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Transformation: God & Me After the Loss of My Child by Jean Ann Williams

Posted by Julie on April 21, 2017 in encouragement, God's Word, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

Transformation: God & Me After the Loss of My Child

When my son died within my embrace and in our home, I was certain the world had gone insane. Utter disbelief coupled with harsh reality ravished my broken heart.

Over the weeks and months after Joshua’s death, I didn’t know one could cry so many tears. Nor feel this lonely and misplaced from Joshua’s absence. My presence in the house caved in around me, and I believed I would go crazy and join him.

As the months became three years, and I still lived in the house where Joshua died, I told God it was too much. What did He expect from me as I walked the hall and past the door of my son’s room? What was the purpose of me in this home?

Wasn’t the loss of Joshua a teachable enough experience?

I cried unto Lord God and my spirit wrestled with His. I demanded a blessing from Him. Good had to come from this wreck of my life. Didn’t it? And, I hounded my Lord for relief from the pain and agony of losing my youngest child.

My prayer became simple: Make me stronger or allow me to die.

Joshua was a unique individual, and I’m not saying this because he was mine. He helped a friend choose life for her unborn child and spent time with her, sharing the gospel of Christ. He defied a high school teacher to his face, who, after class, offhandedly encouraged a student to get an abortion.

There were no gray areas in my son’s life. He stood strong in his beliefs. At Joshua’s grave side service, one of his friends said it best, “Joshua knew how to help others, but he couldn’t help himself.”

At the three and a half year mark after Joshua’s passing, I almost took my own life. At the last moment, though, weary and humbled within my spirit, I reached for the love of my Father in heaven.

Throughout the night after my near suicide attempt, I sobbed hours of tears until I was an empty shell. As dawn peeked through the curtained window above me, I gave my whole being to God. “You win, Lord,” I prayed, “do with me as You will.” It was not a joyous moment. I didn’t feel victorious.

It was a profound shift of surrender in my shattered spirit.

From the dawn of this new morning and the ten years since, I will never regret God kept me in the home where my son died. God broke me and remolds me into someone who can be used by Him to help others who suffer.

Within three months after my near suicide attempt, we had a buyer for our house. Weeks later, we signed the papers and handed over the keys to the new owners. At the seventh month point, my husband and I moved to Oregon on one acre of land where we raise a garden, chickens, and goats.

After our move here, I told a seasoned Christian my story. That God saw fit to keep me in the home after Joshua’s death, and this drew me closer to Him. “This was hard on me,” I told the man, “and I almost didn’t make it. God knew best, and I received His blessing.”

I thought the gentleman would agree with me, and what he said left me speechless and sad. “I wouldn’t have done it. I would have left the house.”

If I had escaped the home like I wanted, and I did make plans to do so, I would never have tasted the deep love and steadfast presence of God and His Son.

Jean Ann Williams published a book on suicide loss after her youngest son Joshua took his own life in 2004. “God’s Mercies after Suicide: Blessings Woven through a Mother’s Heart” is a devotional style memoir showing how God walked alongside her in the most difficult grief journey of her life.

God & Me After the Loss of My Child by Jean Ann Williams

Where to purchase God’s Mercies After Suicide: Blessings Woven Through a Mother’s Heart: Create Space

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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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My Thankful List by Jean Ann Williams

 

My Thankful List by Jean Ann Williams

I’m thankful for my Lord and Savior Who drew me from the pit of suicide loss and remolded me to need Him for everything.

I love my husband of forty-six years, and who I’ve known since I was eleven when he took me on motorcycle rides with me sitting on the tank of the bike. And, yes, after we married, we rode together on his motorcycle for over thirty years.

I adore my thirteen grandchildren of age’s twenty-two to three, and my three children, of which two are still here on Earth.

The friends who did not leave after my son, Joshua’s, death by suicide, I’m so very grateful to them. And to the acquaintances who drew closer because of my loss.

Does being thankful for God’s beauty on Earth count? Yes, I love the mountains surrounding our tiny valley. The fox sparrows when they sing. They seem to sing at the perfect moments when I’m struggling with difficult people and or with my own sins. Fox sparrows in our part of the country are rare, and I don’t take them for granted.

