Monday, December 27, 2010
Do these words describe your present state because of loss of a loved one? I know it did mine after our son, Joshua, died by suicide over six years ago. Do I still feel this way from time to time? Yes, but with God's mercy, I passed through and out of the terror over Joshua being gone.
Psalms 56:3 is fitting: "What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee." (KJV)
Hard to practice living that verse? Of course, especially when you've lost a child. I walked around full of terror that first year after Joshua left us. But I didn't stay in that miserable state. We may feel fear during our loved ones' birthdays and the holidays that we experience without them. And we may know terror when their death date rolls around, but all this can be less of a burden.
This year, my husband and I were not overly sadden at Christmas time. Few tears and sorrow to overwhelm us. Why? We reached out to a community where I spent much of my growing up years. My husband passed out Bibles and the Gospel of John tracks at the town's Christmas dinner feed. At one table, we shared about God's love to a suffering soul. We even got to eat with my dear friend who is still like a mother to me after all these years. We felt blessed by the day.
Something else I've recently come across is a book about writing through your healing process. You do NOT have to be a writer or a published author. You can take up writing at a point in your life when that has never been your intent. It can be words only for your eyes.
The book is entitled, "Writing as a Way of Healing" by Louise DeSalvo. I believe God allowed me to find this book as an aid to my healing process. With God as my foundation, I've been reading DeSalvo's words. I understand I am doing well to write about my feelings after all the major losses in my life.
DeSalvo suggests we write in a journal about an event that has caused us so much sorrow that we can not let it go. Something that keeps us stuck in neutral. Here's a quote from DeSalvo's book: "Engaging in writing, in creative work, then, permits us to pass from numbness to feeling, from denial to acceptance, from conflict and chaos to order and resolution, from rage and loss to profound growth, from grief to joy."
Do you think David understood this when he wrote Psalms? I see David's life poured out onto the pages of our Bible. So, why shouldn't we create our own words of healing? Or paintings of healing? Or woodwork, crafts, sculptures? Why not try it, friends?
Until next time . . . create.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Recently, a brother in Christ taught a lesson about Mary's song, Luke 1:46-55. I found myself drawn to the words once again, but I did not notice before the heading at the top of the Bible's passage, titled: Mary's song of thanksgiving.
Here's the first part of Mary's song, verses, 46-48.
". . . My soul doth magnify the Lord,
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed."
Magnify in verse 46 means make great, meaning the Lord is highly important to Mary. She needs him.
What does this have to do with our suffering after the loss of a child? Or any death, for that matter.
I knew of a Christian woman who lost her son in a motorcycle accident. I reached out to her (Joshua had been gone for two years by this time), but her state of mind alarmed me. She admitted she went to church but she didn't want to be there. It left her empty, feeling hollow. Every single time for weeks and months she had these feelings. I prayed for her.
Yes, there were many days before Sunday worship that I cried right up until I walked out the door dabbing my face with a hankie. I didn't feel much like going. I worried I'd sob right through service. It is miserable to face a crowd when you're hurting so profoundly that all you want is to leave this earth. Every time, though, I grew stronger for attending services on the Lord's day.
We need a song in our heart, especially when we're walking through the valley of the shadow. It may be too simplistic by some standards, but it is OUR song.
A song could look like mine those first years after Joshua died by suicide. Hold me up Lord, I pray. Nothing can snatch me out of your hand, Lord. You are worthy, Lord, to give me your strength, for mine is wasted.
What is your song? The song that you sang in your heart after the loss of a loved one. If you didn't have one, you can still find your song. You can sing it now and praise Lord, God. He always blesses us when we reach out to him.
At this time of year, life weighs heavy on those who have lost dear ones. Keep a song in your heart, even if it is but; help me, Lord. I've found those three words the most powerful. Our Lord comes running.
Until next time . . . sing.
Author note: The photo above is of my daughter, Jami, as she sang her songs. (Photo taken nine months after her brother passed)
Sunday, November 21, 2010
A heart grown weary,
A soul shattered by loss.
How can it be, that I still live,
And yet my son does not.
As mother Mary, "kept these things,"
I pondered in my own heart.
Did Mary know her Son would die?
As surely, I did not.
for her Savior Son.
And I, for mine,
We have a mother's heart.
By Jean Ann Williams
Inspired by Luke 1:19, "But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart."
The poem above is rough (I'm not a poet), but it says much about how Mary's situation kept me going after Joshua died by suicide. When all I wanted was to be with Joshua, I would think of Mary. I'd read every scripture written about her. I would nod. "I believe, Mary, I know how you must have felt."
In Joshua's journals, he mentioned more than once what a burden he was to us with his physical disability. He wrote about how he wanted the best for his parents. I'd rather have my son be my cross to bear, than like now.
I wish, oh, how I wish, he would have understood how we felt. Did we give mixed signals? Did the times I was worn down with caring for him show that much?
I thank God with all my heart that Joshua left us his journals. He cleared up several issues for which we felt guilty. We thought some of the decisions we made had pushed him to his death.
They did not.
Joshua even wrote, "I don't know what will happen to me when my parents are gone."
Before his death I pondered much in my heart, watching Joshua deteriorate. I ponder still. What would life be like if Joshua had lived?
I'll leave you with a scripture. Psalm 19:14 "Let the words of my mouth, and the mediation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer."
Until next time, pray.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Life's Pathway by Fern Ackerman
There is no easy path to take,
When traveling down life's road.
We try to choose the right one,
To have the easy load.
But trouble over takes us,
As we trod along the way.
Heartaches, trials, and crosses,
Seem to come and somehow stay.
