When God Says “No” and I wanted “Yes”

Well, my pride is hurt. My feelings are hurt. I’m all out just bummed right now. I’m kind of on a pity party. I know I’ll get over it but I don’t really want to yet. I just want to be mad right now. Thankfully, I know how to not take this out on my husband and kids (mistakes made in the past have helped me move past that aspect of my pity party), but I still just need to be mad.

You see, here’s the deal. Let’s go back in time to August of 2013…

I knew I needed to leave my job and secure paycheck as a public education teacher; I knew it because God made it obvious. I was terrified to go to Jeremy and tell him that this is what I felt I needed to do for our family. To my surprise, Jeremy had no hesitations. None. Sure, honey. We are small business owners who often rely on your paycheck during the winter when we can’t always pay me, but quit your job. I understand and support you completely. I believe in you and what we are trying to do together for our family.

That’s awesome. My husband is amazing. So when am I going to start believing in me the way he believes in me?

So I did it. I quit my job. I left with stellar recommendations from my administrators and co-teachers. I was working on my doctoral degree and holding fast to a 4.0 GPA. Everyone I knew said to me, “Oh you’ll find a job immediately. Anyone would be lucky to have you.” You can likely tell that I didn’t only leave with these qualifications and amazing references, I also left with a giant I’m awesome attitude.

Well, God has a way of humbling us when we try to take on the glory ourselves rather than giving it to Him. I’ve learned my lesson…and am still learning it.

Don’t get me wrong, a lot of good has come from me leaving my job. Like…a lot. God has provided for us when we needed it, and I know He will continue to. We have even had family members who believe in us so deeply that they give and give of themselves. Do you have any idea how hard it is to accept financial gifts from family? Holy cow…there’s a lesson I didn’t ever think I’d have to learn. But now I know how God works; He is teaching me how He wants me to be for my future generations. I am working my butt off right now to set up our family financially for the future. And will I give as best I can to my kids, grandkids, parents, etc. when I am able? You bet your butt I will…because I know what it feels like to need it.

Our retirement is draining because we have been living off of that, but one day it will fill up again. We are learning to live without truly knowing how God is going to provide. I do love our life, but sometimes hearing “No” from God when I wanted “Yes” is hard.

So here is what has happened since I left my job. I had applied for over 70 positions without even getting a call-back. When I finally did get an interview, the entire thing was in Spanish. Yep…the entire interview. While I do have a degree in Spanish, teaching the alphabet to 7th graders for 7 years has its way of limiting higher-level conversational skills. I felt so stupid. I immediately started reading my old Spanish textbooks to brush up…but I wasn’t shocked when they never called me again. Lol…actually we got a good laugh out of it and I stopped applying for any Spanish teaching positions where I would have to converse face-to-face. Reading…great. Writing…good. Speaking…well, crap.

But I did get to be home with our youngest son during his last year before starting Kindergarten and be there 100% for my husband as we learned how to more effectively manage his depression. I got to finish up our book and get it published. “Never Alone: A Husband and Wife’s Journey with Depression and Faith” became a reality in March and is our life story. I know that is the main reason I was supposed to leave my job, because we focused on that and our story has helped many understand the reality of mental illness. I know that I will have more time now to help our book reach more people who may be struggling with truly understanding what it is like to either live with severe depression and suicidal thoughts (or another unseen illness) or to be the primary support person for someone suffering. I cannot even begin to explain the joy we feel when we realize that God has used us, yet again, to help somebody accept help with mental illness. It is so humbling and has truly helped us understand that God is in control and we are not. We wrote because God told us to. We shared because God put it on our hearts. And we receiving healing, understanding, and support as a result of sharing. God is so good.

