Media Resources for Times of Need

Adobe stock photo

Adobe stock photo

In my last post, I shared about my 6-year journey through depression. Through either personal experience or by walking with friends through their struggles, I've collected a list of Christian media to serve as resources during times of struggle. Feel free to add in the comments and share with others!



Grace for the Afflicted: A Clinical and Biblical Perspective on Mental Illness by Matthew Stanford, PhD

Blame It on the Brain? by Edward T Welch

Shame, Perfectionism & Belonging (which are all intertwined with anxiety & depression)

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brenê Brown, PhD, LMSW

Daring Greatly by Brenê Brown, PhD, LMSW

Rising Strong by Brenê Brown, PhD, LMSW

Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist

As Soon As I Fell by Kay Bruner

Abba's Child by Brennan Manning

Scary Close by Donald Miller

The Me I Want to Be by John Ortberg


The Color of Grace by Bethany Haley Williams, PhD

Whole (blog) by Sarita Hartz (especially for missionaries)


Packing Light by Allison Versterfelt (Allison Fallon)

Rocky Reentry (blog for reentry)


Breathing Under Water by Richard Rohr

Coming Clean by Seth Haines


Lord, Heal My Hurts Devotional by Kay Arthur



Caveat: This is mostly from the beginning of my struggle with depression, so these are a bit out of date. Also, if you're experiencing depression please know some songs can make you sink further into hopelessness. If you start to feel this, skip to another song. :)

Shawn McDonald: Don't Give Up, Rise, Storms

Superchick: Crawl (Carry Me Through), Breathe, Hold, Stand in the Rain, Help Me Out God, Beauty from Pain, Suddenly

Gungor: Please Be My Strength

Ginny Owens: I Will Praise You

Matt Hammitt: All of Me, Let It Bring You Praise

Steffany Gretzinger: Out of Hiding

Tenth Avenue North: I Have This Hope


What's your favorite Christian media for difficult times? Got something to add? Drop it in a comment or email me!

 (*Note: links to books are affiliate links)

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How the Cardiovascular System Helped Me Find My Purpose

Music played from my laptop next to the couch. I pulled my blanket up to my chin and listened and prayed. A friend came to mind, and I thought about how she was a conduit, a vessel for the Gospel. My mind turned over the word "vessel" and since my friend is also a nurse, wandered to thoughts of blood vessels and the body's vasculature.

All at once, something clicked inside me, and I sat straight up. When I thought of my friend—and myself, and everyone—as blood vessels, something suddenly made sense to me. Bear with me while I give some backstory.

It's been a year since I have moved back to the United States. A year full of struggles, depression, hope, and growth only reentry could bring (it was so crazy I even wrote an ebook on it). One of the things I struggled with during the transition from life overseas to life in Waco, Texas, was finding purpose in my location and vocation Stateside.

While in Cambodia, I learned the missionary lifestyle is not so different from—or more important than—the lifestyle of a believer back home. However, this knowledge didn't prevent guilt from creeping up on me when I moved to the States. I felt guilty for abandoning those I loved in Cambodia, and I questioned whether I was weak for not staying there. The attention and applause the American church gave to missionaries no longer applied to me. Without a clear-cut outline defining my goals and my purpose, I felt lost, out of place, and particularly unimportant

Though the Lord has since provided incredible community, a sense of purpose and contribution, and relentless reminders of His love, in the back of my mind I have still believed that what I am doing here in the United States is less important—less vital—to the Kingdom than what I was doing in Cambodia. We often call missionaries the people on the "front lines," but where does that leave the rest of us?

When I thought of people as blood vessels, as conduits supplying life to other body parts, I realized it didn't matter what my location was. I could be a capillary in the pinky toe all the way in Cambodia, where the vasculature isn't as dense, or I could be part of the aorta at the hub of the heart. I could be a coronary artery, feeding the heart itself and keeping it strong so it could continue sending out blood to the body. I could be a femoral artery, a little farther from the heart but not in the boonies of the fingertips. Regardless of where I was, I was neither less important nor "more" vital than any other vessel. "More" and "less" do not exist as long as I pulse with the heartbeat of the One who gives life.


The goal of the cardiovascular system is to keep the body alive—all parts of the body. The aorta has no purpose if no arteries supply the brain; likewise, capillaries in the brain have nothing to give if the carotid is not functioning. My purpose is the same in both places, though it may look different. It may involve giving more of my financial resources (now that I have a paying job again!) and less time traveling to remote villages that have no blood supply yet. It may look like resting and soaking up the extra access to life-giving friends and community, hearing the Gospel preached in my own language every week, and feeling the pulse of His heartbeat, strong and regular as it reshapes my attitude and habits and life to be more like His.

When I was in Cambodia, I thirsted for community and soaked up every bit I received. I treasured phone calls and found Jesus to be my closest companion as I sought Him on my knees (in front of the oscillating fan, of course). I desperately hungered for the encouragement and prayers sent to me through friends and family and strangers, all the way from the heart of God to mine. I could not have survived without this. I am forever grateful for those who served as vessels at every step of the way: from the aorta to the arcuate artery, allowing hope to flow to me in the pinky toe of Kratie, Cambodia.

