New School Year: SUPPLY Needed

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The approaching new school year means…excitement or apprehension, depending on your circumstances.

Students entering school for the first time eagerly anticipate going to school “like the big kids.”

Students returning to school with mental illness (MI) may worry about “the big kids” who bully.

School pressures can cause concern to any student. But for someone with MI, it can easily increase anxiety. And threaten mental stability.

That’s why moms raising kids with MI can also experience increased anxiety late in August. As the start of school creeps closer, her thoughts might become more consumed with her child’s stability.

I remember when Chris was heading back to school the year after he experienced a psychotic episode. Fears swarmed in my head about what might happen.

Will Chris remember to take his medication? Will his medication need to be adjusted? Will other students ask him intrusive questions? Will he be able to handle the pressures of homework? Will he be able to concentrate and think clearly? What will happen when he has to face his first test?

 We needed to get Chris’s supplies in order. But I needed to BE supplied—by God. I needed His provision, peace, presence, and power. God proved to be more than sufficient. He faithfully provided all Chris needed. And calmed my fears.

Moms raising children with MI need help. Back-to-school TV commercials fill us with a sense of urgency to seek God’s help.  Here’s a suggested prayer from one mom to another:

Heavenly Father,

Please help my child find a loyal friend. Place a caring teacher in his path this year. Lead us to a skilled therapist that will connect with my child, and who will teach him effective coping strategies. Guide me to a compassionate school administrator or staff member, who will be a proactive advocate for my child. Provide sufficient finances to pay for expenses that insurance won’t cover. As life gets more complicated, give me wisdom to know how to manage all the details of life. Show me ways I can support my other children, while ministering to my most vulnerable one. And please give me strength to endure. Protect my marriage in the midst of this trial. Finally, I ask that you help me keep my focus on You, rather than on the challenges that may come. Remind me that You’re still on the throne and in control.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen

 Our heavenly Father is able to supply all that and more. He promises to reveal His peace, presence, and power.

“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;

he delivers them from all their troubles” (Psalm 34:17).

This song will help you face each day. The lyrics will remind you that He’ll carry you and your loved ones through. Let King & Country’s song “Shoulders” minister to you:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40wYfjv6yt8&feature=youtu.be

Encouragement

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What would help you through the day? No matter what your situation, my guess is that you could use some encouragement. That’s what I’ve needed while raising a child with mental illness (MI).

I remember several times during my journey with Chris’s MI that the future wasn’t simply uncertain; it seemed hopeless. Normalcy had halted. Routine activities weren’t possible. I wondered if mental stability would be restored to Chris. Or if he’d ever feel joyful again.

Those were times when Chris struggled most to regain mental stability. Times that left me facing a battle in my own mind.

I don’t know if I can endure this trial. How can I minister to Chris when I’m feeling so discouraged, sorrowful, and afraid? How much more of this can I take?

Verses like 2 Thessalonians 2:16 helped me hang on. It promised that God, Himself, would encourage me.

“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.”

‘Eternal encouragement’: imagine that! God has given us everlasting encouragement. What a surplus!!!  Surely, He could provide a portion of that to me today.

I faced a relentless onslaught of worries. My solution was to listen to one particular song which assured me that God was still in control. Don Moen’s popular song “God Will Make a Way” reminded me of the promise in Isaiah 43:19.

“See, I am doing a new thing! … I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:19).

Here are some of those lyrics:

God will make a way

Where there seems to be no way

He works in ways we cannot see

He will make a way for me

 

He will be my guide

Hold me closely to His side

With love and strength for each new day

He will make a way, He will make a way

What seems impossible to me is possible to God.

It renewed my hope to believe that God would make a way, when there seems to be no way. So I listened to that song over and over and over. Until that Truth echoed in my mind and until the promise filled my heart with encouragement.

What seems impossible to me is possible to God.

 Listen to Don Moen’s popular song “God Will Make a Way.” Let the lyrics minister to you and give you God’s good hope and a portion of His eternal encouragement.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zo3fJYtS-o

Desperate for Peace

Peace

Who needs peace more, you or your child? Hard to say. We desperately need peace ourselves, as we watch our children with mental illness (MI) suffer. We also want peace for our children. Instead of continuing with depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, eating disorders, psychotic thoughts, or emotional turmoil, we want them to be filled with God’s peace.

How do we find peace?

  1. We can pursue it.

My mom’s prayer life is a perfect example. Recently, she ended her prayer in an unusual way. It wasn’t the typical, “In Jesus’ name, Amen.”  While in a rehab facility and in pain, my mom closed her prayer with, “I’ll be back.” And surely she did return. Again and again.  My mom’s legacy is one of constant prayer.

