Windows: A Source of Peace and Contentment?

window.2

Until then, only snakes and dentists scared me. One snowy night in December, I felt fear unlike never before.

Decades ago, several of my girlfriends joined me as I babysat two children. It was New Year’s Eve. The children were in bed. Teenage sounds filled the dining room. Music from a Beatles’ album accompanied the noise of giggling and chatting girls.

THUD!!!

A loud noise interrupted our festivities. A muffled bang sounded as if landed right outside the dining room wall. Fear muzzled our merriment. Like scared rabbits, we sat frozen with ears and eyes open wide. Listening. Did we imagine it?

The music played on. Then, we heard the sound again.

THUD!!!

We screamed and scurried away from the dining room wall. And tore into the living room.

Survival instincts kicked in. We started trying to figure out if danger lurked outside.

“I think someone is pounding on the wall.”

“It sounded like a gun shot.”

I felt a sense of responsibility to protect the children from…whatever. Suddenly, I realized my big brother was home. From the back window of my house, Ken would be able to see the dining room wall of the home where I was babysitting. So I called him on the phone.

“Ken, look outside our back window. Do you see anyone near the dining room window where I’m babysitting?”

“Oh yeah. I see large footprints in the snow leading right up to the window,” he teased.

Brothers!!!

One of my friends solved the mystery. “Vicki, it’s fireworks!”

We were never in danger. We simply forgot it was day of celebration.


Sounds in the night tend to scare everyone. The darker the night, the more terrifying is the noise. Vulnerability and helplessness magnifies fear.

Consider a woman is who is enjoying a quiet evening alone at home. Suddenly, she hears an unusual sound just outside her window. She peeks through the curtains to identify the source.  It may satisfy her curiosity. But, it won’t calm her nerves if she sees a burglar trying to enter her home.

Moms raising a child with mental illness (MI) can identify with that woman. The onset of our child’s illness rattles our nerves with equal intensity. It interrupts the solitude of a peaceful home. As the darkness of mental illness (MI) closes in, we’re more susceptible to fear.  Sometimes, our child’s symptoms suddenly increase.

A heavy THUD pounds on our heart. Survival instincts kick in. And we start trying to figure out how to help our child.

What just happened? What caused that?

We’re tempted to close the curtains of our lives. And hide all the turmoil and pain.

At times, we’re drawn to the window for a different reason. To gaze out and watch care-free families going about their daily routines. To see reminders of what life was like without MI. To catch glimpses of normalcy.

A window can’t provide lasting peace or true contentment. We’ll find comfort in God’s Word. Peering into the pages of the Word will calm our heart more than peering out any window.

How I love God’s Word! It’s my go-to place to find comfort. I echo the sentiments of the Psalmist who cries, “My eyes fail from searching Your word, saying, ‘When will You comfort me?’” [Psalm 119:82 (NKJV)].

Open the Word and find comfort.

The Bible hasn’t let me down. In my darkest times, I’ve found comfort. How is it possible to find comfort in the midst of our child’s illness? The Psalmist explains it this way:

“This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your word has given me life” [Psalm 119:50 (NKJV)].

Open the Word and find delight.

We can do more than go through the motions of each day. God’s tender mercies will help us live as we delight in His Word.

“Let Your tender mercies come to me, that I may live; for Your law is my delight” [Psalm 119:77 (NKJV)].

God’s Word keeps us from dying on the inside.

“Unless Your law had been my delight, I would then have perished in my affliction” [Psalm 119:92 (NKJV)].

“Trouble and anguish have overtaken me, yet Your commandments are my delights” [Psalm 119:143 (NKJV)].

If the Psalmist can find delight in God’s Word in the midst of trouble and anguish, surely so can we.

Open the Word and find strength.

Does the Psalmist’s plea sound like something you could have written?

“My soul melts from heaviness; strengthen me according to Your word” [Psalm 119:28 (NKJV)].

Seek God’s strength.

Open the Word and find hope.

