Archive for February, 2011

Helen Keller was one of the first heros of my life.  As a young bibliophile, I read every Helen Keller book I could lay my hands on.  By age 10, I had exhausted the modest supply of our local libraries and had seen The Miracle Worker performed locally.

I wrote my favorite Helen Keller quotes in a diary I kept at the time. One of those I recorded as a child, now hangs in our laundry room, above the family bulletin board:

I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.   Helen Keller

It is there as a reminder for me and my children that we must do what we can do in our work, families and communities.

Another hero from my childhood was Clara Barton. Clara was every inch the quintessential, maverick feminist before the term feminist was even coined. I still imagine she would have gotten around to burning her bra (or corset, I guess) had she not been so busy dodging bullets and tending to Civil War soldiers on active battlefields. Oh, yeah, that and founding the American Red Cross kept her busy.

Like Helen Keller, Clara Barton had much to say. Clara did not hesitate to pepper her comments with iconoclastic sass. Her boldness made people of her day uncomfortable and guaranteed that I fell in love with her. She made the favorite quotes section of my diary too of course:

I have an almost complete disregard of precedent, and a faith in the possibility of something better. It irritates me to be told how things have always been done. I defy the tyranny of precedent. I go for anything new that might improve the past.     Clara Barton

To this day, when I seek humanitarian inspiration, I remember these two quotes and fine women.

They came to mind again today as I considered what I might do for G’s family. For those of you who are not regular readers, G was a husband, father of four, custodial guardian of three nieces, Christian, physician, local philanthropist and community church member who quit his life and died by his own hand two and a half weeks ago.

In situations like these, when the need is so great, and the situation so charged with loss, people may want to do something and feel uncertain what would be helpful or appropriate. Upon contemplation, some people respond to the scope of a circumstance and shut down, knowing that nothing they do will improve the quality of every part of the dynamic. Being only one person, knowing they can not do everything, they instead do nothing, not because they don’t want to help, but don’t know how to offer what they can do.

In regard to service, I am with Clara Barton. She doesn’t want to hear about what I don’t know or can’t do, she has complete faith of something better.

In regard to service, something is better than nothing.

And it’s ok to go outside the box in how you offer help. Defy the tyranny of precedent and trust what you offer might improve the situation of another.

Here then, is a list of things you might do to offer help or support to a person or family in time of need:

Somethings I Can Do Go-To List:

_Prayer_

1. Bring a meal or organize the deliver of a meal from a local restaurant.

2. Clean a room or floor of the person’s home.

3. Bring paper products: napkins, plates, cups, silverware, paper towels, bleach wipes, toliet paper etc. (In times of loss, families often have extra people in and out of their homes.)

4. Bring a bag of board games, art supplies, craft supplies, jewelry kits, etc. for kids and young adults to enjoy.

5. Lend favorite movies, wii games, and computer games for kids and young adults to enjoy.

6. Organize outings and playmates for children of the family.

7. Gas up the family’s vehicles.

8. Detail the family’s vehicles.

9. Bring a guest book for people to sign.

10. Post a chore list that people may sign-up for when they visit.

_Prayer_

11. Order books from Amazon and have them delivered directly to the house.

12. Make a CD of favorite songs and mail to house with card.

13.  Share any photos you have of deceased person. Consider making a Shutterfly book or photo albumn.

14. Write a poem, song or tribute of deceased person.

15. Pedicure gift card.

16. Take family member out for hair cut.

17. Take family member out for lunch or coffee.

18. Bring family member their favorite Starbucks beverage.

19. Drop off ice-cream, toppers, whipped cream and sundae dishes.

20. Restaurant gift cards to family’s favorite place(s).

_Prayer_

21. Whole Foods, Giant, Harris Teeter or Kroger gift cards.

22. Yard Work.

23. Clean gutters.

24. Plant a tree to honor deceased or seed hope.

25. Send scripture, quotes, positive notes via email daily/bi-weekly/weekly.

26. Bring children’s class cupcakes.

27. (If family has young children) Purchase supply of diapers, wipes, ointments, etc.

