Share Your Story


Suicide Survivor's Top Ten Things To Do (or NOT Do):
SHARE YOUR STORY


I realize I already said, "Keep a journal." That's the place where you include every single detail, down to the miniscule. Write all the goriest details of your journey in your journal/diary.  

Figure out your "safe people." These are the people you can say anything to. You can cry, scream, cuss, confess and pray with these people. These people are the ones who don't judge you, no matter what. You'll probably only have one or two of these people in your life during your loss (or ever). They can handle your grief. They will process it as a listener and they'll only guide you when you ask or when you're sinking so low that a rescue is necessary. You can over-share with your people, your tribe (as the hipsters say). 

At some point you'll over-share with someone who isn't your BFF. You'll meet for coffee and you'll end up spilling the beans. You'll feel a little sick to your stomach for the diarrhea-of-the-mouth that just happened in the conversation. Over-sharing is uncomfortable, for you and for the person you're sharing with. You have to edit to decide what is helpful to others, to meet their current need. Yes, our darkest places can be a light shining on other's paths keeping them from falling into the same holes we've inched our way out of.  Sometimes sharing an inch of the story to help the person standing in front of you in loss and need is better than sharing the ten-mile-journey. You might share your ten-mile-journey with them over time, but when they're only into their journey a quarter of a mile, you don't have to point them to mile marker seven. It might send them into the fetal position sucking their thumb in the corner of Starbucks. And no one wants that. 

I inched my way into sharing. First with my BFFs. They're the only people I talked to for the first several months. Then with my Pastor. Then with a few close friends in my church family (small group tribe). Then with my grief counseling group. Three and a half years after Dad's death, my Pastor asked me to share my story on a Sunday morning, two services, over a thousand people. I edited. I shared. I cried. But I told the story. Best of all, I got to tell the story of how God brought me and my family through it all. HIStory. (Yes, you just got punned.) I told them about how faithful God was during every twist and turn. I told them that without my heavenly Father, I'd never get to see or hold my earthly father again. I got to share the Gospel. I shared the greatest story ever told, the story of Jesus. Oh how I love to tell the story!

This Sunday I get to share that story again with my friend's church across town. I'm so excited that I get to offer them the hope of the Savior who conquered death. I'm so humbled that God lets me open my mouth and offer Him praise. If you're willing to share and bear your heart, He'll give you a captive audience. Be ready for it!

Share your story. 

Keep going. 
1 Comment

Jessica Phillips

Jessica is worshiper and follower of Jesus. He rescued her heart at age 6 but he rescued her calling, purpose and direction in her early 20's. Everyday God is still writing Jessica's story. It involves her husband, Brad, her daughter, Emery, their extended families. But the story is a tale of loss of life and dark grief. And the story ebs and weaves and the grief story is followed by weddings and laughter. And what comes next? A Baby! God sends us a baby to shape and teach and grow right in the midst of our loss and realizing that life actually moves forward. We didn't think it would again after he died. But life just did what it was supposed to do...and it went on. And hope is born again. Everything I write is based on this fact: I'm God's child, I'm alive today. So what do You want me to do for You? Because I want my contribution to matter. I want to leave a legacy.

Don't Expect to Find a Suicide Note


Suicide Survivor's Top Ten Things To Do (or NOT Do):
Don't EXPECT To Find a Suicide Note


I expected to find a note from Dad following his suicide. He didn't leave one. He didn't leave a card or an email or anything. He just left. 

Back then I thought everyone left a note before they followed through with suicide. I thought that was a given. Probably because I like to write, whether in my journal or on twitter & FB or on this blog. I figured if someone was contemplating something super serious like life and death, and they chose death, they would write and tell us why. But I soon found out from reading everything I could lay my eyes on about suicide that most people who complete suicide do not leave a note. Only 18%-37% of people leave a suicide note. That means that 63%-82% of people who complete suicide do not leave a note. 

Dad did not leave a note.

I wanted a note because I thought it would bring me some closure. It would explain "why" and I could tuck it away and give a flat answer when someone asked "Why did he do it? He had so much to live for." I could whip out my "Well, in the note he left he said he explained that he was an alcoholic and he was really depressed. He thought we'd all be better off if he wasn't hanging around making life especially difficult anymore." Yeah, I thought that would make me feel better. That sounds ridiculous to me now. But eight years ago, it made me feel...I dunno, like I was off the hook. I thought if there would have been a note, then I wouldn't have to process, wrestle with and struggle through the "Why's". Silly silly little 2005-Jessica. One of the greatest lessons that God taught me through Dad's suicide was: faith begins where answers stop. Hebrews 11:1 "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence for things not seen." 

On this side of Heaven, this is what I know:
  • I will never get a concrete answer as to why my Dad killed himself. 
  • I will never get an answer from God as to why He didn't stop my Dad. 
  • I did forgive my Dad.
  • I do still trust God. 

A suicide note would not have necessarily made Dad's death easier to comprehend. It would never give me an answer that was good enough to satisfy my heartbreak. Even if your loved one left a suicide note, I'm guessing you still have millions of questions you're ready to ask him/her when you see them again. 


So here's the life lesson I walked away with: 
I can't put my faith or hope in anything that I can put my mind around
Because that thing would be a very, very small thing indeed. 

Go to Him with your questions. And....

...Keep going!


Comment

Jessica Phillips

Jessica is worshiper and follower of Jesus. He rescued her heart at age 6 but he rescued her calling, purpose and direction in her early 20's. Everyday God is still writing Jessica's story. It involves her husband, Brad, her daughter, Emery, their extended families. But the story is a tale of loss of life and dark grief. And the story ebs and weaves and the grief story is followed by weddings and laughter. And what comes next? A Baby! God sends us a baby to shape and teach and grow right in the midst of our loss and realizing that life actually moves forward. We didn't think it would again after he died. But life just did what it was supposed to do...and it went on. And hope is born again. Everything I write is based on this fact: I'm God's child, I'm alive today. So what do You want me to do for You? Because I want my contribution to matter. I want to leave a legacy.

Go To Counseling


Suicide Survivor's Top Ten Things To Do (or NOT Do):
GO TO COUNSELING


Brad and I had only been married seven weeks when my Dad's suicide occurred. Talk about being unprepared! No one is ever prepared for a loved one's death, much less a suicide; and way less when you're honeymooners. We couldn't even navigate through the "which sink is mine?" in the master bathroom conversation.To say that we were horribly ill-equiped to deal with working through the tragic death of my Dad is a gross understatement. Like super gross. 

Nine months into our rocky marriage, I was laying in bed one morning or afternoon, sad and depressed, when my handsome husband put his hand on my hand and said, "I don't know that I can make you happy. Maybe we should get a divorce."  Translation: "You've gone freaking nuts and I don't know how to help you." We began marriage counseling three days later. (Don't be hard on Brad! He loved/loves me crazy madly! You have no idea what he had to deal with.)

We didn't just go to counseling. We did the work. Whatever the counselor told us to do, we did it. We put in the time. We put in the tears. We worked through the anger, frustration and confusion. We were both willing to hear difficult things about ourselves; not just from each other, but also from the counselor. We were willing to apply what we learned. We say in our house that we're not interested in behavior modification, we're interested in life transformation. We both learned to cling more dearly to Jesus, because life transformation only comes through Him. We each went to counseling by ourselves. A little one-on-one tune-up was needed for each of us. 

It was all crazy hard. Was it worth it? You bet your sweet bippy it was. Brad can still make my blood boil b/c I'm human and flawed to perfection. But I love him so much. I know how to talk to him better because of counseling. He knows how to express love to me better because of counseling. And we know how to fight fair because of counseling. 

I also attended group grief counseling. A girlfriend from church had lost her husband and she knew of a church that offered free group grief counseling. So each week for about 12 weeks she would drive to my house and pick me up. We would drive to the nearby community where the church was located and we would be each other's grief counseling accountability.  It was unspeakably helpful. The group was made up of around 15 people raging in ages from 26 to 86. Everyone went around the room and shared their story of loss the first week. I was nervous and didn't want to utter the words out loud, "My Dad killed himself." But I did. I sobbed the entire time and so did everyone else. God gave me such sweet healing in that group. 

When I read back through this, it sounds like I was in counseling 20 hours a week! ha! I probably should have been. The group grief counseling was an hour each week for around 12 weeks. And it was FREE. Our marriage counseling was an hour each week for about three months. The weeks that we saw the counselor one-on-one, we didn't meet together. The marriage counseling cost us about $45 a session. Yes, that seems like a lot of money for 12 weeks, but not when you think about what we could have lost. And PS - most people spend crazy stupid money on their wedding but don't want to spend a dime on marriage counseling (the thing that may help keep your marriage together)...I'm gonna call that one on the carpet and say: COP OUT! Spend the money on counseling. Biblically-based counseling. Many churches offer free counseling, so check with your church. 

Get help. 

Seek wise counsel.

Keep going. 




1 Comment

Jessica Phillips

Jessica is worshiper and follower of Jesus. He rescued her heart at age 6 but he rescued her calling, purpose and direction in her early 20's. Everyday God is still writing Jessica's story. It involves her husband, Brad, her daughter, Emery, their extended families. But the story is a tale of loss of life and dark grief. And the story ebs and weaves and the grief story is followed by weddings and laughter. And what comes next? A Baby! God sends us a baby to shape and teach and grow right in the midst of our loss and realizing that life actually moves forward. We didn't think it would again after he died. But life just did what it was supposed to do...and it went on. And hope is born again. Everything I write is based on this fact: I'm God's child, I'm alive today. So what do You want me to do for You? Because I want my contribution to matter. I want to leave a legacy.

Honor Them, Honor Yourself

(so I didn't make it through 10 posts in 10 days. Epic fail. Today I'm trying again. Note to self: Keep going!)



Suicide Survivor's Top Ten Things To Do (or NOT Do):
HONOR THEM, HONOR YOURSELF


Your traditions don't have to die with your loved one. My Dad killed himself three days before Father's Day. I had already bought a Father's Day card for him. I came home and buried that card in the bottom of my card box (I'm a "card person". It's my own personal "tradition" to give or make great cards. Yes, I have a box-o-cards for every occasion. Drives my OCD husband crazy!). Every time I'd reach to the bottom of the box and see that father's day card, my heart would leap into my throat and I would crumble. Until I decided to conquer that card by writing in it. My fear of that card was tied to my false belief that all my emotions and feelings for my Dad had to die and be buried with the memory of him. Wrong. I decided to brave it. I decided to work through it. That card is stained with my ink and my tears (and probably my snot). It is full of words that are held intimately private between me and my Dad and my Savior. I'm not going to lie and say it wasn't incredibly painful to write in that card. It was. But it was my tradition and it didn't have to die with Dad. 

