Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.
After 2 years of a very long, life changing estrangement for my oldest child, Brian contacted me. At first he wanted me to know how angry he was that we didn’t have a typical mother/son relationship. He usually never comes out to say what he really means. We were estranged because he was a drug abuser and honestly he told me if I didn’t lie for him he no longer had a mother. I told him to make very sure this is what he wanted. It sadly was. Flash forward to that phone call 14 months ago. Brian hit rock bottom. He wanted help. In those short 8 weeks he and I reconciled our damaged relationship, more importantly he reconciled his relationship with Jesus. We texted everyday for hours, talked on the phone.
My family’s life changed on May 28, 2015. My oldest child, my only son, committed suicide. Brian and I had been estranged for 2 years. 8 weeks before he died he reached out. He wanted help. He’d hit the bottom and wanted to be off drugs, find his joy.
In those 8 weeks before Brian died we talked about everything. The one thing that sticks out for me was the very 1st conversation. We talked about God, about Jesus. I said to him you say you don’t believe in God, but I think maybe you are just mad at Him. Brian started to cry. He cried hard and told me he was so mad at God. His life wasn’t going how he wanted. He told me of how he had been playing bass at church since Easter. We talked about everything in those last 8 weeks. We texted several times each day. I told Brian I loved him every morning and every night. Brian’s last words to me?
I love you Ma.
We were on the East coast for 15 days. We spread Brian’s ashes in the ocean. The ocean brought Brian peace. I also have a small urn that I keep.
That 1st Sunday back in Iowa, back in our church was hard. We sat in the overflow room in hopes no one would see us. I cried through the service. Pastor was preaching about the beatitudes- Happy are those who morn. Friends saw us, they hugged us, they cried with us. I cried every Sunday for several weeks. I couldn’t get past Brian dying. Living in a world where he isn’t here. I didn’t lose my faith. Was I angry at God for “letting this happen”? No. The enemy had Brian. Brian listened to the wrong thing. Brian died.
For the longest time I focused on my grief. How hurt I was. How angry I was that some friends didn’t really reach out to me. I can’t even tell you what I needed, or, what would have helped.
One Sunday I was sitting in the back of our church and I was silently crying, praying, listening. I could only picture Brian hanging. I could only see his hurt, his pain, his anger. I doubted he was in Heaven. God spoke to me and said Danielle, my Son hung on a tree too. Don’t worry about Brian, he is with me and my Son and his pain is gone. You don’t have to worry about where he is anymore.
I was blown away. I cried. And thanked God. In that pain in my heart there was a small flutter of joy. Brian has Glory. He is in Heaven.
I see things differently now. Joy comes in a different way now. There is this ache in my heart that will always be there but every so often I feel joy. And for that little bit of joy I am blessed.
In this last year my life has changed so much. Before our son died I was able to reconcile our relationship. We had honest, loving talks. We texted each other several times everyday. I had 2 months with him that were a wonderful gift. We talked about life, God (I believe Brian is in Heaven) he knew Jesus, he is with Jesus now.
The outpouring of love from family, friends & people we didn’t know was overwhelming. We were on the east coast for 2 weeks, our families drew together and helped us. My husband and brother and sister in law took care of all of Brian’s final plans. We opted to not have an obituary put in the paper, mainly because it was $300 to do so & we weren’t even sure how we were paying for Brian’s cremation. Again our family and people we didn’t even know made sure everything was taken care of. It was a very small gathering at Plum Island, about 20 of us, just family. We laid Brian’s ashes in the ocean, a place I know he always found peace.
When we returned home family and friends called me almost daily, friends from church brought us meals & words of encouragement. I’ve made some new friends who are a part of this loss of a child, some very good friends, friends who get it. Along the way this past year I’ve withdrawn myself from a lot of things. Sometimes seeing the constant happy made me sad. Sometimes I feel like I am drowning in sorrow. I tried many wrong ways of trying to cope with this grief, I drank almost everyday since Brian died, it took away some of the pain, in turn it scared my living children, so I’ve stopped drinking. I’ve tried pretending everything is just fine, didn’t work. I’ve cried and I’ve remembered happier times with my family. I’ve learned that I’ll never “get over it” as some have said I should. I will always grieve and a spot in my heart will always have an ache for Brian until we see each other in Heaven. I’ve learned that sometimes people are in your life for a time and that’s ok. There are days that I am still paralyzed in grief and there are days that I’m not.
