Archive | February 2013

Dog Tags

Sharing a heartfelt story told to me by a dear friend . . .

I have a military dog tag. I put it on a chain with 2 charms. One reads, “give peace a chance”, the other one is a “peace sign”. I truly believe we need more peace in our world. I have never been in the military so I really haven’t earned the dog tag, but I have paid my dues . . .

I found the dog tag in a storage box along with a few pieces of military clothing, a pair of boots . . . and some sand in the bottom. When I first put the necklace around my neck I wore it on the outside of my shirt. I was proud to wear it and I wanted others to notice it. A few people made comments about it. They liked it and thought it cool that I wore it, but they had no idea about its history . . .

English: USMC military ID tag (dog tag) with r...

English: USMC military ID tag (dog tag) with religious designation, “METHODIST.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many people wear dog tags; the young especially. Maybe they are proud of the military and want to show their support. Or maybe they have a sibling who gave it to them. But mine is no ordinary dog tag. It’s special. It makes noise when I move about. I like the sound it makes; it comforts me. It reminds me of its owner all the time and I like that. I took the “give peace a chance” charm off. I decided the necklace needed to be simpler.

I no longer have the desire to share the necklace with anyone so I tuck it inside my shirt and it lies next to my heart. Once in a while, it falls out of my shirt when I lean over. If I am alone I will leave it out, but if anyone else is with me I tuck it back inside by my heart.

The proper time for me to display my dog tag has passed. It is no longer socially acceptable and possibly politically incorrect as well. For me to show it to you says, “I think you are a very special person in my life”. It means that I know I can trust you. My world has been turned upside down. Circumstances in my life have hardened me up a bit. I no longer immediately trust people. They have to earn my trust.

The storage box where I found the dog tag had been on a long journey. The box left California, then traveled to North Carolina, then back to California, and then to Iraq, where it picked up some sand, then back to California, over to Illinois and then to Wisconsin where it remains forever in my possession.

The true owner of the dog tag was a Marine; a very brave young man, who at the age of twenty, left home to serve his country. His name is Joey. He is my son. The reason I have the storage box is because the Marines sent it to me.

The Marines could send the box all over this country and see to it that it arrived safely to me, but they could not do the same for my son. They were unable to give me back my son. He would travel too, but arrive to me in a flag-draped coffin.

My Joey, who had a sweet, lovable, endearing spirit when he left home, died because he suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) caused by the trauma of war. My youngest, my baby, died by suicide because he could no longer live with the pain. And the powerful fighting-machine Marines were powerless to help him. My handsome Marine died October 10, 2009. That day, forever etched in my mind, we got the news that our son would never be coming home again. I would never again see his ear-to-ear smile, hear his musical laughter as he picked me up off the floor, squeezing me in a giant bear hug.

Now you understand why I wear the dog tag around my neck. I did not earn it in the usual fashion, but I’ve earned it as no mother should ever have to. As I said in the beginning . . . I believe I have paid my dues . . .

Love you Buddy Boy!

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.  Matthew 5:4

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Lean on Me

Giant Oak

Giant Oak (Photo credit: airosche5)

My Child,

 

When the storms of life are threatening ~  lean on Me.

 

When you can’t see where you’re going with your eyes brimming with tears ~ lean on Me.

 

When your back is tired and the sink is full of dirty dishes ~ lean on Me.

 

When the children are whining and pushing your buttons ~ lean on Me.

 

And when the devil pushes your buttons ~ lean on Me.

 

When trouble strikes and you’ve nowhere to turn ~ lean on Me.

 

When the creditors call and threaten you ~ lean on Me.

 

Have you figured it out yet My child?

 

I Am all you need for all the situations you face every breathing moment of your life.

 

I Am your Loving, Almighty, Everlasting, All-powerful God ~ your Tower of Strength when you have none. Your Hiding Place while the lightning flashes and the thunder rolls. Your soft, gentle words of comfort when your heart is breaking with sadness. So . . . lean on My Everlasting Arms where you will be safe and snug, warm and dry. I Love you, I Love you, I Love you, My cherished one. You are Mine and I will never, ever give you up.

