Tag Archives: restoration

A Story of Suicide and Hope

In September of 1986 my life took an unexpected turn that started me spiraling downward until one night in 1989 that would change my life. That night I sat on my couch and looked at my wrists and thought “I wonder which would hurt worse, cutting my wrists or pain of emptiness in my heart.” You see, in the two and a half years before I had lost everything. All hope was gone. Here only a few highlights that drove me to consider suicide:

  • September 1986 – I had left my home and my job in Dallas and moved to Daleville, Indiana, my husband’s hometown, in hopes of a better life. Within a week he abandoned me and my 13-month old twin daughters. Adding to my loss he also left us with no home or belongings. We stayed with his mother for a few months.
  • November 1986 – I was in an auto accident and lost my car. I finally moved into a place, a rundown trailer. It took two months for the owner to put in a front door. The place was so roach infested you couldn’t walk around in the dark and I had to wash my clean dishes before using them. This infestation came through a “new” stove – a stove with only one working burner and no working oven. And for the eight months we lived there the toilet didn’t work. Night after night I cried over the hopelessness of my situation.
  • January 1987 – my dad had a series of small strokes. He was in the hospital for weeks. I had no phone and my husband’s family wasn’t cooperative in contacting me about his illness.
  • Valentine’s Day 1987 – he asked me for a divorce so he could marry Diane.
  • June 1987 – We moved back in with his mom but would move again a couple of months later because his dad would get drunk and come on to me.
  • October 10, 1987 – I’m now living in a small trailer with my ex-sister-in-law and her daughter. We have no phone and live more than mile from any pay phones. I had called my mom in August for her birthday and she seemed very angry when I told her about the divorce. In my soul I knew something was wrong, I just couldn’t get her off my mind so I arranged for a babysitter and I was going to walk to the phone and call her Sunday morning, October 11th. Saturday evening my ex-mother-in-law came over and said “I’m so sorry”, she was crying. All I could think was my ex-husband was dead and I would have to pretend to feel bad. Then those fateful words came, “your mother died this morning.” That horrible phone call in August was the last conversation I had with my mom.
  • October 12, 1987 – I was able to fly home to Massachusetts for the funeral. My aunt’s, my dad’s sisters, jumped all over me for not having called my mom sooner – guilt I would live with for 15 years.
  • March 1988 – My grandmother called and told me my dad had an aneurism and needed surgery which had only five percent chance of success. My nightly crying over my mom dried up as I prepared for an extended stay back in Massachusetts. The surgery was a success and we returned to Indiana in May.
  • July 19, 1988 – I became an orphan. My father died and I was even more desperately alone. Both mom and dad gone in less than a year.
  • September 1988 – I suffered a knee injury and was barely able to walk.
  • October 1988 – still living in Indiana, away from everything and everyone I knew I became desperately in need of replenishing my family so I became pregnant – no husband – just wanted a baby.
  • January 1, 1989 – a new year and a new start? No. The pregnancy was ectopic. After nearly three months of the worst pain I ever experienced l lost my son and any chance of restoring my family or replacing my parents.
  • February 1989 – my knee had become so bad that I was unable to walk or care for my girls. I had lost so much and so little had been restored. I had nothing but responsibility and heartache. I couldn’t care for myself let alone my daughters.

I had lost everything – all I owned, my job, my financial security, my health, my husband, my mother, my father, and the baby I was so desperately putting my hope in. But that’s the problem. I was putting my hope in sinking sand when I needed to put in upon the rock – Jesus.

As I was contemplating suicide I walked to the back of the trailer to the bathroom. On my way I passed my girls room. I looked at those sleeping little beauties and thought, “they already have an absentee dad, what will happen to them if I die?”

It was 11:00pm but I was determined to find help, anything to get me through the night. I called a friend long distance (this was back when it cost a lot for long distance and I was destitute). We talked and prayed for four hours. This was the best $45.00 I’ve ever spent. That was a lot in 1989.