However dark the night may seem,
However deep the pain.
Pour out your heart to Him in Prayer,
He will help you to sustain.
I love this poem by Fern Ackerman, because it speaks of how people think and how much God loves us.
Have you ever considered the words, "Help me, Lord," are more powerful than any flowery prose we can say? Sometimes, I am so distraught, all I can say is, "Help!"
Last week Satan attacked me with a punch that dropped me to the ground. I cried. I prayed with many words. I ranted. But I got nowhere until I said out loud to God, "Help me, please!"
He came running, and a warmth of love enveloped my entire being. I thought, "Oh, God, my God how great is thy name." Afterward, I read in his Word all my favorite scriptures.
I said in an earlier post November is a harsh month, because Joshua would have been 32. I must keep on my full spiritual armor and grieve God's way. That may mean sorrow that overwhelms to the point I'm on my knees to him. Over and over again.
"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Philippians 4:13
Until next time . . . read the word and pray. God bless you dear readers.
Monday, October 11, 2010
The man whispered, "God, speak to me," and a meadow lark sang. But the man did not hear.
So the man yelled, "God, speak to me," and the thunder rolled across the sky. But the man did not listen.
The man shouted, "God show me a miracle," and a life was born. But the man did not notice.
So the man cried out in despair, "Touch me, God, and let me know you are here." Where-upon, God reached down and touched the man. But, the man brushed the butterfly away and walked on.
Church of Christ
I want to add, we can most importantly find God in his Word, the scriptures. I think the man above did not seek God there to start. I find time and again when I seek God in his Word and in prayer first, he allows me the wonders of experiencing his creations mentioned above.
God increases our faith and gives us a respite from our sorrows and fears. I love that about God.
Now begins a more difficult time, since Joshua's birthday looms ahead. He would have been 32, making plans for the holidays. But Joshua is no longer here, and last week began a bumpy ride of emotions. I cried out to God with fists clenched. I kept reading his Word and prayed. I had no worries that God wouldn't get me through, the beginning of many long days to come. I even said out loud, "I am miserable. I don't like what I'm going through. Please take this pain from me."
In due time, God did.
Since then, I've been peaceful, but I also awoke a few mornings knowing more sharply I am weak and sinful. God let me see myself. I tend to notice the best in others and in myself, but it's important for a reality check. Hard as that is it will bring forth fruit when I am stronger than ever before, ready to be an example again.
What was my earthly reward? I spent an afternoon in the woods with my husband. So quiet, except for the trickling waters of creeks, the singing birds, and the wind high on the tree tops. Oh, and one jet plane in the distance, just to remind me of reality. God knows me, through and through.
Please understand you are not alone. God watches over us, and he loves more than any human can.
Psalm 119:105, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
Until next time . . . read God's Word, pray, and know his joy.
Monday, September 6, 2010
Recently, I read those words spoken by God to Moses in Exodus 3:14, ". . . I AM THAT I AM . . ."
God is telling us that is who he is. I am Jean Ann Williams. You are who you are. God is the I AM. He is our Creator.
Knowing God is our supreme I AM has brought me great comfort. For I wonder, how can a mere person such as myself manage on my own? I can't. For six and a half years I've struggled daily as a suicide survivor. My small world isn't much compared to God's; Creator of the ground I walk upon.
Is this world harsh? Sure. Is this life wrought with pain and misery? Sometimes it feels never ending, but God sends us a reprieve to give us rest. In the meanwhile, the I AM is the first being we should call out to while in great tribulation, especially for parents who lose children. Because when our children die there may be some measure of guilt. No matter that we have spent years or days caring for our babies, only to have them leave this world. That's the least amount of guilt.
What if you've neglected your child in one way or another and then they die? That's more guilt than any parent can shoulder alone. That's horrific loss. Go to God in heartfelt pleading and he will hear you. Pick up his word, the Bible, and seek his answers for your life. There you will find forgiveness and comfort.
Even though I made Joshua my job for his 25 years on this earth, I made many mistakes. I still struggle with some guilt. That's when a sadness overwhelms me. Where do I go? To the Lord, and then he sends people to me, and it brings me back to my tasks on earth.
Read Exodus 3: 13-15, and see in detail what I AM THAT I AM said when Moses asked, ". . . what shall I say to them?"
Until next time . . .
Monday, August 23, 2010
When Joshua died by suicide at age twenty-five, I needed a light unto my path. At first my family and I were shocked, but later, the path became littered with despair, fear, and more fear, and guilt. When the psalmist says, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path," (Psalm 119:105) that's not mere pretty prose. God's words saved my life.
Try to imagine your young son, struggling his whole life with pain and illnesses. Try to imagine caring for him through all that like the most important job ever. Then, one day to watch him die. By his own hand. The horrors my husband and I suffered are too graphic, but God knows. His love shielded us even from our own selves.
I learned to keep my Bible with me. I would hold it in my lap when I felt my very skin crawl from me. While holding that book was I still in misery? You know it. Was I wishing to die? Yes. Jesus helped me to hang onto this world, though, as I longed for the next.
Today, six years later, I am a strong daughter of a King. I don't mince words when it comes to our Savior. I want people to know how much Jesus our Lord loves us. So much so, that he came down from heaven, became a man, and died for our sins.
That's Grace. Those first four years, I needed all the assurance God could pour into me. For the guilt of losing my son nearly took my life.
Parents, know that we aren't perfect and we will make mistakes. Know that God will forgive us, if we but follow his teachings. Read his Word, the Bible, and do what he says. You will have a light unto your path.
If you've lost a child to suicide, please write me and I'll pray for you.
