Love & Hand Grenades

By Monica C. Voskamp

What do you when things are beyond your control? (Like seriously beyond your control.) You’ve been living life and suddenly a situation comes in and just throws a tailspin. A tailspin on your heart and life…

I had that recently. Metaphorically, I’d say a few hand grenades were thrown in my life.  Like any trained soldier when I saw them coming, I tried prevent them and say ‘Let’s all just relax & keep those pins on the grenades.‘  I even called in reinforcements to pacify the situation, but it was too much. Those ‘grenades’ went off and my lovely plans for a new start this year went up in smoke.

I got evicted.

Ya, you read that right…You know, as in being kicked out of the place you lay your head down at night?  Eviction.  I’m still shocked it happened.

It’s not always a fair or beautiful world out there. There are ‘hand grenade’ situations.

Grenades are meant to cause destruction. They hurt. Over the past couple months, I interacted with people who truly cared and who didn’t care; both made me cry.  I experienced love and meanness simultaneously. A couple times I had the lie come: ‘You’re all alone in this.’ My heart hurt from what I was going through.  I told my heart, “Mon, you are not alone. Look at all the people caring about you!

The people in your life caring about you are your team. The eviction made me very aware of my team. They ranged from people I didn’t even know to friends, family and God. My team made sure I didn’t crash & burn!  They had my back through the whole eviction process. The month of January felt like February 14th came early.  I honestly felt so loved on. 🙂 ❤

This situation also made me accept my limits. I had a crew of people being strength for me. My team wanted to help…they gave me expert advice, a bed to sleep on, listened and encouraged me, prayed, house hunted, moving help and the list goes on. The important thing was I let them help me. I wasn’t strong enough to do this all myself.  I’m truly grateful for my team. (*thank you* 🙂 )

Often in life’s struggles, I’ve pushed through by my own power. Truth is, I haven’t opened myself to seeing myself as part of the team. I’ve stayed independent; however, I AM allowed to be to be weak, dependent. You are allowed to be weak. We humans get knocked down. We get injured in this life. You and I both NEED a team to support and nurture us in life’s journey.

Getting through struggles is NOT about how strong I am. I have wrongly equated strength to independence. Because of this, I’ve lost valuable opportunities for personal healing and growth. Strength is NOT about achieving a solo flight in crisis times. 

The “I got this” mentality is wrong.  Be it a Dutch thing (‘wooden shoes, wooden head, wouldn’t listen’) or a Voskamp thing (it’s nicer to blame some of the genes 😉 ), whatever way stubborn strong isn’t that helpful.


Strength is not about independence. Strength is the unified force of a team, held together by value, commitment and love for each other.

 It’s incredibly wonderful to do life as a team; we help each other! Yes, it is crazy humbling to ask for help and allow people to see you when you’re are fragile and broken, but in doing so, you gift your teammates (and yourself.) You gift your teammates with: #1. Ability to exercise their gifts (and expand in them!) and #2. Freedom to also be vulnerable in their struggle/crisis times. You also free yourself of carrying a load you are not made to carry and open yourself to healing and personal growth.

From what I experienced, love isn’t selfish. I’ve discovered more about love by not having a home and facing tension in the place I was living. I found “home” in the people who truly care, *that’s* where I felt safe. This is when I realized: love is a safe place.

Sometimes what is meant to harm and push us into darkness will actually open our eyes to a light we weren’t seeing before.

Eviction. It opened my eyes to the importance of living as part of a team and experiencing the strength and love in my own team.  I may have lost a physical place to lay my head to call mine (for a time), but I gained much more than I lost.

Life throws hand grenade situations and they do hurt. In these times, you let love hold you.  Let your team be your strength.  “Hand grenades” get thrown, but love is always stronger.  Love remains the greatest.  ❤

When Strength meets Broken

By Monica C. Voskamp

Suicide. The epitome of broken, when depression is the winner.


Your illness does not define you. Your strength and courage does.

