Should Christians Take Antidepressants?


Today I ran across a survey asking opinions on whether or not Christians should take antidepressant medications. A part of me chuckled. This is 2019, isn’t it? And as I got to reading the responses, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to reiterate what I had hoped was obvious. That the ignorance and resistance of Christians cause untold suffering. That mental illness is a medical condition. That it should be regarded as a medical condition and treated as such.

I suffered severe depression from the time I was a little child until my early thirties. Depression has a genetic component for many. In my case, it runs strong in the Jewish part of my family. I was also molested as a child, which contributed to the suicidal depression that clung. One day in my early 30’s, curled up end of couch, babies playing on the floor around me with their toys strung across the tiny living room, I cried. Tearless cries and cried anyway. It was a cry to God. I believed myself to be selfish for not following through with killing myself. My husband and children were suffering from my depression. They needed to get on with their lives. I was destroying them. I had tried to get a handle on the depression for so long. Long as I could remember I’d fought it, knew my thinking was off, and still was ashamed I was putting my family through hell.

I cried out to God as I had many times before. And this time God talked back. You ask me how I know it was God. Anyone who has heard from God knows when it’s God. Even God says ‘my sheep hear my voice and know it’. God said to me that day “Lisa, what if medication WAS my answer for you”?

Full body chills.

I was shocked.

Shocked God would speak to me.

Shocked that God would say those words.

I had made it through a masters program in clinical social work, had enough education to understand that medication would be important for some, however, would never allow myself to go there. Almost as if meds would be for someone who didn’t have what I had. I had God. I had claimed promises, prayed continuously, journaled, worked to improve my diet, exercisedI did not want to take drugs to alter my state of mind. When God said those words to me, I didn’t understand why. I thought I had been honoring God by turning down antidepressants over and over again.

But one thing for sure, when I heard from God, I knew I’d better obey. I made an appointment, got in a few days later. The doctor took a moment to catch my eye and said “Taking an anti-depressant is not like getting high” She could see I needed an explanationand so went on. “The brain makes its own chemicals that allow us to function happily. For a depressed person, the brain acts as a sponge and sucks up serotonin (the fluid) faster then the brain is able to access it. The antidepressant medication acts to prevent the brain from sucking up its own ‘happy juice’that’s why it’s called a serotonin uptake inhibitor.” She went on to explain the many other forms of antidepressants and how each one worked to assist the brain. I wish someone would have explained this to me years before.

Antidepressants don’t always work right away, usually, results show up two weeks in. In cases of significant depression, it can take longer. In my case I had forgotten I was taking them as they were part of a collection of supplements I downed every day. About 6 weeks after I started, I woke up one morning and could hear birds. I hadn’t remembered ever hearing birds before. I wondered why so many birds were now around my little apartment. Later in the day, the sky looked strikingly blue. I hadn’t remembered noticing it’s color before. It took a while to adjust to this feeling of being awake. Over time I came to realize that symptoms of depression are much more than feelings of hopelessness. Depression also causes numbness of skin, lack of appetite (sometimes a decreased ability to taste), turns down natural curiosity, flattens affect, alters a persons ability to learn, the list is long on all the ways depression deadens us.

I was severely depressed from childhood through my early 30’s. The medicine slowly healed my brain. I had to be on medication for a couple of years, and had to be on the meds one other time for a brief period due to postpartum depression, but have never returned to that level of depression again. Thirty-something before knowing life without feeling dead, anxious, worthless, stuck, and blurry. Not everyone’s depression is as invasive. And some can be even more debilitating, as I was able to function at work and school. Some people need brain support in the form of medicine longer than a few years, some for life. Some have to try a number of medications to find what works. Every person is different. Some depression is treated with counseling, some with exercise, some with truth-telling and boundaries. Some with diet. My brain needed medicine and would not heal until I got it.

The medicine reset my brain that no prayers, no truth about God’s word, no forgiveness, no swimming, running, diet, good fats, on knees face down confession could resetbecause my brain was physically sick. You folks who wave the ‘research shows that exercise is as effective as antidepressants’just to let you know, my exercise routines were hardcore. An example7 mile runs 4 times a week, and lap swimming 2 hours at 4 times a week. That was a summer I will never forget, due to the deep depression that would not shake. I love to move, yet exercise did not correct my depression. It must for some. For me, it did not. God’s nudge toward medicine allowed me to raise my children depression-free, and remain free. I appreciate my journey of pain. My adult life has been spent helping thousands of depressed, suicidal, anxious and traumatized folks get the help they need. Learning from a book is good. Learning from experience gives deep appreciation and empathy for the suffering of my patients and clients.

