Search Results for: hope

Why Blog my way through Turning the Page?

When I began writing Turning 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, “Now what?” They still had to deal with Jesus not physically being 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. God is comforting me, equipping me, and teaching me 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! 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.

Rencoling my spirit: Allowing God’s truth to bring healing

Turn the Page:

Do you ever feel like you are two people? One holds it together and keeps moving forward, and the other is caught in a vortex of pain, suffering, emotion and loss. Both are very real parts of ourselves.

I realized last night that the gap between the two was widening and took a step towards reconciling the two parts of my spirit. When I suffered from depression as a teen, I resented that tenacious part of me that refused to throw in the towel, no matter what I went through. Now, I am grateful that I have allowed God to cultivate that part of me.

But sometimes I move forward and ignore the very real and deep pain that Jonathan’s death has caused. I realize that I am losing sight of grace. Grace recognizes that we are but dust and provides a way when I cannot find it!

The two parts of me must eventually work in harmony and right now they are very much working against each other. I think that David struggled with this very same feeling.

Psalm 43:4 Then I will go to the altar of God, To God my exceeding joy; And upon the lyre I shall praise You, O God, my God. 5Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.

Even as David is struggling he offers the key to the crucial transition in his spirit, verse 3 Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!

While the tenacious part of me keeps leaning into the knowledge of God’s love, I do not yet feel it. I must allow my mind, body, and spirit to be encouraged by my hope in God. Lord I thank you that you send your light and your truth ahead of me. Illuminate in me the grace, and strength of your love. Amen

Perseverance: The “Hooah!” of Christian Discipleship

Romans 5: 3Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

My sciatic nerve is damaged. I have had pain every single day for the past eight years and it would be weird if one day the pain was suddenly gone. I have learned to adjust how I sit, stand and move to keep the pain at a tolerable level.  My grandfather, on the other hand, burnt his foot because his nerve receptors were destroyed and he didn’t know he had stepped on hot coals. Which would you rather?

Losing Jonathan hurts worse then any other pain I have experienced. I could try to avoid it, many do, or I can allow it to teach me perseverance. Some translations use the word endurance, but I see perseverance as the “Hooah!” of Christian discipleship. Perseverance comes from the gut of our spirit, and is an outward acknowledgment that I hear, understand, and obey the will of the Lord. When I persevere I am allowing God to draw out my character, which makes the impossible possible (hope) and displays God’s glory. At my core is the knowledge that God will not fail me.

Many of us endure trials, but not many allow those sufferings to complete the work in us so that we are not lacking anything (James 1).  That is what my suffering has the potential to do. Jonathan death motivates me to speak boldly on the behalf of others, to be aware of depression and suicide in a way that I never have before, and to seek the face of God every day. I know the pain will not always be this severe. But until that moment comes the pain is necessary and teaches me the discipline of perseverance. Hooah!!

Abracadabra! Turning my “what ifs” into choices I can live with

Missing Jonathan the past two days. I have had such a reprieve over most of Christmas that the intense heartache is consuming my mind. It is hard to keep the “what ifs” at bay.

No matter what your current circumstances there can always be “what ifs” asked. As I attempted to lasso my thoughts the clear answer is “but I didn’t”. The what if’s are infinite, but the “I dids” are finite. Can I live with my choices?

Some of us spend much of our times going through all the scenarios of the things we didn’t choose. What if I had chosen to take that job, or marry James instead of John, and on and on it goes.

Jesus lived with the choices that he made. That wasn’t because he didn’t have “what ifs”; he trusted his heavenly father completely with all of his choices. At the heart of every moment of his time on this earth was loving God and loving his neighbor as himself. Those are the best choices that we can make.

I am imperfect, but I certainly love God and love my children. . . and where I am weak, well those are the places that I hope that Christ shines brightest. Christ is the author and perfector of my faith, as I grow in love I will have fewer what ifs and more confidence in the I dids. For now, I take confidence in what Christ did for me.

New Mercies: A room of possibilities

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.
24“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”

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!

Grief and Hope

Grief and Hope

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Suffer Like It Means Something: Allowing God’s purpose to be revealed in my seizures

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 Christ’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 or 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!

Just The Right Words: Learning to Tame the Tongue

Turn the Page: James 3:7All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

9With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.

Have you ever had guests come to the door and greeted them with the most pleasant of words when moments earlier you were screaming at your kids? Or gossiping with a neighbor about someone that you don’t like and when the person shows up you are suddenly so happy to see them?