Many of us find ourselves in hopeless situations. We hope in therapists or treatments. But, find they can’t always provide assurances for restoration. God’s Word never fails. The more we cling to It, the more we can proclaim, “You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word” [Psalm 119:114 (NKJV)].

Open the Word and find how to live each day.

God guides us through the days that begin and end in His Word.

“I rise before the dawning of the morning, and cry for help; I hope in Your word. My eyes are awake through the night watches, that I may meditate on Your word” [Psalm 119:147-148 (NKJV)].

The Bible satisfies our longing as we reflect on His promises throughout the day.

“Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day” [Psalm 119:97 (NKJV)].

Open the Word and find treasure.

Many of us feel life’s unfair. The Psalmist experienced unfair circumstances and still could say,

“Princes persecute me without a cause, but my heart stands in awe of Your word. I rejoice at Your word as one who finds great treasure” [Psalm 119:161-162 (NKJV)].

Let him be your inspiration today.

Open the Word and find light.

Stumbling around in the dark can be scary. Flicking on a switch instantly brings relief. There’s danger of stumbling when we walk down a dark path. But, a flashlight illuminates our path, letting us know where to step. That’s what it’s like when we open God’s Word. The darkness of our situation suddenly seems brighter. The Bible reveals our next step.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” [Psalm 119:105 (NKJV)].

“The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple” [Psalm 119:130 (NKJV)].

When seeking peace and contentment, we have a choice: window or Word.  I choose God’s Word. How ‘bout you?

Not Abandoned

Lord.alone.bird

Do you feel you’ve been left to suffer alone? Has no one come alongside you to help you parent a child with mental illness (MI)?

When a loved one dies, friends and relatives flock to the home of the grieving family. When someone is going through cancer treatments, friends offer meals and send get-well cards. When a person has been in a car accident, family members rush to the hospital. It’s different when a child is admitted into a psychiatric unit.

Why do we feel so alone when experiencing a crisis due to MI? Often, it’s because our needless shame prevents us from reaching out. Sometimes others simply couldn’t understand the turmoil that’s in our child, in our homes, and in our heart. How could they? There are no words that could convey the devastation. The whole experience can seem so surreal—even to us.

Dealing with MI can be a long journey. We get so tired of … well, of it all. Especially the loneliness. But, you are not alone. It helps to know others understand.

Paul experienced abandonment.

The apostle Paul was literally abandoned. In the absence of supporters during his time of need, Paul didn’t abandon his faith. He knew God hadn’t abandoned him.

“At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (2 Timothy 4:16-18).

Can you feel God standing by your side, giving you strength to face another day?

Job experienced abandonment.

In the midst of his trials, Job experienced feelings of abandonment. He had suffered the loss of his business, animals, and children. Friends and family didn’t rally around him. They all left him. Imagine his loneliness.

Isolation led him to cry, “He has alienated my family from me; my acquaintances are completely estranged from me. My relatives have gone away; my closest friends have forgotten me. My guests and my female servants count me a foreigner; they look on me as on a stranger. I summon my servant, but he does not answer, though I beg him with my own mouth. My breath is offensive to my wife; I am loathsome to my own family” (Job 19:13-17).

So sad. So pathetic. Can you relate?

Sometimes MI causes our child to behave like one who is betraying us. Can anyone emphasize with that kind of hurt? Once again, we can reach back through the centuries and find someone who knows our pain. God speaks to our heart in the heart of the Bible. Smack in the middle of His Word we find the book of Psalms. There we read about David’s plight.

David experienced betrayal and persecution in the midst of abandonment.

“They repay me evil for good and leave me like one bereaved. Yet when they were ill, I put on sackcloth and humbled myself with fasting. When my prayers returned to me unanswered, I went about mourning as though for my friend or brother. I bowed my head in grief as though weeping for my mother. But when I stumbled, they gathered in glee; assailants gathered against me without my knowledge. They slandered me without ceasing. Like the ungodly they maliciously mocked; they gnashed their teeth at me” (Psalm 35:12-16).

Later in Psalms, David despaired that, Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me” (Psalm 41:9).