The assumption some Christians make is that because anger, malice and a downhearted spirit are mentioned in scripture in context to a spiritual condition, that those symptoms must be altered by spiritual means only. I don’t know anyone who would not be benefited by the fullness of the Lord. By time in God’s word. By receiving Christ’s grace. I also know that’s not what’s prescribed when a person has a broken back. We attend to the broken back. With diabetes, we attend to the need for insulin. The spiritual disciplines are for helping us cope with the struggle of having that broken back, that diabetic condition. They are not mutually exclusive. I’ll repeat myself here. Depression is a medical condition. It is common for persons who have just had open heart surgery with no mental health history to go into severe clinical depression post surgerywith suicidal ideation. This occurs not because open-heart surgery is more sinful than hip surgery (which does not produce this symptom), but because depression is a physiological and medical condition. Some mothers of newborn babies who have never experienced a day of mental illness miss a few days of sleep and present with full-on psychosis. This is not because giving birth is sinful. It’s not because she has neglected to forgive. Rather her body is unable to tolerate that much loss of sleep, and the body has responded by altering the organ called the brain. The altered brain that causes the patient to become paranoid, violent, hear voices, rejects her baby. Medications treat both of these conditions. Both patients are fully restored by medicine.

God invites us to pray continually. Try doing that when you have 104 temperature. Sometimes all we are able to do is lean into the shadow of the Almighty while snakes crawl underfoot, while arrows rush by (Psalms 91). God invites us to receive his Goodness when we have nothing at all to give him back, including a brain that’s not functioning. We can receive God’s goodness in the form of professionals and medicine as well. When we say a prayer of blessing over the food before a meal, we don’t stop with the prayer. We acknowledge body needs and provide food as well.

For my Christian clients, there are usually many sessions spent working through the abuse they have endured by well-meaning Christians. Christians who have judged and shamed them for the problems they are having. The clients are full of shame for their issues and wish they could just be ‘normal’. They need most of all for their brothers and sisters in Christ to not judge them as wrong, as sinful, as far different from themselves. I’m guessing the judging sister has her leg set when she’s broken it, the brother his tooth repaired when it’s throbbingand both take what’s prescribed as needed. People who are hurting don’t need a crisis of faith to add to their pain. 

Over-prescribing of psychotropics is an issue, however not the one we are addressing here. You and I both know medication doesn’t fix everything. That’s a straw-man argument that is not helpful. We all agree medication does not correct all things mental health. It’s that some people need medication. Our Christian brothers or sisters should not be experiencing shame for seeking mental health treatment due to the drip, drip, drip of the suggestion that ‘if you simply pray more, if you confess your sins more sincerely, if you turn to the LordHe is Your Great Physician, not your Psychiatrist, do that and you would not be hearing voices, would not feel like killing yourself, would not be shut down and locked away in your home’. Stop the drip of lies, please.

Many of the people I’ve treated have wrestled with God for years, begged God to forgive their sins, asked God for a miracle, forgiven others, etc… Many times it’s when they were willing to get into some professional help that they start getting well. Please don’t tell me there are many professionals that aren’t helpful. We know there are sometimes violent and controlling police, however, we still call 911 when someone is breaking into our home. Pastors sometimes misuse power. We still turn to clergy when a loved one dies. Doctors sometimes don’t do their homework. We still have them stitch up a gash.

God has many ways of healing us… including medication and counseling. Please inform yourself. Please stop shaming others for the struggles they are already so ashamed of. My best guess is, if you are dead set against mental health treatment, that ” thou doth protest too much”. (Shakespeare) and are fighting against help you yourself might very well benefit from. If you are a Christian and struggle with mental health challenges, know that it’s not only OK to seek treatment – but good to do so. Even when you get push back from the people you most look up to.


Thank you Lacey Raper for the photograph.  


Surrender – I Hate It.

I hate words like surrender.  I hate actions like surrender.  I hate to surrender.  And what I hate I’m attempting.  And don’t like it.  It’s been two years and a few months living a jellyfish status.  A new me brought on by a total thyroidectomy February of 2015.  A self I have never known. 


Sloppy walking. 

Buzzing head. 



Fumbling words. 

This past week I hit my limit.  That same day I heard a talk on the radio about a famous swimming champion Michael Phelps who kept a paper calendar.  Each day he swam, returned home and with red sharpie cut a line through the day.  He was determined to keep an unbroken chain of red marks on the calendar, and did so for many years.  His collection of medals show how effective his unbroken chain of swims had been. 

