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Jean Ann Williams: Christmas After A Loved One’s Suicide (GIVEAWAY)

Posted by Julie on December 22, 2016 in encouragement, God's Word, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

 

My son, Joshua, died by suicide on March 16, 2004, and I will never be the same. Nor do I want that old person back. God has given me His strength as I journeyed through the most difficult time in my life. And, I’m not a novice to loss. I began losing important loved ones by the age of ten, with the mental illness of my mother, and the death of my dear Nana and my baby sister Maria.

During the year of firsts in noted celebrations after Joshua’s suicide, Christmas was indeed the hardest after Joshua’s birthday in November. My husband and I felt tossed about in waves of denial, pain, and just plain not-caring-to-recognize the traditions part of Christmas.

As the celebration of Jesus’ birth came closer, our eldest granddaughter, Morgan Ann, age ten at the time, found out our plans to skip Christmas traditions. Below, is a chapter from my book, God’s Mercies after Suicide, and how Morgan Ann helped us, her nana and papa.

***

“Nana, please, we have to bake cookies, and you need a Christmas tree to decorate.”

 

Our eldest grandchild, Morgan Ann, would not quit on the topic of Christmas. I did not want to bake. The idea of a tree saddened us; Joshua had always been involved with the choosing. When Morgan pleaded more than once with us, we relented.

 

Morgan and her two sisters, Lynsey and Carley, came over early one morning. My heart’s desire was to hang only handmade ornaments on this year’s tree.

 

Our granddaughters created a mess with glue, glitter, and construction paper. We decorated cutout egg cartons for bells and strung cranberries and popcorn on strings. The girls hung the ornaments on a three-foot-tall tree.

 

A welcoming inspiration, Morgan insisted we make Joshua’s favorite cookies. We baked thumbprint cookies, and hand-decorated snowmen, Santa Claus, and angel-figure sugar cookies with pink, red, and green frosting. The colored frosting got on the table. My granddaughters howled with laughter over smeared frosting on their faces. I snapped oodles of pictures which I shall always cherish.

***

If you’ve lost a loved one recently and don’t feel like celebrating, it’s really, really OKAY. The only reason we went ahead and acknowledged the traditional part of Christmas was to not disappoint our granddaughters.

In return, we did everything on a smaller scale this first Christmas after Joshua’s death. And at the end of the season, my husband and I looked back and smiled at what one little ten-year-old had accomplished in an otherwise confused and difficult time in our lives.

Twelve years later, we still talk about what Morgan Ann did for us.

And even if we had not participated in a tree and the baking, we still would have celebrated Jesus’ birth and life during the difficult Christmas of 2004.

 

Jean Ann Williams grew up with a parent who suffered from mental illness. Her son died by suicide at age 25 in 2004. From 1996 to the present, Jean Ann has written over one hundred articles & puzzles for youth related magazines, which included a healthy eating column. She has published articles in eight book anthologies. Currently, she writes a column for Putting on the New blog & Book Fun Magazine on the topic of suicide loss. Her first book “Just Claire” is an upper middle grade novel which touches upon the topic of mental illness of a parent. Her second book, “God’s Mercies after Suicide: Blessings Woven through a Mother’s Heart” is her memoir devotional about the loss of her son, Joshua, to suicide.

Purchase GOD’S MERCIES AFTER SUICIDE HERE

Julie’s note:

Christmas time is a season when suicides increase. Please, if this is something you are considering, talk to someone you can trust. A member of clergy, or Suicide Prevention at 1-800-273-8255. There is also an online chat from Suicide Prevention.

Jean Ann would like to gift a copy of her book, God’s Mercies After Suicide. Please leave a comment and I will choose a random comment. Make sure you leave a working email in case you win.

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Book Review: The Second Half by Lauraine Snelling

Posted by Julie on July 16, 2016 in Book Review, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |
The Second Half by Lauraine Snelling.

The Second Half by Lauraine Snelling.