I've bought my Dad a Father's Day card every year since he died. Some years I write in it. Some years I just file it in my box with the other cards marked: Dad, Daddy, J.D., Dragon Slayer, Jerry Don, Gary Don - all the names we had for him. 

Honor them. Our family has kept some of our old traditions. Every year on Dad's birthday we eat his favorite meal: beans, cornbread and carrot cake. We even sing "Happy Birthday" to him. We sometimes go to the Harley-Davidson shop...Dad's favorite place. We usually exchange some sort of Harley memorabilia - that quintessential black & orange shield will forever be a reminder of Dad.  We pray and cry and laugh. We remember.  

Honor yourself. Our family has created new traditions. Every year on the anniversary of Dad's death, we celebrate another year that God has brought us through. We call it Dead Dad Day. We take turns buying each other a meaningful gift. We eat, shop, travel. It doesn't matter what we do, all that matters is that we're together. We survived! We didn't think we could or would, but we did. We pray and cry and laugh on Dead Dad Day. And we make new memories. 

Sunday was Dead Dad Day and, BONUS, it was Father's Day. I woke up and celebrated what a great Daddy my husband is to our daughter. And then we went to church and worshipped. I cried, of course, especially when we belted out my favorite David Crowder song, "Oh How He Loves Us." After worship, I jumped in the van and ran across town to my friend's church where a member of my church family was sharing his story of alcoholism and sobriety. And I cried. I cried for the hope that God gives a young man that he can rise out of the "pit of despair", out of the "mud & mire" and come out different, better. To be present to witness this young man be poured out and used to point others to the forgiveness and transformation of Jesus, what a privilege. Wow. Thanks, Ty (and Tonya). Many have seen what He has done in your life and they are amazed! Sunday was a great day. Yesterday my Mom, Sister and I celebrated Dead Dad Day. We ate, shopped, laughed, cried a little and shared a few memories. 

Mostly, we celebrated how good God is. How faithful He is. How much He loves us. 
We're so thankful. We're so blessed. He's brought us so far in eight years! 

Where ever you find yourself today, don't stop. Don't bury your feelings and emotions in the bottom of your box-o-cards. Pull out the card (or journal or blog) and write it all out. Go through it. You can do it...and when you think you really can't do it anymore, then remember and renew your belief in the healing, transforming and resurrecting power of Jesus. The place where we cease to exist is the place where God is just beginning to do something spectacular in our life. Let Him dazzle you...and keep going. 

Ty shared his life verses with us on Sunday (Psalm 40:1-3). These are some of my favorite words from scripture. 

Psalm 40:1-3 (NLT)
"I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
    and he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
    out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
    and steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
    They will put their trust in the Lord."


1 Comment

Jessica Phillips

Jessica is worshiper and follower of Jesus. He rescued her heart at age 6 but he rescued her calling, purpose and direction in her early 20's. Everyday God is still writing Jessica's story. It involves her husband, Brad, her daughter, Emery, their extended families. But the story is a tale of loss of life and dark grief. And the story ebs and weaves and the grief story is followed by weddings and laughter. And what comes next? A Baby! God sends us a baby to shape and teach and grow right in the midst of our loss and realizing that life actually moves forward. We didn't think it would again after he died. But life just did what it was supposed to do...and it went on. And hope is born again. Everything I write is based on this fact: I'm God's child, I'm alive today. So what do You want me to do for You? Because I want my contribution to matter. I want to leave a legacy.

Don't Tell Them Their Loved One Went to Hell


Yes. Someone said that to us. And we survived that, too. Here's what happened:

Word traveled fast after Dad's body was found. Family and friends came from far and wide to attend Dad's funeral. My parents' house was full of people bringing food and paying their respects. It was a revolving door sending people into our arms to hold us, cry with us, pray with us, grieve with us, and some were sent to teach us. Some taught us what we wanted to be like. Others taught us that 'hand, foot, mouth' isn't just a virus that toddlers catch in the church nursery - it's something we're all capable of having if we open mouth, insert foot, then frantically throw our hand over our mouth in disbelief that our mouth just said that. My Mom's beloved family member (who I will not name in order to save this person from being tarred & feathered at our next family reunion) caught 'hand, foot, mouth' a couple of days before the funeral. Poor thing. Seriously, you shoulda seen it. It would have been sad & tragic had it not been so stinking funny. (DISCLAIMER: We have a warped sense of humor.)  
Mom was standing in the living room with a crowd of people hugging her as they left food on the table and headed back out. Mom says to the people around her, who are crying and sharing sweet, kind stories about Jerry Don, "I'm just so thankful that we'll see him again. I know he's finally well. He's healed. This isn't what we wanted when we prayed for God to heal him, but this is God's healing. And today Jerry is healed. And he's with his Heavenly Father." At this moment everything went into slow motion as the said family member jumped into the circle of people, grabbed Mom by the shoulders and yelled into her face, "No, Linda! You won't see him again. He killed himself! He's in hell!" 
My Mom's colorless face drained more color and then it turned red. In. An. Instant. I mean, red

Even in 2005, the word "suicide" was surrounded by taboo. Mom, Jenni and I had to rethink everything our culture (in the South) had taught us about suicide versus what we knew and believed to be true, based on God's Word. Thankfully, there were tons of friends and family whispering the truth of God's love into our ears. And they were lovingly reminding us of Dad's faith. Because when someone kills himself, you not only question God, you question who the person was and you question what they believed.  I knew that despite my Dad's choices at the end of his life, he was a man who loved God. He was a man who had a relationship with Jesus. He was the man who taught me how to read my Bible, how to teach it and how to pray. He taught me to go to church and serve the body of Christ faithfully. I knew that I knew that my Dad was a believer. But the questions that rise following a suicide are in some ways fair. Survivors need to wrestle with what they believe and why they believe it. And though the questions might be fair, they are nonetheless difficult. 

Questions like:

"Would a believer who loved and knew of Christ's forgiveness/love/the cross, could that person plummet to the depths of despair so profoundly that they felt like the only way 'out' was death?" Uh, heavens yes. 

"If you love God and you have the Holy Spirit inside your being, can you ignore Him and run away to the lengths of alcoholism and pointing a gun at yourself?" Uh, heavens yes. 

"If you kill yourself, are you doomed to eternity in hell?" Uh, hell no. 

But some people believe that your fate is sealed eternally if you 'commit suicide.' Some people are taught this in their religion, in their churches or in their families. And some people get 'hand, foot, mouth' and decide to share their beliefs. 

So what did my Mom do?

Well, she didn't throw the family member out of our house. She didn't cuss out the family member, shaming him/her in front of other people throwing them out on the front lawn (like the true hillbillies that we are). She didn't slap him/her across the face with Daytime-Emmy-Award-Winning-Susan Lucci-drama. Instead, my godly, sweet, forgiving Mama, used the moment to teach someone old something new. She told the well-intentioned family member that God's forgiveness is not based on human performance. She explained that the only "unpardonable" sin is not receiving Christ. She told her that Jerry, her beloved husband of 25 years, was indeed a believer in Christ. And she assured the family member that he was in heaven and we would see him again. 

And what did the family member do?

The person looked shocked and said, "No one ever told me that before. I didn't know!"


Use moments, even difficult, painful moments, to teach others. Maybe the person who has offended you has 'hand, foot, mouth' because they really don't know any different. 
Teach them. In Truth. In Love. 

The world offers enough hell. Give 'em heaven. 

Keep going. 







8 Comments

Jessica Phillips

Jessica is worshiper and follower of Jesus. He rescued her heart at age 6 but he rescued her calling, purpose and direction in her early 20's. Everyday God is still writing Jessica's story. It involves her husband, Brad, her daughter, Emery, their extended families. But the story is a tale of loss of life and dark grief. And the story ebs and weaves and the grief story is followed by weddings and laughter. And what comes next? A Baby! God sends us a baby to shape and teach and grow right in the midst of our loss and realizing that life actually moves forward. We didn't think it would again after he died. But life just did what it was supposed to do...and it went on. And hope is born again. Everything I write is based on this fact: I'm God's child, I'm alive today. So what do You want me to do for You? Because I want my contribution to matter. I want to leave a legacy.

Keep a Journal


Suicide Survivor's Top Ten Things To Do (or NOT Do):
KEEP A JOURNAL



WRITE EVERYTHING. WRITE EVERYDAY. 

Just write. Even if you're "not a writer", write. You'll wish you had if you don't. 

You think you'll remember ever lesson, every great thing God does and shows you. But you won't. You'll forget. 

So write it down. Keep a journal. Get a fancy leather one with your name engraved on it (like I did cuz I'm a total nerd, uh, I mean, I'm a boss, baby. Or is it, "I'm boss." Clearly I'm both.). Or buy a $1.99 black & white composition notebook. It doesn't matter. 

Write the day and the date (i.e. Tuesday, June 11, 2013) and then write what you're feeling that day. Here's an example:


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Today I'm doing really good, especially considering we lost _________________ two months ago today. Oh gosh, I didn't realize today was the 11th...two months. Wow. God is good. Wow. Now I feel like my heart is breaking. It's a little hard to breathe when I realize I haven't heard her voice in two months. Oh great I'm crying in this composition notebook...again.



Just write. 

Recently (on April 11th), one of my dearest friends' older sister went to Heaven. She was only 37. She left behind her husband and two little girls. So before I boarded the plane to go to the funeral, I bought my friend, her sister and their mama journals. I had their names engraved on the journals. And I wrote their instructions inside the front cover of each journal: "Write in this journal. Let it be the chronicle of your journey through your loss. Write down every memory you have of your sister/daughter. And one day, when it's right and when it's special, give this journal to her daughters. It will be the best gift you can give those sweet little girls." 

Write. Remember. Look back and see what God has done and where He has brought you. And praise Him that you're here and you're no longer there. Thank Him for getting you through each second of each minute of each day. He is good. 

Remember His faithfulness. Write it down. 

"Many people have set out to write accounts about the events that have been fulfilled among us." Luke 1:1  The beginning of the gospel according to Luke. He wrote down the account of Jesus to share with us. Aren't we thankful and blessed that he did?

Write it if not for yourself for someone else. One day you'll need to share your story and the lessons you've learned to help someone else through their journey. 

It's not too late to start writing! If your loss was yesterday or 10 years ago, begin writing now. Write what you remember. Write who you've become in light of what you've gone through. 