His story inspired me.  Inside I’m an athlete.  Yes, an athlete who never was, but still inside I house the drive and dreams and the planning of one who is driven by such things.  I have a hard time walking much at all these days.  Still, down in the bones I tear through brush to the top of grand mountains.  I run and run and run some more. Bike till I’m in shreds.  Swim till I’m gasping.  I want to be all that, and can’t.

And so this week, I decided to start an unbroken chain of movement.  I have moved plenty in the past 2 years, with no results.  This time I decided to take the advice of those who help people with my condition for gaining momentum.  I decided to force myself to not overdo.  What that looks like for me right now is to swim 20 minutes per day, six days a week, with one day of palates and hula and stretching, the other 6 days lap swimming.  Just 20 minutes. 

Kind of like eating 1/2 spoonful of ice-cream when my body wants the bucket.  Because although 20 minutes is all I am able to manage the first week, my core is screaming at me to swim that – times 20.  To push myself.  To count laps to a mile, two, and then three.  Kind of a strain-the-body junkie.  An acceptable addiction in this culture, but damaging, nonetheless. 

Which brings me to surrender.  Surrender what I want to do for what just might help me get my health back.  Surrender the fix for what heals.  Surrender looking lazy, old and lame for what my body needs.  I don’t care for surrender.  In fact I hate it.  Will following direction and doing what is best for me prove beneficial?  At this point, I’m 30 pounds over.  I sleep more than I would like.  Am foggy brained and weak and limited.  I’ll keep you posted as day after day my calendar takes on a sharpie mark.  I pray for an unbroken chain. For a stronger body.  And a newly discovered contrite spirit. 

1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy,

to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice,

holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world,

but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. 

Romans 12: 1 and 2 (a)

Song Writer


I’ve been writing songs since I was fairly young.  I remember stretching my 14 year old back over the bathtub.  Cleaning, scrubbing, singing a little chorus I had thought up, humming, singing it over and over ….

“I was walk’n down life’s road,

trying to push through a crowd.

I was tryin and tryin,

but I couldn’t do it by myself.

And then Christ did it for me,

that’s why He died on Calvary…..”

By Lisa J. Boyl

On and on I’d work the song while I worked the scum off the tub walls. A simple ditty for a 14 year old girl who was trying to push through the croud of life, needing God to do it for me.  Other songs I wrote.  I had them all sketched onto the Bible I packed around. My odd brown song file, dilapidated covers taped together for preservation, I’d write another, and another. Sometimes scrawling sideways up the margins to make room for one more song. The summer I worked at Camp Berkshire upstate New York, my Bible went it’s way, never to be seen again, and gone were all my songs. Most I can’t recall.  Lost, my heart in words and rhyme.

College gave me other opportunities to continue writing songs. The best came to me when I was covered in dirt and sweat.  Working grounds, digging holes in packed soil to plant the colorful petunias, lines would come to me, and then the tune.  I’d sing it to myself and loud, out there alone on the arid college grounds of the eastern Washington.  Alone, most of the time.  If I remembered, I’d keep a short pencil and scrap of paper in my shorts pocket for when an inspiration would hit. Sometimes I’d hurry across the lawn to the ladies room, pull down a paper towel, tear off a corner and scribble out the line I’d been singing to myself, hoping to not forget. I have never learned to write a score, and can play piano only in the key of C, so after work, I’d hurry with my after work routine and rush over to a vacant chapel on campus where I’d play out the song, reading the lyrics off the wadded up paper, over and over I’d play it until I found the chords I had heard in my head, and until I had the song down.  There were friends who could make sense of the songs I’d written, and would put them to music, able to play them in the key that made the most sense for a singer.

There were week of prayer theme song contests.  Both years I decided to participate,  they choose my song.  That felt great.  Hearing my whole college sing my song for a week straight I found rather unnerving and special at the same time.  I loved it and also wanted to hide.  But I did love the challenge of being given a theme and writing a song that worked with the topic.   Both theme songs chosen belonged most of all to the planting of the petunias.

Some might say that being like you is too much to ask….

…You are the power inside me…

That’s the only way to be all I can be.

By Lisa J. Boyl

Another summer of groundworks, and another song.

Is the Jesus that you know

a kindly Man from long ago

A picture in a splintered frame

slanted on the wall

Has the Jesus that you know 

been forced into a plastic mold

A God who only loves the good 

the children and the old

If you knew the Jesus who turned my life around

And answered questions of my searching soul

You’d throw away the plaster And the statues made of Him

And come to love the Jesus that I know

The Jesus that I know.