28. Do family’s laundry.

29. Bring stamps and stationary.

30. Offer to write thank-you notes or acknowledgements.

_Prayer_

31. Weekends are often hardest, visit or plan an outing and/or invite family to spend the weekend in your home.

32. Make or purchase a plaque with a message that would encourage family member.

33. Bring an assortment of teas, juices, sodas. (Drinks are often in shorter supply than food, and often the only thing people in pain consume.)

34. Make a coffee basket with assorted flavored coffees, creamers, sweeteners, and maybe even biscotti.

35. Bring a pamper basket of favorite beauty supplies:  make-up, shampoo, lotion, etc.

36. Find a beautiful bowl or platter and fill it with fresh fruit, cheeses or flowers and deliver to home.

37. Send flowers to home via florist or wire service.

38. Leave notes of encouragement on Post-Its around house or on mirrors in home.

39. Water plants.

_Prayer_

40. Bring over a fix-it box of household stuff.  Change light bulbs, oil door hinges, caulk tub tiles.

41. Lay in a supply of garbage bags and or cleaning supplies.

42. Run errands:  pick up cleaning, return library books, take mail to post office, sort mail.

43. Purchase cinema gift cards and give with movie candy and card.

44. Take kids of family bowling.

45. Go for a hike with family member.

46. Call. Listen.

47. Leave prayer on answering machine.

48. Bring new work-out clothes, free weights, or exercise DVD to family member.

49. Create a blog or web site for updates, communication of needs and messages of encouragement.

50. Tend to the family pets. Bring food, walk dogs, clean litter boxes.

_Prayer_

51. Create your own.

It’s natural and easy not to know what to do when people we love are in need.

These are simply examples of things you might choose to do for others.

I’ll bet you have even better ideas.

I imagine you  have stories about something someone once did for you _something that so filled your heart or served you where you were_ that you remember it to this day.

I would love, love, love if you would leave a comment with you ideas and stories.

It’s something you can do _give another an idea to help them identify what they can do to nurture comfort and offer hope_

I believe a main mission in life is to love one another, develop our talents and share our resources.

Let’s do what we can do.

Let’s deny the tyranny of precedent and give the unexpected.

Let’s love one another intentionally.

And it’s not a cry that you hear at night
It’s not somebody who’s seen in the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah!



The Academy Awards.

It’s a popularity contest.

Let’s just admit that, and award the films we love and want to win.

1.) Category:  Best Movie with an Eye Patch:

And the winner is, True Grit.

2.) Category: Best Whiskers in a Movie:

And the winner is, True Grit.

3.) Category: Most Authentic Period Vernacular:

And the winner is, True Grit.

4.) Category: Best Picture starring Matt Damon when Matt Damon Doesn’t Flex His Bisceps and Bed Damsels:

And the winner is, True Grit.

5.) Category: Best Film to Show Mother-Daughter Issues Could be Worse Than Our Own:

And the winner is, Black Swan.

6.) Category: Best Film Featuring Drug-Induced-Lesbian-Hallucinations:

And the winner is, Black Swan.

7.) Category: Best Film to Portray that The Performing Arts Eat Their Young:

And the winner is, Black Swan.

8.) Category: Most Gruesome & Vivd Depiction of Self-Mutilatation:

It’s a tie. And the winners are, Black Swan & 127 Hours.

9.) Category: Film Most Likely to Inspire Men to Return to the Gym:

And the winner is, The Fighter.

10.) Category: Film Most Likely to Make Women Wish Their Husbands Looked like Mark Walhberg:

And the winner is, The Fighter.

And since we aren’t gonna pretend, let’s agree to just call a winner a winner, and admit that’s what the prize is for; winning.

True in high school.

True tonight.

Well maybe there’s a God above
But all I’ve ever learned from love
Was how to shoot somebody who’d OUT DREW YA
And it’s not a cry that you hear at night
It’s not somebody who’s seen in the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah!





Ok.  Back to it then.

We’re back; time to pick-up the conversational thread from Suicide Ain’t Painless.

When we last convened on the topic, we agreed that in our society talking about suicide is about as etiquitte savvy as asking an obese, 40+ woman, “Wow! You’re like huge! How much weight have you gained since high school? And what year was that again?”

We’d come to consensus on the realization that there is a relational onus to create space in discussions, healthcare, families, treatment, and ideology for people to pause, breathe and heal enough that they can bear their circumstances without suicidal measures.