Bestselling author Lauraine Snelling shares a heartfelt story of a couple who put their plans for a peaceful retirement on hold to assume guardianship of their young grandchildren.

Mona and Ken Sorenson are approaching the best years of their lives. Mona’s greatest concern is that Ken will learn of the surprise party she’s planning for his retirement from his job as Dean of Students at Stone University. They’ve already been making plans to travel, spend limitless hours in the garden, and Ken is looking forward to working on his woodworking and fishing with his grandchildren. It’s what they deserve after years of careful planning.

But things begin to unravel when Ken learns that office politics are about to destroy his department. Can he really just leave, abandoning the work he spent a lifetime achieving? Mona is eager to build her event planning business with Ken’s help, but rather than supporting her, he expresses concern that the stress of the work will send her back into the depression she struggles with.

Then, just days before Ken’s last official day of work, their son, a Special Forces officer in the Army, learns he’s being immediately deployed on a six-month mission in Pakistan. Since his wife left him, the only people he trusts to care for his two young children are his parents. In an instant, everything Ken and Mona spent their lives planning changes, and they will need to find strength, both physical and mental, to become parents once more. This is not the second half they wanted, and when their son fails to contact them as planned, they struggle to trust that it is God’s plan, not theirs, that matters most.

THE SECOND HALF is a very realistic look at what I know is happening with baby boomers across the country. Ken is ready to retire and Mona is close to taking on a project she’s always wanted. They have fought hard for this season, including Mona’s depression.

Their son calls, and he’s been called overseas by the military. His ex wife wants nothing to do with their children, and the kids need a home. Between the divorce and his military lifestyle, the kids are hurting and scared. They need the stability their grandparents can provide.

I was immersed in this book because it was so realistic to me. The conflict never stopped, and I wanted to see how Ken and Mona would fare. I enjoyed that they weren’t perfect. Ken was trying to find a balance in retiring when his place of employment wasn’t doing well. Mona carried fears her depression would return. The grandchildren had issues.

The only minor problem I had in the book was the names were a bit complex and I was distracted wondering how they were pronounced. It’s so minor though, these characters will feel like family to you. I had tears by the end. I think you will, too.

To purchase THE SECOND HALF, click here.

I received THE SECOND HALF from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Letters of Love by Joi Copeland

Posted by Julie on March 9, 2013 in Book Review, encouragement, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, Writing |

Julie’s note: Letters of Love isn’t part of a traditional blog tour, but I wanted to share my review because this is FREE on Kindle through Monday (please check to make sure before purchasing.) Joi Copeland is one of my critique partners and her work is uplifting and full of love and hope. Check out Letters of Love today!

Purchase here

51kO-+TbdgL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-62,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_Sophia is struggling over loss and unmet expectations. When she needed her husband the most, the war came between them. Her grandmother, Lucia, is the one person who understands Sophia’s grief. Lucia shares her love letters written during WWII to provide a glimpse of hope for Sophia. Is it enough?

I loved how the story spans two love stories, two wars, two situations where love and hope abide. The author does a great job using Lucia’s experiences from days gone by to help Sophia. The letters are based on actual love letters from the author’s grandparents. The cover picture is also the author’s grandparents. Knowing that adds to the beautiful tapestry woven throughout the book.

This is a beautiful read filled with love and hope.

Description:
Two men fighting for their country. Two women dealing with tragedy alone. Two different stories, two different eras, one common thread. Sophia Philips, a wife and mom, finds herself missing the two most important people in her life. One ripped from her because of war, the other by death. Sophia’s grandmother, Lucia Snell, gives her an early inheritance; letters written to her by her husband while stationed in China during World War II. Lucia believes these letters will help her granddaughter heal from the heart-wrenching tragedy she faces. Will Sophia carry the anger, bitterness, and guilt within her or go to the only One who can heal her from the pain? Will she find the strength to carry on and the will to survive through her grandparents’ Letters of Love?



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