Here in the States, I am deeply grateful for community, for the people who draw near to the heart of God and who urge me to do the same. My soul feasts on the abundance of spiritual resources, and I am refreshed and restored. And I hope I too am a conduit. I hope I too am a vessel allowing hope to flow through me straight to the one who needs it, or to trickle from me to another to another to another, eventually reaching a girl on the other side of the world who is on her knees seeking the One who fills our deepest needs. I hope I get to play a part in her experiencing community and purpose and forgiveness. I hope she would know there is One who loves her, and this One who loves her most is there with her, on the floor in front of the fan, ready to refresh her soul.


To those who have been and to those who are conduits and vessels, thank you. What an honor to serve Jesus alongside you.

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Reentry: Still on the Road

It's no secret I've had a rough time in reentry the past few months. I washed my clothes by hand and hung them up to dry for weeks, and I binge-watched Netflix and drank Dr Peppers by the case to make up for the time my favorite soda and I were apart.

Now, several months (and seasons of Bones) later, here I am.

Life in Waco is falling into a pleasant rhythm, and for the most part things have calmed down both externally and internally. However, every once in a while waves of grief and feelings of missing Cambodia hit me rather suddenly, like a flash flood with no forecast of rain. I'm still learning to navigate these surprise storms. Recently during one of these waves of grief, I heard a song my friend Marc wrote called "Heading Home." The song begins, "There’s a groaning, an aching in my bones/There’s a longing in my heart to find a home." As I listened, it seemed to gather up within me leftover remnants and threads of reentry--the values I've learned, the pain, the hope, and the lessons I'm still learning now--and place them in a bundle right in the center of my heart.

The lyrics didn't tie up the loose ends or weave the threads into a stunning tapestry. No, they simply brought all the frayed fibers to one place so I could see them. All of them, in their varied colors, sizes, shapes and textures, all at once. The hurts and hopes and tears and shouts, all at once.

All of them, all at once, were beautiful. I no longer felt the need to tug at this thread or change the color of that one. With all their quirkiness and shortcomings and distinct characteristics, they were beautiful.

Stock photo from Adobe

Stock photo from Adobe

While I quieted my soul and listened to this song, I realized a few things. First, even though I'm settling down into life in Waco, I'm still heading somewhere. For a woman with an unshakable travel bug coursing through her veins and wanderlust written on her heart, knowing I'm still traveling is a comforting notion. (However, I am excited for no more reentry processes when the journey ends!!)

Second, the place I'm heading is to be with Jesus in person. To have more of Jesus, to spend more time in His presence, to know Him more. This lines up with one of my greatest prayers and desires lately, which has been to want Jesus more than I want a country, and for my loyalty to be to Him and not to a culture. Home is a Person, not just a place.

Third, I realized the journey home can be beautiful in itself. A road trip by myself through the Texas countryside is one of my favorite things. More than getting to the destination, I enjoy simply driving, soaking in the landscape and praying or listening or singing until my throat hurts. I may be homesick, and reentry may be hard, and I may not truly arrive home for a while, but the journey home can still be beautiful and is uniquely qualified for enjoyment.

As I sat examining this bundle of threads and these lessons learned, I stopped struggling for a moment. Instead of trying to reconcile two very unique cultures and countries, I simply began to thank God for each lifestyle and cultural difference as it came to mind.

Thank You for the communal way of living in Cambodia, and thank you for the individuality of American people.

Thank you for rice and fish and the Mekong. Thank you for microwaves and refrigerators and ovens and pre-packaged food.

Thank you for my students in Cambodia, for the church, for the rhythm of life there; thank you for the job I have in the States, for my coworkers, for healthcare here.

I could keep going for hours, but the point is gratitude humbles me and reminds me how beautiful this world is, even with its pain and frayed edges and tangled up threads. In some way, all those worn out threads create something beautiful in their messiness. I cannot and will never be able to make sense of the disparities between countries and the heartache that hits every time I leave a country. Yet when my focus is on the Maker of cultures rather than on the cultures themselves, I find rest. I don't have to stress about reconciling the differences and similarities and roughness and tangles—because no matter what, I'm still on the road, and I'm still heading home.

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Entitlement and Gifts

It snuck up on me slowly, like a ninja or a stealth aircraft, or a ninja on a stealth aircraft. It ambushed me successfully as I sat down for lunch yesterday at work. The day was busy and stressful, and it was nearly three o'clock when I finally found myself in the break room placing my tupperware in the microwave. When the microwave beeped, I grabbed my food and suddenly realized how hungry and worn out I was.

I deserve this. 

I glanced at the numbers on my watch, nerves still wound up from the craziness on the floor. After all my hard work, not taking lunch until three, taking care of all our patients, two of whom had been transferred to the ICU. Finally, lunch. I deserve this.