Start writing. Don't give up. Keep going!

4 Comments

Jessica Phillips

Jessica is worshiper and follower of Jesus. He rescued her heart at age 6 but he rescued her calling, purpose and direction in her early 20's. Everyday God is still writing Jessica's story. It involves her husband, Brad, her daughter, Emery, their extended families. But the story is a tale of loss of life and dark grief. And the story ebs and weaves and the grief story is followed by weddings and laughter. And what comes next? A Baby! God sends us a baby to shape and teach and grow right in the midst of our loss and realizing that life actually moves forward. We didn't think it would again after he died. But life just did what it was supposed to do...and it went on. And hope is born again. Everything I write is based on this fact: I'm God's child, I'm alive today. So what do You want me to do for You? Because I want my contribution to matter. I want to leave a legacy.

Turn Off The Radio

Suicide Survivor's Top Ten Things To Do (or NOT Do):
TURN OFF THE RADIO


I love music. Music can carry me into a different place, different mindset, even a different decade. To this day when I hear "Return of the Mac" my mind is immediately catapulted back to my senior year of high school. All the memories of 1997 flood my mind. Good (my BFF), bad (my hair & clothing), and ugly (my hair & clothing). Music is like a time machine for me. It makes me think of places, occasions and people, which can hold both sweetness and sorrow. Not regret, but sorrow. That's why after my Dad's suicide I turned the radio off for five months. 

Here's what made me decide to turn off the radio:

It was the day after Father's Day, June 20, 2005. We were setting up the visitation room at the funeral home. Taking fifty or so of our favorite photos of Dad to set up in the room. Since there was no body to view/say goodbye to, we thought bringing some of Dad's favorite things to the funeral home was the best way for people to remember Jerry Don the way he would want them to remember him. So when the funeral director asked us what music we wanted playing as we received visitors, my mom, sister and I looked at each other and laughed..."Uh, do you have any Pink Floyd?" The funeral director was nervous and not amused, but we were, and we were on a mission. We went through all of Dad's favorite CD's and we picked out one of his all-time faves. We could have chosen so many artists and so many songs. If we had had the time to plan for this tragic occasion, the soundtrack to Dad's funeral would have run a gamut from Pink Floyd's "The Wall" to "The Old Rugged Cross" and back to Willie Nelson's "On The Road Again."  But what Jenni and I chose as the soundtrack to the funeral visitation following my Dad's death was Aerosmith's "1980's Greatest Hits." How perfect. 

A few days later I was driving down the road listening to some "oldies" station and Aerosmith's "Dream On" began playing and I began weeping so violently that I had to pull the car over so I didn't cause a wreck. And that's when I decided to turn off the radio. 

I did not want a song or a slew of songs from the summer of 2005 to become the music that would forever take me back to that heartbreaking place. So I turned off the radio. If I found myself in someone else's car, I would play DJ and skim radio stations until I found an oldies station, or at least an "80's & 90's Soft Rock" station. I could handle the music that made me think of/remember my Dad, even when I was on the side of the road sobbing to "Dream On." But I didn't want any of the current music playing to be the songs that took me back to the darkest place I'd ever been, the grief of losing my Dad. 

For me, it was a good choice. Maybe for you or for someone you know going through a recent loss, listening to new music is healing. So for you I say, listen to new music. But for me the best thing was turn off the radio. The best thing was to listen to old music. Or to have silence where I could pray and turn my thoughts, fears, and quiet moments into moments where God could pour healing into me. I listened to sermons. I listened to a lot of Beth Moore on CD! That's what helped me. 

Do what helps you. But definitely embrace the silence. Turn the radio off for one car ride. I did it for five months and it eased my mind. 

Keep going. 

Comment

Jessica Phillips

Jessica is worshiper and follower of Jesus. He rescued her heart at age 6 but he rescued her calling, purpose and direction in her early 20's. Everyday God is still writing Jessica's story. It involves her husband, Brad, her daughter, Emery, their extended families. But the story is a tale of loss of life and dark grief. And the story ebs and weaves and the grief story is followed by weddings and laughter. And what comes next? A Baby! God sends us a baby to shape and teach and grow right in the midst of our loss and realizing that life actually moves forward. We didn't think it would again after he died. But life just did what it was supposed to do...and it went on. And hope is born again. Everything I write is based on this fact: I'm God's child, I'm alive today. So what do You want me to do for You? Because I want my contribution to matter. I want to leave a legacy.

Do NOT Romans 8:28 the Survivors


Suicide Survivor's Top Ten Things To Do (or NOT Do):
DO NOT ROMANS 8:28 THE SURVIVORS


DO NOT Romans 8:28 the Survivors. Unless you're prepared to get throat-punched. This goes under my "Top 10 Don'ts" for any death. 

Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."

I LOVE this verse. It's one of my favorite verses in the Bible. But in the frail moments surrounding the sudden and tragic suicide death of my 44-year-old Daddy, that verse felt like acid being poured on my open-wound-of-a-heart. 

Do you know why we feel we have to Romans 8:28 people? Because we're so uncomfortable with silence. 

We feel like we need to say something. Anything. And as Christians we often look for that "encouraging" word to give to a hurting person. So we throw out Romans 8:28. But that's like patching the Titanic with duct tape. 

And I didn't need to be reminded that God was working it out for good. I knew that. My grief, my hurt, my questions, even my doubt did not change the goodness of God. Because who He is is not dependent on my response. I will never add to or take away from the Truth of Who He Is. Because He is. Plain and simple, He Is. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life; He is Love and Hope; and yes, He is goodAnd all that Truth is in me. And the Truth did finally set me free. But in those moments, I didn't need a stinging reminder of His goodness, because that reminder felt like a back-handed rebuke of my questions, my hurt, my doubt. And Jesus Christ is big enough to handle all of my brokenness even when Christians aren't. 

Do you know what I needed in those awful moments? I needed people to sit with me and be quiet. 

There was nothing anyone could say that would make things any better or different. And I wasn't asking anyone to "fix" me or the situation. 

I just wanted people to be with me. Just be. Sit with me in my pain. Be with me in the quiet. Soak it in. Cry it out. Hold my hand. Repeat. 

No 'fixing' allowed. 

Jesus suffered personal loss in John 11 when his friend, Lazarus, died. Lazarus had two sisters, Martha & Mary, both of whom confronted Jesus with the, "If you had been here, my brother would not have died." scenario. Or to put it in my words, "Why did you let him die?" 

Jesus did not revoke their eternity in Him. John 11:33 says that when Jesus saw Mary weeping, He was, "...deeply moved in spirit and troubled." And verse 35 says, "Jesus wept." In this chapter, even Jesus wrestled with anger and frustration surrounding death and people's response to death. It's hard to watch people you love suffer loss while you sit and do nothing. But sitting with them, praying for them, putting up food, taking out the trash, well, that's just about as close to being perfect as you can get during someone's grief. 

And eventually, when they've traveled a little further through the "valley of the shadow of death" you can send the hurting/grieving/HEALING person a card and you can Romans 8:28 them in the card. But in the early days and months, refrain from throwing the Bible at them...or they might just throw it back. 

He really is working it out for good. 

And if you don't believe that today, that's okay...KEEP GOING!

2 Comments

Jessica Phillips

Jessica is worshiper and follower of Jesus. He rescued her heart at age 6 but he rescued her calling, purpose and direction in her early 20's. Everyday God is still writing Jessica's story. It involves her husband, Brad, her daughter, Emery, their extended families. But the story is a tale of loss of life and dark grief. And the story ebs and weaves and the grief story is followed by weddings and laughter. And what comes next? A Baby! God sends us a baby to shape and teach and grow right in the midst of our loss and realizing that life actually moves forward. We didn't think it would again after he died. But life just did what it was supposed to do...and it went on. And hope is born again. Everything I write is based on this fact: I'm God's child, I'm alive today. So what do You want me to do for You? Because I want my contribution to matter. I want to leave a legacy.

Countdown to Dead Dad Day

My Dad died on June 16, 2005. It was suicide. A single gunshot wound to the head. He used to tell us girls (Mom, Jenni & me), if an intruder got into the house and he wasn't home to protect us, that we should shoot. His fatherly & authoritative advice was to shoot, "One in the head or two in the heart." 
So when Dad ended his own life with one in the head, it was also two in the heart...one in my heart and one in my sister's heart. And as for my Mom, it just took out her whole being because he was her beloved. 

God has been faithful, loving, grace-giving and mercy-spilling and we're all still healing. I don't think you're ever healed. Like it's done. We're still walking through life without our Dad, our Dragon Slayer, protector, defender, provider - and because of the hope that we have in Jesus that we will be swept up in Dad's strong arms as he bear-hugs us again in Heaven one day. But even with all that hope before me, I still dread the month of June. An internal countdown begins for me. 

I hate June. I really do hate it. We're walking through the valley of the shadow of death and the month of June makes me feel it. I cry at every song on the radio. I cry at the grocery store. If you see me with tear-stained cheeks at the grocery store, I'll make a joke about the price of organic milk being so high that it brought me to tears...I'll say, "no sense crying over spilled milk. Unless it's organic, then cry cuz that stuff's laced with gold!" But the truth is, it could be that I just walked past Dad's favorite snack and it brought back a memory that punched me in the gut. And if I hear the old song "Dream On" by Aerosmith, I seriously could lose control of my car due to weeping and gnashing of teeth. That song was so my Dad. Such a drifter and a dreamer. And it makes me long to hear his voice, smell his cologne and be wrapped up in such a big hug that I think all my bones may crush under the pressure of the love pouring through his strong arms. 

It's the countdown to the day we remember WHO we lost. God sets eternity in the hearts of men - see, we were created for eternity, not for death. So death feels so foreign. And death by suicide feels like a terrorist coming in...everyone asking "Why?" And never getting answers. 

We're 10 days away from Dead Dad Day - yes, that's what we call the anniversary of Dad's death. And I'm inviting you to walk through it with us. And to pray for us over the next 10 days. Satan is a big fat jerk, and he knows that this is a tough time for us, so he throws things at us to try and take us down for good. Please pray for us as you read. 

I'm going to do my best to write my "Top TEN Suicide" List. It's the top 10 things people think, assume, say, do, don't do, etc. I'll give you one a day. 



