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By Melissa Stone - June 10, 2024

From my picnic table in the prayer garden, I see a broken limb from my neighbor's hackberry perching precariously over my garden shed. A casualty of last month's storms, it seems ready to fall with the next one (or even a strong gust!). Some would say I'd be justified in worrying; after all, last year my other neighbor's huge hackberry (really hate those trees) uprooted and fell landing on and breaking my fence, snapping limbs from my mature crape myrtles and settling over my garden beds. Although it would be bothersome, I'd clean up this hackberry hazard as I did the last and move on. (Plus, my neighbor is an insurance agent, and I may get a new shed out of the deal. Ha!) Trials are great teachers, and this one seems minor compared to the one I faced yesterday.

I sang that morning at Glasgow First Nazarene with my amazing friends. (See the feed below!) The time was anointed, and I left fulfilled and at peace. I came home to a very despondent husband, and I asked him what was wrong. He said our son, Austin, told him he was empty and dead inside. He had researched that hanging was the quickest way to end it all. Naturally, we were concerned, and I started shooting out texts for prayer. I never take talk of suicide lightly; my uncle committed suicide before I was born, and I contemplated it myself with my first depressive episode in 2016 (more information about that is on our free TESTimony CD).

But back to the limb. It hasn't fallen yet because it is cradled and supported by the limbs surrounding it. In addition to the support of the Father's everlasting arms, my burden is shared and my spirit is buoyed by the supporting prayers of my brothers and sisters in Christ. Today, I have received text after text asking how Austin is doing along with kind and encouraging words, promises of continued prayer, and suicide prevention resources.

I believe we can all agree that our faith is made stronger seeing God's hand in the trials we've had to endure. He is such a good and loving Father to allow them to happen "so that the tested genuineness of [our] faith--more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire--may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ" 1 Peter 1:7 ESV.

Our latest project has the song Everyday Battles on it. The second verse says:

I don't know what you've faced

Or what you're facing

It ain't small to a God who cares

He's always got an answer for

All your questions

I know that it's true

Cause I've been there

Whatever you may be going through today, know that you have a loving Father who is also a good and faithful Filter--anything that touches you has to go through Him (and His character) first. And remind yourself often that you need others, and they need you. It's a blessing to be a blessing, and encouragement is the fertilizer (and sometimes the supporting stake!) that helps us to grow abundantly in the Lord and not break in difficult times.

(After I wrote this, Austin woke up and told me he had the most amazing dream; a man in white had Austin's head in his lap, comforting him! Chills and tears galore! Don't tell me prayer doesn't work! God loves all His children, like my prodigal and even those who don't know him as Father yet.)

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