I also got to focus on my doctoral degree being unemployed. As I type, I literally have three assignments left before I am in complete dissertation mode. And yes, I’m still holding onto my 4.0 GPA. Don’t be impressed, it’s freaking hard. I am up most nights until midnight or later just praying for the strength and knowledge to complete my assignments correctly. I sit at my desk and try to concentrate while also trying to balance my life as a small business owner, writer, wife, and mom of two young boys. I spend around 45 hours a week on homework alone. Now that I realize it’s not me, it’s God, it has become easier. I won’t lie. God made me passionate about special education, about students, and about writing. He gave me talents and I am putting them to use for this degree. I do believe He will make the work worth it because I believe I have the power to do good for future educators and students, but I’m ready now. Apparently He’s not.

I do get to start at the University of Nebraska at Kearney in August as an adjunct instructor. While I thought the possibility of full-time employment was there right now, it’s not. And I just found out today. So I’m bummed. But even writing has helped me practice what I preach. God is in control and I am not. While my plan is wrecked, I have to focus on the good. God has opened a door; I’m still getting to teach. It’s just not full-time. I’m still being given an amazing opportunity to begin my new career. Someday, it will be more. But right now, God says no. He has something more planned for me in the present moment that I don’t yet know about.

So I’ll begin my new career slowly, enthusiastically, and gratefully. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us. Because if it’s anything like what He did for us since I left that comfortable life, bring it on. We may have little money, but we have more love and understanding than we ever have; and you can’t put a price on that.

When God Speaks to Me: My Top Christian “Keep Going” Songs

It all started after Jeremy’s accident. I always believed in God, but I didn’t truly understand how present He really is until I was so mad that I screamed every cuss word I could remember in the English language at Him. Why did my husband suffer so horribly from suicidal thoughts? Was Jeremy here now fighting for his life because he had almost succeeded at ending it? Is that what happened? Is that what God wanted? I didn’t understand any of it. Nothing.

So I did it. I yelled at Him. I screamed at the top of my lungs and asked Him why us. I told God to **** off. I told Him I hated Him, that Jeremy didn’t deserve this. MY husband…a man who always puts others first…a man who loves me and his boys so wholly that his depression diagnosis made no sense to me at the time. This was about me and my family. And I let God have it.

Jeremy in ICU, February 2012.

Jeremy in ICU, February 2012.

Jeremy's truck after the accident in 2012.

Jeremy’s truck after the accident in 2012.

After I got my wits about me and believed God had likely had enough, I pulled my shell of a self off the floor. While it had seemed like only God and I were having it out in that waiting room while Jeremy was in a life-saving surgery, the reality was that over 20 people had just witnessed my breakdown. I looked up and saw Him.

Yes. Him. I saw Jesus crying.

I’ll never forget it. My sister-in-law, just 19 years old at the time, had tears streaming down her face having witnessed what I had just done. But instead of lashing out in anger at me, God chose instead to reveal His presence to me in a way I could no longer ignore. I saw my Savior in Jacqui. He was there and I couldn’t deny His plan any longer.

In that moment, I knew Jeremy was going to live. I was still terrified, but a comfort I had never understood before began to overtake my fear. And 20 minutes after that breakdown happened, a surgeon approached me with news that Jeremy’s internal injuries were healing. Jeremy was, in fact, a miracle. Twenty years ago, without modern life-saving technology and the incredible surgeons who allow God to save others through their hands, my husband would not be here. There was still a rough road ahead, but Jeremy was healing. It was the first good news I had heard in a long while…and it came directly after I told God to screw Himself.

Now that’s forgiveness.

After that, everything changed. My faith exploded. God had revealed Himself so strongly to me that I knew something was going to come from this…something good. God is only good and I knew He had a plan I knew nothing about. I didn’t have to know at the time…I just had to learn to trust. Key word…learn. It wasn’t easy. But now I get it. Three years later, Jeremy and I are published Christian co-authors. We found healing and faith during our journey with depression. We learned that God wanted us to fight together in order to help others suffering understand they are never alone. You are never alone.

Jeremy designed the cover of our book himself as this was such a personal endeavor.

Jeremy designed the cover of our book himself as this was such a personal endeavor.