HERE'S YOUR FREEBIE TODAY: 

Suicide Survivor's Top Ten Things To Do (or NOT Do):
TAKE PICTURES AT THE FUNERAL

It feels weird. It seems irreverent, but done well, it's really a special gift for the family. You forget what you wore, what you looked like. You forget who was around you. I'm not implying taking inappropriate coffin pictures. No. I'm saying, take pictures of the guest book as people sign it. Take pictures of people hugging and grieving together. You stand in the back of the room with a good camera and a good lense, and you shoot quietly. It will be a gift you give the family that they will appreciate and hold those photo memories forever. You will think that every detail will be forever burned into your memory, but it won't. Grief has a way of making you forget. So instead of relying only on your memory, capture it on film. But always be respectful of the family and their wishes. If they say "no cameras" then no cameras. Your heart has to be bent toward uplifting, encouraging and helping the grieving people. So it's ok to ask them, "what would you like pictures of?" Be their friend, not their professional photographer. 


Dad died 7 weeks after Brad & I got married in Las Vegas. 
These pics of Dad from our wedding are the last pics taken of him. 











Jerry and "Miss Linda"


We were listening to Dad give a toast to us at our wedding reception. 
Very sweet. He said "Juice couldn't have chosen better."


Mom & Dad 


Mom & Dad being silly at the Wynne Casino


Having fun in Vegas!


No matter where you're at or what your going through...
KEEP GOING!
1 Comment

Jessica Phillips

Jessica is worshiper and follower of Jesus. He rescued her heart at age 6 but he rescued her calling, purpose and direction in her early 20's. Everyday God is still writing Jessica's story. It involves her husband, Brad, her daughter, Emery, their extended families. But the story is a tale of loss of life and dark grief. And the story ebs and weaves and the grief story is followed by weddings and laughter. And what comes next? A Baby! God sends us a baby to shape and teach and grow right in the midst of our loss and realizing that life actually moves forward. We didn't think it would again after he died. But life just did what it was supposed to do...and it went on. And hope is born again. Everything I write is based on this fact: I'm God's child, I'm alive today. So what do You want me to do for You? Because I want my contribution to matter. I want to leave a legacy.

A Full Quiver

My little sister is pregnant. And I'm so excited that I can't stand it!! I can't wait to smell that little tiny baby head. I can't wait to nibble on his/her fingers, toes, ears. I can't wait to rock that baby and tell him/her stories about their Mama that she'd rather me never utter. I can't wait to feed him, change him and then give him back! ha! 

My sister is my BFF. I can read her like a book. She gets quiet when she politely disagrees with me but doesn't want to argue. She laughs hysterically at herself in all situations. She uplifts and encourages people with kind words and the touch of her delicate hand. She takes the breath away from a crowd with her beauty when she walks into the room. She has a look of wonder and orneriness in her eyes that makes you wish you knew what she was thinking b/c you know it's just gotta be hilarious. 

She's my baby sister. My BFF. My confidant. My best traveling companion. My favorite make-up and hair model. My favorite actress in the the 1989 soap opera that I wrote and directed (she shoulda won a daytime Emmy for her performance). Also, my guinea pig, my subject, my shadow and my greatest cheerleader. 

And she's having another baby. 

And I'm so thankful and so happy. 

God is good. Just wanted to say it - not that my acknowledgment adds to His glory because it doesn't, but it does add to my worship. And I wanted to worship God through the fact that He's the Giver of Life. The Author. The Sustainer.  The Redeemer.

I love you, Jenni Pooh. Congratulations!!

PS - time to Mom-up and get a minivan. If you can't beat us, join us!



Jessica (3)  & Jenni (1 1/2) 



Jenni's college graduation
(Master's degree in Science. Disgusting! She picked pretty AND smart!)



Jenni doesn't laugh. She cackles. It's contagious. 



Jenni was 7 weeks pregnant with Karis


Mom & Jenni - isn't she the cutest pregnant woman!?!?



Mom, Jenni (Karis), Jes 
in Karis' nursery


Jenni holding Karis (a whopping 9lb. baby!)


Happy Mama holding her baby


My boundaries know nothing of personal space! 
"Oh, you just delivered a 9lb baby? Let me crawl in the bed with you!"


Sweet Mama & baby pic. 



Gaga, Karis ( 1 1/2), Jenni, Juju - Puerto Vallarta 2008


Karis & Emmy - our girls BFF's!


Jeremy, Jenni, Emmy & Karis


Jenni (Nini), Karis & Emmy playing hair


"For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my (crazy) mother's womb"
Psalm 139:13 
(parenthesis, mine)


Best Sisters at Jenni's wedding shower in March



Here comes the bride! 
March 23, 2013




Children are a gift from the Lord;
    they are a reward from him.
Children born to a young man
    are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.
How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them!
Psalm 127:3-5

Congratulations, Jeremy & Jenni!

May your quiver be full. 
That doesn't sound right. No, no that can't be right, can it??
Comment

Jessica Phillips

Jessica is worshiper and follower of Jesus. He rescued her heart at age 6 but he rescued her calling, purpose and direction in her early 20's. Everyday God is still writing Jessica's story. It involves her husband, Brad, her daughter, Emery, their extended families. But the story is a tale of loss of life and dark grief. And the story ebs and weaves and the grief story is followed by weddings and laughter. And what comes next? A Baby! God sends us a baby to shape and teach and grow right in the midst of our loss and realizing that life actually moves forward. We didn't think it would again after he died. But life just did what it was supposed to do...and it went on. And hope is born again. Everything I write is based on this fact: I'm God's child, I'm alive today. So what do You want me to do for You? Because I want my contribution to matter. I want to leave a legacy.

Pedicure with Satan

I've had a pedi with Satan. Okay, I've had a mani/pedi with him. Don't get all judgy wudgy. You may not have had a mani/pedi with him but I bet you car pooled with him at some point. Or he went grocery shopping with you. If you're married, then I know he's been on a date with you and your husband. 

He's a sneaky slippery snake but I've eaten out of the palms of his freshly manicured claws...and so have you. Maybe you haven't...OOH! Right there...he just did it! Liar! Liar! Putting one thought into my brain. One thought of insecurity. One thought that makes me feel unloved, isolated, silly for sharing. One thought that leads to another thought that leads to another...and all of a sudden, I forget I was bought with a price. The price of the cross of Jesus Christ. I forget to take my thoughts captive and then my thought life becomes my reality and that reality, the one founded in lies, well, that reality bites!

Here's how Satan gets me : 

He sneaks in masked as your BFF (best friend forever. Forever ever? Forever ever!). I'm not talking about your real-life BFF. Not your girlfriend with skin. I'm talking about that place you go in your head because, if you're honest, you're afraid that your BFF may not be able to handle the darkness/insecurity/depravity within you. She might not love you anymore. She might judge you. (Another LIE. Godly women sharpen you! They make you better! Get you one!). 
Back to Satan...
At first he's just listening. Listening to you whine (and maybe some of you wHine). Whine about your husband and the list of honey-do's you're holding on to from your first week of marriage. (Every honey-do list is different. It ain't all "Wash the dishes. Help with the laundry". That actually comes innate in some men. Some honey-do's are "Hug me. Look at me. Love me.") And then after Satan listens to you grumble for a while, he validates you with a lie, "Yes, guuuurrrl. You remind that "man" where he gets his bread buttered. He's not worth this trouble. There's nothing left to fight for in this marriage. You fell out of love with each other ages ago. You've given your best years and your beach body up for his blankedy blank blank blank."  (Satan is a cussing scum bag.)  But his lie grows. And so does your distance between you and your husband. So now you're ready to pack his bags or your bags and do some walking with your cute new toesies, except that you haven't even gotten to the point in your pedi where your freshly-shaven legs are physically assaulted with the "refreshing" and flesh-tearing-sea-salt-scrub. 

So you sit. 

And think. 

And you downward spiral...

You now know, after consulting with the "father of lies", that your marriage is a sham. Like, for sure. You totally get Taylor now. I mean, you're never EVER EVER getting back together! 

Your marriage is a failure.

Probably because of how much you suck. I mean, you really do. You really are a failure. You gave up your dreams and your hopes and for what? A new SUV and a boat? You have no purpose. You're just a trophy wife. And not even a good trophy anymore. You're a dusty bowling trophy in your Grandma's knick-knack room. (Reminder: schedule botox this week.) Now you check FaceBook. Oh great, the Mitchells just posted pictures of their weekend at the family lake house. They look so happy. Why can't we be happy like the Mitchells. Maybe we should buy a lake house. Yes, we should. No, wait, we're never ever ever getting back together, so a joint lake house seems stupid. OOH! We should have another baby! We really got along during the fifteen minutes it took to make the other two. Ooh, what time is it? 3:02. Oh good, I've got a few minutes before they realize I'm late picking them up from school. UGH! What kind of mother says that? The kind behind bars telling her scary story on tonight's LifeTime t.v. movie. Your children are better off if CPS intervenes right this minute. All you're going to instill in them is doubt, insecurity and possibly some sort of confused sexual identity that will lead to an expensive therapy bill that they'll probably send to you to pay b/c you failed them so miserably in their spoiled lavish lifestyle that they can't hold a job but they call themselves "Social Media Experts" because they have a Twitter account, FaceBook account, email account...but NO CHECKING ACCOUNT! But they only got to this place in life because you were trying to buy them a lifestyle to cover up what a failure you are as a wife and mother. 

Failure. Epic failure. 

You look up, an hour and a half has slipped by since you first sat down. 
You pick yourself up out of the chair, almost drunk off the low. So this is how shawty got low (anyone getting these musical lyric jokes?). 

You walk to the check-out counter, slide your card (praying it isn't declined) and you smile, "Thank you! I feel so great!"

But you don't. 

Because you had a mani/pedi with Satan. And you bought Every. Single. WORD. And then you elaborated on those 'words' and you turned them into sentences and paragraphs and you assigned those thoughts a value and now that value is your belief. A belief that you place higher than the WORD of God. Because now you're walking in the word...of Satan, the accuser. You're literally walking in it. Carrying it with you. You're going to take it with you to pick up your kids from school. You're going to take it home with you to greet your husband with a "hey" and a grunt instead of a hug and a "hi. how was your day?" You're going to view yourself through the lenses of a liar. 

And all cuz you didn't have a beat down on the first ugly, critical thought that entered your brain. 

Armor up, ladies (Ephesians 6:10-18). Take captive every thought. Don't let one slip through. Or your marriage is doomed and your kids are doomed and your purpose is doomed. Satan is prowling around looking for someone to DEVOUR. He wants to eat you alive. Does that sound like someone you want to have a mani/pedi with? I think not. Sounds like someone I want to throat-punch. Throat-punch with the true Word of God. 

Throw some punches at the enemy today (reminder: the enemy is NOT your husband or your children). 