I’ll honor God and Brian’s memory by loving. I’ll miss you Brian, I’ll miss you forever. I love you my dear sweet Buddy.
Since this happened I’ve lost many friends. Some because I have totally withdrawn and others because seeing me and my sad, pain filled eyes makes them think of their own child’s life.
For the last 2 years Joy has been my focus. In joy I find love.
Finding joy after my son died.
Is there still joy? Can I ever feel that joy? I am afraid to feel joy.
Joy hurts right now. I still try to find one thing a day that brings joy.
To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.
My one word in January 2014 was JOY! How I tried to find the JOY in each day. I did this for about a month. I had every intention of finding the JOY in everyday.
Honestly I did.
Then Emma got sick. Emma, our last beautiful gift from God, has Juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Basically her immune system attacks itself, it attacks her joints. The joints affected start at her jaw and really goes to her toes. It’s in her spine, hands, wrists, hips, tailbone, knees, ankles & toes. When Emma gets “the common cold” or any other illness her body cannot fight it.
In January she got influenza A. We were away when she got sick. I still found the JOY. She didn’t have to be admitted to the hospital. Medicines seemed to be helping. She was doing ok. Emma didn’t really recover from the flu & got strep. Then an ear infection, then a sinus infection, then another ear infection, then another sinus infection, then she got C-Diff. Emma was sick for 6 months.
At the end of May Emma started to feel better. Being sick for so long took its toll on her as well. She was sad. Couldn’t understand why this was happening to her. Her awaking happened about the same time as mine. She went to arthritis camp & had a blast, she was flared up badly and spent quite a bit of time with the nurse.
In July my Dad & Step-mom blessed us with funds to come visit everyone in New Hampshire. It was truly a blessing to go there. I had been really homesick and needed to hug my Mom, Dad, step-mom,sisters & nieces. I just needed my family. We had some great adventures out there both, with family & alone. We went zip lining and by we I mean Sophia & Emma. I sat at a coffee shop having an iced cuppa. We went to the White Mountains and just soaked in God’s beautiful creation. We went to the ocean and again was mystified at its beauty. We saw a wild black bear at my Dad’s house which was amazing! We sat out by the campfire watching the shooting stars & just having amazing conversation. If it makes any sense, I have faith, I love Jesus and believe in Him with all my heart, but at the same time I was lost. I didn’t pray. I didn’t read my Bible. I wasn’t depending on my Creator to heal my child.
I realized in October my JOY was forgotten. All I needed, all I wanted was for my beautiful child to be healthy. I forgot about God. I didn’t pray, I didn’t read my Bible. I didn’t really go to church. People, family, friends would ask how are you? I’d lie and say everything is wonderful. Friends would invite us over or out and we would decline. Emma can’t be around anyone with a runny nose or cough. While all this was going on I withdrew.
I stopped relying on my friends. Depression set in for me. My friends reached out, on more than one occasion. I had shut down. Some of my friends aren’t really my friends anymore. That makes me sad. Sad that they just don’t understand. Emma looks fine, she even acts fine. What no one sees is when we get home she is tired, her body hurts. She will never complain. I’ve learned her cues. I know when something is bothering her.
Emma is sick. Emma. Is. Sick. I claimed that. I didn’t claim Emma is healed by what Christ has already done for her! For 10 months I claimed the wrong thing.
In September Emma started a new medicine. It requires us to go to the hospital 3 hours away once a month. After the 1st 2 treatments Emma was starting to come out of this chronic flare she had been in for 9 months. I realized, JOY! I also realized, as much as I believe in God, as much faith as I have in Jesus I realized I hadn’t fallen at the feet of Jesus. I hadn’t prayed. I hadn’t read my Bible once this year. I was present, but I wasn’t. About 6 weeks ago Emma got sick. Strep. Sinus infection. Bronchitis, belly virus. Trips to the doctor. Trips to Iowa City to see the specialists.