 

~God

 

~Shattered by Suicide by Gracie Thompson

 

Life Without Your “Bro”

My Dear Son,

boy

boys (Photo credit: Zanthia)

May I ask what it’s like for you? I have written pages of what it’s like for me, but what about you? You and your brother were two peas in a pod. Where one of you was, there would be the other one. And the oft used phrase, “what one of you didn’t think of, the other one did” had to have been written about the two of you.

When you no longer played together or built things together, you kept in touch by phone calls and emails. Not that you’d tell me, but I somehow knew and it made me smile. You also referred to each other not by name but as “my brother” and I treasure those words of possession now, more than ever.

There has to be a hole in your heart after he was yanked away so unexpectedly and horribly, by death. I want to ask, “How are you doing?” but your “cover” seems to be fastened down tightly. Perhaps you wish to “move on” or protect us from further pain, but pain is still there and so is my great love for you, my baby and now, my grown son.

Perhaps you don’t yet realize that God’s arm is wrapped tightly around your shoulders too. He will walk beside all of us through the remainder of our lives until He takes us home to be with Him and your beloved bro forever.

Love always,

Mom

~”Shattered by Suicide” by Gracie Thompson

No claim to this boy

The devil [satan] and his demons [evil angels] are going to burn up and be ashes under our feet. Knowing this, he is a raging lion seeking to destroy many so that he doesn’t have to die alone.   Revelation 20:10; Malachi 4:3; 1 Peter 5:8; John 10:10, paraphrased

No, satan can’t claim this boy. He was prayed for all his life, he was read Bible stories when he was young, He was education in Christian schools. He learned God loved him. He learned Jesus loved him and gave up His life to pay for our sins.

Everything in my son’s mind, heart and body could not keep him alive. The enemy of his soul was always pulling the strings. Pain ~ pull, pull, pull. Anger ~ pull, pull, pull. Poor self image ~ pull, pull, pull. Depression ~ pull, pull, pull. He blamed God for his troubles ~ pull, pull, pull.  He was reeled in tighter and tighter until his agony became too great ~ and the string taut. All he could see was blackness. He just wanted the pain to stop. And it did.

Now he sleeps the sleep of death and is at peace, Isaiah 57:2. satan can pull his strings no more. God is letting him have rest from all his agony. He’s taking a “dirt nap”. Rest from pain, depression and all the disappointments he faced in his life. Some I might know. Many I am sure I do not. God has known them all, and has loved him with that big heart of his as if  he was the only child on earth. And it is the same for you.

Who shall ever separate us from Christ’s love? Shall suffering and affliction and tribulation? Or calamity and distress? Or persecution or hunger or destitution or peril or sword? Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us. Romans 8:35,37

And you shall be secure and feel confident because there is hope; yes, you shall search about you, and you shall take your rest in safety.           Job 11:18

It shall be said in that day, Behold our God upon Whom we have waited and hoped, that He might save us! This is the Lord, we have waited for Him; we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.  Isaiah 25:9

[Resting] in the hope of eternal life, which the ever truthful God Who cannot deceive promised before the world or the ages of time began.  Titus 1:2

Through Him you believe in (adhere to, rely on) God, Who raised Him up from the dead and gave Him honor and glory, so that your faith and hope are [centered and rest] in God. 1 Peter 1:21

The last enemy to be subdued and abolished is death.  1 Corinthians 15:26

No, the enemy cannot claim this boy. He was a prayed- for boy. And God hears and rewards the faith of His praying parents. I believe. I have hope. I have faith that God will do what He promises. After all, won’t the “Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25)

But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out].  Hebrews 11:6

The agony of loss and the irony of healing

Someone I love very much has ended their own life. I will never truly know all that was happening in their mind that brought them to that tragic choice.

