Monday, December 28, 2009

Time Marches On

The other day, I watched crumbs of seed fall from the feeder and even though I saw no bird from my viewpoint, this spray of leftovers told me one feathered creature ate its fill. I nodded, knowing if I looked below a scattering of hulls would litter the ground.

The next morning, I stood at my picture window and smiled at the beauty of snow birds eating from the feeder. Suddenly, a flit of wings and a deep brown sparrow crept along the ground toward the feeder where it hung up high. But the sparrow didn't fly, even after the snow bird left. What it did was to eat the flakes that fell from the others' beaks.

Spiritually speaking, that sparrow is me.

Even before 2010 begins, I want to meet the Lord with whatever challenge he gives. No matter how difficult, I need to learn to count it all joy to suffer shame for his name (The Acts 5: 41b). For I am no longer satisfied to eat the leftovers of fear and dismay. I can fight off the flashbacks of our son's suicide with the spiritual armor God provides.

It's so simple how God can use snow birds and sparrows to bring me to this place.

There is something to a new year, as a new beginning. I'm "letting go" of things that hinder what God has planned for my life. I am even letting go of Joshua. Not the beautiful memories or the joy of having known him, but the wasted years. For how can a writer share their triumphs along with the sorrows, if too often all they remember is harsh and cruel and no hope.

If you've read my past posts, you'll remember the box that holds Joshua's journals. It still sits next to my writing desk, but I can imagine lifting off the lid and beginning the task of reading his words.

Now, I believe I can write Joshua's story with freedom. But, don't think for a moment I can one hundred percent of the time write it without tears (I say this to myself, not you). As time continues on, I will march and try my best to show what great things God has done.

Until next time . . .

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Holidays and Our Grief

Even though it's been over five years, the holidays are still hard, hard, hard. No doubt!

My husband and I slog our way through. Christmas without our son, Joshua, is brutal. If it weren't for our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, we simply couldn't do this. I must admit, though, we don't decorate for Christmas anymore. We don't buy a tree. Our hearts are no longer into that aspect of it all.

We still give holiday gifts, but now they are home canned jellies, jams, and foods from our garden. I love giving gifts like that, and I start making them in August and finish up in November. No more holiday shopping for us. It's a relief, really. I can barely handle the ho ho ho's and the happy songs. All the decorations in the stores.

I pray harder and longer during November and December, to help us get through. I count my blessings more often, to maintain a decent attitude. I must admit we get angry still. Hurt from no more Joshua here on earth.

I read the scriptures of when Jesus cried, when he was troubled, and tempted, and I sense a strength that can only come from him. Just knowing Christ suffered everything and more of it than me, makes me know even if no one else understands how I feel, he does. He always will.

All those who loved Joshua and were the closest to him, I say, "We can get through this time of year." We will be saved. "With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible." (Matthew 19:26)

Until next time, be on your knees in prayer and God will see you through.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Joshua's First Signs of an Ultra Sensitive Nature

When Joshua began to walk and held onto furniture, visiting family became difficult.

At home, we didn't have the nicknack's and glassware for him to knock over and break. Getting around on his own brought out the happy in him. He'd be in a constant state of grins, while powering himself around at the speed of light. I checked on him and then a few minutes later, he'd be many, many steps from where I saw him before. I'd say, "There you are!" He beamed me up a smile and kept on going, showing off his new talent. This was also a real awakening time for my husband and I. The beginning of learning our son's unique nature.

Around that time, we visited family at the beach. They had fragile glass on the coffee table. Everyone, including Joshua's siblings, were saying, and even yelling, "No, no!" The shouts came with rushing to catch a vase before it fell to the floor. Joshua looked up, his eyes wide in shock at the loud voices.

After an hour of this, Joshua cried in hysterics. I took him upstairs to nurse him, but he arched his back and screamed. We were sure he was ill. But, when this happened the following two visits, my husband figured it out. Joshua's sensitive nature couldn't handle all the people (six total), yelling or saying no at him.

We asked our family members to come visit us until we hoped this would pass. We stayed home for three months, while we taught Joshua not to touch certain items. When we went back, it was agreed I or my husband would be the only ones to discipline Joshua. It worked very well, and Joshua never had another crying jag from this particular situation.

I've learned we must take each child's nature and train them, considering their unique personalities. God designed us with no two people alike. Because of Joshua's tender feelings, we gave up spanking our children. But that's another story.

Until next time . . . love your little children should also mean, take their individual persons into consideration to help grow them into emotionally healthier adults.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Touched With the Feelings of Our Infirmities

This post was planned to be about Joshua as a toddler, but I came across a scripture that excited me.

"For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." (Hebrews 4:15)

Jesus is that high priest. He understands our failings and sorrows. He has been tempted as we are tempted. Remember the forty days in the wilderness? Jesus met with sorrow, upon sorrow, upon sorrow.