Until next time . . . discover God's path!
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Our preacher recently shared a poem with our congregation and it said so much of how I feel about God. So, without further chit chat here it is.
My Truest Friend by Eva Sharp
Why should I be discouraged?
Jesus will not forget.
He knows my every trial,
And He's never failed me yet.
Though shadows dark surround me,
On Him I can depend.
For He will never leave me,
But will keep me to the end.
So I will ever trust Him,
Though the way I cannot see.
For I know His hand is leading,
And His way is the best for me.
God's blessings on us all!
Until next time . . . Pray.
Monday, July 19, 2010
A Psalm of King David
1. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever."
I can't add to this at all for the scripture speaks for itself.
Until next time . . .
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Recently, our preacher gave a sermon on the existence of the soul. He had my full attention, because my son, Joshua, is in a place nothing like earth. He has a form nothing like his old body, although, I'm not sure what that looks like.
What exactly is Joshua? If he's not in the flesh, what form has he taken? I'm going to refer to Joshua, but, of course, I mean people as a whole as I write what I'm trying to understand.
In the Bible, the scripture defines human existence. Joshua was, as we all are, a oneness of soul, spirit, and body. They describe images of the inseparable whole person: that is until Joshua's death by suicide. His body image is now ashes in the ground, becoming so a few days after his soul departed his body.
Before Joshua was born, Genesis 2:7 (KJV) says his soul existed before his physical birth. "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." Joshua did not have a soul, he is a living soul. Joshua lives in the spirit world in a form other than bodily.
To sum up, when death overtook Joshua's physical body, his soul returned to God. Matthew 22:29-32 (KJV) proves this, and verse 30 reads, "For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven."
Beautiful, is it not?
I tell you, folks, I could not for certain continue on in this life if it weren't for the Word of God and the comfort of the Holy Spirit. I hope what I am understanding is of some encouragement to you, also. If I've muddle things up please write me, and I'll bring more scriptures to the table. I plan to continue this topic on the next post.
Until then . . . read the Word and pray.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
On a lighter note about our loss of Joshua to suicide, recently the rain here in Oregon has been nonstop. I don't mean twenty-four hours a day, but rather raining off and on everyday for two weeks.
At first, my husband worked outdoor chores in between rains. No problem. Then, things turned comical. As soon as he started the job, like cutting wood, here came the rain just a pouring down. Jim came inside with a perplexed look.
As soon as he settled in at his computer or to read a woodworking magazine, the rain stopped and even the sun peeked. Out he'd go, again. A few minutes later Jim came in a bit soaked. This happened at least a half a dozen times.
I would tease, "Honey, go outside, my garden needs more rain."
Joshua would have gotten a good laugh at his dad's comical situation. We imagined, and we know it's just for fun, Joshua asking the Lord to allow it to rain down on his dad.
Instead of becoming upset that rain just needs to do its business, we brought our son into the situation and smiled. If Josh were here, he would have laughed at his dad. No doubt.
I remember the last time Joshua laughed. One week before he took his life, I was in a tiff. About what, I don't remember. Jim and Joshua followed me toward the opened garage door. In the entryway, my foot landed on a propped up steel rake. Bang. The handle of the rake hit me on the nose. I cried out in pain. Joshua laughed. His jolly moment made me even angrier. How dare he laugh when I pert near broke my nose.
Later that night, I touched the sore spot and winched. Then, I smiled to think my little accident made Joshua laugh out loud. I couldn't remember the last time I heard his echoing laughter.
Today, I am considering the scripture from James 5:8, "Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh."
Until next time . . . I pray, you pray, let's all pray.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
I'm a walking question mark . . . ????
The biggest question that I have asked since the hour Joshua died by suicide, is this, "Did our son go to hell because of the way he died?"
Now I didn't immediately ask it, really. Both my husband and I said, "Joshua's going to hell."
Sounds real harsh doesn't it, but we both believed that suicide was a sure trip to an eternal life in hell.
I've told my close friends and even near strangers this fear that I have. I've gotten some very encouraging responses, bless them. Even though these sweet folks believe Josh would NOT enter into hell because of suicide, I have decided at this point that I may never know.
I honestly don't believe that even asking for forgiveness before he did the deed would pardon Joshua. The only consolation I have is that Joshua did attempt twice hours before the finality of his death, and that first attempt made him weep. He did not want to die. He reached out for our help.
With that in mind, I believe something took over our son that was not him. It was not him each time he attempted and when he succeeded. So what was it? Was it the medication for depression and anxiety? Was it a demon or demons? And since Joshua had accepted Christ and washed away his sins ten years before, is there something I am missing?
We, his family, saw him saved by the blood of Jesus. We were there when he gave his confession of faith, went down into the water, and came back up. Joshua's face shined after he put off the old man of sin and became renewed in the Spirit of Christ. All evidence of his new life as Christian.
The only Truth I know for certain, though, is my own walk with Jesus. I work hard toward the day to enter into Jesus rest in heaven. Will I know Joshua's fate? Maybe. Maybe not.
Questions With No Answers? God has many mysteries, but much hope for his children's future. It's all in how we respond each day and our obedience to him.
One of my favorite hymns is "I Want to be a Worker." Look at this chorus: "I will work, I will pray in the vineyard, in the vine-yard of the Lord; I will work I will pray, I will labor ev'ry day in the vineyard of the Lord."
Until next time . . .
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Joshua, age eight, in the bottom right of the photo, off to the side.
Early on, I wrote about Joshua's birth and his illness. All the ear infections, attacks of bronchitis, colds and viruses stemmed from his autoimmune disease, ankylosing spondylitis. Something he wasn't diagnosed with until age fifteen. Top that off with being born hyper sensitive, and you've got a needy child.
