Archive | November 2012

Fear Mixed with Joy

 

Other than on a rollercoaster ride, where else do fear and joy exist together?

Could anyone who is deathly afraid of flying be joyful and fearful in the air? What would motivate that person to strap themselves into a plane and face a barf bag? Knowing they’ll most likely use it. They might risk anything to be reunited with a loved one.

I share such yearnings.

Years ago, my husband and I traveled to Romania. I love flying and couldn’t wait to take off.

At the conference for Christian educators, we became close friends with the Romanian teachers.

I’ve kept in touch for several years with one lady. We email prayer requests and share family news. I enjoy hearing from her, but long to see her again. To be in her presence once more.

Nothing communicates better than a warm embrace. There are no language barriers when close friends look deep into each other’s eyes. Silence speaks volumes.

I’ve missed you. I’ve prayed for you. You mean so much to me. I’m honored to know you. Let me just rest in your presence.

Skype contact can’t fill the room with her sweet aroma. A picture of her can’t replace her gentle touch.

If I could afford it, I’d travel to Romania to be reunited with her again.

If I had the money to take the trip and feared flying, I’d still go. Joy would override apprehension.

In the Bible, we read about several women who went to Christ’s tomb. Grief and sadness were replaced with other emotions. Soon they were filled with fear and joy. (Matthew 28:8)

What consumed them with fear? Was it seeing the huge stone rolled away? Or seeing an angel? Or finding their Lord’s body gone?

What swelled their hearts with such elation? It was the joyous message the angel told them.

“He is not here; he has risen, just as he said…”  (Matthew 28:6)

Hearing their Lord had risen filled them with delight.

Fear is a familiar feeling to us. We know what it’s like to see unexpected, upsetting, and unpredictable behaviors. It’s normal to be afraid.

Can we, like the women at Christ’s tomb experience joy amid fear? Yes! For the same reason the women were able to rejoice in spite of what they just saw and experienced. Christ is alive.

Just like those women, we seek Him. The One who will hear, help and heal. We want to know He’s there.

In Matthew 28:20 we read Christ’s own words of assurance: “… And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

That’s a promise we can cling to when all else falls apart.

He’s with us when things are unpredictable. When dreams are shattered. When sorrow overwhelms us.

All we need to do is believe. Don’t feel badly if that’s easier said than done. Even Jesus’ apostles needed this admonition to believe Christ rose from the dead:  “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken!”  (Luke 24:25)

Oh, what joy they experienced once they realized Christ had risen and spoke to them!

“Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32)

May you be quick to believe so your heart will burn within as Christ speaks to you. Listen to Him. Hear the words you long to hear. Rest in His presence. Fear may creep in, but joy will fill your soul.

What do you long to hear from your Lord?

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To Keep a Secret

“A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.”  Proverbs 11:13

‘Wanna know how to instantly get children quiet? Whisper into someone’s ear. Suddenly a hush will fill the room as ears strain to hear the private message.

Kids learn at a young age to protect their privacy. They know when others should mind their own business. If anyone tries to intrude, they shout, “It’s none of your business!”

But they’re curious to know other people’s business. A craving shared by some adults. Living on a diet of juicy gossip. Discovering protected stories is their mission. Proudly passing them along is their delight.

Why do some people thrive on learning sensitive information? Why do they get such a thrill from capturing scandalous facts?

Perhaps, we all secretly want to peek into the lives of others. To know we’re not the only ones with shocking experiences locked in the vault of our mind. In hopes that our skeletons in the closet aren’t as bad as other’s.

Why don’t we want others to know our child has mental illness (MI)? Our motherly instincts compel us to protect. Protect from what? Is it that we fear our child will be teased? We’ll do anything to shield our child from more pain.

Is there a time to share our secret? Esther knew the importance of waiting until the right time to reveal her family secret (Esther 2:20). Sometimes, it’s best to wait before sharing. Especially when many misunderstand and unfairly judge those who have MI. God will grant us wisdom to know when and if to share our secret.

Could anything good come from revealing the diagnosis?

Think about how heavy a shopping bag feels when it’s stuffed with groceries. Consider how the weight seems to get heavier as the bag is carried a great distance to the car. Such relief comes when that load is laid down!

We’re carrying a heavy load in our hearts. Looking for someone with outstretched arms, ready to receive our pain.

Finally, we find a trusted friend. We share our secret. Lay down our burden. And experience such relief!

We’re no longer alone.