By Lisa J. Boyl

One autumn day I met a boy who took to walking around with my heart, leaving me in quite a state.  I’d known the pain of love before, and one afternoon alongside a busy college street, waiting for the next bus, saw an old station wagon pull up and wait for the light, and from the interactions in that car I wrote

Wrinkled and baggy, frowning at each other

‘Stickin it out’, but only for the kids

On family occasions they fake some warm affection

And back at home they only show contempt

Does time always mangle a love once true?

Does it twist and tear a promise once forever?

And what about friendship, does that die too, in time?

Can I share this heart of mine?

By Lisa J. Boyl


That was the final song – before love rushed in, and marriage, college, babies, bills, career, house building, cancer.  Not enough stillness and digging alone deep into packed hard soil for finding songs.  For 30 years.  Then one morning, wedged between arm of overstuffed chair and a giant pile of clean laundry waiting to be processed, there I found a bit of unexpected stillness.   Reading the book of Acts, overcome with all the goodness of God and what His Spirit manages through us, His voice in heart elbowed me.

“Pick up a pencil”, said the nudge.

“What?”, I snapped.

Not audible but as clear as if the words had been spoken, He said to me.

“Pick up a pencil, I want you to write a song.”

The pencil just picked up shook in my hand. Tears slipped down unto Act 2. Slammed pencil down onto my Bible and tears.  Cried a long time. God had taken away my songs. Not once (by the flight of the little brown Bible) but twice (years of no space to sing my songs).  I’d not written anything since college, and now almost 50, past the age that anything I’d write could ever be relevant, God asked for a song.  Mad and sad, I was, and still I picked up pencil.  In five minutes, Holy Wind was etched.  Next day, Frozen Worship the same.  Both songs on God’s Spirit.

Music can bring out a territorial jealousy and disgust.  A kind of fire hydrant/dog ownership of ‘I’m the star, out of my way!’.  And so when the music pastor of my church was interested in listening to the songs, and interested in the idea of church members contributing to the music of the church, the tears, they came again. Car full of family heading home from service.  Wrong time.  No matter.  Tears dripping across the songless days that has passed.  Dripping off my chin for the nights of being awakened, hungry, no starving for music. Tears for songs long withheld for the harder tasks of life.

Although floundering some, I’m adjusting to writing songs again.  A new song rushes at me like a cartwheel.  I don’t go to it, it comes to me and flings me round until I’m upright again. A cartwheel arrives with a wide space of green grass.  Songs need their space, too. Relevance has been reserved for the young.  My songs are relevant to a life that has simple rhyme, hard times and beauty all mixed together.  I don’t quite understand God’s timing, but how foolish to push away what I’ve wanted for so long because it’s taken so long to arrive. Song writer. Starting over, like the awkward 14 year old.  Heart in rhythm and rhyme has begun to beat again.  And I like it.

Cancer is Not Cancer; The Agony of being Dependent.


This was written when I was still quite sick a number of months ago.  I was too low at the time it was written to post it.  I’ve decided to post it now.  I  share it to truth-speak about how painful cancer can be. Sharing what it was for me, as a way of being a voice for those who have not words to share.  This rant of sorts is not an attack on any one person, but a broad-brushed painting of the reality of what it is to be sick and dependant on others.

Cancer is not cancer. It’s not breast cancer or thyroid cancer. It’s strokes, heart attack activity that isn’t, doctors treating you like a hypochondriac while functioning slips away.  It’s skin that peels, clothes that don’t fit anymore, potassium levels so low that legs throb through the night.  It’s not recognizing yourself in the mirror.  Foggy mind half the time not remembering what I’ve said, what you’ve said, what we were talking about.  It’s family sweet as can be, and condescending sometimes too.  It’s having to listen to people “Oh you look like you’re feeling better” while the entire left side of body is numbed out, can’t hear from the left ear, do laundry for five minutes before having chest pain and doctor saying “you’re heart is in great shape”.  It’s your little six year old daughter telling you that you get first place for being the meanest one in the family.  The mean mom that gets tired of the denigrating remarks when trying to get kids to do their chores, one by one the entire family decides they are going to be sicker than Mom today – until their pals come over and off they race across the yard, Nerf and laser guns a-blazing, and once again, when they return to the house, asked to pick up coat, or feed the dog, the sudden illness takes over and death is at the door. 

