Thursday, December 19, 2013

Psalm 116:4~Deliver My Soul

From left to right: Heinrich in the background, Joshua's dog, my husband and me 2010

Dear readers,

The Psalmist writes:

"Then called I upon the name of the Lord; O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul."

Just when I've adjusted to life without my son Joshua with more days of joy and less grief, the anniversaries and the celebrations yank me down. 

I remember then to call upon the name of the Lord. He's an instant comfort that no one else can give, nor any substance like food or drink can satisfy. I'm still sad, dear readers, but Jesus delivers my soul from the too heavy burden of loss. My heart is lighter as He carries me.

Another trigger besides holidays and anniversaries, can be when I'm not feeling well. Maybe it's an illness, or a minor or major injury. Grief will resurface and compound the current suffering that has no connection to the loss of Joshua.

Grief is complicated.

Jesus is not.

I'm complicated.

He still loves me.

Praise the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Until next time . . . let's read our Bibles and learn more about Jesus.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Psalm:116:1~I Love the Lord

My two sons, Jason & Joshua

Dear readers,

"I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications." KJV

You may be wondering how I can agree with this verse, since my son died by suicide nine years ago. I've had to really work through this idea, because I did pray for my son.

Someone said to me right after my son died, "Maybe God did answer our prayers. Joshua is no longer suffering."

Well, maybe. Maybe not.

After nine years, I've seen a pattern of when God answers yes and when He answers no.

God has always said yes when I pray for my spiritual growth. That is God's priority, helping us to become more like Jesus. I came to that realization about four years ago, and this fact has caused me to love and cling to Lord God even more than before.

As to other prayers, I can only say we can pray for people, but we have no control over what others do. Many times the prayers I pray for my loved ones are a yes, because I am careful to ask for God's will in the process. And I am careful to ask that, above all, the person I'm praying for will grow to know God better.

There may be two parts to why I feel my prayers weren't answered regarding my son.

As far as my son goes, he was taking SSRI medications for depression and anxiety. He chose not to get off of them. He saw they were not working for him, but he continued to take them.

On the other hand, maybe I was not asking God the right request for Joshua. I certainly didn't know he was contemplating suicide. Joshua hid that very well from his family.

Holy Father, we are but feeble children of Yours. We stumble about much of the time, but we are still Yours, if we've accepted Jesus as our Savior. Please continue to guide my mind, my words, and my heart so that I may help others in some small way who've lost children to suicide. In Jesus' holy name, I ask. Amen.

Until next time . . . please contact me if you have thoughts on this topic. I'm very open to debate.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Psalm 56:9~For God Is For Me

Joshua's dog Heinrich~12/11/2000-08/04/2011

Dear readers,

David writes:

"When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know for God is for me." KJV

How many of us have had sons or daughters die by suicide and we are left with their pets? My husband and I inherited our son, Joshua's, dog Heinrich and cat LiahNora. At first, I ignored the animals except to feed and water them. However, I became grateful to have something of our son to hold onto. Joshua never married or had children, so his animals were all that was left of him, besides his belongings.

Joshua died in 2004 and Heinrich became ill in 2011. A surgery showed cancer, and at eleven years old, we cared for him at home until he took his last breath. Putting Heinrich down at a vet's office was not an option for us. We couldn't do it. Maybe it was because we were home when Joshua died. All I know is, we needed God to intervene for us on behalf of Heinrich.

Because Heinrich was lingering and suffering, I began to pray, and cry out, "Please, Lord, take Heinrich, so he won't suffer any longer." I prayed that prayer several times a day, until four days later, God relieved us from a difficult decision.

Over the last nine years since Joshua's death, I've felt death itself an enemy to battle against. It has turned me inside out and made me see another side of myself. So I cry unto the Lord and He softens my sorrows. I know He is for me.

Leave a comment if you'd like to share your story of how you dealt with the loss of your child's pet. We parents have different challenges and what works for one does not work for another.

God bless you, dear readers.

Father, You are kind and You know how much we can bear. You heard my cry over Heinrich and made his death easier for him and us. We miss him and are grateful for his many years of service to our family. In Jesus' holy name, I pray. Amen.

Until next time . . . know God will hear.

Friday, November 15, 2013

I've Not Forgotten

One of my artichokes bloomed. Photo by Jean

Dear Readers,

I've not forgotten or abandoned this blog. I tore four ligaments in my back, and it's taking time to get to a more normal routine.

You will see more posts soon.

I miss writing to you!

God bless you,

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Psalm 145:16~Thou Openest Thine Hand~Elk On A Mountain

Jean at her blind~photo taken by her husband

Dear readers,

King David writes:
"Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing."

I take the scripture above to mean, God created the heavens and the earth by His hand. He gave all creatures what they need to live.

After nine years of grieving my son's death by suicide, the Lord has given me the best rest ever upon a mountain top. Several days of peaceful beauty that I'll write about in three parts.

My experience took place two weeks ago, where I entered the forest and up onto a mountain and sat behind a hunting blind. I waited where I knew elk came each evening. I scanned the peak of a treeline with my binoculars for an hour, taking a few breaks. When I glassed the area, again, I thought, "I don't remember that stump being there." Besides, it was too blond in color. I couldn't comprehend what I saw.

I moved my binos back and forth, when the "stump" moved. A bull elk turned, moving his backside to full broadside. He lifted his head. I whispered, "Oh, my, oh, my!" I counted twelve horns. Six on one side and six on the other, a six by six. That rack stood straight in the air between three to four feet high, I kid you not.

I fussed at myself for leaving my camera in the truck, and muttered, "Drat."

Suddenly, another bull appeared, his backside hidden by the first elk. A bit smaller, his horns were either five by five or five by six. I'm uncertain. By now, my heart pounded in my ears and my chest heaved. I grew dizzy and thought I might faint any second, for their beauty blew me sideways.