Keep Going.


"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."
2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
1 Peter 5:8 (NIV)
Comment

Jessica Phillips

Jessica is worshiper and follower of Jesus. He rescued her heart at age 6 but he rescued her calling, purpose and direction in her early 20's. Everyday God is still writing Jessica's story. It involves her husband, Brad, her daughter, Emery, their extended families. But the story is a tale of loss of life and dark grief. And the story ebs and weaves and the grief story is followed by weddings and laughter. And what comes next? A Baby! God sends us a baby to shape and teach and grow right in the midst of our loss and realizing that life actually moves forward. We didn't think it would again after he died. But life just did what it was supposed to do...and it went on. And hope is born again. Everything I write is based on this fact: I'm God's child, I'm alive today. So what do You want me to do for You? Because I want my contribution to matter. I want to leave a legacy.

Enter the Darkness

I've been reading through the Old Testament. I've made my way through the Genesis adventures. Falling more in love with the flawed characters. I find my pride and vulnerability in Eve. I find my anger and jealousy in Cain. I find my lust and curiosity for sin in Lot's wife (who looked back just one more time). I remember my infertility in Sarah AND find my stubborn wantonness in her as well. I find my desire to obey, lead and commune with God in Abraham. In Joseph, I find my loneliness and favor with God. And in Moses, I find a person who was willing to enter the darkness to find God. 

I relate to that. 

Exodus 20 is where God is giving the Ten Commandments to Moses and the people of Israel. He gives the "Thou shalt nots..." and then at the end of the chapter, beginning in verse 18 and ending in verse 21, the people respond...in fear. When God's presence appeared before them belting out His Commandments, it wasn't accompanied by a string quartet as its soundtrack. It was stinkin' scary. God's presence was brought through thunder, lightning, trumpet sounds and a smoking mountain. 

So picture this, God's about to talk to you and give you His law and the sky turns black,  and lightning, so bright, so electric, begins flashing through the sky that it looks like heaven is falling. And then lightning gives way to its voice: THUNDER. Thunder so loud and so quick that when you try to count, "One one thousand...two one thousand..." you can only get to "One...." and then lightning flashes and thunder crashes and you realize, "well, this is how I'm going to die. I sure hope my...uh, camels and goats are in order" (b/c you're an Israelite in the desert so all you've got are camels and goats). And then through the deafening thunder you hear a trumpet. So loud, that you can't help but look up at the treacherous sky because you want to find the source of the sound of the trumpet that is shredding your eardrums. But your eyes don't find the trumpet. Instead, they find that the mountain you're standing at the foot of is smoking. You're standing at the foot of a smoking mountain in a crazy lightning storm in high winds and all you can think of is "Oh dang. This mountain is going to erupt. THIS is how I'm going to die. Goodbye camels and goats." 

And then through it all, the lightning, thunder, trumpet, and smoke, you hear the scariest, mightiest, holiest thing you've ever or will ever experience, the voice of God. And the sound of His voice makes the rest of the "show" look like the opening number from an episode of "Glee." 

And you're afraid. Very afraid. 

So afraid, that when God stops talking, you push Moses to the front and say, 
"Okay, buddy. You go, you deal with HIM. We'll stay back here. You brought us here, you're our guy. We took a vote and it's unanimous! Go ahead. We'll cheer you on!  Hip Hip Hooray!  M - O - S - E - S...you must be the GREATEST, BEST! GGGGOOOOOOO MOSES!" 

And you stay behind because you don't want to die. You're sure that to be close to God's presence is sudden and certain death. And Moses is like, "Don't be such a skeerdy cat! Don't fear God, R-E-S-P-E-C-T Him and obey Him and you won't have a problem with Him." 

But Exodus 20:21 (NKJV) nails it. It says:

"So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was." 

God's presence was covered in darkness. Darkness is a terrifying place for me to be. I like to be in control. I can't control what I cannot see and I cannot see in the darkness. 

But the places I have been closest to God have been in the darkest places. 
The aftermath of my Dad's suicide. Darkness. Pitch black. And God was there and He rescued me. 
The time I miscarried twins. Darkness. Hopeless. And God was there and He rescued me.
The next time I miscarried a baby. Darkness. Despair. And God was there and He rescued me. 
The time my marriage was falling apart. Darkness. Black. And God was there and He rescued me. 
The time I almost gave completely in to my selfishness, sin, flesh, temptations. Darkness. And God was there and He rescued me. 

God has not left us. Especially when it's dark. His presence is in the darkness. You're not alone. You may not be able to see, but that's okay, Jesus has this way of giving sight to the blind. 

KEEP GOING!



Comment

Jessica Phillips

Jessica is worshiper and follower of Jesus. He rescued her heart at age 6 but he rescued her calling, purpose and direction in her early 20's. Everyday God is still writing Jessica's story. It involves her husband, Brad, her daughter, Emery, their extended families. But the story is a tale of loss of life and dark grief. And the story ebs and weaves and the grief story is followed by weddings and laughter. And what comes next? A Baby! God sends us a baby to shape and teach and grow right in the midst of our loss and realizing that life actually moves forward. We didn't think it would again after he died. But life just did what it was supposed to do...and it went on. And hope is born again. Everything I write is based on this fact: I'm God's child, I'm alive today. So what do You want me to do for You? Because I want my contribution to matter. I want to leave a legacy.

2 Truths & A Lie

2 Truths and a Lie: (you try and figure out which "fact" is the lie)
1.  I am working on my Master's Degree in Church Leadership thru an online university. 
2.  I've been a licensed massage therapist.
3.  I drive a minivan. 

I played this game one time when I led a women's Bible study at my church. I gave the exact same clues. In a group of 85 women, only 4 women (who didn't know me super well), guessed the right answer. Only 4. Hehe. 

TRUTH: I WAS a licensed massage therapist. Talk about the long, expensive way to try and outrun God's will & call for your life. Silly girl. Thinking I could outrun my call to serve God full-time. Oh the things He allows us to go through - and the time and money we waste! (PS - I'm DONE wasting my time and money, aren't you. Let's OBEY...say it with me: OBEY!) 
Now let's memorize 1 Samuel 15:22 (nlt)
Samuel said:

“What is more pleasing to the Lord:
    your burnt offerings and sacrifices
    or your obedience to his voice?
Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice,
    and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.



TRUTH: I drive a minivan. Oh yeah I do. And I love it. We actually bought this sexy beast of a vehicle a year before we even had a child...that's love. 
I was an associate student pastor for about 18 months and when I got the swagger-wagon-grocery-getter, one of my beloved Mamas (Mrs. Teresa Shelton, I'm talkin' bout YOU), she gave me a coffee cup and stationary that said, "I'm too sexy for my minivan."  Yes, yes I am. I LOVE that minivan. Seriously L-O-V-E it! It's so easy and practical. And it has buttons that I press to open the doors. Press a button, BOOM: doors slide open, kids climb in.  BOOM: jealous much? Not yet? Let me continue...did I mention that my 2-yr-old can climb into it all by herself. My sexy sleek mama wagon sits low enough to the ground that my baby child can crawl into it by her self. BOOM: now you're jealous!


LIE: I am not working on my Master's Degree in Church Leadership (or any other studies). But I consider myself to be a student of the church. I love reading all things church and leadership and discipleship. I don't ever want to stop learning. The day I stop learning is the day I hope that I draw my last dying breath. 


What about you? What's a surprising little fun fact about your life that most people would find difficult to believe? 

Have a super great Wednesday. (and KEEP GOING!)


See the sexy beast behind me. 
That's what 'practical' looks like. 


Comment

Jessica Phillips

Jessica is worshiper and follower of Jesus. He rescued her heart at age 6 but he rescued her calling, purpose and direction in her early 20's. Everyday God is still writing Jessica's story. It involves her husband, Brad, her daughter, Emery, their extended families. But the story is a tale of loss of life and dark grief. And the story ebs and weaves and the grief story is followed by weddings and laughter. And what comes next? A Baby! God sends us a baby to shape and teach and grow right in the midst of our loss and realizing that life actually moves forward. We didn't think it would again after he died. But life just did what it was supposed to do...and it went on. And hope is born again. Everything I write is based on this fact: I'm God's child, I'm alive today. So what do You want me to do for You? Because I want my contribution to matter. I want to leave a legacy.

Star Trek & Other Family Escapes

There will always be 'those' people. You know the ones. You might be married to one. You might be raising one. Or, Lawt forbid, you might BE one. They begin journal entries with "Star Date...". They believe speaking Klingon is the true gift of tongues from the Holy Spirit. They might even have a onesie-track-suit. And they definitely sit and deliberate how awesome it will be when the government finally lets us use teleporting (you know they have the technology...come on! Hey Uncle Sam, what do you think we are, STUPID?!?! CRAZY?!?!). 
Mean people call them freaks, geeks, but good Christian people, we call them what they are:

TREKKIES.

My Dad was a Trekkie. More of a closeted Trekkie. But in the privacy of his home, with his family eating salisbury steak and mashed potatoes from TV trays, watching our 19-inch tube television (that had been struck by lightning and only powered on by an "ingenious" toggle switch which sometimes caused the screen to roll and stop just perfectly so that a person's nose, chin and lips were at the top of the screen and their forehead and eyes were underneath the bothersome scroll line in the middle of the screen, making our crap tv the first-ever split-screen). But side-by-side, eating, watching, bearing the intensity of the amazing writing and acting, we were all a happy family of Trekkies. Dad wanted to be James T. Kirk. And I think Mom would have happily traded Dad in for the Captain.

But I remember it as family time. Watching old reruns together until "Star Trek: The Next Generation" came along. And then it was new episodes. New enemies. New heroes. New drama. New fun.

But as much as I love "The Next Generation", my Daddy raised me right, and thus, I'll always and forever be a beloved Trekkie devoted to "Star Trek", The First Generation."

And in that same living room, our weird Trekkie family prayed together, read Scripture together, and laughed together and cried together. We got happy news together. And we received devastating news together. 

But we did it together

So my big Trekkie wisdom for you today is: KEEP IT TOGETHER

Stay with your stupid husband because you love Jesus. Stay with your stupid wife because you love Jesus. Because your stupid kids aren't stupid. They're watching it all. They're hearing it all. They're building an arsenal inside their hearts and minds and one day, our sin will return to us through them if we don't break these cycles of selfishness. 

God is good. Your spouse might not be. But you might not be, either. 

