Friday, December 28, 2012

Psalm 16:8/I Shall Not Be Moved

                                             Joshua's eleventh birthday & friend of family

Dear readers,

King David writes this:

I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

We have talked about keeping our eyes upon the Lord, and here it is. Now let's look at I shall not be moved.

Just because we are in deep heart wrenching sorrow, does not mean we are not close to God. At first when I was in mourning, I thought I had no faith and God had left me. I couldn't have been farther from the truth. You see, we think our negative feelings have pushed God out, but they do not. Being gut-wrenched by death, doesn't mean we've left God out.

What it means is that we are made in the image of God and God too sorrows. How we sorrow and what we allow God to do in shaping us through our sorrow is what counts. Not the negative, ugly feelings we have when we suffer loss. We're in a pit of despair, and God reaches out to us and even uses us to further His Kingdom when we're there.

I sought opportunities to help others even in my sorrowing. It  helped them. It helped me to feel more normal. And I didn't want to stop being about the work Father God gave me to do, so small a thing that it might have been. One act of kindness. One thoughtful smile. That's all I could muster at best, but muster I did.

My prayer for us today:

Holy Father, thank you for seeing our simplest needs. In Jesus' holy name. Amen.

Until next time . . . See Christ. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Psalm 16:7/In the Night Season

                                       A classmate in high school with Joshua

Dear readers,

King David writes this:

I will bless the Lord, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night season.

Did you know we can bless the Lord? I believe this bless is like giving reverence. The part of this that had me researching was the word reins.

In the English Standard Version the word reins means mind. So our mind also instructs us in the night season.

The night season here may well mean simply night time. Let's take the words night season, though, and  apply them to those of us who are in a night season because of loss. No matter where we are in our grieving season, night season, our mind needs to take in God's counsel. We do need to ask God to counsel us as we grieve.

What do I mean by this? That we should consult Lord God on a daily basis on how we feel, think, words that we want to speak. We are so fragile in our night season, but down the path of loss, we will see dawn approaching.

My night season went on too long, I thought, staying in the house where my son died by suicide. Now that I look back, it was my stubborn do-it-by-myself heart and my pride that didn't allow God to be my full strength.

It was my own lack of trust in God that He saw fit to keep me there for almost four years. He had to break me, until I gave in and said, "I am Yours, do as You will with my life."

Now, He was thinking, I can use this child of mine for My glory.

That was the toughest lesson I have or ever will have, I believe, to experience. I almost didn't pass the test. I wanted to give up, but God is bigger than giving up.

How are you today, dear readers? I'm going to boldly say, let's listen to God's counsel and be blessed beyond our wildest imaginations.

My prayer for us today:

Father, holy One, we are still sorrowing, but You have not left us. Open our ears to Your counsel. In Jesus' holy name, I pray. Amen.   

Until tomorrow . . . Seek.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Psalm 14:2/Down From Heaven

Our family's Christian rock band during the early 1990's. Joshua is playing the tambourine, and worked up to bass guitar. Our children are dressed in blue.

Dear readers,

King David says this:

The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.

Oh, my, I absolutely love what David wrote here. Picture it, God our Lord, peers from heaven. His eyes sweep across the lowly earth. His Spirit searches and searches among us humans to see who of us understand and seek Him.

Even in my sorrow and longing for my son, I want to always seek God. Sometimes my groaning and muddled mind is in such grief, I feel I am leaving my relationship with God behind. But, am I? If my doubled over with sorrow doesn't leave God out, how can it be that I am neglecting my Lord? And how, you may ask, do I do that?

When the tears flow and I am sad, not only do I think of Joshua, but I ponder upon the deep things of God. He watched His Son die. He knew intense sorrow. Mary watched her Son die, she suffered as I.

I stumble through my hours of sadness between praising God and my heart wrenching in my chest.

Then, a new day brings new hope. I am cleansed and fully ready for whatever comes next. A new beginning to put aside my sorrowing and to live the life God  has given to me. One moment at a time.

I challenge us to memorize this verse. This is what God is doing, dear readers, as He watches us from on High, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.

Here is my prayer for us today:

Help us Lord to understand and seek You each day of our lives. Thank You for loving us, so that You allowed a baby born and a Son to die for our sins. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Psalm 12:6/Pure Words

                                                                  A family Christmas

Good morning dear readers,

David says this:

The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

I can't begin to understand this whole verse, so I hope some of you will chime in. I do understand the first part, and I understand that silver is a precious metal. God's words are like precious silver.  

Where do we find God's word? Ah, you all know that answer. We pick up God's word and read and He tells us what He wants us to know. What He wants us to do in our walk upon this earth.

What does that have to do with mourning a loss? I buried myself into God's word and wanted to know what I was supposed to do, feel, and see after I lost Joshua. It grounded me to read God's message.

I hope today is not too difficult on us. I keep reminding myself today the world celebrates Christ's birth. This is a very good thought to hold onto that Jesus died so we may enter heaven.

My prayer today for us:

Father God, thank you that even us Gentiles now may become Christians and enter the kingdom of heaven. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Until tomorrow . . . read His word.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Psalm 11:1/Flee as a Bird

                                        Joshua age seven

Good morning, dear readers,

I don't know about you, but I've been in sorrow. All the encouragement that I have given to you, I applied to myself. It's a struggle, but God is merciful to me and has won my heart once again.

I don't believe I'll ever feel anything but an empty spot during Christmas. My youngest son is gone, and that's the fact of it. It's harsh. It's hard. Even in all that, God calls to me to rest.

King David, says this about his troubles:

In the Lord put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain?

David knows what the Lord will do for him: give him refuge.

We've looked at verses before about trusting in Lord God. Now we see David is asking God, how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain?

Do you wonder if David is asking if it is so simple? I'm figuring this is just what David means. Everything about God is simple. It is humans that make things hard.

