Posts Categorized: faith

Ugly Duckling Interupted: Acrostic

You Were Always a Swan

You Were Always a Swan

Such an ugly duckling.” the others cackled, slapping the water in agreement.
(Your head ducked),
Under the burden of shameful stares.
(You swam away),
 Inclined to believe what others say.
(You)
 Couldn’t see the swan swimming smooth as silk on the other side of the reeds.
(Searching)
 Inside yourself for true identity.
(Your answers)
Decidedly never came.
(You)
Ended the story before your clouded reflection cleared.

Frozen Teenager

My walls look different.
My son’s sad eyes stare back
emptied of soul. Despair thinly masked
behind smile. A frozen teenager.
He doesn’t hand me new photos
of girlfriend, wife, or family,
at gatherings.

He stares.
Pleads.
Add photos to your story.

Hang snapshots of love,
forgiveness, generosity, and hope on
the wall of your soul–you are my new photos of him.

Turning Your Page

Our stories now overlap. I would love to frame a picture of you on my wall. Keep Jonathan’s story alive by living yours to the fullest, come what may. Email your story at turningthepageonsucide@gmail.com

Lord, bless the reader. Encourage their heart to see the possibility beyond suffering. Embrace them as they journey through this life, and may their walls be filled with the bigger picture of your story. Amen

The Promise of Hope

I am a seed, DNA of hope, dying
to self so that others might live. Elevated
by Holy Spirit wind, to disperse
gospel truth. Trusting no
matter the path blown,
God will snuggle me deep into the
rich soil of His love and I
awaken, blooming in the Promised Land.

Turning Your Page

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.

Genesis 12:1

Do you trust God to lead you to good places in your depression? or grief? Abram knew nothing about God or his trustworthiness. God called Abram. Abram went. Why? There is always an initial intentional act of the will to follow God and leave the familiar, those things that once grounded and rooted us to strike out and follow where God leads. You may not know much about God’s character, yet, but he knows yours, and when he calls you into unknown places he also equips you to get there.

  • List ways God is leading you through grief, depression, circumstances?
  • Do you have a clear idea of God’s promises, (his covenant) with you? Here is a resource to begin exploring the promises of God. Bible Study Tools
  • Pick one way you will step out in faith today to trust God.

Master, you have authority over my life. I once feared and even loathed your control. Now I find security and comfort. Guide me in the way that leads to your everlasting glory. Amen

Is Motherhood Worth The Climb?

I could have stopped climbing motherhood,
after you fell.
Sat in the crag of grief
and let death bury my scarred soul. 

We were supposed to view this summit together.
Your spirit strengthened and equipped,
ready for the difficult ascents of adulthood.
Teaching your siblings life is worth the climb.

You were my first heartbeat of adventure.
My own fearful expanse of the impossible
became a vibrant vista of God because
you lived.

The struggles of life became another rock to conquer.
And we did. I breathed joy more deeply because
we grappled circumstances. Our pain revealed
gems of truth—life to the fullest.

The muscles of motherhood burned 
when I first stretched out 
for the next handhold of hope after your death.
The ache of loss—you lived—crumbled resolve beneath my feet.

Did I make a mistake in motherhood?

No, you grew in the rich valley of youth.
Stumbled, yes, but you scrambled back up, eager to learn.
I look back at your tiny fingers wrapped
around mine as I swung you up and wiped your tears.
Every struggle was worth it.

The foothills became treacherous mountains.
Required sturdier equipment, a deeper trust, training, and
faith without seeing.
I watched you climb further away, testing
footholds that would not sustain. 

Was letting you go a mistake?

I wipe my dusty tears and jump
to the next ledge of trust.
I was never meant to make
secure your every step.
God you are faithful.
Sturdier in grief, because I loved.

Did I fail motherhood?

So many missteps.
I watched in agony as your grip on life loosened. Motherhood
stretched and strained to breaking. I prayed.
Pleaded. Don’t give up. God catch him!
Your life was a sunrise worth experiencing.

Does motherhood end?

No, because love always remembers life.
Your laughter echoes
in the canyons of my sorrow,  the memories
of your beautiful, valuable, life
stirs my warrior cry of joy.

Was it worth it?

