Tag Archives: hope after suicide

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.

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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.

Amen

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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

 

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TODAY I LISTENED

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.

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Homeless at Christmas

homeless shotThis week, it snowed. And snowed. And snowed. And then this morning, the bitter wind howled outside my bedroom window as I lay there snuggled in my warm bed.

While I love the snow from the warmth of my comfortable home—and even like playing in the snow with a cup of hot chocolate afterwards—I have thought often of the man I met two weeks ago. As my husband and I finished our lunch in a lovely restaurant, I noticed this man sitting on a curb—holding a sign.

“Do you have any cash,” I asked my husband as he rummaged through his wallet. Four dollars. I would give the man four dollars.

As we exited the restaurant, I approached this gentleman and sat down next to him on the curb. Homeless was the only word I read of the many words scrawled on the tattered piece of cardboard.

“Tell me about yourself,” I said as I placed the four dollars in his hand. “Where are you from, and what brings you here to this curb?”

For the next several minutes, I listened as the man shared a piece of his life. He had come from California thirty years earlier and had worked for several years in a large mine. He then found himself in prison. He lost everything—except his name, which he recited to me in full.

“It’s going to be cold tonight. Where will you sleep?” I asked. With tears in his eyes, he shrugged and motioned to the street.

Homeless.

Some people advise to never give money to beggars.

“Don’t give money.”

“They’ll just spend it on drugs or alcohol.”

“Give them a hand-up not a hand-out.”

“They need to get off their butts and get a job.”

Some people say to give food instead. We offered him our untouched sandwich but he already had one and couldn’t carry more in his small back-pack. Money fit in his pocket.

I couldn’t deny the instantaneous love I felt for this man I had just met.

Would the Savior, born in a lowly stable with a manger for his bed, turn this man away? Or would he look. And would he see.

How many times have I averted my eyes from the man or woman standing on the corner as I exited the grocery store parking lot—not wanting to see? A coin from my hand to theirs would have allowed me to connect—to see them. And to feel a measure of the love our Savior has for them—for each and every one of us.

For we are all homeless—sent to earth from our heavenly home. And whether we watch the snow from the comfort of our warm houses, or whether we sit in the snow on the curb, we all desire to be seen. To be loved.

As I said goodbye to my new friend, Patrick, I gave him a heartfelt hug. I noticed the tears again in his eyes as he said, “God bless you.” In my heart, I prayed that God would bless him.

My hope for all of us this Christmas season is that we can be God’s hands—that we can reach out to one another and connect. That we can see each other.

That we can love.

 

(Photo credit: http://everyone-is-someone.blogspot.com/)

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