After watching them for ten minutes, they began to walk up and away from my direction. I tiptoed down the trail I sat on, and the elk disappeared. Desperate to bring them back, I used my own voice in a cow elk call. Thinking I had lost them for sure, I walked back toward my blind. As I came to an opening on the path, I looked at where they had been. The six by six bull faced me at stoic attention, showing off a brown coat on his thick chest.

I gasped, and then grinned. "You beautiful, big guy. God made you."

He moved to the side and, pulling his head to the left, sauntered out of view.

I descended the mountain that day satisfied. Even though I did not bring one down and home to the freezer, I witnessed the magnificence of Father God's creation. Best of all, with my own voice, I spoke big guy's language and our eyes met.

 "You opened Your hand, and satisfy the desires every living thing."

Thank You, Lord, for giving me a much needed break from the world around me. Thank You for creating magnificent creatures as the Rocky Mountain elk. In Jesus' holy name, I am grateful. Amen.

Until next time . . . see what God has done.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Psalm 142:2~I Poured Out My Complaint

Dear readers,

King David wrote this while hiding in the cave:

"I poured out my complaint before him; I shewed before him my trouble." KJV

Ah, David, he does know how to speak honestly, doesn't he? This must be why I love his words. This verse speaks of my heart, for I'm going into the darker season of grief and loss.

Before my son's death, I've always loved fall. It might be because I was born smelling the harvest. Or maybe because it's the beginning of cooler weather after summer heat. No matter the reason, fall is now bittersweet. Joshua's birthday comes with autumn and that is a worst time for missing my son.

God  hears my complaint of how I dread the tears of missing Joshua. I fight the sad, dark cloud that wants to gulp me whole. Yes, it's been nine years, but I can't stop missing my son. Father God knows this, and He hears my complaint.

Recently, the Lord brought me a gift of the human kind.

Even though my friend, Reda, and I had kept in contact, we hadn't seen each other in 28 years. Her Micah and my Joshua played together as little boys. We now live closer since we both moved to the Northwest, and she just so happened to be driving toward my home when I heard from her. "Would you like a visit?" she asked.

"Yes," I cried, "yes!"

As Reda got out of her car, we hurried to greet each other. What happened next surprised me: I sobbed.

Huge blubbering sobs like ocean waves erupted from me as we embraced. Reda cried her soft gentle tears with me. I had no idea how much I needed to share my sorrow of loss with her. She bore my pain. Sisters in Christ, soul friends, our years of separation leaked in a rush of tears. Sad tears. Joyful tears of reunion.

We visited for five hours and thirty minutes. I fed her glasses and glasses of green mango iced tea. She fed me her faith in Christ. Her struggles of life. I shared, also. God heard my complaint and blessed me with the strength of a faithful follower.

How many times have I wrote in this Love Truth blog, that God has blessed me with human comfort? Many, many times, dear readers. God does bless. Father God does hear, but we must ask. Knock, knock, knock, on His door and He will open and extend His hand of help.

Reda is proof once again: God has not forgotten my sorrow.

Father God, thank You for the surprise visit of my dear friend. You are the Father of gifts. You are the Lord of beautiful. In Jesus' holy name, I praise You. Amen.

Until next time . . . reach out your hand for Lord God. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

O Love That Will Not Let Me Go

Cherry Blossoms in My Yard

O Love That Will Not Let Me Go

"O Love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be."

"O joy that seekest me thru pain,
I cannot close my  heart to Thee;
I trace the rainbow thru the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain
That morn shall tearless be."

*Text: Cecil F. Alexander
* Music: William H. Jude
 verses one and three

I discovered this hymn recently, and it speaks so well about the time following Joshua's suicide.

I had to share this with you, dear reader. If I've failed to explain well enough the height of Love that God has shown to me, parts of this hymn should.

Do you see, dear reader? How could I not choose life? I knew God was listening even if I didn't feel Him. The line in the song above, "I cannot close my heart to Thee," is a choice. I made that choice. I walked through the God door and did not look back.

But, then, I grew weary with the months of grief and wanted to quit. I wasn't seeking to quit because God failed me. Oh, no. I wanted to throw in my whole life and walk away because I came to the end of myself. At the very end. On the edge of the cliff. I found: "I rest my weary soul in Thee; I give Thee back the life I owe."

Psalm 116:2 shows the results of God's faithfulness for my life now:

"Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live."

Thank you, Holy God, Father of all creation, for listening to me when my life cracked in the loss of my son. You held me up when I could no longer. I'm grateful. In Jesus' holy name. Amen.

Until next time . . . sing a hymn.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Psalm 102:27~Thy Years Shall Have No End

Beautiful Southern Oregon                              photo by Jean Williams

Dear readers,

The Psalmist writes:

"But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end."

After my son, Joshua, died by suicide nine years ago, I wandered around my house and thought: You are the same, God. You never change. You have always been and will always be. Even though it feels my life is over . . . and I would repeat parts or all of this to find comfort.

I talked consistently to God. I had to or go insane. My brain would flip out so easily after Joshua died. I couldn't wrap my mind around his death. Gone. No more. Let alone how he died. How could a child of mine be so miserable as to end his life?

Confused, I wanted to die myself and talking to God was my only sane thoughts at times.

Can you imagine knowing Someone who shall have no end?

I needed to know that Someone even better after Joshua died. I had to fill up the gaping hole in my heart with good. God is good. So, I talked to Him day and night.

You may ask, weren't you angry at God? How can you call Him good when He allowed your son to die?

God gives everyone of us free choice. Even when we become victims of believing a lie, it is our free choice.

I'll never understand how this could have happened to our family, but it can happen to anyone's so why not mine?

Scripture teaches, it rains on the just and the unjust: "That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." Matthew 5:45 KJV

Losing a child at any age or for whatever cause is enough to send any parent over the edge. The only reason I didn't fall off the edge is for one reason and one only: Lord God.

I learned to truly believe like this verse of scripture shows: "Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty."

Father in heaven, You are more wonderful than we humans can imagine. As one verse of Psalm states, You walk upon the wings of the wind. * I believe in You, Lord, and want to walk with You all the days for the rest of my life. In Jesus' holy name, I pray. Amen.