Here’s more proof that David endured betrayal and abandonment:

“If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were rising against me, I could hide. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend” (Psalm 55:12-13).

Christ experienced abandonment.

The night soldiers came to arrest Jesus, Matthew tells us that, “All the disciples forsook Him and fled” (Matthew 26:56b).

Is it comforting to know that Jesus understands your feelings of isolation?

Never Alone

The last thing we need is advice from people who have no clue what it’s like to raise a child with MI. However, someone who understands our loneliness would get our full attention if they shared advice. David knew we could benefit from his words of wisdom. He not only shared his hard-earned advice, but he added a promise. He recommended that you, “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken” (Psalm 55:22).

David could say with assurance, “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8).

For David, it was personal. He found comfort and assistance from the One who never left him.

“As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me” (Psalm 55:16).

Can you echo David’s words of assurance? Because God is unchanging and all loving, every one of us can make the same statement, “As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me.”  We don’t find confidence by mustering up hope. We find confidence by trusting the One who is faithful.

A biblical pep talk:

David has these words of encouragement for you:

“Blessed are those who have regard for the weak; the Lord delivers them in times of trouble” (Psalm 41:1).

“A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me” (John 16:32).

A lonely widow shows us how to trust God each day:

“The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help” (1 Timothy 5:5).

You’re not alone.

Abundant

Life.Full

It’s funny when it happens to others. The sight of someone dropping a bag of groceries can be hilarious. The shopper picks up several items, only to drop them while chasing down a runaway orange.

“Oops! Get back here. Oops! …  #* &#%!@!”

We can relate to their misfortune. Who hasn’t tried juggling two bags? Or who hasn’t fallen victim to a self-destructing grocery bag?

But, it’s no joke when we find ourselves dealing with more than we can handle emotionally. That’s what happens when our child struggles with mental illness (MI). Somewhere in the midst of coping, we discover we’re juggling the details of life, while ministering to our child. Our minds are full of worries and work, cares and responsibilities. No wonder our heavy hearts break.

Our mind’s eye keeps checking the needle of our stress meter. We watch it edge closer to the danger zone: the limit to what we can handle. We dread reaching the point where we’ll run out of emotional fuel to keep going. Then what would happen? Who would collect our cares and carry the load?

God offers His abundance.

When stress is abundant, seek His abundant grace and peace.

“Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” (2 Peter 1:2).

When despair is abundant, seek His abundant hope.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).”

When sadness is abundant, seek His abundant joy (the fullness of His joy).

“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16:11).

When a sense of inadequacy is in abundance, seek His abundant indwelling power.

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” [Ephesians 3:20-21 (NKJV)].

When uncertainty is abundant, seek His generous wisdom.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5).

Many of our local food stores have hired helpers who offer assistance in the parking lot. When I exit the store, I can easily find them. They wear bright vests so a shopper in need could easily spot them. Often one of those teenage helpers, with bulging muscles, runs to my car and cheerfully asks, “Do you need any help?”

Usually I decline his offer. But, I’d be a fool to turn down God’s offer. He approaches me throughout my day and asks, “Do you need My help?”

Strength to Endure

08-18-2007 11;08;50AM

Chris: Earliest Weight Lifting

Our son beamed as he pointed to the broken drum head hanging on his wall.

“Why are you smiling, Rob? We paid good money for that.”

“Not everyone can drum so hard they damage a Kevlar drum head!” he boasted, still beaming.

Apparently, the destroyed drum head symbolized superior drumming abilities. Rob obviously had enough strength to pierce the bullet-proof material of his drum head, while beating his sticks to the rhythm.

Our sons have been in top physical shape for decades. When Rob and Chris were in fifth and seventh grades (respectively), they earned their black belts in Tae Kwon Do. Both of them continued to work out regularly. Rob went on to earn a black belt in Aikido. Currently he does CrossFit workouts (a grueling fitness regimen of high-intensity movements). Chris works out daily, lifting weights and pushing himself to his limit when running.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have such strength? I’d settle for just a drop of their energy!

