Monday, June 24, 2013

Share Your Story

Suicide Survivor's Top Ten Things To Do (or NOT Do):

I realize I already said, "Keep a journal." That's the place where you include every single detail, down to the miniscule. Write all the goriest details of your journey in your journal/diary.  

Figure out your "safe people." These are the people you can say anything to. You can cry, scream, cuss, confess and pray with these people. These people are the ones who don't judge you, no matter what. You'll probably only have one or two of these people in your life during your loss (or ever). They can handle your grief. They will process it as a listener and they'll only guide you when you ask or when you're sinking so low that a rescue is necessary. You can over-share with your people, your tribe (as the hipsters say). 

At some point you'll over-share with someone who isn't your BFF. You'll meet for coffee and you'll end up spilling the beans. You'll feel a little sick to your stomach for the diarrhea-of-the-mouth that just happened in the conversation. Over-sharing is uncomfortable, for you and for the person you're sharing with. You have to edit to decide what is helpful to others, to meet their current need. Yes, our darkest places can be a light shining on other's paths keeping them from falling into the same holes we've inched our way out of.  Sometimes sharing an inch of the story to help the person standing in front of you in loss and need is better than sharing the ten-mile-journey. You might share your ten-mile-journey with them over time, but when they're only into their journey a quarter of a mile, you don't have to point them to mile marker seven. It might send them into the fetal position sucking their thumb in the corner of Starbucks. And no one wants that. 

I inched my way into sharing. First with my BFFs. They're the only people I talked to for the first several months. Then with my Pastor. Then with a few close friends in my church family (small group tribe). Then with my grief counseling group. Three and a half years after Dad's death, my Pastor asked me to share my story on a Sunday morning, two services, over a thousand people. I edited. I shared. I cried. But I told the story. Best of all, I got to tell the story of how God brought me and my family through it all. HIStory. (Yes, you just got punned.) I told them about how faithful God was during every twist and turn. I told them that without my heavenly Father, I'd never get to see or hold my earthly father again. I got to share the Gospel. I shared the greatest story ever told, the story of Jesus. Oh how I love to tell the story!

This Sunday I get to share that story again with my friend's church across town. I'm so excited that I get to offer them the hope of the Savior who conquered death. I'm so humbled that God lets me open my mouth and offer Him praise. If you're willing to share and bear your heart, He'll give you a captive audience. Be ready for it!

Share your story. 

Keep going. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Don't Expect to Find a Suicide Note

Suicide Survivor's Top Ten Things To Do (or NOT Do):
Don't EXPECT To Find a Suicide Note

I expected to find a note from Dad following his suicide. He didn't leave one. He didn't leave a card or an email or anything. He just left. 

Back then I thought everyone left a note before they followed through with suicide. I thought that was a given. Probably because I like to write, whether in my journal or on twitter & FB or on this blog. I figured if someone was contemplating something super serious like life and death, and they chose death, they would write and tell us why. But I soon found out from reading everything I could lay my eyes on about suicide that most people who complete suicide do not leave a note. Only 18%-37% of people leave a suicide note. That means that 63%-82% of people who complete suicide do not leave a note. 

Dad did not leave a note.

I wanted a note because I thought it would bring me some closure. It would explain "why" and I could tuck it away and give a flat answer when someone asked "Why did he do it? He had so much to live for." I could whip out my "Well, in the note he left he said he explained that he was an alcoholic and he was really depressed. He thought we'd all be better off if he wasn't hanging around making life especially difficult anymore." Yeah, I thought that would make me feel better. That sounds ridiculous to me now. But eight years ago, it made me feel...I dunno, like I was off the hook. I thought if there would have been a note, then I wouldn't have to process, wrestle with and struggle through the "Why's". Silly silly little 2005-Jessica. One of the greatest lessons that God taught me through Dad's suicide was: faith begins where answers stop. Hebrews 11:1 "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence for things not seen." 

On this side of Heaven, this is what I know:
  • I will never get a concrete answer as to why my Dad killed himself. 
  • I will never get an answer from God as to why He didn't stop my Dad. 
  • I did forgive my Dad.
  • I do still trust God. 