My health is something I’m thankful for, since I’ve been ill for over five years. Two years ago, I even prayed for the Lord to take away some of my old injuries pain. He did. Right away. And I’m grateful. I had struggled with intense pain in both shoulders and my neck from a long ago car accident. After I began praying for God to heal me from some of my pain, I fell one evening outside with palms down and my neck jolted forward and backward. Even though I was extra sore the following morning, by the evening my neck and shoulder pain disappeared and has never returned as a constant pain.

God’s free adjustment and it cost me to only trust Him and to understand it had to come as His perfect will.

I’m thankful my two remaining children are in good health and they are still here and not gone to the Great Beyond like their brother. But, God taught me to not place anyone, including my children, above Him. This is a gift of extreme relief and abiding in Him.

My thankful list would not be complete without my acknowledgement of God’s Word. I’m grateful for the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for my sins, and I look forward to Heaven with Him.

 

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Jean Ann Williams

Bio: Jean Ann Williams is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, and Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She writes regularly on Putting on the New blog and her own Love Truth blog. Jean Ann and her husband of forty-six years have thirteen grandchildren from their other two children. They live on one acre in Southern Oregon where they raise a garden, fruit orchard, goats, and chickens. Her favorite hobbies are practicing archery, hiking through the woods, and big game hunting with her bow.

See the Trailer: https://youtu.be/yvNDlNHEyok

God’s Mercies After Suicide:

What if your child shot himself while you were in the next room? What if you held him as his heart beat for the last time? What if Satan whispered in your ear, “Now where is your God?” Find out how Jean Ann Williams reached out with her spirit and mind to the one true Father. Discover how the Lord God answered her, and walked alongside her in the most difficult grieving journey of her life.

My Thankful List by Jean Ann Williams

My Thankful List by Jean Ann Williams

Purchase links for God’s Mercies After Suicide

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Gods-Mercies-after-Suicide-Blessings/dp/0997701609/

CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/6569595

Jean’s Blog: http://Joshua-mom.blogspot.com/

Author Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Jean-Ann-Williams-848295125269670/?ref=hl

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Character Confession: What I Wish the World Knew About Depression

I was stunned to open my Facebook feed and find it full of tributes to Robin Williams. I knew he wasn’t even 65, so I wondered if it was his heart. I was devastated to read and now know it was a suicide.

His family shared that he had been struggling with deep depression. His own confessions regarded his addictions. I love to read biographies and such and most of the great comedians had ravaging inner pain. Many medicate with alcohol or drugs. All in that category used humor, and we found it entertaining.

Robin Williams photo: London DSCN1435.jpg

I suspect his death is especially hard because his talents knew no bounds. Hysterical stand-up. Oscar winning drama. Laugh out loud interviews he hijacked. Touching tributes to causes and people like St. Jude’s. TV. Movies. I can’t think of another person like him, not before, not up-and-coming.

Now my Facebook feed is full of posts, articles, updates and comments regarding depression, suicide, God’s word, eternity. I don’t think any of these help his family. I pray something does. I can’t imagine the torment of anyone left behind after a suicide.

My hope is that through my small experience with depression someone might get a glimpse of what it is like. It took decades for me to realize I had hormonal imbalance. I suffered with severe PCOS, so I’m not sure if the two were related. But when I was in a certain time of the month I could feel a change and it was as ominous as a dark cloud and still night in the midwest. Nothing would be wrong otherwise and a thick veil of darkness consumed me. I was rocked with shame, for what, I don’t know. But it perpetuated knowing people needed me. The physical drain, almost like a vaccuum suck somehow took all energy and joy out of me left it impossible to manage the easiest of tasks. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to. I simply could not. Like I said, it was absolutely consuming.

This would hit hard for twenty minutes straight. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but I’ll be real here. It was such an intense darkness that I can think of many times I got a suitcase out and started to pack. I thought if I ran somewhere, anywhere, my family would be free of what my torment delayed them in having.

