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Blog, Faith, Marriage, Parenting, prayer

Jennifer Huston’s death ruled a suicide


Beautiful Jennifer Huston

Beautiful Jennifer Huston

I just went for a short drive to get out of the house, my heart heavy for beautiful Jennifer Huston and her family. Got a cold Coke at Sonic and a chocolate candy bar, then headed back home. I felt prompted to pull into a parking lot and googled Jennifer Huston again. It was the news I was expecting after I found out yesterday that she had ¬†died, yet didn’t want to hear. My heart is so heavy over this.¬†

Jennifer Huston died of asphyxiation by hanging, Dr, Karen Gunson the Oregon medical state examiner said Thursday. The box of sleeping pills she had purchased were empty. There is no evidence of a crash or damage to her dark green SUV and the fuel guage registered as full.

¬†Inside the SUV, detectives found a ¬†suicide note addressed to members of¬†her family. ( reports) I want to know so bad what it said. What were this precious woman’s last words? What pain was so great that she couldn’t stand to live any more?

Her¬†purse and personal items, which¬†included her cell phone that she apparently turned off after getting gas, were also located inside the SUV. The cell phone was analyzed by NDPD computer forensic detectives who “found no indications of nefarious activities.” ¬†( reports)

She died  close to the time she was reported missing, within 24 miles of her home, on a rural logging road off Highway 18 on private property. Her family and authorities had conducted a nation-wide search, including helicopters and searching lakes and rivers, to no avail.

T-shirt to find Jennifer

T-shirt to help find Jennifer

Her SUV was seen by the landowner of the private property, who thought it might belong to illegal trespassers. He called the authorities, reading the plate numbers to them. Authorities quickly came and swept the area, and found her body about 40 yards from the SUV. 

Jennifer, wife of Kallen Huston and planning their 10 year anniversary in August and mom of 2 boys ages 6 and 2 years old, died by suicide after she went to Rite-Aid after withdrawing less than $100 outside her credit union at the ATM, bought Gatorade, Trail Mix, and sleeping pills at Rite-Aid, and then topped off her green SUV gas tank. 

Jennifer Huston, last video surveillance of her, getting snacks at Rite-Aid

Jennifer Huston, last video surveillance of her, getting snacks at Rite-Aid

When Jennifer disappeared, the news spread all over the nation via social media, TV and radio coverage. Most people have been very compassionate and have written encouraging words on her family’s Find Jennifer Huston Facebook page, but some people have been pretty nasty with comments, which have made me angry. Have they no heart for this woman and her grieving family?

Since I first heard about this situation, I’ve been praying. I’d hoped so much that she would be found alive and safe – even if it meant she had driven to Washington to board the ferry to San Juan Islands without telling her family, as one couple reported possibly seeing her after her disappearance.

I’ve been obsessing about it with my family. Maybe it’s that she seems a symbol of the average American wife and mom with kids ~ a woman who loved others, was devoted to her husband and children, and was involved in the community ~ and yet stressed out and overwhelmed with the day to day responsibilities and demands. I get it. Many women do.

Jennifer Huston and family

Jennifer Huston and family

 Potty training a child. Buying groceries. Paying Рand juggling Рmonthly bills, sometimes with more month than money, and maybe not being able to go on vacation this year to San Juan Islands as she apparently loved to do, or any vacation.

I didn’t have the great privilege of knowing Jennifer as her family and friends did, and of course I don’t know what her life was like. But clues from what her husband and family said, such as her leaving her home the last night stressed out and then taking her life, give me a glimpse of what it may have been like.

Despite her obvious outer beauty and inner beauty described by her family and friends, her solid marriage as her father and her husband Kallen described, and her beautiful little boys,¬†inside something was missing. Empty. Hurting. You can see the pain in her eyes in her pictures in the news. She didn’t understand her great value and her God-ordained purpose. How God and others cherished her. We all need to feel loved, needed, and important…although it seems her family loved her a great deal, somehow that message didn’t get through to her. That breaks my heart!

My heart just cries out for her. I’ve been down that dark road. I describe it in my new book, Promises In The Dark: One Woman’s Search for Authentic Love¬† ~ my own suicide attempts, such as my overdose of pills, which thankfully didn’t succeed. I could have winded up like Jennifer. So many do!¬†Thank God He spared my life, and gave me a second and third chance. Jennifer, I so wish I’d known you! I wish I could have somehow reached out to you before this¬†awful tragedy happened!

Jennifer with one of her sons

Jennifer with one of her sons. “A devoted mother”- husband Callan said.

Some people on social media are calling Jennifer’s suicide “totally selfish.” Yes, suicide is a very selfish act. But ultimately, it is the loudest cry of unbearable pain and overwhelm. I only feel great compassion for her, and am grieving with her family.

WHY?! What caused her to take her own life? What pain was so great that she couldn’t bear it another second? I wish I knew…I wish she could have let Jesus taken it from her and given her His rest and abundant life.¬†

Her parents shared this message in their public statement about her suicide death: 

‚ÄúOur hearts ache today. We have lost our first born child. We have lost a wife and a mother. We don‚Äôt know what lead Jennifer to this dark place and to this end and perhaps never will understand this. We are incredibly thankful to family, friends, community and media for their searching, supporting and getting the information out that lead to locating Jennifer‚Äôs car and finding Jennifer.”

