I began sorting pictures and papers this week. As you can imagine the task hasn’t been easy; seeingÂ myÂ vibrant Jonathan deepens my heartache. I even found valentine cards. Yesterday I was struggling to not sink into despair. A card arrived in my mailbox and it was once again the timely boost I needed to get through the day.
Sometimes that is all it takes to break someone from their downward spiral. I call these moments when someone reaches out a “timely touch” that says I see you, I know you are in pain.
I encourage you, if you have anyone in your life who is struggling with the weight of their burdens, reach out and touch them with a note. If you are able come along side and share their burden, even better. Don’t be afraid to bother them. Don’t be afraid to see them. Don’t be afraid to grieve with them.
Your touchÂ has made all the difference to me.
When I began writing TurningÂ the Page July 8th, the day after my son’s funeral, I was grasping for the lifeline of hope. I was drowning in sorrow. How do you live the rest of your life, knowing that a part of you is missing? As I began seeking God’s face I realized that the disciples asked that very same question. When the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection was followed by his ascension into the heavens the disciples were asking,Â “Now what?”Â They still had to deal with Jesus not physically beingÂ present with them.
Jesus promised the comforter would come when he left. And boy did he. This rag-tag band of followers were filled with the Holy Spirit and became powerhouses for the gospel! I am realizing that day-to-day the Holy Spirit is turning the page with me. He has a plan for me, and my son’s death is not the end of my story. GodÂ is comforting me, equipping me, andÂ teaching meÂ to grieve with hope.
As I Turned the Page and began blogging I wanted to reach beyond my friends to a wider audience. Writing is my way of leaving my unique, God-given perspective on the world. I want to offer hope to those struggling with depression, as well as those survivors of suicide. I want to become a resource and witness to resiliency. There is life after tragedy and I want to live it to the fullest!
This hope isn’t just in reuniting with my son Jonathan in heaven, this hope is for the here and now!Â Jesus came that we might have abundant life here. How in the world can you have abundant life after your eighteen year old child takes his own life? You may be wondering the same about your own loss, turmoil or pain. Turn the Page with me and we will find out together.
Once upon a time . . . Last night I fell asleep watching episodes of Once Upon a Time. I am hooked (all pun intended) andÂ am well into the third season.Â I have loved fairytales, fables, and Greek Mythology since I was very young. Taking the characters from many of our beloved stories and giving them real world experiences fascinates me. “Does happily ever after really happen?”, seems to be the question askedÂ by the writers. For Emma, the lead character life has been very, very hard. It doesn’t matter that her parentsÂ are fairytale characters.
Jesus declares that I have come that you may have life, and have it to the fullest. Seems like a happily every after statement, but remember that he speaks of thief who comes to destroyÂ thatÂ abundance in the very same verse. (John 10:10) We have an evil enemy who doesn’t want us to have our happily ever after. He is going to make our life difficult and try to destroy us. So how do we keep going no matter what our enemy tries to do to us?
Snow White declares that one of our strongest weapons isÂ hope. She says that the moment she gives into despair she gives up her happily ever after.Â Therefore she presses forward with the firm belief that their happily ever after will happen. When others would throw in the towel, Snow trusts that good will always defeat evil.
I declare with every fiber of my being that there is a happy ending to my story. The impossible is a chance for my heavenly father to part the sea.Â Since God has power over even death nothing is impossible for him in writing our story. He will turn my desert into a lush garden of his glory. The story of my life is fraught with battles and I am weary in fighting. But I know that the victory is mine in Jesus Christ, and I refuse to give up hope.Â That is enough for me to keep believing in my happy ending.
1 Peter 3:15. . . but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, . . .
A trip to a museum sharing the journey of early settlers out West would be told today if it weren’t for the passing on of their story through journals and families. They gave witness to their spirit of hope that kept them moving in the midst of great loss. Many lost family and friends to the difficulty of the journey and I can identify withÂ their sufferings on a deeper level since my son’s suicide. I am able to keep moving, to keep sharingÂ my journey because others share their faith with me who have gone through the loss of a child. They witness to me.
When I got involved in Navigators (a collegiate ministry), I was a baby Christian. I was hungry to know this God who had so clearly pursued me. The Navigators have a simple wheel illustration that depicts my Christian walk. Christ the hub or center, the supporting spokes are scripture and prayer(vertical), fellowship and witnessing (horizontal). I kept growing in each of the areas in the years I was involved, but witnessing was the hardest for me.
I have strong beliefs in right and wrong, but don’t like offending anyone. I tend speak my mind, but then second guess myself. The abuse I experienced throughout my growing up tends to make me awkward around people. I have come a long way in my healing process, but witnessing is one area that my insecurities come out big time. The written word comes more naturally for me.
Yet I am compelled (commanded) to share my faith. Paul was consistently accused of being bold in his letters and timid in person. He didn’t let that stop him from doing either. Since my son’s death I have begun to understand that it was never about me being perfect in my delivery, it is about delivering the message of the gospel! The same gospel that saved my life and that my hope will save many more lives.
Hope is a purple tulip brush stroked into a pallet of dreary grey;
Drawing our focus to the possibilities.
Hope grows in the cracks of my doubts,…
Surprising my life with defiant perseverance.
