Grief and Hope 

Grief. The word itself is ugly. It leaves an ugly black hole in the pit of my stomach. 

Grief comes from the Old French, grever, which means “to burden”.  It feels like a burden too, something we carry around on our backs like a heavy load. 

Some would think that grief gets easier with time, but really it only changes. 

My shock has worn down as the years have passed, but my grief is still as heavy and present as ever, and each passing year I forget more and more of the details. Like the sound of his laugh. Oh, how I wish I could remember what it sounded like. So, that grief, the initial shock of his death, morphs into grief for the loss of the details. I fear that eventually I’ll even forget his big bear hugs. 

I’ve written a lot about suicide since Will died, but it still needs to be talked about. Mental illness, depression, anxiety; these are all very real things. Until we, as a society, can get over the stigma attached to these things, then more families will continue to lose loved ones. And not just to suicide, but to things like addiction as well. 

I will live with my grief, carry that “burden”, and cling to the memories I have left until they, too, fade away. 

But there is hope as well. Hope that one day I may see him again. Hope, that by talking about these things another family may be spared the grief and heartache that we have experienced not once, but twice. 

Hope that someone may see this and know that they are loved and cared for and suicide is not the answer. 

And also hope in the Lord, for we do not have to carry this burden alone. 

Don’t wait to talk to your loved ones, don’t wait to talk to that kid at school that everyone makes fun of or the guy at work that keeps to himself. Your call, your smile or your hello could mean the difference between life and death. 

If you are the one suffering, please know that there is hope. You are not alone. 

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29

J❤️

Already Enough


This is me. The real me. No makeup, filters or flattering photo angles. Hot and sweaty from watching my girls at cheer practice, before which I backed into my husband’s car (for real y’all). 

Tired, oh so tired. 

I am a daughter of the one true King, beloved and treasured, but I have a hard time remembering that. Remembering that my joy lies in Him and Him alone. 

I post this so you know that we don’t have it all together. I yell at my kids sometimes, and they are not always perfect angels. (The 4yo only made it half way through cheer before she had a meltdown). My house isn’t clean, I don’t cook gourmet meals, my kids are lucky if they have PB&J sometimes. 

Don’t compare yourself to what you see on social media. We all have stuff, no one is perfect. That photo I posted of my two sweet girls holding hands and smiling? It took 20 shots, lots of tears, and most likely a fist fight between the two to get. 

What you have is what you have, and what you have is already perfect because it’s yours. Live for the moment, because they go so fast. Put down the phone and spend time with your kids. I promise you will learn things about them you never knew. 

And LOVE yourself. The self you have now, not the self you want to be or think you should be. If you don’t love yourself now, you won’t love yourself when you get there either. 

You are beautiful, loved, treasured, important, intelligent, amazing. You truly are. 
“So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Cor 4:18

———————————-

I post this for and to myself. I need to put down the phone and stop comparing myself to other people, AND I am just as bad as the next person about only posting the good and “perfect”. I would hate to know that someone would see something I’ve posted and think less of what they have, when really they are only seeing half truths. I’m not trying to be preachy, I’m only calling it as I see it in my own life and mind. 

And again, you are already enough. YOU, reading this right now. You are loved, cared for, intelligent, strong, important, amazing. 

Don’t ever forget it. 

Until next time, 

Daughter

Oh daughter, sweet daughter that I have made, the one that I adore. I know your heart hurts, I know you are tired and weary. I know that you get angry in the waiting and wanting. That you wonder why I don’t just take these things from you like you know I can.

But daughter, you are not of this world. This instant gratification “privileged” world. I never promised that their wouldn’t be suffering, only that I would be there with you. I don’t take these things from you because I want you to see Me in them. I want you to look for Me in the heartache, to lean on and rest in Me when you are tired, and to let Me wipe away your tears. You know I love you, right? You know I have every tear you have ever cried, and I have always been there even when you couldn’t feel Me.

But with these things I also give you a promise of Joy. A promise of everlasting life in Me. A promise that, one day, the veil will drop and you will see this world as I see it, and you will see yourself as I see you. Beautiful.

So, beautiful one, do not give up on Me. Lean in, and listen. I am here always.

What are you afraid of?

Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged! for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.                                                                                                                         –Joshua 1:9

IMG_1488

Why are you afraid, oh child? Why do you think you can not do this task I have called you for?

I am with you always.

I am the guide that holds your hand as you cross the foggy mountain pass.

I am the strength in your legs.

Yes, you may not be able to complete this task yourself, but with Me you can do anything.

Lean on Me, rely on Me.