This post will identify the most common reasons people suicide in categorical terms, as well as metacognitive dialogue from the various point-of-view of suicidal ideation.

Before we do that, however, with all this talk of suicide, I expect you might have a question for me.

And that’s good. That’s appropriate.

So ask me.

Ask me if I am thinking about hurting myself or taking my own life.

It’s the perfect question to pose if you are concerned, and it won’t make me catch suicidal ideation like strep throat if you ask me.  Were I considering suicide, you’re asking me could create the space I need to realize it is possible to continue living my life differently.

Thank you for your concern.

I am not suicidal or in any way considering hurting myself. I am, however, very concerned about suicide.

In 6 reasons Why People Commit Suicide, Alex Lickerman, MD, enacapsulates a succinct list of the most common categories of why people choose to end their lives.

Dr. Lickerman asserts that in general, there are six reasons people attempt to/end their own lives.

1. They’re depressed. Clinical depression may lead to feelings of intense sorrow, unrelenting pain, self-loathing and hopelessness. Physical symptoms may further complicate the condition and include changes in sleeping and appetite patterns, lethargy, nhedonia (loss of pleasure in daily rhythms and routines) and impaired concentration. Another common aspect of clinical depression is recurring thoughts of death or suicide. The cumulative weight of all these complications distort perspective and pace. People begin to feel that the pain is too much to bear, that their lives have been reduced to feelings of loss and pain and/or it would be better for their family and friends if they were gone.

The metacognitive soundtrack of clinical depression might perseverate on the following refrains: “Life is too painful to go on living.” “I can’t keep on living this way.” “Anything, nothing would be better than living this way.” “I can’t imagine living this way.” “I’m tired, I’m done, there’s nothing left for me besides pain.” “It would be better if my children didn’t have to see me like this.” “Caring for me like this is too much of a burden on my wife.” “I can’t stand it anymore, it hurts too much.” “Pain is all that is left  for me.” “It would be better for everyone if I end it.” “I should have never been born.”

People may attempt to mask depressive symptoms due to shame or despair. If you or someone you care about feels intense sadness during the majority of each day, especially in the mornings, it could be clinical depression. As a primary symptom of clinical depression is recurring thoughts of death or suicide, such situations/persons are at increased risk of suicide. Interventions strategies and treatment are available for clinical depression.

2. They’re psychotic. Unlike depression, psychosis is difficult to mask. Psychotic individuals are tormented by dark, inner voices that compel them to hurt/destroy themselves. These voices may so command a person’s perceptions that s/he feels unable to do anything other than obey their malevolent edicts. When asked, psychotic patients may honestly report what the voices demand they must do, and if they are considering suicide as an option to quiet them.

The metacognitive soundtrack of a psychotic might perseverate on the following refrains: “You must die. “You must kill yourself.” “You are worthless and must die.” “I command you to die for me.” “I order you to kill yourself.” “I demand your life.” “Your life is already over; you’re life is forfeit to me.” “You must sacrifice your life as penance for your sins.” “You must sacrifice your life to prove you love me.” “You must sacrifice your life to serve me.” “I will only love you if you kill yourself.” “I will reward you beyond imagination if you kill yourself for me.”

Like depression, Psychosis is treatable and intervention available.

3. They’re impulsive. Acute stress and drug and/or alcohol use may induce intense feelings of despair/pain that compel people to impulsively kill themselves. These situations may arise without previous indications of depression or suicidal ideation, and often operate outside of a premeditated plan or prior intent. Because the onset of impulsive activity is acute and unpredictable, it is difficult to foresee the likelihood that acute stress, drugs and/or alcohol use could lead a party to suicide.

Similarly, outside of an impaired or altered lens, it is difficult to render the metacognitive soundtrack of an impulsive suicidal ideation.  This script is purely hypothetical: “Oh my God, I never realized how bad it all is.”  ”Shit. Nothing makes sense. This is all a perverted joke.” “I can fly! Oh, my God, I can fly!”