A suicide note would not have necessarily made Dad's death easier to comprehend. It would never give me an answer that was good enough to satisfy my heartbreak. Even if your loved one left a suicide note, I'm guessing you still have millions of questions you're ready to ask him/her when you see them again. 

So here's the life lesson I walked away with: 
I can't put my faith or hope in anything that I can put my mind around
Because that thing would be a very, very small thing indeed. 

Go to Him with your questions. And....

...Keep going!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Go To Counseling

Suicide Survivor's Top Ten Things To Do (or NOT Do):

Brad and I had only been married seven weeks when my Dad's suicide occurred. Talk about being unprepared! No one is ever prepared for a loved one's death, much less a suicide; and way less when you're honeymooners. We couldn't even navigate through the "which sink is mine?" in the master bathroom conversation.To say that we were horribly ill-equiped to deal with working through the tragic death of my Dad is a gross understatement. Like super gross. 

Nine months into our rocky marriage, I was laying in bed one morning or afternoon, sad and depressed, when my handsome husband put his hand on my hand and said, "I don't know that I can make you happy. Maybe we should get a divorce."  Translation: "You've gone freaking nuts and I don't know how to help you." We began marriage counseling three days later. (Don't be hard on Brad! He loved/loves me crazy madly! You have no idea what he had to deal with.)

We didn't just go to counseling. We did the work. Whatever the counselor told us to do, we did it. We put in the time. We put in the tears. We worked through the anger, frustration and confusion. We were both willing to hear difficult things about ourselves; not just from each other, but also from the counselor. We were willing to apply what we learned. We say in our house that we're not interested in behavior modification, we're interested in life transformation. We both learned to cling more dearly to Jesus, because life transformation only comes through Him. We each went to counseling by ourselves. A little one-on-one tune-up was needed for each of us. 

It was all crazy hard. Was it worth it? You bet your sweet bippy it was. Brad can still make my blood boil b/c I'm human and flawed to perfection. But I love him so much. I know how to talk to him better because of counseling. He knows how to express love to me better because of counseling. And we know how to fight fair because of counseling. 

I also attended group grief counseling. A girlfriend from church had lost her husband and she knew of a church that offered free group grief counseling. So each week for about 12 weeks she would drive to my house and pick me up. We would drive to the nearby community where the church was located and we would be each other's grief counseling accountability.  It was unspeakably helpful. The group was made up of around 15 people raging in ages from 26 to 86. Everyone went around the room and shared their story of loss the first week. I was nervous and didn't want to utter the words out loud, "My Dad killed himself." But I did. I sobbed the entire time and so did everyone else. God gave me such sweet healing in that group. 

When I read back through this, it sounds like I was in counseling 20 hours a week! ha! I probably should have been. The group grief counseling was an hour each week for around 12 weeks. And it was FREE. Our marriage counseling was an hour each week for about three months. The weeks that we saw the counselor one-on-one, we didn't meet together. The marriage counseling cost us about $45 a session. Yes, that seems like a lot of money for 12 weeks, but not when you think about what we could have lost. And PS - most people spend crazy stupid money on their wedding but don't want to spend a dime on marriage counseling (the thing that may help keep your marriage together)...I'm gonna call that one on the carpet and say: COP OUT! Spend the money on counseling. Biblically-based counseling. Many churches offer free counseling, so check with your church. 

Get help. 

Seek wise counsel.

Keep going. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Honor Them, Honor Yourself

(so I didn't make it through 10 posts in 10 days. Epic fail. Today I'm trying again. Note to self: Keep going!)

Suicide Survivor's Top Ten Things To Do (or NOT Do):

Your traditions don't have to die with your loved one. My Dad killed himself three days before Father's Day. I had already bought a Father's Day card for him. I came home and buried that card in the bottom of my card box (I'm a "card person". It's my own personal "tradition" to give or make great cards. Yes, I have a box-o-cards for every occasion. Drives my OCD husband crazy!). Every time I'd reach to the bottom of the box and see that father's day card, my heart would leap into my throat and I would crumble. Until I decided to conquer that card by writing in it. My fear of that card was tied to my false belief that all my emotions and feelings for my Dad had to die and be buried with the memory of him. Wrong. I decided to brave it. I decided to work through it. That card is stained with my ink and my tears (and probably my snot). It is full of words that are held intimately private between me and my Dad and my Savior. I'm not going to lie and say it wasn't incredibly painful to write in that card. It was. But it was my tradition and it didn't have to die with Dad. 