Find a fun family escape - play Skipbo, Monopoly, Checkers. Take it old school, like we do, and pull out the sprinkler in the backyard and make everybody run through it. Trust me, you can't be mad and plotting your escape route when you're being chased through a sprinkler by your kids and your spouse. When Brad and I just can't take it anymore, we throw balls at each other. Yeah. That's right. We go outside and let Emmy run around the sprinkler and he & I throw either a beach ball or a bouncy ball at each other and we basically play "hit it or dodge it" - but it makes us laugh. 

Sometimes we just have to KEEP GOING through the pissed off phase so we can get to a place where we can laugh. Laughter helps us calm down, stop taking ourselves so seriously and remember why we fell in love in the first place. 

So find that escape for your family today. In the Johnson house, one of our escapes was "Star Trek". In the Phillips house, it's running through the sprinklers and/or throwing a ball at each other (not actually trying to "David & Goliath" somebody). 

As I learned from Star Trek (and from the Bible), our enemies are not from within our ship (uh, I mean, our home). Our enemy is out there, and if we find that he made his way IN, then we gotta armor up and kick him back to hell where he belongs. 
"For we are not fighting against human beings but against the wicked spiritual forces in the heavenly world, the rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers of this dark age." Ephesians 6:12 (GNT). That's serious, people. We're fighting against "the wicked spiritual forces". Oh dang. I've got chills. 

Our families are worth fighting for.

Don't leave your door open to the enemy. And stop looking at your spouse as your enemy. He/she is your gift from God. And don't even think about re-gifting him or her. (I know it crossed your mind!) 

Someone reading this is hanging her/his head with tears filling their eyes internally whispering, "But you don't understand. I can't take it anymore."

And I respectfully and lovingly say back to you, "Oh yes I do." 

I've been there. Maybe I was there a day ago or a week ago or a year ago. But I've been there. And when I couldn't count on my spouse to fill my heart or expectations (which he never can - he wasn't created for that God-shaped hole in my heart), I return to my Savior. And He heals me. Every. Single. Time. And He helps me stay (and WANT to stay). 

God loves you. God never left you. God never cheated on you. God never chose his work over you. God has never had a problem with pornography, alcohol, lying, gambling, eating, drugs, over-spending. God is the lover of your soul. The One who created you. He knows you just as you are and He wants you anyway. Exactly your weight. With your unforgiveness and your anger...He wants you just as you are right now.   

So go to Him. And KEEP GOING to Him. He's in the business of bringing what was dead back to life again. He did it through His Son, Jesus and He can do it in your marriage, with your kids, in your family. 

Keep on Trekking. 

"Submit yourselves to one another because of your reverence for Christ." Ephesians 5:21 (GNT)


(My parting gift to you...my best Trekkie look. Slicked back hair, big ears, high-neck-track-suit. You're welcome.)



I'm very busy and important. 
Check out that BIG ear!! 
PS - I'm typing in Klingon. 






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Jessica Phillips

Jessica is worshiper and follower of Jesus. He rescued her heart at age 6 but he rescued her calling, purpose and direction in her early 20's. Everyday God is still writing Jessica's story. It involves her husband, Brad, her daughter, Emery, their extended families. But the story is a tale of loss of life and dark grief. And the story ebs and weaves and the grief story is followed by weddings and laughter. And what comes next? A Baby! God sends us a baby to shape and teach and grow right in the midst of our loss and realizing that life actually moves forward. We didn't think it would again after he died. But life just did what it was supposed to do...and it went on. And hope is born again. Everything I write is based on this fact: I'm God's child, I'm alive today. So what do You want me to do for You? Because I want my contribution to matter. I want to leave a legacy.

Awkward Family Photos

When we were growing up, my Mom had one camera. Like one camera for my entire childhood years. I think it cost something like $35. It was a "super fancy" 35mm camera. Some of you thirty-somethings remember those. The flash was nearly blinding. And it had like some sort of crank that you cranked after you took each photo. And it was copied to film that had to be dropped off at Walgreens or Walmart to be developed. These are all words and concepts that make it sound like I'm from 1910!

And back then, we didn't know that we weren't supposed to look disheveled, unkept, off-guard and awkward in every picture. We had not yet figured out what the cool, young hipsters have now mastered..."the easy pose." The "best side of your face" pose. The "stick this leg out slightly to look thinner" pose. The "put your hand on your hip, but turn your arm ever-so-slightly forward so you look gaunt" pose. 

Nope. Back in my day the pose was "Look at the camera and say 'CHEEEEESE'" and cheese is what we got. 

But my beautiful sister, Jenni, and I try REALLY hard to be photogenic now (since most photos of us from age 7 thru 18 show ragamuffin clothes, bad hair, bad teeth, bad skin (and bad Sally Jessie Raphael red-rimmed glasses for Jenni). 

NOW, we do the Kardashian pose - you know, suck in, put on spanx, tilt the head to make the nose smaller, the cheek bones higher and the lips thicker & poutier. 
The go-to smile begins with slanted, smoldering eyes that seem to twinkle or flirt;  your lips are softly closed accompanied by a side-smile (as though you're smirking to your self about the inside joke that all these other fools aren't in on). Option #2 is the teeth smile - this is when you smile wide enough to show teeth. This smile is tricky because it must not be wide enough to show your 33 yr old jowls. You know jowls, it's when your cheeks fall and land somewhere around your chin line. So when you smile and you have jowls, it makes you look like you're carrying extra weight. Jowls suck!

If you're totally lost right now, that's okay, probably a great sign that you have not experienced "vanity run amuck". 

But we do live in "vanity run amuck!" And we do try to take the gorgeous "No, I'm not posing, I always effortlessly look like a movie star standing in weird, uncomfortable shoes, and spanx so tight that the only way I'm going to the bathroom tonight is if I have a pair of scissors in my hand so I can cut my way out of these suckers!"

Yep, we're the new posers. Sometimes we get it right.

And other times, the outcome is just.....AWKWARD.

Enjoy the AWKWARD (and a few of the pretty) at our expense. 




Beautiful Sister Pic



AWKWARD. 
What is she digging for?!?!



AWKWARD.
Some sort of dancing/mating call, I guess. 




AWKWARD.
Sunset behind us picture just looks creepy! WE make it look creepy!


 AWKWARD.
Jenni & Brenna cracking up. So sweet. So awkward! Love it 



AWKARD.
I'm too awkward for this picture!




AWKARD.
Posing like Minnie Mouse. Totally normal for a 30 yr old!





AWKARD.
I think Jessica is having a stroke & Jenn is praying for her. 




BEAUTIFUL.
Sisters all fancied up for Jenni's wedding. 


AWKWARD.
Creeper got in the photo. Brenna looks nervous/scared, etc. 




AWKWARD.
Di sticking her tongue out, Jenni smiling nervously and politely. 


BEAUTIFUL.
(but kinda awkward for some reason)



BEAUTIFUL.
The Johnson Girls: Jessica, Jenni and Linda Mae





AWKWARD and BEAUTIFUL
Only b/c we were pinning Jenni's wedding dress together...and b/c of the obvious (Elly the creeper photo bomber!)


AWKWARD AND AWFUL!
What was I thinking? 8.5 months pregnant and wearing all that shiny fabric. Tragic!




BEAUTIFUL!!
Jenni & Diana (gorg!!)




BEAUTIFUL!
Jes & Jenni are T.A.N.


TOTALLY AWKWARD!
Match Christmas pajamas! 


You're welcome! 
More Awkward family photos will be coming so get ready for those!
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Jessica Phillips

Jessica is worshiper and follower of Jesus. He rescued her heart at age 6 but he rescued her calling, purpose and direction in her early 20's. Everyday God is still writing Jessica's story. It involves her husband, Brad, her daughter, Emery, their extended families. But the story is a tale of loss of life and dark grief. And the story ebs and weaves and the grief story is followed by weddings and laughter. And what comes next? A Baby! God sends us a baby to shape and teach and grow right in the midst of our loss and realizing that life actually moves forward. We didn't think it would again after he died. But life just did what it was supposed to do...and it went on. And hope is born again. Everything I write is based on this fact: I'm God's child, I'm alive today. So what do You want me to do for You? Because I want my contribution to matter. I want to leave a legacy.

Do You Ever Just Feel....

...CUTE?!?! Yes, my "funny ha ha" mantra is "I picked pretty" - (see my "complete profile" before you get all judgy). 

But I don't feel pretty very often.  

Listen up girls, I KNOW we all have those days that we just don't like how we look. The pants are too tight. The shirt is wrinkled (and since the invent of Downey wrinkle spray we have NO idea where our iron is or how to use it IF we did indeed find it). We're having a bad skin day. A bad makeup day. A bad hair day. All-in-all, it's a bad mirror day. And then we drop our kids off at school, mother's day out, or we walk into the 'office' feeling as low as we can go, low-and-behold, there SHE is. Probably vetted as People magazine's "Most Beautiful Woman Alive" but she turned it down because she ate a grape and was bloated that day. The comparisons continue throughout the day until you downward spiral so severely that you resign yourself to going home, putting on old maternity pants and eating ice cream and drinking wine on the couch. Oh, just me? PUUUULLLLEEEAAASSSE, guuuurl! I know I'm preachin' to the choir. I know we're all in this boat together. 

But aren't you thankful for ONE day (in like 42 days) that you actually feel CUTE! 

I'm having that day. I feel cute today. I'm usually in yoga pants, sloppy pony tail & hat, minimal makeup (revealing all my skin conditions: dry, oily, old, wrinkled, eczema, acne). But today I did my hair and put on makeup...like really put on makeup. I'm wearing colorful clothes, not my usual "black is slimming" pants & shirt combo that makes me look more 'fashion victim' than 'fashion forward.' I'm wearing heals. My husband said, "You look pretty today." Hey, I'll take it! 

When I write people notes, I often end it by saying "KEEP GOING!" 
So today, if you feel ugly, gross, fat, less-than, defeated...KEEP GOING! Today ain't over and tomorrow is just on the horizon. Keep going! 

My hair started out BAAAAD today, but I kept going. The small victory for me was that, in the end, I feel cute. 

So KEEP GOING, GUUUURRRRL!! 

Here's some pics for the encouragement of your...laughter!

Curled bangs + Callick = YUCK!

So I kept going...


And check it, direct it! I pulled out my weapon of mass destruction (blue titanium flat iron) and whipped those bangs into perfect shape!

KEEP GOING!

