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.
Two weeks ago today, I put my oldest daughter on a plane to return home to her dad. That morning, I put the following as my Facebook status.
When Tommy was born, he was very sick. When it was time for me to be discharged from the hospital one of my doctors came to see me in the NICU, as I was only in my room when I was not allowed at his bedside. She told me that while I would be back in 3 hours, leaving him would feel like I was cutting my own arm off with a saw and leaving it at the hospital as I returned home.
She was right.
But what I didn’t realize that day was that a few months later my older 2 kids would be moving away against my wishes and that it would be her words that got me through every departure.
Just because it feels like my arm is missing, it is not. Just because my heart aches and my arms are empty, I am still a mother. Even though this hurts so very much and I want to collapse, I have children that need me to go on. God will strengthen me, and I can do the goodbyes and pretending to be strong even when I am not. I will do it again in 3 weeks when the other leaves. I will continue the distracting for the entire family the next 46 weeks and all the many cries from younger siblings to “please just bring them back” when I wish I could.
My arm is still here. I am still their mom. I will (try to) stay strong, and in June these arms and my heart will be full again. But today, I’m crying. A lot.
A week from today, my oldest son will be heading home. (He came down a little later than his sister.) The shock that August is really here already is not settling well in our home. We all feel as though the anticipation for summer was just a few days ago. I keep asking my husband to slow down time or reverse it, as if he had the ability. Time flies when you’re having fun.
I have learned over the last few years just what to expect in the coming weeks: All of us will cry. There will be a lot of prayer and hugging. Some of us will be cranky for a few days. Johnny Ben, my son with severe autism, will walk about the house looking for his brother and sister. He will want to sleep where they slept for a while. (He’s been sleeping in his big sister’s spot since she left.) We will look through photos and videos while we reminisce. Almost immediately we will begin a countdown to next summer.
I will distract… and I will distract my family as much as possible. It’s not that we are not coping with our feelings. It is that this is how our life is, and it can be really painful. So to lessen the stinging and gnawing pain, we have to look away for a bit sometimes. Kinda like how someone might look away when getting a shot of antibiotics. We will talk to the kids in another state on the phone and in messages and we will discuss the situation we are in. But staying busy at the end of summer, I have found, has been the answer to rationing the tears. We will dive into a new year of homeschooling, go on a few fun adventures, I will attempt some craft and sewing projects, we’ll have a few long movie nights, science projects, and, hopefully, a lot of laughter.
It still hurts. We still feel a deep emptiness. We talk about our feelings very openly and pray together. But staying busy is better than wallowing in misery and allowing the pain to suck every bit of joy out of our lives. I may be a non-custodial mother to two of my children, but that does not mean that I have to walk around crying every minute of every day.
I don’t expect anyone who has not been in my shoes to understand how this feels. I do know that just as much as homeschooling parents are tired of the “Oh, I could never do that.” comments, I’m tired of hearing about it in reference to not seeing my children every day. I’m not stronger than anyone. I’m not a fragile mess because my kids are not with me either. This is not something that while I held my two oldest babies for the first time that I thought would ever happen. But it did, and I somehow managed to miraculously survive those first few years. I would never wish it on my worst enemy.
I do know that I am blessed to still have them at all. How can I complain when mothers on the other side of the planet are burying their children because of famine or faith?
There have been times I have not handled these situations the best way, and I will be the first to admit that. Thankfully, God finally got through my hard head and I realized the best way to deal with my feelings.
During my Jr. High and High School years, I became fascinated with Philippians 4. I read it over and over. Judye even placed a plaque with Philippians 4:13 over my desk when I was her pupil in High School and it was drilled into my heart. Years later, I understood why. The first time I felt any kind of peace was when I had said to someone that I just didn’t know if I could be strong enough for this. Without even thinking, in the next breath I stated Philippians 4:13, which has been my favorite scripture for many years.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13
Whenever I feel like I just can’t do this again, I remember that Christ has me in the palm of His hand and He will give me the strength I need.
There is no one that can relate to my heart like He can. No one.
That is where I find my peace, in Christ.
I take the pain that could do me in and instead of self-destructing I use the creativity God has given me and I recycle the darkness into some, um, interesting creations. Ha! Okay, some of them are pretty good. Others? Well, let’s just say that a good friend and I have a running joke about my attempts at cake pops. I could fill a whole other website with all of my Pinterest fails. But hey, even they bring laughter. 😉 Laughter is good!