The next day I scheduled the needed knee surgery and began to spend every quiet moment with God. Suicide has never been an option since. That was 25 years ago and so much has happened. I’ve had a few deep lows but over all I’ve had a wonderfully blessed life. I can’t imagine what would have happened to my family, my daughters and all the people I’ve helped since had I decided to take my life that night. I would have need seen my girls grow into such beautiful young women, I would have never influenced so many students, I would have never gone on my Jubilee Journey and met my father’s family and I would have never been at the birth of my grandson, never known that beautiful little boy. All I lost has been restored to the full and overflowing (John 10:10). And don’t think too negatively about my ex-husband. All is forgiven and I can say we are friends. To this day I count his mom and sister as my dearest friends. And he never did marry Diane.

No matter what the circumstance there is ALWAYS hope in Jesus. Find a way to the ROCK and there you will find hope. If you’re still alive it’s because God isn’t done with you yet, there is still a purpose and a hope (see Jeremiah 29:11)

“No matter how dead, no matter how impossible, no matter how hopeless – with Jesus nothing is too difficult, nothing is impossible and it’s NEVER too late”
~ ~  Jubilee Journey, Day 542

 

Next week: A Humble Attitude

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Christmas freedom: Jesus in blessings and loss

Thank you for coming on this little journey into Christmas miracles. At the end of the last post I asked “So did this miraculous Christmas heal my wounded heart? Did these feelings of low self esteem dissipate?” Well first let me tell you a little about the nature of miracles. There is no time frame for a miracle it can happen in an instant or seem to happen in an instant when in fact it comes from an evolution over a period of time like my instantaneous Christmas miracle which was actually more than 45 years in the making. But then there are other miracles that happen so gradually and we don’t really know when the miracle took place we just realize one day it’s happened. It is often like that with issues of the mind and heart. These may take more time because we are holding them back.

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Such is the case with the healing of my wounded heart. About a year ago I was reading my bible, I couldn’t even tell you what verse but I remember thinking “I can’t remember the last time I had a negative thought, the last time I thought I was unworthy, unlovable, second best or mediocre. During the first several months after my journey I was still facing those issues. Then fourteen months of homelessness tended to distract me from any thoughts of myself. My concern became for my daughters and the new life we were welcoming into our lives if not our home as we didn’t have one yet.

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I did eventually overcome the depression and was able to regain the relationship with God which had dried up along with my heart with the end of my journey. I just didn’t know what to do with myself, or who I was after such an exciting adventure. But the fact remains, during those lean months of mind, body and spirit God did a wondrous work in me and healed my wounded heart, my feelings low self worth and set me free – from me.

lights log

Once the words to “Beautiful” by MercyMe touched my heart, as if they were meant for me, now it’s just a beautiful song. I realized I no longer feel that way.

The days will come when you don’t have the strength
When all you hear is you’re not worth anything
Wondering if you ever could be loved
And if they truly saw your heart they’d see too much

You are made so much more than all of this
You are treasured, you are sacred, you are His
You’re beautiful

Jesus came to bring life; he came to reconcile us with the father, to restore us and make us free. I hope you enjoyed my tale of a life restored and the miracles that come through Christmas, that is, the birth of our redeemer.

Joyce Meyer says “turn your mess into your message” and this is why I tell my story because…

No matter how dead, no matter how impossible, no matter how hopeless – with Jesus nothing is too difficult, nothing is impossible and it’s NEVER too late.

Christ came to set prisoners free, free from ourselves, free from all bondage. I have been set free, free indeed. (Luke 4:18, John 8:36)

Week 1 – A haunting of Christmas Past
Week 2 – The Fall: A Haunting of Christmas Loss
Week 3 – Christmas Restored
Week 4 – Christmas Reconciliation

Christmas Reconciliation: A Hallmark Christmas revisited

The last three episodes in my little Christmas story were all a build up to this post, my very own Hallmark Christmas. Yesterday, December 23rd, was the third anniversary of my very own Hallmark Christmas.

