The day He swallowed my death

*WARNING THIS IS ABOUT SUICIDE AND MIGHT BE CONSIDERED GRAPHIC

“Then the saying will come true: Death swallowed by triumphant Life! Who got the last word, oh, Death?” 1 Corinthians 15:51

In our community we have suffered the loss of 5 teens through suicide in the last 6 months. That’s been almost one a month. So, in an effort to share encouragement and to speak life into broken hearts, we are choosing to make May Suicide Awareness Month and having a huge, free concert this Thursday (June 2) with Building 429, Royal Tailor Band, and Hayley Masters!

I have a vested interest in this venture. Eighteen years and about a couple months ago, I was convinced that I would be better off dead. The heart-wrenching and overwhelming fear of my future, years of bearing the guilt and shame of a past that I couldn’t come to grips with, and the feelings of isolation and “no one will understand”, were all climaxing to a point where suicide seemed like the best choice.

Unlike some might think, one very rarely just wakes up one morning and decides to take his/her life. It’s a very deliberate murder of self. Much thought goes into this – the hows and whens and wheres actually are very well thought out. I wrestled through all of those options, and luckily for me, I lived in a foreign country where handguns were not easily accessible, so a blade or a knife to the wrist seemed to be my best bet. I had thought it through and was well aware of the “failure rate” of that type of suicide so I studied my arms and wrists intensely so that I would know exactly where to drive the blade, what blade would be best, and whether or not a knife was necessary. I chose a weekend where I knew that I would be alone in the dorm, because honestly I didn’t want a peer to walk up on the scene and be traumatized. (Strange. I thought I was being thoughtful.) I chose the community bathroom, because there was a large sink drain in the floor and I would run the water so that it would drain away the blood more quickly so I wouldn’t have to endure the sight of blood for long. I knew it would hurt my parents, and come out of nowhere for them because I had worked so hard to disguise my depression and my anguish, but I also figured that they had two other daughters that would fill that void for them. They would be fine. It was the best plan for everyone.

I remember the walk down the hall. The blade was securely in my hand, and my tears were blinding me. It felt very much like a march to the gallows…even if I was my own executioner. I turned on the light to the bathroom and made my way to the sink. I said my goodbyes in my head, I cried for each of my family members and wished my friends life’s best, then just as I was about to jerk the blade into my flesh, I saw something in the sink faucet. I was crying so I wiped away the tears thinking that I was mistaken, but then I saw that it was a face. I leaned in to take a closer look and noticed it as the precious face of my then toddler niece. Funny, I didn’t think I was going crazy. It was a welcome sight. Then I heard the following words, “For her.” The moment freaked me out. I pulled back and got angry and became once more resolved with the blade when I heard, “NO! You must LIVE for HER!” I know it sounds crazy, but I knew exactly Who was speaking to me in that moment. The Power and Authority in that Voice was so strong. I dropped the blade and fell to the floor, “God, help me! I beg of you, help me!” I heard the door creak at the end of the hall down from the bathroom. I pulled myself up from the floor and wiped my eyes. I was a master pretender. If someone were coming, they would never know what was about to happen. But, no one came. In that moment that I stood and waited for the door of the bathroom to open, all I could hear was my heartbeat, and with every beat of my heart those words echoed, “For her, for her, for her, for her…” I looked at the blade, where it had fallen just about two feet away from me, and I stared at it. I looked at the faucet, where I had seen her face. I looked at my wrists. Then, I remember, squeezing my hands in a fist, dropping them to my side, and walking out of that bathroom.

I felt two things as I made my way down that hall – “I’ve failed”… and “Now what?” I got back to my room, turned off the light, laid on my bed and waited. The next morning, there was a knock at my door. My friend, Joy Conrad, had made something for me. She brought it to my room. She laid it in my hands. It was a picture album. She had hand-stitched the front with the words “Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.” But, instead of pictures, this book held about 20 3×5 cards, and written in hand on each one of these cards was verse after verse of God’s promises to me, His love for me, His desire for me, and His purpose for me. She had no idea, but that was the beginning of a long climb out of a dark pit.