Hope is the cup of water held out to a runner,
when the finish line is painfully out of sight.
Hope is the cheer of friends
Reminding me that I am not alone.
Hope dusts off the truth of our purpose,
And reveals the treasures beneath our grief.
Sometimes we wake up already overwhelmed by life. In Daniel’s mind there is still snow on the ground ergo no school. The roads are well cleared. He refused to accept that he had to go to school. Truth didn’t matter, presenting the school closings to his eyes did not dissuade his mind.
We can behave the same with depression. Depression should never be hired as an interior decorator! It will always paint the walls black and put up pictures that reflect itself, n…ot the truth about our identity. For the longest time I let depression have free reign in my spirit. It was no wonder I found myself in a windowless cell where all I could see were the things that reinforced what I already believed about myself. There was no hope.
No matter how many outside forces may be pushing in on us, we always have a choice. It starts with inviting hope in. I am currently decorating with hope! I used to invite depression in like it would comfort me. But since I have experienced the source of all hope, depression can come knocking, as it often does when tragedy strikes, but I am different.
My soul’s walls are painted with:
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:8Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Psalm 43 (all)
I now have the strength to take every thought captive and make it obedience to Christ.
It started with inviting hope in. Now faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
This verse was the first light in my darkened cell and it showed me that I don’t want to live like this any more!
Turn the Page:
Lamentations 3:21 But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
22The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24â€œThe Lord is my portion,â€ says my soul,
â€œtherefore I will hope in him.â€
Jeremiah the prophet knew how to mourn. He wrote a whole book on grief. Josiah, the one good king who tried to restore Israel to its faith, is dead. Not a single king after him follows God and Israel is plunged into political and religious decay. Jerusalem has Babylon knocking at its door and the surrounding verses reflect Jeremiah’s own personal grief. In verse 1 he states: I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of his wrath. . .Like many of us he puts the bad in his life back on his creator. And certainly God allows bad things to happen in our lives. Babylon got in because Israel had long since turned their back on God.
Jeremiah was a reluctant prophet, shy and timid, and yet God used him to do mighty things. He certainly is living in difficult circumstances, but he reminds himself that God is not limited by our circumstances. He will give us a new day!
I mourned as I removed the pictures and things that made this originally Jonathan’s room (before we needed a pink room). I acknowledge the reality of my circumstances. This morning we start with a blank slate and the joy of blessing Daniel reminded me of all the spectacular new days that God gives before me. His mercies never come to an end!
So, as I grieve, as I paint, as I celebrate Daniel today, I remember that God is my portion and therefore I hope in Him!
Turn the Page: Sunday Edition
2nd Corinthians 1:3-7 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5For as we share abundantly in Christâ€™s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 6If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and… salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.
What an amazing passage! We do not suffer alone. What an precious gift your friendship is to my family and I. Learning to comfort in our affliction means that we look beyond our circumstances to God’s purpose in our sufferings. I share in Christ’s sufferings, but I also share in his comfort. As an added bonus I get to share that comfort with you.
When the seizures started yesterday morning I begged God to take them away. I thought that they had stopped completely several years ago and their return was more then I could bear. “Even in this, I have a purpose.” Was God’s answer to me. I have to decide if I trust him with that purpose. Do we look at our weaknesses as afflictions orÂ God’s opportunity to work in and through us?
One of my favorite women is Joni Eareckson Tada. At tie age of 17 she broke her neck in a diving accident and became a quadriplegic. Does she suffer? Definitely! But oh what she is allowing God to do with that suffering. Painting with her teeth, ensuring that others get the wheelchairs they need, speaking, singing, writing, and serving God in whatever way he calls her to.
So God has a purpose in my seizures! May Jesus comfort you in my affliction that you may not grow weary in your own sufferings. Hugs and encouragement to all of you. I’d much rather give those hugs in person, but will be staying home to rest. I love you dearly!
John 16:20-24 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 21When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 23In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
Today our church celebrated All Saint’s Day by remembering our loved ones who have passed away this year. I have stood in remembrance for friends, but this year friends stood for my loss. Throughout the morning we were surrounded by hugs, tears, and love. While my husband and I sobbed we were not isolated in our grief. We knew that today would be hard, but no matter how much you brace yourself for the emotions you know are coming, grief is exhausting.
So how do I keep this moment from just being another day the band-aid is ripped off my healing heart? I take in a deep breath as I type this post and truly, deeply, remember my son. Because Jonathan lived I fell in love with Christ, and became a stronger person. Because he lived I returned to school. Because he lived I took better risks. Because he lived I found love I never knew existed. Because he lived I gave friendships a chance to blossom. Because he lived I took a chance again on dating and found my soul mate. Because Jonathan lived I write to help others. Because my son lived I ride rollercoasters! Because my son needed protection, I am learning to boldly advocate for those who have no voice. Because Jonathan laughed I laugh more deeply, and because he wrote, my writing became deeper.
Because my son lost sight of hope, I cling to it, nurture the hope in my heart and allow God at those places that I never have before. Because Jonathan has lived I want other teens to know their value. Because Jonathan suffered, I advocate for others who suffer illness. Jesus told us that we would have grief and loss, but because Jesus was with us, we are able to do amazing things! So, because Jonathan my beloved son lived, I take in another breath . . .and keep turning my page!