I realized today a few weeks ago at church that I still am not relying of God. Why am I not? At church today a man shared his testimony about the day his daughter was born. She was born by emergency C-section. She was born lifeless and grey. The doctors took her to work on her. He was praying with his wife and clearly heard the Spirit say go lay hands on your daughter and pray with her. He told his wife and she said go, go like he should have been gone 5 minutes ago. He went to the NICU and told the 15 nurses and doctors working on his daughter he needed to pray with his daughter. His prayer? LIFE! In Jesus name LIFE! In that moment his daughter started breathing. Her heart was beating on its own. Her color went from grey to pink. She opened her eyes turned her head and looked at her Dad & smiled. LIFE!
I realized today I can rely on my Christian friends. I can ask my family/friends to pray for my children. I can ask God for anything. He’s been telling me for months- FALL ON ME! I’ve already healed her. You just need to believe and have faith. Go to your church elders and have them lay hands on Emma. Danielle SHE IS HEALED.
I claim this. She. Is. Healed. JOY in everything. Joy in everything. Jesus is my JOY. So for the coming year my word is joy.
In the early days of my marriage, I couldn’t write unless it was quiet. Even noises drifting in from outside bothered me. Fortunately, our neighborhood is pretty quiet, so I managed to get some pages written. Less than two years later, our first daughter was born, and less than two years after that, our second daughter joined our family.
Our house has not been quiet for a long time, but I’m writing more than ever. Things have changed. Now, my husband sometimes takes the girls out to do something fun while I write. He sends me a text message asking how it’s going. Often, my reply is “I’m barely getting started. The house is too quiet.”
Who would have guessed?
The very thing that distracted me from writing back then is what I thrive on now—noise, activity, life. I dread the “empty nest” because I know I will have to make the transition yet again, from writing in a home bustling with laughter, chatter, and fun to finding my way in the silence. Isn’t it funny how things change?
I dread the effect that the kids’ growing up and moving out will have on my writing, but there are other things that will be affected too:
But when those are gone, my home will also be missing:
The more I think about it, the more I realize that to eliminate the things that irritate me, I have to get rid of even more that brings me great joy.
I think I’ll learn a lesson from my writing time and quit being so hasty to wish away the days I have left with my children. They’ll be gone all too soon.
All the days of the afflicted are evil,But he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast.
When I was a teenager, I was already in a nasty battle with depression and anxiety that began in my childhood: The outcome of adolescent hormones and grief along with some unfortunate circumstances. I would become overwhelmed with everything wrong and I just couldn’t seem to get a grip. My Grandma would ask me what was wrong, and as I began to list everything off she would quip back with scriptures like Proverbs 15:15, Proverbs 17:22, and many others. She would give examples that usually involved Polly Anna or Corrie Ten Boom. But most of all she reminded me of the promise that not only did she love me but so does a sovereign God that is on the throne.
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I’ll be honest, sometimes I hated her encouragement. I wanted to sulk, cry, and vent. I always knew she was right, though. So I dried my tears and reminded myself of all the things she told me and go on with a smile on my face until the next “end of the world teenage crisis” would happen.
A merry heart does good, like medicine,
But a broken spirit dries the bones.
Just like every other truth that is written in the Bible, the many scriptures about having a merry heart hold a lot of weight. If we don’t choose to be happy, even in the hard times, the negativity and darkness will overwhelm us and eventually lead to bitterness and extreme unhappiness. Without a merry heart, we see only the bad. But when we make that choice to be happy, no matter what, we are able to see the “sunny side” that the character Polly Anna talked so much about. With a merry heart, Corrie Ten Boom’s sister, Betsie, was able to thank God for the fleas that kept the Nazi guards from coming into their sleeping barracks instead of crying about one more problem during a time of extreme torment where evil truly afflicted every part of their days.