I've bought my Dad a Father's Day card every year since he died. Some years I write in it. Some years I just file it in my box with the other cards marked: Dad, Daddy, J.D., Dragon Slayer, Jerry Don, Gary Don - all the names we had for him. 

Honor them. Our family has kept some of our old traditions. Every year on Dad's birthday we eat his favorite meal: beans, cornbread and carrot cake. We even sing "Happy Birthday" to him. We sometimes go to the Harley-Davidson shop...Dad's favorite place. We usually exchange some sort of Harley memorabilia - that quintessential black & orange shield will forever be a reminder of Dad.  We pray and cry and laugh. We remember.  

Honor yourself. Our family has created new traditions. Every year on the anniversary of Dad's death, we celebrate another year that God has brought us through. We call it Dead Dad Day. We take turns buying each other a meaningful gift. We eat, shop, travel. It doesn't matter what we do, all that matters is that we're together. We survived! We didn't think we could or would, but we did. We pray and cry and laugh on Dead Dad Day. And we make new memories. 

Sunday was Dead Dad Day and, BONUS, it was Father's Day. I woke up and celebrated what a great Daddy my husband is to our daughter. And then we went to church and worshipped. I cried, of course, especially when we belted out my favorite David Crowder song, "Oh How He Loves Us." After worship, I jumped in the van and ran across town to my friend's church where a member of my church family was sharing his story of alcoholism and sobriety. And I cried. I cried for the hope that God gives a young man that he can rise out of the "pit of despair", out of the "mud & mire" and come out different, better. To be present to witness this young man be poured out and used to point others to the forgiveness and transformation of Jesus, what a privilege. Wow. Thanks, Ty (and Tonya). Many have seen what He has done in your life and they are amazed! Sunday was a great day. Yesterday my Mom, Sister and I celebrated Dead Dad Day. We ate, shopped, laughed, cried a little and shared a few memories. 

Mostly, we celebrated how good God is. How faithful He is. How much He loves us. 
We're so thankful. We're so blessed. He's brought us so far in eight years! 

Where ever you find yourself today, don't stop. Don't bury your feelings and emotions in the bottom of your box-o-cards. Pull out the card (or journal or blog) and write it all out. Go through it. You can do it...and when you think you really can't do it anymore, then remember and renew your belief in the healing, transforming and resurrecting power of Jesus. The place where we cease to exist is the place where God is just beginning to do something spectacular in our life. Let Him dazzle you...and keep going. 

Ty shared his life verses with us on Sunday (Psalm 40:1-3). These are some of my favorite words from scripture. 

Psalm 40:1-3 (NLT)
"I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
    and he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
    out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
    and steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
    They will put their trust in the Lord."

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Don't Tell Them Their Loved One Went to Hell

Yes. Someone said that to us. And we survived that, too. Here's what happened:

Word traveled fast after Dad's body was found. Family and friends came from far and wide to attend Dad's funeral. My parents' house was full of people bringing food and paying their respects. It was a revolving door sending people into our arms to hold us, cry with us, pray with us, grieve with us, and some were sent to teach us. Some taught us what we wanted to be like. Others taught us that 'hand, foot, mouth' isn't just a virus that toddlers catch in the church nursery - it's something we're all capable of having if we open mouth, insert foot, then frantically throw our hand over our mouth in disbelief that our mouth just said that. My Mom's beloved family member (who I will not name in order to save this person from being tarred & feathered at our next family reunion) caught 'hand, foot, mouth' a couple of days before the funeral. Poor thing. Seriously, you shoulda seen it. It would have been sad & tragic had it not been so stinking funny. (DISCLAIMER: We have a warped sense of humor.)  
Mom was standing in the living room with a crowd of people hugging her as they left food on the table and headed back out. Mom says to the people around her, who are crying and sharing sweet, kind stories about Jerry Don, "I'm just so thankful that we'll see him again. I know he's finally well. He's healed. This isn't what we wanted when we prayed for God to heal him, but this is God's healing. And today Jerry is healed. And he's with his Heavenly Father." At this moment everything went into slow motion as the said family member jumped into the circle of people, grabbed Mom by the shoulders and yelled into her face, "No, Linda! You won't see him again. He killed himself! He's in hell!" 
My Mom's colorless face drained more color and then it turned red. In. An. Instant. I mean, red