After reading much scripture, I believe God is sad along with us when we lose a loved one. Maybe not like we know sad, but he feels our pain. Now, since Christ is gone on to prepare a place for us in Heaven, the Holy Spirit is here as comforter to those who are baptized into Jesus' blood for the remission of sins. This is our gift.

All this gives me hope, hope, and more hope, because waking up to November 1 is brutal. I wake to an understanding that my world is blown apart. I always grieve harder in November for it is my birthday, without Joshua, and then his birthday. Before Joshua's suicide, I grieved for my grandmother and mother, for they were born in this month.

Through it all, I remember I am grateful. My husband carries me through and holds me as I weep. And when my emotions calm and the tears don't pour like rain, I am always blessed with the reward of more of Jesus' strength. Another words, spiritually I grow a little more.

Oh, yes, and after you've gone through the valley for the hundredth time, it's okay to smile.

Joshua would want me to smile.

Remember Hebrews 4:15, and until next time . . . pray.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Autumn, So Like Our Time With Joshua

Autumn is in a rush to leave. Farmers Almanac says we'll have a rain storm the first week in November where we live in Oregon. I thought about that a lot over the last few weeks while I ran frantic to bring in my garden's harvest, pull down the dead plants, and then rototill the soil for a cover crop of fava beans.

So like our short time with Joshua. We raised him. He never left home, really, he tried, but still spent most of his nights and days at our house. Then suddenly, Joshua left us, slamming the door behind him.

Like Autumn is in a rush to move over for winter, Joshua was in a rush to be in the spirit world. Like now, how I am trying to enjoy fall between all the work, I tried to enjoy Joshua during those last years. I didn't know they were our last, and enjoying him was a task. The medications changed him.

My daughter, Jami, and I spoke of that a few days ago. How Joshua shut his feelings off from all of us. Most of the time, he became a hateful and mean person (sorry, but it's true and that was the medications, not our son).

No, the son and brother we remember was happy, easy to burst out in laughter, serious about a project or task he was doing. He always put out his best efforts, because he was a type A personality. At the onset of puberty, he would dress and have his hair dampened and combed before he came into the kitchen to see what I had planned for breakfast. That was the Josh God made.

I won't be so long to post next time. As I said, I was hurrying to get my produce in and I'm almost done with tearing down the garden. We've got a few no rain days coming up, so I'll be able to accomplish all that before we settle in for the winter.

Until next time . . . keep praying for those you know are hurting beyond despair. God bless you!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Joshua's First Year

Within two weeks after bringing Joshua home from the hospital, our central heating quit working. We moved into the living room during the nights and slept before the fireplace. Joshua caught a cold within days, and I was sure it was from the chilly air.

If only that had been true.

Joshua caught colds, ear infections, and flu's. He was constantly ill, and the side effects of the antibiotics made him sicker. At one point, we decided to use natural herbs. At least they didn't have the side effects that the antibiotics had and the herbs healed him faster. But, within a month, Joshua would be sick again.

Our doctor didn't know what to do for him, except write another prescription. So I made sure Joshua didn't eat any foods that were known allergy foods. I also didn't allow him to eat sugar. As a nursing mother, I didn't allow myself to eat foods that could cause Joshua problems.

In between illnesses, Joshua was a rather happy baby and toddler. He got real good at making people laugh. He studied us, when we did something he didn't understand. Then he'd mimic it. A few months before his first birthday, he spoke in sentences. At the grocery store, people would say hello to Joshua. He would spout off a sentence that they completely understood. The shocked looks from the strangers made us laugh. And we always said he was the youngest of three children, and that's why he could talk well.

We never talked baby talk to our children, and so all of them spoke in sentences around one year of age. Joshua was even more advanced, because his family enjoyed teaching him on a daily basis. Our daughter taught him his ABC's after his first birthday. Joshua learned easily and quickly.

Hopeful his first bad year was behind us, I watched our little guy grow bigger and stronger. But, too soon, the illnesses became more serious. He didn't just catch a cold, it would go into bronchitis. When he caught the flu, the fevers made him delirious. The only blessing in all this was there were fewer illnesses. Now Joshua would catch something once a month, instead of every two weeks. I believe the healthy eating made a small difference.

During this time, Joshua truly shined. When he was well, he laughed and sang, played and ran. Our family made the most of Joshua's well time. We took drives and went to the park. We were happy.

Until next time . . . know that our Lord does hear our prayers.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Love Truth: A Bit of Wisdom From a Crumpled Note

Soon after Joshua's death we went through his room, sorting through his personal items. We found his handwriting on a crumpled note: Love Truth.

That note hit us like a wave, causing more tears. Why did he write it? Why was it crumpled, and yet saved among his most precious things in a small box? Was this note a clue he left for us?

When we chose Joshua's stone months later, we had engraved upon it LOVE TRUTH.