I confess to you that I have had these moments. I don’t like this sinful part of me! Scripture calls the tongue a rudder, directing the rest of our body. And Paul declares that I can’t tame it! “It is a restless evil filled with deadly poison.” (vs. 8) So what hope is there for us if we cannot tame our tongues?

Paul states: 17But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

Just like the disciples went from using their tongue unwisely to using them for good, we can become wise with our tongues. The disciples spent three years hanging out with the God of the universe who chose to limit himself to be with us! What flowed out of the heart of Jesus was what Paul is describing in verse 17 and 18. “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. (Luke 6:45) Controlling the tongue does not mean that you have to stop talking; it simply means that your tongue is directed by your Christ developing character. Wisdom is gained by focusing on what is pure, loving peace, being considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. So at this moment I take inventory of what is in my heart and I spend time with Jesus allowing him to fill me up with his love, grace, and mercy. Only Christ can tame our tongues by filling our hearts with his love for humanity.

Remembering My Son: Because he lived I am changed

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!

Building Connections: Placing ourselvers where the action is!

Mark 5:28For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.”

Once again the coffee shop has proven to be a place of connection. I go there once a week to make myself available to anyone who needs to talk to or pray. I’m not normally there on Wednesdays, but had to switch days. A friend met me and as we talked and prayed the woman behind us was listening. We got up to leave, but our booth neighbor stopped us and asked for help with her own family situation. We prayed with her and exchanged contact information.

Are we putting ourselves in places where synchronicity can happen? Synchronicity, is defined as: the simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection. I define it as those moments when we make ourselves available to the will of God and all of heaven moves to meet us! Since Jonathan’s death I have had many of these synchronicity moments. There has been a consistent theme in my life of children’s homes, horse therapy and counseling training. I do not know what God has in store for all of these connections, but he most certainly is bringing the outline of my path into clearer focus and brought heavenly resources to me.

Jesus put himself smack dab in the middle of the action! He was at the docks where the fishermen were casting their nets, he was in the village square where the Samaritan woman drew from her well at an unusual time of the day. He was in the garden, where God himself met with him through prayer. He was in the Jewish temples where the teaching occurred. He was at the parties, at the tables, and available in the middle of the needs of the people. He moved ever closer to Jerusalem as he ministered, ever closer to his death, and ever closer to providing for the entire world its need for forgiveness and hope.

Maybe synchronicity is occurring because I refuse to let fear stop me. Or, maybe it is because my mission is to offer hope, and turn around the suicide rate. Whatever God’s purpose, I am hopeful and in awe of his storehouse of resources! Jonathan loved the movie A-Team. Hannibal, the leader of the team says, “Love it when a plans coming together!” Even though all of the events seem random and impossible.

When we make ourselves available to God’s plan, he’ll move all heaven to equip you! No, you may not be trying to drive a tank in the sky, like the A-Team, but you may walk on water!

Questions and Doubts

Luke 7:20 And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’”

Yesterday was a particularly rough day for Daniel at home and at school. As we began trying to dig past the bad behaviors to what was going on in his heart Daniel started blurting out a series of doubts and deep questions. The same questions and doubts I still struggle with. If Jesus took all our sins away why do we still sin? If I love Jesus why can’t I seem to do good? If you and the adults in my life love me, why do you punish me. If Jesus loved Jonathan, why did Jonathan die? He concluded, “It would be easier to obey, if Jesus was here and I could see him.”

John who had been preparing the way for Jesus to come asked “Are you the one, or should we expect someone else?” He’s sitting in prison, awaiting execution because the wife of Herod wants John dead. It would be a natural question for someone who has spent his entire life preparing for Jesus. At its core, if I obey God, why am I facing death?

Many of us have these very same questions. We wonder why do bad things continue to plague us, we wonder if God and those around us really love us. If you struggle with depression, you wonder why living is so hard. I struggle every day with why Jonathan took his own life. I see it as so preventable and sometimes I too am overwhelmed by my questions and doubts. So what hope is there when we have so many doubts and questions?

Luke21-3 In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. 22And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” John the Baptist, took that hope and did not give in to his doubts as he faced death. Even if that path leads through dark places like Jonathan’s death, I still see him laying a foundation for me to offer healing and hope to others who are grieving. Am I going to be offended by who Jesus is? He is patient with my questions and doubts. Do not lose heart Daniel, do not lose heart dear reader!

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