*Psalm 104:3

Until next time . . . be willing to believe.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Psalm 77:6~My Song in the Night

Photo by Jean Ann Williams

Dear readers,

The Psalmist writes:

"I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search."

How many of us take time to contemplate where we are spiritually?

Are we right with God? In all honesty, do we strive each day to please our Lord? How can we do better to serve Lord God?

If we never stop and search our hearts, we will not see where we fall short to honor God. Our eyes will not open to changes needed.

We can also take this verse as it most likely means and count our blessings. Let our song of joy be known unto our Father. Be grateful for the little moments of God's favor in our lives. Be glad for the huge ones, like Jesus giving his life to take away our sins so we may have eternal life.

I'm still sad that my son died by suicide. Though, life is not the same now, I've learned how to see the small and huge blessings God has given to me and my family.

Because of my loss, my writing has evolved into deeper layers in search of truth. Life is hard. I desire to give encouragement to others as they suffer under difficult circumstances no matter what they may be.

Farm life here with the animals I care for can be harsh, also. Animals die. The wild critters prey on my chickens and chicks. Some die from old age. I've buried a few birds and I'm always sad for the loss.

Some of our goats are raised for meat. Butchering is never easy. Our animals give us meat, eggs and milk, and I'm grateful for their service to us.

I hope my service to Lord God pleases Him more often than grieves Him, as I commune with mine own heart. It is a sacrifice to not put myself first and that takes diligent work.

Holy Father, thank You for giving me the blessings to lightened my burdens. Thank You for giving us Your Son Jesus and we can call Him Friend. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

Until next time . . . remember your song.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Psalm 69:32~Your Heart Shall Live

When we seek God, we are like a beautiful rose with a flaw in our petals.

Dear readers,

King David writes:

"The humble shall see this, and be glad: and your heart shall live that seek God."

What is David saying here?

First we must take into account that King James (my version of Bible) added words and those words are italicized. So, the word "this" can be taken out and it reads, "The humble shall see, and be glad: and your heart shall live that seek God".

We  can't see what God wants us to see and do with no humility in our lives. Dear readers, prideful, boastful thinking can't live inside of our hearts. Be humble. Do not take revenge.

Example: take those hurtful words someone just now spewed at you and give them to God to take care of.

You will know glad, in another word: peace. :))

What does "your heart shall live" mean? I believe this means eternal life in heaven with our Lord God. How do we seek God to attain this? Studying His Word (the Bible) every day and pray, pray, pray. Ask God's Holy Spirit to guide you on personal issues. He will, and you'll see changes like never before.

Of course at some point, we must do the acts of being saved and to walk with God as directed in the Bible: confession that we are sinners, accepting Christ as our Savior and immersion in water to spiritually wash away our sins.

Already a saved child of God helped me after Joshua died, for I had accepted Christ as my Savior at age eighteen. God had proven His power to me for decades. Even at that, in my darkest days, weeks and months after Joshua's death by suicide, I had to work hard to seek God.

Let me tell you, it's exhausting to seek God when you don't feel like it.

I learned to wake in the mornings and say good morning to God to begin my day on a spiritual foundation.

I assure you, dear readers, there is never any calm like what the Lord can give. I also assure you, I would not still be alive if it were not for my Lord. He saved me from myself. How? I kept reading encouraging scriptures, but I also read the book of Job in the Old Testament. That made me feel better that someone else had not only lost a child, but all of his children.

In my search for scriptures, I found two verses, Philippians 4:8 & 9, and memorized them to ease my torment over losing my youngest child to such a horrific death. God's Word made me humble and glad. He gave me rest from my own misery. I was in misery, but with God I sensed His peace.

Dear readers, I tell you the truth. What I write in each post has happened to me, and God did save me from my own self. Today, I am healthier in mind, body and spirit, because of my spiritual Father in Heaven.

Lord, I am grateful for Your loving comfort of Your holy Word. In Jesus' holy name. Amen.

Until next time . . . read the Bible and live.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Psalm 55:17~He Shall Hear My Voice

Photo by Jean Ann Williams

Dear readers,

King David writes:

"Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice."

When we're steeped in sorrow, or anger or discouragement, do we always think to cry aloud to the Lord? I sure don't, but since my son died by suicide, I'm getting better at not wasting time.

I've learned to jump in with both feet. By that, I mean, shrug off whatever troubles me to One that has the power to help. I might do it up big time, like sobs and lots of noises. Or in soft tones of notes, singing my sorrows to God.

God loves for us to need Him. He loves for us to not hide from Him. He already knows every thought of ours anyway. When we are honest, truly honest about ourselves, we can see our sincere need for Him. Then, He can show us more about our short comings. When we've said all we needed to say, peace follows, please believe me, dear readers.

I've listened to people who have said, "I don't know if God hears me."

That last part of the verse says it, and God's holy Word is true: ". . . he shall hear my voice." How? David prayed and cried aloud three times a day.

Let's take King David's example and do the same. Not only will we be real and more right with God than ever before, but it will propel our relationship toward God to a higher level.

Holy Father, thank You for always hearing me. Please help my readers to know more about You, and help me to continue to trust You better. Bless our week. In Jesus' holy name, I ask. Amen.

Until next time . . . let's be honest. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Psalm 55:6~Wings Like a Dove

A dove in the yard~photo by Jean Ann Williams

Dear readers.

David writes:
"And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest."

When my son Joshua died by suicide at age twenty-five over nine years ago, I needed much rest, pysically, spiritually and emotionally. I grew exhausted from the hour by hour reality of living without my youngest child. I longed for wings to fly somewhere. Anywhere would do, so, day after day, I watched the doves soar from oak tree to oak tree.

My fascination with our doves began early in my grief.

When my daughter Jami drove up to the house after getting the news of her brother, she stepped out of her car and a thick flapping of wings caught her attention. She turned her eyes toward the sky. Two gray doves appeared to guide a pure white dove to the heavens.

Jami sensed God's Spirit, showing her that Joshua's spirit had been escorted by angels into the Great Beyond where he would take his rest.