This is exactly what I did these last few days. I flew as a bird to God's mountain where I am safe, and loved and warm. He is like a salve to my wound of loss, but as a wound my loss needs constant attention by the holy Father.

I hope God will bring you solace in your time of longing for one that is no longer upon the earth. It is my prayer:

Dear holy Father, please help us as we go through our holidays without our dear ones. Please show us how to keep our eyes upon Jesus. Give us Your rest. In Jesus' holy name I pray. Amen.

Until next time . . . rest in Him.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Psalm 9:10/Not Forsaken

                                          Joshua age four and his big wheel

Good morning, readers,

Let's look at what King David has to say about not forsaken:

And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.

What beautiful words from the Psalmist, are they not?

As the holidays are upon us, we feel pressed on all sides, don't we? To buy and spend, to want our loved one right beside us as we celebrate Christs birth. It's all too much at times.

Let's look at they that know thy name. God is speaking to those who know His name. We know He is our God. We know He created heaven and earth. We know He gave us His Son to die for our sins. That's a few of the ways we know His name.

Put their trust in thee. We have to take that mental step to put our trust in the one true living God. That leads us to the next part.

Hast not forsaken them that seek thee. We seek the Lord in honest need, and He will be there for us. If it is not a need, God may not grant our request, but then again He sometimes will.

I'm here to say that God has never, ever not given me a spiritual need. Needs like gaining more patience, loving others more, being available to  help when needed. To gain strength and courage from God, not of my own strength. To give me a much needed rest from my grieving. God has always helped me, because I trusted.

I challenge us to trust in Lord God even more. Let's be bold in our prayers to Him.

My prayer for us today:

Thank You, Lord God, for helping us as You do. Help us to become more bold in coming to You for all necessary things in our lives, whether large or small. In Jesus' holy name. Amen.

Until Monday . . . trust.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Psalm 6:6/With My Tears

                 Joshua at age fifteen, after he was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder

Good morning, dear readers,

King David was an emotional guy. He had big feelings he could not stifle. Here's what David says:

I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears.

Here is what the English Standard Version  Bible says: I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping.

The versions are similar, aren't they?

Have you cried as many tears as King David? He cried because of his enemies. They would not stop pursuing him. He was so tired. So fed up with all his groaning and moaning. David wanted to be happy again.

Is this where you are?

I was once there for almost four years.

What changed for me, you may wonder. I had gone through the hardest part. I didn't quit. I was very tempted to quit, but I did not. The Lord saved me, instead.

There were a few things that helped me along my grieving journey that God brought into my life. The human kind to meet my human needs:

  • Soft soothing music filled my soul with a needed rest
  • My children, especially my daughter Jami
  • Kind friends to hug me and listen to me one more time
  • A kind friend who created lap quilts for Jim and me out of Joshua clothes
  • My loving husband
  • A good church group
  • Two travel trips to see family
  • Good concordances to clear up Bible questions
  • A comfy bed
  • Good books that took me away for awhile
  • Comfort foods
  • Caring neighbors, who were not afraid to talk to me
I could go on and on. I listed all these because my hope is that you will see the blessings in an otherwise harsh reality that you may be living through.

After all the blessings we consider, go ahead and keep crying until there are few tears. Jesus wept (John 11:35). David cried. Jeremiah the prophet was noted as the weeping prophet.

Tears are healthy, and then we get up off our couch or bed and live daily life to the best that we are able.

Let me recommend a book. Tear Soup is a picture book for all ages that helped me through part of my grief. I believe it is one of the best books out there for grievers, especially loss of a child.

Here's my prayer for us today:

Father God, You are a gentle Lord. You made us with tear ducts. You made us with feelings. You made us in Your own image. We love You, Lord. In Jesus' holy name, I praise You. Amen.

Until tomorrow . . . weep and praise God for the comforts. 


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Psalm 5:11/Rejoice! Be Joyful!

                                    Joshua eating at age two

Dear readers,

King David says this about rejoicing:

But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.

What a wonderful verse about a relationship with our God.

Let's take it in two parts. We already know that if we put our trust in God, we have peace, but now we learn we also express rejoicing. But, how can we feel rejoice when we're in the midst of pain and suffering? Believe me, we can. I experienced this early on when we lost Joshua to suicide.

The rejoicing came in minute amounts, and it kept me sane. It can do that for you, also. I remembered someone once told me we needed to keep our eyes on Jesus. I would imagine Jesus in front of me, and I fixed my gaze upon His name. Besides the words to God of, "Help," that was another action I did: seeing Jesus before me when I needed consoling and in a hurry.

It works, dear readers, it truly works.

What about the second part of that verse: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them? From whom or what does God defend us? I say here, from whatever is the enemy, whether it be nature, people, animal, even ourselves.

David is showing us we may shout for joy because of God's protection over us. We may shout it in our minds or out loud, but we won't be able to control our joy.

Our first Christmas after Joshua died, my husband gave me a gift. We had stopped giving gifts to each other years before, so I was surprised. When I opened it, I burst into tears. The gift was a wall hanging tapestry with a verse from Psalms: Under His Wings You Will Find Refuge. That tapestry still hangs on my living room wall.

The verse is saying once again that God will protect us, and to fully collect on His promise, we must accept His Son Jesus in a relationship within our hearts.

To conclude the above verse, when we love God's name, we will be joyful in Him. We may not at times be joyful of our circumstances, but we can be joyful in Lord God. That you can be sure, because even in our darkest hour, God protects His little ones.

My prayer for us today:

Lord God, You are worthy to be praise. Only You can we wholly trust. You are our God and our protector. In Jesus name, we are thankful. Amen.