It’s the doctors passing their job off to another doctor.  Oh it’s the endocrinologists job, no the oncologists job, no the primary care, … .on it goes, while the mystery symptoms that take away my ability to take walks, swim, drive, to care for my kids get worse.  The computerized diagnosis is last word, with physical problems all hovering in the “rare” category, no one bothering to dig deeper while symptoms hold me in place, so much piling up around me, and I must be still. 

Cancer is having all the kind persons who have pitched in to help become judgmental of the way my life looks, judgmental of what happens in this house, condescending of who I am.  It’s having to receive help from others who don’t respect me because they are incapable of helping and empathizing at the same time.  The most empathetic person is the world can flip a switch when doing another a good turn.  It’s watching them lose respect by the day – each and every act of kindness they provide decreases the peer to peer relationship – me having no alternative but to receive it. 

Cancer is not a surgery and missing body part.  It’s the loss, week by weakening week of clients, and eventually a career.  The destruction of a business.  The death of a dream.  It’s not rosy and romantic.  It’s ugly – creepy … the stopper of life.  And I’m stuck between.  Alive and not at all.  Stuck receiving support, care, favors, errands, driving kids to school, with bitterness in the doer, irritation of the helper, and shame at being the taker. 

The part of cancer I can do quite well is walk into the hell hole of the chopping block.  I can tolerate physical pain.  I can usually manage being mangled.  I can’t handle the shame I feel receiving assistance – the baring all – the inside scoop on our junk, irritably of the one doing all the favors due to their superiority and my shame. 

Cancer could be the most ideal way to go if it weren’t for all that.  Known outcomes, time frames, managed symptoms until death.  What makes it awful is loss of dignity (relationship) with people I care about most due to my neediness at the end, and their inability to give and maintain respect for the person they are giving to.  A few of us can give without shaming – most of the time, a few can receive without feeling the shame, but most can not.  We call it being “stewards” of our time and money by nosing into others lives when a need arises.  ‘If she hadn’t let herself go, he’d have never looked elsewhere.”  “There are consequences to slacking on the job”.  “Live and learn”.  We have all said things like this – or thought them.  It’s obvious it’s wrong to give cash to a meth addict.  We take this reasoning further and do harm – judge – while extending a helping hand.  I tell you from the receiving end, it helps more to not help but maintain a relationship of respect then to help with judgment.

Most of us have ZERO BUSINESS being involved in another’s crisis, because crisis is a HOLY PLACE.  It’s where God hovers.  It is SACRED.  Anytime we have all the answers, we do harm.  Anytime we can’t give without judgment, we harm.  Anytime we get inside the disaster of each other’s life and can’t set judgment aside, we hurt each other.  I’m getting to feel it, first hand.  No one means to harm.  They just want the system to work better.  Just want routines in place that make things better, but that’s not how it feels to the one is on the receiving end.  If I ever get beyond this cancer mess, I vow to God and to others that I will NEVER HELP SOMEONE UNLESS I CAN HAVE A SOLID CHECK ON MY ATTITUDE. 

Do I resent helping my kids with things they need help with? 

How does that make them feel? 

Do I resent making supper. 

Giving a gift and resenting the giving DOES HARM. 


Cancer is not cancer. 

Cancer is everything else – but one thing. 

Cancer is not Boss, God is. 

God is the only one out there I know what manages disasters and love all at the same time. 

If i’m well enough to work again, I’m working for Him.

The Id of Prime: How to Prevent Destroying the Best Years of Your Life


It’s a familiar pattern.  Man at the top of his game at work, making the most he will ever make, married to the most beautiful adoring wife, envy of us all decides it’s time to engage in a seedy fling, starts shooting up, embezzles money at work.  Beautiful woman happily married, finding success at work, finally a publishing a book, living in a community of friends who adore her and she decides to have an affair with a teenage druggie down the street, decides to quit work, starts to drink, it’s all over. 

The reasons given are many:

He’s afraid of responsibility 

She wants to sabotage her life because of guilt that it’s going so well

He wasn’t respected enough by his wife 

She could never get over harm done to her as a child 

His testosterone made him do it 

Her hormones were out of whack 

And what I say to that is “Why now?”  Why didn’t his wife’s disrespect cause him to act this way two years ago?  Why didn’t her painful past kick in long ago? His fear of responsibility cause him to steal at work, to use drugs, to cheat before now? 