Three times I can recall walking to the medicine cabinet. I picked up pills and stared. I knew what I was contemplating but I was that void of hope and that full of desperation. And yes, this was as a Christian, and a strong one at that.

I longed for someone to bust in the door when I’d hide and tell me I was worth it. Who would hold me and let me cry or ooze the darkness out in whatever way. No one did. For those closest to me, they admitted they didn’t know what to do. They thought I wanted to be alone. I felt like I had no choice.

My story has a happy ending, and it is only by the grace of God. I finally broke down and confessed everything to my doctor. I now take a prescription medication that balances my moods and curbs menopause effects. Even with a hysterectomy, I still struggle. I’m upfront when I’m having a hard time. It’s not as dark or isolating but I get frustrated. My memory isn’t what it used to be. I have trouble sleeping. I tire easily than I used to. But it’s no where near where it was.

What do I wish the world knew?

1. It’s the darkest, most isolating and oppressive experience in the world. If you haven’t experienced it, you shouldn’t give answers as an expert.

2. It’s a vicious cycle, always looming. Just when you start to crawl out of the pit, there is a tug on your ankle threatening to pull you down and keep you there. It is frightening.

3. Isolation is the game plan of oppression. Love the person, no matter how much they protest, that they are going out with you for coffee. Show up with bagels. They will say they are busy and fine. Show up anyway.

4. If you’re not sure what to say, admit that. Transparency is an oasis. Patronizing, packaged answers are a wasteland. I didn’t feel better when I heard “I don’t know what your problem is.” Or, “You just need to snap out of it.” If I could have, I promise you, I would have led the way.

5. Jesus Christ CAN set you free. I admitted above that even as a Christian I struggled, so I get that you might argue why bother? Because without Him, I promise you, I’d be a dead statistic. Knowing HIm gave me enough hope to speak out, to call and seek help. I could picture Him next to me, weeping with me. That helped me so much. He is real, He is for you. Don’t go another step without Him.

To learn more, please visit the following: peacewithGod.net

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First appeared at Christians Read

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Character Confession: The Hidden Pain

Posted by Julie on May 25, 2013 in About Me, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

Last week I read about retired NASCAR driver Dick Trickle’s suicide. My parents dated by attending races at the Chemung Racetrack where then amateur Geoff Bodine was always put last in line to see how fast he’d get up front and win. Once married and with children our parents continued to watch NASCAR, much to my dismay at the time. But when I married and moved 7 miles away from the famed road course, Watkins Glen, I fell in love with the sport, too. Dick Trickle was beloved not just for the name that makes teens giggle, but because he drove the wheels off anything for years.

When I read about his death, he apparently had been suffering with a pain in his chest that doctors couldn’t figure out what it was or what to do to alleviate the pain. It was crushing, chronic, and life-altering. You have to be pretty desperate to take the option he did. I can’t imagine his suffering anymore than I can get a hold on the heartbreak for those he leaves behind.

But desperation I’m familiar with, and this isn’t an easy confession. I don’t know a lot of people who want to raise their hand and say I felt so out of sorts my mind conjured up fantasies where the pain could be gone. Thing is, those images never play out the consequences, and no one wins in a suicide. I so get that, and my heart breaks when I learn about a grieving family.

th_Character-Confession-anxious

But for years I grew up and in a situation where hormonal imbalance dominated my thought life. When that time of the month came I could feel an emotional plunge and month by month, year by year it enhanced. By the time I was married I started hiding from my husband because the depression was so deep I was ashamed. There were times I got out a suitcase and put it on the bed thinking if I ran away I could spare him the experience. When the plunge abated I’d put the luggage back and go back downstairs and re join civilization.

It grew even worse after pregnancy, birth, and then the grief and physical change from miscarriage. For those that don’t experience depression there aren’t adequate words to explain what the mind does. But dark, void, hopeless and full of shame and fear were my constant companions, and trust me, they came without invitation and stayed. No one knew what to do with me. I heard from what I call Job’s friends, if only I’d done this or if I were stronger in faith, I’d snap out of it.  I could feel it coming on and retreat upstairs where I would weep, I mean those wracking sobs that give you a migraine, for days. And the desperation took me to a place where I went to the medicine cabinet and picked up a bottle and thought what if.