Until next time . . . trust.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Psalm 4:5/Trust in the Lord

                                            Dana & Joshua Fishing the Ocean

Dear readers,

Let's look at what David says in today's verse:
Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord.

This verse comes right after yesterday's, and so I am considering that David means it is a sacrifice to choose righteousness.

It is harder, much harder, to make it a habit to put our trust in the Lord. Well, maybe I should speak only for myself. For me, it's much easier to be angry, have unrighteous anger, that is, than to trust in the Lord.

Okay, I'll say it, I have anger issues.

Lately, though, I've decided I need to train myself to trust God first. I believe my faith grows from making that conscience decision to trust God in whatever obsticle that comes in my life.

Is it possible to put our trust in the Lord even in early grief, even loss of a child? And, even when someone we care about has made our grief more difficult, however so and for whatever reason?

Yes, it is.

That doesn't mean we don't hurt and hurt deeply by what that person did or said, for we feel pain and sorrow and that's the way God created us. And to have righteous anger is allowed, but to harbor it and embittered with it, is sticking an idol between us and God. In other words, we've allowed that person to come between us and God.

Ouch! All that does is compound our hurt, making us more miserable. 

I need all the help I can get from the Lord, so I must choose to forgive when someone hurts me to my core. Does that mean we should forget, well, yes and no. Yes, in that the bitter root in our heart is gone and so the pain dulls. No, in that we understand the relationship has changed. We may not be able to trust that person now, and God understands. Unless of course that person has acknowledged they hurt you and are sorry, then there is hope to trust once again.

The good news, the best news ever, is we can ALWAYS trust God.

Do you want a relationship with Lord God? Then, pick up His written Word and learn from Him and about Him. See and understand His marvelous love for us through His Son Jesus. Then, in time, you'll long to have a relationship with Him.

My prayer for us today:
Lord, please help us to follow after You and not our own selves,  for You are God and we are not. In Jesus' name I ask. Amen.

Until next time . . . trust in the Lord.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Psalm 4:4/Stand In Awe

             Joshua, age fifteen, standing at the entrance of a cave at the Grand Canyon

Good morning, dear readers. Let's take a look at what David writes in this verse, and just how it applies to our grieving journey:

Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.

My husband looked up the word awe, and the more reliable commentaries agreed this word means: quivering with violent emotion, such as grieving, angry or fearful.

If you've ever wondered what God thought about grieving, here is your answer. Of  course we are to grieve, but not to sin in our grieving. We want to grieve God's way.

A few times when I was alone in the house, I pressed my face into a pillow and screamed until I ran out of breath and my throat ached, always ending in sobs. That released my pent-up tension, and allowed my mind and spirit to rest.

Let's go on to the next part: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still.

A year into my grief over Joshua, I was exhausted physically from not enough rest and from crying every day. I decided I needed counseling at Hospice. That lady helped me a lot, but what stuck in my head and helped me the most is this: She said, "Stay in bed after you wake, for about fifteen minutes. Lay there and let yourself wake fully. Pray, if you want. Think loving thoughts, if you can. Cry if you need, but be still before you start your day."

I did that and it helped a lot. You can do that, too, even if it means setting your alarm to go off fifteen minutes earlier.

My prayer for today, is this:
Father, help us. Give us Your strength, even in our tears and fears. We know we can be still and know You are ready and willing to reside in our hearts. In Jesus' holy name, I pray. Amen.

Until next time . . . be still.


Friday, December 14, 2012

Psalm 3:5/The Lord Sustained Me

                               Joshua, age nine, fishing at Lake Lopez in CA

Good morning, dear readers.

David has fled from his kingdom and son Absalom:

I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me.

Do we see a hint of the old childhood night time prayer? Remember how it goes? "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray Thee Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray Thee Lord my soul to take. If I should live for other days, I pray Thee Lord to guide my ways."

Back to David.

He was in fear of his life, from his own son. He knew he was vulnerable, and that Absalom could kill David while he slept.

Let's be honest  here. Some of us have hoped to die before we waked, because our grieving spirits are so tired, so hopeless, and so beaten. Countless times, I prayed my heart would stop, after my son died by suicide. I could not, did not, want to live another day. It was too harsh.

One morning I waked, though, and I stopped praying for my heart to stop beating. God got me through my valley of the shadows, and I wanted to keep on living if that was His will. I still said to Lord God that I would rather go on to be with Him, but if He chose me to stay--okay.

If you have wanted your heart to stop beating, just know, dear one, a day will come. A day that, if you keep searching for God to work in your life, you'll wake to realize you hadn't asked Him to take you while you slept. Praise God for that! The Lord will sustain you through your time of defeat.

The bonus to my not wanting to wake and now no longer feeling that way? I no longer fear death. That my friends is a good thing, but I think there is more to it than just that one lesson. It took years to feel ready to live again. In that process, I learned to lean on God and not on myself. I learned that God is God and I'm not.

My prayer for us today: Dear Lord, thank You for bringing us this far through our valley of the shadows. Where we can not see. Where we are so vulnerable as King David while he slept. Please Father, let this day be a new beginning to trust in You more. In Jesus' holy name, I ask. Amen.

Until next Monday . . . from now on allow the Lord to sustain you.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Psalms 3:4/He Heard Me

                                    Joshua age ten months in his homemade outfit

Good morning, dear readers, this is what David wrote when he fled from Absalom his son:

I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Se-lah.

As I considered my thoughts and these writings of Psalms in this blog, I considered one of my weaknesses: the lack in my prayer life.

I can look over my life and see that I am praying sooner and more often in praise and in time of need. Losing Joshua taught me to reach out to Lord God more quickly than I had in the past. But I still allow my "figure this out by myself" to come in more times than I care to admit. My immediate response should be? I will cry unto the Lord with my voice.