If you are a non-custodial parent reading this, I pray that God would comfort your heart. That He would calm your spirit and help you to cope in a way better than anything else can offer. There are healthy ways to handle the pain, and there are the options that sometimes may just seem easier. Remember that even when your children are not with you, they still need you. They need you to be healthy and whole physically, mentally, and spiritually. When you feel like collapsing, reach out to Jesus and let Him hold you. I have learned that He’s always there and will always catch you if you let Him. Feel free to leave a comment below if you would like us to pray for you.
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.
This is a NEW series here at Raising Sticky Hands to Heaven about how to leave your church! This is part one of a four part series about how to leave your church! Stay tuned for more posts in the near future! 🙂 ~Priscilla
Recently, I felt the Lord calling my family to leave the church that I had been attending since 2004. I felt connected in MY church. How could I even leave MY church? I was a member of the worship team. I had friends there. I had fond memories of the church, and I didn’t want to leave! But, I had changed so much since I joined my church. I was also married now, and the church did not fit in line with my husband’s belief system.
There will come a time when you may have to leave your church for one reason or another. Sometimes leaving your church is an easy decision to make. Other times, we are so comfortable where we are that we couldn’t image being anywhere else.
Looking back, I think I felt too comfortable at my old church. Strange thing is, God usually uses me best when I’m uncomfortable, but fully submitted to Him!
I think that I felt too comfortable at my old church. -From How to Leave Your Church, Part One.
Needless to say, when God told me to leave my old church… it was hard to submit. I didn’t want to get out of my comfort zone. I spent a month in pure denial until my husband refused to attend the church again. At that time, I knew that my husband and I needed something different. I knew that God had a higher calling, and we were needed to use our gifts at another church.
There is a season for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1). It’s hard to fathom that God would plant us in a church, and then root us up to serve somewhere else. Besides that, leaving a church is very difficult. When I finally left my church for good, I grieved the loss. I’m talking stayed-in-bed-all-day-&-pulled-the-blanket-over-my-head kind of grieving a loss. It was horrible. In fact, it was almost like losing a family member.
That fog of “depression” didn’t lift until God sent comfort during our first church service in our new church! I knew then that everything was going to be OK, and that God had sent us to the right place! Whew! Hallelujah!
I think that the first step in the process of leaving a church is to determine the reasons why you are leaving the church… Then, you have to make sure that your reasons for leaving are in line with the Word of God, and God’s will for your life. In this post I’ve listed 16 GOOD reasons to leave your church. While this list does not cover all reasons to leave a church, it does cover some major reasons that you may want to leave a church.
GOOD Reasons to Leave Your Church:
I have to admit, some of these reasons were applicable in my family’s case when we left our old church, but some of these reasons are observations that I made from the lives of other Christians. Don’t get me wrong, there are BAD reasons to leave the church, but don’t let the enemy tell you that you shouldn’t leave as well! I think satan plays mind games with us when we try to seek God’s will.
In the next part of this series, I will discuss some BAD reasons to leave your church, and how to pray for God’s will when making the transition. Hopefully, these tips will help you avoid some of the mistakes that my family made in the transition.
Until then… be sure to comment below! I would love to know if you have had to leave your church. How did you leave your church? How was the transition? What were your greatest challenges?
Thanks SO much for reading this article about how to leave your church! We here at RSHTH hope that it has helped you in your transition.
Feeling gloomy, lately? Or a little down? Or maybe you feel drained of all your energy? I get that way sometimes. Believe me, it’s not fun. Not only is it not fun, but I don’t have time for it! I usually wake up every morning quoting (more like declaring) Psalm 118:24, “This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.” However, sometimes life just happens and gets you off kilter. I’ve found a few scriptures to share that are bound to help turn the gloomy situations around.
“A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.”- Proverbs 17:22. Surround yourself with happy, positive people. Laughter really is the best medicine.
“Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.”- Proverbs 16:24. Once again, surround yourself with only the positive. And don’t forget to remain positive yourself. Being encouraged is great and helps so much, but remember to also be an encourager.
On random wires the rows of summer swallows
Wait for their liftoff. They will soon be gone
Before All Saints’ and before All Hallows’,
The changing time when we are most alone.
–May Sarton (1912–95)
After reading the above poem, I was hit most by the last line. Fall, to me, is the most beautiful season, by far. But along with the beauty, is the underlying reality that the things that are gorgeous, are dying. Dying a slow, beautiful death.
