Comforting Josiah

Tonight, I can't sleep. My eyes are filled with tears as I lay here wondering and praying for Josiah, our 7yr old.

The past four months have been a whirlwind of dramatic change for our family. My mother had outpatient knee surgery, but ended up spending time in the ICU. Joplin, MO (our home at that time) was hit by an F-5 tornado and a week after that we packed up our U-Haul & van and moved to Nashville, TN.

Moving away from a place that we've called home for the past 5 years was difficult in itself. On top of everything else, my family is just now able to process and find some normalcy to our lives.

Josiah is our oldest. His heart is truly sincere. He is a deep thinker (like his dad) and change is hard for him.
A few weeks ago, we noticed some behavioral issues that were out of the norm. My husband asked Josiah what was bothering him and if there was anything that he'd like to pray about. Josiah gently whispered, "Dad, there's something that I need to tell you. Something that I've not told anyone since the tornado. Dad, I'm scared. What if we have a tornado here? Can we build a house with a secret tunnel so that we are able to escape when the house falls on us?"

My husband's heart sunk into his stomach. Four months have already passed and we had no idea of the post-traumatic stress that had affected Josiah.

Just last week, I went to a Bible Study and took Josiah to a friend's house because childcare only goes up to kids 5 & under. When I picked him up, I was told that he had been crying and just wanted to be with me. I had no idea what could've been bothering him.

We got to the van, and I asked, "Josiah, why were you sad? Did something happen?"

He cried in my arms and in between sobs, I heard, "Mom, you were gone. It was raining and I needed to be with you. I was scared that a tornado would come and you wouldn't be able to find me."

I held him tightly & cried, too. I began to realize one of the reasons why he has been so terrified. When the tornado hit, my husband and I were not home. We went to visit my mom in the ICU and were on the highway when we heard of the tornado. It took over 3 hours to get back to the kids whom we left with a sitter.

We weren't there and he was terrified.

I have spoken to our buddy who is a counselor. At first, I was filled with guilt and driving myself crazy with all of the 'what ifs'. Our friend assured us that Josiah is just now able to speak and understand the things that are bothering him. Like us, sometimes it takes some time to understand the core issue of our problems.

Our next step after a lot of prayer & talking with Josiah is to take a family trip. In a couple of weeks, we will be heading to Tulsa to visit family and then head our way up to Joplin, MO to see our friends. Some of Josiah's favorite places (like Chick-fil-a) have already rebuilt & are open for business. It will be great to take him to see his friends and to give him the reassurance that they are all okay.

Sometimes (okay, all the time), I want to keep my children from sadness & from feeling any fear, but I know that I can not. However, I know that when I am unable to comfort them, I rest assure in our Father who gives us peace, strength, and comfort in times of the storm. And I feel it an honor and a great task to teach our children about the One who we praise in times of raging storms and in times of still waters.

Father, I pray that they will always turn to you in times of sadness and in times of joy. May their little hearts hold tightly to Your Truth and be comforted in knowing that You will never leave them nor forsake them. Amen.


  1. My eyes were filled with tears while reading this entire thing. I can't tell you how much I miss Josiah and how I am always stunned at his heart, what an amazing heart that boy has!!!
    I love reading your blog, it gives me another window into your life. It gives me the opportunity to still view the Rizo family, which I miss so dearly and adore with all my heart.
    I love you Jackie and happy to know how I can pray for you and josiah more clearly now. xxx

  2. Jackie, I remember what a sweet baby Josiah was in the nursery, and it makes me sad that he is troubled. But, I know that God is ever present and loves our kids more than we ever could, and He will bring you all through this time of trouble. Will be praying for comfort for your family, and for Josiah! Kelly Souder

  3. Jackie, as much as we would like to keep our kids away from all the terrible things that happen in this world, we are unable to do it. The only thing we can do is be there for them when their fears start to show. I slept with Tabi for years after her Dad died, and she was 13.... Love you and your wonderful family (I knew you bc...before children.) Lisa Renz


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