Hope was chiseled here
Among grey stones.
Your grave mistake
recast by our determination
to live beyond sculpted burial.
Poetry posted every Thursday at 7pm
Hope was chiseled here
Among grey stones.
Your grave mistake
recast by our determination
to live beyond sculpted burial.
Poetry posted every Thursday at 7pm
That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.Romans 8:24-25 MSG
I have a suicide story. My loss and pain connect me to others struggling with and hurt by despair. However, it is hope that moves each of our stories beyond the chapters of despair we experience to deeper love, redemption, and joy.
My guest blogger, Christina Rose is the author of My Appeal to Heaven, and just as she chooses to share her life with you I encourage you to share yours. If you have a story of hope like Christina Rose, I would love to share it on my blog. Email me at email@example.com You are not alone and there are many of us building a mountain of evidence that this life is worth living, come what may.
When I was 21 years old, my father leaped to his death from the top floor of a government building in Washington, DC. Immediately news reporters swarmed our home. I stood at the front door, holding my weeping mother, while my 12-year old sister looked on in shock. After a few months of being on the news each day, they forgot about us, but we never forgot about Dad.
Dad was a sensitive, introverted man and compassionately took care of others while not expecting anyone to take care of him. He kept most of his troubles to himself, not wanting to bother others. He was extremely stressed over mounting bills and kids in college and felt there was no way out. In his mind, we left him to pay the bills and did not appreciate him anymore.
She was a travel agent and started taking any trips that offered an escape. The trauma of dad’s death and my mother’s frequent absences sent us into constant PTSD and anxiety. Thoughts of suicide started haunting me. We were still in the family home with memories of dad. It felt like an ugly vulture was sitting on my shoulder, continually whispering dark, hopeless thoughts into my ears. I had night terrors with visions of dark, hideous beings running up and down the stairs. Instinctively, I would recite the Lord’s prayer, which was the only way I could get them to leave.
Dad loved to camp, and we had many remarkable adventures traveling in our Volkswagen bus. When my daughters were born, I got my own Volkswagen bus to share my father’s love of camping. I would feel his presence strongly on these trips as I pitched the tent, made campfires, and cooked on the camp stove, just as he had taught me to do. Sitting by the campfire at night, once the girls were asleep, it was so quiet that sometimes I felt that I could hear Dad speaking to me. He seemed to tell me that while he destroyed his body, his soul was still alive, and he had to go to his own funeral. He had to watch us all suffer because of what he did and no longer had arms to comfort us and a voice to tell us he was there. I felt him say, “If only I’d seen the big picture, there was a beautiful life planned for me after that storm I was in, I wished I’d had hung on and gotten through it for all of you.”
At the funeral, we learned that two of his friends were starting their own business and wanted Dad to join him. He could have quit the job he hated. My brother had recently moved to Colorado to marry his high school sweetheart and join their family. Our families were very close, so a few years after Dad’s death, the rest of my family joined them. Dad would have loved the adventure of living out west with our big family. He never got the chance to meet any of his 23 grandkids or the more than 40 (and still counting) great-grandkids. He missed walking each of us three daughters down the aisle at our weddings and wasn’t there to help us when we needed him when we started families of our own.
My father’s death and my struggle with despair have taught me that change is part of life, and storms always pass. If we are still comfortable, we will never grow. The most difficult tests are often a catalyst that catapults into an upgrade in our life that we may not have considered if we had not experienced challenges. If we can hang on and climb the mountains that face us, once we reach the top, we can see the view of how far we have come and trust that we need not fear the future.
Consistent, unconditional love and support are a lifeline to someone who feels hopeless. Reaching out with encouraging words, taking walks in nature, going to dinner, to movies, for coffee, a road trip, buying a puppy – engage in simple pleasures. Life is full of joy. Position yourself to listen; people open up when they feel heard. I pulled myself and my family out of this dark hole several times. I sought the support of community and churches; they lift my spirit when I feel weak.
In the more than 40 years since my father’s suicide, I have learned many valuable lessons. The way the universe, stars, sun, and moon operate daily testify to a perfect, divine order to all of life, down to the most minute, microscopic detail. The earth is complicated. Millions of inhabitants and their diversity, the vast number of species and plants, and the millions of years that we have all existed, we must know that there is a perfect design for everything, including each of us. It is not up to us to figure out the future but to trust that the creator already has a big picture of who we will be on his mantle.
Christina Rose is an author, trainer, and speaker certified by the John Maxwell Team of Leadership. She is a DAR (Daughter of the American Revolution) whose ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. She is a world traveler, surfer, foodie, cappuccino loving chocoholic and a devoted mom to kids and dogs and auntie to over 40 nieces and nephews.
Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story. With her young family on the verge of falling apart, Christina finds herself in a desperate situation with no resources other than herself. After appealing to heaven, the Lord takes her on a journey of awakening and miraculous empowerment. That power is available to us all, especially those who are in need of hope and
freedom. Follow her at: christinarose.org
Compiling evidence that life is worth living requires placing hope in what you don’t yet see. Every single person who has ever moved beyond despair has taken that first step to hope for something different and then step into another unknown and then another. What step can you take today.
Lord, my life is a mess and I am tired of the constant fight. Help me to see your promises and keep pressing into the fact that you are with me. Amen
“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.
Couldn’t see the swan swimming smooth as silk on the other side of the reeds.
Inside yourself for true identity.
Decidedly never came.
Ended the story before your clouded reflection cleared.
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.
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.
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
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
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
… 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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Jesus, I hold nothing back from you. Teach me to be a fisher of men, confident in what you call me to do. Amen
Somewhere during the swollen rush of depression,
“Predictable” became the portrait I painted.
It didn’t matter that I survived trauma, death lapped
gently at my soul, testing for weakness.
It found my mouth.
I was out of the boat, thinking I
knew God, but lies were
the lifeline my pride gripped.
“Help” I gurgled, the water of despair
mocking my lungs desperate plea to
calm my flailing panic.
No one assumed I’d walk on water. Depleted.
Held under by hands proving their own power.
Broken, and bruised to marrow. No one
blamed me for fighting life,
but they tired of constant rescue. I drew
oxygen from their attempts like and addict. Desperate
No expectation I would trust again.
I was born to drown. A statistic, speeding
up the slow drip of life’s faucet. An ocean
of regret would be quick. Easy.
You waited until I drowned my way, reached
into my habitual turning away. My impulsiveness.
Dying was predictable.
Living, eyes fixed on you,
You may build up twenty or more years of trauma, self harm, and lies in your mind, body, and spirit. You have wallpapered your soul with concepts about God, man, and the value of your life. Scripture says the complete opposite. Going after man’s approval is worthless, yes. But, seeking after a God who loves and wants to decorate your mind, body, and spirit with words like:
But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing? Then Jesus got up and rebuked the wind and the sea. “Silence!” He commanded. “Be still!” And the wind died down, and it was perfectly calm”Mark 4:38-39
Lie: Jesus you don’t care about me.
Truth: He cares and has the power to take care of what we fear.
Father, I am still learning who you are. Reveal any lies I don’t yet see. Place in me your spirit of truth. Amen
on the sturdy bridge of hope.
When your kingdom crumbles to sobs.
and jump into the arms of truth.
Your face cupped in the hands God
who creates life out of nothing.
He shaped you to live full.
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.
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
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own.Matthew 6:33
But Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on the cushion. So they woke Him and said, “Teacher, don’t You care that we are perishing?” Then Jesus got up and rebuked the wind and the sea. “Silence!” He commanded. “Be still!” And the wind died down, and it was perfectly calm. “Why are you so afraid?” He asked. “Do you still have no faith?”…Mark 4:38-40
Silence is at the heart of every transformation God makes in my life. Our response to Covid-19 cleared my jam-packed calendar this month, and I now have the space and time for a quieter spirit. But, where there is silence, there is also death.
I have learned that to grow in faith, I must also put to death unbelief. I continue to practice quieting my spirit for five minutes after my morning scripture reading. Those five minutes are becoming precious opportunities for me to listen and trust God will provide an answer to this pandemic. I mourn for those who have lost loved ones and pray a hedge of protection around you. There is so much I’m not in control of.
I am dying to my expectations of God, myself, and others. I want things to return to normal quickly, but it is looking like our circumstances may not change for a while.
Today I put to death:
The things I think bring order to my life do not. As hard as putting to death my striving in each area listed above, I am better able to engage my world with Christ asleep, calm, and undeterred by the waves and wind around him. Having faith that he does care for me.
You are dying to desires, wants, and even needs right now. Dying to your finances, the way you normally maintain friendships, family expectations, and faith. This a place of great fear, but it is also the place that God in flesh stands up in the boat and says to the wind, “Peace, be still.” It is an opportunity for us to step out of the boat of our circumstances and trust God.
Father, I am afraid. You are not stilling this virus, and I feel like my life is in turmoil. Quiet my spirit so that I can recognize your call in this storm. Amen
If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call the National Suicide Lifeline at 988 or go to the website at https://988lifeline.org/