The summer of 1964 was the last time I saw my father and all I remember is that he didn’t want me. For the next 46 years I would struggle with feeling worthless, unlovable and second best. Oh, you’d never know it if you met me but every once in a while these demons would rear their ugly heads. This wasn’t a conscience effort but like any internal infection it found a way to seep out. If life didn’t arrange for mediocrity then I would somehow sabotage myself. Deep inside I didn’t feel I was worthy.

In 2001, a friend confronted me about my negative attitude. It hurt and as usual I denied it. But it did serve as a wakeup call to my damaged mind and I would spend the next eight years letting Jesus transform my mind. Dealing with these self defeating emotions allowed me to the adventure of a life time.

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If you recall in part two, after the death of my parents I became obsessed with finding my father and experiencing my own Hallmark Christmas with the reconciliation of my long lost family. Then the summer of 2010 I learned my father had died two years before thus putting an end to any hope of my Hallmark Christmas. By November of that year, a dark cloud covered my spirit and again I became obsessed. His death may have provided closure to my mind but my heart was anything but settled.

In a series of coincidences, or what I refer to as “God sightings”, my numb heart and the prospect of a dismal Christmas, God moved mountains for my restoration and reconciliation.

December 23, 2010 I drove seven hours out of my way to find some closure. I found my father’s grave and I talked to him for some time but in me was a growing need to know more. I set out to find someone who could tell me something about him. My first stop was the cemetery office, after that I intended to visit the mortician and the pastor mentioned in his obituary. But I wouldn’t have to look any further than the office. Through tears I told the woman my story and by the grace of God she took pity on me. She contacted his wife who lived in the next town a conversation that would change my heart and life forever.

Was I really unlovable, unworthy? What I learned was an overwhelming NO. They had looked for me for 40 years until his death. I met my sisters and a brother and talked another brother, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews. Christmas is no longer lonely. I have a family. God took a dead situation and used it to his glory. He brought back a dead childhood dream and brought it back to life and at the perfect time for everyone.

Is this the way I wouldn’t have wanted my Hallmark Christmas? Well, meeting my father would have made it perfect for me but everything is in Jesus’ timing and that is perfect. And I know someday I will meet him again. I received the gift of reconciliation that year just as the birth of our savior is the ultimate gift of reconciliation to the Father.

No matter how dead, no matter how impossible, no matter how hopeless – with Jesus nothing is too difficult, nothing is impossible and it’s NEVER too late.

So did this miraculous Christmas heal my wounded heart? Did these feelings of low self esteem dissipate? Tune in next week…

Check out A Hallmark Movie Christmas to read the original story.

Next week – Christmas Freedom

Part 1 – A Haunting of Christmas Past
Part 2 – The Fall: A Haunting of Christmas Loss
Part 3 – Christmas Restored

Christmas Restored: Jubilee Journey and Christmas movies

If you recall in part 2­ I wrote about a series of losses leading to the challenge of my Christmas spirit. One thing that ministered to my spirit was Christmas movies. I would dream of having my own “Hallmark” Christmas, of the day I would be reconciled with my family – if they still existed.

SeaWorld Christmas 2012c 187 (3)All of life is a story, the bible is a story and we are all living in our own stories as well as being part of a larger story. Fairy tales, novels, even movies tell stories that reflect the story of life and the connection with the larger story. What we can learn from Christmas movies? What do they teach about the human heart and the heart of God towards his children? Stories that touch our heart often reflect the heart of the father.

We’re going to look at four movies that have held special meaning to me but also reflect the heart of the father. My heart restored, I found hope even while my heart was breaking and I believed in something more.

 

It’s a Wonderful life & A Christmas Carol

“No matter how dead…”

cmas2013-busch.gardens 266You may think it odd that I pair these two movies but there are similarities and both have touched my heart in similar ways: answering the question, do I matter. Both men are blessed with seeing their world in different ways, one a world where he had a positive impact and the other a world he negatively impacted. The angel and the ghosts set out to show the men that their lives do matter and this is what I longed for.

