Knee-Knocking-Obedience

1 Corinthians 2:1When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2For I decided to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 3I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. 4My message and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5so that your faith would not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.
Dear Fellow Page Turners,
Yesterday I took a step to face disabling fear and in my brokenness encouraged others struggling just as deeply.
 
We do not know who is on the edge of hopelessness. It is not in our achieving “Christian perfection” God uses us for the most glory of his kingdom. We become oaks of righteousness in our knee-knocking-obedience. 
Be real with your faith. Be bold in obedience. Be open in your weakness.
Love Always,
Karisa

Needing Reminders in No Mans Land

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.

Sweet Aroma of Today

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.

 

From the Lions Mouth to Standing Firm in Faith

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!

Broken Butterflies Cover (9)
Surrender is not a wound rendering your wings useless, but the gift from God, lifting you to His highest purpose.

 

 

Redeemed Refuse

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.

 

Creating New Memories

Jonathan would have been 22 Thursday.

Jonathan Tree Birthday 22
Kids birthday decorations.

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.

  • Celebrate their Life: So we went to the dollar store, purchased streamers, graduation decorations and birthday signs to celebrate Jonathan.
  • Talk About Them: I asked Natalie some questions about her brother today:
    • What do you remember about how your brother looked? His sparkling blue eyes.
    • What is a favorite memory of Jonathan? When it was his birthday and his friends had a Nerf battle and I was the princess he protected.
    • What is one thing you wish you could do with Jonathan? Ride horses together.
  • Photo Album: She and I are looking through pictures to find pictures of her with her brother so that she can look back and see who they were together, but we are also looking forward with Jonathan. How can she love him, laugh with him, celebrate his life overlapping hers? We find ways to love others more deeply, discuss him, and keep stepping forward with his life making ours better. By no stretch is remembering on this level easy, but being moved with compassion for others struggling, because we understand Jonathan’s and our own despair, can profoundly change the world for the better.
Mother's Day Hike 2018
Our favorite trail at the cemetery!
  • Help Others: If you have lost a loved one to suicide here are some ideas we are currently looking at:
    • Helping homeless youth
    • Because my children are younger we are looking at serving meals
    • Making care bags
    • Share your survivor testimony with others
      • Each survivor story is unique
      • Others need hope and encouragement
      • Read to the elderly/or children
        • Life can be so lonely for a neighbor or person in a nursing home
      • Do a suicide prevention walk as a family
  • Seek Support
    • Hospice Community CentersMy children and I have benefited greatly from the support of the counselors at hospice
      • They helped me to stay connected with my children’s grief while grieving in my own unique way
      • Gave practical and fun ways to grieve with hope together

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.

Love Shaped Sorrow

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.

 

 

When Words Don’t Come

Scripture:

Exodus 4:15 5“You are to speak to him and put the words in his mouth; and I, even I, will be with your mouth and his mouth, and I will teach you what you are to do...

Devotional:

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.

 

Prayer:

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

Keep Hoping Because . . .

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

No Regrets, Mother Mary

https://turningthepageonsuicide.org/2016/04/27/no-regrets-mother-mary/
— Read on turningthepageonsuicide.org/2016/04/27/no-regrets-mother-mary/

In honor of a friend who has just lost her daughter and grandson. Life is so precious.

Gospel of Spring (Haiku)

Souls bubbling up,

gushing with undeserved love.

— the gospel of Spring.

 

 

 

Keeping Our Eyes Fixed (Faithful) to Christ

Scripture

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.”

Devotional

 

Yesterday could be summed up in one word.

Overwhelmed.

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.

Prayer:

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