Even in 2005, the word "suicide" was surrounded by taboo. Mom, Jenni and I had to rethink everything our culture (in the South) had taught us about suicide versus what we knew and believed to be true, based on God's Word. Thankfully, there were tons of friends and family whispering the truth of God's love into our ears. And they were lovingly reminding us of Dad's faith. Because when someone kills himself, you not only question God, you question who the person was and you question what they believed.  I knew that despite my Dad's choices at the end of his life, he was a man who loved God. He was a man who had a relationship with Jesus. He was the man who taught me how to read my Bible, how to teach it and how to pray. He taught me to go to church and serve the body of Christ faithfully. I knew that I knew that my Dad was a believer. But the questions that rise following a suicide are in some ways fair. Survivors need to wrestle with what they believe and why they believe it. And though the questions might be fair, they are nonetheless difficult. 

Questions like:

"Would a believer who loved and knew of Christ's forgiveness/love/the cross, could that person plummet to the depths of despair so profoundly that they felt like the only way 'out' was death?" Uh, heavens yes. 

"If you love God and you have the Holy Spirit inside your being, can you ignore Him and run away to the lengths of alcoholism and pointing a gun at yourself?" Uh, heavens yes. 

"If you kill yourself, are you doomed to eternity in hell?" Uh, hell no. 

But some people believe that your fate is sealed eternally if you 'commit suicide.' Some people are taught this in their religion, in their churches or in their families. And some people get 'hand, foot, mouth' and decide to share their beliefs. 

So what did my Mom do?

Well, she didn't throw the family member out of our house. She didn't cuss out the family member, shaming him/her in front of other people throwing them out on the front lawn (like the true hillbillies that we are). She didn't slap him/her across the face with Daytime-Emmy-Award-Winning-Susan Lucci-drama. Instead, my godly, sweet, forgiving Mama, used the moment to teach someone old something new. She told the well-intentioned family member that God's forgiveness is not based on human performance. She explained that the only "unpardonable" sin is not receiving Christ. She told her that Jerry, her beloved husband of 25 years, was indeed a believer in Christ. And she assured the family member that he was in heaven and we would see him again. 

And what did the family member do?

The person looked shocked and said, "No one ever told me that before. I didn't know!"

Use moments, even difficult, painful moments, to teach others. Maybe the person who has offended you has 'hand, foot, mouth' because they really don't know any different. 
Teach them. In Truth. In Love. 

The world offers enough hell. Give 'em heaven. 

Keep going. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Keep a Journal

Suicide Survivor's Top Ten Things To Do (or NOT Do):


Just write. Even if you're "not a writer", write. You'll wish you had if you don't. 

You think you'll remember ever lesson, every great thing God does and shows you. But you won't. You'll forget. 

So write it down. Keep a journal. Get a fancy leather one with your name engraved on it (like I did cuz I'm a total nerd, uh, I mean, I'm a boss, baby. Or is it, "I'm boss." Clearly I'm both.). Or buy a $1.99 black & white composition notebook. It doesn't matter. 

Write the day and the date (i.e. Tuesday, June 11, 2013) and then write what you're feeling that day. Here's an example:

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Today I'm doing really good, especially considering we lost _________________ two months ago today. Oh gosh, I didn't realize today was the 11th...two months. Wow. God is good. Wow. Now I feel like my heart is breaking. It's a little hard to breathe when I realize I haven't heard her voice in two months. Oh great I'm crying in this composition notebook...again.

Just write. 

Recently (on April 11th), one of my dearest friends' older sister went to Heaven. She was only 37. She left behind her husband and two little girls. So before I boarded the plane to go to the funeral, I bought my friend, her sister and their mama journals. I had their names engraved on the journals. And I wrote their instructions inside the front cover of each journal: "Write in this journal. Let it be the chronicle of your journey through your loss. Write down every memory you have of your sister/daughter. And one day, when it's right and when it's special, give this journal to her daughters. It will be the best gift you can give those sweet little girls." 

Write. Remember. Look back and see what God has done and where He has brought you. And praise Him that you're here and you're no longer there. Thank Him for getting you through each second of each minute of each day. He is good. 