Like Scrooge I needed a spirit adjustment but unlike scrooge I longed for it. More than anything I wanted my heart restored, my spirit restored but I just couldn’t seem to find the way and I just couldn’t find my way out of the fog. I thank God he never gave up on me and protected my throughout all those dark years.

Then there is George Bailey, a man who mattered so much to so many, believed he was better off dead. He is given the magnificent gift of seeing what the world would be like if he never existed. Like George I struggled to hang on to the little hope I had left and that I did matter, somehow.

God wants us to know that we do matter and that it’s never too late. We are put here on this earth for a reason and even if we don’t know what that reason is we must have hope it’s there. George believed his circumstances were dead, Ebenezer believed he couldn’t change and I believed I would never matter. No matter how bad we think our lives are now, no matter how bad we’ve wasted what God has given us, there is still hope. We can still change and we do matter to God, our creator.

 

White Christmas

“No matter how impossible…”

P1080458I always cry at the end of this movie, and not just because of the miracle of snow, but because of the restoration of hope. General Waverly was losing everything, he was alone in his heart and he was becoming hopeless. His situation had gone from difficult to impossible. Bob and Phil cook up a scheme to restore the old man’s heart and faith by giving him a surprise to lighten his heart. When all the generals men come marching into the old, vacant inn, I cry right along with him. The love these men had for their general restores hope and showed him that nothing is impossible

Again we go back to the issue of “mattering”, of being important to someone. I had lost hope that I mattered so movies gave me a brief moment in the dark nights of my living room that I would matter. White Christmas shows me that with love nothing is impossible. Jesus wants us to believe in him, that the story is written and there’s a beauty to be revealed. We just have to have patience and wait for his revelation and restoration of hope.

 

A Smoky Mountain Christmas

“No matter how hopeless…”

P1080666This sweet little movie starring Dolly Parton shows a famous country singer in desperate need of rest, for peace, quiet and time from ridiculous demands on her life. She returns to her family cottage in the mountains to find a group of young orphaned boys and girls who had run away from brutal conditions at the orphanage.

Lorna (Dolly) finds room in her heart for these hopeless children and not only comes to their rescue from the orphanages’ director but takes them into her heart and home as her own children. The character demonstrates true sacrifice by caring for the needs of those who can’t possible return the favor. These little ones had no hope of relief, no hope of a family.

God too sacrificed for the protection, restoration and reconciliation of his little ones. Remember this season, Jesus isn’t just the gift of eternal life, he is the gift of all life, he is life. And while we celebrate the wonder of his birth, the joy and peace of this new beginning let’s not forget where this birth leads; to his ultimate sacrifice for us, to bring us back to him, to gives us as orphans a home in him, a life in him.

 

If parts one and two left you sad, don’t be…

No matter how dead, no matter how impossible, no matter how hopeless – with Jesus nothing is too difficult, nothing is impossible and it’s NEVER too late.

Joy always comes in the morning. Come back Monday, December 23 for Part 4 – A Hallmark Christmas Revisited, an anniversary of reconciliation.

 

Do you have a Christmas story or movie that’s moved or encouraged you? I would love for you to share these experiences.

 

Part 1 – A Haunting of Christmas past

Part 2 – The fall: Spirit of Christmas loss

Character of Gratitude: Joseph

11072010 630 (2)The Story of Joseph

Joseph was born to be blessed but through some youthful, but wrong decisions he created a jealousy in his ten brothers which would change the course of a nation. Joseph loved God and his father. He knew he was destined for greatness and enjoyed taunting his brothers with this fact.

Joseph was only a teenager when his brothers plotted to kill him but God had other plans and instead they sold Joseph into slavery. He was taken to Egypt where he would live the rest of his life. He was later sold to an Egyptian named Potiphar. Joseph flourished in Potiphar’s home; he was promoted and given responsibility over much. Again, Joseph would be at the hand of another who wished to control and hurt him. Accused of rape by Potiphar’s wife he was put in prison.