Remember Joshua's box of journals I wrote about on the first post? A few days before Mother's Day, I decided to read some of his writings. What I found shocked and saddened me, but Joshua's childhood made sense now.
Within a note to his therapist, he wrote, "I have never felt connected to anyone." I gulped. No one?
Our family knew Josh depended on me more than the average child. To be honest, Joshua tested my patience and endurance. I thought it was because of his illnesses for he rarely felt well. Did his illnesses disconnect him from people, when Mama would only do? And what about the times when even I couldn't calm his wails?
He had bouts when I couldn't put him down. He'd miserably rub his ear or make a fist and swipe at his endless runny nose. To cheer us both, I'd place him on my hip and we'd vacuum. He relaxed to my swaying motion and the sound of the motor. The hum lulled him to sleep. I tell ya, I had the cleanest carpet on the block.
When I needed both hands, like mopping the floor, Joshua's big sister took him on wagon rides during nice weather. Sometimes, she came in with a shriveled look, and said, "Mom, he still isn't happy."
I'd look up to heaven, and think, Ah, dear Lord, what am I going to do?
Even when Joshua appeared well, he didn't like me leaving him with his daddy while I grocery shopped. I fretted the whole time, because I knew when I came home, Joshua would be in Daddy's arms at the dinning room window. I'd pull into the driveway and the first thing I'd see were the sobs on Joshua's unhappy face. By the time I got into the entry way, my husband would say, "There's Mama."
Joshua would giggle and dive for me. I'd kiss his sweet, wet face and we'd snuggle, while the other family members brought in and put away the groceries.
Are people born feeling disconnected? I know some need few people in their lives. Some folks need a whole crowd around them. Joshua needed only close loved ones, and when he felt well, he needed a crowd.
This is my mother's heart trying to discern the truth. A mother who misses even the difficult times with her son, and is grateful for the blessing of having him for twenty-five years.
After that first experience into Joshua's box of journals, I'll read his writings in small bites. Prayers on my lips for courage, I'll know when to take a break.
Until next time, dear readers,. . . know I am praying for your loved ones as you've requested.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Dana McGregor, a missionary for the youth, is featured in this high school graduation photo with his best buddies, dubbed The Crew. Shorter than Joshua, Dana stands to Joshua's left, his arm slung around him. Joshua holds The Crew's signed soccer ball.
Dana has agreed to this interview about his loss of a best friend, Joshua Williams. First, though, we want to understand who Dana is and what makes him tick.
What do you like to do for fun?
I really Love Life! I really enjoy Surfing and playing soccer and making people laugh and living a life that is completely free in Christ.
What sport did you play in college?
I played soccer at Fresno State University in California.
Has playing soccer changed your life?
Playing soccer has given me a purpose to exist, a desire to excel, and makes me come alive when I play. So yes! Soccer has had a huge impact in my life.
How far did you advance in the sport of soccer?
I played Professional Soccer, Indoor and Outdoor, for four years. The Lord has allowed me to play and coach soccer in over twenty countries throughout my life and many more to come.
Could you tell us where God prompted you to go after graduation?
I went to Beirut, Lebanon for seven months and played with a Palestinian team. Then, I moved to South Africa and played nine months over there and worked with an Orphanage and did Prison Ministry.
How old were you when you first met Joshua? Could you tell us a favorite story about what you did together as boys?
I met Josh when I first moved to the Central Coast of California in 4th grade at Shell Beach Elementary School. We really became close in 7th and 8th grade at Judkins Middle School where together we grew our hair long. And of course in high school we hung out all the time causing a lot of mischief.
But most of all, I just loved being with Josh. He was comforting and peaceful to be with, and I loved making him laugh. In high school he became a Christian, and I use to curse all the time and it would make him chuckle. After we would surf in the ocean, I loved sneaking into hot tubs at different hotels. During those times, we had great conversations and laughs. I would have probably gone off the deep end if it were not for Josh. He kept me taking a second thought about what I was about to do.
What did you admire most about Joshua? What did you admire least?
What I admired most about Joshua was his love for Jesus and his love for his friends. He loved us, and we all benefited from his love, life, and friendship.
What I admired least was sometimes he hid the intimate relationship he had with the Lord. I believe it was because he knew his high school buddy’s hearts didn’t want to hear more about Jesus. In high school, my heart would not let Jesus in, because I was into soccer, my friends, and myself. It was not until my freshman year of college before I came to know Jesus, after I asked a lot of questions about God and life and purpose, etc.
Where were you when you got the phone call about Joshua’s death, and could you tell us what you thought or felt?
I heard the message Jean Williams left on our answering machine from a hotel room in Fresno. My mom said, “You need to hear this message it is very sad.”
I will never forget that moment for the rest of my life. I started weeping uncontrollably and hugging my mom and asking God why this had happened. After a while I called Andrew Elliot and Chris Edgerton, good friends of Josh. We comforted one another and wept together over the phone. We were so taken back. It blew us away. Never would have expected it.
How long after Joshua passed before you decided to teach young people suicide is not the answer?
Josh’s death hit me several times throughout the first two years, and I could not stop weeping over him. It took a while to be able to share Josh’s life with kids, because I was still going through the grieving process. But now I share Josh, and The Song the Lord gave to me for Him. People are moved by the song and are touched by the life of Josh.
How did your idea surface to help young people overcome thoughts of suicide?
