Tuesday, June 28, 2011

God's Word

I have had blogs in the past where people have commented that they do not understand why God would allow their child to die and I can only share that God is who has held me up during these last few years. 

Today I came across something I wrote in my bible 3 months after DJ passed away and I wanted to share it with you all, especially for those of you that are struggling with God right now...

Matthew 7:21-28  "Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you.  Away from me, you evildoers.

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.  But everyone who hears the words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.

When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching because he taught as one who had authority and not as their teachers of the law.
What I found in my bible were these notes regarding this scripture: DJ's death is the rain and it is pouring over me, over us.  It is almost blinding.  Jesus is my foundation or I would have drowned.

If you are struggling with God, if you are wondering where He is-He is holding you up.  Maybe it doesn't feel like it but that is what faith is --believing in what we cannot see.

Do I wish God had kept DJ here? Absolutely.  Do I wish God would have protected DJ from the accident? Ofcourse.  Do we live in a fallen and broken world where accidents happen and no one is immune to the pain and struggles of them?  Yes.  Do I struggle with my Christian walk? Yes at times.  Do I believe that God has held me up these last 4 1/2 years since DJ passed away?  Without a doubt.  I would have drowned under the pain, I would not have survived the rain, the hail, the struggles.  Christ has held me up and continues to do so daily. 

If you are drowning under the weight of the death of your child look for that anchor, look for Christ to hold you up.  In my life there is nothing else that has held me up like Christ--if you are struggling seek Him and you will find Him. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Power of Music

I heard a song on the radio today and it made me sad.  It had absolutely nothing to do with DJ-no connection to him at all----however, the singer was singing about her boyfriend asking her to marry him and it hit me like a ton of bricks that DJ will never ask a girl to marry him, I will never have grandchildren from DJ.  These are facts I know, these are things I have known now for almost 5 years now but the song triggered that realization extra hard today.

With all this said I wanted to share the song we played at DJ's funeral--I know many of you have probably heard this song from Mercy Me but it is still worth sharing--if you are looking for or needing a good cry today this will do it. 

"I Can Only Imagine"

I can only imagine
What it will be like
When I walk
By your side

I can only imagine
What my eyes will see
When your face
Is before me
I can only imagine

Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus or in awe of you be still
Will I stand in your presence or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine

I can only imagine
When that day comes
And I find myself
Standing in the Son

I can only imagine
When all I will do
Is forever
Forever worship You
I can only imagine


I can only imagine [x2]

I can only imagine
When all I will do
Is forever, forever worship you

Sidenote--my family will be driving down to Joplin the third week of July and we are currently doing a clothes drive.  If you are local and want to add some clothes to the pile please email me at eppyfam@cox.net and we can make arrangements to get it picked up from you!! Thanks for helping those that have nothing!  Lisa

Thursday, June 23, 2011


This is the time of year when people are vacationing, pulling out their maps and deciding which way to go-north, south, east or west.  Familes are packing their bags and leaving their houses for routes and planes and adventures.

What happens to the family that has lost a child?  Do they vacation, do they explore their world or do they stay at home within the safety of their four walls? Yes, yes and yes.

Traveling, venturing the world after a parent loses a child changes and keeps changing.  Right after DJ passed away we didn't go anywhere at all.  We barely went to dinner out with friends let alone a vacation.  Before DJ's death we were like a lot of families, we went on vacation at least once a year and enjoyed having all three kids cramped in a car traveling about.  After DJ's death all the joys changed.  The world was a scary place, an exhausting one as well and to travel about was too much work and had too many memories attached to it.

I have interviewed other parents that couldn't stand to stay at home.  After their child died they traveled all the time, the house was too quiet and the loss was the most obvious when they were home.  They chose to be gone any time they could.  One mother I know has gotten off one plane only to grab a suitcase and get directly on another one. 

On the otherside however I have inteviewed parents that do not leave their house even years later. It is too scary of a world to be out in it. The parents don't want to go and travel without their lost child with them.  There is no joy to be found in the world when their child is gone.  Too many memories, too much pain--it is easier and safer to stay at home within the bounderies of their new normalcy without their child.

Are any of these actions wrong? Are any of them right? No, No and No.  It depends on the family, it depends on the time their child has been gone, it depends on each and every individual and no way is perfect or right or wrong.

A home is four walls.
A home is where the heart is.
A home is a place of refuge.
A home is too big.
A home is full of too many memories.
A home is a place of pain.

So when all of you out there in cyber world are planning on vacations and perhaps are wondering why the bereaved parents you know don't seem to go anywhere anymore don't judge them.  They are working through their life with a new set of rules being rewritten daily.  Everyday something comes up that they have to do without their child and taking a vacation is a big one. 

Our family has taken two vacations in five years and each one of them was tough, we struggled with going or not going. We struggled with locations because it is hard to go places that we have so many memories of DJ--the memories are always tightly packaged in our brains but seeing a location he was at and having a great time brings them to the surface.  Needless to say losing a child is complicated and difficult and their is no perfect road map to get us through it. 

Sidenote--I will be speaking at a conference in Omaha in July and helping an organization with a fundraising event in October--if anyone is in need of a speaker please let me know early on as my schedule is getting fuller. I would love to speak to families or professionals about surviving this different life as my time allows! Also there are a few books left at the Bookworm bookstore in Omaha if anyone needs to order one-I only have two left at my house till my order comes back from the printers.  Flowers on a Child's Grave, Now What? 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Our children are in our future

I did not right this article--but had to share it with you all--what an amazing, amazing way to look at the death of a loved one...


A Powerful Word For Those
Who Have Lost Loved Ones

or what it is worth, I thought that I would pass this incredible testimony onto the rest of you. Awhile back ago on TBN, they had a middle-aged couple on one of their talk shows that were really anointed. They had their own church and ministry – I can’t recall where it was at. But part of their testimony was on the death of their young daughter.
Here they were, serving God full time with their church and ministry, and their daughter ends up dying at a fairly young age. I came in on the story right as they were talking about it. I did not catch the age of the daughter or what the cause of her death was.
The wife had really been wrestling with God. How could You take her away from us so early in her life, how could You allow this to happen, why didn’t You heal her, why didn’t You protect her?
Both the wife and husband were really having a hard time in getting over her early death with the Lord. They could not understand or get a direct answer from God as to why He allowed their daughter to be brought home at such a young age and rob the both of them the joy of seeing their daughter grow up. After all of this wrestling with the Lord for quite sometime, the wife said she then received a direct word from the Holy Spirit that immediately set her free from her mental captivity. And boy did I get a whopper witness off of this Word!
I will give you exactly what the Word was and an additional revelation that God gave the both of them on the death of their young daughter. For those of you who have lost close loved ones in your past – grab a hold of this direct Word from the Lord. This Word from the Lord has been used by this couple to set many other people free from the depression and anger they have slipped into as a result of not being able to deal with the death of a close loved one.
The wife said she was in the kitchen when she heard the Holy Spirit speak directly to her. The words were: “Your daughter is no longer in the past – she is now in the future.”
Think about these words! The wife said as soon as she heard these words – she immediately knew what God was trying to tell her and it immediately set both her and her husband completely free of the mental torment they were still going through with the death of their daughter.
God was telling them that their daughter was no longer in their past. She had died and she was now in heaven with God and Jesus! God was telling them that they now had to move on with their lives, to let the past go, including the death of their daughter, and to continue to press forward into the call that He had placed on both of their lives.
Their daughter is now in their future! When they both die, they will both cross over into heaven and be immediately reunited with their daughter. God was telling them to change the “angle” with which they were looking at their daughter’s death from.
Instead of seeing her as being “dead in the past” – start seeing her as being “fully alive in heaven” – and understand that you will be reunited with her once again in a very short period of time. Our time on this earth is not even a blink of an eye compared to the eternal time frame that is operating in heaven.
1. You have to step back and look at the big picture. We are all going to die and cross over – no exceptions! Some just go sooner than others. When you die is irrelevant. What you do with the time that you have down here is what really matters. It’s quality – not quantity!
When you really grasp the meaning of the words that the Holy Spirit spoke to her – you understand that they should actually be rejoicing. Their daughter is now in the most perfect place imaginable and they are both guaranteed to be reunited with her once they die and cross over. They should be keeping the picture of their daughter in front of them – in their own personal futures – which will also be heaven for the both of them when they die and cross over.
God was also telling them that if they did not quit wallowing in their past, they would eventually die in their past, and they would no longer be able to move forward for Him because they would end up staying stuck in their past.
Too many people are bound up with things that have happened to them in their past. They cannot let go of some of the bad things that may have occurred in their past. As a result, their past slowly starts to eat away at them until they get to a point where they no longer have any joy or zest for living. They then start slipping into depressions and then lose all of their desire to even want to live anymore.
2. Shortly after receiving this direct revelation from the Lord and being set free, they came across a woman who had lost her son. Her son had died about a year ago and the woman had slipped into a severe depression. She had literally boarded up her house, closed all the drapes and curtains, and would no longer even go outside. She had completely shut down due to the pain and heartache she was going through at losing her son at what apparently was also a fairly young age.
This couple had given their testimony on the above revelation to a church this woman had been attending. The testimony was taped and one of the church members then slipped the tape to this woman who had boarded herself up in her house. The woman took the tape into her bedroom. She listened to it over and over again all night along, literally until the sun broke at dawn.
When the sun broke at dawn, she later testified that she knew God was speaking to her through this couple’s testimony on this tape. She said the message and revelation from this couple that was on this tape set her free from the mental captivity that she had placed herself under as a result of not being able to see the truth of her son’s death. The Bible says that the truth will set you free and this is a perfect example of this spiritual principle coming into full operation!
Once she heard the revelation given by the Holy Spirit to this couple – she knew she had been looking at her son’s death from the wrong angle. Her son is now in heaven and she should be looking forward to being reunited with him in heaven once she crosses over – not dwelling on his death, which was now in her past.
Once she fully grasped what God was trying to tell her, and it apparently took all night for this revelation to really sink into her mind, she was finally set free and was able to start fully living again.
This couple said that these specific words spoken to them by the Holy Spirit has helped many other people deal with the death of their close loved ones.

Scripture Verses

1. Here are 3 good verses from Scripture that will back up the words spoken to this couple by the Holy Spirit.
  1. But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62)
  2. “… but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead. I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)
Look at the words in this second verse: “forgetting those things which are behind” and “reaching forward for those things which are ahead.” This verse perfectly lines up with what the Holy Spirit was trying to tell this couple – to let the death of their daughter go, which was now in their past, and to look forward, to press forward for the things which are now ahead of them in their futures.
And one of the things ahead for this couple in their futures will be their own physical deaths and their own crossing over into heaven and being reunited with their daughter, where they will never be separated from her ever again!
2. This next verse talks about plowing forward in hope.
“… he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be a partaker of his hope.” (1 Corinthians 9:10)
This verse is telling us that each one of us should continue to plow for God with whatever time we still have left down here on this earth – with the understanding that we will eventually be reunited with all of our saved loved ones who have gone home before us.
And not only should we continue to plow forward with this hope in mind, but we should also be a partaker of that hope. In other words, really believe that when you die, you will be reunited with all of your saved loved ones, and this time it will be for good – for all of eternity!
Heaven is going to be the final and ultimate reward for all Christians. The Bible tells us that we cannot even begin to imagine all of the good things that God will have in store for all of those who will be entering into His dwelling place. But one thing we do know for sure – we will all be given the two greatest rewards any human can ever hope to receive once we cross over to the other side.
  1. We will forever be united with God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ and we will be able to have direct contact and fellowship with the both of Them for the rest of all of eternity.
  2. And then to top it all off – we will forever be reunited with all of our saved loved ones who have made it into heaven, and we will once more be able to enjoy the friendships that we had established with each one of them while living down here on this earth.
Now that’s an incredible one-two punch that can’t be beat. And to top it all off, there will be mansions and who knows what else from God the Father.
For all those of you who have lost very close loved ones, you have to step back and see the real big picture – the real ending to the story. So many people have lost the rest of their earthly lives because they could never get over the death of a close loved one. And the reason they could not get over their deaths is due to the fact that they were looking at their deaths from the wrong “angle.”
The Holy Spirit gave this couple what I feel is a very powerful and liberating Word on this subject. He gave them a Word that was pure, solid God-truth. And once you receive a direct truth from God the Father – it will set you free if you are willing to accept it and then work with it.
The other thing that happened with this couple is that before they received this direct Word from the Lord, they found themselves taking their daughter’s pictures and photos out of a lot of their family portraits because it was too painful for them to see her and to be reminded of her death.
After receiving the above Word from the Lord, they were then told to put all of her pictures back in with the rest of the family pictures. He told them that she was not dead – that she was fully alive in heaven – and that they should be rejoicing because their time would come when they would all be reunited with her once again.
They were told not to try and put her out of their memory. They were to keep intact all of her photos and all of their memories of her. They were all to look forward to the future when they would once again be reunited with her in heaven.
When this couple received all of the above from God the Father through the Holy Spirit, they were then all set free from the mental captivity they had placed themselves under, and they were then able to pick themselves back up and get back into fully living in their present again.
The other revelation that the wife received from God the Father was on the question of why – why did God allow her daughter to be taken home so early. God basically told her there will be times when He will not tell you why He allows something specific to happen in your life, like the early death and departure of a close loved one.
Sometimes it may be better that you not know why God brings someone home so early. Maybe that person was going to have something really bad happen to them somewhere down the road and God wanted to spare them the pain of having to go through it – so He arranges to have them brought home early. There could be many different reasons as to why God may have brought this person home early, and maybe with half of those reasons you are better off not knowing.
She finally came to the conclusion that if it was God’s will that she not know why He had brought her daughter home so early – that she would simply have to trust God that He did have a good enough reason to bring her home early and to let it go at that!
The Bible says that we can only “know in part.” We will never get all of the answers to all of life’s problems and dilemmas. God will answer many of our questions if He is properly approached. The Bible says to “ask, and you will receive.” But when God does decide not to answer a specific question you may have, then you have to accept the fact that He has a good enough reason not to give you His answer, trust that He knows what He is doing – that He knows what is best for the situation at hand – and then move on with the rest of your life.
If you don’t, you will run the risk of getting stuck in the misery of your past. And if you do not pull up out of the misery of your past, then you will never fully accomplish whatever God’s perfect plan and destiny would have been for your life.


For those of you who have had a very difficult time in accepting the death of a close loved one, really chew on the above Word given to this couple by the Holy Spirit.
For those of you who may know someone who is really having a hard time handling the death of a close loved one like a child, a spouse, a parent or a best friend, give them a copy of this article and/or sit down with them and give them the above Word from the Spirit of God. Share the above testimony with them on this couple and the other woman who had lost her son.
Pray that God will move in on them with illumination and insight so they can fully grasp and understand that even though the death of a close loved one is a very painful experience, that their loved one’s death is now a new beginning for them.
Their close loved one is now in the most perfect place imaginable and they will be reunited with them once again in just a very short period of time. This life on this earth is just for a very brief moment in the eternal scheme of things – but the life to come, where they are at now, will be forever.
Remember what the Holy Spirit Himself has spoken – your loved one is no longer “dead in your past” – your loved one is now “fully alive in your future” – which is heaven.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Laughter can finally come

I was chatting with someone awhile back who had lost a child.  They said that it took a lot for them to laugh now.  It was hard for them to find anything funny anymore and especially hard for them to actually laugh outloud.

This caused me to remember that about a year ago I began to force myself to laugh.  I would laugh at the most stupid stuff and would laugh extra hard, extra long and extra loud.  I made myself laugh.  It was a very important decision I realize now a year later.  I decided I needed to begin laughing again after DJ passed away and if it wasn't going to come naturally then I had to force it to happen.  I can now laugh easily.  Laughter still happens at the stupid things, I am sure it is still too loud but I am laughing and this is a huge step for a bereaved parent.  I am thankful that I can laugh and find joy enough in things to laugh loud and hard--I even laugh at my own jokes--because if I don't who will? (insert laugh here).

How many times do we as a bereaved parent realize that an old behavior we used to have needs to come back?  I knew laughter was missing in my life and I took a step- be it ever so small to change it.  How often though do we forget about the good things and never repeat them? 

Do you bake your child's favorite cookies anymore? Does the smell of chocolate permeate it's way through your house on their behalf?  Or is your kitchen shut down of their favorite foods, never for the remainder of your family to have.

Do you watch the silly nonsense television shows that you used to enjoy with your child and laugh at them like you did before?  Is that joy gone too with your child or are you brave enough to look for joy again?

Do you smell the flowers they loved?  Do you have a bouquet of them in your kitchen in honor of their life?  Is there a pot of them on your front stoop or did those flowers die with your child?

My challenge offered here is to try to find joy, find something to laugh at.  It may be forced but those cookies won't bake themselves.  You may cry while pulling out that recipe book and smelling those familiar smells but it is so worth it!  Those flowers may bring joy to the rest of your family, may remind you of a much happier time.  That silly show my cause tears of joy, tears of sadness but maybe tears that need to be released.

Everyone has something (boat loads full) of things that remind us of our children that we no longer do, that we have stopped doing altogether. Perhaps, like laughter we have to begin forcing ourselves to do them again.  I have found laughter--what will you find? 

(If you are waiting to order my book Flowers on a Child's Grave, Now What? I have ordered a second printing from the publishers and will be getting them hopefully before the end of June or first week of July.  If you are local there are a few copies left at The Bookworm bookstore in Omaha)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Father's Day after losing a child

I talked to my husband this week about Father's Day and how a father feels about the holiday and life in general after losing a child.

From my husband's perspective this is the information I got--

The father feels responsible for their child's death regardless if they could have prevented it or not.  As the head of the house, as the man of the house, as the protector of the family they often feel responsible for the loss of the child.  They did not protect their child from harm ( or illness, etc), somehow they should have been able to do so.  The father is the strong one in the family, made to keep his family safe and this can result in a lot of guilt or shame or pain if a death results.

The holiday is not one they really want to celebrate since the family isn't whole.  It is not that they do not love their children that are remaining but during this holiday (and most) it becomes terribly obvious that the child is gone.  It is very apparent to all of us in the family that DJ is not here to celebrate with his Dad.

What does a father want for Father's Day?  He wants to hear about his child.  Phone calls, conversations, notes, cards, memories about their child is the best gift.  To hear something wonderful about their child that is gone is the best gift of all.  Do the father's ever ask for this?  Of course not...do they wish everyone knew about this request? Absolutely!

So what are you going to give a bereaved father this weekend?  A memory, a humorous story, a laugh, a cry?  The mention of a father's child is the best gift of all!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Gifts at the Gravesite

I know I have spoke about leaving gifts at the gravesite before but it came up at a Compassionate Friends meeting this week and then my husband talked about it at home later as well...so apparently it is on people's minds right now.  It makes sense that people are talking about it--it was just Memorial weekend in the United States, a time to place flowers on gravesites of those that we love.  Generally of course it is supposed to be specifically for remembering the military but as a culture we put flowers on all of those that we have lost.

My husband wanted me to blog that it makes him happy when he sees things left behind on DJ's grave.  It tells him that people have not forgotten DJ.  He doesn't care what it is--we have had half broken skateboards, pinwheels, toy cars, letters, flowers, crosses--all sort of things.  For my husband it is a positive thing.

Now there are many people that have the direct opposite reaction.   I have interviewed people that cannot stand it when memorabilla is left behind.  They feel that the gravesite is their place to remember their child and that outsiders should not be leaving things behind.  They feel that people are trespassing when they leave stuff behind.  Some feel it is just junk.  Others get upset because they wonder why these people visit the gravesite when they did not visit the child while they were living. 

It is easy to say that people have different reactions to the gravesite and the miscellanious things left on it.  I do know one they for certain though, we are all glad when our children are remembered---so today tell a bereaved parent a memory you have of their child or at least mention their name--we all don't need to drive to the cemetary to have memories. 

Friday, June 3, 2011

Laughter in Joplin Missouri

My husband, my son and I went to Joplin Missouri last weekend.  For those of you reading this from outside the United States, Joplin had a horrific tornado touch down. It was 13 miles long and so far over 130 people have been confirmed dead.  It is the worst, most deadly tornado the United States has had since the 1950's. 

Irregardless of some one's age, be it 9 months old or 65 years old the people that passed away are some one's children and we thought, we hoped we could be of some help to them. My husband and I both have survived tornadoes and lost a child and again felt we could offer some support there through our own experiences.

We left Omaha with over 130 Flowers on a Child's Grave, Now What? books in tow along with Captain Tag kid's books to hand out to little people who now have nothing.

We were not prepared for what we saw.  The devastation was unbelievable, anything you see on television doesn't even come close to the destruction.  Miles and miles without homes, only rubble left behind.  Hills were completely void of structures.  Metal was twisted into trees and along the roads.  Trash that was once some one's personal and priceless belongings were spread everywhere.  And all of this is just stuff--the physical loss of life was and is still mounting.

I know I titled this blog Laughter in Joplin and you must be wondering "Why?"----

Well, while we were at a funeral home donating books a father came in who's 49 year old son had died in the tornado.  His son was nicknamed Trip, he had downs syndrome and was 49 years old.  As the employee handed him a book from us he took me by my hand and walked me outside to meet his wife.  His wife began to tell me about Trip's life.  He had been in the Special Olympics and CNN did a story on him after he passed away.  Trip was a very loved member of Joplin.

As I spoke with the mother she began to tell me stories about Trip.  One specific story was of a time when the family was out of town in the middle of a wilderness area.  There weren't supposed to be any people around the area for miles, the family believed they were completely alone.  All of a sudden two young men popped up through some trees and said "Hello Trip!!"  The mom began to laugh as she told me this story, in the midst of all the rubble, in all the sadness and pain she was laughing.  She was enjoying memories of her son, the tornado could not wipe those away and she shared them with me.  I felt honored to hear her words.  Before she and her husband left I assured her that someone from Omaha would remember her son Trip, and now all of you can remember him as well.

We need to laugh, we need to tell our stories, we need to share memories of our child with people. It is important for us to let people know that our child not only died but lived as well!  Trip's mom needed to laugh and it was my pleasure and honor to laugh with her. 

Side note---We donated over 130 of my books to Joplin, to the three mortuaries, to the Red Cross and to the bookstore down there.  The bookstore has already asked for a second group of books to be sent to them-they are already out. I now have only about 10 books left and will be ordering some this week. If you would like to order a book, you can of course order it in e-book form at flowersonagrave.com or may have to wait awhile for the new order to come in.  If you are local you can still get a book at The Bookworm bookstore in Countryside Village in Omaha.