Annie Lankford Shares the Light of Hope, Peace and Stability Found at Methodist Family Health

Annie Lankford Shares the Light of Hope, Peace and Stability Found at Methodist Family Health

By Kelli Reep

Director of Communications, Methodist Family Health

You most likely know Annie Lankford. She is the associate pastor of First United Methodist Church in North Little Rock; in fact, she is a fourth-generation United Methodist pastor. Or, you could know her from West Little Rock Rotary Club where she has been a longtime member and noted as Rotarian of the Year in 2019. Regardless of how you know her, you recognize Annie as accomplished, kind and friendly with a wonderful family. What you may not know is the deep grief, fear and uncertainty she faced just last year. On September 30, 2019, her son attempted suicide.

“I faced one of the most shattering and life-altering experiences any parent has to face,” Annie said. “My handsome, sensitive, precious son, thankfully, did not complete his attempt, and I am so grateful that my family didn’t have to face any of it alone. We had another family – our Methodist family – and being an Arkansas United Methodist, I knew the Methodist Behavioral Hospital was where I wanted my son to go.”

Methodist Behavioral Hospital is part of the Methodist Family Health complete continuum of care for Arkansas children and their families struggling with psychiatric, behavioral, emotional and spiritual issues. Children as young as three and as old as 17 can be admitted for acute care if they are a danger to themselves or someone else. The hospital’s goal for acute care is to stabilize the child’s behavior and to connect him or her with community services for future success. 

“I thought about saying nothing about my son’s attempt, and I thought about what I would tell our congregation and our friends,” Annie said. “But by saying nothing or sweeping it under the rug, the stigma is perpetuated. So, this is my story, and my son’s story.”

Annie’s son completed his treatment at Methodist Behavioral Hospital then went on to extended treatment at an equine therapy program. As a result of his care, Annie has become an advocate for suicide prevention through the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention as well as for the services of Methodist Family Health.

“We are on the right path,” Annie said. “I want parents and their children and anyone in the shadow of suicide to understand that suicide and suicide attempts are not selfish. The stigma needs to stop, and every suicide survivor needs to know he and she is loved and wanted. My son is a child of God, I am a child of God, and we needed God’s angels on this earth. This is why I’m telling our story. We can be uncomfortable and sad and broken together.”

If you or someone you know at home, church, school or community is contemplating suicide, reach out to Methodist Family Health. We are available 24 hours a day, every day of the year at 866-813-3388. To learn more about Annie’s story, watch her YouTube video at Methodist Family Health’s YouTube channel.

If you would like to donate to Methodist Family Health to continue programs and services like Methodist Behavioral Hospital, here are easy ways to give:

  • Text GIVE to 501-881-2258.
  • Donate online using our secure online donation form.
  • Visit https://www.paypal.com/fundraiser/hub and search for Methodist Family Health Foundation.
  • Call 501-906-4201 to make a secure contribution with your debit or credit card.
  • Mail your cash or check donation to:
    Methodist Family Health Foundation
    P.O. Box 56050
    Little Rock, AR 72215-6050.
  • Make a contribution at church. Note MFH on your check or offering envelope and place in the offering plate. 

You Are Created to Live with Hope

God has created you in the image of God. God has given you a mind, soul and heart. God has shown you time and again how much God loves you. And God has sent God’s only son, Jesus, to be your Lord and Savior who redeems you. Put all of this together and you can only reach one conclusion – you are created to live with hope. So don’t let the enemy rob you of hope. Don’t let what’s going on in the world smother your hope. And don’t get so overwhelmed by life that you forget to claim your God-given hope. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever.

A Sunday Prayer

Lord,

Your children are sick and dying from COVID. Their families feel helpless and grieve. They face financial ruin, living on the edge and wondering whether they will be pulled to safety or pushed over the brink. And they struggle with depression and its side effects of substance abuse.

But for too many of Your children, COVID is just one more thing piled on top of so many other things. People of color live with racial injustice that continues to fester. Children are abused in homes where they should be cherished. Parents are forced to watch their children grow up with  little hope of breaking the cycle of poverty. And too many do not know the reality of Your love that longs to enfold them.We have lost hope. Hope that things will improve. Hope that Your justice will prevail. Hope that hearts and lives will be healed.

Our prayer on this first Sunday of Advent when hopelessness is cascading out of control is very simple. Help us look ahead to Jesus’ birth and be filled with Your hope that resides in a babe who is Your gift of Yourself to our world.

We pray this hopefully in the strong name of Jesus.

Amen.

Be Intentional

Jesus’ love for you never stops, regardless of what you do or don’t do. This is a given, and something you can absolutely count on in every moment, situation and decision you make. But it’s only half of the equation. The other half is whether you always love Jesus in every moment, and do everything you can to let him weigh in about everything that happens in your life – especially important decisions you make. This is not about trying to be perfect. Rather, it’s about striving to be intentional. Do everything you can today to invite Jesus into the heart and soul of your life more than you did yesterday. 

The Rush to Christmas

The rush to Christmas is on and, in this pandemic year of 2020, it’s moving at warp speed because people need hope. Lots of hope. And they need it quickly. These days before Christmas are a wonderful time to think about the type of hope Christmas offers. It’s not lodged in decorations, music, treats or even cherished traditions. Rather, it’s discovered in the highly unlikely fact that God loves humanity so much God gets personally involved in the most personal way possible – by sending Gods’ only son, Jesus, to become one of us to save us in exactly the way we need, but can never achieve on our own. So for God’s sake, don’t rush to Christmas. Let God’s promise of Christmas hope grow, bit by bit and day by day, until the full hope of God’s incarnation bursts forth on Christmas Day.