It’s inner strength I need most. Join me for a moment as I step into my fantasy world. I’m imagining that I could touch Chris’s muscles and instantly my heart would be incased in steel protection. It could no longer be shattered by sorrow, worry, grief, or torment.  Chris’s muscular power would be translated into emotional stamina in my body.

Okay, back to reality…

Raising a child with mental illness (MI) requires unbreakable feelings, emotions that can withstand a tornado of trials. No, we can’t tap into someone else’s physical strength or even borrow their emotional fortitude. Happily, we’ve got a better Source of strength.

Think for a moment about what this verse says: “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you” (Romans 8:11).

His Spirit lives in us. Our all-consuming struggles tend to make us feel as if God’s abandoned us. We feel so distant from Him. But, if we truly believe Romans 8:11, then we couldn’t get any closer to our Father. He abides in us.

How do we benefit from His power? Here are just some ways.

Power to calm

Those of us who have received Christ as our Savior have God’s power in us. The Holy Spirit, dwelling in us, will comfort our hearts. The power that created all things and conquered death can surely calm a mom’s aching heart.

Power for emotional strength

“Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord” (Psalm 31:24).

Power for prayer

Our problems seem so complex. At times, we don’t even know how to pray. We’re not alone. Paul also tended to be prayerfully speechless. He offers us the solution in Romans 8:26 when he points out that, “The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Paul’s recommendation: Turn it over to the Holy Spirit.

“Today, Holy Spirit, I’m too broken to utter a prayer. I’m relying on You to intercede. Thank You for carrying my concerns to God. In Jesus’ name, Amen”

Power to continue

Life that includes MI is so … constant. So daily. We can face another day because we believe that, “In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28a).

Power to live by faith

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get so tired of trying to figure out how to deal with MI (how to minister to my son, how to solve the problems, how to get other family members to understand…). Galatians 2:20 gives me hope that I can switch from mental fatigue to faithful living.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

A Whole Pack of Power!

“O Lord, my strength and my fortress, my refuge in the day of affliction…” (Jeremiah 16:19).

“O God, You are more awesome than Your holy places. The God of Israel is He who gives strength and power to His people” (Psalm 68:35).

“Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage” (Psalm 84:5).

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Ephesians6:10).


Our son, Rob, has tremendous strength because of CrossFit. Jesus’ cross makes us fit. We are divinely Cross Fit. We’re emotionally equipped to deal with whatever MI will do to our kids. Because we face our trials in His power.

Whatever!

0Path.stones

Long before Twitter, teenagers spoke their own language. Adults didn’t adopt their expressions. But, parents clearly understood their child’s messages. Especially when they were conveyed in grunts or in split syllables (for emphasis).

“What – EVER!” was code for, “I’m not happy about it. But you’re gonna make me do it anyway.”

I confess that secretly I’ve groaned, “Whatever!” to God at times. A publisher’s rejection zapped my contentment before I had a chance seek His peace. A new illness flooded me with fear before I remembered His promises.

My Father waited patiently while I wallowed in frustration. On each occasion, I eventually tired of my disgruntled attitude and turned to Him.

“Father, forgive me for my reaction. I know it’s based on fear. Please help me trust You for this new phase of my life. Remind me that You’re still in control. Strengthen my shield of faith so I, ‘can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one’ (Ephesians 6:16).”

Sometimes I’d groan, “Whatever!” when a new round of symptoms would emerge in Chris. They’d warn of more stress, another disruption in life, sleepless nights, and endless tears.

Are you good at sensing more fragile emotions in your child who has mental illness (MI)? Does your motherly intuition serve you well? Can you discern something is wrong even by hearing a subtle change in your child’s voice?

If you’re like me, your first reaction is to brace for “Whatever!” I think that’s a completely normal and understandable response. Knowing what you’ve been through previously, fear or worry might be the only logical emotions. Who would see an emotional storm brewing and say, “Oh goody! Bring it on! I was hoping I’d have another trial to test my faith.”

It helps me to know that Paul, the champion of contentment, didn’t discover God’s peace in one day (as if some apostolic genius). It was a process. Thankfully, he revealed, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11).

