Suffering is Necessary

Blood dripped and flowed from multiple places on his body.

My sandal once caught on the rim of a step and caused me to fall head-first into the corner bead of a wall. Blood spurted and oozed down my entire forehead and cheek , covering half my face by the time I got to the bathroom mirror to asses the damage: a one inch slice to my skin.

So, I imagine…

Blood dripped and flowed from multiple places on his body as HE hung there by three spiked nails. I wonder how much clean, untainted flesh was left during those last hours, if there was any at all.

My pain was localized and gave me a headache for a few hours even after I was cleaned up, stitched up, and sent home.

I cannot fathom the pain he suffered after being up all night and beaten and dragged and whipped and slung onto the wood and nailed and hauled up for all to see as he heaved each breath of air.

THAT.

That is the epitome of suffering.

And WHY?

That’s the question I have asked myself many times during trials of suffering.

Suffering, upon suffering, upon suffering.

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Was birthing a stillborn baby not enough?

Was having colorectal cancer not enough?

Was losing a young adult son to drug overdose not enough?

And now I have breast cancer…. is this enough? My experience tells me, no. There will be more suffering to come.

Why all this suffering in my life? Why all the suffering in your life?

Pondering this for years, I have an answer – maybe not the only answer, but I think its a pretty good answer.

The answer begins with a question:

Why did Jesus suffer to die on the cross?

Anyone who has attended Sunday School or church for a season knows the answer: Jesus died for us, for our sins, so we can go to heaven. This is exactly what I told my children as I raised them in the Way.

How quickly, in our own suffering, it is to forget that and cry, why Lord, am I suffering?

If we are to emulate Jesus in all we do, it clearly follows logically, that if Jesus suffered for the benefit of others then our suffering just might be for the benefit of others. And, because Jesus knows suffering, He authentically pours out compassion on us during our sufferings.

“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” 2 Corinthians 1:4 NLT

I lost a baby and I was later able to comfort three young moms who lost babies too.

I had cancer and I was able to publish a book on the survival of that and share my testimony of hope.

I mourn a son who died from a drug overdose and have been able to write and speak publicly about that tragedy, offering heartfelt comfort to others.

The been-there-I-know-club is necessary for authentic compassion; Jesus is the King of that club!

I am currently halfway through breast cancer treatments and I know that God has at least one somebody He will soon put in my path for me to encourage in this kind of fight.

Yes. Suffering is necessary.

I am no savior by any means. But Jesus is my Savior, your Savior, if you choose Him.

Jesus’ suffering work on the cross is finished; one day His work through each of us will be finished as well, but until that day comes, I encourage you to keep your eyes focused on Him who knows it all and be ready to wrap your arms around someone else’s shoulders and offer authentic compassion from your been-there-I-know heart.

Doing What my School Teacher Said

So,

I am just doing what my school teacher said.

She led us all outisde on a warm spirng day and said,

close your eyes and listen…

what do you hear?

I believe we were studying the five senses at the time and so I closed my eyes and listened.

Decades later here I am, laying on my porch deck in the sunshine, closing my eyes and listening.

I hear the birds chirping, the wind gently breezing by, rustling the dry foliage…

I hear the backyard chicken clucking and a dog in the distance making a stance… for a moment I hear nothing

and just feel,

the sun tingling my winter-skin making me feel warm.

I feel connected to a bigger realm.

I hear:

I see you,

you are mine,

enjoy this day.

I began these writings nearly three years ago in response to my son’s death of an overdose and titled this site:

In the Battle – because,

well,

I felt like I had been in a raging battle as I fought hard to save my son into long lasting recovery.

I continued to daily battle trying to make sense of how to live my life without my son.

I knew my son lived a daily battle for most of his life, fighting to find reason, purpose, and peace in his life; since nine years old, he fought for ten years, and maybe even more if we count the silent years before that.

I know some reading right now are fighting hard too, whether you are yourself caught by addiction, or emotional turmoil’s, or illness of some sort of another – physically or mentally…

Or whether you are a mom, or dad, or sister, or brother, or grandma, or uncle, or friend watching your loved one suffer in the daily battle…

I write for you,

for me…

and I wonder if it matters…yet I continue on because somehow it grounds me in my battles to put thoughts to words on a screen.