The safest people in the world seem to be unsure of themselves.  Awkward teenagers, trying to understand where they sit at the table of life.  Young adults struggling to get through college.    People at any age who have not made it in life.  Aging folks who have lost..  Had their heart broken.  Buried a parent.  Been abandoned by a spouse.  Lost a child to drugs.  Lost a job.  Been through bankruptcy.  12 step boot camp en route to sobriety.  These people unsure of life itself seem to be the ones much less apt to do harsh things to others in their journey up the proverbial ladder.  It is my view that the id is most commonly enlarged at prime.  At the place in life where things are going the best.  I am amazing, I will protect this amazing persona of myself, and others better see me this way.  If they don’t I will throw it all away. 

Brene Brown’s research shows that wholehearted people, those people who do the best in life, are the ones who embrace their own vulnerability, and with an authentic style of living, share their real selves with others around them.  Which really is the best antidote to the Id of Prime.  Much different from the need to convince others that I’m OK in my quest to belong, I set out to develop a habitual view on myself starting young that embraces me as flawed and valuable even-though.  When I embrace my flaws, and let you know mine, I am inviting you to own and state yours, and together we can care for each other as imperfect, challenging each other along the way, to garnish strength from the other when I need it, which is all the time. 

When I am in a state of awkward insecurity, why would I be more authentic and vulnerable?  Simply put, in my reaching for answers, I am in the position of teachability.   To be teachable is to be vulnerable.  I am saying there is something you know that I don’t know.  And this makes me much safer than the position of ‘I have all the answers and you should be lucky to be in my presence’. 

The self made culture celebrates the exact opposite of teachability and neediness.  Regardless of how brazen we are to proclaim ‘I’ve got it’, this is not reality.  Like it or not, we are needy.  Consider getting through college.  Say we earn our way through college by getting good grades, 100% scholarship.  Someone in a dark room surrounded by stacks of papers, using red pen, sweat and coffee is also getting you through college.  Someone wearing hairnet and gloves is making food in a cafeteria.  Someone is cleaning the toilet, furnishing toilet paper to the stalls, applying bleach as needed, lysol, elbow-grease.  We are our brothers keepers.  We are not islands. 

Working in an Emergency Room for 19 years, one dynamic showed itself over and over.  Didn’t matter if I was dealing with a brilliant Microsoft manager, a rich elderly banker, a well known pastor or a street drug user.  He or she open and vulnerable over time with some close loved ones was the winner.  Sometimes the ‘professionals’ were the ones in real trouble.  They had face to save, a reputation to maintain.  Would rather crack then look like a mess.  Every human being goes through crisis.  We may think we will skirt crisis by keeping distance,  not ‘bothering’ anyone with our problems.  Eventually we come to the end of ourselves, and those of us who have been real with others are the ones to get better.  On the other hand, isolated we can find ourselves pulled under by relatively small setbacks, because we are lacking skills of teachability, flexibility (able to flex even thought it puts me in a poor light), vulnerability and authenticity.

The id of prime. 

An avoidable destruction of me as I practice:

a heart position of reaching toward learning from someone who knows more then me

practice honestly with myself about my weaknesses and deficits

choose to not fake who I am with you

reject the prideful prison of self protection

These practices set us up for deep abiding relationship, whether it be in marriage, with our kids, in the workplace, with our bodies.  Id of prime that walks away from it all is walking away from pretend.  It’s not walking away from intimacy real and raw and deep. Let the best years of our lives honor The God who knew what I was about and gave the prime of his life for my eternity anyway.

Weight Loss

Summer and Fall 2013 179
The writer and butterfly.

I use to be who I am now

Fat and covered in cellulite

Always hiding sloppy me

I didn’t the match the girl inside

And as I prayed and struggled on

Appeared, one day, just what to do

A friend I’d make

The one I hate

And over time

The change it came

Inch by inch


Size by size

I finally matched the girl inside

The years went by

most all was well

And then a cancer came to tare

And ripped the breast from off my chest

And choked my trust

And froze my bounce

And once again the hiding came

I didn’t match the girl inside

And still I prayed and struggled on

Appeared one day just what to do

A friend I’d make

The one I hate

And over time

The change it came

I grew to love

the one breast me

18 months of

all is well

And then a cancer came again

This time to claim

my thyroid gland

And spill around throughout my nodes

And throw my body balance off

I use to be who I am now

Fat and covered in cellulite

And now I know just what to do

A friend I’ll make

The one I hate

And over time

The change it comes

I grow to love

the one breast girl

fat and covered in cellulite

And as I friend away the shame

The outside me

it starts to


the girl I’ve always been

A Cloudy Bootcamp

This was written last May for my professional blog.  I’ve decided to share it here today as my niece Annalee is joining the Marines same day she graduates from h.s., which is two short days from now, and has 12 weeks of bootcamp awaiting her.  I know God uses bootcamp of all shapes and sizes, and I know he has a plan for her as well.  Blessings to my niece.


