But what do I know? 


Are you asking yourself, "What qualifies her; what could she possibly know about my situation?" Are you asking me, "Just what qualifies you to say this to me?"


I'd like to share my qualifications and experience. I am a survivor of childhood verbal, physical and sexual abuse. I have loved deeply and been widowed three times, twice in sudden accidents and once to cancer. I know the pain of losing a child by miscarriage and have lost a close family member to suicide. I have buried my parents and all six of my parents-in-law. I have been betrayed in business. I have walked through depression and courted suicide, while seeking relief in all the wrong places. I have lost relationships because of my faith and suffered a divorce. I am walking in freedom from many self medicating obsessions including anorexia, overexercising, bingeing, overworking and alcohol abuse.


When I married my late husband Don, God blessed me with a family, which included Shane and Ashley and I gave birth to their brother, Watson. Shane blogs with us here at Encounters as well.


Don, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died after only three months. Later, while sitting in our garden on a beautiful day, I remembered loving the way the transmitted light looked as it shined through the garden leaves, hearing the birds sing and feeling the warmth of the sun and the gentle breeze across my skin. Those feelings were, now, only memories; I could feel no joy. Don had been my soulmate and chief cheerleader. Don’s faithful life led me back to faith and he baptized me in a tank on our ranch.


God has been the lifter of my head; I have counted on him for each breath. I have learned that joy is bigger than a joyful feeling. My joy is found in a loving God, who is good. I've suffered loss without God, and with him; I'm here to tell you that with him is better. And still, I did not expect to, ever again, experience a joyful feeling.


Shane called, asking, “How are you today?” I shared with him my garden thoughts of remembering joy and feeling none. We visited about the pain that he was feeling over losing his father and that he also could not imagine feeling joy again.


Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” I had no other viable options; I began seeking God and his Kingdom first, before anything else, and found relief in the seeking.  In the middle of my seeking, I found more of Him and suddenly experienced a joyful feeling. I was stunned and called Shane, eager to share the good news. Shane replied, “I'm so jealous.” I said, “You don't understand; I’m calling with great news for you.” You know my history. If I can experience a joyful feeling, then, you can experience a joyful feeling. And, boy howdy, has he!


In the years since Don’s death, as I have continually pursued more of God, his Kingdom and his righteousness, I have found myself filled with supernatural joy. I am living proof that you can feel joy in the midst of trauma and loss.


As Thanksgiving approaches, Facebook has lighted up with requests for each of us to share the suicide hotline number. Did you ever see the old commercial that stated, suicide is a permanent solution to temporary problem?


It is not that our family's loss of Don is no longer painful, rather, we have learned that pain and joy can reside together. If we had not survived this loss, I would never have become a prophetic artist, painted the Lion of Judah, or been captivated by God’s heart to tell you that he loves you. I would not have launched Project 7 Billion, opened a gallery, painted in many world venues, nor helped release other creative people into their own creative destinies. Shane and Leah would never have found each other, married, given birth to three precious children, or entered ministry and the business world. Nor would Shane be collaborating with Project 7 Billion to offer the love of Jesus to everyone on earth through an encounter with the Lion of Judah.


Don’t give up. I encourage you to seek God with all your heart! I promise you, if you won’t give up, you will find him and finding changes everything. By the way... He wants to be found.


Yippee, amen and hallelujah!!!

Latimer Bowen