I figure everyone goes through thoughts of suicide at some point in their life. Whether it is for a couple seconds, or when you entertain the thought of it as in Josh’s case. So, I believe everyone can relate to what he did. What I loved about Josh was his no compromise lifestyle. It was all or nothing. There was no way he could live a life of being lukewarm. Josh loved Jesus!!! Go big or Go Home way of living!!! Maybe this is what he was thinking, not understanding how his actions would hurt those that loved him.
What do you tell young people about the pitfalls of this world?
I share a testimony of my life with how soccer became my identity, but when I had an experience with God’s love my life changed radically. I also share that at times there are trials and pain and hurt and sadness in life, and the Bible says, “. . . we must go through many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22) NIV
Also, I share that it is important how we respond to life’s difficulties. Because Paul said, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10) KJV
We can turn to God who gives strength through impossible-to-handle situations. If Life were easy we would not need God. He wants us to depend completely on Him for everything because He wants us to, “Trust Him with all of our heart and lean not on our own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5) NIV
Where do you think Joshua went wrong?
I don’t hold anything against Josh for what he chose to do, and don’t blame him, or pass judgment on him. The only thing I could say went wrong was entertaining the thought of suicide and acting upon it.
I had not heard from Josh for quite a while because it was my 2nd or 3rd year of College. As I look back, I really wish I could have been there more for him. I wish we had stayed in closer contact, so I could have known his heart and how he struggled. It seems when we share our struggles with our friends it gives us an opportunity to pray for them. It helps bring into light what is in darkness and the temptation loses its power.
You’ve written a song about Joshua. Has writing the words helped you to heal from Joshua’s decision to end his life?
I would say definitely! I felt the Lord gave me the song for Josh and for all his friends and family. For anyone going through the death of a loved one. The Last Lyric says it all, “I will always Love you and I will always remember you!!!
Has losing a friend to suicide affected your life?
Yes, I never, ever want to lose a loved one to suicide again. It hurt terrible. However, I feel like Josh’s life helps me remember to go big for God and lay my life down completely!!! His life and death has been a wake up call for me to live for Jesus one hundred percent. As we would shout when surfing, “Charge it!” I want to Charge Life with Jesus and with everything I am and have.
What are your future goals?
My goals for the Future are to be wherever I am most fruitful for Jesus!!! This is my heart’s desire . . . to live for Him!!!
Do you have any parting words of encouragement to our readers?
I believe that verse in Romans 12:2 being “Transformed by the renewing of our minds,” so key to living a daily lifestyle. Our minds fixed on things above, with our hearts and eyes fixed on Jesus. We are in a battle where Satan wants to destroy our lives. We must work to block any thought or word in our heart that is not of God.
I Love you Josh and Jean and Jim Williams!!! Josh this one’s for you . . . “Freeeeeedoooooooooooommmmmmmmmmmmmmm!”
Thank you Dana for taking time to share your life. God bless you as you take up the cross daily and make a difference for others.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Since Joshua died by suicide, our lives must go on. I can't help myself, though, when I put him right in the middle of our changes. My husband and I live in Oregon, now, and Joshua had plans for the same. He thought he'd find his wife here. He wanted to get a small amount of acreage. He wanted to be close by and share in our lives. It would be like always, Joshua and us helping one another to plan, remodel, and do the many chores around the place.
Life was made up of this until a year before he died.
Now, when we do any big chore, we think Joshua should be right beside us. We've cut three fallen oak trees for firewood. As we worked, we envisioned Joshua helping. But, now my husband must rely on me for the second pair of muscles, and mine aren't enough. Once again, the loss tugs at my heart.
After Joshua passed, I'll never forget the shock of realization at how much my husband and I had relied on him. That alone brought more tears than I can count. The three of us were a team, and then there were two.
The good news? More often now, we remember Josh with happy thoughts. Out in the field when we work, those envisions of Joshua bring more smiles. As we increase our thoughts of Christ and the plans God may have for us, the hurt mellows little bit by little bit. After six years without Joshua, we've come this far by practicing what God says in his Word. "Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer." Romans 12:12 KJV
When I researched that word instant I found it means persistent. If I've done little else these last few years, it's been persistent in prayers. I didn't know how much one needed to pray to keep from losing one's mind.
So even though our plans for Josh did not happen, we are still loving, breathing human beings. We've made new friends, rekindled old relationships, and put one foot before the other. Do we stumble? You know it. Do we cry out to God for help? Always, even though there's a bit of wallowing before.
A friend and I spoke of God's grace. I said God's grace came first (in the form of his Son dying on a cross), so that we may go to heaven. She said God's grace continues every day.
Until next time . . . pray.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Within the first year after Joshua's suicide, I dreamed three dreams that were like real time here on Earth. I don't want to get weird on my readers, but they simply were not the normal dreams. That is the truth. Could it be because of whom I was dreaming about? Maybe. Did I create three dreams that were like a living breathing moment?
The first dream went like this. Joshua had no wound from his fatal shot. He came up to me, but wouldn't let me touch him. He smiled and said, "Mom, I'm okay. Really, I am." And he kept walking on by.
When I woke, it both disturbed and soothed me. He looked so like Joshua, but I was upset I could not touch his hand.
The next dream he was laughing and smiling. We talked but I don't remember now what we said. The last dream, he told me he had a girlfriend. Well, that is strange, but I woke happy that my son seemed happy.
I don't have a clue as to why those dreams were so real. I've had many of Joshua, but none like these. The regular dreams were just that . . . dreams. The others were more like visions.
Whatever those three dreams were, they comforted one very distraught mother. I needed that reassurance, even if I created it all on my own. It is after all, a mother's longing to know her children are doing well.
On this last journey my son has taken that will never end? I believe we will be reunited one day in heaven. Not a fact, though, for only God can judge.