I hope you feel cute. 
1 Comment

Jessica Phillips

Jessica is worshiper and follower of Jesus. He rescued her heart at age 6 but he rescued her calling, purpose and direction in her early 20's. Everyday God is still writing Jessica's story. It involves her husband, Brad, her daughter, Emery, their extended families. But the story is a tale of loss of life and dark grief. And the story ebs and weaves and the grief story is followed by weddings and laughter. And what comes next? A Baby! God sends us a baby to shape and teach and grow right in the midst of our loss and realizing that life actually moves forward. We didn't think it would again after he died. But life just did what it was supposed to do...and it went on. And hope is born again. Everything I write is based on this fact: I'm God's child, I'm alive today. So what do You want me to do for You? Because I want my contribution to matter. I want to leave a legacy.

Ode to Stephanie Ann Dale Miller


I wanted to share something I wrote about a friend. She was a daughter, a sister, a wife and a mother.  This is my belated "Mother's Day" thought...


April 11, 2013

ODE TO STEPHANIE ANN DALE MILLER


Some news just plain hits you in the gut, takes your breath away, and breaks your heart. I got that sort of news this evening. The kind of news that has made me cry my eyes out, reflect, pray, wrestle with and submit to my Maker. 

Here's what happened:

I walked in to meet my Mom for dinner tonight. Emery was freaking out like she does every single time she sees her beloved grandma. She was moving as quickly as she could through the crowd to get to Gaga and I was trying to guide her with one hand so that she didn't plow down any bystander. In all the commotion, I didn't notice how still Mom was. I didn't see her expression as I guided Emmy into "Gaga's" lap, stuffed the diaper bag into the booth and plopped my tired self down. And then I saw the look on her face. She couldn't even look up to meet my stare as I instinctively asked, "What's wrong, Mom?" 

"Have you checked Facebook in the last three hours?"

"Umm" I had to think, "yeah, I think so...why? What's wrong?"

"I can't say it." 

She slid her phone across the table and I picked it up with both haste and reluctance. There it was. Facebook official from the page of my childhood friend, Rachel, it read: "My sister, Stephanie Ann Dale Miller, has gone to meet her Savior today." Steph had battled brain cancer for two and a half years and this cool day in April, she had drawn her last breath and was now healed and whole before her Lord. She was 37. She left behind a husband and two daughters. 

I bowed my head and wept. Thankfully I was wearing my workout clothes and a ball cap that covered my face so I didn't cause anyone to lose their appetite with my ugly cry. I unashamedly wept.
The waitress stopped, "Are you okay? Can I get you anything?"

Mom answered, "We just got sad news."

The waitress, obviously a Believer, replied, "Should I bring chocolate cake?”


I'm a Texas girl through and through but I am originally from Kansas City, Kansas. Our family lived about a decade of my childhood years in Kansas before Mom and Dad got right with the Lord and made our permanent home in Texas. God was good to us in KS. We had tons of family around us, Grandma lived three minutes away, we purchased our first house, belonged to a great church family and best of all...we had The Dale Girls. 

Mrs. Dale, whom Jenni and I inappropriately and accidentally always called by her first name, Nelda, was funny and charming and beautiful and full of life and love and music and the Word. She loved God and she loved her family. And she loved to laugh. And she raised her daughters with those characteristics fully in tact.

The youngest of Mrs. Dale's three daughters was Melissa. Melissa and Jenni were the same age and they were thick as thieves. Adorable and silly and funny and so incredibly annoying to me and...

Rachel...the middle daughter and my best friend. Rachel was my age. Equally as self-righteous and know-it-all as moa. It's a wonder we ever got along. But Rachel was my muse. When we moved from KS to TX, she was the inspiration for my now famous poem, "Friends In The Heart". (It will be remembered with the greats, like Emerson and Dr. Seuss.) Rachel was smart and well read and she always did what was right. She was the friend I didn't ever want to disappoint.  

And then there was Stephanie. The eldest of three daughters. A natural beauty. An entertaining thespian. A singer. An actress. A comedian. You name it, she could do it, be it, mimic it. When Stephanie smiled, you couldn't help but wonder what was behind the smile, because she didn't just smile, she laughed. There was a laugh behind her smile. She smiled with her eyes, her cheeks, her nose and her lips. Stephanie was larger than life. She was three and a half years older than me. Just enough age difference for me to watch her, imitate her, hold her in high esteem. I secretly worshiped and idolized her, even though I pretended to be frustrated and annoyed when she would yell at me and Rae for bothering her. Having no big sister of my own, Stephanie was my surrogate big sister. She was bossy and loud and funny and sarcastic and charming and witty and polite. She could speak comfortably in front of a crowd, even a crowd of adults. As a matter of fact, she was incredible in front of a doting congregation...her best and truest self. She oozed confidence and charisma. Yeah, I totally worshiped her.  She was always singing...usually some show tune from a musical I had not yet seen or heard of. She had a great sense of style that sometimes stretched her parents but she was obedient and in the end she chose modesty and made it look cute.  She had friends and she even had boyfriends...whoa...she was so cool. 

Steph was so cool that "playing" with the four of us younger girls was beneath her, and looking back, I totally get it! What would a thirteen-year-old want to do with a herd of eight-and-ten-year-old babies? But every now and again, we would beg, plead and somehow con Steph into helping us in one of our games of school or house. The most memorable for me was the time the "Fab Four" (i.e. Rachel, Jessica, Melissa & Jenni) joined forces to play some sort of version of house. I think Rachel was the "Mom" because she was making us all sandwiches in the "kitchen". And I think Jenni, Melissa and I were all actresses or singers...maybe the first Dixie Chicks. But the most notable moment of our pretend world game was when we were going on "stage", doing our hair and makeup, and Stephanie helped us stuff our shirts with socks so that we would look more "womanly". Maybe I shouldn't write that, maybe it's inappropriate. But we were young and innocent...and flat-chested. I remember Rachel being both horrified and amused at the three of us and our voluptuous, yet lumpy bosoms. Stephanie laughed the entire time she rolled tube socks for us. Showing us how to tuck our shirts into our pants just right so that the socks were held into perfect place. And when her masterpiece was finished, she paraded us into the kitchen yelling, "Mom! You gotta see this!" Mrs. Dale laughed her infectious howl and called Jenni "Dolly Parton". 

Yes, that's what I remember about Stephanie...teaching me how to stuff my shirt with tube socks. Every girl needs a big sister to teach her the important things in life. 

But the "Stephanie" memory that stands out as the brightest in my mind is seeing Stephanie sitting in a wingback chair near the fireplace in the formal living/sitting room holding her Bible. It sticks out in my mind because I remember thinking, "That Bible is HUGE". She must have been reading a study Bible or Life Application Bible because at that age, the Bible looked big enough to be the "Family Bible" in Steph's small and delicate hands. She was writing, maybe in the Bible, or maybe in a journal, but I thought, "Look at her. She's reading the Bible and no one is making her." She was maybe thirteen years old. 

What a testimony. Diving into the Word because she wanted to. Because she loved Jesus. Because she was hungry for Truth. Because she was His. 

In later years, we would see The Dale Girls on other occasions when we would visit family in KS. I had the honor of being a bridesmaid in Rachel's wedding when we were nineteen. Stephanie was there...a newlywed. And she was even more fabulous at 23 than she was at 13! And, again, I saw her reading her Bible one morning. She was radiant. Beautiful. Full of Light and Love. She was full of the Lord. 
Steph gave me great big sister advice on that trip, "Jessica, whatever you do, DO NOT get your bangs trimmed the week before you get married." And then she handed me her bridal portrait and she cackled as she let her laugh roll from her belly. Her bangs were short. But I didn't laugh, I was breathless. She was perfect. Flawless. She looked like a royal princess bride. And her prince, Phillip, what a beautiful couple. They were regal and young and full of life. 

Three years ago, my phone rang and to my surprise, it was Stephanie. She had read my blog about our struggle with infertility. She was calling to offer me encouragement and hope. She, too, had struggled in getting pregnant with their second daughter, Emily. I remember telling her that I had stopped all fertility treatment because my heart and mind couldn't take any more hurt and disappointment for that season. Stephanie was quiet. She didn't try to fill the space in my aching heart with empty words. She listened. And when she responded, her words were wise and life giving. And later that year when I did get pregnant, she sent me a message on FB telling me how happy she was for what God was giving us. It was the same month that she was diagnosed with her brain tumor. She was writing to offer me more encouragement and love and hope even in the face of her own mountain. 

And so, when I read that she was now in Heaven, I hung my head, ball cap covering my face, and I wept. Because the earth suffered a loss. And Heaven gained one of its own. I know many family members greeted her. And I imagine that my Dad waited in line to hug her and welcome her. And they smiled at each other…those infectious smiles. And they laughed. And they worshiped at the feet of Jesus. 

And today though there are holes in earthly, human hearts because of our temporary loss, Stephanie is whole. She is with her Savior, the Lover of her soul, her Great Physician. 

You are missed, Stephanie. But you will never be forgotten. 

Love Your Surrogate Other Little Sister,
Jessica (PS - I finally got boobs)


Proverbs 31:28-31
(Ode to Steph, the virtuous woman)
Her children rise up and call her blessed; 

Her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many daughters have done well, 

But you excel them all.”
Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, 

But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands, 

And let her own works praise her in the gates.”


Side Note: 
I was blessed to attend Stephanie's funeral a week later and her brave Mama and Husband both spoke her praises AT the funeral...WOW! 
Her Mom (Mrs. Dale, aka, "Nelda") left us with this incredible verse: 
"I have no greater joy than to hear my children walk in truth." 3 John 4 

Oh that we may all walk in this same joy so that we can hold each other again in heaven! 
Go, ye, make disciples!!

(pictured below: Melissa, Stephanie, Rachel)


2 Comments

Jessica Phillips

Jessica is worshiper and follower of Jesus. He rescued her heart at age 6 but he rescued her calling, purpose and direction in her early 20's. Everyday God is still writing Jessica's story. It involves her husband, Brad, her daughter, Emery, their extended families. But the story is a tale of loss of life and dark grief. And the story ebs and weaves and the grief story is followed by weddings and laughter. And what comes next? A Baby! God sends us a baby to shape and teach and grow right in the midst of our loss and realizing that life actually moves forward. We didn't think it would again after he died. But life just did what it was supposed to do...and it went on. And hope is born again. Everything I write is based on this fact: I'm God's child, I'm alive today. So what do You want me to do for You? Because I want my contribution to matter. I want to leave a legacy.

Hello Stranger!