This is what I want you to do.

Not good enough

I haven’t even pulled up WordPress in almost a month. I haven’t wanted to write. I know leaving off with a sad post isn’t ideal, but I just couldn’t deal.

Death is just a horrible thing, but suicide just leaves you in a whole different place.

A lot has happened since that last post. A lot of good things, some bad. Mostly life has gone on.

I’ve been sitting here in my living room with my heads phones on listening to “Oceans” by Hillsong United on repeat for the last hour. I had never heard it before. I don’t know how I’ve gone with never hearing it. Naturally the first thing I did was buy the accompaniment for it so I can sing it in church. But really it got me thinking, of which I’ve done a lot lately. (A lot seem to be the words of the day).

I’ve always had a guilt about not being a better servant, not praying enough, not doing enough. Whatever that means.

In “Oceans” is says:

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior”

I realized instead of sitting around feeling sorry for myself, instead of feeling not good enough (which God’s grace wipes away anyway, but that’s a whole different post), I should be listening to Him. Listening for Him. He has a path for me, if only I would stop and listen. Call upon Him and let Him lead me. I realized I had been trying too hard to “be good”, and of course when I failed at that (which I do daily) it just made me more down on myself, and less likely to go to Him in prayer for fear of “punishment”. I know that sounds odd, but that was my childhood, so naturally I feel that way with this Father.

So my prayer for the next few weeks is that I learn to stop and listen, to slow down and hear Him in my everyday. To let Him lead me “where my trust is without borders”, because who can we trust if not the Father? To trust that He has a path for me. To give thanks for all that I have, and even for the things that I don’t. To go to Him in prayer even when I don’t feel like it…especially then.

I have to be strong for these two beauties.

For who will lead them to the feet of Christ, if not their father and I? It’s our job to nurture them, to lead and teach them.

Until next time,

J

Left Behind

This girl.

Beautiful Helper

She looks so much like a man she will never meet.

The other acts so much like that part of me that’s made up of the same stuff that he was made of.

I mustache you a question...

I still remember the moment that suicide directly affected me. It’s something you always hear about, it’s always there in the background but never had it really hit home.

I was 8 months pregnant with Scarlett, sitting in the floor of her not yet put together nursery trying to assemble a night stand. My dad called and asked if I was sitting down. Will had died. He killed himself. That was September 9, 2010.

Fast forward three years. In bed 6:30 am, Adam rushes in, you need to see this. Scott is gone. Will’s little brother, Brad’s twin. He killed himself.

I will never pretend to understand what would bring a person to that point. I’ve battled depression since my teens, I’ve been in low places. I’ve had the, “the world would be better off without me”, thoughts. I was a cutter. But I’ve never been to THAT place. The one of no return.

What could we have done? What could I have done?

What can we do?

I did something drastic the day before our second funeral, the one where we buried one more son, brother, nephew, father, cousin, friend. I went into the tattoo parlor and marked a part of me that I will always see. 1mt 1mt, One more thing, One more time.** I will never give up. It’s a reminder to do one more thing than you want to do, one more time than you want to do it. Pick up your pieces and keep moving. I had their birth dates put underneath to keep them near me always, and to remind me to keep going when they thought they could not.

IMG_1851[1]

November 23rd is International Survivors of Suicide day. It’s about recognizing the people that are left behind, left to wade through the pieces and pick up where someone they loved could not.

international-survivors-of-suicide-day_medium_small

photo credit: afsp.org

Please consider donating to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. This is a very real and tragic thing, and it could be prevented. If you know someone who you think is struggling please reach out to them, if you don’t know how, then tell someone else that might could help. 50% to 75% of people who attempt suicide tell someone about their intentions.* Visit the AFSP’s site for more resources and info about suicide prevention.

Please, please take the time to reach out to someone you love today. You never know what internal battles they may be fighting. You never know when one conversation may save someone’s life.

Until next time,

J♥

—————————————————————————————————————

Note: I was not contacted or asked to write this post by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. All opinions and statements are my own. This is a subject and organization that is close my heart, I just hope to spare another family the grief we have experienced.
*Resource: afsp.org
** 1mt 1mt is credited to Josh Sundquist. He is a paraylmpic ski racer and an awesome motivational speaker. Check him out when you get a chance. 

For my babies

The other day I was thinking of things that I wanted to make sure the girls knew. Not only that we love them unconditionally, but things about life in general. I figured I should put the list down on paper now while they were still young. I can always add to it, but I figured I might forget all the important things I want to tell them by the time we make it into teenage-hood. (eek!)