Profound thoughts, for me, seem to show up in the middle my mundane.  It happened yesterday as I was tackling a task called ‘cutting lawn’.   When I say I was out cutting the lawn, please don’t picture a postage stamp turn-about.  Picture a rolling random football field that never ends.  Now picture a rather tottery set of legs, pasty lady, gloved fists all trying hard to shove forward another shaved swath.  As the lush green blades shot sideways, so did my glee at all I was getting done.  I found myself irritated at the moisture, so soppy-damp, that even with the shocking arrival of sunshine, warm on my shoulders, I was still unable to use the bagger for more than a couple feet without it clogging into a spongy ball of clippings.

The last few months have been, shall we say, un-fun.  Just recently I have taken on the challenge to act on the belief that God inhabits praise, and to praise God, even when my circumstances aren’t praiseworthy.  And so atop the roar of the mower, there in wet grass I started praising the Lord for His goodness to me, for His goodness to the land around me. For being the God of provision.  That He provides cloud and drizzle in “*$#@*%!! FREAKING EXCESS….. GOD OF SUCH GRAND GIFTS, GOD, YOU MAKE SURE THIS SPOILED ROTTEN SUPER SIZED PIG OF A YARD HAS ALL IT EVER WANTED – !!!!”.  Ya, sometimes even my praise sessions turn earthy.  God being the father of many, He’s use to fit-throwing.  From me, anyway.  Well, as I kept up my praise service out there in the back 400, my heart started experiencing an actual shift.  Praise for God became real.  God hovered nearby.  And all around me.   The grey cloud that had dampened my spirits, and over-dampened the grass, was now warming me, it was noticing me.  On slippery hill downward, with mower in race to the bottom, it steadied and strengthened me, giving balance and protection.  ‘I’m cracking’, I think to myself.  Grey clouds do not warm peoples spirits.

And then I remember the story.  The Israelites had, by the thousands, been led on foot away from a country in which they had been enslaved.  A land where they were unable to function fully as humans.  They had been rescued from a meaningless life of being used.  From a death unnoticed.

And for the journey, God used a pillar of cloud to guide them for their daytime travels.  A cloud to guide and protect?  Why not a bucket full of sunshine?  Couldn’t God have used cut crystals hanging on ribbons from heaven?  If He’d have asked me, I would have suggested rainbow shivers for really freaking out the bad guys.  But He didn’t.

Toward a better place, the Israelites were routed through misery.  With intention, God arranged a journey with healing opportunities in mind.  Each hopeless situation, a desert march with no water, no food, power struggles, snakes, belly aches, each cloudy trial offered one opportunity after another to build trust in God, learn to love, learn to trust less in what is seen and more in who God is.  The journey was to provide deep healing for these rescued slaves, and for generations after them.

I ponder these ideas, row by row, grass looking better by the hour.  I think of all the ways the grey of life has protected me, and brought God near.   The deep depression and anxiety as a little kid.  Would I have known God as early as I did, had I not hung on for dear life during those early suicidal times?  What was I protected from while hiding in the black hole of pain, hiding next to God?

The eating disorder.  Would I ever have know the freedom of an addiction if I had never experienced one?  Would I have misjudged others who struggle with addiction if I had never had to fight for years with something bigger than my own smarts?

The struggling to read.  What kind of evil could I have perpetrated onto others if there had been no struggle to recall what I read, requiring me to read the same materiel over and over again, even throughout college?  Would I have been condescending to others who struggle to understand if everything about learning came easy to me?

Early Miscarriage.  Would I have had opinions about others pain which I knew nothing of if I’d never had one, let alone six?  I can never say that the loss of a child would bring a blessing.  It is a pain I have never experienced, and pray I never do.  And still, each of us, in our own painful travels, notices the Lord near by, even in the cloud.

Marriage Pain.  Would I have even found the time – busy with life, four kids, work and all, to pray, if my heart had not been raw so much of the time?  Would I have ever discovered on a knowing level what PTSD looks like, and how healing occurs if I’d never been in an intimate relationship that rattled the cage of monsters past?

Would I have anything of substance to offer my clients if my understanding was exclusively derived from a book?  Trust me Lord, I prefer not knowing beyond course work all of what a human is capable of suffering from and experiencing.  I thought I’d throw that out… just incase you decide to read this:)

Allergies.  Would I have learned to let go of the toxic nature of being a “pleaser” if I had not been forced to impose, irritate and annoy others using the boundary of “no thank you”, otherwise embarrassing myself by way of anaphylactic drama?

