As I edit my devotional book, I find that sometimes I still need the reminders of four years ago. It has been a rough couple of days. God is still ahead of me, making my path straight. Find courage in God’s declaration that he knows your path!
(Written on day 10 after my son’s funeral.)
Deuteronomy 31:8 The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Last night my back locked up as my father-in-law, an osteopath, was trying to bring healing and relief. I cried out to God. “I’m trying not to be mad at you, and this isn’t’ helping!” What an amazing God I have, he can handle anything that I dish out at him. He can handle my anger, tears, ups and downs, all of my emotions. We are in a committed relationship.
That committed relationship certainly didn’t occur overnight on my end. I accepted Jesus as my savior as a little girl, but by the time I was a teenager I had come to believe that I was a pawn in a stupid game that God was playing and I wanted no part of it. So I decided to play my own game with my own rules and almost destroyed myself. When I opened myself to his love, I discovered a God who goes before me, who is with me, and who will never forsake me.
I can see clearly amid our overwhelming loss, God is putting comfort in place as we face every parent’s nightmare. A walking friend introduced me almost ten years ago to the cemetery where my son is buried. I continued to walk there with Jonathan as he grew up.
It was the only connection I had to any cemetery in the area, so it seemed like a good choice for Jonathan’s body to be laid to rest. Once the decision was made, my mom did some research. Much of our family is from this area and mom discovered that my great-grandparents are buried in the cemetery I had chosen! We had no idea. Not only are they buried there, but in the exact lot, I desired Jonathan to be buried. A lot that wouldn’t have been available to us if we did not already have family buried there.
Even the weird weather (the sky turned brilliant at 9pm after darkening for the evening) happening since Jonathan’s death is strangely comforting. It as if heaven itself is mourning with us. Dear friend, God prepares a way for us through whatever trials we face. He cares about every hair on our head, and yes, my back as well.
Lord, I praise you that you are committed to me and that I can trust you in my darkest hour.
God’s in the kitchen whipping up a fresh day. Sunshine sprinkled
with cinnamon clover invites me into barefoot, porch swing
conversations with the Holy Spirit. He kneads my
soul with scripture. Buttering bitterness
of yesterday’s failures with confession and forgiveness
and baking in the truth of my Father’s character. Jesus traces the shape of
his image into my heart. He cracks open His nature, stirring the chorus
of robins, cardinals, and sparrows sweet worship songs of agreement.
I sit quiet, soul listening to breakfast sermons of grace, peace,
and satisfaction sizzling in the skillet of your love.
1 Peter 5: 7-9 Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. 8 Be sober-minded and alert. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9Resist him, standing firm in your faith and in the knowledge that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering.
In 5 days my son dies. I know now . . . I didn’t know on June 26th, 2014. Life was hard, but there was also laughter and joy. Jonathan’s soul was deeply troubled, but I still had hope that he would find peace. Please hear me, all of you who battle with depression day in and day out, SUICIDE DOES NOT END THE BATTLE, IT SPREADS IT!
Every day my life is affected by my son’s choice. His friends live differently, some better and some worse, his siblings’ lives are harder, and all the people who would have loved him, and been loved by him have an empty space where he should have been known. Many of us have to make a decision, on any given day, to turn the page on Jonathan’s actions and choose something different.
I understand despair, my wrists bear the permanent marks of my own battles. But God took a broken self-destructive young woman, changed and convinced her to place hope in His presence, His plan, and His provision for her life. I continue to choose hope, even after Jonathan’s suicide.
I have learned in these four years of grieving with hope, yes the enemy very much means suicide for evil. His plan was to crush as many souls as possible with my son’s suicide. But that is all he can do, plan.
You and I have the choice of whether to agree with that plan.
I choose to cast all of my anxiety on God. There are others suffering in the same battle with despair. The devil will not devour me, and I pray to strengthen many of you by standing firm in the gospel. In return, God is taking my bone-crushing sorrow and transforming it into a beautiful head-turning butterfly. I am encouraged by many of you who also testify that life, even life plagued by despair, is worth living!
ANNOUNCING: Broken Butterflies: Emerging from Grief, A Survivor of Suicide’s Poetry Journal is now available on Amazon in printed form and soon will be ready as an e-book. One more way I am shouting with every ounce of my being that we Turn the Page on Suicide together!
I thought i was re-fuse
garbage for one to recycle
at best, and reject
at worst. But You re-purpose
me, shape my redemption
into refined reality.
Jonathan would have been 22 Thursday.
This has been one of the hardest years for my daughter in particular. The youngest, she has fewer memories with her brother. This is a sizable loss and she is feeling it deeply. So what do you do when memories soften, or you don’t have them at all?
Make new ones.
There is so much healing power in acknowledging the memories we do have and then creating new memories with our loved ones in mind.
What types of new memory activities have helped your families to grieve with hope? Please comment below with ideas, support groups, personal experiences in your area.