...So, it's been nearly, I dunno, like two years (or more) since I last posted anything on my blog. My last blog entry was the announcement that I was finally pregnant and oh my my, what ride it has been! The pregnancy FLEW by! I worked so much & was so sick and exhuasted that I didn't keep up with blogging but I did keep a VERY detailed journal that I wrote in at least twice a week for the duration of the pregnancy. I'm going to give it to our daughter one day when she's old enough to appreciate it. I will probably go through it and blog some of my old entries every now and again.


We were thrilled to welcome Emery Noel Phillips into our arms on Tuesday, February 8, 2011. She weighed 6 lbs, 10 oz and was 19 inches long. She just turned TWO! I can't believe it...time both flies and crawls. She was a healthy infant with the exception of yucky colic and acid reflux. She was definitely a high maintenance baby (wonder where she got that?)! And now she's a TODDLER - WHEW! She keeps Mama & Daddy on their toes! She began sleeping through the night at 16 weeks old and Brad and I couldn't have been more thankful! It was the "break" we needed. I had terrible guilt associated with not really "loving" motherhood. I wasn't the warm fuzzy Mom that LOVED being at home. I recognize that millions of women wish/dream they could stay at home...I recognize the privilege, believe me. But I also recognize that God wires us each differently and gifts us specifically - and I am, without a doubt, an EXTROVERT. So being at home with an infant that only screamed and spewed was not ideal. It was not what the Rom-Coms and the Parenting magazines promised. It wasn't sweet and beautiful...it was awful! If I showered once a week during the first four months of Emmy's life, that was a success. Don't judge me...okay, judge me. I don't care. I survived! And Brad survived! And Emery survived! By the grace of God's goodness, we survived! 

So now I'm back to blogging. I'll be more faithful. I promise. Pinkie swear. I have new inspiration in my heart & mind to keep me steadfast...and I'll tell you about that inspiration later this week, but for now I gotta run!

Till then...

1 Comment

Jessica Phillips

Jessica is worshiper and follower of Jesus. He rescued her heart at age 6 but he rescued her calling, purpose and direction in her early 20's. Everyday God is still writing Jessica's story. It involves her husband, Brad, her daughter, Emery, their extended families. But the story is a tale of loss of life and dark grief. And the story ebs and weaves and the grief story is followed by weddings and laughter. And what comes next? A Baby! God sends us a baby to shape and teach and grow right in the midst of our loss and realizing that life actually moves forward. We didn't think it would again after he died. But life just did what it was supposed to do...and it went on. And hope is born again. Everything I write is based on this fact: I'm God's child, I'm alive today. So what do You want me to do for You? Because I want my contribution to matter. I want to leave a legacy.

Oh Baby...How He Loves Us!

Dark days followed my last post in April. Days of despair and fear and frustration. Tears fell utterly hopeless and sometimes bitterly. But life was busy. It was Easter and in my world which is "church world" Easter is the biggest event we encounter each calendar year. I threw myself into work. I spoke/taught 4 times during April and May and that was on top of my normal responsibilities.

People kept telling me that if I would stop thinking about "it" then I would miraculously find myself pregnant. What a bunch of CRAP! I never stopped thinking about getting pregnant. Not for ONE second. Not when I was sitting at my desk writing copy and running reports. Not when I was studying the Word and getting ready to teach. Not when I was with my best friends laughing. It never left my mind. I prayed and begged God for a baby every single day. And every night I would hide my doubt which made me feel shame by climbing into a hot shower and drowning my tears where no one could see. And those words, "if you'll stop thinking about it, He'll give you a baby" would beat me to a pulp. But God revealed something profound to me. God isn't cruel. He doesn't parent the way we humans parent. I could never fully buy into the idea or "theology" that God would "reward" me with a baby if I would stop thinking about it. He isn't the desperate Mom in Target bribing her tantrum-throwing child with a toy if the child will behave and be quiet for just a little while. He is good and He is loving and He is giving and His timing is everything. So I knew that it was solely a matter of His sovereign timing. So my faith never wavered...RIIGHT! SIKE! It was a total roller coaster that left me dizzy. One day my faith would be great and huge and powerful. And then I would doubt and despair and worry. And then I would have renewed faith and belief but then my human inadequacies would trickle in and I'd find myself at that place of doubt again. It was a faith walk for me. And I walked blindly every single day. I learned what "praying without ceasing" really means. Every thought I had that made me long for a baby would be followed by prayer, and sometimes whining, before a merciful God.

And then I got a cold...in June. A really bad "summer" cold. I laid in bed miserable and then I remembered that I had not looked at a calendar in a while and when I looked, I saw that I was late. I didn't get excited. I figured my system was still out of whack from all the hormone treatments the months before. I went to bed with not even a hope. But when I woke up the next day, I knew I was pregnant. I just knew that I knew that I knew. So I drove to Walgreens and bought another pregnancy test. I couldn't wait to get home, so I walked into the Walgreens bathroom and I did my business on the magic wand. The wait time is supposed to be 3 minutes...but that magic wand read "Pregnant" in about 30 seconds. I went into convulsions! Screaming, laughing, crying, shaking - my very special friend, Kristine, was with me and after about the 3rd time I hugged her and then shook her, she said, "Jes, calm down or I'm gonna take you to the hospital b/c you're hyperventilating and quite possibly having a seizure." I pulled it together...but the tears kept falling and the smile couldn't be penetrated.

I walked into Brad's salon and somehow managed to get him alone for 2 minutes and said, "we're pregnant". I gave him the magic wand - and he cried. And I cried and laughed and jumped up and down and convulsed some more.

God was so sweet to us. He gave us a baby. And He gave us a sweet medical "family" to watch over us with careful eyes. Progesterone shots commenced just 2 hours after we found out I was pregnant - my doctor wasn't going to take any chances.

We are currently at Week 11. I've been sick...LOTS of nausea and some vomiting. Exhaustion and headaches, body aches, and a sore and bruised "bum" from the daily progesterone shots...but it's ALL WORTH IT!!!

God is good. His glory is sweetly revealed when He gives. But even when He doesn't, He's no less good or holy or loving. He's perfect. His timing is everything.

Oh how He loves us!


1 Samuel 1: 27-28
"I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. 28 So now I give him (her) to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given to the LORD."
3 Comments

Jessica Phillips

Jessica is worshiper and follower of Jesus. He rescued her heart at age 6 but he rescued her calling, purpose and direction in her early 20's. Everyday God is still writing Jessica's story. It involves her husband, Brad, her daughter, Emery, their extended families. But the story is a tale of loss of life and dark grief. And the story ebs and weaves and the grief story is followed by weddings and laughter. And what comes next? A Baby! God sends us a baby to shape and teach and grow right in the midst of our loss and realizing that life actually moves forward. We didn't think it would again after he died. But life just did what it was supposed to do...and it went on. And hope is born again. Everything I write is based on this fact: I'm God's child, I'm alive today. So what do You want me to do for You? Because I want my contribution to matter. I want to leave a legacy.

Our Baby Story - Post 4 - Oh How He Loves Us

It's been a while since I posted an update. I feel like I've traveled a million miles in the last 30 days. Our last pregnancy test was a big fat negative. I took it hard. I mean really hard. I never thought I was pregnant during that IUI cycle, and I didn't expect to be bummed out when the official call came. Nothing could have prepared me for the brokenness that ensued. It felt so...final. Brad and I had vowed to "take a break" if we didn't get pregnant but we never defined what a "break" was. So the "you're not pregnant" phone call felt a "You're not pregnant now and you're never gonna be pregnant" phone call. I cried. A lot. For days.

All along this journey I have had a soundtrack playing in the back of my mind. The main song has been "How He Loves Us" by the brilliant lyrical 'theologian', David Crowder.
I've said it out loud a thousand times "No matter what, He loves us. We will serve Him. We will trust Him. We will love Him." Looks like that is all being put to the test yet again in my life. As all this was being ironed out in my tired brain, I was asked to speak to our church on Wednesday before Easter. Our church has an annual "Love/Agape" Feast - it mirrors the last supper Jesus had with his disciples. We eat together and then we all gather for a big worship service. They asked me to speak about God's love for us in light of the cross. So I get the "you're not pregnant" call on Monday and two days later I'm supposed to deliver a message about God's great love for us. UGH! And yet, what an awesome privilege. What church in West Texas lets a woman get up and proclaim the gospel to a thousand people? That's why its the church God called us to serve in.

As I sat reading scripture about the cross, my heart and head were flooded with emotions. I didn't know where to land, what to say - and did I mention that the "audience" was made up of adults all the way down to 3 year-olds. Yeah, sure. Try speaking a relevant message to a 3-year-old and also to an 80-year-old. That became my heart cry, "ok, God, you chose me to give this message. Please capture the mind/heart/attention of the 3-year-old all the way to the 80-year-old through this crazy mouth-piece and help me not to lose it/break down/and be carried away to a hospital for the criminally insane". I really did pray that cuz I really felt crazy. Part of the "downer" of the baby news is the physical aspect of dumping the synthetic hormones out of your system. You go from daily shots and pills to nothing. Cold turkey. It ain't pretty. So I prayed. And I cried. And I read. And I sang. And I prayed and cried more.

Here's what God gave me:
1 John 4:10
"This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins."

Simple isn't it. Yet difficult to understand that it was God's choice. He chose to let His Son bare His wrath for our sin so that we could bare God's love and forgiveness. Oh How He Loves Us!
So that's what I said to them. Plain and simple. God was powerful in the moment. He was gracious over me and I only "lost it" ever so slightly (until I left the stage and fell apart completely against my husband's shoulder).

And you know what the awesome/crazy/scary thing is? The song that was sung as I left the stage...uh huh...David Crowder's "How He Love Us". I didn't request it. It was set up like that when I received the invite to speak...four days before I even knew the results of the pregnancy test. Oh How He Loves Me!

"He is jealous for me, Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us oh
Oh how He loves us,
How He loves us all

And we are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
And heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about, the way…

That He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves.
Yeah, He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves."
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Jessica Phillips

Jessica is worshiper and follower of Jesus. He rescued her heart at age 6 but he rescued her calling, purpose and direction in her early 20's. Everyday God is still writing Jessica's story. It involves her husband, Brad, her daughter, Emery, their extended families. But the story is a tale of loss of life and dark grief. And the story ebs and weaves and the grief story is followed by weddings and laughter. And what comes next? A Baby! God sends us a baby to shape and teach and grow right in the midst of our loss and realizing that life actually moves forward. We didn't think it would again after he died. But life just did what it was supposed to do...and it went on. And hope is born again. Everything I write is based on this fact: I'm God's child, I'm alive today. So what do You want me to do for You? Because I want my contribution to matter. I want to leave a legacy.