Archive | August 2012

Help from a King

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”  (Hebrews 4:16)

If we had access to the most powerful and influential man on earth, what would we request?

I’d ask for a personal escort for my son. Someone who could be with him when I couldn’t. A person who could protect him from others who seek to harm the vulnerable.

Sometimes our son, Chris, travels into a nearby large city. He rides on public transportation usually carrying several bags. Full of anything he might need.

His parting words are, “If I miss the last train out of the city, I’ll just sleep in the terminal.”

Those words meant to assure me, scare me to death. That’s precisely my fear. The death of our son. The terminal at night is no place to be if you want to remain safe and unharmed. Ghastly things go on when the trains shut down.

Chris feels safe in the knowledge he’s physically fit and has his black belt in karate.

When he leaves, I wonder if that will be the last time I’ll see him. I can’t control his surroundings. But I know One who can. So, I ask God to protect him.

What’s locked in your vault of secret desires? What are your unspoken needs?

Mothers who have children with mental illness carry additional cares in their bags of parental concerns. Maybe your secret desire is to have a companion. Someone to share the rough road you travel. Someone who won’t judge. Someone who will understand.

People with mental illness and their loved ones are still ostracized at times.

What does the Bible say about that? We find an example in leprosy.

Lepers experienced isolation due to an illness. Removed from society, they were left alone. Misunderstood. Not treated tenderly in their misery. Banished and shunned. Merely existing with others suffering from the disease.

How they must have yearned for a loving touch!

Along came Jesus. Who lovingly responded to their deepest need. A gentle touch.

He’s still reaching out to say, “I know how lonely you feel. How much you need a loving touch. I’m here with you in your journey.”

What’s your greatest need?

Feeling Helpless

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. ”  (Psalm 8:3-5)

Most of us would rather go through a trial ourselves than watch our children in turmoil.

When our kids struggle, we do all we can for them. We help in different ways, depending on the problem and the age of the child. Sometimes, we provide physical assistance. Other times, our children need a listening ear and a prayer. Older ones might want guidance or advice.

Sometimes there are limitations to what we can do to help. The ongoing pain our child experiences can pierce our own heart.

When my son, Chris, was in kindergarten he struggled with his behavior due to his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Every day after school, his teacher asked to speak to me about something he did wrong.   Even though Chris was trying as hard as he could to behave appropriately, his impulsivity got him into trouble.

We did all we could at home. We prayed with him, taught him how to behave, shared appropriate scripture, and even role played situations he might encounter in the classroom. The problem seemed impossible to solve.

How could I help my son understand that God still loved him in spite of his circumstances? How could I teach him (and myself) that God would help him with this problem and all his future problems?

Around that time, my mother gave Chris a chrysalis. Such exquisite beauty! The beautiful oval-shaped creation looked like an earring. Resembling a pale green porcelain vase dotted and lined with gold. God created it and all things simply by speaking, “Let there be…”  Such power!

God provided an answer to the cry of my heart. He showed me how to explain God’s love and power to my son.

I pointed to the chrysalis and said, “If God can create such beauty simply by speaking it into existence, then He can certainly help you with any problem.”

God’s creation demonstrates His power and it draws us closer to His love. This stanza of God’s Garden by Dorothy Frances Gurney (London: Country Life, 1913) expresses it well:

The kiss of the sun for pardon,

The song of the birds for mirth,–

One is nearer God’s heart in a garden

Than anywhere else on earth.

When it becomes unbearable to watch our children cope with their struggles, we can look to the One who overcame death. He provided a way for us to have everlasting life. He also provided a way for us to live victoriously while on earth. He gave us the Helper.

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. ”  John 14:26

How do you endure watching your child suffer with mental illness?

Have you entered the dungeon of daily?

“You, Lord, are my lamp; the Lord turns my darkness into light.”  2 Samuel 22:29

The expression, “There’s light @ the end of the tunnel,” offers no hope when the tunnel feels like a circle with no end.

Years ago, I entered a dungeon of daily. Chris experienced a break from reality. His mind raced. He spoke nonstop and paced the floor. The doctor prescribed medication to help stabilize him.

After two months, we could have a conversation with him. The medicine worked. But, we still had no idea what caused the psychotic episode.

The next several months consisted of weekly visits with a psychiatrist. During the day, Chris exhibited unpredictable behaviors. One minute he’d sob, “Why? Why is my life shattered?” The next minute, he’d pound his fist through the wall.

Eventually, Chris needed to be hospitalized. He received full time treatment in a psychiatric ward at our local hospital.  Partial-care treatment followed. After that, homebound instructors visited our home.

Through it all I wondered, Will life ever be normal again? What does the future hold for Chris? How long can I go on like this?

I held onto the promise that God would never abandon me. I looked for Him in my endless tunnel. And found Him in many ways.

God protected us from literal harm during Chris’s violent outbursts. My heavenly Father revealed His presence to Chris in the psychiatric ward through a nurse—a fellow believer. He gave me perfect peace in the midst of great sorrow.

Dealing with mental illness can make us feel like we are being swallowed up alive. Living a dreary existence. Stuck inside a never-ending pit of uncertainty.

But that’s not the truth. We may not know what our future holds, but we know Who holds the future. We can be certain of His presence in our darkest times. There is light in the tunnel. The Lord turns our darkness into light. He’ll guide us through the tunnel.

The same God who protected Daniel in the lion’s den will protect us. The same Lord who walked with Daniel’s friends in the furnace will walk with us. The same Father who heard Jonah’s prayer in the pit of a big fish will hear our prayers.

How has the Lord turned your darkness into light?

What’s it like to raise a child with mental illness?

Welcome to my new blog. I’ve started this blog to meet other mothers who are raising a child (or children) with mental illness. Our son, Chris, was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder in 1997. He’s now 31 yrs. old and lives with my husband and me. Howie and I also have a son, Robert, who is 29 yrs. old. He lives with his wife, Kristie, and their 9 month old daughter, Sofie.

My intention is to provide a place where we can find support. You’re not alone. Together we can encourage one another. Posts in the form of devotionals will show how we can find hope in the Lord. Those personal stories will shed light on what our lives are like, while illustrating how God can be found in the midst of turmoil.

How has God met your greatest need?