We have unlimited access to the throne of God. He invites us to, “Pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 ).

  1. We also find peace in the midst of our trials.

God’s people in Thessalonica had a growing faith in the midst of their trials. They had to rely on God and God alone. Such reliance leads to divine peace.

“We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring” (2 Thessalonians 1:3-4).

  1. We find peace when reading His Word.

Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble” (Psalm 119:165).

Many times, the Bible is the only place I found solace. Facing an uncertain future, I found stability in an unchanging, faithful Father.

  1. We find peace within us, as we yield to the Holy Spirit and Christ who live in us.

“The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6).

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful” (Colossians 3:15).

In the darkest hour with our son, Chris, the Spirit carried me with His perfect peace.

  1. We find peace when our heavenly Father sees us in great sorrow.

“I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul” (Psalm 31:7).

When we’re too distraught to reach out to Him, He reaches out to us. Pursue His peace by praying constantly, just like my mom:

Dear Father, Thank You for giving us Your peace which passes understanding. I’ll be back.

Tangible Reminders

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What’s the strangest thing you have in your home? I’ve got a giant work boot, the size of an umbrella stroller, and a mannequin.

Mannequin

Why, you ask? Those items were part of a collection I had when I taught second graders. The mannequin served as a 3D bulletin board. The giant boot was the perfect size for an eight year old to rest and read a book.  They remind me of fun times.

Other items remind me of God’s work in my life. Like the Post-its in my Bible. When our son, Rob, was a senior in high school, he wanted to have devotions with me. The Post-its represent portions of the Bible we read together. I’ll never remove them.

There’s someone in the Bible who put an unusual item in his tent (or some believe he put it in God’s tabernacle). Read what the boy, David did just after he killed the giant.

“David took the head of the Philistine, and brought it to Jerusalem; but he put his armour in his tent” [1 Samuel 17:54 (KJV)].

What an odd thing to do: store the enemy’s armor in his tent! Why would he do such a thing? It served as a reminder of how God enabled him to have victory over a giant.

Has God enabled you to have victory over the mental illness (MI) giant? What can you use as reminders? Why is it important to have tangible reminders?

We try to forget horrible times when our child struggled with MI. So, we tend to forget that God revealed His power, peace, and presence when we needed it most. That’s why we need reminders. Concrete items preserve the memory of His sufficiency. They help us when challenges return (as we know they will with MI). When the enemy attempts to incinerate our faith, those memories extinguish his efforts. Each memory strengthens our fortress of divine assurance, which protects our heart from breaking.

I know God will carry me through, just as He has done in the past.

My tokens of God’s goodness include: entries in my journal and Bible verses God embedded in my heart during difficult times. I also cherish photographs which depict Chris’s restored mental stability and renewed joy.

What items do you have or could you collect?

Standing Together

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I had selfish reasons for asking my friend the question. “Is your daughter still dealing with depression?” Truly, I wanted to know if her daughter’s medication was helping her deal with the demands of life. I had been praying for her. But, I also needed to hear how my friend was dealing with her daughter’s mental illness (MI). If she could hang onto her faith, then I’d find renewed confidence in my own faith. An encouraging word from my friend would remind me that God is able to help us in the midst of a very dark time.

Happily, I found that the new medication was helping. What’s more, my friend expressed unwavering faith. Her strong trust in the Lord bolstered my faith.

If she can keep her eyes on the Lord through this trial, I can do likewise.

Godly friends can show us the way to handle great sorrow. When the enemy tries to saturate our soul with fears, they serve as living examples of how it’s possible to rely on God’s peace.

It reminds me of Paul’s inner struggle when he wanted to see his fellow believers in Thessalonica. Satan had been hindering Paul from going to them.

“For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan blocked our way” (1 Thessalonians 2:18).

Has your child’s MI made you feel like Satan is blocking your way, keeping you from moving on?

How did Paul respond?

“So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them. In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter had tempted you and that our labors might have been in vain” (1 Thessalonians 3:1-5).

He got to the point where he couldn’t bear it any longer.

We can relate to that, can’t we?

What did Paul do? He sent Timothy to go to Thessalonica. He needed to know if his fellow believers had been under similar temptations. He needed to know that their faith remained strong.

Timothy’s encouraging report comforted Paul.

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord (1 Thessalonians 3:7-8).

We gain strength from each other when we stand firm in the Lord. It’s uplifting to hear that a fellow believer has remained strong in the midst of dark trials.

