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Service Dog for Christen

How much do you know about service dogs?  I didn’t know much about them until a few months ago.  I thougimg_3281ht people only had a service dog if they were blind or had epilepsy.  Did you know that there are service dogs for people with diabetes, autism, and PTSD?

Here a few things a PTSD service dog can be trained to do:

  • Assistance in Medical Crisis
  • Retrieve Medication and Beverage
  • Bring Phone in Emergency
  • Answer Doorbell
  • Bring Help Indoors
  • Assist to Rise and Steady Patient
  • Carrying Medical Supplies
  • Treatment Related Assistance
  • Timed Medication Reminder
  • Help Coping With Medication Side Effects
  • Alert Partner In Time of Distress
  • Alert To emergency Like Smoke Alarm
  • Assistance Coping With Emotional Overload
  • Provide Tactile Stimulation To Disrupt Overload
  • Wake For Work Or School
  • Combat Sedative Effects
  • Prevent and Combat Emotional Overload In Workplace
  • Public Panic Prevention
  • Security Enhancement Tasks
  • Support In Coping With Fear Of Intruder
  • Assist In Escape Strategy
  • Light Up Dark Room

I am working with Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers to raise funds for my service dog.  In short, I will eventually be moving out of my parents house and back on my own.  The thought of that is kind of scary and definitely makes me anxious.  To help with the transition and to set myself up for success, I am getting a service dog that SDWR will spend 18 months training to meet my specific needs.

I’ve raised 5% of my goal and I could use your help.  Please go to sdwr.donordrive.com/campaign/christencowan to read more about how you can help.

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Intentional Neighbors

Today I went to an assisted living facility to volunteer as a receptionist.  I’ve found that volunteering is very important in managing my symptoms.  It gives me perspective.  I met some interesting residents today.  One of them is a Vietnam Veteran.  I heard beautiful stories about their past especially about raising children.

It helps to see such wonderful people facing painful aging when I am anxious and feeling ovevolunteerrwhelmed.  To be honest, symptom-wise today has not been a great day.  Thank God for volunteering.

While I’m very careful not to compare my struggles with others, seeing someone else’s pain provides perspective into how God has blessed me during my struggles.  One of the most notable ways I have seen God’s provision is financially.  At various points in the last two years, I have been unemployed.  I still had bills to pay during these times.  My parents are retired, but God has provided in such a way that not once did any of us go without while they picked up my bills.  My medical expenses (doctors, medications, therapy) have all been paid for without fear that the finances wouldn’t be there.
phil-4Another major way God has blessed me is with my church family at Grace Community Church.  This past weekend, the church did something unprecedented in my view.  Pastor Chip, our senior pastor, gave a sermon on giving.  He wasn’t simply speaking of financial giving, but giving in every way, your time, talent, and treasure.  The main point of his message was to always give to God, not a person or entity.  When you give to God, you don’t worry about how your gift is being used.  You trust that God will provide for you in every area of your life.  What I really enjoyed about this message was that at the end, Pastor Chip said he and Grace Community Church wants to always demonstrate what he preaches.  He doesn’t want a sermon to just be words without action.  So, Pastor Chip read a letter he sent to three churches where we sent a no-strings attached offering to simply be a blessing.  If that wasn’t enough, after he finished reading the letter, he called the ushers to come and hand each family and single person an envelope.  Inside the envelope was $20.  Have you ever heard of a church giving money back to it’s congregation?  I haven’t.  We were all somewhat dumbfounded.  What a blessing!

That simple act on a tough and polarizing message not only showed the love our pastor has for us, but also the love God has for us.  He sees to our needs in interesting ways to bring himself glory.  Sitting in my seat in the sanctuary with that envelope in my hand, I thanked God for sending me to a church that strives “to reach the unchurched by being intentional neighbors that reflect Christ.”

So, when I’m having a bad day, I remember to volunteer to be an intentional neighbor and that reminds me to look at God and not my problems.

Be encourage my darlings

Don’t just survive, live!

Christen

What, not Why

img_3597As I sit in this lovely, quiet room at my favorite teahouse, I decide to take a moment to read my devotional for this week.  It focuses on Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

I’ve quoted this scripture so many times, whether it was to encourage myself or encourage others.  There’s this promise that even though bad things will happen to us, as Christians we have hope in God that they will work out for the good.

I have to be honest, there are many times I don’t feel like that’s going to happen.  Anytime I have a panic attack or feel anxious, what I feel doesn’t match up with this verse.  I’ve asked myself, why did so many bad things happen to me?  Why was I assaulted so many times?

Thanks to God, I have moments of complete clarity and understanding.  My pastor, Dr. Chip Bennett, at Grace Community Church said the key is asking what, not why.  So, in those moments of clarity and understanding, I remember to ask God what.  Those bad things happened to me, what do you want to do with them?

I think I’m starting to uncover the what.  So many women have suffered like I have and they have never voiced their deep rooted pain.  Well, I’m here not only to be their voice, but more importantly to share the hope we have in Jesus Christ.

Every day I have to choose if I’m going to believe that Christ has taken care of all the pain I have endured when he died on the cross.  Today, at this very moment, I believe that.  Healing has come through cognitive therapy and medication.  And that’s ok.  Just because I’ve had medical intervention to deal with PTSD, that doesn’t mean I don’t believe Jesus has healed me.  I believe it even more now.  Even though the pain I’ve suffered is great, Christ is greater.

Be encourage friends

Do more than survive, live!

cloud 9

Today started out as a good day.  I had a fantastic job interview and came home on cloud nine.  I will be working in administration and marketing for a wealth management firm and studying to become a financial advisor.  Now, 7 hours after my interview and being on cloud nine, my anxiety is quite high.  I don’t feel comfortable in my own skin or in my head.  The frontal cortex, the part of my brain that thinks rationally and logically, has been hijacked by my limbic system, the part of the brain that remembers trauma, stores emotion, and makes decisions in survival mode.

In these moments, it’s hard to concentrate or think clearly.  For these times, my therapist helped me create a safe box that has different items and tools to help alleviate my anxiety.  I’m starting with my flashcards: “put your feelings in a bucket,” “go to a quiet place,” “listen to music,” “play the piano.”  I think I’m going to play the piano.  I’ll record a little bit of it for you all to hear.

I try to remember to do these things in faith, trusting that as I bring my prayer to God with thanksgiving, I should be anxious for nothing…and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

For the person reading this that is having anxiety right now and has been told this scripture, be anxious for nothing as if it’s that easy, I’m hear for you.  Be encouraged; God is not finished with your testimony.  He’s not finished writing mine either.  Everyday isn’t rainbows and unicorns, today started out that well but at the moment, its storm clouds, thunder, and lighting.  But I am in God’s hands and so are you.

Do more than survive, live!