The sun goes down earlier. This lowers the intake of vitamin D to our bodies, which helps our serotonin levels. (Serotonin, when levels are up, is what gives you your happy, feel good endorphins. The lower your serotonin levels are, is when you feel down, blue, alone, sad, etc.) Vitamin D is provided by the sun. It’s very important to get at least a few minutes of sun light a day. So if your feeling a little blue, step out for little bit. Take a short walk.
So, during this season of Fall, get out and about while you still can do so comfortably.
Every morning I begin to pray as soon as I wake up. I don’t wait til I’m up and out of bed. I immediately thank God for waking me up to a new day first thing. Then, as I’ve stated before, I declare that this IS the day the Lord has made and that I WILL rejoice and be glad in it. I CHOOSE to have a good day.
Yesterday morning, my eyes began to flutter open, and I began to pray. And out of no where, I started CHOOSING AND REFUSING.
“I REFUSE to be depressed. I REFUSE to be down on myself. I REFUSE to be negative. I REFUSE to not be all that I can be. I REFUSE to be in pain. I REFUSE to give the devil an inch. I REFUSE to lose. I REFUSE to give in. I REFUSE to give up. I REFUSE!”
“I CHOOSE to be happy. I CHOOSE to have an awesome day. I CHOOSE to be victorious. I CHOOSE to walk in the authority God has entrusted me with. I CHOOSE to have joy. I CHOOSE to be positive. I CHOOSE to be all that God called me to be. I CHOOSE to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. I CHOOSE to represent my Father. I CHOOSE to be the head and not the tail. I CHOOSE to be the lender and not the borrower. I CHOOSE to be blessed. I CHOOSE!”
I had never done this before, but my spirit man took over. It was like I all of a sudden realized that I have a voice. I have a choice. I mean, I knew this to an extent, but it struck me and I became forceful in my declarations. I should have been doing this all along, but it is never too late to CHOOSE and REFUSE.
Take a moment in your life to CHOOSE and REFUSE. You have the power in your tongue. Use it.
So, here you are. You’ve gone through all of the steps to make your lemonade & construct your lemonade stand by grieving, forgiving, accepting, and moving on. Now you have reached the point where you set up shop, practice good customer service, and make those sales.
“Huh? What are you even talking about? Stop with the metaphors or at least explain them!”
(If achieving this step is just too much work, consider seeking counseling. There is no shame in asking someone for a little help. Also, depression is a very serious illness that can happen to anyone. It is not something that you can “just snap out of”. Seek help if you need it, please.)
So, what do you do now? Sit back, relax, and drink some lemonade!!!
Facebook has gotten to be more than just a social site. It’s definitely like living in a fantasy world. People put statuses that you know are directed at you and you know that they would never have the guts to say them to your face. If you see in on Facebook, you know it must be the honest to God truth. Rumors are started out of the most simplest of statuses and you know that it was made more out of it than it really is.
Accusations are thrown at others out of nowhere. Everyone is perfect and make no mistakes. The Gospel according to John becomes the gospel according to Suzy, Jake, Chad, Norma… etc.
Fights become public and disagreements become “hate”. No one is to blame for any of their actions and no one will take responsibility to any pain that they cause for someone.
Someone is always down in the dumps. People judge others for everything they do or say, whether it be good or bad. If you get blessed, they say that you don’t deserve it. If something happens to you in a bad way, you must have deserved it somehow.
Then there are those who hold it against you if you always have something positive to put. You can’t win for losing.
Let’s get Facebook going on a positive track. I know that we can’t change everybody’s thought process, but we can start with our own friends list. If they don’t like it, there is always a delete button… just sayin’… 🙂
In the words of Rodney King, “Why can’t we all just get along?”
Every time I go to a particular store, there is always this one woman whom I desperately try to avoid. She never has anything good to say and everything is so depressing. It is Eeyore in the flesh!
There are so many people in today’s society, that are like this. Raw. Hurt. Their share of fairness went to someone else. These are the ones who need to be shown love the most. Those who have been so hurt that the walls are built so high and tight around their hearts, that no one is allowed in, under any circumstance! I know. I’ve been there.
She doesn’t need me to shun her. She needs to see the love of Jesus in me. To know that she matters to the Kingdom. Sometimes it takes love and understanding from someone else, before others can start to see that there is love in others and a reason to be.
The New Testament states over and over again, to love one another and to treat others as you would treat yourself.
We will always have that one person, or 2 or 6, that is going to be difficult to show love to. Just keep in mind that you have never walked a mile in their shoes and you don’t know for sure why they are the way they are. Ask God to teach you how to love them.