“Never Alone: A Husband and Wife’s Journey with Depression and Faith” is now available in both eBook and paperback. A labor of love, Jeremy and I are sharing our reality with the world because so many suffer in silence. The book is only one way that we can share with the world the truth about God’s presence during terrifying or devastating situations.

But we all need reminders sometimes.

I’ll never forget driving in Omaha only a few hours after my waiting room fight with God. A car in front of me stopped short. My face was still stained with tears and I was ashamed of what I had yelled in that waiting room. I slammed on my breaks and the tears began to flow again. But I looked up and saw a bumper sticker for My Bridge Radio. I tuned in and began understanding how God would speak to me so clearly through music. I heard, “I remember the moment. I remember the pain. I was only a girl, but I grew up that day. Tears were falling. I know you saw me.”

I knew God was there. He was sitting right beside me in that passenger seat. And this is where haters will hate. And feel free. But you know what, He’s with you too. You can say music is just music, that it’s only there so the artist can make a buck. But what if God wanted that song to be written for me? Can you prove He didn’t? As a Christian co-author now, I can tell you that writing that book came about because Jeremy and I knew it is what God wanted from us. We know we are meant to help others. It is possible that somebody, somewhere, will pick up our book and choose to put the gun down. THAT is why we wrote it. YOU are why we wrote it.

“Hiding there in my bedroom, so alone. I was doing my best, trying to be strong. No one to turn to. That’s when I met You…

All this time, from the first tear cried till today’s sunrise
and every single moment between.
You were there. You were always there.
It was You and I.
You’ve been walking with me all this time.
You’ve been walking with me all this time.”- Britt Nicole

Jeremy, in February 2012, just after they extubated him and woke him from the medically induced coma.

Jeremy, in February 2012, just after they extubated him and woke him from the medically induced coma.

Thank you, Britt Nicole and My Bridge Radio. I am one of the reasons you were supposed to record and play “All This Time”. To this day, music is still my reminder of His company. Reading our book and remembering where we were then versus where we are now is always encouraging. But we all slip sometimes. Being a human requires pain, lessons we don’t want, and acceptance of realities we aren’t ready for. So the choice is ours.

Do we choose to see God’s good in our lives or do we choose to continue to ignore Him?

For me, seeing Him is as simple as hearing the music He places in my life just at the right times. I find myself singing along before I realize it. Then I remind myself that God may be wanting me to hear something. I listen to the lyrics and before I know it, I’m crying tears of joy and sheer astonishment at how good He truly is…how He speaks to me so clearly to get through difficult days and situations. It’s all about allowing myself to see Him, to hear Him, and often to let Him use me to help others. I let myself see God through music.

So if you are new to this Christian music scene but you believe in the power of seeing God’s good in your life through music, let me help. These are my favorite and most motivational Christian songs that have helped me through very dark times. This is when I always see God…no matter if I turned on the music myself or if it comes to me because He wanted me to hear it and I was ignoring Him. And all of these play as I write. Writing is how I know I can help others because God gave me this gift and I intend to use it for His good.

In no particular order…

1. “All This Time” – Britt Nicole

2. “Voice of Truth” – Casting Crowns

3. “Restore” – Chris August

4. “Listen to the Sound” – Building 429

5. “King of My Heart” – Love & the Outcome

6. “Lead Me” – Sanctus Real

7. “Losing” – The Struggle

8. “Do Not Be Afraid” – Tanner Clark

9. “Love Came Down” – Kari Jobe

10. “I Am” – Nichole Nordeman

11. “Brave” – Nichole Nordeman

12. “God’s Not Dead” – Newsboys

13. “Dancing in the Minefields” – Andrew Peterson

14. “Do Something” – Matthew West

15. “Drops in the Ocean” – Hawk Nelson

16. “More of You” – Colton Dixon

17. “Hope in Front of Me” – Danny Gokey

18. “More Than You Think I Am” – Danny Gokey

19. “On Fire” – Sanctus Real

20. “Worn” – Tenth Avenue North

21. “You Love Me Anyway” – Sidewalk Prophets

22. “Fix My Eyes” – For King and Country

23. “Beautiful” – MercyMe

24. “Lord, I Need You” – Matt Maher

So now you know my favorites. Here is your challenge…what’s your story? Share. Find the healing in being open about our realities. And the best part is…as you heal, you will see others healing because you started something. There’s nothing more thrilling than seeing others come to God, healing, and knowing you allowed God to use you to help others. We can help one another when we learn it’s not about us.