4. They’re crying out for help, and don’t know how else to get it. Even though we are a society that does not talk much about suicide, it is keyed into the fabric of how we triage resources. Attempts of suicide are a certain measure to alert the world an individual is in distress and in need of intervention. Young adults and adolescents may choose suicide attempts as a means to call for help that instead becomes lethal; for example, jumping from a height too high to survive, taking a dosage of a medication that was not believed enough to end life but does, and cutting a vein or artery more deeply than intended.

The metacognitive soundtrack of crying-out-for-help suicidal ideation is also difficult to template.  Its hypothetical script could read: “Then they will know,” “If I do it, then they will help me, ” “They won’t know I am serious unless I do this.” “They won’t believe how bad it is unless I show them.” “This is the only way to get their attention.”

5. They have a philosophical desire to die. Outside of depression, psychological illness, impulse or desperation, some people reflectively plan to die in a strategic-end-of-life-plan. Terminal illness, medically progressive diseases, duty (in the line of service, protection or combat) and financial impetus are examples of reasons people intentionally plan suicide. What distinguishes this category from the others is that people who philosophically choose to die operate outside of mental disorders or acute emotional features.

The metacognitive soundtrack of the philosophical-desire-to-die converses differently and in flat notes of certainty without the sharps of desperation. Such utterances may sound clinical and objective: “I don’t want to suffer and die slowly in pain while my family wastes away with me by my bedside.” “I have lived a full and happy life. I am lucky to have enjoyed such longevity and experienced all in life that I have. I want to quit before I get sick in mind or body.” “I don’t want to use up my life savings in a futile attempt to prolong a life that is at the end. I want to be able to leave behind financial security for my family.” “I am no longer able to perform the tasks that make me the most happy. I am no longer able to contribute in a meaningful way. The quality of my life has decreased in a trend that can only progress and continue.” “It is my duty to do this so that others might live.” “Not him, me.” “I can buy them more time.”

6. They’ve made a mistake. Sadly, there are many too many recent ways that people, especially young people accidentally kill themselves. Many of these situation involve experimentation with oxygen deprivation to induce a high that goes too far. Some argue that texting while driving that results in fatal car incidents or driving while impaired could also be categorized as cases of suicide by mistake.

I can only imagine what the metacognitive soundtrack these situations impart: “What would happen if I tried it?” “Just one more second.” “I will just answer quick.” “I couldn’t be hurt.” “Mascara won’t run from the front of my face or down my shirt.”

It helps me to know that there are categorical reasons people choose suicide. It unveils some of the myths around suicide to know that there are indicators for suicide that are as consistent as risk factors for tooth decay. Decay, is at the core of suicide. Instead of an erosion of tooth enamel, it’s a striping away of hope. Depression, psychosis, impulse, desperation, philosophical intentionality, and mistakes all create conditions that make suicide more likely. A person who attempts suicide may or may not have actually desired to die. The context of each death by suicide is as individual are are people. That said, there is enough commonality to suggest that most every condition that increases the likelihood of suicide is treatable. Intervention and help is available.

Ready help and intervention strategies will be the focus of the next post in this series.

For now, I respectfully close with these final thoughts:

1. If you or someone you know is seems clinically depressed, or seems unusually low or disconnected from the joys of daily life, it’s time to for you to talk to someone, or you to talk to that person. Asking someone if he is considering hurting himself does not make it more likely that he will do so. It can, in fact, it could create the space for ready help to rush in. Furthermore, if you have come to believe that suicide is the only way you are able to escape the pain in your life that makes you feel overwhelmed and joyless, I assure you that there are services available to assist you. 911, local emergency rooms, and suicide hotlines are all direct patches into the network of resources in your area. People you know and love, as well as people called to intervention work are literally standing in line to support you during this time. Even if you can not remember a face of love in your daily life, I promise you that you are an adored child to the One above, and He seeks to prosper and not to harm you. There are ready alternatives to hurting yourself, friend. You have years of light, and love ahead of you. Consider all the lives you can touch if you choose to seek help and live on.

Live on.

Live on.

2. Liability demands I state this part crystal clearly:  I am not a physician or therapist. I cannot offer medical or psychological advise or treatment. If you are concerned about your situation or the situation of a loved one, I encourage you to consult your doctor or area mental health resources for treatment advise or referral services.

3. Suicide leaves the house left in shambles. I will never be able to think about its impact the same way since G surrendered his own life.

