Friday, May 29, 2015

Friday, May 29th~God's Mercies after Suicide: Blessings Woven through a Mother's Heart~Devotion & A Mother's Memories~My Lord Watches Over Me

Joshua on the right and his friend Spencer

“Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.”
—Psalms 55:22 KJV

Classical music played in my mind every waking moment for weeks.

I began to worry that I was insane. I needed to talk to someone, but whom? Finally, I thought of someone who didn’t know about Joshua’s death. My old high school friend, Mary, came to mind, and I called her.

After catching up and a bit of chitchat, I said, “Mary, my son Joshua died by suicide.”

“Oh, Jean, I’m so sorry. Why do you think he did it?”

After telling Mary the reasons we thought he had done this, she said, “You know, Jean, about three months ago, the Holy Spirit pressed upon my heart to pray for you. And what’s odd is that I hadn’t thought of you in a few years.”

After we talked a while longer, we agreed to stay in touch and then hung up. I leaned against the wall and wept. Once again, the Lord showed me He stood watch. Even though I had not felt His presence since the day Joshua died, blessings proved He had not forgotten me. He loved me, His wounded and miserable child.

Father, oh, holy Father. You are good. You are holy. Please continue to show me Your love. In Jesus’s holy name. Amen.

A Mother’s Memories

I knocked on Joshua’s apartment door.

His muffled voice came from within. “Who is it?”

“It’s me, Son.”

Without opening the door, he said, “What are you doing here? You should have called first.”

“Son, open up. I got worried when you wouldn’t answer your phone. I’ve been calling you for several days.”

Joshua opened his studio door a crack. “Mom, the place is a mess. Can’t you come back?” His face was pale.

I said, “Are you okay?”

In answer to my question, Joshua threw open the door. What I saw alarmed me. The bed was unmade. Clothes were strung everywhere. When I went to use the restroom, it was filthy. I couldn’t see the kitchen counter for the piled dishes. So shocked at my normally tidy son’s place, I couldn’t say a word. Instead, I prayed.

Joshua moved back home within the month, on January 1, 2004. Without any warning, he started bringing home his things. He grew more solemn and sad with each passing day.

Father, please, please give my son hope. The day he moved back home, I knew his six months of independence had not worked. God, only You can help Joshua. Only You know what he is thinking. He’s shutting us out; please help us. In Jesus’s name, I beg. Amen.

Reader Journal
~Your Mother Memories~
~Your Prayer of Praise~
~A Scripture of Encouragement~

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Wednesday, May 27th~God's Mercies after Suicide: Blessings Woven through a Mother's Heart~A Mother's Memories

photo by Jean Ann Williams

I stepped on the rake and the handle hit me on the nose, and Joshua roared in laughter.

I frowned and turned. Joshua was holding his stomach and pointing. His dad grinned. 

“It’s not funny,” I said with a pout. My nose felt hot to the touch. With Joshua now doubled over, having a rip-roaring time at my expense, I snapped at him. “I may have broken my nose, Josh.”

He calmed his laughter long enough to say, “That was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen, Mom. Like a comedy skit.” He mimicked what he saw and said, “She steps on the rake tines and bop, gets hit in the nose.”

That did it.

I stomped past him and into the house. Tears stung my eyes as I peered into the mirror. My nose looked like Rudolf’s, and then it dawned on me. My son laughed. I couldn’t remember the last time he had laughed. I made my son happy. Still looking in the mirror, my features relaxed. I nodded and smiled. “It was worth it.”

I met Joshua in the hall and touched his arm. “That must have looked funny, huh?”

Joshua beamed. “That was classic, Mom, just classic.”

That night in bed, I grinned and thanked God that I made my son happy, even if my nose still hurt. Little did I know Joshua would never laugh again.

In a few short weeks, Joshua would take his own life.

Father, I’m glad my son had laughter one more time before his death. In Jesus’s name, I’m grateful. Amen.

Reader Journal
~Your Mother Memories~
~Your Prayer of Praise~
~A Scripture of Encouragement~

Monday, May 25, 2015

Monday, May 25th~God's Merices after Suicide: Blessings Woven through a Mother's Heart~Devotion~June, The Anger Stage

photo by Jean Ann Williams

 “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.”
—Psalm 51:12

I pushed away the full plate the waitress had set before me and scowled. “Who in the world wants processed cheese on their nachos?”

The young waitress’s smile faded. “I’m sorry. But this is the only kind of cheese we have.”

I cocked one brow and glared at her in disbelief. “You’re telling me you don’t have cheddar cheese in this restaurant? Because I know you do. I’ve eaten it right here in your restaurant.”

The waitress’s lips trembled. “Well, yes, ma’am, but I mean, this is the kind of cheese we use for nachos.”