So share this post and comment telling me the songs that should be added! Let’s start a viral post of positivity, healing, reality, and most importantly…FAITH!!!

Why be silent? We all have a reality.

Why be silent? We all have a reality.

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” Genesis 50:20

Learn more about Jeremy’s and my story at www.jeremyandbailey.com. God bless you.

From Nightmare to Dream Come True

Five times…and he described every single suicide attempt in detail to me that night in late 2012. My entire body shook and I said nothing; it was obvious Jeremy needed to say everything out loud. I took it all in and tried hard not to blame myself for not knowing. But something else was happening that had nothing to do with my shock and fear; Jeremy was healing.

In 2012, months after his near-death car accident, Jeremy wrote me a suicide note on my computer and left it open on our kitchen counter. He typed out all of his thoughts and attempts, everything he had been keeping inside and fighting alone for years. It wasn’t fair to anyone. My nightmare of losing my husband was very possible, but my nightmare of losing him was nothing compared to his nightmare of losing himself. I read the note and believed he was gone. I screamed in my head and ran in every direction at 3:00 in the morning to find him, thinking I would only find his lifeless body. But instead, I found him very much alive and asleep on our couch in the living room. Our lives changed.

Jeremy and I began sharing with each other first. We began writing our nightmares…our reality. We opened up to each other about our fears and truly learned to communicate. We learned to fight this demon together. We learned to accept that there is a lot of healing that comes with being open and accepting the reality of a mental illness, of accepting help, and most importantly of accepting God. We wrote our story.

It took us a long time to see how God would take something so terrible and change it for His good. But He did. He took two bruised and beat down Christians who were undeniably angry at Him and opened our eyes to the possibility that we could do more. We could pick ourselves up off the floor and choose to see His good in every situation. We could begin to share with others and inspire hope in those who may be now where we were then. We could help society understand that mental illnesses are real and that those suffering should never be made to feel ashamed or weak. We could help those suffering understand God is always with them and there are many others who understand the struggle. We could be open. We could learn to live for God and for others all while healing ourselves too. We could find God’s good even in something so terrible.

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” Genesis 50:20

We began writing to heal ourselves; it was therapy for us. But God revealed our purpose as we wrote. We learned He wanted us to share, to help others come to Him and see His good. So we kept writing. And today, our nightmare became a dream come true.

The tears won’t stop; they are as abundant as before, only very different. These are happy tears…tears of healing, peace, and strength. They are no longer tears of terror. We have been working on this book for over three years. We are finally published authors and our book is ready for the world. We want everyone to know and we won’t hold back. The lives of those suffering are worth us sharing our reality. God is good, and Jeremy is still here for a reason. Maybe you are that reason. You are never alone.

“Never Alone: A Husband and Wife’s Journey with Depression and Faith” is now available in both eBook and paperback format. You can purchase either on our website at www.jeremyandbailey.com and learn more information about our story. Thank you for supporting us as we share and helping us help others. God bless you all.

~ Jeremy and Bailey Koch

An angel in human form…

God sent me a sign…and a new friend…today.

So if you know me, you know patience is not one of my virtues. I am not a patient person…period. We’re talking not even a little bit. Understand my point yet? Because I don’t have the patience to keep explaining it if you don’t.