God gave Jami reassurance, something to ponder on when her sorrow became unbearable. It helped me, also, after she shared what she had seen on the day of our loss.

"Oh, that I had wings like a dove! would I fly away, and be at rest."

Take a deep breath, dear readers--ah, yes. No matter what sorrow you are experiencing, God wants you to be in His rest. Free like a dove.

Dear Father God, thank You for giving my daughter blessed assurance. The beginning of hundreds of blessings, You have cared and watched over our family through our early grief and beyond. In Jesus' holy name, we are grateful. Amen.

Until next time . . . look for the blessings.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Psalm 40:4~Blessed is the Man

Trickles of Water: Photo by Jean Ann Williams

Good morning, dear readers,

The Psalmist writes:
"Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie!"

Wow, dear readers, this appears as a heavy-duty, not fair verse, but is that the case?

If we make the Lord our trusted God, why would we need any others who are proud in themselves and believes the lies of Satan? God is telling us, "I am the only way, and if you choose Me over lies, I will bless you."

You will find God's blessings throughout His holy scriptures. Reading God's Word is the foundation of how He talks to us for His assurances, boundaries, and the moral codes He has set for us to follow.

Following God is not easy for us with wandering eyes.

If we do look another way in a time of weakness, the Lord is willing to draw us back to Him in whatever way He deems best. Think of His way to get our attention as a parent who disciplines a child for their safety. God is not mean. He wants our full attention, which is the best for us and will continue to bring about the blessings He promises. 

What, you may ask, has this to do with death by suicide?

Trusting in God and not the proud and those who go after lies, is important when we've lost a loved one, which includes loss by suicide. In our time of deep sorrows, we are confused, exhausted by tears, and looking around for God. One does not have to feel God to understand He is there, and because we've lost a loved one doesn't mean God flees.

Looking back over the nine years since my son Joshua died by suicide, I can proclaim God never left me.

I had a grief so great, it allowed no room for "touchy feelies" where God is concerned. That disturbed me, so I researched scriptures in the Bible. I found many verses that assured me to continue to trust in the Lord, and not turn to those I could see who are proud and gone astray after lies.

I could look back and spot the times the blessings flowed and they continued to this present moment. Many from God fearing and loving people. So many, that I'm compelled to write a book about my first year after the loss of my son to suicide. I can't be silent about how the Lord helped me then and continues to today.

Father God, I pray for my readers that they, also, will find joy in worshiping and trusting in You. In Jesus' holy name. Amen.

Until next time . . . trust in Lord God.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Psalm 44:25~Our Soul Is Bowed

Nine-year-old Joshua, guarding first base

Good morning, dear readers,

Since my last post, it has been a hectic week of traveling, working in the veggie garden and general work on my goat farm, but now I'm back at my desk. :)

The verse below recently caught my attention, because of what happened within two hours after Joshua died by suicide. The devotion today is not in my book, but is a good example of what I include in the book.

For our soul is bowed down to the dust: our belly cleaveth unto the earth.

I glared at the emergency worker who stood a few feet between me and the hallway of my home.

I stretched my five foot frame to glare harder. "I need my shoes, and I won't leave this house without them."

"Ma'am, you can't go back there." Was the man protecting me? Don't bother, I thought, I held my dead son in that room. Then, I squinted my eyes at him, "I'm getting my shoes."

I stepped toward him, and his eyes grew big in his young face. I put my head down, ready to plow right through him. He stepped aside. I focused on my bedroom door and not on Joshua's room, for I had to pass his as I walked.

When I reached my room, I fell to the floor beside my bed. Sobbing, I curled into a ball and rocked. "Oh, God, oh, God, my son is dead, oh, God."

"Jean?" My sister-in-law. "Jean, we need to go."

Through my wet hands, cupped to my face, I said, "I can't."

She touched my shoulder. "Okay, I'll give you five more minutes."

After she left, her words echoed in my head. I'll give you five more minutes. I almost laughed. How many times had I said that to Joshua when he was a little boy? I pushed aside the fragmented moment of five more minutes, and wailed.

"Mommy." Jami, my daughter. "Please, Mommy, I'll take you to my house." She lifted me up under my arms. I didn't want to make it harder for her, so we found my shoes. Jami cradled her arm around me, and we walked outside to our waiting family.

Lord, God, my soul was bowed down to the dust. My belly cleaved unto the earth. Then, You allowed a lighter moment to come and go in a blink to give my being a bit of rest. In Jesus' name, I am grateful for Your love to reach my shattered heart. Amen.

Until next time . . . wade through God's restful moments.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Psalm 43:5~The Health of my Countenance

Pepper Jasmine and the twin baby that lived

Dear readers,

The Psalmist writes:

"Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God."

Are you cast down today?

For many Memorial Day is difficult, and we go about the time with thoughts and reflections of our loved ones who have gone to the Great Beyond.

I love this part of the above verse, "hope in God: for I shall yet praise him,"

There is absolutely nothing wrong with lamenting for our loved ones who have died. It is our need to lament that brings us to a healthier healing place. If we don't grieve, we become sick. Think of this part of the verse: "for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God."

God needs us to shed tears, so let them flow and a sense of relief shall follow. Keeping God in the equation of our grief brings hope like no other. Afterward, we can praise Him, and let the cycle of tears and praise repeat itself to bring about our growth in a stronger faith in Lord God.That equals a better relationship with Him.

Even the animal kingdom needs to time to say goodbye, although their time for grief is much shorter.

On December 29, 2012, our first goat birth on our farm brought a set of twins. The younger twin did not thrive and within twenty-four hours I knew he would not make it. He lay in a box next to our wood stove to keep him warm and so I could feed him. When I checked on him at 3:30 a.m., he was struggling to breath.

I wrapped him in his towel and lay him in the barn before his mother Pepper Jasmine. At 7:15 a.m., I came back to find Pepper and the other twin standing over him, heads bent close to him. He had stopped breathing. What surprised me? The mother goat had decided to finish her job of licking him clean. I had taken a matted, dull-coated baby to Pepper and his coat had a beautiful sheen.