"For whosoever believeth in him [God] should not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16 KJV
I hope my ramblings help. I pray they do.
Until next time . . .
Thursday, March 25, 2010
March 16th marked the sixth anniversary of Joshua's death by suicide. In honor of Joshua, I've included his grave stone. Notice the engraved photo of a dog on the stone. That's in memory of his old dog, Harloe, the rottweiler.
Months before Joshua's anniversary death date, I prayed for extra strength for that hard day ahead. I wanted my husband and I to be rocks with no tears. God honored my request. I became teary-eyed a few days before March 16th, but on that day, my husband and I cheered each other. Sounds impossible, even to me, but with God all is possible.
It is possible, also, to heal and to help others who go down this path of sorrow. I'd like to help others to avoid this path. It was made easier because God press upon me to embrace the sixth year mark with hope. The day after March 16th, we now go through the seventh of all special days, holidays, notable moments. Number seven is one of God's numbers, meaning it has significance. Number seven helps me to look to the future.
For now, God uses me in a narrowed focus to help other families through this blog and in conversation. All the while, I am praying for a doctor to co-author a book with me about the very topics I've blogged. I do believe that person will come in God's timing.
As I wrote on the first post, I placed Joshua's box of journals next to my desk. I still haven't opened them and read, but this year I can see myself doing that. God knows when I will have his blessed courage to read Joshua's thoughts. He knows when I can read them without feeling horror.
If there is nothing else I've learned, it is that God loves me and hears my prayers.
God bless all my readers.
Until next time . . . pray.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
If you've suffered a loss from suicide, please take good care of your body, mind, and soul.
I failed on this account in some ways. In other ways, I did well. Like I said in a recent post, the day after Joshua's memorial I ate as if my life depended on it. I weighed 104 and in five years gained fifty-eight pounds.
Alcohol nor drugs, prescribed or otherwise, ever crossed my lips. Sometimes wine sounded real good, for I wanted to forget my pain. But, that first hour after Joshua's death, I made a choice. I would not turn my back on Jesus. The body is weak, though, and my stress level rose.
The first six months after our son's suicide, my husband and I could not sleep for more than three hours. Good sleep escaped us for three years, and I often sobbed until exhausted. Dairy foods and chocolate kept me going, though.
My sister-in-law told me to rest as much as possible, because my health would decline. Five years later, my gallbladder hurt when I woke in the mornings. My body swelled and my eyes turned yellow.
Soon, I couldn't eat or drink water without becoming nauseated. My husband and I researched on how to cleanse my gallbladder. To begin with, I began a water fast. I added juices to my diet. Then, I began the gallstone cleanse of eating grated beets mixed with olive oil. I waited for the stones to pass and did light exercise. The only time the gallbladder pain eased was when I walked two miles a day.
In the mean time, my family encouraged to me to go to the emergency room. I had already lost two organs, and I dreaded losing another. When I first saw my yellow eyes, I prayed, asking God to guide my decisions.
After three weeks of tremendous pain, I made a decision. If I didn't improve by the next morning, I needed to see the doctor. I prayed that night for God to help me. As tears of resignation fell, I said, "Lord, your will not mine. I will trust in you."
After I spoke those words, I felt a tingling sensation in my gallbladder. It grew to a tickle, and I laughed. Over the next three weeks, I passed many stones.
Right around that time, my husband ordered a book "The Liver and Gallbladder Miracle Cleanse" by Andreas Moritz. I read the book over the course of a week, learning the steps of how to safely heal the liver and gallbladder. And wouldn't you know it, Moritz says the number one cause of stones is stress.
Over the past year, I've lost over 20 pounds of weight and got rid of three thousand stones. Less you think that is a tremendous amount, Moritz says he's had patients that have passed as many as 20,000. I am seventy percent better and believe I'm more than halfway healed.
I am praising God for the amazing and simple ways we can heal our bodies. I was scared at first, but surgery scared me more. Did I doubt? You better believe it. Whenever I wavered in my faith for God to heal, I would remember to pray.
Until next . . . pray.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Today marks year two of Joshua's uncle Eric's death.
You may wonder why I chose to break away from my normal theme of writing about our loss of Joshua.
To begin with, Eric is the baby of our large family of eight siblings (we lost our baby sister, Maria, in a house fire before Eric's birth). He was so close in age to our first two children, that he grew up with them. Joshua heard the stories of Uncle Eric, and he knew of his loving kindness. Of Uncle Eric's pranks.
Joshua met Uncle Eric only a few times. We lived in different states, and Eric joined the Army at age twenty when Joshua was six. Josh was proud of Uncle Eric when he went off to Iran (as shown in photo on the left) and fought on the front lines in a tanker. Together, Joshua and I tied yellow ribbons around the Eucalyptus trees in our driveway. Together, we prayed for Uncle Eric to come home safe. Together we enjoyed Eric when he came a year later for a long visit.
As Joshua grew into a strong young teenager, he favored Uncle Eric in every way. In physical appearance (he had hands like Uncle Eric), but mostly in his mental outlook and mannerisms. Above all, they had the same soft spoken tone of voice. They both loved a good prank.
The night of Joshua's memorial service, Eric called me from Iraq where he was on his third tour of duty. Our siblings and their spouses and our dad were at my house. We couldn't talk long, because everyone needed to leave. I could hear the ache in my brother's voice as he told me he loved me, wished he could be there.
In November of 2007, Eric suffered a flashback from the wars and wrecked his car. Life for Eric slid down hill, resulting in his death on March 24, 2008 (photo on right taken weeks before his death). How he left us? He was in training sessions, having flown from Texas where he was stationed to Stockton, California. Eric's mind broke for the last time. He was marching as though in war and a truck hit him on a highway after midnight.
