My husband and I recently returned from a long and difficult road trip to Arkansas, where we were privileged to witness the White Coat Ceremony of our youngest son who has just begun the journey of medical school, along with his good wife and their baby twins. I couldn’t be more proud of him, and grateful to have been able to make the trip despite an extended illness that has made it difficult to breathe. Nightly, I awoke gasping for air. And yet, I was surrounded by reminders that God knows my singular plight.

I was reminded by the monarch that visited me just before our trip when God spoke peace to my heart and told me all would be well. I was reminded by the hundreds of butterflies that greeted us at each gas stop. And I was reminded by the bird that sat just outside my bedroom window one morning while I struggled to breathe. That bird looked straight at me and sang for several minutes as he sought shelter from the rain under the protective branches of the tree just beginning the transition from brilliant green to what will be vibrant red, and then barren. God is here.

And God hears me.

As my husband and I drove through the Colorado Rockies, we stopped for a few days to soak in all the wonder of animals and earth. I thought much about transitions as I marveled at the almost imperceptible but daily, hourly, change in the color of leaves – first from a vibrant green to brilliant yellow and orange and red – seemingly overnight. I thought of the transitions we make when faced with illness, job loss, relationship loss, mental and physical decline, and especially death.

I was reminded that God reaches out his hands during each transition. And we can be assured that despite the coming winter, there will again be spring. Will it be exactly like last year’s spring? No. But it will be spring, nonetheless.

As I watched these beautiful trees, I thought of the transitions, both happy and sad, that I have faced in my own life just this past year – the death of a relationship, the marriage of my only daughter, the acceptance of my son to medical school, the birth of grandbaby twins, the year-long challenge of a life-changing and near life-ending illness of a loved one.

I watched the trees change from green to yellow to orange to red, and I thought of this loved one who has faced each month with uncertainty about his future. He has waited, sometimes patiently, and at other times impatiently, for any positive news. Each holiday has been celebrated with renewed meaning. Will this be the last such celebration? What will next year look like? And the next, or the next?

When I read of the heartbreak of a dear friend following the loss of her mom, I was reminded of the most difficult transition I have faced – the loss of my own mom to suicide when I was just a girl. While this friend did not lose her mom to suicide, the words she used to describe the very literal pain in her heart, the difficulty breathing, the piece of her that has been torn from her soul – the hole in her heart – I felt her pain. Those words were my words, that grief was my grief, that loss was my loss. And I cry, for I know the transition she now must make. A walk with Winter.

Then comes Spring once again. And in that spring we will marvel at the new buds on the once barren branches, and we will touch the fresh new leaves bursting forth once again to create shelter for the singing birds in rain. We will be warmed again by the sunshine. And we will see God’s hand in the butterflies.

This I know.

God lives.

God loves.

And he walks with us through the snow.  

He Lives!

John 20:3–18, Mary Magdalene speaks with the resurrected Christ

Today is the 42nd anniversary of Mom’s death – and also the day we celebrate LIFE. Eternal life through the saving grace of Jesus Christ, God’s son. Although in this life there is sin and war and famine and death – and heartbreak – God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world, through Him, might be saved (John 3:17).

We still suffer loss – loss of relationships, loss of employment, loss of health, loss of loved ones. But through Jesus Christ, our hearts, despite loss, are healed. And we are saved. And like our Savior who rose on the third day, we can rise again – through Jesus Christ who saves us, and lifts us, and shines His light upon us, and shows us the way.

He knows us, each of us, and asks us in a very personal way to learn of Him – and to follow. He asks us to reach out to others who are hurting. He asks us to open our hearts and to simply LOVE.

But how can we love, or feel love, when our hearts are so broken, we may ask. Just as the seed is planted in broken ground, God’s love is firmly planted in the broken heart. Precisely because our hearts are broken, we can feel greater compassion and a connection to others who are also brokenhearted. Light can penetrate beyond the outer shell of our protected selves and reach into the center of our souls with a healing balm from whence can spring a beautiful flower.

God’s love.

The healing love of Jesus Christ who died, so we might LIVE.

Thank you, God…there are no coincidences.

mother headstoneThank you, God, for reminding me today that you see me. And you see Jim. And by your love you stitch a beautiful tapestry called life, bringing together, however briefly, the tiniest scraps of fabric to create the whole. Each seemingly insignificant moment becomes meaningful when we listen to the small whisperings of your voice directing us to act. And for that, I am grateful. And honored.

Today, Jim introduced himself to me after a Suicide Survivor Day event. He had reached out to me by phone over a year ago after reading my story of suicide loss in the newspaper. He explained at that time that he had lost his mom too. He was just four years old in 1952. After the brief phone conversation, I forgot about Jim. But you didn’t, God. You led him to Survivor Day. Jim didn’t know if I would be there, but nonetheless, he came prepared with the newspaper article of my story – and the newspaper clipping of his own story of loss all those years ago. He didn’t know I would be there. But you did, God. And you led me to bring a copy of my book, Hope after Suicide. The book you helped me write. I prayed to you that I might recognize the ONE – the one who needed to know that despite devastating loss, despite the loss of our beautiful mothers, there is hope. Hope to heal our broken hearts. Even 64 years later.

Jim had never met anyone else who had lost a mom to suicide or spoken to anyone who could understand. Sixty-four years ago, his dad didn’t explain. It wasn’t OK to talk about it then. But today, it is. Thank you, God, for reminding me.

And God, please heal Jim’s heart. Help him feel his mom close as he reads words meant to help him understand, meant to share hope despite heartbreak. Help him see your hand. Help him see that there are no coincidences. Help him see that you were always there. Help him know that you see him. And you see me.