Dandylions

Dandylions (Photo credit: kapchurus)

However, there are things of which I can be reasonably certain…

— If they were here, they could not fully explain their mindset or answer all of my questions.
— In their state of mind, they could not have fully comprehended the reality of their own death.
— They could not have fully appreciated the devastating impact their suicide would have on the people in their life.

By their last act, they made their most tragic mistake, unknowingly creating unparalleled pain in the hearts of those whom they most loved.

The person I lost is beyond my help now in every way but one:

I can help them by working to ease the pain they have caused and by not allowing their most enduring legacy to be one of tragedy.

As a result, each and every day, I can help the person I lost by…

…enjoying life.
…smiling and laughing.
…not dwelling in feelings of sadness or remorse.
…loving others.
…taking new steps in life toward positive new horizons.
…helping those who feel their loss to do the same.
…and, in short, not letting their mistake continue to create sorrow, neither in the world around me, nor in myself.


I will try to picture my lost loved one asking me to do this every day—to please help undo the damage they caused in whatever little ways possible.

And I promise that I will.

The irony of healing . . .

Is that it hurts so bad. But God has to stitch our wounds up just right, so that the healing can be full and complete. That takes time. It takes work. And it is hard. But it is completely worth it, when we look back and see that because of the healing work He is doing, our scars don’t have to ache so bad anymore. So it’s time to be brave, and allow the Lord to move through the painful process of healing in our lives. The stitches will prick our memories and expose the pain that we would rather hide and tuck away, but each one is really necessary to heal.

~shared by Mothers of Suicide members

Peace

Because we have sought the Lord our God, yearning for Him with all our desire, He has given us rest and peace on every side. And even when we lie down to sleep, You alone, O Lord, will keep us safe.  2 Chronicles 14:7; Psalm 4:8, paraphrased    

Blue Marble 2000

Blue Marble 2000 (Photo credit: NASA Goddard Photo and Video)

When people are saying, all is well and secure, and there is peace and safety, then in a moment unforeseen destruction (ruin and death) will come upon them as suddenly as labor pains come upon a woman with child; and they shall by no means escape, for there will be no escape. 1 Thessalonians 5:3

Dear Lord,

These texts are at opposing ends of the spectrum. Do we need a reality check? You promise peace, but there is no peace in this world today . . . far from it. Yes, we hear peace phrases spoken by both preachers and politicians, but according to the last text, there is no peace. So if there is no peace, how do we get this fruit? (fruit of the spirit)

My Child,

The only peace you will ever have is in Me. This world does not offer peace ~ though it promises you many things. Some things are good, but most lead your mind far away from truth, and from Me. Please lean on Me. You will never be too heavy for Me to hold. I have much to teach you, to share with you so that you will be strengthened for troublesome times ahead. Yes, many will cry “peace and safety” from now until I return, but don’t be misled.

I alone am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. And it is in these three that you will find the fruit of perfect peace.

Your friend,

Jesus

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You.  Isaiah 26:3

~shared from “Shattered by Suicide” by Gracie Thompson

Bible Moms . . . Hannah’s miracle

In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.  Psalm 18:6

“Now there was a certain man of Ramathiam Zophim, of the mountains of Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah . . .” (1 Samuel 1:1). And so begins our story of Hannah, a woman who many can relate to, who have also longed to have a child of their own. Elkanah had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. We can see trouble brewing already, can’t we? Apparently polygamy was ethical during this period our world’s history and God allowed it. Of course it was not the ideal as we shall soon see.

Peninnah had children and Hannah could not get pregnant. Seeing her nieces and nephews running around reminded her of her barrenness and caused her great pain. If that were not enough, her sister-wife taunted her at every opportunity. Elkanah tried to comfort Hannah and gave her extra attention which did not go unnoticed by Peninnah and just like Satan in heaven, “jealousy over attentions offered another, whether in the home or elsewhere, breeds a taunting, exasperating malice that finds expression in the icicle drippings of ridicule” (SDA Bible Commentary).