Remember His faithfulness. Write it down. 

"Many people have set out to write accounts about the events that have been fulfilled among us." Luke 1:1  The beginning of the gospel according to Luke. He wrote down the account of Jesus to share with us. Aren't we thankful and blessed that he did?

Write it if not for yourself for someone else. One day you'll need to share your story and the lessons you've learned to help someone else through their journey. 

It's not too late to start writing! If your loss was yesterday or 10 years ago, begin writing now. Write what you remember. Write who you've become in light of what you've gone through. 

Start writing. Don't give up. Keep going!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Turn Off The Radio

Suicide Survivor's Top Ten Things To Do (or NOT Do):

I love music. Music can carry me into a different place, different mindset, even a different decade. To this day when I hear "Return of the Mac" my mind is immediately catapulted back to my senior year of high school. All the memories of 1997 flood my mind. Good (my BFF), bad (my hair & clothing), and ugly (my hair & clothing). Music is like a time machine for me. It makes me think of places, occasions and people, which can hold both sweetness and sorrow. Not regret, but sorrow. That's why after my Dad's suicide I turned the radio off for five months. 

Here's what made me decide to turn off the radio:

It was the day after Father's Day, June 20, 2005. We were setting up the visitation room at the funeral home. Taking fifty or so of our favorite photos of Dad to set up in the room. Since there was no body to view/say goodbye to, we thought bringing some of Dad's favorite things to the funeral home was the best way for people to remember Jerry Don the way he would want them to remember him. So when the funeral director asked us what music we wanted playing as we received visitors, my mom, sister and I looked at each other and laughed..."Uh, do you have any Pink Floyd?" The funeral director was nervous and not amused, but we were, and we were on a mission. We went through all of Dad's favorite CD's and we picked out one of his all-time faves. We could have chosen so many artists and so many songs. If we had had the time to plan for this tragic occasion, the soundtrack to Dad's funeral would have run a gamut from Pink Floyd's "The Wall" to "The Old Rugged Cross" and back to Willie Nelson's "On The Road Again."  But what Jenni and I chose as the soundtrack to the funeral visitation following my Dad's death was Aerosmith's "1980's Greatest Hits." How perfect. 

A few days later I was driving down the road listening to some "oldies" station and Aerosmith's "Dream On" began playing and I began weeping so violently that I had to pull the car over so I didn't cause a wreck. And that's when I decided to turn off the radio. 

I did not want a song or a slew of songs from the summer of 2005 to become the music that would forever take me back to that heartbreaking place. So I turned off the radio. If I found myself in someone else's car, I would play DJ and skim radio stations until I found an oldies station, or at least an "80's & 90's Soft Rock" station. I could handle the music that made me think of/remember my Dad, even when I was on the side of the road sobbing to "Dream On." But I didn't want any of the current music playing to be the songs that took me back to the darkest place I'd ever been, the grief of losing my Dad. 

For me, it was a good choice. Maybe for you or for someone you know going through a recent loss, listening to new music is healing. So for you I say, listen to new music. But for me the best thing was turn off the radio. The best thing was to listen to old music. Or to have silence where I could pray and turn my thoughts, fears, and quiet moments into moments where God could pour healing into me. I listened to sermons. I listened to a lot of Beth Moore on CD! That's what helped me. 

Do what helps you. But definitely embrace the silence. Turn the radio off for one car ride. I did it for five months and it eased my mind. 

Keep going. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Do NOT Romans 8:28 the Survivors

Suicide Survivor's Top Ten Things To Do (or NOT Do):

DO NOT Romans 8:28 the Survivors. Unless you're prepared to get throat-punched. This goes under my "Top 10 Don'ts" for any death. 

Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."

I LOVE this verse. It's one of my favorite verses in the Bible. But in the frail moments surrounding the sudden and tragic suicide death of my 44-year-old Daddy, that verse felt like acid being poured on my open-wound-of-a-heart. 

Do you know why we feel we have to Romans 8:28 people? Because we're so uncomfortable with silence. 

We feel like we need to say something. Anything. And as Christians we often look for that "encouraging" word to give to a hurting person. So we throw out Romans 8:28. But that's like patching the Titanic with duct tape. 