I climb this mountain of motherhood—gut it out to the fullest
because my scraped knees of prayer
and bruised soul of faith
testify life is sacred, come what may.

Motherhood is worth the climb,
even if I see the vistas of heaven
without you.

Motherhood is Worth the Pain

Turning Your Page

… but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

John 19:25-27, ESV

Motherhood tests every spiritual and physical muscle you have. Your children may be grateful. They may hate you. Keep a short account. Be humble to admit when you are wrong. Embrace, love and hold them when their hearts are broken by this life. Celebrate life.

Do your best to steward your children, but know their life is their own. Motherhood is worth every bump, bruise, and yes, sometimes even loss.

  • What is motherhood like for you right now? Be honest with any bitterness you feel. Record what you love about moments with your children.
  • Pray for your children by name. Stormie Omartian has books that guide scripture prayers over your children. These are an immense help and encouragement in spiritual battles.
  • Your children have an enemy and they need you to fight well. Equip yourselves and gather others to pray and support you.
  • Write a story, poem, or list out scriptures that describe motherhood.

Father, motherhood is a mixture of pain and joy, love, and sacrifice. Help me to value the good moments and let go of attempting to control the outcome for my children. May your love be enough. Amen

God Gets Personal in Grief

So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.

Deuteronomy 31:6 NLT

Turning My Page

Creating New Memories

I didn’t look at the calendar–I knew it was May from head to toe. Grief is a seed also planted every year into my spring. It is a heaviness that grows when May begins. This year, as it did the first year after his death, Jonathan’s birthday falls on Mother’s Day. With my foot still misbehaving and quarantine my yearly tradition of hiking at the cemetery with my family may have to change. I felt angry that something that brings me good memories and joy would have to shift. I was tempted to give in to the anger and spiral down into despair.

I received cards this week from friends who know the difficulties of walking through the next three months. Thank you. I was especially struck by the quote in one card, Deuteronomy 31:6 because the NLT translation used the word “personally”. I love a God who gets personal in my grief because he reveals the truth of his character in my soul and lifts my head to see hope.

Today, he showed me the gifts he already is giving me in my first days of deeper grief. Saturday night I lay in a field at dusk with my family and watched the stars emerge. I didn’t want to go in! The delight of each star, the brilliant moon, and even catching a glimpse of the comet and Venus had me filled with joy. The symphony of sounds in the field soothed my heartache.

Sunday morning I let my husband have fun cutting my hair. I promise, he did a shockingly good job, Michelle! Each moment of joy and laughter reminded and testified to God’s deep love, compassion, and provision, for me. There is an undercurrent of movement of the Holy Spirit I never see with my head down. I must press into experience.

Pay no attention to the evil expression.

God gently nudged me to look up. See hope in this season of grief, and offer it to those who neither hear the voice of God nor see anything beyond the darkness of their circumstances.

I am weeping for any of you who only see the darkness and right now are contemplating suicide. Hope! I see you turning this page, and then another, and another. One day you will look back on the story God is writing into your life and say, “Wow! I see the stars. I hear the music through the darkest nights.”

I know there is a vast world beyond my brokenness and sorrow because God himself, is involved in my life. I promise he is personally involved in your circumstances.

Turning Your Page

You will have seasons you wonder where God is in your circumstances. Look up, don’t stop experiencing life, and allow others to speak hope and truth into your life. You may not yet feel the hope in your grief, but as you make yourself available to hope, you will not be disappointed.

  • What is one adventure you would like to take this week? Set up a time, location, and invite someone to experience with you and or hold you accountable to step into the moment.
  • Describe a part of nature that reminds you to hope. Try to use as many senses as you can to describe the experience.
  • Meditate on Matthew 6:25-34 What in nature can you consider as a display of God’s extravagant love, provision, and personal touch in your life.

Thank you Lord for getting personal in my grief. Lift my head from this pit that I can once again see the stars in their place, hear your presence in my life. Amen

Come over to my Facebook Page for our Facebook Live Discussion and question and answer time on intense grief.

Turning Over Agitation

The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.