DV_furnace creek village2-001Joseph was still being blessed by God, even in prison he excelled and was placed in charge of much. One day the pharaoh’s baker and wine taster were put in prison until it was determined which was guilty. These men both had dreams and Joseph interpreted the dreams as he was given this gift by God. The baker was found guilty and the wine taster set free just as Joseph had predicted. Joseph asked him to put in a good word for him with pharaoh but he forgot.

Sometime later pharaoh had a dream that terrified him. None of his magicians or wise men could interpret the dreams and then the wine taster remembered Joseph and told pharaoh about the man who interpreted his dream. Joseph correctly interpreted pharaoh’s dreams and was released from jail as a result.

11072010 671 (2)Joseph’s gratitude is rewarded with promotion, reconciliation and restoration

Because Joseph was faithful, because he was grateful to God and didn’t complain he was promoted in the land of Egypt. He was in charge over all of Egypt, second only to pharaoh. Just as Joyce Meyer says, “complain and remain, praise and be raised”. Joseph praised God in times of trouble and was raised above more than he could imagine. He never gave up and never blamed God.

The dream he interpreted foretold of seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. Joseph was in charge of the food storage during the years of plenty and of giving out the food during famine. Among those who came for food were the brothers who sold him into slavery. God took all of Joseph’s troubles, his hardships, his damaged reputation and he turned it to good. Joseph was the instrument through which two nations, Egypt and Israel, were saved.

What is God love to do? Why the Jubilee Journey? Reconciliation and restoration. Joseph was reconciled and restored to his brothers and to his father.

Read the story of Joseph in Genesis 37-50.

Day 542 – Dec 24 2010 – A Hallmark Movie Christmas

I searched for months to find my siblings, aunts and uncles.  I found no information on anyone except for my father’s wife. I was determined not to contact her directly, afraid of how she would react. By Thanksgiving I gave up the search and told Jesus I was done searching and if he wanted me to know them it would have to be because he arranged it, not me.

I knew my father was buried at Andersonville National Cemetery and it was only a five hour detour. I had planned on visiting the cemetery in January but with my last minute schedule change I was on my way, full of anticipation, sadness and the knowledge that my journey and my search was coming to an end.

I sat by his grave for nearly an hour. After thirty years of searching I finally found him but would never know him. The search was over but the emptiness and the questions remained.

I can’t even describe the overwhelming emotions knowing I was at the end of my searching. But my heart couldn’t let go. I needed to find someone who could tell me of my father. I stopped at the office and poured out my story and my tears. The lady was so kind. She noticed a name on the paperwork. His wife who had been to his grave every week, she had not let go of her loss. Question answered: he was loved.

She called her to enquire if she would be willing to meet me. Not only did she want to, but she and my father and my brothers and sisters had been searching for me for 40 years. Question answered; I was loved.

I spent two days with Jean learning about my father and meeting the brothers and sisters, the family, I had dreamed of all my life. They were receptive and happy to meet me. I had feared for so long that if they learned of me they would either not accept me or be angered by my existence. My brothers and sisters, my aunts and uncles all knew of me and had been looking for me, wanting me in their lives. Question answered; my father was a good man.

Although I had never met them I knew them in my heart. Each time I met a family member, each time I spoke with one of them on the phone it was like coming home. It was as if I knew them all my life and this time was the ultimate family reunion. They were no strangers; they were my family. I finally got my Hallmark Christmas.

I am at peace with my past. I am no longer, unworthy and second best, no longer the nagging feeling that something is missing. It is still disappointing knowing I will never meet him in this life but I have the family I have dreamed about for nearly 50 years. And I have the hope and knowledge I will see my dad in the next life. I know he’ll be waiting for me when it’s time for me to move into the greatest adventure.

You see, I was never unloved, unwanted and unworthy, yet I believed the enemy’s lies. Whatever is not true, not honorable, not right, not pure and not lovely, is not of God, and if you believe it you are believing a lie (Phil 4:8). I lived in this mental prison for more than 50 years, settling for second best. Now I’m being set free of these handicaps of my heart.

