Tag Archives: joy

Why Grieving Mothers Find Comfort in a Tattoo

Why Grieving Mothers Find Comfort in a Tattoo
I am so thrilled to be able to once again feature my sweet friend Tammie here at Espressos of Faith. Tammie’s life first touched mine when we both resided on the tiny island of Kwajalein in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. During that time, Tammie and her husband Rick experienced unfathomable loss, and ever since, their lives have been on an amazing trajectory to healing, hope, and even joy again! Life will never be the same, and Tammie is extremely honest about their painful journey; she readily admits that some days are extremely difficult. But she has found purpose again, and her heart beats to bring healing to other grieving parents. She wants to share how she and her husband are finding their way again. In the process, Tammie and Rick made a choice to forfeit regular income and steady jobs to travel around the country volunteering, giving back to others in celebration of the life of their son. As passionate as they are about suicide prevention, they are equally driven to love those left behind as they open up their lives to us, sharing their source of love, comfort, hope, and promise.

Without further introduction, here’s Tammie…


For those who are asking if that is really my tattoo: Yes, it’s true.

“What are you thinking? You are not the kind of person who would get a tattoo.”

“You have to be kidding! That is not your style.”

“You know what people think about tattoos? You will be judged as soon as they see it.”

“Well, if it will make you happy, then do it—but I would never do it.”

These are some of the responses I received when I shared my desire to get a tattoo as a tribute to my son Joshua. They were all very kind in the way that they said it, and I truly knew that they were trying to comprehend something that was just outside all of our comfort zones.

Read the rest of this entry »


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Journey to Joy: How Giving Back Brings Hope and Healing to Hurting Hearts

Journey to Joy-How Giving Back Brings Hope and HealingI am so thrilled to be able to share another part of Rick and Tammie Wommack’s story here at Espressos of Faith. I know these dear friends from my time spent in the Marshall Islands, a time when their world shattered into unbearable heartache. For anyone knowing or currently mourning tragic loss of any kind, this blog is for you. It’s also for others to understand the journey the heart takes in these hard circumstances—and the hope and healing that come through giving back. Thank you, Tammie, for being vulnerable so that others know where to get their bearing again and what life looks like on the other side, each day offering a choice as to how we will let ourselves be used for good. Tammie’s honesty and humility are so refreshing. What she offers us here brings my heart to this exact place, and I can’t wait to bring yours there too, if you’re willing to give it a read:

Psalm 27:3, King David speaking, NKJV 
I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living.

[After losing their son to suicide, Tammie and Rick made a choice to forfeit regular income and steady jobs to travel around the country volunteering. For Part 1 of this story, please refer to “Honoring Josh: A Mother’s Heart in the Aftermath of Suicide.”] 

Bonnie Lyn Smith, author of Not Just on Sundays


Here’s Tammie….

The Interview

HOPE through FAITH and SERVICE to Others

Most of us travel through life just trying to get through it, not really realizing how what we do impacts others. We would like to think we are kind, generous, trusting, and all the things the Bible tells us a good and godly person should be.

The reality is we are busy: with work, families, finances, commitments, appointments, shopping, daily chores, and so many things on our to-do list that we are too tired to even think about how our actions, words, and deeds might be affecting others. I am confident that if you really contemplated this question and took the time to think about it, as I did this morning, you would find that most all of us impact others in our daily lives, no matter how busy they seem.

The questions then become:

Are we impacting them in a positive or negative way? 

Are we showing them an example of Christian love?

Can they see Jesus in us?

The other day while we were traveling through Iowa, I received a phone call from someone who wanted to write an article about Rick and me. They wanted to know how we got started on our Volunteer Journey: how we find volunteer jobs, what motivated us to choose this lifestyle, how we fund what we do, etc. Most of all they wanted cute, heartwarming stories about the people we helped—something that would really tug at the heartstrings of the readers.

I didn’t have any of those—heartstring stories to share. We do not really see the impact of what we do, but we know it does not diminish the importance to us on our journey.

This morning, as I was doing my devotional, I thought about her questions and my response (I’ll share my response later). I still couldn’t really think of any heartstring-tugging moments that are a result of what Rick and I do. Most of what we do is rarely even seen by other people.

It does, however, have a impact on us. And that is the real story.

We are healing and growing in Christ, learning every day to be more like Jesus and to help others just as Jesus would if He were living an everyday, “normal” life.

We are simply living a lifestyle that allows us to find joy again—a joy that we thought would never be ours.

In our hearts, we believe that we are saving lives when we teach water safety to young children.

We are keeping God’s house clean and getting it ready for visitors when we are working at the campground.

We enjoy doing all the little, behind-the-scenes details that have to be taken care of so that ministers and counselors can share the Word of God and lead children and adults to Christ.

So many of our volunteer jobs are just that: jobs. But in the work, we find hope and healing, God’s grace, and, yes, joy. We find joy in everyday living and in the wonderful people we meet, in the places we visit, and in the personal and quiet knowledge that what we are doing makes a difference and is part of God’s path for us.

By societal standards, we are not successful: We live in a camper, drive a very old truck, own few possessions, have very little money, and, yet, we find ourselves happier than we can ever remember being. We are rich in the knowledge that we are saved by grace and are following God’s plan for our lives. Through this grace, we have found:


So my response to the interviewer that day was more or less:

“This is not that kind of story. We are not outstanding people on a mission to help others. We are not looking for praise for all the wonderful things we are doing. We are certainly not missionaries.

It is not a story about the people we have helped. It is a story about how giving back has helped us.