Romans 7:25 MSG

Turning My Page

Red Ball of Agitation

I woke up to a red ball of agitation, bouncing angrily against the wall of my mind. The simplest tasks felt heavy and frustrating. The red ball is hard to ignore because it is continuous friction of thoughts, feelings, ideas, and physical stress. Sometimes what we do and how we feel gets so compacted it requires sorting or turning over. Much like a compost pile.

Growing up, my family composted. Regularly we took a pitchfork and turned the pile over. I still remember the steam that rose as we began fluffing the highly compacted substance below. There was a delicate balance of microbes doing their job to break down the material, and the heat they produced ended up killing them if not given fresh oxygen.

At its core, my agitation stems from my flesh and spirit at war with one another. I am continually turning over all these fantastic new, useful, life-giving opportunities God has placed in my path. But, sharing a story of hope creates friction. In my own selfish desire, I want to withdraw every time God asks me to engage. My sinful nature says that says I will fail when the Holy Spirit teaches I am a part of a bigger story.

Even good things get compacted. I turn them over again and allow the fresh oxygen of God’s perspective to reveal truth, faith, love, and hope compressed within. Agitation isn’t a bad feeling if we choose to let it expose the fertile soil beneath and give oxygen to grow.

Turning Your Page

Agitation is a part of our lives because there is both good and evil; flesh and spirit at war with one another. Agitation is simply your soul’s cry to turn things over, air out, and create more fertile soil for growth.

  • List some areas of agitation right now.
  • Is God directing and ruling over all aspects of your life?
  • Are their areas that need to be turned over, re-purposed, or removed?

Father, my soul is turning within me. There is no rest. Reveal to me the most productive part of my life, and help me to cultivate a place your glory can grow. Amen

God Paints Confidence into Everyone He Calls

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

” I want to change my room,” my daughter declared a year ago.

“Okay.” I grinned, ” To what?”

“I want it to be blue and you are going to paint me a mural of a horse rearing at sunset.”

I laughed. ” You have more confidence in my painting skills than I do.” It had been 17 years since I painted a mural, and even longer since I had sketched a horse.

“I know you can do it.” The conversation settled in her mind, she turned and walked away.

My daughter’s unwavering confidence was a soul lifter and she removed any lingering disbelief in me. All that remained was to follow through. I began studying other artists’ techniques, best paints, and brushes. One tutorial the artist shared that he gets stuck when he tries to think too much about where to go next. He slowly builds layers until the bigger picture reveals itself.

With so much time on our hands currently, we got the room painted a cheerful periwinkle blue in two days and then everyone cleared out of the room for me to get to work on the mural. I became a child at play. With each stroke, I saw the bigger picture emerge as the colors blended together and when I finally went to bed, I let go of my expectations of the outcome. The next morning when I came back to inspect the work I determined with a few touch-ups, it was complete.

My daughter’s gasp and squeal of delight were well worth the effort as she saw the finished mural. Did I make mistakes? Yes. Did she notice them? No. Her focus was on the horse and that her mother painted it for her.

God told me to drop my expectations of him and recognize he is confident I will accomplish all he has asked of me. He takes off the pressure of the final result because that is his job, not mine. The gospel is a delight to share. He builds unexpected connections with others, His truth and love is the testimony he paints into my joys and sorrows. It isn’t in becoming a perfect Christian I find his pleasure. It is through painting the strokes of his love and waiting for the clear image to appear. Thank you, Lord!

Horse Mural

Turning Your Page

God’s focus is not on your imperfections or your stumbling as you follow Him. His delight is in your obedience. The Creator of the Universe is confident you will accomplish exceedingly abundantly all he has set out for you to do. He told the disciples, “Come follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:18, NIV). The disciples obeyed. “Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!” (Mark 10:28, NIV). Come follow him and let him train you to paint his love into the lives you touch.

  • List our skills you currently have. If you are unsure of what they are, start exploring and connecting with others. Ask what they notice in you.
  • What hinders you from dropping your net (the job, people, expectations, you think gives your life defines you) and following Jesus?
  • Study scriptures that display God’s confidence in you. Here are a few to get you started:
    • Joshua 1:8
    • Mark 10:9
    • Philippians 1:6

Jesus, I hold nothing back from you. Teach me to be a fisher of men, confident in what you call me to do. Amen

Open-Handed Love

I really couldn’t grasp
a way to love you deeper,
but then I let go.