Joshua loved to debate. He enjoyed a good argument, searching out people's ideas as well as his own. Debating always lit up his eyes and caused an adrenaline surge. Since finding that note, I've determined to Love Truth. To embrace it, seeking God's scriptures. To keep watch and ask God's forgiveness when I lie. For lies and truth can not live in the same heart.

The saddest part of the Love Truth, is that Josh in his final years, lived a lie that snatched his life. The depression and anxiety medications that he took caused him to believe he no longer wanted or needed to live.

Yes, this is why our son is no longer here. The medications fooled his brain. At the beginning, Joshua believed the medications would help him finish college and start his career. He believed he would be able to function somewhat normally, despite his physical disability.

Satan lied to our son, as he lies to all every chance he gets. The photo above is of us and Joshua, three years after he began his medications.

If you have lost a loved one to suicide, here is my favorite scripture. I've dubbed it 'For Depression' and memorized it in those almost unbearable first three and a half years after Joshua's death.

"Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if here be any praise, think on these things." (Philippians 4:8) King James Version

Even now, as I write this, I smile. This beautiful scripture saved my life when nothing else could. So, God saved me!

Here's another scripture that comforts the fearfulness that can take hold after a suicide. "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." (Romans 8:15) KJV

Blessings to all.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Loving When No Love Flows Back

What I learned right off after Joshua died? The pain feels physical. The pain cuts like nothing I'd experienced. I still loved this young man, but no love flowed back from son to mother.

I can say it helped only a bit, at first, that Joshua pushed us all away before he left. That every waking day during his last two years he grew more miserable. I could feel his pain. When he walked into a room, doom hovered over him, although, I never dreamed he would resort to suicide. Or did I not want to consider that?

I'm still glad I kept Joshua's surroundings comfortable and loving for him. I often wonder though, if I should have taken a break and stood back to see him through fresh eyes.

What I've learned since Joshua? Do love when no love flows back.

To all of us who've lost love to suicide . . . just breathe and pray.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Joshua As A Baby

After reading Danielle Steel's His Bright Light, I stand amazed at how another son who took his life started life so like my Joshua.

Josh was born November 27, 1978 to a family of four. He had the most beautiful coal black eyes and hair. The first time the nurse brought him to me, I held him up to meet him face to face. His eyes drank in every part of me, and if it were possible, even my soul. As our eyes locked, I said, "Hi, son," over and over again. I fell so in love with this long awaited child. And I pushed the doctor for us to go home at the twenty-four hour mark to join our little guy to the family. The doctor agreed.

We had three boy names we liked, and we scrambled as a family to decide on one. When my husband asked me which do we choose, I couldn't come to a decision. I would have named him Jacob Joshua Joseph, but that would have seemed too much. So, I said, "you and the kids choose his name."

Jim went out into the hall to our waiting children, Jami and Jason, and they decided upon Joshua. When Jim came back to tell me, I was pleased! When I asked about a middle name, Jim said, "The name Joshua is good, all by itself."

So, we signed the papers and made it legal, and we took our baby home.

Until next time . . .

Friday, September 11, 2009

Regrets, But Not Guilty

After Josh died, I suffered tremendous guilt for years. At times, I still do, but mostly it's regrets. I wish I would have done this for him. I wish I would have better understood his illness. I wish I would have been smarter. I wish, I wish, I wish . . .

Most days, now, I seek God to remember the better and good times we had with Joshua. Hard work, no doubt, but, rewarded often for my efforts.

On a side note, I just read Danielle Steel's book His Bright Light. This story helped me tremendously to better understand my own son. It's amazing how similar our sons acted as a babies.

Rest in Christ . . . and breathe . . .

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

After Five Years, I Still Miss You, Son

Hello parents and siblings who have lost loved ones to suicide. I have a dream. I dream I wake and the nightmare never happens. Our son, Joshua, never died. But, it is not a dream and we live with our reality.

I start this blog, today, with a new dream. One that may, God willing, help others cope and even develope hope after suicide. A blog that may help the loved ones Joshua left behind.

On my writer's blog, I wrote about how much courage it takes to write our son's story. People said to me a many times how courageous I am. I never felt it. Until now.

Five years, five months, and two weeks after Josh took his life, I see a dawn of courage. I have to say, though, I didn't get this way over night or on my own. (And I know I'll lose this hint of courage, only to gain it back, time and again, before I complete our son's story.) I have the hourly help from God our Lord, and the folks he often sends my way.

I plan to post my progress on writing our son's story, so to begin, I want to share something. Last week, I gathered my nerve and brought from the closet Joshua's box of journals. The journals he wrote in the last few years of his illness. Joshua's last written words now sit next to my writing desk, waiting for my courage to lift off the tapped lid and begin to read what he wrote.

Am I full of courage? Yes! Yes, I shout, with God's hand upon me.

Until next time, breathe . . .