Pepper gazed up at me. I picked up the baby and took him from her and his brother. Pepper didn't cry, as I left the barn. She never cried at all. I thought nothing of that, until a few days later. An experienced goat farmer told me that had I not taken the baby back to be with his mother before he died, she would have cried for days. This way, she saw him out of this world and said her goodbyes. Pepper knew he no longer breathed. 

I will never forget that experience with my goats, and as a mood of disquiet comes upon me as it so often does for I miss my son, Joshua, I will rush to Jesus Christ and rest. That's a kind of soft joy set apart from any other.

Father, thank You for encouraging us in our sorrowful times. You created us, and You want us to share all with You. Not just the happy moments, but also the sad. In Jesus' holy name, I pray. Amen.

Until next time . . . rest in God and His Son.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Psalm 42:7~Deep Calleth Unto Deep

Two month old Mr. Buckling

Dear Readers,

The Psalmist writes:
"Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me."

I'm uncertain what this verse means, but it expresses what I felt for three months this winter.

I caught one nasty virus and then it went into coughing for two months. I'm not sure, but it acted like whooping cough. Or it could have been bronchitis, but that doesn't matter now. What matters is from February second through end of April, I was physically exhausted from the illness.

I went through the ninth anniversary of Joshua's death too sick with a cough to lie down when sleeping. I mourned for my son and I mourned the temporary loss of health.

My deep innermost parts called unto God's deep innermost parts, as the noise of my coughing continued day after day, week after week, and into two months. The waves and billows of fits my body underwent made it hard to breath.

All this, and I still had my responsibilities. I prayed to Lord God to get me through each day of animal chores on my small goat farm. When it got really tough, I prayed to the Father to get me through a morning, when after the chores, I could fall back into bed and sleep until noon.

My goats didn't get the pats and hugs they would have normally gotten from me, but they never suffered for their needs. I fed and watered them regularly, and I milked Pepper Jasmine once a day. The rest of the milk needed to go to her kid, Mr. Buckling.

Because I couldn't do anything extra, like play with my goats, Mr. Buckling suffered and I'm just now realizing this.

Now at almost five months old, he grew these last few months without my gentle handling to help rid his exceptionally wild nature. Even though we weathered him and he's no longer a buck, he remained hard to handle, skittish and a runner. A wonderful thing happened, though: he got more attention from his people. In less than a week, he's a warm, loving little fella. I can almost see him smile, as he rubs his head against arm.

He still doesn't understand what a brush is for, and he'll crane his neck to see the object that rubs his coat. Then, he'll jump straight up in the air after a few brush strokes. Mr. B is learning to trust me more, though, just as I am still learning about God's abundant love and kindness.

The Lord got me through one of the most difficult illnesses as an adult. To name a few, my rest breaks came when I needed them most, there were no major upsets within my goat herd, and my wonderful husband helped me by cleaning out dirty straw from the goat barn.

As I trusted in God, deep unto deep, He never failed my needs. That's the God I worship.

Father, thank You for helping me through a most difficult period of time. In the past, when I was injured or ill, I sensed my Christianity slipping for my misery overwhelmed me. This time, I did not allow such thoughts to rule day or night. I understand now. Being ill does not mean I'm less of a Christian. It means I can grow into a stronger follower of You. In Jesus' name, I'm grateful. Amen. 

Until next time . . . allow deep unto deep

Monday, May 6, 2013

Psalm 42:1~So Pants My Soul For You

Anise with her kids, Moon and Glow, born April 26th.

Good morning, dear readers,

The Psalmist writes: "As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God." ESV

There are still many days when my battered heart grows faint from loss and grief. Or even the spring time work load that forces me to run from dawn to night can wear me thin. I feel thirsty for God. It may take a little time for me to recognize this need comes from my spirit, where worldly things cannot fill and satisfy. So, I take the long way home where God's peace awaits.

Then, there are the routine daily pants for God that need filled with Bible reading, praying, singing, praising, and listening to His Holy Spirit. Those keep my soul refreshed. I know, because when I slack on any of these acts of worship toward God, the darts from Satan surprise me because I did not begin the day prepared.

Do you do this, also, dear reader? Can you identify with what I'm sharing today?

"As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God."

Sometimes, I pause in my barn chores and watch my goats, who are of the deer family, suck from the water pail on hot days. Their intense drinks say they need water, and lots of it now. Even the littlest goats slurp their water with eager intensity, making me laugh out loud. They remind me of human children who slurp their soup or chomp their food with mouths open.

Presently, I've been physically taxed over the last ten days, and it all started on April 26th, Friday morning at six A.M., after the last full moon.

I peered through an open shutter window of the birthing barn to check on my due-to-give-birth Anise the goat. Her eyes stared at me, huge on her face, as she peered through the screened window opening. I realized later as I replayed in my mind those first few moments, she was trying to tell me something, but I thought, Oh, I forgot to let down the shutters for the night.

I took two steps away from the barn to begin the feeding chores, when I heard a soft kitten-like, "Maaaa."

What? I thought, that sounds like a baby goat. I opened the door and underneath where Anise had stood were her two babies, one brown and one white. I said two things, "Oh, no!" because I had left the window open and it was cold, and "Oh, yes!" because they were alive and clean and Anise did a good job. All by herself.

Anise is a first time mother and a bit flighty, and she sure didn't know what to do with them after she did a perfect job of delivery and clean up. That morning began a long week of trying to teach the babies to suck and for Anise to stand still and allow them to eat. Around the clock, I did my job of making sure the babies got milk in their bellies. My soul felt parched often, from lack of sleep, but I stayed with it. I even prayed in the barn while I gave the weak baby doeling mother's milk from a syringe.

I still kept up with the other chores and my soul panted for my Lord. I needed Him as always, but also my attention had to stay upon these babies or I feared the doeling would die. I balanced it all, but I grew concerned I was losing the doeling for she grew thin.