My faith, shaky as it was back then, was just enough to hang on, even holding the bottle, but refusing to open it. And when the feeling passed, I dried my tears and rejoined society. It was in my opinion, 1000% hormonal, for me.

As I aged, physical symptoms accompanied the feelings and because my faith was stronger, I decided to ask ladies to pray and find a doctor that would hear me out. I’m not a girl that believes pill popping is society’s answer to problems. Quite the opposite, actually. But for me and my situation, the doctor prescribed a daily medicine to balance me. I had a hysterectomy where we already knew I had severe polycystic ovaries, PCOS, but he found extensive endometreosis. The physical pain had been constant and life-altering. The imbalance was staggering.

And today the desperation is all but gone.

I had a short season where I believe God touched me and no medicine was needed, and it was fantastic. But for whatever reason, the situation returned, and I remain on medication. The one hormone issue I battle, especially in warm weather, is not a hot flash, but a temperature increase so sharp and all encompassing that it is evident everywhere. I have to change clothes sometimes several times. I get anxious in public when I suspect this will manifest. But that’s the worst thing I deal with, and I thank God those fantasies I used to go to have been permanently shelved.

The pain Dick Trickle suffered with was physical and apparently so intense this to him was his only option. For Matthew Warren, Pastor Rick and Kay’s son that recently passed away, his pain was emotional and perhaps more hidden from most people. Yet that desperation was real to both of them. It was a fantasy for a season for me.

Do I have a 1-2-3 solution for you or your loved one feeling desperate? How I wish I had an easy fix. But I will tell you taking every single thought, and for me my mind is a constant run even in sleep, to Christ made a vast difference. I am a visual person, so I had to picture myself taking my thoughts and letting them go at the foot of the Cross. That continues to help me. I picture my desperation as the devil and Jesus fighting over me. In my desperation the Holy Spirit shared with me that the devil doesn’t want me to know he is the true defeated one. His job is to make me feel defeated. So when those feelings came, I took thoughts to Christ and pronounced I was not defeated. And visual as ever, I pictured it as an arm wrestle between the devil and Jesus, and Jesus wins every time.

If this post hits home for you, may your hidden pain dissipate at the foot of the cross and in the arms of Jesus. May He erase desperation and replace it with hope and joy, and of course, a healing. 

(((hugs)))

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A Merry Christmas Message: Even in the Fog

Posted by Julie on December 25, 2011 in About Me, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

Ah, Sunday. It’s a day to relax. Enjoy your family. For me, I also worship and fellowship at my local church even though my faith is a daily part of my life. Here, I also share my own amateur nature photo and a thought or two on God’s love for you.

December is supposed to be the happiest time of the year. Sleigh rides, hot cocoa, beautiful Christmas lights, and caroling.

Okay, maybe it’s more like the cat climbing the tree. Christmas concerts where it’s one rendition of Jingle Bells on third grade recorders after another. Kids with the gimmes.

Stressful, right?

Well there is a bigger population where December is bleak. They spend the month in a daze, trying to put one foot in front of another. It might be the first Christmas without a loved one. Relationships aren’t always at their peek in December. Couples break up. Marriages crumble. Parents still get the call in the middle of the night that their kids are in jail.  Sadly, suicide rates rise this time of the year.

If your December feels more like a fog than a celebration, please know you aren’t forgotten. There was a baby born over 2,000 years ago in a season of chaos and strife. The parents-to-be worried about provision and safety. When it was time to deliver, the most precious gift a person can experience came into the world in a barn. He wasn’t surrounded by nurses and calming music. He was greeted with a chorus of animals and the scent of their dung.

Thing is, the baby delivered under such bleak appearing circumstances chose that entrance because He came to deliver…You.

His love for you is that great, and whatever fog you’re trying to conquer, is not a cosmic joke at your expense. It’s that broken place where you, if you allow it, can not just survive, but thrive.

My hope is that you receive that gift.

And please know how loved you are, and your visiting this post today was not an accident.

Not even in the fog.



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