As such, I commit to work hope, exercise prayer and Praise the Light of the World.

My focus will be on education, treatment and prevention.

My face will look up to my Portion Deliverer as I research, write and cling unto my Rock.

I will be still, and know that He is God.

There is nothing too big or scary for my God.

I reject the outgrown chains of my history and shame.

Darkness will have no victory in this circumstance or over G’s community.

Nothing will turn me away from the Face of Love.

Well it goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall and the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah


Monday nights and Thursday nights are big homework gigs in our home.  It makes sense, of course, the kids come home with their week’s curricular load Monday afternoons, process it throughout the week, and study for Friday assessments on Thursday evenings.  The pace is brisk as I switch hats and offer the support they need.  I help check, edit, copy and find stuff.  I am the last refuge of lost things.  I lost the battle to socks long ago, but I can usually help excavate the missing book, file or coveted item.

Tonight while I was searching for a Spelling assignment, I came across a piece I wrote about my son for a magazine long before I began to blog.  It creates such a provocative juxtaposition to the texting-all-but-teenager (62 days, and yes, he’s counting,) that I wrote about in TXT Spells Love and Trophy that I thought you might enjoy a Flash-to-the-Past peek at The Boy’s first love.

The piece is something of a time capsule.  Written 10 years, 3 children, and 120 mortgage payments ago, it’s part of our family archives.

Poppy Love

My son recently recovered from his first case of puppy love. He’s three, not thirteen, and the subject of his affection was his beloved Poppy (pacifier), not a pretty girl.

My husband argues that it’s not an entirely fair comparison to liken our son’s love of his pacifier with the fleeing infatuation commonly associated with puppy love. This was neither a brief nor fleeting affair; this was a loving, and long-term relationship.

It all started innocently enough. At seven weeks old, The Boy had an insatiable need to suck. Assured by our pediatrician that as a well-established breast feeder he was not at risk of “nipple confusion,” we introduced him to the pacifier. Initially, the chemistry between them was lukewarm at best. He spit it out a lot. He seemed frustrated that no matter how hard he worked it that it yielded no milk. His exploring fingers would dislodge it or spin it upside down. In fact, it was during this initial getting-to-know-you period with all its popping it in and out of his mouth that we began to call his pacifier a “Poppy.”

It wasn’t long before things got pretty serious between The Boy and his poppy.  They soon were going steady and no car ride, nap or bedtime was complete unless they were together.  The Boy would hold his poppy, stroke it lovingly along his cheek and fall asleep happily every night with it in his mouth.

My husband and I were pretty pleased with his catch.  What else could provide him that kind of priceless comfort, pleasure and security for our baby- let alone for $1.69?  We encouraged them as a couple.  If The Boy was crying and I needed to get dinner done, I gave him Poppy.  If he was fussing and we were only half way through the grocery store, we pulled out  Poppy.  As parents, we had a relationship with that magical piece of plastic too.  It was a quick, easy, fix that he truly enjoyed.  Poppy soothed him.  It soothed us.

When The Boy was about to turn two, we realized we needed to come up with a plan to wean him from his beloved Poppy.  We had already restricted its use to only naptime and bedtime, and knew that soon we would have to eliminate it entirely.

Our intentions were noble, but my spirit was weak.  I loved Poppy as much as The Boy.  I had just had my second child and was beginning the process of potty teaching The Boy, and simply did not have the courage or energy to take from him such a primary source of comfort.  Truth be told, I did not want to take it away from me either.  I counted on Poppy.  It helped me make my little boy happy.  It reversed tears to contented smiles in nothing flat- much often faster than I could do on my own no matter how animated my face or tone or warm and tickling my hugs.  The Boy’s mama was as much a Poppy junkie as was her son.

Potty teaching The Boy was not difficult, nor was I at all sorry to see the diapers and wipes and messy ointments go.  Poop in the potty meant less work for me.  It was The Boy’s accomplishment, and for me, a declaration of independence of sorts.  Giving up Poppy, however, well that was another thing entirely.  That simultaneously increased my burden as it took from my little boy his last vestige of babyhood.  On a deep and unconscious level, I was hanging on to Poppy in a futile attempt to hang on to my baby boy.