Twelve hours before he died, Eric had another car wreck during a flashback. The highway patrol sized up the situation perfectly (they noticed Eric wore the Army uniform and drove the Army vehicle) and suspected Eric's problem. In the hospital, doctors and nurses suspected, too, that he suffered from flashbacks. Eric was acting and talking irrational, but then he'd have lucid moments. After being held in the hospital for almost twelve hours, Eric escaped like a prisoner of war and met with death.
Later, the autopsy report showed no drugs in his system, except for his doctor prescribed anxiety medication.
Eric Neal Martinho is a fallen soldier, who had weeks before received his Bachelor of Arts degree. A hard worker, who loved his family and his friends. As they say, a regular stand up gentleman.
I pray today that my family and Eric's friends' suffering grows less. That we all remember our love and our memories of Uncle Eric: husband, father, sibling, and son.
Until next time . . . keep praying, for God stands with us even in the darkest hours.
Friday, February 19, 2010
I'll paraphrase what I read in a suicide survivor book. Where you are spiritually, is what you'll be equipped with after the suicide of a loved one.
"As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all." (Ecclesiastes 11:5)
My point is simple. When Josh died, I needed to know why. I needed to gain some of the control I lost the day our son left us.
Would Joshua be in heaven one day, even though he took his own life? One friend said, "It may be that you will never know."
An honest, but uncomfortable answer.
I wrestled with God, daily. I wanted answers. Now! These are normal human feelings and thoughts. And that's what makes them suspect. They are our human side. All this struggle business is part of the plowing through the middle of grief after a loss. This way, we come out the other side with proof God is Lord.
As human control freaks, we think it is our right to know all, see all, do all. Sorry, but no. That's why we have God. He cares for us as a parent attempts to care for their child. As is meant for a child toward their parent, it is number one importance to obey and trust as children of the Lord. That's faith in a nut shell.
But, it is NOT easy to perform daily faith when one's son has killed himself, and you were unable to stop it.
My best moments were what I wrote in the February 9Th post. This post is about my bad, horrible, no good days. You'd find me down, my nose pressed to the floor sobbing to the Lord, while my husband mowed the lawn. I most always came undone when my husband was at a safe distance. It frightened me to fall apart all alone.
The day after Joshua's memorial service, I began to eat. I weighed 107 pounds and by the end of three years, I weighed 162. I ate comfort foods: dairy, chocolate, and Mexican cuisine. Lots of that salsa. It's proven that hot peppers raise one's serotonin levels which bring us to a happier place.
Joshua was depleted of serotonin, and that's why I believe he was able to do what he did.
The good and the bad of overeating, is I didn't get so big that I was obese, but my doctor was beginning to worry. Now that I look back that food helped me stay alive, while I processed. The part I feel ashamed about is this: Why was Jesus not enough? Why didn't my faith in him keep me from gobbling down comfort foods?
I believe it was that wrestling thing, again. Like Jacob of the Bible, I could not stop wrestling with Lord God until he answered me. What I found though, were insights of a different kind. I'd "stumble" upon scriptures that gave solace to my soul. Scriptures that told me to sit tight and rest in his arms, while I ate.
I was so lonely for Joshua. That alone just about sent me over the edge. But you see, I had to come to a place of complete broken before God could reshape my soul. That took three and a half years. When I landed, spiritually safe, God allowed me to move forward. It reminded me of birth. As the child comes to us naked, I too, came the same way spiritually delivered to Lord God. Through it all, Christ Jesus increased my faith.
I made a choice at that moment of my redemption. We will not on this earth understand "the works of God who maketh all."
I must wake each day and choose who I will follow. Some days I choose myself and that's a bad, no good, horrible day.
Until next time . . .
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
I love this scripture and recently came across it once again. "The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit." (Psalms 34:18)
From all the studies I've done on this word contrite I believe it means "humble" and humble is where we begin to cement ourselves on the path where the Lord can use us. But, as it shows in the first part of this verse we must have a broken heart. So you see we are broken, and then we allow the Lord to reshape us.
What I love best of this scripture is the "nigh" part. In my Archaic Words and the Authorized Version by Laurence M. Vance, it says this about "nigh":
"Nigh, which originally had the comparative form near and the superlative form next, literally signifies "that which reaches to" or that which suffices." The common meaning of nigh is simply near. This nigh denotes proximity in place, time, or position."
Golly, how beautiful is our Lord. He was with me the moment Joshua's spirit left his body. Lord, God never left me, even when I couldn't sense him. He is with me still. It's a promise right there in Psalms 34:18.
I remember being perplexed during those first months, for almost a year, after Joshua died. I did not sense God's presence. When I told one dear friend, she said, "God is sorrowing with you."
Could it be that my tears were so great, my grief so deep that my Lord was within my spirit, going through it with me? I know my relationship with the Lord had changed. I could not know him as I had.
I didn't lose my faith in Lord, God. No. I remember reading an e-mail from a woman who had lost her son over a year after we had lost Joshua. She said when she went to church, a thing she at one time enjoyed, it left her cold.
Oh, golly, I shivered when she told me this. I had NEVER not even once felt this way. I couldn't seem to get enough of the sermons. I often cried during them, but I went anyway. Yes, sometimes I didn't feel like going, because I would wake crying and couldn't stop. I willed myself to pull my emotions together long enough to get through the worship service. And it worked. I went home and sometimes resumed my tears, but I was very glad I worshiped with the people.