Paul learned to be content no matter what. The unspoken message is that he didn’t get it right the first time, or the second time, or even the third time. Arriving at contentment was a process. The encouraging news is that we too can gain greater and greater contentment.

How can we become more contented in our situations? Here’s the hard news to swallow: through our trials.

Paul lets us in on his secret. Imagine him holding his pointer finger to his lips and whispering, “S-h-h. Listen up. I know life stinks at times. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12-13).

His secret: He learned to trust in God, rather than himself, others, or things.

I find that easier said, than done. My first reaction isn’t worry or fear so much anymore, but it’s often to rely on my own wisdom to figure out a solution. God has proven time and time again to be faithful to His Word. Why is it so hard for me to trust Him sooner, rather than as a last resort?

Thankfully, Paul didn’t stop there in his pep talk to his brothers. He included a word of encouragement saying, “My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

He knew we’d need a reminder that God will meet all our needs. And that He will supply according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.

“Dear Father, Help me get to a place in my walk with You that I can utter with calmness, ’Whatever.’ I know that circumstances don’t change who You are: my loving Father. Give me an image of You standing beside me as I face any trial. Help me feel Your presence and rely on Your promises. Thank You for Your peace that passes understanding, a perfect peace that protects my heart and mind. In Jesus’ name, Amen”

How do you cast your care on Him? Worship songs sometimes help.

Matt Redman sings about a heart that can say, “Whatever.” Part of the lyrics to “10,000 Reasons, Bless the Lord O My Soul” include:

The sun comes up

It’s a new day dawning

It’s time to sing Your song again

Whatever may pass

And whatever lies before me

Let me be singing

When the evening comes

Use Matt Redman’s song as your prayer to God.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pt5VnHYc-4k

Guilt Extinguisher

delight.Lord

It was my first year teaching and already I felt like a failure. Every time I asked my supervisor for something, she denied my request. Each time I suggested an activity for my multi-handicapped students, she shot it down. “No,” was all I heard from her. Never any positive feedback. Only negative remarks.

I’m a rotten teacher. I thought I was well-trained. Obviously not. When am I going to figure this out?

I felt so inadequate.

After two years I got reassigned to a different unit. My new supervisor praised me often and supported all my ideas. Fellow teachers elected me to be their faculty representative. That’s when I realized I wasn’t a failure as a teacher. For two years I had accepted the lie my former boss had inflicted on me.

Some of us do the same to ourselves. Mental illness (MI) masks our efforts. Our child’s illness demands more from us than other children. Mothers of healthy kids enjoy seeing the fruit of their labors. Not us. So we assume we’re doing something wrong. Guilt contaminates our self-evaluation as a parent.

My child’s not getting better. I must be missing something. There must be more I should be doing.

Sometimes the smoldering guilt leads to searing shame of imagined past infractions.

Why didn’t I see this coming? I should have recognized the warning signs and gotten him help sooner. What did I do wrong?

Have you beat yourself up lately? Are you carrying around bags full of shame, as if on an endless guilt trip? Don’t get discouraged if you’re trying as hard as you can, but don’t yet see results.

The outcome doesn’t necessarily correlate to effort.

If our efforts can’t always improve our child’s state of mind or emotions, they do they matter? To God they absolutely matter! He alone sees all we do. He alone knows how long we’ve endured in the midst of our own sorrow.

Many moms raising a child with MI don’t get encouragement, acknowledgement, or praise. In the absence of positive feedback, feelings of inadequacy and guilt can creep in. What can eradicate needless guilt? Seeing ourselves as God sees us.

I think it helps to focus on what pleases God. To reflect on things that delight Him. The next time you’re tempted to feel lousy as a parent, study this list. Consider how much God is pleased with you.

God delights in:

You being His child: “For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory” (Psalm 149:4).

Your well-being: “May all who gloat over my distress be put to shame and confusion; may all who exalt themselves over me be clothed with shame and disgrace. May those who delight in my vindication shout for joy and gladness; may they always say, ‘The Lord be exalted, who delights in the well-being of his servant’” (Psalm 35:26-27).