The buckling began to eat good, though, and past his sister by three pounds on day four. Finally, my stubborn nature paid off and the doeling, which I named Glow, because she was born on a full moon, is now gaining weight and growing strong.

Place yourself in my situation with one of your own. Are you caring for a sick family member, or tending to several small children? Are you driving long distances that keep you away from home too often, so that you lose sleep? Some days we get empty in our soul for all we do, but we must snatch moments of time to think on the Lord and let Him talk to us by reading His Word, the Bible.

 I'm glad that God made us so that we need Him. Aren't you? Otherwise, we might forget about Him altogether and where would we be then, with no Father to take care of us?

Father, You are patient with me. Thank You for loving me this much. Please bless those who read this and I pray it will show them they are not alone in their walk toward You and with You. In Jesus' holy name. Amen.

Until next time . . . take care of your spiritual soul. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Psalm 37:37~Behold the Upright

LiahNora, Joshua's Cat

Good morning, dear readers,

King David writes:

"Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace."

How many of us can attest to this verse? Raise your hands now. :)

I want to tell you a true story. One that I am not proud of. Over a month ago, I was very ill, and it was just past the anniversary of Joshua's death. I was sick at heart and plain sick. I coughed and coughed until I could no longer sleep lying down. It was right before the time I moved to a recliner and sat up to sleep at night, when it happened.

Weary worn one morning, I went out to water the goats. I had a pressure in my chest and I had to think about breathing. As I placed the clean pail of water in its spot, my new neighbors were walking toward the boundry wire fence that was between us. I'm certain they did not know I was within hearing distance.

The wife said, "Those goats stink . . .," and she said a cuss word.

I thought I misunderstood her words. Did she just say goats? The new neighbors that backed their RV right  up against the goat pen when they had other hook ups to choose from? No, I thought.

Then, the husband said, "What?" She repeated her words, and ended with, ". . . don't they?" Hoping her husband would agree, I imagine.

Well, let's just say I lost it. Let's also say that Satan knows exactly when to tempt us to sin. I was not the perfect person and I was not having upright thoughts, so I had no peace. I blurted out to my new neighbor, "What did you just say?"

The wife blew up and yelled words at me. I shook my head in disbelief, and I said, "It makes no sense whatsoever that you parked your RV right up against the goat pen."

She said more words and I raised my voice, and scolded, "You are not a nice lady," and I walked away.

Why, pray tell, did I not keep my blooming mouth shut? I was caught off guard that's what. My defenses were down. I had no tolerance for anything. I'd just went through the ninth anniversary of my son's death.

Now, dear readers, I am NOT making excuses. I am showing you what happened when Satan caught me off guard. We must as often as possible keep our guards up against his fiery darts. The results of those darts tortured me for three weeks.

I had no peace about the situation with my neighbor, and I wanted to apologize to her. No matter that she began the conflict. God doesn't care who starts the fight. As followers of Christ, we must as the scripture teaches turn the other cheek. I did not. I boldly spoke words I should have kept to myself.

When I told my son Jason what I had done, and that I was seeking an opportunity to appologize, he said, "Mom, that's good, because you may be the only Bible she'll ever read."

Gulp . . . The knot I nursed inside my gut melted.

Did God bring the perfect timing for me to say "I'm sorry"? Yes, indeed, and now the wife and I speak over the fence and I am grateful.

Father God, thank You for allowing me to right a wrong. My words spoken in anger are taken away and forgiven by You and my new neighbor. In Jesus' holy name. Amen.

Until next time . . . guard your hearts in prayer from the Tempters darts.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Today, I'd like to bring back Jiwan, the amazing teen writer who blogs at Live and Laugh With Jesus. Jiwan has great news about going onto university, which you'll see God in action. Please click the link above and read her short testimony.

Jiwan, thank you for returning and answering these most difficult questions on depression and suicide. As a student, have you ever heard of anyone in your high school who has attempted suicide or died by suicide?

I know of a many who have contemplated suicide, one who attempted suicide and unfortunately I lost a wonderful friend this summer, he had taken his own life.

I'm sadden to hear that, Jiwan. What are the general feelings or thoughts from your circle of friends about what this person has done?

Most of us don’t talk about it, because the concept is so surreal. We will say a few lines about it, and then the mood becomes somber, because I don’t think we can fathom the reality of what happened when we lost our friend. I don’t know how else to say it but we were devastated and confused and somewhat angry. I just don’t think we can believe that it happened.    
 Does this act to end a life shock or surprise you and your friends?

I think it does surprise us. And in a way it is strange that it surprises us. Suicide is not a topic that we have never heard about before. But the act of taking one’s own life is so final, is so permanent that even though you hear about it you can’t believe someone can take such a drastic step- at least not someone you know.

But then when you stand there and watch your friend in a casket it seems like everything falls through. Everything you thought was secure is not, and your love towards the person seems meaningless. So I guess surprise can be used to describe the feeling, but it must be paired with empty. Because at that point I know we all just felt empty.

 Do you have thoughts as to why this could be happening? Could it be too much pressure to succeed? Too little time for everything a student wants to accomplish? Or do you believe it could be something else altogether that causes a young person to end their life?

Well, first there is some generic stuff, like hormone and body changes that a child doesn’t know how to deal with; struggles in the home play a huge factor. But I think- and I don’t know if this is right or wrong--so please extend grace--but I think it’s a mixture of not knowing if you’ll ever feel happy again and our culture. 

When you’re depressed you feel like nothing good exists, like this feeling of despair will never end. And our culture today is very hedonistic, we think we should always be happy, on a perpetual ecstasy. So I think either individuals feel broken and then look at a “happy” world and think there is something wrong with them and go further into depression. 

Or that individual pursues pleasure, thinks displeasure is unnatural and then doesn’t know how to deal with negative emotions and feels hopeless. Of course this doesn’t encompass every situation, but I do think it plays a role--especially when I talk to some of my friends.

Lastly, Jean Ann, kids are cruel. I don’t know if my generation is more or less cruel then in generations past, but they are cruel. Sometimes, you just don’t feel like fighting them any longer.