This quote…you can replace the word illness with: Struggle. Trial. Temptation. Financial crisis. Disappointment. Heartache. Loss. Unspoken pain. Unseen battles.

They don’t define you.  Whatever ‘demon’ is overwhelming you today, this past week, month, year…it doesn’t define you. Strength and courage, these are definers.

I’m writing to those who feel broken and lost,  scared or unable to voice what they really feel. You are warriors, brave hearts. Honestly, you have a strength and courage to simply rise up each morning. A pain sears deep into my heart as I reflect because I’m also writing about me.

The whole month of March, yes, March 2017, I dealt with thoughts of suicide. The more overwhelming and intense the pain and hopeless my life , I’d plan one more step. I’ve never contemplated suicide so deeply. The intense chronic head pain had escalated too far. I told God I couldn’t deal with it. I was going to drown in the winter’s lake.

In a phone conversation, I timidly told my father I was having suicidal thoughts. It was hard to admit to my dad; I didn’t want him to freak out. My words didn’t register with him fully..he didn’t respond. He couldn’t possibly know how much I was struggling. He was at the store checkout line and suddenly had to go. Oh the irony, all I wanted were was my heart to be registered by my dad…not the contents on that store belt to be registered by a machine. The red button on my cell phone showed the end of the call.  I clung to myself & bawled my eyes out, and felt the pain course through my veins.

I felt abandoned. So alone. Ever felt that way? Alone in your pain? Alone in your battle? You dare to whisper a breathe of your pain, but you’re not heard.  Life doesn’t stop for the depths of pain in a despairing heart. You can’t stop time on earth, but sadly, you can stop your time on your earth. (Suicide) And that was what I was planned to do.

Someone wrote me: (suicide) would be the absolute worst thing for you Monica, and not the absolute best. (Obvious eh?) Absolute best, those words grabbed my attention. It spoke of crazy high hope. I needed hope. (Don’t we all?) Looking back, these words were sparks of hope to my heart.

I’ve always been taught to be strong. Strong was modeled as holding yourself together no matter what. You plow through life with the proud undertone: ‘I got this and I can handle this by myself.’ I’ve tried that. But seriously, somethings in life I can’t handle myself. I don’t have it all together & masking doesn’t work well. Maybe there’s a different definition for inner strength. Maybe..

Strong is actually being vulnerable.
Strong is being brave enough to ask for help, and to keep asking for help, humbly.

March was a cold bitter month. I didn’t see hope. It nearly choked the life out of me. The warm blood flowing through my veins almost turned cold and still. I knew I had to speak up because I was too close to a frozen heart. Thankfully, I had a couple close friends who gently held my heart that month. Pushing aside my anger, hurt and pride, I more clearly asked my parents for specific help with a pain treatment. I told them I didn’t have any hope. I needed hope. This time they heard my desperation. I felt like they heard me. Our worlds had connected. I know they didn’t realize how close I was to giving up and being found dead in a lake.

When the darkness is all you are shrouded in, yet you keep reaching out for what you can’t see (light) that’s the real brave. Courage is made through the darkest times.

The irony is this, you may become your strongest in the most broken times of your time.

It takes a soul strength and courage for agonizing times in life that throw your insides in chaos. But it takes something else beyond this: COMMUNITY. A good friend told me, there is strength in community. This is not a one man battle! And, it sure as heck is not flawless journey. Just look at me and my parents, even though they love me deeply! This life is messy and broken. People and situations are misunderstood. It’s exactly WHY we need each other and willingly learn (how) to join hands, how to connect when our worlds are so disjointed by inner anguish.

Together a community builds something precious: hope. 🙂 Hope endures even when you are broken, when you feel lost in life, when dreams fall apart, when life just bleeds red, when prayers seem to hit the floor, and when you can’t see the light (yet)…Hope always remains, always endures, and always is.

And together as community we become one soul, anchoring each other into hope and become greater than we could ever be alone.~

Note: I’m thankful for the love and hope sparked & breathed into me by my friends and family, by all the precious people in my life,  my community. ❤  I’m living life with hope again. 🙂