Counting It Joy
I believe the Lord gave me a vote of confidence to write Counting It Joy. He didn't say I had to do it, He said, "you can." I heard these words while driving though Santa Barbara one day back in 2012 after Bree and I had settled in California following Mark's move to Heaven.
I had been toying with the idea of writing the Macallister story for a few months and I guess the Lord chiming in was what I needed to get me moving. I realized I had some anxiety about representing our family story with any cohesion, or fairness, or inspiration, or even honesty. I couldn't imagine what such a deal would look like. But when the Lord said I could do it, I believed Him, and I set out to share my heart and let Him order my efforts.
On first attempt, a huge rush of thankfulness poured out of me for my children, Levi and Bree, and with it I knew my hopes were first for them. My priorities for writing became clear; I wanted my kids to know their dad more fully, to somehow glean how much he always loved them and loved the Lord. And then for all our family, friends, and ministry co-laborers. I wanted them to know Mark's story more intimately also. It became so important to me that everyone knew his challenges and yet God's strength and faithfulness in Mark's life—and Levi's, Bree's and mine as well.
Mark's suicide was confusing for many people and I think this story might help a little bit. Although it doesn't alleviate all the pain, nor does it make sense of all the unimaginable, yet it offers a visual that I pray is ultimately God-glorifying. That's my hope.
I believe there is a lot more mental illness and peripheral diagnoses in our world today than any statistic registers. I know back in 2011 I read that depression, and the like, would account for the biggest pharmaceutical expenditures, and rate higher than cancers and heart disease in requiring medical attention, by the year 2020. That is staggering. And it makes me want to seek Jesus for answers and for ways to BE comfort and hope to a world battling what I consider to be really, really hard - attacks against the mind and emotions. I don't have all the answers, but I have compassion and I ache alongside many families struggling with mental illness, many women walking in my shoes. Levi and Bree do likewise amongst peers and young people far beyond their close knit community. I'm so thankful for the opportunities God's given each of us to offer the comfort we've received to others.
I hope Counting It Joy makes a difference. I hope it brings encouragement despite an outcome no one would ever want. I hope Mark's life meant something more than I can fathom. I hope his ministry reached farther than I know. - God is able to do immeasurably more than we can ever ask or imagine, thus I'm sure my hopes are not too big for a God whose ways are always higher than mine. He's got this!
I now commit Counting It Joy, first to the Lord, and then to its readers and simply ask our Faithful Father to have His way with it. And whatever that looks like... Well. It'll be just fine with me.