That doesn't mean I worry first, figure it out first, be angry for way too long first. What David is telling us is when he cried unto the Lord, He heard David from where God is: on a holy hill. So does cry unto mean praying?


We can pray silently or out loud. I've done both, and a friend told me that she prays better in her mind because she finds no other thoughts can creep in. Whatever works for each one of us, is the best way to pray or cry out unto the Lord.

A preacher once said from the pulpit, he had a very hard time praying. Until one day, he found if he praised God for the blessings in his life first, the prayers followed with ease. He needed to have a grateful heart before he came to the Lord for a need, or to talk to the Lord.

I've been practicing praising God first, and the closeness I feel toward God is remarkable.

During my early grieving, I prayed with few breaks. I would have perished if I hadn't continually pray to the Lord. Nothing fancy, just "God help me." "God, please take this pain from me." And some days, I'd pray, "Thank You, Lord, for allowing us to have known Joshua for twenty-five years."

And at other times? There was no time but for the words, "HELP!"

If you've lost a loved one, did you find your prayer life increased? Did that ease your sorrow?

Here's my prayer for us today:
Dear Lord, I am so grateful You encouraged me to come to You more often. I am sorry for the times I do not when I need to come to You. Please for give me, Lord. In Jesus' holy name, I ask. Amen.

Until next time . . . cry unto the Lord.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Psalm 145:21/Bless His Holy Name

                                      Spencer Goodwin & Joshua ages eighteen

Good morning, dear readers,

I hope today you are encouraged by these words of King David: My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord: and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever.

What came to mind for me is we can not WORRY like we often do, when we are speaking the praise of the Lord. Go ahead and try it. Be a worry wart and speak Lord God's name in all His beauty at the same time. Somehow, when we say Jesus, Lord, God, Holy Father, the worries fly like bats screeching as they scatter.

Is that not so neat?

It doesn't matter that the life you once knew, that "normal" so-called life you once had has shattered. It doesn't mean a thing that you are a worrier by nature, like I used to be. God is bigger, stronger, and more loving than all our worries over our whole life put together.

Ha! Take that Satan!

Imagine just saying someones name and we are free for that moment, until the moments become stretches of time and then we are no longer a worrier. That is our powerful God.

Remember the woman with an issue of blood? All she did was touch the hem of Jesus' garment and she was healed. It's the same, calling upon the name of Abba Father.

No matter what yesterday was like, dear ones, no matter how hard your morning today, breathe God's name and you will be healed of your present worry.

I remember when I was in so much grief and so lonely for my son Joshua, that my prayers often were breathing the Father's name. It's all I could muster, I was so beaten with sorrow.

I am a real weakling, dear readers, so please don't think it's because God gave me a human nature of extra strength. He did not! What I have gained in strength came only after being crushed and broken and that strength I have now is God and Jesus residing in me. That hole in my heart? It grows smaller, because God's love fills the spaces, and now only a tiny hole remains where I get to peek into my future where the saints, Paul, David, Moses, Mary, John, and Luke, have gone. 

God bless you this day! My prayer for us:

Father God, thank you, oh, thank you for being the loving holy Father that You are. You are real. You are ours, if we but ask. You are worthy to be praised! In Jesus' name, I am grateful. Amen.

Until next time . . . breathe His holy name.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Psalm 145:9/Tender Mercies

                                              Joshua Asleep in Parent's Bed

Dear Reader,

Listen to what David says about Lord God: The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.

Isn't that comforting?

Let's focus on tender mercies. When my son Joshua died by suicide, I could NOT see any tender mercies. Within the first half hour after he took his life, I was at first shocked, angry, and then breaking into a zillion pieces. Once that initial moment of the horror and reality of what my son had done moved into the first stages of grief, God protected my mind of what this would fully mean: Life without Joshua.

God gave me tender mercies.

God created your spirit and my spirit in a way that we can manage only so much reality, tears, and sleepless nights.

If that were not true, I would have perished along with my son. To have witnessed Joshua's death, and still be here today, is proof God's tender mercies are over all his works.

I am His works, am I not? You are His works, are you not?

Please believe that God loves us, more than we'll ever comprehend in this life. That's right, for this knowledge is saved for us in our Heaven life.

Your situation of grief is very harsh, but God is bigger than very harsh.

Thank you, Father, that you are able to help us in our sorrows, especially the sorrows that are more than we can bear alone. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Until next time . . . look deeper for a blessing even in your loss.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Psalm 145:3/His Greatness Unsearchable

                                          photo by James D. Williams

David says this: Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable.

How was your weekend, my dear readers? Did you relax? Did you work even more around your place to catch up on chores? Did we consider how great is the Lord? Do we know what unsearchable means?

I believe, upon closer consideration, unsearchable means we don't have to search for God's greatness. His greatness is all around.

Look unto the mountains a far off, the rivers and streams at a closer look. Stand in the midst of the forest and look up at the firs, pine, and redwood trees. Turn the corner of a dirt road and see rays of sunshine overflowing, and you see God's greatness.

Look into the eyes of new baby.

God's creation overflows in the kindness of others, like those who took time to listen to me when I spoke of Joshua. The lady at the grocery store, the young repairman that came to my door, and the little granddaughter who said, "It's alright to cry, Nana, for it always makes me feel better when I do."

I see God in his Word, the Bible, I see Him on every single page. I sense Him in my heart. When I call to Him, His Holy Spirit comes to meet me for a personal need or what I should do about a certain thing.

Even though I did not FEEL God in the early months after Joshua died, I KNEW He was there watching. He was looking down on me, me on my knees, or stretched out on the floor, and He watched over me.

Yes, our Lord God is unsearchable. We can see Him everywhere in His creation and His book, and the hymns and songs. You see Him in the faces of those who follow hard after Him. You see Him in the goodness of love in a friend who reaches out to help.