Hannah did not retaliate, but instead gave way to quiet tears, especially at the temple. While there for worship and annual feasting, she would find a quiet place and pour out her heart to God. She was sad, lonely and desperate for a child. Just one, God! Then Hannah did the unthinkable, to this modern mother’s way of thinking anyway, she told God that if He answered her prayer and granted her a son that she would give him back to God as her gift for answering her prayer!

Sidebar: I can picture the scenario here. It’s much more serious than my bargain prayers with God. It is embarrassing to admit that I have gone back on my promises time after time. Would I have been able to keep this promise? Would I have been able to give my son to Eli, the sanctuary guardian, and let him raise him for me? I don’t know about you, but this gives me pause. And then . . . NO!

God heard Hannah’s prayer and she conceived and delivered a healthy boy. They named him, Samuel, saying, “Because I have asked for him from the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:20). There are times when I wish Bible stories had more details and this is one of those times. I am sure there was much rejoicing in Elkhanah’s household except for his other wife, but the Bible does not say. It just says that Hannah told her husband of her plan. She would take Samuel to the temple after he was weaned and leave him there, forever.

Hannah did not go back on her word. She did take Samuel to the temple and he lived there with the priest, Eli, and did chores, all the while, learning more about God, who already was working His plan for Samuel who would one day do a great work as God’s prophet. There is so much to unpack in this story that you may wish to read it for yourself. Perhaps another blog, we can delve into Samuel’s life a bit more.

But this entry is focused on Hannah. One who could not become pregnant. One who was despised by her sister-wife. And one who trusted fully in God and put her petitions before Him, trusting in Him to answer in His perfect timing. She kept her promise. Her husband agreed with her plan which must have been difficult too, as the father of this little tyke.

Like I said before, I don’t think I could do what Hannah did. I don’t think I could take my toddler to church and leave him there for the pastor to take care of. We do things differently now, but just the sound of those words are impossible to think about. But here’s the clincher: Hannah totally surrendered. She held nothing back. She honored God with her promise and it was God’s privilege to grant the miracle she so desired.

“It is part of Heaven’s plan that man [woman] voluntarily surrender as fully to the infilling and outworking of the Holy Spirit as did Christ when He was here on earth. So far as God was concerned it was not necessary for Abraham [another story] to wait 25 years for the fulfilling of the divine covenant. When the patriarch came to the place where he could enter fully into Heaven’s plan for him, God was able to turn all past failures into steppingstones of blessing. [And] so it was with Hannah” (SDA Bible Commentary).

Just a Touch

This is what I desire. An entire transformation . . .

A woman who had suffered a condition of hemorrhaging for twelve years ~ a long succession of physicians had treated her, and treated her badly, taking all her money and leaving her worse off than before ~ had heard about Jesus.

She slipped in from behind and touched His robe. She was thinking to herself, If I can put a finger on His robe, I can get well. The moment she did it, the flow of blood dried up. She could feel the change and knew her plague was over and done with.

At the same moment, Jesus felt energy discharging from Him. He turned around to the crowd and asked, “Who touched My robe?” His disciples said, “What are You talking about? With this crowd pushing and jostling You, You’re asking, ‘Who touched Me?’ Dozens have touched You.”

But He went on asking, looking around to see who had done it. The woman, knowing what had happened, knowing she was the one, stepped up in fear and trembling, knelt before Him, and gave Him the whole story.

Jesus said to her, “Daughter, you took a risk of faith, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, live blessed! Be healed of your plague.”         Mark 5:25-34, msg

Dear Lord, Like the afflicted woman in the bustling crowd who touched the hem of Your garment and was instantly healed, I am reaching, straining with the tips of my fingers to touch You for I too desire complete healing, inside and out.