Battles are a part of life – I don’t think anyone is battle-free.

In fact, I think most people are in a battle every single day – remember that when you decide how to treat others in word, or deed.

Today I think of a fellow-grieving mom – Sharon, you know who you are…

And I hope she is enduring the battle strong, although today no doubt makes her feel weak… as memories overwhelm her heart.

Aren’t we all yearning for connection to the bigger realm?

As my son struggled daily, I know he ached for understanding and to make reason out of all his pain…

…watching him, I know I did.

Another bird offers a new song and I am stirred to remain still and listen…

I lay on my deck knowing that this bigger realm is held and sustained by the Creator who knew all things before any part of this earthly life came to be. Humbled I lay, as if in His hands, and find calm in my heart.

I do not know the answers of why we each have the battles we have.

But I do know, I am seen, and I am His, and I am given the gift to enjoy this day if I choose.

Today, I do choose to enjoy.

I hope you can too dear warrior friend…

I urge you to take a moment to do as my school teacher said…

close your eyes and listen…

in the whirlwind of life, we as a people do not heed this very often – quiet can be scary, especially when you are thick in the battles.

close your eyes and listen…

I believe, you can hear more than the sounds of nature if you stay long enough and listen…

you will hear,

I see you,

you are mine,

enjoy this day.

It is my belief, that everyone on earth is a child of the Creator, whether they understand or acknowledge it, or not. And this Creator, God the Father, knows you, sees you, and loves you.

Bottom line:

In the Battle, you are not alone… God is with you.

The Battle belongs to HIM.

If you ever want to know more; contact me, I am more than happy to chat.

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Stop Asking God, “WHY?”

The most human response,

when things happen…

when bad, things happen…

when unexpected, bad things happen… is

the proverbial “WHY? ” question.

I asked it when my baby, Grace, died, in utero, twenty-five years ago.

I asked it when I was diagnosed with colon cancer ten years ago.

I asked it when my 19 year old son, Caleb, died of an accidental drug overdose three years ago.

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Sometimes it was a quiet, weeping statement, “Why, God?….I don’t understand”

Sometimes it was a loud, yelling statement with flailing, fist-shaking arms, “WHY GOD?… I DON’T UNDERSTAND!!!

Sometimes it was a voiceless, groan and moan, collapsed on the floor, “why?… just why, God?

And,

I began to think to ask it AGAIN, about a month ago, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

But I hesitated. This time it was different.

Experience taught me.

Asking “WHY?” keeps me stuck.

And I think it keeps most people stuck.

Stuck in the wallowing pit; stuck in bed; stuck in depression; stuck in going forward because there seems no point to going on. What is life after this really bad thing that happened? How can I ever trust again? How can I ever laugh again? How can I go on without my child?

I have been there myself and see it as I listen to others try to process the unexpected, bad things that happen in life. Let’s face it… we want to know ALL the WHY’S… but in most things, we are not meant to know the answer, of WHY …

Most things, just are.

They just are, because God allows it for a purpose only He knows. THIS answer is hard. I fear most people do not want to hear it.

I didn’t.

Shut my eyes!

Clamp my hands over my ears!

Stomp my feet and babble La-La-La-La …til it all goes away!

Yes. It is hard.

I believe it is hard because… well, we want to be bigger than God. We want to challenge Him, question Him, call Him on the carpet… don’t we?

I know I did.

You see, as a human, I like control of my life and wanted to keep it that way.

But,

as a child of the Father, as a woman who loves Jesus, I need to remind myself:

  1. My life is not my own.

2. He knows best.

The day I asked Jesus into my heart, I gave up my life as my own and I surrendered it to the Father who … knows best. But, being human, I go about my life and often forget what that actually means. My life is not my own; I live to glorify God – and try to do what pleases Him. And to bring it right down to bare-bones truth: He knows best – always did and always will. Who am I to question what God allows in a life? He is the master painter, I am just a pigment of paint in His work.

THIS makes it easier now.

THIS makes me hesitate to ask again, Why?

THIS I have decided: Stop asking God, WHY?

And you know what?

I feel freed. I feel relieved. I feel totally at peace. I have crawled into the palm of His hand and can rest easy, supported and carried.