God is unsearchable. Reach back and grab the hand of that friend, and allow them to help you along in the path of your suffering. One day you'll no longer feel like a victim of suffering and loss. One day you'll see in yourself a person who has lived through loss and comes out molded and tried by fire by the God who means for us to be more like Him.

God continues to carry me on my grief journey and that gives me freedoms. It allows me to be creative once again. This came to me the other day about the loss of our Joshua:

Though the hole in our heart grows smaller, it never closes so we may see glimpses of the Great Beyond where tears are wiped from our eyes and joy and peace reside.

Until next time . . . reach out your arms

Friday, December 7, 2012

Psalm 144:9 I Will Sing or Will I?

 Joshua and His Band Members in Junior High

Are you "singing"? For some of us, we are not anywhere near the point in our grief process to sing. We can't even fathom the idea.

During the first year after Joshua's suicide, my heart and soul were so damaged, to sing was not going to happen. Oh, sure, I sang the songs during worship in a church service, but that's not what I'm talking about.

This is what David says: I will sing a new song unto thee, O God. Upon a psaltery and an instrument of ten strings, will I sing praises unto thee.

Yes, David is talking of a literal singing and playing his precious instrument that at one time soothed King Saul's wayward mind. But, I want us to look at our hearts and apply this verse to our condition.

For some of us, we can sing praises and, if we have instruments, we may play them unto the Lord. We can praise God within our hearts, also. For others, we're not ready. Emotionally, we're not able to praise God for much. Is that sin? I'm not sure. I do know it's not healthy to become stuck in our grieving journey, and only you can discern if you're stuck. All you do is ask the Lord to show you.

If we dig deep enough, stop long enough to look around, we can find something to praise God for right now. Even in our early grief time.

I found myself able to praise God that I still had two children who loved and needed me. And you know what else amazed me? Within the first year, I dug deep, very deep into the hollow pockets of my heart and found I could thank the Lord for allowing my son to come into our lives.

If felt GOOD, and RIGHT, and a RELIEF.

Joshua, that unique, honest, teaser, needed proper honor for his place in this broken world. When I praised the Lord who allowed me to have this one last child for the years he was here, my spirit began to soften and unwrinkle itself into what God wanted me to be; a work in progress who could bloom until the day He takes me Home.

Here's my prayer for us today:

Father, God, thank you for loving us so much that you allowed Your Son to die upon a tree so that we may have eternal life. In Jesus' holy name. Amen.

Until Monday . . . reach deep, deeper still into your heart pocket.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Psalm 143:11/Bring My Soul Out of Trouble

                                   Joshua Looking Up

Are you in trouble today? You know the kind. Spiritual anguish and sorrow so intense you feel you may perish from a broken heart.

I understand. I've suffered on the same path as you.

Listen to what David says: Quicken me, O Lord, for thy name's sake: for thy righteousness' sake bring my soul out of trouble.

Do we understand what David means here?

Everything we do, say, feel, and believe is to give glory to God. That doesn't always happen, isn't that correct? We're so frail. So human. So needy before our Lord.

Please take a moment to write down this scripture. Post it on your frig or the bathroom mirror. Memorize it.

I'd like to suggest a book that moved me from the stuck position, during my journey of loss. Margaret Brownley's Grieving God's Way: The Path to Lasting Hope and Healing.

Here's my prayer for us today:

Father, please help us to stay in forward motion in our grief. Please show us if we are stuck, or going through the grieving in a way that pleases You. Wrap Your arms of protection around us grieving parents. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Until next time . . . pray.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Psalm 143:8/Cause Me To Hear

                       Joshua & his dad at the Grand Canyon

As grieving parents, are our ears stopped up today? Have they been for awhile?

My hearing becomes stuffed full of cotton more times than I care to admit. I don't see God working in my life. I don't sense Him in the moments when life almost chokes out my trust in God.

Look at what David wrote: Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee. Psalm 143:8 KJV

King David never stopped trusting in the Lord. That is profound to me, one with such a wee faith. I long to trust the Lord, but it's hard work. I've never stopped trying, but it's still hard work.

I also found more in this first part: Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning;

I can not count the mornings after Joshua's suicide when I woke, feeling a black hole in my heart. And a dull void in my brain. Even at the present, I know the trigger days when I wake and the blues will cloud my mind. Days like Joshua's birthday, death day, his favoritie holidays.

How about you? Do you ever feel as I do?

God bless you, dear reader, and this my prayer: Father God, please give those of us grieving parents Your strength to rise up and know that You are ready to meet us in the mornings. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Until next time . . . hear.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Psalms 142:4,7

The first post of the Psalms was a bit long as an introductory. From now on the others will be treated as devotional style posts. Think of them as itty bitty bites of comfort that may help you through your day.

 From King David:
4. I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me; refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul. 7. Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name: the righteous shall compass me about; for thou shalt deal bountifully with me. Psalm 142: 4,7

Is this how you feel? No man or woman knows you or understands the pain you feel over the loss of your child? Truly no one can perfectly understand how you feel over your loss. There is only One who can and does, and that's the Lord.

The verses between four and seven are of David pleading with Lord, God, and God heard and rewarded him. It is important to turn to God first, and then humans with listening ears will come as our reward. For only God can comfort us as we need.

My prayer for today:
Father, I ask that you help us parents of loss who grieve over our child. Please allow us to sense Your presence, and thank You for that a head of time. In Jesus name. Amen.

Until next time . . . open your arms to Jesus' love.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Psalms and Grieving

These holiday seasons are filled with memories of our loved ones. We can't help but think of them and miss them so intensely we may feel physically ill.

To help us in our grief path for our children, I've planned a five day a week Psalm verses with added words that I hope will comfort. My prayer is that these verses bring you as much peace and comfort as they do for me.