And I didn't need to be reminded that God was working it out for good. I knew that. My grief, my hurt, my questions, even my doubt did not change the goodness of God. Because who He is is not dependent on my response. I will never add to or take away from the Truth of Who He Is. Because He is. Plain and simple, He Is. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life; He is Love and Hope; and yes, He is goodAnd all that Truth is in me. And the Truth did finally set me free. But in those moments, I didn't need a stinging reminder of His goodness, because that reminder felt like a back-handed rebuke of my questions, my hurt, my doubt. And Jesus Christ is big enough to handle all of my brokenness even when Christians aren't. 

Do you know what I needed in those awful moments? I needed people to sit with me and be quiet. 

There was nothing anyone could say that would make things any better or different. And I wasn't asking anyone to "fix" me or the situation. 

I just wanted people to be with me. Just be. Sit with me in my pain. Be with me in the quiet. Soak it in. Cry it out. Hold my hand. Repeat. 

No 'fixing' allowed. 

Jesus suffered personal loss in John 11 when his friend, Lazarus, died. Lazarus had two sisters, Martha & Mary, both of whom confronted Jesus with the, "If you had been here, my brother would not have died." scenario. Or to put it in my words, "Why did you let him die?" 

Jesus did not revoke their eternity in Him. John 11:33 says that when Jesus saw Mary weeping, He was, "...deeply moved in spirit and troubled." And verse 35 says, "Jesus wept." In this chapter, even Jesus wrestled with anger and frustration surrounding death and people's response to death. It's hard to watch people you love suffer loss while you sit and do nothing. But sitting with them, praying for them, putting up food, taking out the trash, well, that's just about as close to being perfect as you can get during someone's grief. 

And eventually, when they've traveled a little further through the "valley of the shadow of death" you can send the hurting/grieving/HEALING person a card and you can Romans 8:28 them in the card. But in the early days and months, refrain from throwing the Bible at them...or they might just throw it back. 

He really is working it out for good. 

And if you don't believe that today, that's okay...KEEP GOING!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Countdown to Dead Dad Day

My Dad died on June 16, 2005. It was suicide. A single gunshot wound to the head. He used to tell us girls (Mom, Jenni & me), if an intruder got into the house and he wasn't home to protect us, that we should shoot. His fatherly & authoritative advice was to shoot, "One in the head or two in the heart." 
So when Dad ended his own life with one in the head, it was also two in the in my heart and one in my sister's heart. And as for my Mom, it just took out her whole being because he was her beloved. 

God has been faithful, loving, grace-giving and mercy-spilling and we're all still healing. I don't think you're ever healed. Like it's done. We're still walking through life without our Dad, our Dragon Slayer, protector, defender, provider - and because of the hope that we have in Jesus that we will be swept up in Dad's strong arms as he bear-hugs us again in Heaven one day. But even with all that hope before me, I still dread the month of June. An internal countdown begins for me. 

I hate June. I really do hate it. We're walking through the valley of the shadow of death and the month of June makes me feel it. I cry at every song on the radio. I cry at the grocery store. If you see me with tear-stained cheeks at the grocery store, I'll make a joke about the price of organic milk being so high that it brought me to tears...I'll say, "no sense crying over spilled milk. Unless it's organic, then cry cuz that stuff's laced with gold!" But the truth is, it could be that I just walked past Dad's favorite snack and it brought back a memory that punched me in the gut. And if I hear the old song "Dream On" by Aerosmith, I seriously could lose control of my car due to weeping and gnashing of teeth. That song was so my Dad. Such a drifter and a dreamer. And it makes me long to hear his voice, smell his cologne and be wrapped up in such a big hug that I think all my bones may crush under the pressure of the love pouring through his strong arms. 

It's the countdown to the day we remember WHO we lost. God sets eternity in the hearts of men - see, we were created for eternity, not for death. So death feels so foreign. And death by suicide feels like a terrorist coming in...everyone asking "Why?" And never getting answers. 

We're 10 days away from Dead Dad Day - yes, that's what we call the anniversary of Dad's death. And I'm inviting you to walk through it with us. And to pray for us over the next 10 days. Satan is a big fat jerk, and he knows that this is a tough time for us, so he throws things at us to try and take us down for good. Please pray for us as you read. 