Right behind this sense of entitlement came shock, and then humility. I deserve this? 

The term "deserve" jumped out like a red flag waving in front of my face. I exhaled and lowered myself into a black plastic chair and forked baked spaghetti into my mouth while reliving an afternoon in Cambodia:

It was hot. I was tired. Sweat ran down my face and dripped off my chin. I parked my bike by the landlord's house and walked around to the stairs to my apartment. They were steep, but today they seemed steeper than normal. Longer than normal. Why was it so far up to my apartment? Why did I have to climb such steep steps to get to a home that didn't even have air conditioning? I hoped the electricity was working so I could at least stand in front of the fan.


As I climbed the stairs I marveled about how different life was in America. The air conditioning. The refrigerators (sometimes two) in every home. The ability to control the climate inside, and our practice of sleeping with blankets because we keep it so cold. Elevators, escalators. Ice-cold Dr. Pepper. I marveled at how my students and friends in Cambodia didn't long for such things because either they didn't know they existed or they had never lived with these things before. They didn't even know to miss these things.

I was nearly at the top of the staircase, grasping the rail and gazing out over rooftops to inspect the Mekong's appearance that day, when I recognized it. There it was, bold and blaring in front of me, as clear as the coconut trees by the river.


Each day when I felt tired and worn out, hot and sweaty, I would think about American comforts. I couldn't not think about them; they're the context in which I was raised. I would think about how much I missed them and how difficult it was to adjust to life without them.

For some reason though, on this day, as I willed my legs to bring me up those steep, brown stairs, I realized just because I am from America does not mean I am entitled to American comforts. Having lived with air conditioning and my own car and wifi for so many years did not entitle me to that way of life. Until that moment, I had been holding the American standard of living as the standard to which I was entitled. Subconsciously, my thinking was, "Cambodians have never lived that way, so of course they don't miss it, but I do. Life is harder for me in their country than it is for them. They are not entitled to comforts like air conditioning in their homes because they never had it in the first place."

Wham! Reality check.

I am not entitled to any of those things. My background doesn't entitle me to air conditioning, my childhood doesn't entitle me to refrigerators and ovens, and the country listed on my passport doesn't mean I deserve to have access to Dr. Pepper. I am not entitled to anything the people in Cambodia are not entitled to.

Furthermore, I am not even entitled to what I may think Cambodians are entitled to. We, as humans, Cambodian or American, are entitled to very little. Cambodians aren't entitled to wealth or healthy families or homes or farms or jobs. Neither am I. Neither are any of us.

Truthfully, we aren't even entitled to life. We've done nothing to earn it, to deserve it, to pay for it.

Recently, I heard a woman talk about how she realized she didn't deserve anything but death, and as a Christian she didn't even get that. We get so much we have no right to, and we don't even get the one thing we do deserve because Jesus is merciful.

I don't deserve any of this.

As I finished lunch yesterday, I stared out the window at the river of cars on I-35, and both my complaints and my entitlement were cut short. I thought about how I didn't deserve the oxygen I was breathing or the food I was eating. I thought about the thousands, perhaps millions, of people who didn't eat that day, and I remembered I was no more entitled to this hot meal - one of three meals I was eating in a day - than they were.

To clarify, I don't mean we shouldn't have food and life and clean water as human rights or the ability to vote and express opinions as civil rights. I mean the idea I (or you)as an individual, am entitled to comfort, an easy life, a good work day, a happy marriage, and a healthy body, when the rest of the world is dealing with all of those problems and more. Because all of those issues simply come along with being human.

Discomfort is part of the deal on Earth. I am no more entitled to comfort - even if what I would call comfort is different from what a Cambodian would call comfort - than the person who lives down the street from my apartment in Cambodia.

Hardship is part of the deal on Earth. I am no more entitled to access to clean water than those who walk miles to fetch murky water from a river.

Physical death is part of the deal on Earth. I am no more entitled to life than the patient dying in a developing country's hospital from a condition which is easily curable in the States.

Sickness, pain, depression, death. They are all part of the deal here on Earth.

We have been gifted so many things. Our every breath, our ability to move our limbs and function today, our meals and beverages and hot showers and cold-aired houses.

Spiritually, we have been gifted the offer of eternal life.

Eternal life!

We accept all these other gifts so easily, mostly without consciously receiving them. Here, though, is a gift of another caliber. The gift of not receiving the one thing we do indeed deserve: Death, eternally. Separation from the One who loves us most. The gift of an offer of Life, eternally. Being in the presence of the One who loves us most, who did receive for us the one thing we deserved, who created and hears and cares for us.

We receive all these other gifts so passively, and we begin to believe we are entitled to them. But this gift of Life - this takes a conscious thought to receive because it isn't a thing but a Person. A relationship. The greatest gift of all given out of the greatest love of all. He offers the grand gift of salvation and the daily offer to abide in Him - to sit in His presence and live and walk and breathe with Him. The very exact opposite thing we are entitled to.

All we have to say to Him is yes.


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