Those of us who have lived many years supporting a child with MI can encourage others who are new in their journey. We can share how God revealed Himself in the midst of trials. And those starting their journey can be encouraged to persevere.

We can relate stories about how God has been true to His promises. And bolster a fellow mom in her faith walk.

We can tell about God’s faithfulness, and others will gain strength to carry on.

We can endure our own trials when we know others are finding strength in the Lord. Because we share the same living God. Who cares for us, helps us, strengthens us, provides for us, protects our children, and comforts us.

We’re connected in raising children with MI. And we’re connected in our faith. We can carry on by encouraging each other in our unwavering faith.

Remember, Paul needed to reach out to fellow believers. And so do we.

The Wrong Way?

Wrong.Way

Is it wrong to keep your child’s mental illness (MI) a secret?

Friends or relatives may offer the common social inquiry: “How’s …?” or “What’s new with …?”

You wonder:

Does she really want to know about my child? If I told her how he’s really doing, would she judge my parenting abilities? Would she blab it to others?

Perhaps you refrain from telling others out of shame, or because of your desire to protect your child.

But, how can we answer? What if we can’t provide a fairy tale answer? Maybe you’d love to boast, “Oh, his soccer team won all of their games this season.”  But, your child’s been barely motivated to take care of his basic hygiene. Perhaps you’d love to brag, “He made the honor roll again.” But, he’s been receiving home-bound instruction.

Surely, it would be wrong to unload all the sordid details. It would be wrong to provide an answer like, “His medication isn’t working. He’s been deep in depression and anxiety for weeks. We can’t find a good psychiatrist. I don’t want to even think of hospitalization. But, it seems inevitable if we can’t get him stabilized. I can’t take any more days off from work without losing my job. I don’t think I’ve slept fully in weeks…”

Yes, that response would be the wrong way to answer a casual question. So, what’s the right way to respond to, “How’s …?” If you’re like me, your go-to response is, “Oh, he’s fine.”

We silence the truth and protect our child. We know others don’t always respond with compassion to MI. Does that fact cause you to sometimes feel like an outcast? Is there a right way to handle feelings of isolation? The Bible gives us some examples of those who were isolated due to a health condition.

Outcasts in the Bible:

Levitical laws of purification identified conditions which priests declared unclean. People having certain conditions like leprosy or extensive bleeding, suffered consequences. A person branded as unclean might be isolated from the presence of God and His people. Surely, such separation led to humiliation and shame.

An Old Testament Example:

“King Uzziah had leprosy until the day he died. He lived in a separate house—leprous, and banned from the temple of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 26:21).

A New Testament Example:

Luke tells us about a woman who, “had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her” (Luke 8:43).

When Christ came in her area, she pushed through the mob to get to Jesus. We’re told that, “She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped” (Luke 8:44).

Jesus made a statement that caused her to tremble. He said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me” (Luke 8:46).

“Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed” (Luke 8:47).

What caused the woman to fear? Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible  explains why the woman trembled.

“She came trembling; for fear of the anger and resentment of Christ, and lest the favour would be revoked, and the penalty of the law inflicted.

The word ‘law’ in that commentary’s explanation referred to the Levitical law of purification (Leviticus 15:25). A woman’s excessive bleeding was viewed as a deplorable condition. She was required to remain separated from her husband during her time of bleeding.

Christ’s Response to an Outcast:

So, did Christ react in anger? Here’s what He said to the woman who was courageous enough to touch His garment in public:

“Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace (Luke 8:48)”


That woman knew the right thing to do with her private suffering. She went to Jesus. We’re not like those under the Levitical laws of purity who were banned from His presence. So, the right way to handle our isolation is to go to Jesus. No illness, not even MI, can separate us from His love. During our secret silence and sorrow, Christ sees our faith. He offers us the same peace He extended to the woman.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

To find more verses that will encourage your heart: click on ‘verses about peace’ (below).

verses about peace

Life Interrupted

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Nothing can bring everything to a halt like a fractured back. Several weeks ago, my mother fell and injured her back and groin. That’s why I didn’t post anything for the last 2 weeks. I drove an hour away and stayed with my aunt so I could be close to my mom’s rehab facility (coming home on the weekends to see my husband).

I would have gone back this week if my body hadn’t let me know I’d pushed it too much. I started to feel dizzy and listless. There’s only so much one can do with MS. The nonstop days with my mom started at 6:00 AM and ended at 11:00 PM. I’m grateful God provided the necessary stamina for me to be with my mom those 2 weeks.

I’ll soon get back to posting messages.