So you can probably imagine how well I’m handling the printer setback we had. “Never Alone” was almost done printing and we were actually going to hold it in our hands…after three years of writing and then waiting for it to actually happen. And then we had another holdup. We just want the book in our hands. We want to be able to get it to as many people as we can. We know there are so many who need to understand they are never alone. But we also are beginning to understand we can help in many ways. The book is not God. Our goal is to help people understand, to support those suffering…the book is not the only way to do that. Yes God is using us to spread His good. And today He sent us another sign.

The day started out very busy. We had every intention of really sleeping in and being lazy this morning; it seemed a good day to just chill out and catch up after a long weekend of tons of faith, fun, and family. But at 8:15, a semi truck rolled up to our house (note that we live 20 feet from our landscaping and greenhouse services business…Natural Escapes in Cozad). He was loaded with 41 trees and it was time to unload. We began and 8:30 and quickly learned these trees were not only huge, they were completely water saturated…which means they were three times as heavy to move as they normally would be. With me operating the Multitrac (our loader) and my husband climbing in and out of the bucket loading and unloading trees, Jeremy and I were finally done at 10:40. I was exhausted…and Jeremy had done all the manual labor. I just drove a loader. So I can’t even imagine how tired he was! After that, I cleaned up the house (dishes, laundry, vacuuming, a bit of back yard spring cleaning) and dealt with an extremely cranky and stubborn 8-year-old who was pretty sure my grounding him for being disrespectful and mouthy was the end of his entire world. So I truly punished myself by punishing him. The weather was dreary, the attitudes were flying…it was not a good day.

So I walked outside ready to just be cranky, and I saw him. An older gentleman sat on our stump next to my minivan in front of our house. He looked around 70 years old and there was no car to be seen. He explained that he was on a mission to find something, but it became more clear he just needed a friend. I sat with him as he told me about his “lady friend” in another state and his beautiful plans to buy every empty building in Cozad and revitalize the town. From time to time in between and during his stories, I watched tears fall from his eyes. He had walked all around town and his water cup was empty. So I asked if he would like some. I went in and filled his cup he had carried with him with ice and fresh water and brought it back out to him. I still had two boys testing me as I chatted with my new friend, and I smiled when this gentleman looked at my oldest and said, “Didn’t you hear your mom? She told you to knock it off.” I love having parenting support. Hudson just looked at me with a “Can he say that to me?” look. Yes, he can, my son. He’s got more life experience than the four of us combined.

Finally, I asked this man where his tears were coming from. He replied, “Well when you talk to somebody real…” Then I couldn’t stop the tears. I understood.

After about an hour of our chatting, he decided he best walk back home, but he was exhausted and beat up, and I knew God brought him to me for a reason. He told me who he was living with and who his children were, a wonderful family here in town and I knew of them well. So I loaded him up in my van and drove him across town to his home. As we turned the corner leaving my home, he revealed something I had seen in his eyes when he first appeared in front of our home.

“I just got out of the mental hospital in Kearney.”

My response was, “My husband has been in there twice. I get it. It’s not easy to live with depression.”

“That’s what I have. Manic depression. I think about suicide every day.”

“I know. I can see it because we live it. But it’s a lot worse when you think you’re alone.”

I told the man about our book and what we lived and we talked about how God had obviously put us in one another’s lives for a reason. Tears continued to flow. I dropped him off where he lives and chatted with his son for a few minutes. What a beautiful family. To you…you know who you are…you are never alone. God is always with you. Support and love. We are always here for you as well because we know what that life is like…we know how hard it can be. But it gets better. We can be here to support you in lots of ways…one of those ways is to just be someone who will listen when you need to talk. The gentleman ended our conversation with, “When that book comes, I want one. And I want you to sign it. And I want your husband to sign it. And I want your kids to sign it.”

You got it, JJ. I didn’t just help you today. You helped me too.

You helped me understand we can help in lots of ways. There are lots of ways to help those suffering understand none of us are ever alone. Sometimes it’s just listening to your heart and allowing God to use you to support those He loves…everyone.