May is Mental Health Awareness Month

May is mental health awareness month. We pray for many in our circles who struggle with mental health issues that they would know the perfect peace of God.

You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You (Isaiah 26:3).

We pray this story of one will help bring awareness to those who are struggling, as depression and causes come in many forms.


“This is not easy to write.  And it’s long so I hope you will stick with me.  People don’t want to hear about it, they don’t know what to do about it.  But you or someone you love need to know it is real and what it’s like to live with it.  “It” is major depressive disorder.

What I’m going to tell you about today is severe, debilitating depression.

I have experienced chronic depression since my late teens.  As most of you are aware, there are good and bad days/weeks/months.  This is the 2nd time in my life I have hit the floor for an extended period of time.

Have you heard of a high functioning alcoholic?  They can get to work and do their job but afterwards they are blotto drunk most nights and weekends.

I don’t know if there’s such a term as a high functioning depressive but that’s what I’m calling it.  If you were to go by or call the desk, you probably wouldn’t think there’s anything wrong with me.  I’ve become really good at hiding it.  Having the structure of the work day is an immense help in that.

Once I pass that time clock in the evening, the darkness sets in.  I don’t have anywhere to go but home.  COVID has only made it worse.  There’s no shopping, no going out to eat, no museums or arts to check out.  Making decisions over simple things like ‘where can I stop to pick up supper’ or ‘do I get gas tonight or tomorrow night’ are impossible to make.  It becomes overwhelming so I go home and do nothing until the only choice left is to take care of it

There’s a commercial on tv for Rexulti.  They show a woman with her friends, obviously not having a good time like they are.  For me, that’s what it feels like on a good day.  Although I laugh and joke around, I feel nothing.  Most of the time I’d rather be home by myself because it’s mentally painful to watch others enjoying life.

Thankfully I don’t have any ideations of hurting myself.  I just don’t want to be here anymore.  When I see a young person so ill or hear of a fatal car accident, I ask God why he doesn’t take me instead of someone who was loved and needed.

It took not wanting to see my grandchildren to get me to realize that it was really bad again.  I am getting the help that I need and it is slowly getting better.  To the point that I think I need to share my experiences.  I believe part of the cause is heredity.

But, there are 2 parts to this story.  Today I got validation that the 5 concussions I’ve had over my lifetime indeed play a role in my diagnosis.

Suffice it to say, I’ve never been graceful.  A horse, a bike, a toboggan, a motorcycle, and a divot in the sidewalk were all contributing factors to the falls causing concussions.  Each time I ‘recovered’ and nothing was ever thought about it again.

A few years ago I started seeing articles about athletes and the long term effects of a concussion.  That’s when I started asking my providers if there could be something to it.  Only to be told I appear to be fine so no worries.  It felt like being in a Charlie Brown scene.

So frustrating that a jock can have 1 concussion and the world comes to an end.  Yet nothing to see here when it’s a clumsy girl who suffered 5.

This spring I got a referral to a psychologist who actually heard me.  FINALLY someone listened to me and told me there was something that could be done to help.  Except there was no availability within CCH and the only other option was to go out of network.  Cha-ching!

I was able to maintain for quite some time after that.  But a few months ago, like a clock, things started going downhill again.  Every year starting in September my mood drops.  Thirty eight years ago this past Saturday, my 23 year old sister was killed by a drunk driver.  She had a 6 week old baby.  I can’t believe I haven’t gotten over that after all these years.

At any rate, a couple weeks ago I had an appointment w/my PCP.  I told her what was going on and she said she’d reach out to the psychologist again.  Such a blessing that now there was an opening to be seen by Occupational Therapy.

I had my first appointment last week, today my second for testing.  At the end of the hour, the therapist had me in happy tears when she told me that the concussions definitely were a contributing factor to so many things I couldn’t explain.  Thank you God for sending an angel with wonderfully great news.

This isn’t a cure.  Probably not even a miracle.  But there are things that can be done to get me to a better place.

