"…for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her." (Proverbs 8:11)
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A Rescue Mission

Appearances can be deceiving. The photo that popped up today in my Facebook Memories looks like a man on vacation. Happy. Relaxed. Content.

But, we were not on vacation. We were on a rescue mission. The poolside hammock in Campeche, Mexico was a trauma ward gurney. Craig was sick, and we were desperate to get him well.

In the preceding weeks, we had gone to great lengths to extricate ourselves and our business from a lucrative client relationship. We’d hired expensive attorneys to ensure that we weren’t in breach of contract. We willingly turned over our crew and our operations, desperate to pull Craig out of the field as quickly as possible. The work didn’t matter. The money didn’t matter. We needed to save him. Craig wanted to live.

He hadn’t slept more than three hours a night for months, continually ripped from his slumber by horrifying nightmares or debilitating muscle cramps. He likely was malnourished as a result of a limited diet while working six days a week in the north Texas plains, combined with rewired plumbing from a gastric bypass years prior. Only after his death would I learn about the connection between vitamin deficiency and brain function. Take your B12, my friends.

We fled to our favorite city in Mexico with dreams of buying a house and starting fresh. We imagined a slower pace and a home for ministry and fellowship. But Campeche was hot in June, and we hadn’t anticipated the afternoon storms. Our previous visits had been in January and April, when you could spend leisurely days strolling through cobblestone streets in the historic city center. On this trip, we limited our walks to early morning and sought refuge indoors to wait out the stifling humidity and mid-day rains. The excursion was not without its high points, of course. We ate well and visited with friends and created cherished memories. But the elements seemed to conspire against us, and our efforts at relaxation felt forced. We continued to fight an unseen foe as we returned home to Texas.

Still, we kept fighting. We railed against the darkness side-by-side. And we experienced noteworthy victories. I learned to be more patient, to demonstrate grace, and to humbly ask forgiveness the many times that I failed. Craig’s friends rallied around him with encouragement and prayers, often spending hours with him on the phone. Craig even slept through the night once or twice.

We also discovered that his physical and mental exhaustion had deep roots. Memories of childhood trauma emerged from the recesses of his mind. The lucrative-yet-taxing client project had filled our coffers, but also pried open a Pandora’s Box of pain that needed to be addressed. Craig’s counselor was compassionate, our pastor supportive, his doctor pragmatic. The consensus was for him to start on antidepressants, at least for a short season. I hated the idea but wanted to honor Craig’s decision. He hated the idea but was desperate for relief.

Four days after starting the prescription, he was gone.

Craig had been on the same medication before, years earlier. But he was 40 pounds heavier then, and his body chemistry was different. He wasn’t malnourished, sleep deprived, or starved for serotonin. And, although we were aware of the potential side effects, reading the prescribing information from the FDA months after his passing was a kick in the gut:

“Suicide is a known risk of depression and certain other psychiatric disorders, and these disorders themselves are the strongest predictors of suicide. There has been a long-standing concern, however, that antidepressants may have a role in inducing worsening of depression and the emergence of suicidality in certain patients during the early phases of treatment.”

The next page states in bold letters:

“All patients being treated with antidepressants for any indication should be monitored appropriately and observed closely for clinical worsening, suicidality, and unusual changes in behavior, especially during the initial few months of a course of drug therapy, or at times of dose changes, either increases or decreases.”

Monitoring. Close observance. I can so easily question whether I did enough. Whether I should have canceled my lunch plans the day he passed. Whether I missed any warning signs.

But, it was a good day. Craig took an hour-long power walk in the morning, because he knew exercise could increase serotonin in the brain. (You don’t exercise when you’re planning to die.) He finished writing an essay about sonship and emailed it to a new mentor in the faith. He journaled that morning about feeling encouraged after a phone call with a friend who had a potential job lead. And the day before, Craig had scheduled three more appointments with his counselor.

The man in the hammock wanted to live. He loved life. He loved people. Seeing the photo in my social media feed left me momentarily crippled, sobbing at the kitchen table. But, then, I decided to write. Love demands action. People need hope.

Sometimes, the chemotherapy doesn’t cure the cancer. Sometimes it does. Everyone struggles with depression at one time or another, or knows someone who has battled those demons. The ultimate cure is love. If you are struggling today, know that you are worth fighting for. Know that we are in this fight together. Craig was a valiant warrior and mighty man of God. He never gave up the fight, and neither will I. Neither should you. Take to heart today his words of exhortation:

“Rise up. Do not quit before the miracle happens.”

© 2020 Leslie J. Thompson. All Rights Reserved.

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living!
Wait for the Lord;
    be strong, and let your heart take courage;
    wait for the Lord!

PSALM 27:13-14 (ESV)

June 13, 2020   1 Comment

Faith for an Army

My husband and best friend — the man who led me to the Lord and who chased fearlessly after Jesus — died on July 6, 2018. His death was the culmination of a decades-long battle with depression. Contrary to popular opinion, depression is not a matter of “wrong thinking,” but rather a mental illness that attacks organs of the body — in this case the brain — in much the same way that cancer does. And, like cancer, depression is a treatable disease that often can be managed with medication, changes in diet, counseling, and other methods. Craig fought depression with every fiber of his being, and he recorded a very powerful message about the battle in early June 2018, which he posted on Facebook here

Sadly, just like with cancer, depression can come out of remission and render the person helpless. Despite all their efforts and all the treatments, sometimes the disease wins. But, that is no more a reflection of a person’s character than if they were to succumb to any other illness. It is time we removed the stigma and talked candidly about depression and suicide. Pastor Ryan Rainey did a brilliant job of addressing the issue at the opening of Craig’s memorial service. You can view the full memorial service on Vimeo here. The video below is an excerpt of my portion, when Holy Spirit gave me the words and strength to share the message of love that God wants us to hear. The text version below omits a few parts that God threw in for good measure while I was speaking, so I hope you will watch the video, as well.