Dedicated to the many parents of prodigal children. Keep holding out love.

Turning Your Page

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

Romans 8:32

Children stretch and strengthen your love muscles. Stay close to scripture as a parent. God does not leave you guessing on how to raise them, how he loves them, or how he protects and sacrifices for his children.

  • How would you describe your love for your children?
    • color?
    • shape?
    • nature? (example: Loving them feels like trying to control a swollen river cutting out a new path to run.)

Lord, you have gifted me with love for my children, but you know and love them better. Grow my awareness of your ways that I will walk in your will as I parent. Amen

Develop mind, body, and spiritual resilience

The Crucifixion of Jesus is Necessary

And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

Mark 15:39, NIV

Turning My Page

I struggled with the cross after Jonathan died. From the moment I accepted Jesus as my Savior, I lived my life trying to follow His ways. I know my faith wasn’t perfect, but being a good mom felt like enough for my son to be okay. While I knew with my head Christians are not immune to the evils of this world, there was still an undercurrent of grumbling in my heart. Why did my son suffer, and how does Jonathan’s death work anything for good in God’s plan?

The Lord answered my questions the first Christmas Eve service after Jonathan’s death.

It was not enough that Jesus came as a little baby. We don’t need a perfect example, we need a savior.

Christmas Eve 2014
Mental Illness Does Not Devalue You

Jesus came as a baby, grew up among us, preformed miracles, and provided good principals to live by. But still, the cross was non-negotiable. Without Jesus’ death on the cross, we are left trying to measure up to the laws of God without grace.

With Christ’s sacrifice, God said to the Centurian standing as witness to the sentence of Christ, there is more to life than our suffering and attempting to be good enough. He didn’t curse his accusers, he forgave them. The Centurian declared Jesus the Son of God before he fully understood his need for that crucified Savior. The cross was necessary to redeem us.

Without the cross, there is no victory over death. My son’s death is not the end of my story because Jesus redeemed the grave and gives power to all who believe. I was worth saving. My son was worth saving. You are worth saving. I now celebrate transformed lives because Jonathan’s life mattered to God, and he utilizes our story to encourage others to not give up.

Jesus came for me, not when I had my act together, but when I didn’t even know that I needed him. My son’s death does not limit God’s power. Life is still full and possible because Jesus chose the cross.

Jonathan’s Confirmation Cross

Turning Your Page

Open each day like it is a gift, filled with joy that transcends your understanding. God does things that don’t make sense to you in human judgment because he is sovereign. He rescued you, not as baby Jesus in the manger, but as Christ, the Savior on the cross.

  • Have you ever walked around the cross? Take time this Easter to read each of the gospel accounts of the trial, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus. Put yourself in the characters involved. What did you see differently through each person’s view of the cross?
  • Journal any new insights God reveals as you place yourself in the crucifixion story.

Gracious Savior, I need you. Amid painful suffering, I know You are truly the Son of God! Amen

On the Bridge

Stand
on the sturdy bridge of hope.
Hold
When your kingdom crumbles to sobs.
Wait…
Breathe…
and jump into the arms of truth.
Loved…
Purposed…
Your face cupped in the hands God
who creates life out of nothing.
Know Him.
He shaped you to live full.

Turning Your Page

Surely my soul remembers and is humbled within me. Yet I call this to mind, and therefore I have hope: Because of the loving devotion of the LORD we are not consumed, for His mercies never fail.…

Lamentations 3:20-22

Have you ever had a moment you thought you couldn’t get past? You thought the answer would never come, but just as every ounce of you strained to breaking, relief came. There is so much in this life that looks impossible, wait. Even if all you can do is stand on the bridge and do nothing. Hope will not disappoint you.

  • Describe a moment you thought you could not withstand. What did it feel like at your lowest point? What kept you holding on?
  • Draw a picture, or write a poem answering the following questions:
    • What color, shape, sound does pain make in your life?
    • What is something concrete in your life? Describe it using as many senses as you can.
    • Is hope concrete in your life? Describe the elements that make hope sturdy. and trustworthy.

Holy Spirit come. I can’t see what comes next. All i can see is my world falling apart. You say faith is sturdy and will hold me up. I put my trust in that promise. Amen

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