What are Your Tags Showing: REDEEMED

John 19:19 Pilate also had a notice posted on the cross. It read: Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.

“Your tag is showing.” The lady behind me whispered at church yesterday, as she tucked the sales tag into the back of my shirt. First of all, let me just say . . . I got a killer price on the shirt! But what do you do when your tags of brokenness are showing?

  1. Hide them
  2. Lie about them
  3. Claim them and laugh
  4. Flaunt them

Everyone was labeling Jesus. They were trying to understand this man who claimed to be both God and man. Was he here to usurp power, or lead a rebellion? Was he a prophet? Yet Jesus cared more about who his heavenly Father thought he was. “This is my son, in whom I well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17) He did not hide who he was.

For many of us, others see what we think hidden. They see we are unhappy in our marriage; coworkers are painfully aware of our arrogance; friends feel the draft of our hopelessness. Some just laugh and are grateful that it’s not them suffering those problems. Others lean forward and tell us to hide them better. Still others pluck the tags from us thinking they are being helpful.

I can’t hide the tag of survivor of suicide because it permeates from every aspect of my life. I miss that blue-eyed, dimpled chin young man. I miss his laugh, our conversations, seeing him at college, and all the things that were to come. But in this life we will have troubles. I hope you see, though deeply wounded, I will not back down from living! Be encouraged, our circumstances may tag us with heavy burdens. but no matter how may labels show, the original price on my life has been marked out. In its place are the words: REDEEMED! PRICE PAID IN FULL! BEAUTIFUL! WORTHY! JUSTIFIED! FORGIVEN!

Do you still carry the tag of who you were, or has it been marked out by Jesus Christ? Are you convinced, no matter what tags this broken world tries to pin on you, that you are a son or daughter of a risen king! Murderers tried to tack “King of the Jews” above Jesus on the cross. But, I declare that he was and is the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Redeemer and gratefully my Savior. That is a tag I don’t care if anyone catches hanging out of my shirt!

Prayer:  Lord, we have tags showing. May your love redeem all of them and lead others to a saving knowledge of who you are. Amen

Grander Views in the Middle of Pain

Jeremiah 15:18 Why then does my suffering continue? Why is my wound so incurable? Your help seems as uncertain as a seasonal brook, like a spring that has gone dry.

 

Daniel has been in more pain over the last few weeks. His vertigo and sensitivity to any kind of car motion has ended up in several episodes of throwing up. So our trip to Cedar Point (roller coaster capital of the world) was up in the air as to whether he would enjoy.

Much to my surprise and delight, Daniel worked within his limitations and enjoyed his time. But I questioned the wisdom of one chosen ride. Spinning 300 feet in the air at 30 miles an hour didn’t exactly sound vertigo friendly. He wanted to try anyway. He did fine as we went up, but as soon as the swings began to circle around the nausea began. I held his hand and told him to look forward. Vision better focused he could now take in the scenery and exclaimed. “It is beautiful! God is so creative! Wow, is this all one lake?”

Oh, what a glorious view I received as a parent! I breathed in my son’s joy and suddenly my own heartache diminished. Daniel could see God’s glory, even though his own physical struggles felt overwhelming.

We all need grand view reminders, so that when life is at its hardest we see God is bigger and so capable of bringing us through. But, we can’t have them if we have boarded up the windows, locked ourselves in pain, and wait for death to take us. We can only have them if we step out, take a risk, and look outside our problems. Where will you go for your grander view?

 

Love Always,

 

Karisa

 

 

Depression is not meant for the Church Coatroom

I attempted to stuff my depression into the racks of the church coatroom before

straightening my face into a well pressed smile.

You, who did not hide your sorrow from your Father,

had the usher bring my cloak of despair back to me.

 

Shoulders drooped as I slipped into the putrid pew of religious repetition

believing faith wasn’t ready to share my coarse reality. But scripture shook me

awake. The world needs my tears, struggle, and depression.

 

Believers sing the blues too.

I confess, I struggle to accept Your ways.

Bones, broken with grief, scream to give in.

But, You give sanctuary to my lament.

Questions are met with open goodness.

I am reminded, God put on the cloak of humanity

to understand me.

And, when I wear depression into the sanctuary,

It is an open invitation for others to be real with You.

 

 

When Trauma Has You Frozen, Pray

Romans 8:15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery that returns you to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

I do not grieve like someone who is a slave to my son’s death. Sometimes, just like the Romans, I need a reminder that I can cry out to my daddy when fear is attempting to chain me again.

Yesterday I met a friend to study scripture and pray together. I made it through all the markers of Jonathan’s death and did not break down. But grief is not dictated by routine or schedule.

As I walked into the restaurant two police officers were waiting in line to place their order. I have yet to overcome a visceral response to police officers, since it was a sheriff who had to deliver the news that my son was dead. Every encounter since has been sweaty palms, shaking, and near breakdown.

I want to overcome this reaction, but am not sure how. My friend, aware of my struggle asked if I was okay when I came to the table. I struggled to not completely melt into tears. She assured me, it is okay if I cry, each moment is valuable, even the hard ones. We began catching up, but the officers sat only a few booths away and I was barely holding it together.

Finally I asked, “Can you do me a favor? . . . Oh, never mind.”

But my friend wisely didn’t leave it at that. “You want me to ask them if there is anything we can pray for them?”

All I could do was nod.

They asked her to pray for their safety, and we did just that. She redirected my overwhelmed feeling into meaningful, and purposeful care for these two men. As a result it also brought peace and calm to my soul.