I'm going to do my best to write my "Top TEN Suicide" List. It's the top 10 things people think, assume, say, do, don't do, etc. I'll give you one a day. 


Suicide Survivor's Top Ten Things To Do (or NOT Do):

It feels weird. It seems irreverent, but done well, it's really a special gift for the family. You forget what you wore, what you looked like. You forget who was around you. I'm not implying taking inappropriate coffin pictures. No. I'm saying, take pictures of the guest book as people sign it. Take pictures of people hugging and grieving together. You stand in the back of the room with a good camera and a good lense, and you shoot quietly. It will be a gift you give the family that they will appreciate and hold those photo memories forever. You will think that every detail will be forever burned into your memory, but it won't. Grief has a way of making you forget. So instead of relying only on your memory, capture it on film. But always be respectful of the family and their wishes. If they say "no cameras" then no cameras. Your heart has to be bent toward uplifting, encouraging and helping the grieving people. So it's ok to ask them, "what would you like pictures of?" Be their friend, not their professional photographer. 

Dad died 7 weeks after Brad & I got married in Las Vegas. 
These pics of Dad from our wedding are the last pics taken of him. 

Jerry and "Miss Linda"

We were listening to Dad give a toast to us at our wedding reception. 
Very sweet. He said "Juice couldn't have chosen better."

Mom & Dad 

Mom & Dad being silly at the Wynne Casino

Having fun in Vegas!

No matter where you're at or what your going through...

Monday, June 3, 2013

A Full Quiver

My little sister is pregnant. And I'm so excited that I can't stand it!! I can't wait to smell that little tiny baby head. I can't wait to nibble on his/her fingers, toes, ears. I can't wait to rock that baby and tell him/her stories about their Mama that she'd rather me never utter. I can't wait to feed him, change him and then give him back! ha! 

My sister is my BFF. I can read her like a book. She gets quiet when she politely disagrees with me but doesn't want to argue. She laughs hysterically at herself in all situations. She uplifts and encourages people with kind words and the touch of her delicate hand. She takes the breath away from a crowd with her beauty when she walks into the room. She has a look of wonder and orneriness in her eyes that makes you wish you knew what she was thinking b/c you know it's just gotta be hilarious. 

She's my baby sister. My BFF. My confidant. My best traveling companion. My favorite make-up and hair model. My favorite actress in the the 1989 soap opera that I wrote and directed (she shoulda won a daytime Emmy for her performance). Also, my guinea pig, my subject, my shadow and my greatest cheerleader. 

And she's having another baby. 

And I'm so thankful and so happy. 

God is good. Just wanted to say it - not that my acknowledgment adds to His glory because it doesn't, but it does add to my worship. And I wanted to worship God through the fact that He's the Giver of Life. The Author. The Sustainer.  The Redeemer.

I love you, Jenni Pooh. Congratulations!!

PS - time to Mom-up and get a minivan. If you can't beat us, join us!

Jessica (3)  & Jenni (1 1/2) 

Jenni's college graduation
(Master's degree in Science. Disgusting! She picked pretty AND smart!)

Jenni doesn't laugh. She cackles. It's contagious. 

Jenni was 7 weeks pregnant with Karis

Mom & Jenni - isn't she the cutest pregnant woman!?!?

Mom, Jenni (Karis), Jes 
in Karis' nursery

Jenni holding Karis (a whopping 9lb. baby!)

Happy Mama holding her baby

My boundaries know nothing of personal space! 
"Oh, you just delivered a 9lb baby? Let me crawl in the bed with you!"

Sweet Mama & baby pic. 

Gaga, Karis ( 1 1/2), Jenni, Juju - Puerto Vallarta 2008

Karis & Emmy - our girls BFF's!

Jeremy, Jenni, Emmy & Karis

Jenni (Nini), Karis & Emmy playing hair

"For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my (crazy) mother's womb"
Psalm 139:13 
(parenthesis, mine)

Best Sisters at Jenni's wedding shower in March

Here comes the bride! 
March 23, 2013

Children are a gift from the Lord;
    they are a reward from him.
Children born to a young man
    are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.
How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them!
Psalm 127:3-5

Congratulations, Jeremy & Jenni!

May your quiver be full. 
That doesn't sound right. No, no that can't be right, can it??