Don’t ever give up.  It’s taken many years and a good dose of stubbornness to get me this far.  If the good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise, I am just starting the journey to many years of better days.

Your poster child for Major Depressive Disorder,


Toasted Graham (Celery Overtones)


Banana Foster Flambe. Pumpkin Caramel Latte. Spiced Chai Cyclone Crazy.  Sweet Strawberries and Cream Vanilla Shake.

These are all flavored coffee options.  Don’t those sound delicious?  Is there anything in that list you want to try?

When you make a cup of coffee, the first thing you do is not taste it. Instead, you smell it while the coffee is brewing. Smell is the first thing that triggers the brain that this cup of coffee is going to be GOOD. Like, super yummy good.  The aromas waiver in the air until the brewing process is complete.

Sometimes when we brew coffee in the office, the delicious-ness strikes the noses of everyone in the vicinity and people will start to ask, “Mmmm… what is that wonderful smell?”

And then finally… that first sip.

I don’t know if you’re as crazy about coffee as I am, but if you are, you’ve also learned that flavored coffees can be a HUGE disappointment.  That wonderful aroma that filled your nostrils a few minutes ago? That wonderful smell that tickled your taste buds in anticipation? It’s just not there when you take the first sip.  In the world of food and flavors, *usually* the smells and tastes are in alignment. But flavored coffees?  They are often out of sync.

Out of sync—what I smelled isn’t what I tasted.  This disappointment does something to the brain.  That chocolate truffle? It tastes like dirty water.  That pumpkin pie?  Just cheap weak coffee.  This Starbucks Toasted Graham that’s currently in my cup as I type? I swear it has overtones of celery. Yuck. Weird. (I’m still going to drink, by the way…)

I think our Christian lives can be so much like flavored coffees.  Sometimes the initial impression we give is like a vibrant and wonderful smell.  But when you really get to know us, there is a disappointment. We’re not as ‘holy’ or ‘spiritual’ or ‘mature’ as we once let on.  We’re sinful. Our character has major defects.  Our workday’s lifestyle doesn’t match our Sunday morning devotion. We are out of sync.

But every now and then you encounter a Christian who’s life and outer shell match the inside.  They’re devotion is pure.  Their workday lifestyle matches their Sunday lifestyle.  Their character oozes the character of Christ.  They are REAL.  They are in sync.

But they are also a rare-breed.

There are only a few flavored coffees I’ve found that are in sync.  They are also a rare breed. But when that taste and that smell are in complete alignment, it is bliss. My brain doesn’t feel tricked—instead it is in a state of joy.

I want to be that type of Christian—that brings a state of joy and honesty that doesn’t trick someone’s brain or bring disappointment.

Flawed, but honest about the flaws.  Sinful, but quick to run to forgiveness and offer forgiveness.  In step, in sync, with my Savior. I’m not there, yet!

Leah Carolan
Director of Worship & Media


Did you enjoy this article? Did you laugh, cry, or learn something new?  Let Leah know.

    Girls of Grace – May 21 at Brewhemia

    We are Girls of Grace!

    This program is designed for young girls who are eager to grow in confidence, Christ and community.

    Come alongside us and help teach our daughters their worth in Christ, while walking in His grace.

    Join us Sunday, May 21, 8am at Brewhemia (Newbo area in Cedar Rapids)

    Questions? Contact Lindsay and Lauren below:

    Do You Use the Guardrails?

    Do You Use the Guardrails?

    Recently my friend shared about the book “Boundaries” in the Parenting Together Sunday School class. This led to a new understanding of many areas of life that boundaries can be applied. Some of those areas include time, words, truth, love, values, limits, resources and gifts, feelings, attitudes and beliefs, behavior, desires, and choices.

    One of the biggest realizations for me is that I’m a boundary mover. I fall into the ditch of frequently adjusting my boundaries. Constantly, I’m evaluating: “Is this where my boundary should be or should I move it for a specific purpose?”

    For example, the other day someone needed dozens of rides to and from their home, throughout the week, because they could no longer drive. My week was already full plus I had meetings all five nights that week. My boundary is typically only three evening events per week in order to preserve the health of our family.