Such was the maternal ambivalence that found my three year old, “baby boy”, potty trained, reading and Poppy dependent.  I soon realized that my relationship with Poppy had become dysfunctional.  The Boye had outgrown the need for Poppy and needed my resolve to let her go.

We used a gradual approach.  It began with the Poppy pinned to his pillow, then his blanket, then mattress, and finally the Poppy sat alone on his dresser.  We explained to him that when he was ready and could go three nights with the Poppy on his dresser, the Poppy Fairy would come and exchange Poppy for a toy certificate that he could take to the toy store in exchange for a new toy of his choosing.

Every night during this week-long process, The Husband and I would go up to watch The Boy sleep.  We would hold hands and laugh quietly as we watch his craned little neck stretch to hold Poppy in his mouth.  When he could no longer reach it, he slept upside down so he could touch it.  It was painful to watch.  It was the first thing he loved that we had to take away from him.  Our first parental betrayal.  During those nights we reconsidered the wisdom of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.  Giving up Poppy was his loss, but we grieved too.

Gone was the infant who suckled with such intensity.  Gone was the baby who loved to play hide Poppy under the blanket.  Gone was the medicine that was a sure cure to the scrapped knee of the toddler whose fledgling steps missed.  Our baby was gone and this bright, beautiful Poppy-free boy had taken his place seemingly in a beat of my racing heart.

I couldn’t part with Poppy forever.  It lives now in my hope chest next to the shirt I brought him home from the hospital in and my positive pee stick.  As long as I’m living my baby he’ll be.

I am resolved to the sobering prospect that his hurts will now always be harder to fix.  Behind us are the simple days when a $1.69 purchase would guarantee comfort and the notion that I can protect him from all hurts.

His delight as he picked out a talking Tonka truck at Toys R Us with his Poppy Fairy Gift Certificate was complete, but for me, the journey was bittersweet.

****************************************************************

Glory, I was naive.

Now The Boy is almost 13 and not 3.

We’ve both got some scars to prove I can’t protect him for all hurts.

I love my man-boy.

I miss my baby boy.

I hope for the man The Boy will become.

Well there was a time when you let me know
What’s really going on below
But now you never show that to me do you?
And remember when I moved in you?
And the holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah

I promised a series of posts about suicide in Suicide Ain’t Painless and I will deliver.  The next post will identify the most common reasons people suicide in clinical terms, as well as metacognitive dialogue from the point-of-view of suicidal ideation.

However, I also promised nothing would turn me away from the Face of Love.

Nothing shields my heart more nor gives me better access to His Love than His Word.

My own pace and need for Grace compels me to pack a Book Bag with totems to connect me to the Word over my life.

You remember those, right? When we were kids at school, and could build a Kit Bag with artifacts from a studied book along with an annotated rationale in lieu of a formal book report?

Consider packing one of your own:

Kit Bag:  The Living Word

Crayon: It is a challenge to jump into gritty, worldly content with elementary Faith skills.

And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven, (Matthew 18:3).

Band-Aid: The process of discovery may cause pain, but like sore muscles after exercise, it is from development and good use.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast, (Psalm 139-10).

Penny: Dogma struggles aside; we are all vulnerable to the pulls of a Head versus a Tail tug-of-war.

I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. 3But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ, (2 Corinthians 11:2-3).

Stone: I recognize and celebrate with relief your choice not to throw any.

So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her, (John 8:7).

Hug: I relish space and fellowship and white chocolate piping:  “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them,” (Mathew 18:20).

Deposit Slip: IMPARTATION! Invest hope: love one another.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching, (Hebrews 10:24-25).

Exclamation Point  Sticker: “He does not need to remember.  We are forgiven but do not forget because we are wise never to lose sight of where we’ve been and how God has rescued us,” (Moore, 109).

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen, (2 Peter 3).

Lollipop: Good Ship Lollipop! Beloved Son! “That was your name all along!  Not Good or Proud.  Son!  Farewell Had,” (Moore, 147).

Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light, (Micah 7:8).

Puzzle Piece: “He only has eyes for you.  Forget your speeches.  He wants to hug you.  He wants to kiss you.  Your healing will come in your Abba’s tight and passionate embrace.  Let him hold you so close that you can hear His heart pounding from having run to you,” (Moore, 146).