It began with that book. I found the energy to move one step into life. I acted the part of the perfectly healthy teen while I was at school or with my friends, but when I got back to my room, I would sit on my bed, facing the window, and I would sit in silence…letting my heart speak to it’s Creator. The next week, the silence turned to words. I would read those scripture verses out loud and let their power fill the room. The next week, the words were replaced with songs, simple heart-felt songs that echoed my Father’s heart back to me. We stayed in that place for a long time, singing to one another. It probably sounds crazy that I knew He was singing to me, but I knew that He was…He was singing through me and to me… and as we sang, life began to grow brighter. Slowly but surely, I began to write…my feelings, my fears, my heart, my life song…whatever I was thinking. Never knowing that He had given me my purpose in that.

Last night, as I watched and listened and my heart grieved for those lost and those desperate and those considering, I wept. But mingled in with those tears of sorrow, were profound tears of joy as I nuzzled my husband’s cheek and thanked Daddy God for rescuing my life. It’s no wonder I’m passionate about teen girls…and for the heart of broken women of all ages…it was more than for my niece that He saved me that day. He saved me for every her that He would allow me to meet…and in time He has filled me with a powerful love for them, that refuses to let them believe that they are anything less than worthy! He saved me so wonderfully that year that even the pain that came after that time, and the pain that I recently endured, and the pain that I have yet to endure, in the end, all seem worth it, because with each revelation of frailty, I’m reminded that He is Strong and He is with me, and in those moments of stillness, He is still singing over me.

Don’t Miss OUT – Presell and Sale!

For the next two weeks I am going to be linking the two ministries that mean the world to me: the ministry that God has created in me to write books for teen girls, and the heart that He stoked in Christie Love (and a few other amazing and phenomenal women) to change the face of Women’s Ministry as we know it with LeadHer.

SO… I am giving $3 of every book sold to LeadHer!  This PRESELL of $25 puts you ahead of the game as Paper. Rock. Scissors. Book Two: Celeste’s Confession has yet to be released to any other retailer! And, to make things fair for those of you who might not have read the first book, Kiss, Bang, Boom! Book One: Zella’s Story, much less own it, I am having a SALE of $40, and I will give $5 to LeadHer for every 2 Pack sold!

If you wanna buy the two books, click on the link under “What I love…” titled “BOOK SALE!”  If you wanna buy books separately just click on the image of the book preferred on my website home page, and it will take you to a safe and secure payment site.  For every book sold, I will include an autograph and a note of inscription to you or someone you love!  So, click away, and help fund two ministries that long to make a difference!

(Prices listed include S&H)

The Fly Buzzes

“He will swallow up death forever. 

The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces…
The LORD has spoken.” Isaiah 25:8

Death.

It’s like a 100% probability. 10 out of 10 people will die. It happens everyday. To those we least expect and those we most expect. In moments we are never prepared for. Death is an inevitability. Young, old, healthy, sick, no one is immune. Death carries out its sentence peacefully and violently, the grim reaper is simply a fog of mortality that sweeps over us all.

“Gosh, Leslie! Such a downer!” Yes. But there are very few good things we can say about death. Very few encouraging statements find their foothold in its language. It hurts. Maybe not for you or for me, but always for those involved. We know the finality of it, and it’s such a simplistic word for a complicated event; there is nothing easy about death.

Emily Dickinson once wrote, “I heard a fly buzz – when I died.” So wise that woman. Because, whether we like it or not…life goes on even as death overtakes us. That’s not so hard for the dead to hear as it is for the survivors.

I’m sure the mother as she cradles her daughter, dares the fly to light, the clock to tick, the world to move. How dare it!

She cannot imagine.

The same for the daughter that watches the final rise and fall of her mother’s chest, but life continues in the questions of the child in the room, “Is she gone mommy?”

Or, the wife that stumbles upon the body of the love of her life as he collapses in the midst of a race, so unexpected, so unnecessary, and yet…the runners run on.

Very real moments.

Very real pain.

And still, the fly buzzes.

Adoption papers

“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith,” Galatians 3: 26

I heard someone say Monday in the midst of the “Osama is dead” debate, “But, we must not forget that he, too, is a child of God.” Honestly, that made my skin crawl. In our commission to love others and to love our enemies, let’s not mistake God’s creation with His children. God says that we are adopted as His children, but our adoption is contingent. The ink that signs those papers is signed with the blood of Christ. Through Him we are adopted. It may not be popular belief, but the Word of God is true and that’s what It says – we are adopted as children of God by faith in Jesus Christ.

Don’t get me wrong. He longs to adopt all of us, but we have to choose it. Our free will has to submit to His perfect will, and not all of His created are willing. Here is the problem: If we can confuse one that is created and loved by Almighty God and mistake them for a redeemed and ransomed child of God, then we can say that we are ALL children of God, and if we are all children of God, then ultimately what was the purpose of Christ? Here is another grey line in the realm of Universalism that is mucking up the truth. This isn’t soley about Osama Bin Laden (I’m not here to judge his fate; it’s already been decided), but if one can mistake him, with all of his evil intent and destruction, as a child of God, then how much more easily can we call the good man or woman, who is not a believer, a child of God?

Beware church. The tongue of the Liar speaks just enough truth to confuse us, but even a slanted truth is not true at all! More of this fine lined, love wins stuff will continue to attempt to corrupt the heart of the Body…listen carefully, and know His word lest you be sucked in and deceived. The enemy is crafty, and he knows his time is running short; he’s gonna pull out all the stops, and his main goal is to keep us from finding our identity in Christ- the blood of the Lamb that overcomes the sin of the World. Beware and be vigilant, children of God, distinguish the white washed lies from our Father’s voice. Test and approve that which is His, the good, perfect will of God. The enemy screams his agenda, while Father God gently speaks a message of hope and restoration. Listen for that still small voice that speaks, “This is the way, walk in it.”

Tales from a rebellious mother…

Last week was a week of milestones, and I find myself freaking out just a little bit. My baby turned 8. Of course, today at the orthodontist when he asked her what birthday number she celebrated she said with absolute believability, “Twenty.” He laughed and my mouth fell, because honestly, as fast as the last 8 years have gone, the next 12 will fly by and before I know it, she WILL be twenty. Sigh.

Add to that realization that I recently (brace yourself) bought my oldest a bra. She will be 10 in two weeks. That was the next sock in the gut of motherhood after the startling revelation that buying shoes for her now is easy – if they fit me, they will fit her. All I could think as I she tried on the bra was, “Holy cow! If she’s anything like me in another year she’ll be stuffing it!” Sigh.

I spoke at a women’s conference this weekend, and there was the sweetest young man there with such a heart of goodness and love that I thought, “He’s a Toby.” (If you’ve read my book you know exactly how highly a paid compliment that is!) I pondered, “I’d like Maddie to date someone like that…” When I realized, if she waited until she was in college and thirty (as her dad has commanded), she actually could date him! Later, I was commenting on the boys facebook page, thanking him for his heart and his service, and Maddie said, “He is cute.” Not thinking it through I said, “Yeah, I wouldn’t mind you dating him.” She asks, “How old is he?” I said, “Sixteen, I think.” At which point Lily said, “Well, what qualifies (yes she totally said that word) her to date him?” I said, “Well, he loves Jesus.” Without a pause she retorted, “Well, I love Jesus! I could date him!” Oh wow. So not ready for all of this, even if I did inadvertently start it.

I’m not sure when the development (no pun intended) of the “Tween scene” began – perhaps a marketing gimmick for Disney? – but it still in my opinion pushes these kids too quickly to teenagedoom…I mean, teenagedom. I’m not ready for that. They aren’t ready for that. There are games to play, dolls to name, and fantasies to live out long before they think they are “too cool.” I wanna hold onto my little girls as long as I possibly can. I want them to look sideways at boys like they have cooties and can’t be touched. I want them to lose themselves in their imaginations playing dolls and Barbies. I want them to run and play and jump outside without wondering what others will think. I want them to watch Veggie Tales and laugh at their daddy’s chest hair. I want them to stay young and innocent and unmarred!

This afternoon in an act of defiance and renouncing the progress of time, like a spoiled and pouting Peter Pan, I ripped off my bra, encouraged Maddie to do the same, and grabbed my favorite Barbie and played. Boys and bras can wait. Barbie and Ken forever. 🙂