    In the moment, I wondered was God asking me to step up and toss one of my boundaries aside for this need? The answer for this specific situation seemed to be “no.” I needed to let others step up and care for this person.

    How do you handle boundaries in your life? Are they movable? What if the Holy Spirit calls you to move beyond your comfort zone? Or, do you need to add some boundaries in your life? Do you have any boundaries in place at all? Maybe you need to put some guardrails up in certain aspects of your life in order to prioritize what matters.

    I find that I fall into the ditch of constantly moving the boundary lines in my life. Others fall into the ditch of setting up boundaries and never evaluating them again.

    While it is good to be open to the Holy Spirit stirring in our heart, most of the time sticking to a boundary can be helpful.

    Lindsey Ungs
    Connection & Communication Architect

    Did you enjoy this article? Did you laugh, cry or learn something new? Let Lindsey know.

      Friendly Prayer

      Friendly Prayer

      I get a kick out of kids’ simple, sometimes funny prayers. Prayers like these:

      • “Dear God, if You can’t make me a better boy, don’t worry about it. I’m having a real good time like I am!”
      • “Dear God, thank You for the baby brother but what I prayed for was a puppy.”
      • “Dear God, it must be super hard to love all the people in the world, especially my sister. I don’t know how You do it.”

      These prayers open us up to unexpected thoughts and truths and usually help us see God in a new way. They help us connect with God and isn’t that one of the main reasons we pray?

      • Dear God, please take care of my daddy, mommy, sister, brother, my doggy, and me. Oh, please take care of Yourself, God. If anything happens to You, we’re gonna be in a big mess.”

      I used to think prayers had to be proper. Self-important. Maybe even a bit pompous. We, after all, should approach God carefully. Right?

      Now I think the most important thing is to come to God just as we are. Sometimes we come with big, bold, important prayers. Sometimes we just come with a friendly prayer to tell God what is on our mind. Like a kid.

      • “Dear God, I don’t think anybody could be a better God. Well, I just want you to know that I am not just saying that because You are God already.”

      Keep praying.


      Kent Landhuis
      Pastor of Teaching & Leadership

      Did you enjoy this article? Did you laugh, cry or learn something new? Let Kent know.

        My Dad, Pat, and PrayForMe

        My Dad, Pat, and PrayForMe

        Easter Sunday was the second anniversary of my dad’s passing. I know many of you have lost loved ones, so you understand the emotions that come, and the grieving process. It seems like this year was easier than last year. Honestly, the grief always surprises me. I will be in bed talking to Chris about his day, or our next fishing trip, and a surge of grief will come. I miss my dad, but what brings the most sadness is knowing Chris and Josiah won’t have an opportunity to make Grandpa Tom memories, him baiting their hooks and taking off bluegills and crappies we catch. Easter Sunday is such a fitting time to remember my dad because I know the faith he has in Jesus. My dad wasn’t perfect, but he loved God and he loved us, his family. This was evident in the life he lived and the legacy he left. Growing up I remember my dad prioritizing church. It was expected, no matter how busy my week with sports, the arts, school and friends, that Sunday morning we would all be worshiping God together at church. My dad taught Sunday school, Awana, and participated in Bible studies. He not only passed on faith to me and my brothers, but to others. For a few years my dad was a co-leader with a young man at our church named Pat. My dad also had the opportunity to be Pat’s banker and share in big moments in his life, like buying an engagement ring and a house.  Since my dad has passed my mom has had several conversations with Pat about the impact my dad had on his life. I think this is an example of what Psalms 145:4 means when it says:

        “One generation commends your works to another;

        they tell of your mighty acts.”


        And Psalms 71:17-18:

        “Since my youth, God, you have taught me,

        and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.

        Even when I am old and gray,

        do not forsake me, my God,

        till I declare your power to the next generation,

        your mighty acts to all who are to come.”