So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him, (Luke 15:20).

Before my children leave home for an over night, jammie-jam adventure, they pack their kit bags.  They gather what they need to feel safe and connected to home. My girls always take their lovies so they can snuggle them tighter where they are and sleep well even in the dark of a strange home.

Packing a Kit Bag of the Word is necessary for me to embark upon this journey with you.

The Word is a Lighthouse.  It points to home and safety so we can sleep well.

And it’s not a cry that you hear at night
It’s not somebody who’s seen in the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah

Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah

Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah!

Hey, my name is jael, and it’s been 3 days since my last post.

Hi, jael.

Hello friends.

I am glad you’re here.

As you know, I’ve been in treatment for over six months now for a broken hallelujah, but since I got the phone call, I’ve been playing hide-and-go seek.

Or maybe dodgeball.

It used to be that what I thought about most, I wrote about least.

brokenhallelujah reframed that for me.  bh carved a space for me to record my process _regardless how raw_ with reverence. It is a place that calls my obedience and lifts my voice in Praise.

Recent events entice recidivism.

I don’t really feel like writing about my process or lifting my voice in hallelujah.

I’ve hidden behind sick kids and dodged the pink elephant in the room.

And that five-toed, pastel pachyderm is suicide.

Suicide tops the long list of things we are socialized not to talk about in mixed company. Suicide is about as taboo as any topic I know. For example, our local paper will not report incidents of suicide as a matter of public policy. Obituaries don’t publish that someone quit their life at the end of a rope or tried to fill the hole in his broken heart with a gun. Often, people fear suicide like a contagion more horrible than the awful flu that’s been going around, and even though most understand that suicidal ideation is neither airborne nor transmittable, fear clings to the topic like static electricity. People worry its very discussion might jump start the idea in another like two evil cables connecting batteries.  As such, suicide is shrouded in myths, misconceptions and shame. Shame is the naughty mistress of all things we are taught not to discuss. What is even more unfortunate is that shame is like the black widow of mistresses. She lures her mate into the shadows and eats it.  Shame shackles Hope.

It is only natural, then, that since I got the phone call about G’s suicide I’ve battled grief and shame. This shame pours bitter dregs from two cups.  The first splashes my own history on today’s canvas as the second makes me feel selfish. The second cup distills more guilt than Worship.

But for the Grace of God, go I.

Shame and myths aside, there are warning signs for suicide.  There are reasons people commit suicide. It’s not only helpful to talk about these warning signs and reasons, it’s preventative.  Talking to a person you fear might be considering suicide does not compel him to take his life, it offers him the relief of being able to be honest about his experience. People who have survived suicide attempts often report that it was not so much that they wanted to die, but that they no longer wanted to continue living their life as it was.  In other words, talking to a person who may be considering suicide invites him to reflect on how he might be able to live his life differently.  And that’s it in a nutshell, if there were an in-between place, a I-don’t-want-to-suffer-like-this-anymore-but-I’m-not-dead-space, I think people would choose it.

That’s the space we need to create in discussions, healthcare, families, treatment, and ideology.  We need to hold that space for people to pause, breathe and heal enough that they can bear their circumstance without lethal measures.

I know it’s not a feel good topic, friends.

But I plan to write a series of posts about suicide.

The focus will be on education, treatment and prevention.

My face will look up to my Portion Deliverer as I research and type.

While I consider hopelessness deep enough to prompt good people to quit life, I will cling unto my Rock.

I will be still, and know that He is God, and His plans are to prosper and not to harm.

There is nothing too big or scary for my God.

I reject the outgrown chains of my history and shame.

Darkness will have no victory in this circumstance or over G’s community.

Nothing will turn me away from the Face of Love.

Well it goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall and the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah


According to plan, my daughter went to school yesterday committed to a new kind of behavior count.  She resolved to expect and to record every smile, laugh, greeting, high-five, comment, kind look, and miscellaneous, positive, social gesture.

I can’t measure how much hope actually filled her heart, but she was willing to play the believing game.

I drove into the pick-up line with her day on my heart like body armor.

The Boy walked up to the car and says, “The Girl’s not coming.”

“What do you mean she’s not coming,” I challenged him like a field medic in triage mode, “What happened to her?”