Her faith was instantly rewarded ~ how awesome! To be able to glorify You with such a testimony from my lips would be wonderfully awesome as well. You promise healing ~ some happen instantly, others slowly over time and still others, like the apostle Paul to whom You said, “My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.” Paul responded, “Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ‘s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer . . . I just let Christ take over!”  2 Corinthians 12:9-10, msg

I choose to live in Your strength too, Lord, no matter when healing comes ~ either now or when You return. But whenever it is, Lord, I now surrender completely to Your will. Amen.

Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for You are the One I praise.  Jeremiah 17:14

~”Shattered by Suicide” by Gracie Thompson

The etiquette of loss

I found a poem of profound truth on Facebook. It’s a poem about the suffering of loss. If you have wondered what to say or how others feel who have lost a child, keep reading. Tuck the information away. You will have an occasion to draw it out from your memory bank.

Unless you’ve lost a child…….then
Don’t ask us if we are over it yet. We’ll never be over it.
A part of us died with our child.
Don’t tell us they are in a better place.
They are not here with us, where they belong.
Don’t say at least they are not suffering.
We haven’t come to terms with why they suffered at all.
Don’t tell us at least we have other children.
Which of your children would you have sacrificed?
Don’t ask us if we feel better.
Bereavement isn’t a condition that clears up.
Don’t force your beliefs on us.
Not all of us have the same faith.
Don’t tell us at least we had our child for so many years.
What year would you choose for your child to die?
Don’t tell us God never gives us more than we can bear.
Right now we don’t feel we can handle anything else.
Don’t avoid us. We don’t have a contagious disease, just unbearable pain.
Don’t tell us you know how we feel, unless you have lost a child.
No other loss can compare to losing a child. It’s not the natural order of things.
Don’t take our anger personally.
We don’t know who we are angry at or why and lash out at those closest to us.
Don’t whisper behind us when we enter a room.
We are in pain, but not deaf.
Don’t stop calling us after the initial loss.
Our grief does not stop there and we need to know others are thinking of us.
Don’t be offended when we don’t return calls right away.
We take each moment as it comes and some are worse than others.
Don’t tell us to get on with our lives.
We each grieve differently and in our own time frame.
Grief can not be governed by any clock or calendar.
Do say you are sorry. We’re sorry, too, and you saying
that you share our sorrow is far better than saying any of those
tired clichés you don’t really mean anyway. Just say you’re sorry.
Do put your arms around us and hold us.
We need your strength to get us through each day.
Do say you remember our child, if you do.
Memories are all we have left and we cherish them.
Do let us talk about our child.
Our child lived and still lives on in our hearts, forever.
Do mention our child’s name. It will not make us sad or hurt our feelings.
Do let us cry. Crying is an important part of the grief process.
Cry with us if you want to.
Do remember us on special dates.
Our child’s birth date, death date and holidays are
a very lonely and difficult time for us without our child.
Do send us cards on those dates saying you remember our child.
We do.
Do show our family that you care.
Sometimes we forget to do that in our own pain.
Do be thankful for children.
Nothing hurts us worse than seeing other people in pain.

~Author Unknown

Ignoring the Enemy

 He walks, but he leaves no footprints. He talks, but the sounds are internal and we fool ourselves into thinking it is our own thoughts we hear. What kind of enemy is this? It is the enemy of our souls and we ignore him as if he does not exist. Big Mistake! Huge!

We are used to an enemy who leaves footprints and we can see where to attack. We have grown up on wars, either suffered first hand or read about in history books. Who is this enemy that we can’t see . . . or hear? He is the roaring lion, 1 Peter 5:8. He is the robber and murderer, John 10:10. He is the father of lies, John 8:44, and he holds the power of death, Hebrews 2:14.

He is invisible to our eyes . . . but he is a fearsome warrior nonetheless. His army is millions strong and also invisible. And his plan is to bring us to his side, so he won’t die alone. Are we prepared to fight an invisible foe? How do we arm ourselves against something we cannot see?

Our fight is not against flesh and blood but against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Ephesians 6:12, paraphrased

And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and He wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials and put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the devil and all his angels.  Ephesians 6:10-12, msg

~ “Shattered by Suicide” by Gracie Thompson