        Pat’s life was changed by my dad, passing down his faith as they faithfully served in children’s ministry together. How are you passing down your faith? I think of the empty-nester in Altoona who is a state fair nut! She tries to win as many ribbons as possible, even in things like “husband calling contest?” She took the teen kids from other families in her small group each year to the fair for one day. This is a celebrated highlight of their summer. When these teens had questions or problems they always knew they had a supporter in Deana. Building relationships matters. Investing in youth and young families matters. Recently we had a mishap during youth group that resulted in a hole in the drywall. Some men in our church took this opportunity to build a relationship and invest in a teen.  It was slower and messier than if one of them had just done it. However, in the end, the wall was fixed, a new skill was learned and that teen knows she has people on her side here at Cedar Hills. To help build more intergenerational relationships, and opportunities, we are doing this PrayForMe campaign. I hope you will all join me in the PrayForMe campaign. So that every teen and family with kids can have three prayer champions. People who are in their corner. We can all learn from each other, and learn to appreciate one another through building relationships and praying. Our young people need to know they have a whole family of people on their side here at Cedar Hills Community Church. Just like Pat knew my dad was a man of faith whose door was always open for a good fish story or a chat about life and faith.

        Steve Poole
        Director of Youth & Young Adults

        What did you think of this article? Did you laugh? Cry? Learn something new? Let Steve know below.

          Spring Cleaning: Heart Check and New Beginnings

          Spring Cleaning: Heart Check and New Beginnings

          Who else loves to spring clean? I’m sure I can’t be the only one. When I think of spring cleaning, I cannot help but think of new beginnings, fresh starts and the sweet aroma of flowers. This time of the year gets me excited, due to how organized I tend to get. One of my favorite ways to spring clean is to reorganize my closet and replace my winter clothes with spring clothes. It reminds me of the saying ‘out with the old and in with the new.’ My mom and I enjoy organizing the fridge and keeping storage spaces in order. There is just something about the spring that gets us in the mood to become intentional about cleaning. Spring reminds me how beautiful change can truly be!

          Funny how it can become easy to spring clean around our houses, but not take that same approach when it comes to our spiritual life. Let me ask you a real question: When was the last time you did some spring cleaning in your heart? Maybe there are habits you need to cut off and replace or forgiveness for something that you need to let go of. All these can make it difficult to experience God’s goodness in this new season of life. Isaiah 43:18-19 says, “Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it. I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” God wants to do a new thing with you this spring. The bigger question is will you make room for Him?

          So one may ask, “How and where do I begin?”  Well, let us simplify it and incorporate some of the things you may enjoy or are familiar with.

          • Prayer – Asking God to reveal to you the areas that might need a deep cleaning. (Psalm 139:23-24)
          • Enjoy nature; go on a walk or hike. (Psalms 89:1)
          • (Habakkuk 2:2)
          • Talk with someone; there is power in community. (Proverbs 15:22)
          • Dwelling in the Word. (Hebrews 4:12)

          Here are a few worship songs to check out:

          • Make Room by Community Worship
          • Defender by Upperroom
          • Healing Rain by Michael W. Smith

          Frankline “Franky” Tshombe
          Children’s Church Leader


          Did you enjoy this article? Did you laugh, cry, or learn something new?  Let Frankline know.

            Pray For Me

            Pray For Me is a rich prayer movement that pairs adults (Prayer Champions) with students, children and families to actively pray for them.  We’ll be watching a short video today about what this all entails, but you can begin signing up today to be paired with a Prayer Champion or become a Prayer Champion for someone else.

            Starting in May, we will be releasing more information and the books that accompanying this exciting opportunity!

            Club House Movie Night

            May 7, 3:30-5:30pm –> MOVIE NIGHT!

            The Cedar Kids Club House is having a special movie and pizza night for their final meeting of this school year.  Students in grades 2-5 are invited Sunday, May 7 to watch Inside Out and enjoy pizza from 3:30-5:30pm (an hour earlier than normal!).

            Club House is a youth ministry for students in 2nd-5th grade and meets on the 1st Sunday of the month October-May.

            Want to register for next year? GO HERE

            Love. Belong. Serve.