I believe God is reshaping my soul. Our relationship has changed, thank goodness. I am learning what it means to be humble. Humble toward God, my family, my enemies.
I'm not saying I am full of humility. Oh, no. I am learning to be humble and to respect our God. Because the only relationship we can have with Lord, God is of a spiritual nature. We must be grounded spiritually, even if only a thread is there, or left, to meet with him daily.
It's odd when I think of it. I am on the one hand still horrified that I am traveling this road of "the valley of the shadows." On the other side of this thought, though, is I have such joy and peace that only comes from Christ. Honest. Some days it's my only joy. This must be what it's like to have one foot in the spirit world and one foot on earth.
Until next time . . . embrace the trials and sorrows of loss and plow through the middle. We can't hide from God. Seek only Christ and not another. And when you've sought him fully, God will send comfort in the form of human words and warm hugs.
Monday, January 25, 2010
My topics tend to address with what I'm dealing with in my present life. I have one foot in the past and always will. I guess this is what happens when you've lost a child to suicide. And especially when you were there when it happened.
I have to work daily to stay in the present, and it becomes easier. Honest, it does.
What I'm reading right now is Judy Collins's "Sanity and Grace: A Journey of Suicide, Survival, and Strength." I appreciate the quotes she's added from professionals that have studied suicidology. I don't agree with all of them, but I do recommend this book.
Let's touch upon anger. Are you angry at your loved one? Was I ever angry at Josh? You better believe it. Does the anger come and go? At first it came in spurts and wouldn't leave for a time. Now, not so much. It surfaces when I least expect it, but it disappears and I'm left with regret. With an ache to hug my son.
Anger is normal with this loss. Golly, people even feel anger when they lose a spouse to natural causes, so surely we'll feel anger when a loved one takes their own life.
A few thoughts may go like this: What right did he have to leave us this way? Why did she do this? We loved her. Did he love us so little? She was selfish, plain selfish. He's ruined our lives! Why did he not listen to me? I'm his mother, I knew what was best. I've been given a jail sentence that I don't deserve.
Please know I had all these thoughts and many more I can't remember. I felt guilty afterward, but they were what they were.
I remember feeling crazy. I think from lack of sleep and all the sorrow (too much negative and not enough joy). God allowed another mother and my paths to cross at the perfect moment in my life. At the time, she lost her son five years earlier. I told her, "I feel I'm going crazy."
She looked me right in the eyes and said something like this, "I know you do. I did. But, you're not." Her eyes twinkled with a knowing, and I trusted that look more than her words.
I will always be grateful for our mother to mother talk on the green grass of a park on a summer day.
I'm still growing spiritually, which is a relief. Sometimes I wonder if I'll fall off the edge of this physical, spiritual world. God holds out his arms. He walks this harsh, cruel path with me and will never forsake me. I am sure of that. What I'm not sure of is myself. Too many feelings all a jumble, but if I stop and think for one quick second who my Lord God is, I then place my trust back where it belongs. With him.
Philippians 4: 12, "I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need." (KJV)
Until next time . . .
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
I received news that one of my stories was accepted for a book anthology. The story is about how Joshua's friends and I helped one another after Joshua died. I don't know much else, just that the piece is currently before the editing committee and it will be weeks before they send it back with suggested changes.
To say we are elated is a most true statement. Even Joshua's rottweiler, Heinrich, got in on our group hug (Josh always said that dog was a touchy, feely silly, nothing like his macho father, Harloe). My husband and I hugged and Heinrich jumped on us and nipped at my sleeve.
Our time of celebration.
I believe this will be a first of many stories about our son and our loss, and hopefully those stories will fill a book. Most of all, I pray my stories will help others.
That old saying that we writers must never give up, that we must persevere has proven true once again. This news has given me the push I needed to be encouraged and keep writing my stories. Whether they be nonfiction and fiction for children or about suicide.
Until next time . . .
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
As the mother of a son who died from suicide, I am often compelled to stamp the fires around me from the effects of that suicide. Or another way to put it, I'm grasping at the dominoes as they fall.
I read once that when we meet with a traumatic situation, we are only able to approach it from the stand point of how weak or strong we are in our relationship with Christ. This thought has proven true.
Was I that faithful when Joshua died? Enough to get me through it, barely, but I wish I had been the child of God he would have chosen me to be. I knew just enough about Christ to be extra miserable.
These sound like strong words, I know. I look around and witness people falling down like dominoes and I can do little to help. But, my prayers for them are the single most important "help." I was never much of a prayer before Josh died. Not really. I thought I was, but no. I read scriptures much more now than I had before, also. I need to. I wouldn't have made it through this far, if not for God's word showing me the way through this Valley of the Shadows.
I wish I could hold the hands of those who are tormented over Joshua's passing. I can't. I know, I've tried. Only two walk together on the spiritual path we take toward heaven: The person and God. No one, and I mean no one, can do this for you.
One sermon our minister preached several years back stuck with me. He said, and I paraphrase, "We can not hop on the back of a strong Christian and expect to get a free ride to heaven. We can't stand in the shadows of that Christian and think this will get a right relationship with Christ. It won't."
His words hit home. I needed to hear that more than that man will ever know. It made more sense as to why I was still in our house where Joshua died. I grew to know that God had my best interest in mind, even when others around me were dismayed, shocked, and even angry at my years still in the home.
It was my wandering in the dessert time, and not a picnic in the forest. This was my time to allow God to mold me into a stronger Christian. Not only for my benefit, but for those whose paths I cross and need to see what great things God has done.
I hope this post helped. I sure needed to share it.
Until next time . . . let's be on our knees in prayer.