We are simply ordinary people who have suffered a tragic loss and found healing through giving back. The story is really just that simple! We did not start out feeling that God had called us to go forth and help others. Our journey is one of evolution; we started out just running away from home and memories, not really sure what we were seeking but still very much stuck in our grieving. We finally realized (not both at the same time) what we were doing each time we were volunteering was actually helping us to move forward through our grief in to a life filled with purpose and hope. We began to heal and find joy again. It was not overnight; rather, it was a gradual process. We are still traveling that journey but believe that if we have any kind of story to tell, it is one of hope through Jesus Christ and healing through giving back.”

2 Samuel 22:29, author unknown, ESV
For you are my lamp, O LORD, and my God lightens my darkness.

I suspect that our story was not what she was looking for, although she did say she would send it to her editor. We are not looking for the spotlight to shine on us.

Isaiah 66:2, Isaiah the Prophet speaking, ESV
All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.

The only story we have is how this journey has helped us and, in turn, has helped others. That is what we hope to share and what we would like to spotlight for other parents and family members who are lost in the grieving process. Hope through faith and service to others will help you heal and find your joy in life again.

1 Timothy 4:10, Apostle Paul speaking, ESV
For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.


A great resource for suicide prevention is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

To find out more about Tammie and Rick, you can read part of their story at

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When Laughter Returns After the Deadening Silence

When Laughter Returns After the DeadeningThere is an echo in my house today. It’s the beautiful sound of a child’s guffaws reverberating off my walls. I made Little Man laugh again. A hearty chuckle gurgling up from deep within his chest. This is like sweet, dripping, golden honey to me. It’s been a long wait for these moments of exploding joy again. I’ve been sitting by this particular brook for a while now wondering when the water would wash back over us again, bubbling up to the surface and setting us free.

Nothing is worse than the absence of joy. It’s an empty field to sit in. It’s deadened silence.

Little Man used to laugh. A lot. He used to make us laugh and himself laugh all day. He was—no, is— my most jovial child. He used to grab life with both hands and see the best part of it, even in the moments when the rest of us were a bit more sour in our outlook.

Then, one day, Little Man’s part of the family noise went silent.


Slammed tightly shut.

And none of us could find the key.

I didn’t want to settle for smiles now and again. They felt flat to me. They weren’t him. Without happy giggles throughout the house, it felt like Little Man just didn’t even live here anymore. All of us noticed it. My other children asked where he went.

As a mother, hoping for a complete return of Little Man seemed so scary, such a set-up for failure and deep disappointment. But, also as a mother, there was absolutely no way I wasn’t going to scale walls, dig tunnels, climb mountains, swim reservoirs, and passionately scream my way back to old Little Man again. I wasn’t going to give up. Nobody was going to tell me this is just the new Little Man.

Absolutely. No. Way.

I wasn’t going to accept that. My God is so much bigger than whatever was choking Little Man. I’d beat the tar out of whatever it was, screaming for Jesus to help me, all day and night until I broke its clutches. I wouldn’t rest until Little Man could break free. I furiously whacked at everything that and everyone who tried to suggest to me he was gone.

We don’t always get back what has been taken from us. I realize that and have so much sympathy for those waiting for that return to normal or the way things used to be. I also know that loss is sometimes so great that it does not reverse. But any parent out there watching a child suffer emotionally, physically, mentally, socially, or spiritually knows that there is a lion/ess within us with an incredible growl. And suddenly the whole world hears it when we are fighting for our cub. It’s a roar shot straight into the universe.

That is the place I found myself earlier this year. I think mourning or grief of any kind feels like this at some point. We turn blue in the face waiting for joy to come back. We’re often not sure if it ever will.

But a few months ago, a giggle here and there starting peeking through the clouds in our house. Then he started planning for the future again, which psychologically means a return of some level of hope. There were pained, worried, serious looks in-between that made my heart completely stop, struggling not to drown in fear. But then it went from enjoying our company to making his own humor again. And when a heart is lightened, it can finally bounce quickly in response to someone else’s joke. Happy reflexes came back. Joy was more instant. I could almost see the elephant that had been sitting on his shoulders all year growing wings and flying off.

And while we’ve had a mostly full return of Little Man in recent months, my heart still skips a beat at the goodness of the Lord in holding us up through this trial, showing us how to help Little Man, keeping hope and faith flickering like a wick that won’t go out, sustaining us as our hearts ached, and being the center of where our true source of joy is, no matter the circumstances. He was holding Little Man close during this trial, and He was building laughter back into Little Man, but Little Man was also under reconstruction. God used a lot of people and specialists to bring this about, because He loves to do that, but He also put Little Man back together again in ways only He can. I know this because years ago, He put me back together again too.

It’s tempting for us to think the times of deadening silence are the absence of God. The truth is, those are moments when we can see Him more clearly, if we’re looking and our hearts remain open. When laughter returned to our home, we knew what we had been missing. We had new appreciation for what had been taken, by circumstance and struggle—and what had been given back.

Would God still have been our amazing God if this road had been longer (honestly, the journey is not over; we are just getting a better handle on it), or if we had lost Little Man in ways greater than I can bring myself to write out?

Yes, He would have. Because it’s not which answer that comes in that makes Him God to me. It’s the fact He is listening, present, comforting, trustworthy, faithful, peace-filled, and sustaining, no matter the result. I truly cannot imagine walking this road, or any hard road, for that matter, without feeling His palm pressed into mine (because I asked Him to hold my hand and help me).

Little Man’s battle may not be over. Or another trial could be waiting for us around the corner with a different family member. Struggles are part of the dance of life.

But today I celebrate the return of joy. Because when it’s gone for a long while, we realize how incredibly precious and vital it is.

Psalm 30:11-12, David speaking
You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. LORD my God, I will praise you forever.

For more on how faith in Christ helps us weather these storms, kindly refer to blog posts in the Anxiety/OCD/Depression pages of this site and the book Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day (includes Book Club Discussion Questions).

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