What are you facing right now that causes an uncontrolled, physical response? It doesn’t make logical sense, but you can’t stop reacting to past trauma. I encourage you, just as my friend took the reigns and led me through the dark moment, to find a purpose in your grief. Begin with prayer. Lift up the person, circumstance, or fear to God who loves you perfectly and can cast out all fear!

Love Always,

Karisa

 

Prayer:

Lost to Suicide

Amid the fireworks,your little

hand slipped into crowded adulthood,

before your mind developed a sense of direction.

Grasping anything to garner comfort, but

fear is a poor companion.

Absence begged me to give up on you . . . but, what mother can?

 

I attempted a missing person’s report, but was

laughed out of the station.

“He’s finding himself, ma’am”. The experts scoffed, even as my

happy-boy flyers faded amid other bulletin board lost souls.

The exhausted search now buried . . .

And I hold tight to my Daddy’s hand,

so I don’t lose myself in the crushing mob of grief.

Just Another Day: Except it Isn’t

 

Scripture: Lamentations 3:22 The LORD’S loving kindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.24“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.”…

Thoughts: How do you turn the page on the hardest days of your life? In three years I have learned:

  • Pray
  • Be with family and friends
  • Pre-prepare
  • Hydrate
  • Laugh
  • Remember
  • Praise
  • Be present in today (pain, tears, joy, love, all is useful to God)
  • Notice blessings
  • Encourage others

Prayer: Lord, you are faithful in my sorrow today as I turn the page on the tragedy of Jonathan’s death, and another year begins. May others learn, live, love and grow because they see your presence in our lives. I find joy today because you are faithful. Thank you that Brian journeys through grief with me.  Laughter is not distant because you have given me Daniel and Natalie. Thank you for time with friends this afternoon. I feel pain, but know it does not last. Your love, instead is eternal! Amen

Loss Through the Eyes of a Child

John 3:16 For God so loved the world: He gave his one and only son, so that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life.

 

Daniel, age 10, asked if he could write for my post. So, I am honored to have my son be my first guest blogger. 

Even the smallest of us can make a difference to family or a person hurt by loss. When I lost my brother, I asked everyone I met if they knew Jonathan. I wanted them to know he lived. By talking about Jonathan, I discovered that others had lost someone they loved. I could encourage them with God’s word and by listening and praying for them. John 3:16 helps me to remember that Jonathan is with Jesus, and his story did not end here.

God comforts me. Jonathan’s death has made me more scared of losing my parents because they have been very sick. I tend to cry when others lose someone in a movie, or I faced the death of my dog last year. I talk to God and he tells me I will be okay. He helps me to remember playing Nerf with Jonathan, creating a football field every Christmas as my present. I would wake up and look out the window and there would be a freshly painted football field and we would go out and play as a family. Sometimes when I go to bed, I ask my mom to sing a special song, because that is when I especially get sad or scared. Even though Jonathan’s death is tough on me, we have new family activities that we do. We are reading through the Bible and praying for Compassion International Families, together. We take a Mother’s Day hike every year at the cemetery where Jonathan is buried. Last year we made ornaments for Christmas, and crafts to remember favorite moments with Jonathan.  There are so many ways to remember him.

Anytime you feel the urge to pray for someone, I encourage you to lift them up to God. Loving others as God loves me helps me know that the sad times will pass and that he has a good plan for our lives.

 

Falling Does Not Mean Failing

Matthew 26:31 Then Jesus said to them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of Me. For it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’

Falling Away

My grand entrance into the writer’s conference I am attending this week was falling down the stairs, in the pouring rain. Praise God, no physical injuries. But the internal wounds, the thoughts and false beliefs I have about myself when I fall . . . Many of us believe we are a failure every time something bad happens. So we fall deeper into sin, or reject God altogether.

The disciples drank the blood and ate the body broken for them–they were committed– but within hours they would all betray him.

Many would stay down after such a breach of loyalty. Judas did. But falling does not equal failure in God’s plan! Jesus went on to say, “But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” He didn’t dwell on their betrayal. I can just picture Jesus as Friday on Dragnet, “Just the facts ma’am, just the facts.” Our stumbles put on display the mighty works of God! You may be convinced that God can’t do anything with you. You’re laying in the puddle and questioning why try.  I am convinced of God’s compassion for us, and that his plans will not be hindered by anything! There are people in our lives that need to witness the miracle of God’s faithfulness in our battling depression! Jesus is faithful, and he does not treat us as our sin’s deserve

How do you maintain the truth of who God is and who he created you to be when circumstances go sideways in your life? Do you believe you are beautifully and wonderfully made? (Psalm 139) Do you believe the covenant of the cross; while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us? (Romans 5) Do you believe his plans never fail! How many of us stop living before we see the fruits of what God can do in our lives? My son did. He died believing he was a failure.

May I lift your chin, look into your eyes, and declare with certainty, “God cares for you! His loving kindness will not fail you. Many times we will stumble, but God never falters. There is absolutely nothing you have done, or could ever do that will make him stop loving you.”

 

Prayer of Restoration

Father, when I falter, may I find my identity in you! You alone redeem me, and you alone take me to the mountain to see more clearly who you are and who you have made me to be. May we trust that you go ahead of our circumstances today to prepare a place for us. Amen

Thanksgiving, The WD-40 of Faith

Despair rusts my resolve.

Construction of new life halts,

when tears of losing oxidize into

bitterness.

The strength of my steel,

tested too long, flake away,

weakening exposed beams.

 

 

Thankfulness is my WD-40.

When worked into my frame

I remember Your goodness.

You built a firm foundation of

faith, hope, and love.

 

No matter the damage I withstand,

I can count on the sturdiness of my God.