1. I cried unto the Lord with my voice; with my voice unto the Lord did I make my supplication. 2. I poured out my complaint before him; I shewed before him my trouble. 3. When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path. In the way wherein I walked have they privily laid a snare for me. Psalm 142: 1-3 KJV

I love God more for these verses. They are so fitting as to our struggles as parents over longing to see our children once again. Let's sum up the words of David, and I'll express what I see that helps me.

In verse one: I cried to God daily for months and into the first four years for I was so horrified over my loss of Joshua. I couldn't wrap my mind around what happened. Joshua no longer here? No, no, no!

In verse two: I didn't hide my sorrow before the Lord. I complained to him a lot. I'd say things like, "Lord, I'm not going to ask why, but I DO NOT like this. What good can come of this loss? Joshua should be here with his family. Here with me. How can I bear this?"

First part of verse three: This is the verse that shows it is okay to cry out to the Lord. To cry. To beat your fists and to kick a pillow. To scream. To fall on the floor and wail, if that's how you feel. I did all those things, and I always sensed a peaceful presence when the action was done. I did not hurt anyone or myself (well, one time I busted a blood vessel in my hand when I slammed my fist on the wall. I don't recommend that). Did you notice how God can fully hear us? Reread verse three carefully. When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then (my emphasis) thou knewest my path.

Second part of verse three: I know David had many enemies. How can we take these words of sorrow and apply them? What if we don't have enemies when our child dies? How about this: Death is our enemy. Losing a friend because of our loss is an enemy of sorts. They don't become our enemy in the true sense, but the hurt that comes from their decision to leave the friendship feels like an enemy. But let's remember that our friends that leave don't want to. They are overwhelmed with hurt for us and they have their reasons for leaving. They may fully believe that they will say something that will hurt us further.

In the English Standard Version it says of the second part of verse three: In the path where I walk they have hidden a trap for me. The one enemy that surely fits these words best is Satan. He is in his glory when the rug is jerked from under us, and our feet go flying in the air and we land hard on our back. Please, do not underestimate Satan's ways of making us think all is lost during our blackest hour.

Yes, our most precious child has left this earth, but our life is not over and in time we come to see this. In time.

Until tomorrow . . . rest in Lord God.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Reader Appreciation Award

                                           Reader Appreciation Award Logo                                                       

I am excited to announce I've been nominated for the Reader Appreciation Award from Pat Rowland of Pat's Prayerful Pondering.

Pat offers many insights about Christian living. I've benefited time and again by her wise words that come from her sweet heart. Always honest. Always direct.

The Reader Appreciation Award has four guidelines:

  • Acknowledge the giver of the award and provide a link to his/her blog site.
  • Copy and paste the award to your blog.
  • Pass the award to a maximum of ten bloggers.
  • Notify your selected bloggers that you nominated them. 

There are three bloggers I wish to nominate, Jiwan Dhali, Charlie Perryess, and Leia Davis. I've chosen Jiwan for her no nonsense  and honest tone about the challenges and rewards of walking the Christian life. Charlie, a school teacher and author, writes about where our words originated and how they've changed over the decades. Charlie's site is a wealth of information for anyone who enjoys words. Leia deserves this award because she openly and honestly writes about life in a growing, Christian home schooled family.

Keep up the good work gang!

Jiwan Dhali's LiveandLaughWithJesus

Charlie Perryess' Wordmonger

Leia Davis' The Davis Daily

Until next time . . . I write the words.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

I Am Still Here

I owe an apology to my faithful readers. I've been living life fully. That meant being away from my desk almost 100 percent of the time. I've done very little writing, some editing, and almost no reading. I'm working on our farm every single day. And, I'm storing my experiences within my heart to share with my blog readers.

As I planted my veggie seeds in spring, I sensed a joy to bring in new life. As I now tear down my garden, I am relieved the work is almost done. I sense a sadness. Why? you may ask. So close to Joshua's birthday, a very hard season indeed.

I am still here.

I walk this earth.

I work and work to fill my mind and heart with the good that God has allowed me to have. I share my life with others in hopes it may help in some small way, and I'm still here.

I miss my son and this time of year will never be easy. Easier, but never easy. I won't fool myself into thinking otherwise. Right now, it's getting hard to feel joy when I wake in the mornings, but now I know what it is. Grief. Sorrow. Sadness for a son I can no longer hug. Or to kiss his forehead. Or to debate issues with. For eight years, I've had this void.

Now that I understand so much more, when I wake and I feel that empty spot within me, I let myself feel it. Then, I think of our Lord and a warmth comes over me. I know that God loves me. He understands me better than I do. I have my Lord.

For those of you who are just beginning this journey of loss of a child, know that you can still be here and grow in the Lord. You will stumble, but God will carry you.

If you are willing.

Until next time . . . remember Who it is that loves you most.

Monday, May 14, 2012


The questions parade in circles 'round  my head
No peace, no rest, only surmounting dread
When images of his last days crowd my thoughts
Why could not I have helped him, why not spared the cost.

For months I have questioned the God that I love
"You could have stopped him, Your hand stayed from above
A prompting from You would have ushered me to his side
I could have begged him, perfect words halt the tide
Of pain he was feeling and anguish of soul
Now it’s too late, his body no longer whole."

Many regrets and sorrows over what could have been,
Must I lay this to rest and only pretend?

Job, too, had his questions laid at Your feet
You answered from the whirlwind his questions defeat
His friends assumptions of why God allowed
The death of Job’s children the suffering avowed.

Instead the questioning now came from You,
Was Job there from creation when You made it all new?

Are you God and able to understand His plan
Or how He has held you through all in His hands?

So cease from your striving, set it to rest
Be still I am God, stop putting me to the test.

Mrs. G
Permission granted to use this poem as long as it's used in its entirety

A brokenhearted mother wrote this poem as she journeys through her loss of a son to suicide. Like all parents who lose children this way, the questions pound. And slam. And torture. 