Dear heavenly Father,

Protect my child from those who would tease or treat him unkindly if they discovered he has MI. Thank  You for giving me a friend who can be trusted with our family secret. How I long for people to have a greater understanding of those who have MI! Move mightily in the hearts and minds of people so the shame and stigma associated with MI will be replaced with insight and compassion. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thankful?

 

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  1 Thessalonians 5:18

“The man next door is building a tunnel under the ground and into my room.” Such was the statement born out of the woman’s disease rather than reality. Paranoia filled her mind with scary thoughts. The culprit? An aggressive form of dementia.

Two decades prior to my visit to that nursing home, I met Cathy. I first knew her as our son’s kindergarten aide. Through the years, I came to love her joyful spirit. I got to know her vibrant and sweet personality. At times, she could be mischievous. We shared many happy memories and became close friends. More like family.

It was only a year ago that love radiated from Cathy’s face, words, and actions. Such a stark contrast to her countenance in those unfamiliar surroundings. On that day in the nursing home sat a broken, fearful woman.

An inner sadness tugged the corners of her mouth downward. Sheer discouragement dragged her chin to her chest.

Confused thinking prevented clear communication. Yet, her body language shouted one clear message: I hate this place! I dread one more day living like this!

But, Cathy’s illness couldn’t smother her gratitude. For a brief moment, she lifted her head and whispered,

“Thanks for being here.”  Obviously thankful in her circumstances, not for them.

Aren’t we all like Cathy? In an intolerable situation, we’re grateful when someone comes along side us. At the death of a loved one, we’re comforted by the presence of a compassionate friend. A person who speaks not a word…just silently shares the sorrow.

We can empathize with others who know our sorrow. We can share their discouragement and anguish. Yet, we are not defeated. Why? Because of His unfailing love. Because of His wonderful deeds.

Like Cathy, we can be thankful for His presence. Grateful for His existence in our lives. Appreciative of His protection and provision.

A scared little child finds relief when a parent grabs his hand. Reach out to grab your Father’s hand.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  Isaiah 41:10

This Thanksgiving, we’ll be able to give Him thanks because of His love, help, and presence.

Dear Father, thank You for Your unfailing love and wonderful deeds. (Psalm 107:8, 15, 21, and 31)

I can face tomorrow because I can depend on Your love. Your Word promised that Your love endures forever. (1 Chronicles 16:34 & 41, 2 Chronicles 20:21, Psalm 106:1, Psalm 107:1, Psalm 118:1& 29, Psalm 136: 1-3 & 26, and Jeremiah 33:11)

Back on Track

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”  2 Timothy 4:7

It’s not even Thanksgiving and signs of Christmas are everywhere: in the stores and on TV commercials. The Hallmark channel has already begun their Christmas movies marathon. Ugh!

One Christmas movie featured a toy train set. I got to thinking. What do people love so much about toy trains? Is it the hypnotic, slow pace? Is it the power to control the pace? Is it the Christmas tree lights shining down on the train?

I’m sure the memories are what we love best. Reminders of a safer time in our lives. When life seemed simple and magical.

Most people have perfected the skill of getting a toy train back on track. You gently slide the train back and forth along the track until the wheels click back in place.

Wouldn’t it be nice to solve life’s derailments so simply?

Ever get on the wrong train? Scenes outside the window fill your stomach with a sick feeling. Being on the wrong track is never a good feeling.

Oh no. I’m on the wrong train. I’m headed in the wrong direction. This is so embarrassing. Where will this lead me? How soon can I get off?

Relief comes only when you’re safely on the correct train. Restoration to damaged pride comes later!

God’s people seemed to get off track when they wandered in the wilderness. God constantly got them back on track. They grumbled. God provided. They complained. God forgave and provided.  They whined. God remained long suffering.

When things get off track in life, it’s not so simple to restore smooth traveling. We may not know where we’re headed. Thankfully, our Father is the master conductor of our lives.

Parenting a child with mental illness (MI) tends to get us derailed. Like the Israelites, we tend to worry. Yet, God provides. We fear. God protects. We lose hope. God restores our faith in Him. Gently sliding us back on track. As we focus on familiar scenes of His faithfulness.

We’re not simply on a track leading through the tunnel of MI. We’re fighting the good fight. A battle for the spiritual well-being of our child and our family.  We face spiritual warfare right in our homes.

Yet, tribulation will not separate us from the love of Christ. Romans 8:35-39 assures us that nothing can separate us from the love of God. We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

When I see evidence of the enemy’s attempts to taunt or torture my son, I get angry. I quote Romans 8:35-39.

How are you fighting to keep the faith and to restore His peace?