I can’t imagine her mom’s, or her other family members’, great pain. God, have mercy. Please comfort and strengthen them. Cover them with Your love and goodness.

¬†If you know someone who is hurting, please, reach out with God’s love…

The world is now missing someone very precious. Jennifer, I honor your life. I wish we had been close friends. 

Jennifer Huston, I honor your life

Jennifer, I honor your life

The Hillside Fellowship Church has offered to accept any notes, cards and flowers on behalf of the Huston family. Anyone wishing to do so can contact Pastor Zach Elliott at to make arrangements for gifts or other contributions.

The Family has a GoFundMe account set up for search effort funding as recently allocated, funeral expenses, counseling for their 2 sons and Kallen, and any remaining funds will¬†be donated toward a non-profit organization that supports women’s health, families, and suicide prevention. Just click here to donate.¬†

Blog, Faith, Homeschooling, Marriage, Parenting, prayer, Writing

When you pray hard and it hits the fan


Fan. Image Resource: Photo Bucket

Each Monday, Donna Partow offers a prayer call as one of the great benefits of membership in her 90-Day Renewal program for 2014, The Ultimate Year, which I just joined and LOVE.

On today’s prayer call, one of the members has been praying and fasting for her husband, and when she began fasting, he began experiencing vision problems. Here was Donna’s wise response:

“A lot of times we’ll be really praying and praying and it gets worse, and the devil says you pray and it got worse! Actually God knew it’s about to hit the fan, it’s about to get much worse, and that is why you feel that urgency to pray. That is the moment you have to press on in faith. God is inviting you to bring about that change.”

Do you relate? This also seems to happen whenever you are about to step out to do something for God, or AFTER you have done something great for God. You experience more intense spiritual warfare, or backlash from the enemy Satan.

God is greater than the devil. Continue to pray (and fast if you’re fasting), and keep your eyes on Jesus. The battle belongs to God. When the Moabites and the Ammonites were coming against Jehoshaphat and Judah, he resolved to go to God to pray and proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel as he stood in the assembly and he encouraged them:

“This is what the¬†Lord says to you: ‚ÄėDo not be afraid or discouraged¬†because of this vast army. For the battle¬†is not yours, but God‚Äôs. Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see¬†the deliverance the¬†Lord¬†will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the¬†Lord¬†will be with you.‚Äô‚ÄĚ

Jehoshaphat and the people bowed to the ground and worshipped God and praised Him loudly. The next morning Jehoshaphat told them:

Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.‚ÄĚ

God set ambushes against the Moabites and the Ammonites and the men of Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. The Ammonites and Moabites attacked the men of Mount Seir and destroyed them. Then they began to attack each other! By the time the people of Judah arrived, they found nothing but dead bodies. No one had escaped!

So Jehoshaphat and his men began to carry off the plunder – equipment, clothes, and other valuables. It was more than they could take away. It took them 3 days to carry away the plunder! On the 4th day, they gathered in the Valley of Berakah, where they praised the Lord. Berakah means blessing. When you begin to seek God’s face, pray and fast, you will experience His blessings!

Jehoshaphat and the army returned to Jerusalem with joy, because God had caused them to rejoice over their enemies. The fear of God fell on the other kingdoms surrounding them, because they heard how God had fought against Israel’s enemies. Jehoshaphat had peace, because God had given him rest on every side. (2 Chronicles 20)

God wants to give you peace and rest from your enemies, whatever they are – marriage problems, financial struggles, sickness, your business not succeeding as you’d like, conflicts at work, frustrations, etc. Keep praying and don’t give up.

Want to know effective strategies in spiritual warfare. Click here for my book The Hands of a Woman: Everyday Women in Everyday Battles.

Grey sleeping cat -"Image courtesy of [papaija2008] /
Blog, Faith, Homeschooling, Marriage, Parenting, prayer, Spiritual Gifts, Writing

Shades of Grey

Grey sleeping cat -"Image courtesy of  [papaija2008] /

Image courtesy of [papaija2008] /

Today after I bought groceries and returned home, I was feeling fashionably cute and comfortable in my leopard-print blouse, short black skirt, black tights, and tall black boots and am thankful that temps here in the midwest aren’t still below zero after the “polar vortex” winter storm suddenly hit the U.S. Yes, I was finally outside, breathing fresh air!

As I walked on the short sidewalk leading to the steps of our back door, I noticed the icy sludge that crunched under my boots and immediately thought how different the weather conditions here are compared to the intense humid heat in Kenya, where Ray and I recently traveled to speak at a conference.

What a contrast. I began musing how life itself has so many contrasts. Shades of grey, even among people.

The saved and the unsaved. The rich and the poor. Men and women (Mars and Venus). The married and the single, widowed, or divorced.

Even in marriage, there is such stark contrast. An eternal covenant, a man and a woman uniting and becoming one flesh, such happy memories of their children and grandchildren. But also a lightning flash moment of intense pain and rage, when a single betrayal causing overwhelming hurt threatens to unravel and annihilate 10, 15, or 25 years of marriage.