Now that I am an adult and have continued this battle with depression and anxiety, I understand more of what my Grandma was saying. I have seen God’s power in my life to know for certain that He is still on the throne. No matter how dark things may get, or how many nights are spent in tears, God is always in control. Even when it seems that there is no hope, I know that there is.
Does this mean that Christians should not seek medical help when things become unbearable? Not at all. By all means, if you need help, please get it. But it does mean that we should not focus on the evil around us. We should focus on the love of God, and rest in knowing that He will bring us through.
With a merry heart, we will strengthen and grow. The scripture is saying that with happiness we thrive. I am living proof. In fact, if I hadn’t chosen joy quite a bit these last few weeks, I would certainly not be smiling today.
I’ve got the joy joy joy down in my heart! Down in my heart!!
Joy to the world!! The Lord has come!
Joy is a gift from God when we ask Jesus to be our Lord & Savior.
Joy is a fruit of the Spirit! Did you know we all have every fruit of the Spirit in us? These gifts are in us! All of them, find them & use them!!
Joy is, as defined by the dictionary as the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation! (Noun)
This year my plan is to find the joy in everything. To Gloify God & enJOY him forever. I never knew what joy was until I asked Jesus into my heart. My life has not been the same since I became a Christ follower about 8 years ago. 9 years ago I had severe depression. One morning I woke up & brought my daughters to school. When I got home from bringing them, I drove into our garage, I shut the door to the garage & thought about how bad my life was. As I was thinking this I was breathing deeply to make sure I was breathing in enough exhaust. Just as I was starting to loose consciousness I clearly heard God say to me “this is not the plan I have you for you my child”, I opened the garage door ran out of my van & called my husband to ask him for help. I was in the hospital for 8 weeks. God led us to wonderful doctors who helped me. I told you that to tell you this, I found the joy! I found the joy! I found the joy in that God spoke to me. My weak belief that God actually exists & that He loves me! I was healed. He healed me!! God never leaves us! Even when we fall flat on our faces we can take comfort that we have fallen into His lap. How great is that?! I find joy everywhere now.
When I am having a horrible, awful day, I stop & think “find your joy”. Find your joy today. Back in March my Nana went to Heaven. As sad & broken hearted as I was there was joy knowing she was with God. I found the joy in how much she loved us! Yesterday I was overworked, stressed out & needed a break from everything. This morning I was reminded of my joy. I watched my daughters sleep.
I think we confuse joy & happiness. When I was much younger I was happy to drink & do drugs & not care about anyone but myself, my children & my husband, in that order. No one else mattered. That’s what made me happy, only doing for me & my family. I was all about number one. The website I am second uses the phrase I am second, I say that all the time. I’ll say to my husband, kids, friends, my youth group youth-thanks you’re 2nd best! Or we’re #2. Someone was mortified I said that, she asked me why wouldn’t I tell the person they are #1? I then have the opportunity to tell them about Jesus! He is #1 we are #2
Jesus tells us in the Gospel of Mark 12:30&31- 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
That’s where our joy is! Loving God with everything we have. In doing that we can love our neighbors. By reading God’s word we know we can trust Him. His deeds reveal His character. We love because He first loved us!
There is joy in everything. Watching your children sleep, seeing the sunset over the ocean, watching the snow fall, watching the birds fly & hearing them sing! Watching a baby & I’m just astounded by His creation!! As hard as it is when things are bad for us there is joy hiding there we just have to find it, sometimes it takes such a long time to do so.
My goal for #2014 is to seek out the joy. Look for it & if I can’t find the joy I remind myself- for God so loved Danielle He gave up His only Beloved Son! I frequently post on Facebook this simple reminder- you are Loved!!! you are Loved!!! Once for you & once for me. The excessive exclamation points? One for the Father, one for the Son & one for the Holy Spirit. Today my joy was watching my girls asleep. I am constantly amazed by my children & the gift that they are. Where is your joy!!!
2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Have a wonderful day dear ones!