“Uh,” he hesitated, catching the peril in the air, “She’s going home with B?”

“I thought she said last night she didn’t want to go home with B,” I pressed.

“Dunno,” The Boy grunted in adolescent dismissal.

I pulled the car out of line so I could walk over to my daughter.

She was like one, big, chillaxed grin.

“Mamma!” she gushed, “My day in MATH was great!. I really, really want to go home with B.”

That girl has always been quick, quick, quick with math.

My heart soars to hope that new Math won’t trip her up like it did me.

Her path will undoubtedly be uneven as her teenage years ahead call like a Siren.

She will fall again, but she will also rise and lift her own voice in Hallelujah.

Now I’ve heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Halleluja
h

One of my daughters and I have been having some intense conversations about Math.

Not the Order of Operations, equivalent fractions, long division kind of Math.

This new Math is way harder and the solutions more elusive.

In fact, this Math rarely divides evenly, and the greatest common factor eats esteem for kicks.

This Math intersects my girl with mean girl dynamics.

My daughter struggles with computation errors.

It doesn’t add up to her that girls who were kind to her yesterday are mean today.

She doesn’t understand why the group has divided and how uncertain she feels about her social position.

She can’t simplify the equation without feeling less than.

She subtracts confidence in her own power when endless study leads to more confusion.

My daughter cannot see the exponential strength of her character that evidences itself through these growing pains.

Tonight we vowed our common denominator would be to count the good stuff and cover the rest in prayer.

Tonight we plotted a new graph with the closed set expectation of joyful relationships.

She looked at me with such adult weariness as I tucked her in, as if she sensed, but did not want to articulate, that there’s no answer key in the back of this textbook.

I have been a Language Arts girl all my life and have had Math struggles of my own.

You know the inevitable watershed assignment when you have to admit to one of your kids you can’t help them with their homework?

I can still help her with her math assignments, but this new Math?  I had to tell her that I kind of suck at new Math.

All I can promise her is that we will work out each problem together as it arises and pray for our daily bread as we cleave unto the Rock.

Well Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
she tied you to her kitchen chair
And she broke your throne and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah

Well baby I’ve been here before
I’ve seen this room and I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew ya
I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah

My heart and Valentine’s Day were not in sync this year.
Our body lost one of its Faithful to depression.  He quit his life Thursday.

That news reduced everything to the bone. It also distilled how important it is to move forward in Unity, especially when it feels arduous or immaterial.

The children handmade their Valentine’s.

The Baby was very serious about her penmanship.  As a kindergartener, it was her first, official class-set of Valentines.

It evolved into a whole family endeavor. The Oldest Girl, The Middle Girl and The Baby chose the design.

The Papa shopped at four stores to secure all the necessary supplies.

We made candy rockets.  The tube of the rocket is a roll of Life Savers; the blast off flame is a red feather (that was The Oldest Girl’s brilliant adaptation as the original plan was to cut construction paper, blast-off flames), and the capsule module is a Hershey’s kiss.

Glued on one side of the rocket in red card stock their message shouts, “Happy Valentine’s Day!  You’re a Blast”

There is a yellow, To/From snippet each child filled out and decorated for their classmates.

The Boy unwrapped 82 rolls of LIfe Savers.

The Mamma was captain of the glue gun.

The girls manned the assembly line.

Our family worked together to create something beautiful together.

Doing so unified us by sharing gestures of love and affection for our family and friends.

I never wanted to make Valentine’s less, nor thought they were more worthwhile.

The activity magnified the heart.

Well baby I’ve been here before
I’ve seen this room and I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew ya
I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah

Well there was a time when you let me know
What’s really going on below
But now you never show that to me do you?
And remember when I moved in you?
And the holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah

Human Chaff

ambition
bitterness
coldness
defeat
entitlement
fear
guilt
hatred
insecurity
judgment
kibitz
legalism
misoneism
nitpicking
oppression
pride
quaver
resentment
selfishness
temptation
unforgivneness
vanity
wounding
xenia
yahoo
zion’s daughter

“Human Chaff,” hereafter reffered to as an alphabetical rationale for why I am nothing in my own strength, outside of Grace.

Well Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
she tied you to her kitchen chair
And she broke your throne and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah