Why my Grandpa Loved Halloween|A Life Well Lived #centenarian #Halloween



On October 31, 1916, at age five, my grandfather, Ernest Hedges almost died. You see, he was all dressed up for Halloween. Ready to go to the annual Halloween party at the one-room schoolhouse, but a fever landed him in bed.

His mother and siblings, all except big sister Pearl left without him.


Grandpa Ernie (2)

Eunice, Ernie, and big sister Grace

He gradually grew worse. His skin turned as orange as a pumpkin and his fever spiked way beyond an acceptable level. Papa Hedges rushed him by carriage to the nearest hospital in town. Read more here.


A Dove of Peace| Life After Suicide #GriefRecovery

“Have you checked Facebook today?” Mom’s voice on the phone was low, almost a whisper.

“I don’t usually get on Facebook this early. We’re trying to get ready for church.”

“So you didn’t see what was posted about your dad?”

“Is something wrong?”

“Look on Facebook.”

“All right.” I squeezed the phone between my ear and shoulder, then started typing on the computer. After keying in my password, I clicked on Dad’s Facebook page.

“RIP Johnny” appeared in red. I sucked in my breath. “Is this for real?”

“Keep reading,” Mom urged.

I scrolled down. “All the posts from his friends say my dad died.”

“He lives all by himself. Have you heard anything from him lately?”

“We spoke over the phone on Father’s Day about a week ago.” Tears formed at the corners of my eyes. “Maybe one of Dad’s sisters will know something. I’ll call you back.”

Phone calls were made to family, but no one knew what the posts on Facebook meant. Later a detective called to confirm my worst fear.

On June 30, 2018, my dad took his own life.

Baffled and in shock, I had no idea he was in that much pain.

Only a week before, I had watched A Brave Lament, a short documentary created by my friend Christy Bauman and her husband, Andrew, counselors in Seattle, Washington.

Christy and Andrew experienced the loss of their infant son, named Brave. Their story showed how they regulated their grief through marking moments, creating rituals, and relying on the care of their community.

My husband held me close as we watched the film. We wept together as we remembered our own infant son, Luke, who died shortly after birth.

Little did I know, this film would give me the tools I needed to deal with my dad’s suicide.

A few days after receiving the phone call from the detective, my sister, brother-in-law, and I agreed to go through his personal belongings at his place. Our two aunts and uncle were there to help and offer moral support.

Years earlier, my aunt told me about a white dove that appeared in her yard after my Nona died. On the first anniversary of Nona’s death, the white dove came back.

As I walked along my dad’s driveway, what appeared in front of his place?

A white dove.


I called to everyone inside. “You guys, come out here.”

Together, we witnessed the dove pecking around on the grass. As I clicked pictures, the friendly little dove stayed close and didn’t fly away.

Peace enveloped me as I remembered my aunt’s story and gazed at the dove. I whispered a prayer of thanks to God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit who comforted me in my grief.

When we talked to some of Dad’s neighbors, I shared the story of the dove. “Does anyone have a pet dove? It seemed so friendly.” The neighbors shook their heads no.

At that moment, the dove swooped down, perched on a nearby roof, and watched us. Goosebumps formed on my arms. The neighbors gasped in disbelief. One woman covered her face and wept.

After returning back home, creativity became grief therapy. I painted stones with my dad’s initials and a cross to give out to the family. I created a video and eulogy for his memorial service. I found a studded wooden chest to house Dad’s ashes.

These marked my moments of grief and prepared me for the ritual to say goodbye, Dad’s Celebration of Life.


What caused the most stress for me? Not being able to agree on where to bury Dad’s ashes. Nothing seemed to be fitting for my unconventional Dad, a rock singer and guitarist. The traditional burial wouldn’t do.

At last, my brother, sister, and I decided to spread Dad’s ashes on the river. He loved fishing, boating, and living near the water.

Although it had rained all week long, on the day of the memorial service, the sky was a clear, brilliant blue. After Dad’s Celebration of Life at the little church where he had frequented, we convened at the river.

Dad’s grandkids climbed on the rocks and threw flowers into the water.



The wind whipped our hair in all directions. There was no way we were going to be able to safely spread Dad’s ashes on the river.

“I can take the ashes on my boat tomorrow,” my uncle, Dad’s older brother offered. “I’ll find a good place for Johnny.”

And so it was. The beach around an island became my dad’s final resting place.


When I remember the care of my mother, the short film on grief, the support of my extended family, the dove, and everything for the memorial coming together so beautifully, I can’t help but be thankful.

Suicide is a terrible thing. In its abruptness, there are so many unanswered questions. Yet, I have peace. I know I’m not alone in this. Christ is with me.

The grace I’ve found in my dad’s suicide is something I wish for everyone touched by death in this way.

Peace is a grace I didn’t know I needed, but it’s a grace crucial for healing.

Grief comes and goes like the perpetual tide at the river’s edge. And in that constant, the message of peace in Christ appears, carried on dove’s wings through the centuries since His death, burial, and resurrection. Until the sunrise of healing comes, we can rest in His peace.


 “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)












A Mother’s Heart|Book Review #Momming #Mothering

097 (2)

One little book has been a go-to for me as a parent. Teaching me to love and comfort my children. To pray for them. To point them to the gospel.

It was an excellent garage sale find. The picture on the cover was very old fashioned. The woman’s hairstyle was enough to make me pass. But, something or Someone drew me to it. Ten cents later, I became the owner of A Mother’s Heart by Jean Fleming.

I can’t tell you how much I have referred to and applied this little paperback to mothering my children.

It was truly a God-send.

Jean speaks from experience as a missionary wife and mother to four children. Her graceful approach to mothering while completely depending on Christ has inspired me in so many ways.

In the newest edition the cover has been updated and Jean has added even more insight into mothering.

My favorite part of her book is how to effectively, specifically pray for your children. Each summer, I take time to focus on prayerfully creating a spiritual inventory for my children. I have seen the Lord answering those prayers and growing them in ways that has brought praise to my lips.



Most of all, the book has helped me to focus on Christ and let the values, vision, and character development of my children be an overflow of a heart trusting in Him.

Mothering is a daily divine appointment. A calling. We can’t do this alone.

In A Mother’s Heart, Jean Fleming will inspire you to lean on Christ and make you into the loving mother your children truly need.  You can find this book and check out the new cover at Navpress.com.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

In Summer| A Reason to Hope #TrulySatisfied

popsicle2 (2)

In summer, I try to read good books I’ve been waiting to read, do something new that I’ve never tried before, grow in a way where I know I’m immature.

And, hopefully, by summer’s end, I long to see a little growth, feel a little difference, seem a little less…inadequate.

But, each year, I wind up wanting.


“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…(Psalm 23:1)”

I know it’s true. I just don’t feel it. Maybe I’m focusing on the wrong things. I’m pursuing something that will not fulfill.

That’s what I need. That’s truly what I want.


I must be thinking I’ll find fulfillment in feeling “adequate.” But, I’m a broken vessel. The well is deep, and I have nothing to draw water with to fill me up. I need Someone to fill me up to overflow, to fulfill my deepest desires. To tap into a well spring of joy within my heart.

Little reminders here and there, turn my thoughts toward heaven. The place where God’s glory dwells. 

This is not my home. I was meant for eternity. 

That is why I am wanting. I want Him. More of Him. 

And, the more time spent including Him in my daily tasks, spending time alone with Him, seeking His face, I am fulfilled.  

And, one day, all my seeking will come to true fulfillment. 

In the haven of heaven. 

The perfect paradise. 

The place where summer never ends. 

And, the Fulfiller of my wildest dreams and aspirations is there with open arms to welcome me home.

pop2 (2)

Chasing Rainbows and the Gift of Autism|How to Hope Again #AutismAwarenessWeek

Like Hannah, I asked the Lord for him (1 Samuel 1:1-28). Well, maybe not quite the same way.

I stood alone in the long stretch of a hallway that led to our bedrooms. Family photos, including one of my little one who lived a short life, spanned the length of the wall from end to end. And the tears poured down because another month had gone by, and I still wasn’t pregnant.

I had but one child now, already a preschooler, who was napping in her room. I tried to cry quietly. I didn’t want to disturb her with my sorrow. But I longed for a rainbow baby. Another son after going through the storm of losing Luke.

Standing under his picture, another wave of grief hit me. As I bowed my head to weep, I banged into the wall. Ouch!

Out of her room, shuffled my girl. I rubbed my aching head, my eyes stung, and I sniffled.

“What’s wrong, Mama?” She peered up at me with her bright blue eyes. “Do you need your daddy?” Ah, the wisdom of little children.

I nodded my aching head. “Yes. I need God, my Daddy in heaven.” I held her close and prayed, asking if the Lord would indeed give me another son. After that I stopped asking and stopped worrying about it.

It wasn’t long after that the Lord blessed us with another pregnancy. Through an ultrasound, we discovered the baby was a another boy.

At about five months into the pregnancy, something went wrong.  Billy drove as I sat in the passenger seat of our SUV.  I heard a plop behind me.

“Mommy, please get my sippy cup,” our daughter pleaded.

Reaching around the seat, I attempted to grab it, but, as I picked it up, I felt a searing pain in my abdomen. We arrived home a few moments later, and I rushed to the bathroom.

I had begun hemorrhaging and didn’t know what to do. “Billy!”

He poked his head in the bathroom. “What is it?”

“I think I’m losing the baby.” I held my stomach. As I prayed that the Lord would not let me suffer sorrow upon sorrow, Billy dialed my obstetrician.

We went in for an ultrasound that same day and discovered a rupture between the baby’s egg sac and my uterus. On the ultrasound screen, in black-and-white, I could see the stream of blood trickling down from the tear.

“Will my baby die?” I felt my brow scrunch up.

“There’s about a 50% chance of survival,” replied the doctor. “But, you’ll need strict bed rest until you heal up.”

That wasn’t complete assurance my baby would be okay, but nevertheless, I followed the doctor’s strict orders—for six weeks. To keep from feeling anxious, I prayed and wrote down my favorite Scriptures on note cards.

Most days, my little girl played with her toys next to me. I lay on the futon in the living room, reading and praying. Friends stopped by and brought me magazines, books, and movies to help pass the time.

After six weeks, an ultrasound revealed the rupture had completely healed. My baby boy, my Little Man, was born a week after his due date with only two hours of labor. As soon as he was born, he opened up his bright blue eyes to take in this strange new world.

The doctor laid him on my chest, and as I held him, I rested in awe of my Father God, who had given me such a beautiful child. To be able to hold him right when he was born and take him home with me was like a dream come true.

BirthdayAJAfter his 12 month check-up and immunizations, our little boy came down with a 105 degree fever. He just stared blankly and didn’t respond when we called his name. We rushed him to a clinic and his fever came down with Tylenol, but after that day, something changed …

I couldn’t seem to get a smile, good eye contact. There was an inward turn…

When we would look at him, he would turn his eyes away.

His desire to connect was fading. His growing vocabulary, screeched to a halt … instead of asking for mama, dada, or anything, he would only scream.

I felt like I was losing my son.

I kept thinking, this is not happening. But, it was all so subtle. Within a matter of months, he went from a happy, sociable little toddler to one who had constant meltdowns.

He became highly sensory-sensitive. Not able to stand his own tears, he would scratch them away when he cried.

I wouldn’t give him what he wanted unless he asked for it. He had to ask, either with his words or with baby signs that I taught him before he was one. He would get so frustrated with me. But, I wouldn’t give in.

Looking back on that time, I know now that I was fighting for my son. To keep him from losing speech all together. To keep him from disconnecting from us.

Tired of my pediatrician saying he was fine, I took him to a child developmental specialist and a psychiatrist when he was four.

Both gave him the diagnosis of Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). He was referred to an occupational therapist to receive sensory integration therapy.

He started to turn around…

The therapy helped some, but I had this gnawing feeling that it wasn’t the right diagnosis. Even though SPD was hard enough to deal with, I thought Little Man had the mysterious epidemic that is plaguing so many children of this generation.


I pondered this in my heart, hoping I was wrong. But, the concern grew as he did.

Even though, yes, he did talk, he flapped his arms when he was excited and still had trouble looking people in the eyes for more than a few seconds (I had to be quick with the camera to capture him at attention).

And, he didn’t seem to be “growing out of it.” He needed more help.

So, when he was eight, I started asking around and connected with friends who had children with autism who had the same behaviors as my Little Man.

With a list of recommended doctors  in hand, I called until I found one that would see him. A neurologist. Surely a neurologist would finally put to rest my concerns for autism.

Before we went to the appointment, I prayed that the doctor would see it if he truly had autism.

Right away, the neurologist confirmed what I had suspected. My boy flapped his arms the entire appointment, so there was no doubt for her.

He had autism.

So, the puzzle pieces finally came together. And, the picture was still my little boy. But, now I know he’s autistic, and he has a long road ahead of him.

This is the son I asked for. My rainbow baby. I was chasing rainbows, hoping that having another son would help heal the ache of having a child who died.

But, it was a different kind of rainbow than I was dreaming of.

He has a disability. I didn’t ask for that. But, I didn’t ask for a child without disabilities either.

And, of course I still love him. He’s mine. He’s still my Little Man.

Then I saw it. In asking for another son, I was chasing rainbows, an elusive brilliance that fades away with changing circumstances like the clouds parting in the sky, revealing the brightness of the sun.

I didn’t know it, but all along, I did have a rainbow. The rainbow inside my heart.

Through every sorrow, the love of God, my Father in heaven, has been shining in my heart, giving me the rainbow of a transformed life.

In all the pain and suffering of life, when we trust in Christ, he gives us more faith, hope, and love. And He will do so even now.

There are always glimmers of grace if you look for them. Evidences of our Father’s presence and providence.

For my son, each time he’s progressed in his development, all those little miracles are a sign of God’s redemptive grace.

AndrewSarah2 (2)
My boy helping his little sister cross the bridge

We are all here for a reason. God divinely planned to create each one of us. Yet, our world is broken. Some of us have bodies or minds that don’t work as they should. And all of us have souls, damaged at the very beginning of man, at the fall, where the first sin was committed.

We all need redemption.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).”

We all need restoration.

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).”

Through Christ, the Good Shepherd, our dark valleys of uncertainty can become a rainbow valley for our souls.

As we trust in Christ, rely on Him, and look to Him for all our needs, we will become more and more like Him.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” (Romans 8:28, 29)

In a way, everything, even hard things like autism, can be a blessing, a gift, if we continue to trust God and offer up our thanks to Him. He knows what He’s doing. And, we can keep looking to Him for those glimmers of grace along the way.




Having an Almost-Teen With Autism|13 Ways He’s Like Any Other Teen #WorldAutismAwarenessDay #AutismAcceptance

Parenthood flies by in a blink of an eye. A preemie, my firstborn daughter weighed in at only 4 lbs. 14 oz.

Image (46)

Image (47)

After six days, she was released from the hospital, and I brought her to my grandfather’s 90th birthday party to show her to the family.

Setting her down on an upstairs room carpet, I stepped away to grab a diaper from my bag.

My aunt stood in the doorway and gasped. “I thought there was a doll on the floor, but then she moved.”

So small, so delicate, I didn’t know if she’d ever catch up to the regular developmental milestones of most children.

But then.

Blink. My baby girl could walk.


Blink again. She’s studying for her driver’s permit.



Blink away the tears. I only have 2 years left with my baby!

My oldest daughter is now sixteen. And my have the years flown by.

In only one month, my next-born, my only son, will be turning from tween to teen, the rite of passage year of thirteen. In some cultures, this would be the year he becomes a man.


The thing is, he has autism.

For the rest of the story, click here

Words of Life|Lent #RealLife #TBT

A few years back, I tried asking one of my children to give up watching T.V. with me for Lent.

I don’t think she got it.

By the time Easter came, she was just glad it was over. Still, I wanted our family to be a little slice of the church. To do Lent together as we do life together.

Then by the grace of God, the idea came to me. What if, this year, we all gave up something that really needs to be given up and add something we all know we need to add.

We all have something in common, living in a house of strong personalities. We raise our voices a little too much. Add to that strong emotions and a loud voice becomes yelling.

Something subtracted, something added … How about subtracting the yelling and adding the praying for self and for the one(s) trying our patience.

Words are powerful. They can build up or tear down.

We need each other’s words. The good ones. The true ones. The holy ones.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning (John 1:1-2).”

God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, the mysterious Trinity, worked together in perfect unity to build up our world before filling it with life.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light (Genesis 1:1-3).” 

In the beginning, the holy hovering words of God shot out across the world. Creating. Shedding Light. Giving Life.

Words build up, stone by stone, line by line, precept by precept.

Christ isn’t expecting churches, whether in your home or under a steeple, to be perfect.

He alone is perfect.

Yet, He offers us grace. Because He took the nails for us, His blood washes away our sin.

When we believe, the ever-grabbing-for-more part of us, loosens its grip on its little stake in life and turns to grasp the nail-marked hand of the One who ever-loves-us-eternally.

We can lean on Him because we need His help. We must come to Him in weakness and rely on His strength to free us from words that hurt to speak words that heal.

May we be grace-carriers. Broken, yet bright beacons of His shining glory, loving and serving the ones He came to save.

This is how we glorify and lift up Christ. And speak words of light, love, and grace.

“Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God (1 John 5:5).”

Proof of Pi|A #PiDay Poem

The Proof of Pi 


3.14 …

Never changing.

Crucial for circumference,

Or the area of a circle.

Formulated by the Greeks.

Or rather, discovered.

Always existing.

As long as we have round.

Do we really need proof

For something that just is?

That’s what geometry

 Theorems are for.

Proofs, proofs, and more proofs.

It’s all logical.

The Logos.

The Word made flesh that dwelt among us.

But, still we want proof.

To touch the nail-marked hands

 Put our fingers in the pierced side.

We need to see.

Or do we?

Touched by grace,

Through the eyes of love,

We’ve been given

These very great

And precious promises

From above.

Look upon the cross.

Do we still need proof?

It is finished.

True Valentine|To be Loved & To Love #ValentinesDay

When I turned thirty, I remember thinking, this is the age of Christ, when he began His ministry. But I didn’t feel like I was doing anything special for the Kingdom of God.
Only cooking, cleaning, changing stinky diapers, wiping runny noses, getting little sleep, barely getting out of the house. You know, nothing special.

Life went on. Birthdays 31, 32, and 33. I was the age of Christ when He gave His life as a payment for our sins, was resurrected and left this earth. Still, I was nothing special. Still…me. Still, a nobody.
For my fortieth birthday this year, I was sick in bed and unable to do any special, let alone feel special.

Time to throw a pity party, right? Unless…

Maybe I got it all wrong.

Nothing special. Useless. A nobody. Doesn’t sound like my Father’s voice.

The flesh, the world, the devil himself, all send messages about who we are, why we’re here, and what makes us valued. 

The flesh, that old sinful selfish part of me says in order to be something special, I need to do something great and have lots and lots of friends to be loved or valued.

The world chimes in that I need to achieve a certain status, to attain a certain unattainable lifestyle, to be known on a broad range to be loved or valued.

The devil will do anything to keep me from knowing my true identity. He will try to get me down by convincing me that I’m a useless nobody or puff me up with vanity that I might be consumed with my own perceived greatness. Whatever works.

Whatever keeps me from realizing my true identity and true calling.

Because if I knew, if all of us knew and woke up from our complacency, like Christ, we would flip over the tables of those who profit by our drowsy coasting through life. Our world would be turned upside down.

We must wake up from our slumber. From the false lullaby of the flesh, the world, and the devil, lulling us to sleep, making us miss opportunities to love a broken world.

That’s why we’re here. To love. Christ commands it. Love God first and our neighbor next. In small ways, ways that nobody else would even notice. But that doesn’t make us nobodies.

The truth is, we are loved and valued by God because through Christ, our whole life, has been, is being, and will be redeemed.

Apart from the truth, it doesn’t matter what we have come to believe about ourselves, or what others have told us is important.

Nothing else matters but what Christ did on the cross and what that means for us and the world.

Christ is the center, the core, the missing page that has been torn out of our history books.

Everything hinges on Him, whether we acknowledge Him or not.

But, when we do, we change.

Our world changes. Turns upside down.

Or, maybe it was upside down to begin with.

In Christ, we are made right. Turned upright. Back to God. Back to the place and the Person where we are most valued and loved.

In light of His love and grace, we can reach out to our significant other, our children, our friends, acquaintances, even enemies. With love. Agape’ love. The giving kind of love that pours itself out to the utmost. Because that is what Jesus did for us.

And that is what will change our world.

20 Ways to Have Peace in Grief|Help for the Holidays #ChristmasPeace


Christmastime is when we miss them the most. Those people we love who no longer traverse the earth with us.


The hole they left behind is a pain that lingers and aches. And for those whose grief is fresh, the wound still throbs.

I don’t know if I’ve always traveled the best way through grief, but the Lord taught me many things along the journey. I learned more about God, myself, and others, and we have choices to make in how we will react to all of life’s difficulties. The following steps are some choices I made in my own pain. And those choices have led to peace.

Steps to Peace in Grief:

  1. Focus on the character of Christ in the gospels. Seeking to know Him more fully will form us more into His likeness.
  2. Look back and grieve—everything that has broken your heart, and ask Christ to reveal Himself to you in those times.
  3. Turn to Christ and trust Him with your past, present, and eternity, for “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).”
  4. Believe that when you are at a disadvantage, you are blessed, because it’s a chance to see God come through for you.
  5. Be thankful that Christ Jesus has redeemed you—every part of you, past,  present, and future, it all matters to Him. He is faithful to forgive you and cleanse you of all unrighteous thoughts, feelings, and deeds (1 John 1:9).
  6. Rest on Christ, the Rock, whose promise of salvation is a free gift. You don’t have to be “good enough” to be loved and accepted by God. The Lord Jesus gave His life to rescue us from darkness and bring us into His family.
  7. Immerse yourself in worship and sing songs of both lament and praise, which can stir your heart to hope again.
  8. Rejoice that because of Christ, our names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20).
  9. Live for your Father’s smile.
  10. Persevere when you feel like giving up. God has a special place, purpose, and work for you to do in His Kingdom.
  11. Remember you are precious in the sight of God.
  12. Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord. The greatest in the Kingdom of heaven is like a little child.
  13. Love others even in your pain.
  14. Be confident that the things that overwhelm you are the very things you can trust in the Lord to give you His strength to overcome (2 Corinthians 12:9).
  15. Trust in the Lord to protect you from evil. Suffering is a time when you are most vulnerable. (1 Peter 5:8,9)
  16. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. The Lord works through His people. You don’t have to go through grief alone.
  17. Longing, seeking, finding, longing … it’s a cycle that will only end when we see Jesus face-to-face. Until then, stay the course.
  18. Jesus longs for me even more than I long for Him. He has known me before the creation of the world. He gave His life for me. He’s preparing a place for me, and He’s waiting for me with a love that is higher than the highest mountain, wider than the widest sky, deeper than the deepest ocean, and longer than the longest road.
  19. In this world, we have a lot to grieve, mourn, and wail about, but we must long for the day when we can be in the safest place of all—safe in Jesus’ arms.
  20. When you have to face one of your greatest fears, death itself, turn your eyes upon Jesus for grace and strength. He will be with you every step of the way.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,

Look full in His wonderful face.

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,

In the light of His glory and grace.

~Helen H. Lemmel, 1922

Have a Christmas blessed with glimmers of grace, and a New Year that is full of the hope of a grace-full life.