Contrast like this is difficult for me to understand. Why isn’t it just one way or the other? It should be so much simpler, either a happy marriage or an unhappy marriage. A satisfying, beautiful life or a miserable, unhappy life. Black or white.

Unhappy couple

Unhappy couple

Why is there mixture? Why is there grey?

I am and have always been a very black-and-white thinker. Right is right; wrong is wrong. With me, there’s not a lot of “grey” area. My mind often runs AGV Italo-train fast, cleaving like a thick piece of raw steak thoughts, ideas, and people into neat, precise categories.

I love those short black boots; those beige dress shoes are ugly.

Mexican food is my favorite meal and I could eat it every day; beets are gross and disgusting.

Sandi Krakowski greatly inspires me as a woman entrepreneur; Lady Gaga really knows how to market and loves her fans, but she is offensive and ridiculous.

Black or white. No shades of grey.

He loves me; he loves me not.

She stays; she’s leaving.¬†

Loves me, loves me not, loves me

Loves me, loves me not, loves me…

Yet without the grey, without contrasts and mixture, there’s no room for grace – God’s grace and our own grace…grace for us to receive, grace for us to extend to others in return. God, I am so deficient in grace; help me.

God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. – Ephesians 2: 8-9, NLT

Grace means to get something that you don’t deserve ~ God’s unmerited favor. Mercy means that you do not get a punishment that you deserve ~ God’s compassion. (Resource:¬†

Everything isn’t always divided so cleanly, like a man chewing on a pork chop until only the bone remains, without even the fat.

Compartmentalizing all of life (even God’s word and people) into either black or white categories is much simpler and easier for us, but it’s devoid of grace, which is like color to an artist’s canvas.

Copyright 2012 Leah Jones

Copyright 2012 Leah Jones

Ansel Adams preferred and became famous for working with black and white photography, as he felt color was distracting and could divert a photographer’s attention away from achieving his full potential. But color makes a room, an outfit, a painting come alive.

Grace is the vibrant, beautiful color that brings us to life. And sometimes that color is grey.

Not everything is black and white. Not everything fits neatly into categories.

Life has contrasts. Life has joy. Life has pain. A woman in labor will cry, scream, and even rage at her husband or coach to go away and leave her the #?! alone. She will say she just can’t do this anymore; it hurts too much. But when that beautiful baby is born, she laughs, kisses her little one, and is filled with joy at the most beautiful baby in the whole world. (My babies certainly fit this title!)


mom and her baby

A mom and her baby

Marriage and family are filled with precious, happy, good memories. There’s also pain that stabs unexpectedly and instantly, and this is the grey area, the contrasts, the place that gives room for grace to abound.

John testified about Him and cried out, This was He of Whom I said, He Who comes after me has priority over me, for He was before me. [He takes rank above me, for He existed before I did. He has advanced before me, because He is my Chief.]
For out of His fullness (abundance) we have all received [all had a share and we were all supplied with] one grace after another and spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing and even favor upon favor and gift [heaped] upon gift. ~ John 1: 15-17, Amplified Bible

We ponder many perplexing things in life, like why there are so many starving people in the world, why women and children are being trafficked globally more than ever before as sexual slaves, why innocent people are tragically hurt or killed, why governments become corrupt, why sick people aren’t always healed. Ultimately the 2 questions we are asking in our hearts in these situations are:

  • Why do bad things happen?
  • Does God know or care about this and is He still good?

This week on Facebook, I was shocked and horrified to read the status of one of my “Facebook friends” – a woman I’ve never met in real life and don’t know very well, except by her face and her usually positive, encouraging posts. This is what her status said:

My daughter died.

Oh my God. Her daughter was having emergency surgery and that is all I know now. I don’t think anything could be more difficult or horrible to go through. Words are simply inadequate for a situation like this. The last time I checked, she had hundreds of comments (including my post), saying we were praying for her.

Why? Why did this happen? I don’t know. Shades of grey.

I don’t have all the answers, but I do know one thing: God is love and God is good. He’s not like people. His ways are far above ours. (1 John 4:8; Isaiah 55: 8-9)

Jesus on cross

Jesus on cross

And He longs to shower us with His grace, comfort and strength, and wants us to become overflowing fountains of grace to others.

Grace supplied from God…in the heart-wrenching, painful shades of grey. Grace we give to ourselves and others…in the shades of grey.¬†

Man and woman embracing

Image courtesy of [David Castillo Dominici] /

Difficult, agonizing lessons so that we might be molded into His perfect image. The Man of Sorrows.

Jesus wept. (John 11:35)

The suffering servant,

So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. John 13: 4-5, NLT

The only Son of God, who was accused, tortured, bled and died for you and me so we could know and be with God forever. The ultimate Grace Giver.

Now Wonderful, Counselor, Prince of Peace, Lord of Lords and King of Kings.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. ~ 2 Corinthians 3:18, ESV

What are your thoughts on this? Are you a very black and white thinker, too? This week think about those areas that are “shades of grey.” They are opportunities to study grace. Leave your comments below.