Eulogy for Craig Bennett Thompson
By Leslie J. Thompson

In Psalm 139:13 – 14, the Psalmist King David writes:

For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Craig Thompson was custom made for me in every way.

We met in 2003, when he was already 38 years into his life’s journey. It had not been an easy one. From the very beginning of our marriage, Craig was transparent with me about his struggles. He never hid his war wounds. But all I saw was an amazing man of God.

Craig was born in San Angelo, Texas and moved to Dallas as a child after his parents divorced. His father was an alcoholic, and his home environment was chaotic at best, traumatic at worst. Craig attended 12 different schools in 11 years, and dropped out of high school in the 11th grade after a guidance counselor told him that he didn’t have enough credits to graduate on time. Three decades later, that judgment still weighed heavy on him

Which is incredibly ironic, because Craig is the most accomplished man I have ever met. After serving for six years in the United States Navy – which included three and a half years as a sumo wrestler to help build a cultural bridge between the U.S. and Japan – Craig worked as a private investigator and a hotel security manager, then ventured into the food & beverage industry before transitioning into software sales.

He left his last corporate job to pursue a lifelong dream of becoming a big band singer – because, you know, that’s normal and all. And it was as Big T of Big T and the Bada-Bings that I first met him. Those of you who haven’t heard the story of how God brought us together, catch me another time. It will rock your world, but it takes about ten minutes and we’re on the clock.

Being married to Craig was the most thrilling adventure you could imagine. He was a consummate entrepreneur and we brought to life numerous business ventures he had conceived. We ran a retail store, started an insurance agency, launched two online television networks, then got into website design and mobile app development before diving head first into the drone world five years ago. Craig Thompson was a true Renaissance man.

But the most exhilarating part of all our many exploits was that Craig never met a stranger. He collected friendships every step of the way, and years later still remembered the details of peoples’ lives. He was also a natural-born encourager. For all his antics and sometimes off-color sense of humor, Craig loved to make people feel valued. He loved to help people overcome life’s challenges and know that they were worth the fight.

And the more Craig matured in his faith, the more he was able to minister to others. The more he walked with God, the more he showed humility – he was able to touch people deep in their heart and soul because he was transparent about the pain of his own journey. People are hungry for authenticity, and Craig loved going deep.

Of course, being married to him, I was there behind the scenes during that process, and let me tell you, it was messy. We went through a very dark season in our marriage, with brutal verbal battles that created a whole fresh set of war wounds for both of us. It got really, really bad. But we didn’t quit. In the darkest hour of our relationship, Craig made a beautiful video for our 10th anniversary and threw a surprise party for me with about 80 of our closest friends. We renewed our wedding vows, and from that point forward, Craig set the pace for healing in our hearts and our home.

He went on a five-day retreat called Quest to go deeper into his relationship with God, and he came back a changed man. I went on the women’s version of the retreat three weeks later, because I wanted what he had. Peace and humility and the ability to listen without judgment. He was loving me so much better – doing the act of love through self-sacrifice – and that just made me want to love him better, too.

He went on more retreats and started nurturing relationships with other amazing men of God who became brothers to him. Four years ago, Craig also discovered prison ministry, and found a whole new set of brothers at the Powledge Unit that he would go to visit every single week.

Through all of this, I saw my husband – the man I already adored – become a mighty man of valor and, like the psalmist David, a man after God’s own heart.

Craig LOVED people like no one else. He was raw and authentic – he was funny and goofy and also unafraid to tackle hard issues head-on. He loved ME like no one else. I never could have dreamed of such an amazing husband. But, of course, God knew that. Ephesians 3:20 tells us that He gives us exceedingly, abundantly more than we can ask or think.

Craig had struggled with depression on and off for years, and I was blessed that we were coming off a really good run. The last four years of our marriage were amazing. I have the BEST husband. So, when the depression came back in the spring, I was committed to walking through the season together. It’s like a cancer that comes back out of remission. It’s not the person’s fault that they have cancer, it’s something that happens to them.

But depression is more like an autoimmune disease. The body is an amazing machine, and it has systems in place to fight off intruders and keep itself healthy. But, if you have a disease like lupus or fibromyalgia or Type 1 diabetes, those systems turn on themselves. The body starts to attack itself. Depression does that to the brain. It is literally a malfunction – wrong thought patterns that can be exacerbated by a chemical and biological condition in which things are out of order, so that the mind turns on itself.

The disease of depression does not diminish Craig’s legacy of LOVE or his lust for life. Craig loved with passion and authenticity. He fought the depression with everything he had – he knew the battle he was facing, and he was absolutely determined to win. But just like with cancer, sometimes we lose.

Craig was the BEST husband, and he loved me SO WELL. He loved me and loved others well because he loved God. If you don’t know Jesus – know Him in the way that Craig knew Him and I know Him – I pray that you start today.

One of Craig’s last journal entries was Philippians 1:6, in which the apostle Paul writes:

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

Jesus is coming back, and He is coming soon, before the great battle begins. I hope you will be with Him in the fight. But until He returns, God will continue to see through the GREAT WORK that He began in Craig Thompson. He will see it through in me and in each one of you.

Jesus gave us two commandments:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and, Love your neighbor as yourself.

Craig loved me, and he loves you. Go love better.

July 30, 2018   3 Comments