  What would you say to a young adult who feels hopeless and helpless to change the circumstances of their situation?

I don’t know if this is good advice or not, but I am currently talking to a girl who is dealing with depression and battling it. I try to get her to engage in the world around her. Sometimes when you look at your situation and are only engulfed in your situation you lose track of everything that is going on around you. But if you lift your head, you will find joy, hear of other people’s struggles and get your mind off of yourself. That’s what I usually say, but it is a process of love and relationship.

If you had a friend who was depressed, give us more of an idea of how would you try to help them.

That saddest thing is I don’t know how to help them. You try and try and try but sometimes you can’t make it better--that is the most frustrating part. I try to be there for them when they need to talk, try to get their mind off of their situations, sometimes I pray for them and I all in all try to keep a relationship. That is very difficult and sometimes people can be irrational when they are emotional, but I just try to meet them where they are. But it is very difficult, and I just hope what I do helps.

    Do you believe Christians are immune to suicidal thoughts?

I must admit I’ve never given it much thought. But I don’t see any reason to believe this, so I would say no, I do not believe Christians are immune to suicidal thoughts.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, Jiwan.

Hmmm… well I’m 17 years old, I love sports, especially basketball and, like other girls, I talk a lot. MOST importantly I am a follower of Christ.

   What would you like to see yourself doing five years from now, ten years from now?

You know I’ve wanted to be in the ministry for quite some time. And when I start university next year I will be majoring in the Bible and philosophy (maybe theology). And I always thought I would become a Christian apologist, but as time is passing, I’ve felt God nudge me more into woman’s ministry--specifically in restoration of women who have been wounded by the sex industry. Now I don’t know what God has for me yet, actually I don’t know at all, but I wouldn’t be surprised if in 5-10 years I was working in Thailand, for the name of our Lord.

   Do you one day want to be a wife and mother?

I don’t know about wife and mother. I do long for my husband--I won’t lie--but I don’t know if it’s the culture we are raised in or my own personality that does not want me to be married anytime soon. And actually, although I do sometimes wonder what God has for me in regards to marriage, I can’t see myself getting married. There is too much still left to be done for God!

I want to make use of my singleness, and once you’re married with a family your ministry involvement changes. So even though I want a husband, I don’t think God has finished molding me into a proverbs 31 woman and I don’t want to hinder my ministry work. So that was a very long answer to say… no I don’t see myself as a wife and mother, at least not yet.

Jiwan, thank you again for stepping up and answering these difficult questions. Suicide is a growing sorrow in our world, and we so appreciate your thoughts on the topic of depression and suicide. God bless you dear friend!

Father, thank You for bringing Jiwan into my life. She inspires me to keep at the race You have set before me as I seek to love and follow after You. In Jesus' holy name. Amen.

Until next time . . . find a teen and learn from them.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Psalm 40:5~Thy Wonderful Works

Hog Creek at left, flowing into Rogue River in Southern Oregon

Good morning, dear readers,

David writes this:

"Many, O Lord my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered."

Isn't this a most amazing declaration from David? After all the sorrows, trials, and sufferings by his own hand and by the acts of others, he could still praise God and speak a truth too often hidden by the world. God's wonderful works and His thoughts toward us are so many, they can not be numbered.

Now you math whizzes will find this even more mind boggling than the rest of us who don't "get" numbers. Even I am trying to imagine how awesome is our God, but honestly, we won't understand until we see God in Heaven.

For now, this can bring us great peace and hope, can't it? If you're having a grouchy day, like I am having today, this can sooth our hearts like Castor oil on sore feet.

I don't know what your grouchy time might look like, but if I stop long enough and take a deep breath, I can see that God is bigger, smarter, more lovable than anyone on earth.

That makes me smile, even if just a tad on my cranky day. :)

So to begin our week, let's remember the above verse and stretch our hearts to include God in our hard or good day, no matter what it may be.

Dear holy Father, please be with us, Your often sick at heart children, and teach us to reach out to You first and not another. In Jesus' holy name. Amen.

Until next time . . . remember Lord God first.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Psalm 37:1~Fret Not Thyself

Me and brother Eric who was like my baby boy (5-8-1968 to 2-24-2008)

Dear readers,

King David wrote:

"Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity."

Have you ever worried when you've came across evildoers? You know, people that are against you? I have too many times to count, as a matter of fact, I'm so guilty of fretting, I just know that will be a judgement against me as I go before the Lord. I hate it when folks are mean. It hurts. It tears at my heart.

I'm a work-in-progress to let it go and let God do the battle that wages in my heart from the hurt.

It especially hurts when it's someone you are close to, but David says, "Fret not thyself because of evildoers." Amen. No more discussion.

I love it that some people are gifted with letting the pain of an evil deed roll off their backs like water off a duck's. I long to live by their example. I believe it shows they are mature in the Lord.

Having lost my son to suicide, I must admit this kind of fretting that David talks about has lessened somewhat for me. I've learned to let it go, just a bit, because I've got enough trouble just coping and giving my sorrow of Joshua's death to Lord God.

I tell myself, "For today, I will let backstabbing or whatever has happened by another person, be God's concern. He will deal with my trouble for me much better than I.

Have you noticed that too many folks can't say, and mean it, "I'm sorry?"

Why is that, I wonder.

God says that love covers a multitude of sins (I Peter 4:8) and to say, "I'm sorry," and mean it, takes love.

Father, please help me to let You handle the battles of the unkindness of others. It is not my business to fret myself against evildoers. Thank You for showing us the way to truth. In Jesus' holy name. Amen.

Until next time . . . fret not!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Psalm 34:4~Delivered Me From All My Fears

                                                                                ~Photo by Jean Ann Williams

Dear readers,

King David says this:

"I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears."

Do you think it is possible that the Lord can really take away our fears? That we will no longer be enslaved to fearfulness?

The truth is that He can and He has for me. When we go through various trials, ones that are high on the scale enough to create sorrow, we have two choices: believe God will help and watch Him in action or go on our own and fulfill our fleshy desires in a wasted unholy path.