Sun in the Pines

To my beautiful girls, Scarlett and Savannah, some things to remember as you make your way through life.

Learn to laugh at yourself. Laughter is the best medicine and if you can’t laugh at yourself every now and then you’ll have a tough time getting through life.

You will make mistakes. Believe me I know. But I also know that with mistakes comes forgiveness and second chances, and you will never do anything that will make me, your daddy or your heavenly Father love you any less.

I am always here for you. I want you to talk to me and confide in me. Also, know that God is always by your side even when you don’t feel him, and he wants you to talk to Him too.

Play, have fun, see the joy in life. You will have plenty of time for adult seriousness when you are older, but now I just want you to have fun. I want to you grow and learn new things, to see the world in a way that only a child can.

Love. Simply love. It is what we are here to do. To love one another like God loves us. To minister and teach His word, to bring joy to the people around us. To get down and dirty in the trenches and do hard things, to take care of each other, but most importantly to just simply love one another.

You are beautiful. Inside and out. You are made just the way He intended you to be, so love yourself, it’s the only self you get. Anyone who tells you different is having a hard time loving their own self. Help them. 

Pray. If there was one thing I could go back and tell my young self it would be to pray more. Bring your troubles before God. You aren’t bothering Him, He wants you to talk to him. He wants to be part of every minute of every day. Have a hard decision to make? Pray. Something dad and I did that’s bothering you? Pray. Have a fight with your best friend? Pray. You see someone at school that’s hurting? Pray. We want you to come to us with your problems too. We want to sit and talk with you and help you make decisions, and pray for you and with you. We want to make sure that the friend at school that you saw was hurting gets help. So please come to us and feel safe to be open with us, but pray also. Bring those things to your heavenly Father and find rest and peace, and answers with Him too.

Don’t ever give up. You will get hurt, people and friends will forsake you. You will have times when your down and dirty in the trenches and you are doing hard things and you feel like no one is there with you. Like no one understands. You will, I’m sorry. I don’t want to sugar coat it for you, it’s just part of life. But don’t give up. God is always with you, always. He loves you and will bring you out on the other side, you just have to trust in him. We are here too, and we will NEVER give up on you. We love you more than you can fathom even when it seems like we don’t love you at all.

Remember that we love you, you are important. We only want the best for you, which means we will do and say and make you do things that you don’t like sometimes. Everything we do is out of love, and hopefully one day you will thank us for them.

Most importantly, remember that God loves you, and that, my beautiful babies, is one thing that will never change.

Love always,

Mom

Our first baby (WW#2)

Our sweet Labrador, Jersey, passed away last Saturday. She was born December 26, 1999 and was with my husband 7 years before he and I ever met. She was our first baby, and survived a lot in her first few years. She was a good dog, one of the sweetest I’ve ever met. I will miss her dearly.

Is this not the cutest picture?

Is this not the cutest picture?

Jersey collage

Jersey5

Jersey2 Collage

Yes, that little black dot is her. She LOVED the river!

Yes, that little black dot is her. She LOVED the river!

Our first baby with our first baby...

Our first baby with our first baby…

I have to believe that she’s in a better place. She’s waiting for us on the other side. She has all the new tennis balls she could ask for, and we will play fetch again one day.

Love you sweet Jersey.

IMG_0470

 

 

♥ J

Linking up here:

and here today:

In the Moment with Sarah Halstead
Come join us! ♥

Love Flash Mob from Momastery

I’m sharing this today from a blog that I read on a regular basis, that is near and dear to my heart. If you’ve never been to the Momastery Blog I encourage you to check them out. Glennon and her Monkees do amazing things, all in the name of faith, hope and love.
Today they are hosting a Van-tastic Mother’s Day Love Flash Mob to help not one, but TWO amazing families.
They hope to raise $85,000 to buy each family a van, to help relieve some of the burdens that they are carrying.  The catch is that you can only make a maximum donation of $25, so they need lots of help guys! So go check them out, share this post and share the link to the  Van-tastic Mother’s Day Love Flash Mob! Let’s help make a difference in these peoples lives!!
As I was reading Glennon’s post this morning, it brought one of my newly favorite quotes to mind:
What I do you cannot do; but what you do, I cannot do.
The needs are great, and none of us, including me, ever do great things.
But we can all do small things, with great love,
and together we can do something wonderful.
~Mother Theresa

I’ve started to think of this when I’m feeling down in the dumps about the difference that my actions make in this crazy world. Help me get the word out, because if we all do small things with great love, we can make a difference!
Until Next Time,
Jess ♥