There seems no mercy left, because of our intense anguish. 

As Mrs. G concludes we must know that God is God and we are not, and that He does love us.

Until next time . . . choose to remember God's love runs deep and see the blessings along the way. 


Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Bittersweet Mother's Day After My Son's Suicide

“I’m having a Mother’s Day Tea,” my friend Becky said on the other end of the phone line, “and am inviting some of our writer friends and a few of the ladies from church.”

My heart dipped.

Six weeks into grieving my son’s suicide, I didn’t know how I could possibly get through an afternoon without crying. Each afternoon played out the same, and escalated into evenings of tears, tears, and more tears. I did not intend to upset my friends and ruin a tea party, so I said, “That’s so kind of you, Becky, but I’m afraid I can’t go. I’m too weepy and that will bother everyone.”

To read the entire story, go to OpentoHope. Then, click on "Articles" that is halfway down the page, and you'll see my article.

Happy Mother's Day to all mothers who have lost children and to those who have not. God bless you for the love you've poured out onto your children.

Until next time . . . remember.

[photo is of my son Joshua at age nine]

Friday, March 16, 2012

Eight Years Ago Today

Dear Readers,

It's been eight years ago since my son, Joshua, took his own life.

I am determined to remember Joshua with a smile.

That idea came from my sweet and dear friend, Susie Neal, when she sent me a card today, encouraging me to remember my baby boy with a smile.

Thank you Susie!

And thank you to all my friends and family members who have helped me along this journey of loss. I could not have gotten this far so well without you.

Most of all I am grateful to our Lord and Savior for the Love He shows to me daily.

God bless you, beautiful people,

Until next time . . . I'll pass along your gift of encouragement.

[photo of Joshua, age two, doing his favorite thing: eating]

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Whole Amour of God

One of my favorite scriptures, one that I pray the words daily, is Ephesians 6:13-17.

Those first months after Joshua died eight years ago this March, my husband and I struggled in the reality of our lives. We realized after a few bumps in the road that even though we grieved mostly the same way, there were the differences.

It became a task to hold our own selves up, let alone the other. We needed something more, and only God could help us.

As I poured over Bible verses each night, I came across Ephesians 6 and I leaned closer to the page. I began to memorize verses 13-17. I named my husband and I when I prayed and recited the steps to put on the whole amour of God. From that moment, a remnant of peace covered us and grew to strengthen our hearts.

When another married couple needed prayer, I added them, and when my list grew long for marriage relationships, I streamlined my prayer.

How do I pray? I paraphrase a bit from the King James Version:

Father, I ask for the full amour of You upon all these couples with special emphasis on______________&____________.  Please, girt our loins with truth. Put on the breastplate of righteousness. Shod our feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Above all, taking the shield of faith, that we may be able to quench the fiery darts of the wicked. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. I ask for a covering of the Holy Spirit over all of us now. In Jesus' holy name I pray. Amen.

According to the 1560 Geneva Bible, here is the breakdown of some of the noted wording to help us modern day readers:
  • truth means virtue
  • righteousness means innocent and God like life
  • shod our feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace means that you may be ready to suffer all things for the gospel
Another interesting word that I misunderstood is loins. Loins in the Greek means lower back area.

I can say without a doubt that when I began to pray the "Whole Amour Prayer," our spiritual lives changed for the better, and we continue to grow in God's strength and power. That helps us focus on our Father and a little less on our own sorrow of losing Josh to suicide.

Until next time . . . study the word of God and realize the joy.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Blessings Along The Way: God's Mercies for a Broken Mother's Heart

Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
—Isaiah 43:18&19 ESV

I had a dream. I dreamed the nightmare never happened. Our son Joshua never passed on to the Hereafter. He married and had children. Then I woke, and knew the dream was only that—a dream. We live with our reality.
I’ve written this book of devotions for those of you who have shared the deep heartache of a child’s suicide. Through my writing, I believe God wanted me to share from my heart to yours, by giving you ways to cope and encouraging you. There can be hope and peace after a suicide. God has helped me and He wants to help you. The loss is horrific, but God is faithful. He brought me through this dark time, and He wants to do the same for you.
A yearning to write this story came five years, five months, and two weeks into my grieving journey. I sensed a dawn of courage within myself. I haven’t come this far in a blink, nor on my own. I’ll lose my nerve, only to gain it back, time and again, before I complete my story. Although, I do have the help from Lord God, and the folks He sends my way.
Am I full of courage? 
Yes! Yes, I shout, with God’s hand upon me.

God, when I falter, I pray You will renew my strength. In Jesus' name. Amen.

My faithful readers, imagine you've picked up a devotional book with the title, "Blessings Along the Way: God's Mercies for a Broken Mother's Heart." You've read the first page of the excerpt above. Would you take this book home? 

As a mother, would you expect the pages within the book to give you hope and courage through a horrific tragedy: the loss of your child from suicide?

I am a mother who suffered through the first year of raw agony of losing my son. There are still seasons in my life when the ache of child-loss brings me to my knees. But the love of Christ has brought me to this place, right here. I am currently writing BLESSINGS ALONG THE WAY: God's Mercies For A Broken Mother's Heart to share the pivotal moments of that first year of loss, and show how God blessed through each one.

God has given me a passion to help other mothers, as I've been helped by mothers before me. In spite of their loss, these mothers carried on the torch of love, hope, and joy, and have given me a snapshot of courage.

As I research devotional books that aim to help mother's who've lost children to suicide, I haven't found anything like what I envision for my book. And, I am open to suggestions from my readers. Truly, I am. I want this book to meet a need for others, otherwise there's no reason to write it.

Joshua's life had meaning.

Your child's life had meaning.