I've said this before: one of my greatest weaknesses was fear. It still could be if I let Satan take charge.

God decided we should stay in our house four years longer after Joshua died there. That was my second greatest sorrow, but one of the rewards is I no longer quake in unholy fearfu. It was a long process though, and it took years to truly embrace a relationship of trust with Lord God.

Now days, if a first reaction of fear grips my heart, like one of my remaining children becomes sick, I pause. I'll pay attention to my breathing in and my breathing out. I know Satan has tempted me to not trust God.

Instead of trembling and freaking out, I latch onto God's promises that I no longer have to fear and pray to Him for to heal my child. This doesn't mean He will choose to heal my child, but I know without a doubt God can. The most important part is, I'm pleasing God by placing my faith in Him.

I tell people now, "Turn your fears into prayers of faith."

Fear is a waste of time, when we could be praying, praying.

How about you, dear reader? Have you had experiences where God took you through the trials and showed you how to trust in Him more fully?

I would love to hear from you.

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your loving kindness and mercies each day. We know that You created us, and You enjoy the faith we carry in our hearts for You. In Jesus' holy name, I come before you. Amen.

Until next time . . . Trust the Lord God and all His Greatness. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Psalm 33:8~Stand In Awe Of Him

Joshua at age fourteen

Good morning, dear readers,

The Psalmist writes this:

 "Let all the earth fear the Lord: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him."

People may wonder what it means by the word fear here. If I understand it, we are to fear-respect God and fear-tremble before our God. Why? Because He created us. He created the ground we walk upon. The waters we swim in. The stars we look upon. Without God's creation . . . well, we wouldn't be in existence.

This is why the above verse says it all about our position before Lord God. This is also why when we are going through the smallest or harshest of trials and struggles, we are free to call out to God. Actually, we must call out to God. Unlike what too many church societies would tell you, we must lament before our Lord. We must be honest that we hurt. And that my friends, may take a very long while.

God wants us to NEED Him.

To need God is to share all with God. It's somewhat like a marriage. What if I didn't need my husband or he did not need me? There would not be that holy bond we can have together if we were independent of one another. That doesn't mean we are not each one held accountable for our own spiritual growth with God, but as one together, my husband and I can have joy because we need each other.

When our son died by suicide, my husband and I drew closer together.

At the same time we did that, we each drew closer to God like clinging children. Frightened and horrified by our loss, we needed God like never before. Even though, we suffered in such harsh lamenting that we could not feel God's presence, we hung on  to the promise that God can not lie. He said in Hebrews 13:5: "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." (KJV)

I love that promise. We'd have to be the one to walk away from Him, but He cannot leave us, dear readers.

Father, holy One, thank You for helping us to understand more of You. We love You! We need You! In Jesus' holy name. Amen.

Until next time . . . cry out unto the Lord for He longs to hear your needs.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Psalm 32:7~Thou Art My Hiding Place

Tide Pools, by Jean Ann Williams    

Good morning, dear readers.

I've missed the weekly Psalm verses. Having guests on my blog has been an enriching experience I hope for all.

The Psalmist writes:

"Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah." (KJV)

Has God at all times been my hiding place? Yes, but I had to acknowledge that I needed Him. God is always ready and waiting to hide me within His presence. But I do not always take advantage of this gift. Then, I falter and become confused and drift about like a wave tossed in the wind.

I'm wandering scared before the Almighty!

I get into trouble, because I did not hide within His holiness. And so, there are no songs in me to sing.

When I choose to ask for God's help, then all that the verse says flows until I break out in song. Oh, maybe not really singing always, but thoughts of joy because of God's protection over me. And other times, yes, I am singing. I sing songs I learned in worship. Or I make up my own, which are truly the most freeing of songs.

I am truly happy in the Lord.

What about you, dear readers? Give it a try and see what I mean about the blessings stated in Psalm 32:7. Even at our grumpiest moments, we can determine to turn our mood around and experience the blessings of our holy God.

Dear heavenly Father, thank You for giving us the Bible, Your Word, to know more about You. We shall never be truly joyful without You. In Jesus' holy name. Amen.

Until next time . . . hide under God's spiritual presence.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Barbara Swanston Finds Ways to Bring Awareness of Depression and Suicide

photo by Jean Ann Williams

We're back with our last day of interviews with Barbara Swanston. I've sure enjoyed getting to know Barbara.

What is your purpose, Barbara, and how do you hope to accomplish it?

I speak out to end the stigma around mental illness and suicide. We need to let people know how the stigma and silence surrounding mental illness and suicide contributes to those deaths. We must not let silence prevail in the wake of tragedy. We must speak out and replace the stigma with compassion and understanding.

I want to open people’s minds so they can open their hearts and make the UNspeakable speak-able. 

My deepest hope is that I can help to eliminate the stigma around mental illness so no one will feel so ashamed, worthless, or hopeless that they complete suicide rather than seeking help.

And that no one will ever know the excruciating pain and suffering of losing a loved one to suicide again. 

Then my beautiful boy, my Terry, will not have died in vain.

Is there anything else you’d like to say to our dear readers that may help them in their grief journey, or that they could say or do to help a friend who has lost a child to suicide?

You have experienced one of the most tragic losses anyone can suffer. Be gentle with yourself. Find people who will support you and listen to you. Look for support groups, either in your community or online. Don’t rush it. Grief is exhausting, it is hard work and it takes a long time. 

And if you know someone who has lost a child be patient with them, don’t rush them, let them talk about their child, listen to them. Mourning is the external expression of grief and it truly helps when people have an outlet to mourn, someone to talk to.

Is there a spiritual component to your grief journey?

I believe we are all connected and that energy, thoughts and actions impact ourselves and everything around us. I find meditation very helpful, a way to find some peace. 

Barbara, thank you for participating in this week’s Love Truth blog. I’m sure you have helped others with your wise words.

Father, thank You for sending Barbara my way. I pray a blessing over her and her ministry. In Jesus' holy name. Amen.

Until next time . . . Mothers After Loss, unite!