“This is junk-food cheese. Please take this back and make my nachos with cheddar cheese.”

She took back my nachos to make a new batch to my specifications. My husband wore an odd expression. “Don’t you think you were a bit hard on her?”

“No. I don’t.” But later I said I was sorry to him for acting that way.

The anger stage clawed its way into my soul, making itself at home. I became one growly, grieving mama.

My questions choked me. Why did Joshua do this to us? Did he not know this would ruin our lives? How could he be so selfish?

My second bout of anger exploded with a solid kick to our closet door. And yes, I made a slight dent. And I didn’t care one bit. My husband witnessed the whole thing and stared at me wide-eyed.

I glared at him. “I feel like I’ve been convicted and sent to prison for a crime I did not commit. I hate this—my life.”

His face sagged. I went to him and hugged him around his chest. “I’m so angry at Joshua, and I feel guilty for being angry. I miss him. I’m sick of crying. I’m tired.”

My husband swayed me in a gentle dance, locking us in our embrace. He sighed. “I know, babe.”

Thank you, Father, for my husband. I’m grateful. He understands my feelings. In Jesus’s holy name I pray. Amen.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday, May 22nd~God's Merices after Suicide: Blessings Woven through a Mother's Heart~A Mother's Memories

photo by Jean Ann Williams

Joshua thought he’d left home when he rented a studio eight months before he died.

He stayed at his apartment as much as possible at first. Soon, though, he began eating supper with us. He sometimes slept on our couch. Then, more often than not, he spent the night at our house. I never knew how much he needed us until I read one of his journal entries after his death.

Joshua wrote in his journal: “I tried to be independent. I wanted independence, but I failed, for I felt so alone.”

My young son attempted to live in somewhat normalcy, but life slid sideways on him.

At first when Joshua came around after moving out, I felt glad to see him for it had been awhile. Later when he stayed at our home more than his own, I knew he hadn’t adjusted. 

That dampened my joy for him.

I’m grateful I never berated him for his long visits. I understood he had no social life and no job because of his disability. 

My husband and I would take Joshua out for supper, and afterward, we’d rent a movie to watch at home. My most treasured memories of that last year with Joshua were when he and I went to lunch at our two favorite restaurants. He loosened up a bit and talked about politics, his nieces, or the next project we had planned for the house.

Oh, Lord God, I miss my son. I’m sorry Joshua could not live independently. I’m glad he knew he could come back home. The empty nest we now experience daily will always feel just that—empty. In Jesus’s holy name, please continue to comfort us. Amen.

Reader Journal
~Your Mother Memories~
~Your Prayer of Praise~
~A Scripture of Encouragement~

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Wednesday, May 20th~God's Mercies after Suicide: Blessings Woven through a Mother's Heart~Devotion~First Overnight with a Granddaughter

Lynsey, all grown up and ready to receive her highschool diploma

“For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth.”
—Psalm 71:5

Our granddaughter, Lynsey, asked repeatedly to spend the night with us.

It was her turn in the rotation of Jami’s three daughters. I held off because of my ever-continuing tears. Jami and I spoke of it several times, and I said, “Honey, I don’t want to expose Lynsey to my crying spells. All it’s going to do is upset her. She’s already distressed enough over Joshua’s death.”

Later, Jami called me back after giving Lynsey my message. “Mom, Lynsey told me, ‘It’s okay if Nana cries. It won’t bother me.’”

I agreed to have her spend the night, but was still unsure of how it might affect her.

Lynsey settled into our home for her overnight with Nana and Papa. When I prayed with her at bedtime, I began to cry. Ignoring the innocent response she had given to her mom, I shook my head. “I’m sorry, Lynsey, I’m such a crybaby. And I don’t want to worry you that I’m sad.”

Lynsey’s eyes grew determined, and she cupped her hands over mine. “Nana, it’s okay. I always feel better after I’ve had a good cry.”

From the mouth of an eight-year-old.

I became even more determined to shield her from my sorrow. For the rest of the weekend, I prayed for the Lord God to make me strong and to help me not to cry within Lynsey’s hearing. He honored my request.

After a few false starts, I learned to stay in the present when our three granddaughters took their turns for overnights at Nana and Papa’s. We laughed, played board games, and made their favorite foods. Those times with them blessed my husband and me. The children gave us hope for the future—their future. We found in the process that the grandchildren needed our company just as much as we needed theirs. They mourned the loss of their beloved uncle Joshy. I believe the girls saw our sorrow and knew that it was okay to feel this raw feeling of loss.

Father, thank You for giving me a wise granddaughter. She understood tears could cleanse and heal the heart. In Jesus’s name. Amen.