Your suicide left my soul
deep within smothering grief,
stiffening clay against purpose.
But God worked his tears
into my sorrow, softening
bitterness with his love.
Forming from this cherished clay
a testimony of love, joy, and peace
for those tempted to despair.
Y’all might have noticed that I’ve been rather erratic in my posting. Moses, whom God is addressing in this scripture, waited 40 years to set the Hebrews free. He is in the palace, a perfect position! But when he thinks his opportunity has finally arrived he gets the calling very wrong. He sets only one person free through murder . . . nope, not God’s plan. So Moses flees and then waits another 40 years to be ready to return to Egypt to set God’s people free. While I don’t think God is going to make me wait as long to continue writing he definitely has me in a holding pattern.
A twofold dynamic is at play. One, I have few words currently surfacing, and two, my family needs my full attention. Several health issues have arisen and are needing quite a lot of appointments. Every time I sit down to write the words don’t come. And that is okay.
We need to relax in silent periods. Writing is my God-given gift of expression, I am secure in his purpose. If he is not putting the words into my mouth, I am quite sure he has a good reason. I trust him with this new leg of the journey, and besides, there have been joyous developments that I will get to share with you very soon.
When we are operating in the will of God, mighty things happen, even if we can’t do the very thing he calls us to do. The reason? God is good and faithfully maturing us to accomplish His will. It can become easy for me to lean hard into my own understanding of his purpose, but when I wait patiently on God, amazing things happen!
Trust that he loves to give you good things. Are you feeling flustered because a clear calling seems to be thwarted at every turn? Look back at the pattern he has established in your life. Is he growing you? Does he have a different road for you to take? Is he addressing a stumbling block?
Burning bushes often lead to our greatest conflicts, but when we wait patiently, we also witness spectacular displays of God’s sovereignty, provision, and salvation for many. I will joyously wait to lead His freedom march across the Red Sea.
Lord, you are preparing me for good things. I trust your direction. Address the stumbling blocks in my way. I see you tackling my fears, teaching me to trust you completely. Thank you for reminding me that your plan is good, even when detoured in a different direction. Amen
Frostbit by fear
I keep feeling
Dented by doubt
I keep driving
Burnt by bitterness I keep believing
Taunted by trials I keep trusting
Supported by scripture
I keep standing
because . . .
Condemned by cross
You kept carrying
Lifted by liars
You kept loving
Revealed by resurrection
You keep redeeming
No Regrets, Mother Mary
In honor of a friend who has just lost her daughter and grandson. Life is so precious.
Souls bubbling up,
gushing with undeserved love.
— the gospel of Spring.
Mark 5:28,34 For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” . . . And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
Yesterday could be summed up in one word.
Many of you have been praying for my family, and I thank you deeply. It has been a very rough week. My pain and insomnia are so severe that I can’t function very well. By the time I made it for my son’s archery practice, my body and mind had enough. I melted down into tears and couldn’t stop them from coming.
Just a glance at my webpage tabs yesterday, would tell you what I spent my day doing. On the one side were scriptures and commentary on the woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ garments to be healed, and on the other multiple medical sites were open researching answers for my family’s myriad of illnesses. The woman who had sought medical care had spent 12 years without relief. She was an outcast and now broke with failed medical treatments. I think she might have shed some major tears. Then she hears about this great healer . . . he’s the answer, I just know it!
Do you and I know Jesus is the answer? And if we do, do we also remember that his plan is good for us? Are you wrestling with a God who just will not fit into a nicely wrapped box? Do you believe that his purposes are greater than your circumstances?
The weight of my family’s health is so heavy that it feels as if my faith might break. I want an outward manifestation that God is good, but I realized last night that I don’t need to touch the hem of Christ’s garment, I have HIM in my heart. Do not take for granted that the greatest miracle in our lives is that when we believe, Jesus chooses to dwell with us. No more law to get to God, the answers are all right there, living with us! Amazing!
So as I close the medical tabs of anxious searching this morning, and determine to trust God’s perfect plan. Maybe he does an outward healing, but I can tell you this much for sure. Our family is changing from the inside out.
We cannot always help the moments of wrestling with flesh, the world, our enemy–we live in the crowded, smog filled, faith-challenging world. But, don’t spiral into fear, depression, and despair because God isn’t answering the way we think he should. A friend reminded me last night, what is God’s greater purpose in my circumstances?
The growth in my family spiritually has been noticeable. My book is in the hands of the publisher. And I certainly can speak bold encouragement into your lives. None of my physical circumstances have changed this morning, but God is giving peace from the inside out.
Hit the mark of faith. We’ve stepped out of the boat, but we still have to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.
Father, you are faithful. Help us to deeply root our trust into the rich soil of your promises. When our eyes fail us, help us to breathe in your testimony of miracles. You still do them today! Break the chains of depression that say God will never measure up to our expectations. Thank you for changing my family from the inside out! Amen