Cancer.  Would the reality of the brevity of this life have been as real as it is now, if I’d not had my breast cut off my body, my thyroid cut out, my body scanned and scanned some more for a look at where the cancer has traveled?

Stroke.  Would I have laughed at the way God took the pain of the bone on skin where breast used to be, and with one quick stroke, remedied by TPA all deficits but left-side numbing, removing this irritation, just because He wanted to?

Brain Fog.  Well, this is the other stroke deficit still remaining.  It has turned up the brain fog dial that already existed.  Remembering paper-work kinds of details, remembering names, reading manuals, working computers.  Would I know God was always hanging about, following me throughout the day if He didn’t have to constantly help me in my pathetic state, over and over and over.  I’m talking about getting lost driving to some location I’ve driven to a dozen times.  Loosing the car keys today, my shoe the next.  Forgetting we make kids lunches every day, remembering to go to bed, remembering to pay the bills, remembering to wear my prosthesis, remember to stop singing when I’m in the Costco public restroom.  Would I find myself too special to love others who struggle with the details?

Step, and another forward, the mower moving on ahead, I recall my own clouds, and the clouds of others.  It’s obvious that God works to rescue each one of us from the meaningless life. Ask someone to tell you their story.  If you have a heart to hold what they tell you with care, you will hear the pattern.  That of God intentionally routing one, then another and another along a personalized bootcamp journey. All challenges personally designed to remove each one of us far from anything that would prevent us from being fully human, and fully alive.   The gloves are still gripping, but lighter.  Stride steady.  I praise God for being the God of the Cloud. Hovering near, He and I, we cut another line of hearty green grass.

“The LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.  He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.”                                                                Exodus 13: 21 and 22

Lisa Boyl-Davis, LICSW

Minimalist For God


Based off of Mark 10: 17-22

As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him.  “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered.  “No one is good – except God alone.”

Good.  What is good?  Running up to Jesus?  Falling on knees before him?  Asking the way to eternity?  Very good, I’m thinking.  But not good enough. 

Jesus listed off more:

Do not murder

Do not commit adultery

Do not steal

Do not give false testimony

Do not defraud

Honor your father and mother

“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

Jesus looked at him and loved him.

Loved him for what he was, and for what he still lacked.

And loved.

“One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow me.” 

At this the man’s face fell.  He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Couldn’t trade the goods for Good. 

Couldn’t exchange what is good for what is GOOD. 

Neither can I.  I lack, and he looks at me and loves me. And still he asks me what I call good, and reaching out beyond his heavens he reaches further still into the the piles of good heaped all around me.  The good that gobbles up ever last second of my day and night.  The good that must be done, for how else will it get done?  The ultimate minimalist action.  To release the good for good. 

“Come, follow me.”


Not Knowing


Today a friend commented after having told her how I’m doing, “So, no changes,huh?” That is so depressing to me. At the moment, I’m setting up a counseling business because the last office I set up made me no money in 6 months. Will this one be a waste of time too, although I have a book keeper now trying to help me keep paperwork straight? As we speak, we are packing up a daughter for college. We are preparing to put the younger two in school, we are asked to decided whether we want to move to Salt Lake now, or in January, or Charleston now or later or stay here. As for staying here, we are told we can’t refinance unless we raise our house payments by a TON, and that our house has to be finished, which we haven’t been able to manage yet. Dealing with Adored Husband mentally teetering on the brink of crazy and genius as he always does when he’s inventing – the thing he does for a living.

…they that wait upon the Lord WILL renew their strength…

I’m told to keep moving forward. To act as if I’m going to put the kids in local school. As if I will have a dozen paying clients in my new office in a week, moving forward.. not knowing – yet moving forward. I don’t do that well, which means I’m not doing well. Last year – today – I had a breast removed in an effort to keep cancer from spreading through me. That was the day I wondered if the cancer was taking me or moving on. I had to adjust to one on, one off. The crisis gone, why does life feel so off and so hard and so confusing? I don’t know. All I know is that I love to see my kids learn and grow. I love to work with clients, even when I’m not getting paid. I love my friends in WA, and my house. I love the mountains in Salt Lake, and the sunshine. I don’t love anything about Charleston because it’s too far from my kids… but if I was forced to, I’d learn to love life there as well. I love my guy, always curious about life  – despite his swings. And so I toss the stress back at God…. and move forward, not knowing.  Teetering forward, haltingly forward, hoping as I move along that God will direct these stressed out steps of not knowing.