And together, we are healed. By your love.

Thank you, God.


Clay and Creation

pottery1Today marks the five year anniversary of the bicycle accident that changed my life. Other than planning to get back on a bike for the first time in five years, I hadn’t really thought much about the anniversary.

Until this morning, that is.

While kneeling with my husband, thanking God for my bountiful blessings – family, home, sunshine – I asked for protection while I take my bike out for the first time in five years.

And I cried.

I didn’t expect to cry, and it caught me a little by surprise. Today was going to be the day I faced my fears and prayed for balance long enough to ride a block on the bike which I used to ride for miles. That’s all.

But God wanted me to remember. And acknowledge. Not just the pain, but the growth.

And He took a week to prepare me for the lesson.

A week ago today, I awoke in terrible pain with a muscle spasm from the base of my skull to my hip – my left hip – the side that hit the pavement after my head hit the bottom rail of a fence. I hadn’t experienced this type of muscle spasm for many many months. And I hadn’t done anything different that would explain the pain on the same side I landed when I wrecked my bike five years ago. But my body remembered, even if I didn’t.

This past week, my husband pulled out all of our home videos from years ago and I watched a beautiful, vibrant, energetic, polished younger self tackle the demands of work, school, husband, and children in blizzard-like fashion – talking and moving faster than I remember possible. And for a brief moment, I determined to regain that same energy.

Oh, but for a bicycle accident five years ago, I’d still be pouring out more of myself than God could pour in.

God, the great Creator, had different plans, though. He took that still-wet clay pitcher, and he pounded it down on the potter’s wheel. And he fashioned a bowl.

I sat silent for many weeks and months, listening with my heart because my head wouldn’t work. And God filled my bowl, drop by drop, to overflowing – with His love.

And lest I think God is done with shaping me, I am reminded that the clay is still wet. There will be future events – trials, tragedies, and beautiful blessings beyond imagination – that will shape who I am as life rolls forth towards the day that I will step out of this clay body prepared to meet my Creator.

No, not an accident. Just part of the plan.


*Photo Credit



canada2This year has been difficult. After a second flood in six months that wreaked havoc on our home, after the loss of a tooth, and after the loss of a beloved relationship, I found myself depressed for the first time in a very long time. I stayed in bed until noon day after day for several weeks, and when I did get out of bed, it was with great effort that I got ready and painted on my smile. Many days, I was unable to feel joy – even when I did all the things that I have taught others to do to help depression. I wrote my gratitude list every day, I went in the mountains to walk, I served as a missionary for my church, I spent time with my family, I wrote affirmations, I meditated, I prayed – and I retreated.

I explained to a few close friends that I was not writing or really doing anything with my already published book, Hope after Suicide, because I needed to take time for me. I noticed that I had new people viewing both my book and author Facebook pages nearly every single day, but I couldn’t bring myself to post or focus on helping others through their own losses or depression because I was still trying to get out of bed.

The past month, though, I have gotten out of bed every single day and done more than I thought possible. Our home has been in the final stages of reconstruction and my husband and I have been “homeless” and living out of a tiny suitcase. The first two weeks, we were living in a small hotel room a mile from our home so we could monitor the progress. We then decided that if we had to be away anyway, we would hit the road while we waited for the final touches on our home to be completed.

Our travels have taken us to many beautiful places, but the most beautiful experience happened today in a laundromat in Canada. I was again reminded that God does indeed have a hand in our lives. And that if we will listen, He will allow us to bless others at the same time He blesses us.

After breaking down camp and loading up our dirty car with a tent, stove, sleeping bags, and a suitcase full of smelly clothes, my husband and I walked into a tiny but clean laundromat at the end of our very full day. We were greeted by a cheerful woman who managed the store. She showed us how to use the washing machines, encouraged us to separate the light from the dark clothes, and kept us company while we waited. She didn’t shy from sharing her belief in God. I was impressed with her courage.

Once our laundry was folded, my husband and I said our goodbyes to our new friend and retreated to our still dirty car. A familiar feeling entered my heart. “I need to give her a copy of my book,” I said to my husband. I retrieved one of the copies that had been sitting in our car for the past several months and went back inside the laundromat.

“I feel like I need to give you a copy of my book,” I told my new friend as I handed her an autographed copy.

“You wrote this book?” she asked, surprised by the title, Hope after Suicide.

“Yes, it’s the story of my healing journey following the suicide death of my mom when I was twelve years old,” I repeated the line I had shared countless times in the months following the book’s release. “If you know anyone who can benefit from the book, you can share it with them.”

“Me. I will read it,” she answered. And then she shared with me that she had been depressed multiple times and had contemplated taking her own life before.

“There are no coincidences,” I said as I gave her a big hug. I knew I was meant to be there in that laundromat at that moment. And that I was meant to give her a copy of my book.

Another woman caught me just as I was getting back into my car. “Can I get one of those books, too?” she asked. “Of course,” I said. This woman who had just entered the laundromat as we were leaving shared with me that she had also struggled with suicidal thoughts. I shared my story briefly and we both hugged.

“God bless you,” the woman said as we said goodbye.

What she didn’t know is that God had indeed blessed me. He blessed me to meet two wonderful women. And He spoke to my heart.

And today, I listened.

God knows me. And He knows you. And He knows two women in a laundromat. God can put two people together whose paths have never crossed before and He can work miracles. My prayer is that we can reach out to each other and that we can listen. That we can lift one another. That we can love.