing school. Nursing had long been an option in my mind and my mom had always encouraged me to pursue it. Until that moment I’d never had the motivation or incentive to put in the hard work. Now it seemed the secure career path that would provide options for shift work and keep childcare simple as long as I lived with my mother.

While I awaited acceptance into a clinical program, I got started knocking out the few prerequisites I lacked. My due date fell over Thanksgiving weekend, so I negotiated with my professors to be allowed take my exams early. I wanted to be finished before I delivered. Little did I know, my baby girl would not arrive until mid-December! By the time she was born, Thanksgiving was long past and Christmas was coming quickly.

That time of waiting was incredibly sweet as I imagined poor Mary, in my condition, riding on a donkey. Just… ouch! Each morning as I sat in my rocking chair reading and praying, I began to understand the anticipation of Emmanuel like never before. The thrill of Hope took hold in my heart and I knew that we were going to be alright. 

When my daughter was 6 months old I entered a nineteen-month clinical rotation that would earn me the right to test for a license as a Registered Nurse. During that time I worked the night shift as a technician in the hospital pharmacy. On the days I wasn’t in the hospital doing clinical rotations, I studied and catnapped while my daughter napped or played in her playpen. I could only afford to have her in daycare on the days when my mom was working and I had to attend clinicals. I would often go up to 30 hours without sleep. When we become mothers we become capable of enduring far more than we could have ever imagined for the sake of our children’s wellbeing.

I made it through those 19 months by the strength of God alone. Nursing school was the most stressful time of my entire life. I was dependent on my Father for my every need. And He never failed to provide. Subsequently, that season of my life brought the greatest intimacy I’d ever experienced with Jesus. He was my partner, my best friend, my confidant, and my provider. Jesus became my everything. When I crashed into bed each night (or day), I could feel my Savior resting there with me, so close and so sweet.

In September of 2004, three months before graduating from nursing school, I sensed God giving me permission to think about men again. My daughter was one-and-a-half and I really needed to focus on my studies. Besides, I’d been so wrapped up in a romance with Jesus for the previous two years that I hadn’t thought much about dating or finding a mate. After hearing a success story from a close friend in my Bible study, I quietly joined match.com and met a man I couldn’t have even dreamed of. He was cute and outdoorsy, he loved Jesus, he played music, he loved kids, and the list of amazingness went on and on. The moment I saw his profile I knew he was my husband. We married six months later.

It’s now been more than 15 years since that April morning in the Appalachians. In that time my husband adopted my daughter and we had another little girl not long after we married. I spent five years working as a maternity nurse where I fell in love with women’s health. That love was fostered even further by a shift in my career in 2009 when I began working for a family non-profit based in rural Kenya.

Deeply motivated by my own experience, I’m now leveraging my position of privilege to help start a new organization called Flourish Kenya that prevents and supports unplanned adolescent pregnancy in rural Kenya. This new endeavor comes after working for 8 years in the global development sector and never finding any education or prevention oriented programs in an area where the pregnancy rate is as high as 40% in 11-16 year olds.

I was given every opportunity in my hour of need, but in the most remote areas of Kenya, girls are driven into child marriage, unsafe abortion, and even suicide. I'm using my story to help change theirs. God has used my most dire moments to craft a vision and purpose for my life that I never could have conceived on my own. As I work on the board of directors for Flourish Kenya, I’m also launching live events for women called COLLECTED. These events are crafted to create space for women to move forward in their own unique assignment.

No matter what our circumstances may be, we must always remember that God is going to leverage our every moment for His glory. We are each strategically placed and called to boldly promote the Kingdom of God in whatever role we’re assigned to, season to season. May we stay submitted to His authority in our lives and step boldly into our calling as mamas, servants in our communities, and ministers of the Gospel to the nations.

Guest Contributor:

Tia McNelly lives in North Carolina with her husband and two daughters. Her little piece of the internet can be found at tiamcnelly.com where she blogs about hearing from God in everyday life. Tia is also the featured speaker at Collectedcustomized workshops for women. These live events empower communities of women all over the world to walk in the fullness of their identity with purpose and passion. With a background in maternity nursing and non-profit management, Tia is honored to have a seat on the board of Flourish Kenya, a non-profit organization that prevents and supports unplanned adolescent pregnancy in rural Kenya. (Photo credit: allisonkeel.com)