Our children left their imprint on Earth.

Until next time . . . let me hear from you.

Joshua's Senior Photo

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Beautiful Battle

Mary DeMuth's book "The Beautiful Battle," releases tomorrow, February 1st. I am so excited to get a copy into my hands and read it. From what I've heard from Mary's book trailer, it is such a needed book about women and spiritual warfare. And it sounds like the spiritual warfare that I've undergone as a mother of three children.

If you wish to enter her contest for a chance to win "The Beautiful Battle," click on Mary DeMuth's name up above and read her blog.

God bless you, Mary!

Friday, January 27, 2012

When Someone You Love Grieves

Recently, someone stumbled across my blog and sent me an E-mail. They said within the last few days, they had lost their son. I'm not sure how. What matters most right now is that they are hurting.

I can't stress enough how important it is to reach out and love someone who has lost a child. And if it's by suicide, then that can matter more to everyone involved: you, family, friends, acquaintances.

Here's where the problem lies.

Some people are so afraid to say something wrong they do nothing at all. Noticed I said do, and not say, for to say something helps little, but to do something is a gift. The hurting parent or sibling can barley think let alone ask for help.

Don't kid yourself, they need help.

People from our neighborhood showed up with food. They didn't ask, they showed up. I so appreciated them. Friends called and wanted to know what time to drop by a meal. I needed that, because it showed they weren't afraid to associate with me. The taboo of a suicide, in my home even, didn't stop them from coming around.

These are the people I will always remember and love.

Send the hurting one a living plant, a card, a book on grieving.

We received the sweetest, heart-felt cards and I've kept them all.

One friend took over a month to come to my house. When she did, her sorrow for me oozed. I could tell that was one of the hardest things she's ever done. To visit me. I loved her all the more, and I found myself acting strong, so she wouldn't feel worse.

It's what we do when we love and we're able. If she had caught me on a horrible, no good, bad day, nothing could have stopped my tears.

Another dear friend had just lost her father. She could not go to Joshua's memorial. What she did do? Met me for lunch over a period of six months. I cried during our lunches, and she listened. I drew strength from her, and we talked about our losses.

What I want to say to the person that contacted me by E-mail after her son died?

Know that I am praying for you. Every day. That I care about you. That I've walked in your boots, am walking. There are no words, just that I can listen if you wish to call.

When you're ready.

And just because it's been over seven years since my son died, it feels like yesterday and I still remember.

God bless you, Dear Mother, and I hope you come back around to read this.

Until next time . . . breathe . . .

Friday, January 20, 2012

Tear Soup: A Recipe For Healing After Loss

I own a copy of Tear Soup: A Recipe For Healing After Loss by Pat Schwiebert & Chuck DeKlyen.

I can't say enough good about this picture book for all ages.

This is a perfect first book to read after loss of a loved one. There are so many great books out there on loss and my shelves are filling up with them, but this book is genius in its simplicity and honesty.

I adore the illustrations, where each page is warm and inviting, a balm for those who need a rest.

About Tear Soup. Grandy, a wise older woman, is having to walk the way of loss. She decides to make tear soup, which helps her on the path she must travel.

Here is one of my favorite quotes in the book and so true: "All Grandy really needed from them [her friends] at that moment was a knowing look and a warm hug."

Tear Soup is not just for those who've suffered loss and need guidance, but for those friends and family members close to the sufferer and want to help.

If you can get this book from the library, please do. If you can afford to buy it, you won't be disappointed. You can order it at Amazon, where Tear Soup has 262 five starred reviews. Wow!

Thank you, Pat and Chuck, for writing Tear Soup to fill a need for those of us who have walked the Valley of the Shadow. And thank you, Taylor Bills, for your cozy illustrations.

God bless you!

Until next time . . . take the time to listen to someone who's hurting.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Introducing Prayerful Pondering

My dear friend, Pat Rowland, has a blog she recently started called Prayerful Pondering. I want to tell the world about her blog, and so the reason for my post.

Why, you may ask? What does this have to do with loss of a child? A lot.

Pat writes about the Gift. The one that Jesus left for us when He went up into heaven. The Gift is One that keeps giving each day, each hour, each minute of our lives. No matter the situation that we are struggling with, loss of a loved one, divorce, loss of a job, the Gift is here to help.

To quote Pat from her blog post titled, The Spirit of Truth: He gave us a gift no one else could give, a gift that meant eternal salvation and not eternal damnation.

Please take the time to drop by Pat Rowland's Prayerful Pondering, and read the January 12th post. You will not be disappointed. Oh, and be sure to check out her other postings. She will bless your heart.

Until next time . . . pray and seek.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Let My People Go – Human Trafficking Awareness Day

Today, January 11, is Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Please take a moment to read Daniel Darlings blog , with guest Kathi Macias, author of Deliver Me From Evil, and learn more about Human Trafficking.

Thank you for stopping by.

Until next time . . . let's learn what touches our heart and pray.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Book Review: "Deliver Me From Evil"


 "Deliver Me From Evil" by Kathi Macias, was by far the most riveting story I've ever read for young people. I must be honest and say I had to go into the story slowly, digesting it bit by bit. This topic of modern day slavery is something I have heard very little about. It's heartbreaking, we already know, that so many children around the world turn up missing and some end up slaves in our modern times.

I felt for all the characters, especially the slave girls. Mara, the tough one, Chanthra, the one willing to reach out and help another slave girl, and Lawan, who's faith in God was unwavering. She made me smile.

I rooted for the hero toward the end, so was not disappointed.

I'm glad Kathi has a sequel about Mara, as a free woman.

Anyone wanting to know about modern day slavery, without the sordid details (Kathi handled that especially well), you'll want to read "Deliver Me From Evil."

Thank you, Kathi, for writing a much needed book that will surely make a difference in our world.