God desired that David’s troubles would cease, and that he would enjoy a time of rest and tranquility. Our unchanging Father desires the same for you and your child.

Your hope in His unfailing love: “The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love” (Psalm 147:11).

Your prayers: “The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him” (Proverbs 15:8).

A gentile and quiet spirit: “Let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God” [1 Peter 3:4 (NKJV]).

The righteous that walk faithfully with God: “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God” (Genesis 6:8-9).

Showing His kindness, justice, and righteousness: “‘Let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I  ‘delight,’ declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:24).


MI can be fertile ground for seeds of needless shame. Left unchecked, weeds of guilt can stifle healthy spiritual growth. The next time your mind is infested with thoughts of parental inferiority, focus on God.

Psalm 37:4 tells us that God wants us to delight in Him.

“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

The Destroyer of sin and death can eliminate your feelings of guilt. And replace them with an assurance of His unconditional love for you.

Run

Run.Is.40.31

“Cherish the moment,” said our seven-year-old son. Chris stared across the water gazing at Tom Sawyer Island. His first visit to Disney World captivated him. Even a child could appreciate the serene paradise.

Have you experienced moments like that? Times that you wanted to freeze time?

I’ve collected several “cherish-the-moment” memories. Periodically I “page through” those mental images. I’m sure you’ve got similar snapshots in your mental photo album. Most of my favorite memories are those of family members. Like these:

Our Dream-Come-True Day

Our Dream-Come-True Day

Beach Blessings: Chris and Rob with my mom

Beach Blessings: Chris and Rob with my mom

Chris reciting Luke 2:8-14

Chris reciting Luke 2:8-14

Listen to Chris’s own words:

Some of my treasured moments capture my greatest passions. Like God’s creation and music. Here are two of those “cherish-the-moment” snapshots:

Second Honeymoon Moment: Hawaii Cove

Second Honeymoon Moment: Hawaii Cove

I once had the opportunity to attend a musical performance of   “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band. Prior to that experience, I had never heard such perfection in music. [Treat yourself to a sample by listening to them perform John Philip Sousa’s march “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”]

Those of us raising children with mental illness (MI) have an additional category of special memories. We relish ordinary activities more than most moms. Like going on a family outing that’s stress-free. Or watching our child interact happily with a friend.

Recently I added one of those moments to my collection. Chris participated in a 5K run. He asked me to take pictures of the event. Howie joined me as we stood in the rain watching the participants. Joy flooded my heart as I watched Chris run along the route. He looked so focused and fit.

Chris.5K

After the race ended, the three of us enjoyed a celebratory meal at Red Lobster. All throughout dinner, Chris chatted happily about the event.

I’ve savored that memory and reflected on it often. God spoke to my heart saying, “I delight in watching you run your race.”

I imagined God running alongside me, guiding me, protecting me, and cheering me on. Can you envision that same scene? THAT’S a memory we can all share!

Our Companion has promised that, “When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble” (Proverbs 4:12).

Our other son, Rob once ran a twenty-six mile marathon. He told me that most marathon runners “hit the wall.” It’s a sudden wave of fatigue that sets in at about 20 miles into a marathon. God has entered us in the MI marathon. Sooner or later we all have moments of fatigue. When we feel as if our mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual resources have been depleted.

At those moments, how do we go on? By focusing on the end of our race.

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever” (1 Corinthians 9:24-25).

When we’re worn out and weary, God encourages us by promising that, “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

Man’s GPS (Global Positioning System) will only help us navigate as we travel roads. We have access to a far better system: GPS, God’s Positioning System that helps us navigate through life.

When we’re unsure where to turn, Scripture provides guidance. We can say with assurance, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path” (Psalm 119:105).

Marshals guided runners along the course.

Marshals guided runners along the course.

“In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:6).

Our race in life will also be followed by a wonderful meal. I look forward to the feast that will be in heaven. An angel foretold of it saying, “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” (Revelation 19:9).