I don’t need to know why I have been allowed a second bout of cancer before I am even 60 years old. Or why I had to suffer the sudden, loss of two children. Or WHY of anything that happens in my life, day to day.

I know, that if I can keep my focus on this: God is God, and I am not, yet, God loves me… THEN I find peace.

The wrestling is over. The match is won and God’s arm is (always was) held up in victory. My job: trust Him and seek Him.

So this is my decision.

I share it with you, just in case you find yourself in the wallowing pit, or in the bed too long crushed by depression, or wonder what the point is in going on, or if there’s life worth living without your child…

I urge you too, to stop asking God, Why?

… And crawl into the palm of His hand and rest. He’s got this. Cuz He’s got you!

Jesus loves you, ya know.

My Rock Piles

I was asked to speak this year at my church – on my Christmas Joy. But, how could I speak on Joy when I am not happy?

If you have about 7 or 8 minutes, have a listen; I hope you will be encouraged. May you finish this year out well and enter the New Year stronger !

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1SJdYMKhDNQ6RVHLGeGEA1Gmsxm1K68cM/view?usp=sharing

Two Years Greiving an Overdose Death

“THEY” say… that the second year is the hardest.

So I braced myself.

Stealing the words of my husband, he says, the second year is more reflective.

Does that make it the hardest?

Sometimes I look in the mirror and see my reflection and I am pleased with what I see; and other times, well – you know… I do not like what I see.

So perhaps it is so.

The second year may be deemed the hardest because it is reflective; reflective of both the good and the bad.

We, who grieve an overdose death, know that there are both kinds of memories. The before-drugs-and-addiction-memories and the after-drugs-and-addiction-memories. Built up hopes and dashed hopes follow too. PTSD is residually strong, even with a firm foundation in Jesus Christ.

Two years in, things are changed and being remade. Holes in the walls are patched up, his room is repurposed, his clothes and car have a new owners, and his garden space is reclaimed by nature. One small shelf in the kitchen holds a tiny basket of Caleb’s trinkets, his photo, his Bible, and exudes his constant presence.

Occasionally I flip through his childhood album. I can hear the chuckles and the family babble as I turn each page that reflect the early years of my son’s life. I can feel the energy and surge of pride, passion, and compassion as I turn each page during his athletic accomplishments. I see his heart as I pause at his baptismal page and strain to recall the words he spoke as he commited his life to Jesus. Graduation pictures fill the last pages. Yes, all good memories and tears flow as I wish for a 3-D hug with my son. The before-drugs-and-addiction-memories are so sweet.

Hardest?

Yes, missing the good memories is hardest.

Yet, often, my mind rolls the not-so-good times over and over: the angry, scary, anxious moments, the hurtful, deceived, numbing moments. The things I did, that I thought I would never do moments. These are PTSD fuel. The “what-ifs” and “whys” flood like the 40 days of rain and my raven never seems to come back. Dents in appliances remain as constant reminders of hard times, for him, and for me. Regrets fall like dominoes across my heart: more PTSD fuel. The after-drugs-and-addiction memories are painful.

Hardest?

Yes, reliving the moments that have left scars is the hardest.

All the grace and heartfelt help, spun with urgency and love so deep, built up hope – hope for a redeemed future! The “Mentor” sweatshirt he earned in detox, friends made at the soberhouse, a job with a second chance, and a wedding to attend… hope on the horizon. Faith, that things would work out and that everything-would-be-okay, buoyed me along.

Then all hope was dashed.

Caleb’s own pain, his own suffering weakened him towards relapse; he knew it, he was scared, and the Beast overcame him that one night of mistakes…. despite our prayers and the prayers of many. My son died of an accidental overdose May 27, 2018.

Hardest?

Yes, dashed hopes are hardest.

What now?

A blue heart marks my calendar; one week til I meet the two year mark without my son.

What now?

Will the third year be any different?

I think not. I think every year will be the hardest. What do you think?

Time from here on in will be reflective over both the sweetness and the pain. This is life for me now.

Enduring the hardest times, God is still good and He sustains me and blesses me, even still. All jargon aside, the joy of the Lord is my strength. And so, I live on, taking the love I hold in my heart for Caleb and doing good with it, I hope, to honor his life.

…still loving you deeply, Caleb, til we meet in heaven!