No matter how dead, no matter how impossible, no matter how hopeless, with Jesus nothing is too difficult, nothing is impossible and it’s NEVER too late. Be open to where and how Jesus is moving in your life because when dreams come true it may not be how we envision it or when we want it but it will be how and when we need it and when it will be of the greatest blessing to others.

For nothing is impossible with God.  Luke 1:37 (NLT)

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night

Day 121: Oct 29. “Jubilee Birthday – Devine Restoration”

I haven’t heard from any of my family in Georgia in more than ten years, haven’t seen any of them in 20, not since my Dad’s funeral in 1988.

I remembered some road names and plotted a course. Nothing looked the same and I didn’t know my way around. I remembered Old Waynesboro Road where my grandparents lived, Proctor & Gamble’s winking blinking lights (my childhood landmark) and Crepe Myrtle Dr, the house I grew up in.

Driving slowly I caught a glimpse of my grandparents house and the farm where I played when I was a girl. It looked so different, the store’s porch is now enclosed and the trees were gone from the old farmhouse. There was pasture across the street; now a school. I turned around in what was once Uncle Jr’s drive, now a house on either side where fields and horses once were. The road was overgrown the horse fence gone. It used to remind me of Tara in Gone with the Wind. The once large brick house seemed so small now. Everything seems so much larger when we’re children. We joked about someone coming out with a gun; it is rural Georgia after all.

I turned around and went back to Nana’s house, pulled in and headed back toward the barn. Told stories of the games I played, the barn, what it looked like 45 years ago. Again we were afraid we’d be shot for trespassing so we headed for the road.

We saw a lady walking from the road to the house and I waved nervously. Amber asked “why don’t you ask her if she knew your family” I replied “I doubt it, they’ve been gone since Nana died in ‘97”. I agreed to back up and if she came out of the house I’d ask, otherwise it was on to the next stop. She did come out and I asked “Do you know the Johnson’s who used to live here?” She perked up exclaiming “I am a Johnson”. My eyes lit up and shock took over, who could this woman be, “which one” I asked as I fumbled with the seatbelt and door handle. The reply was more than I could hope for; she was “Angela”, a cousin I played with on the farm as a young child. I always had a soft spot for her. As I fall out of the van I exclaim, “I’m Wyatt’s daughter”. We hug, I ball.

We talk a few minutes and she asks if I want to see “mom & dad”. Confused I asked “whose mom & dad”. I thought, “My parents are dead, her parents are dead: who could she be talking about?” With a puzzled look she replied “mine”, tears well up again. I nearly lost it. I saw Aunt Hazel and balled, again, and then Uncle Jr, and Angela’s sister, Linda, came over. We all talked and looked at pictures. How much everyone has changed. How I have missed them so.

We then stopped by Aunt Sara & Uncle Carl’s, they now live next door in one of the houses in the field. We chatted and ate the best soup ever.

My daughters were so excited to meet this long lost family and ate up the stories. They’ve missed their whole lives being with them.

It’s on to cousin SuAnn’s. Oh, I’ve missed her so much. I was probably closest to Sue; we lived close by each other when we were young, just a road apart. She was the closest to me in age and we remained close to her family for years after we moved from Georgia. I was Aunt Martha’s (Sue’s mom) precious and I knew it. She adored me and I her. We visited with Sue, her husband Mark, and daughter Jesslyn who is now married to Zack.

We decided to stay the night and met up with everyone the next day for BBQ & hash, then to the cemetery where Dad and my grandparents are buried. After we went to where I had lived on Crepe Myrtle. Everything was so different, so rundown.

There were so many delays getting here, but Jesus arranged it that way, because if not, this restoration may never have taken place. It was a surreal experience. To be with all my family, for my girls to share this with me, for them to know my roots and theirs, and to know those I loved and believed long gone; this was the best birthday ever, the perfect jubilee day.

My jubilee birthday – Jesus returned me to my homelands and restored me with my family. Jesus restores and returns us all we have lost, all that has been taken from us or that we have allowed to be taken.

Jesus is our Jubilee – a life of freedom and restoration.