Archive | December 2012

Feeling Powerless

cursive t

“I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high”                                                                                                                                                                                          (Luke 24:49.)

“I can’t deal with it anymore.”

What’s your “it?”

Is it watching the news—seeing what’s happening in our nation and in the world? Or is it life’s challenges? Or perhaps it’s your marriage. Maybe your “it” is struggling to forgive someone who’s hurt or betrayed you.

I once had a second grader who couldn’t deal with writing his first cursive t. That was his “it.” Even though Tommy had an artistic gift, he convinced himself he couldn’t write the new letter. His helpless feeling overwhelmed him. Feeling defeated, he stopped trying.

“Mrs. Chandler, Tommy’s crying.”

I walked to his desk. Countless erasures revealed his failed attempts.

“You can do it, Tommy. I’ll walk you through it. Start off with an undercurve stroke. That’s right. Now loop back and then make a slant. Yes, good. Now, do another undercurve. OK. Cross it. Yay! You did it! What a beautiful letter you wrote. See, you can do it.”

“Yeah, but you told me what to do.”

“Okay. I won’t tell you the strokes. I’ll just stand here to remind you that you can do it. Try again.”

All Tommy needed was my presence. That made a huge difference.

Perhaps all we need to face our “it” is God’s presence.  As believers, we have access to a power source greater than any nuclear power plant. Power that lasts longer than any solar power. Because God’s Son is the Source of that power.

Little things overwhelm us when our hearts are already overwhelmed. One tiny problem can break us. Make us want to give up.

We can cast our load of care on Him.

God with us, living within us, can carry our burdens. He will give us supernatural inner strength and peace.

Like, Tommy, we sometimes begin our day defeated. Fears overwhelm us even before we step out of bed. Powerlessness fills our heads with pessimistic thoughts.

I can’t face today. I’m powerless to control things, handle situations, or prevent problems.

Wouldn’t it be nice to put on power just as easy as we put on our clothes? We can! It’s possible to adorn ourselves in something more powerful than Superman’s cape.

Christ told His disciples they will be clothed with power from on high. We, too, can wrap ourselves in that power. As believers, it’s already within us. Who knew God was our personal fashion expert!

Dear Father, fill me afresh with Your Holy Spirit.

I Can Relate to Adam Lanza’s Mother


My son, Chris

In the wake of yet another mass shooting, many want to know what the Connecticut gunman’s mother knew.

As a mother of a son with mental illness, I have an idea. Assist News Service posted an article I wrote. Check out that article.

Not All Become Shooters


What’s so remarkable about a man who raised three children? He accomplished that and more, against all odds and in spite of his mental illness (MI).

As a baby, his twin brother died from a rat bite. Several years later, his father died in a war. His grieving mother had an abundance of children, but little money. She unleashed her anger on the man and his siblings.

In desperation, the man’s mother remarried. But soon after, his step-father lost an arm in battle. The great depression fueled his mother’s fury and frustration. As money dwindled, her rage grew. The abuse escalated.

So, in his early teens, the man left home. Farmers took him in. He worked on the farm before and after school to pay for his rent. During the day, he got teased by fellow students. Thick glasses and poverty seemed to give them license to taunt.

His days consisted of farm chores, school attendance, field labor, and homework assignments. Nothing more. No play. No friends. No family. Except the man’s older brother who stayed in touch with him.

The man attended college, financed by his older brother. Upon graduation, he got hired as an electrical engineer. Marriage, children, and a home in the suburbs came soon after. Followed by an earned master’s degree. Which led to depression. Treated successfully by medication.

The man’s children grew up and married. His son earned a Ph. D. from Harvard University. His two daughters became special educators and married. One of his grandsons became a physician. Another grandson is currently working on his advanced degree at Harvard University.

Who is the man? My dad. My hero. My son’s role model. Although cancer took his life years ago, his life is an example of someone who contributed greatly in spite of MI.

What do Abraham Lincoln and Brook Shields have in common? How ‘bout Ludwig van Beethoven and Catherine Zeta-Jones? Or Jesse Jackson Jr. and Herschel Walker? Or Vincent Van Gogh and Princess Diana?

They’re all famous people who contributed richly to society in spite of their MI.

Mental Health Advocacy Inc. has a lengthy list of people with MI living successful lives. Their point: people with MI have something to contribute.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) also has a list: “People with Mental Illness Enrich Our Lives” demonstrates that MI impacts people in all walks of life. It affects famous athletes, politicians, actors, artists, musicians, scientists, etc.

We can’t relate to the rich and famous. But, we can relate to the human spirit. The desire and drive to make a difference.

NAMI’s list reminds us that someone with serious MI can live a victorious life. Yes, it’s a struggle.

But, we are not alone:

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”  (Deuteronomy 31:6)

We can be more than conquerors:

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”  (Romans 8:37)

We often hear horror stories about MI. Like the mass shootings in Connecticut and Colorado. Anxiety can consume us after hearing those stories. Seldom do we hear success stories. How encouraging it is to know many people live fulfilled lives in spite of their MI.

How could it happen?

Hungarian mall

Hungarian Mall

What does 12-12-12 mean to you?

Maybe it’s a fun date. Perhaps it’s your wedding day. Your marriage ceremony strategically scheduled to be a reminder of anniversaries. Or it might be the birth of your child guaranteed by a Caesarean section. For some in Oregon, today represents the first day without a loved one. A family member killed in a mall.

Shoppers were on a hunt for deals, unaware of a killer among them.

We watch the TV reports and experience feelings of shock. Our sense of safety is rattled. We find ourselves asking an all-too familiar question, “How could it happen?”

To innocent victims. Without warning. Once again.

Cries of desperation fill our minds: Why? Stop the madness!

Our hearts break for the families of those who lost loved ones. We struggle to console the fears of children who witnessed such horror. While trying to find peace ourselves.

Whoever expects danger? No one goes holiday shopping expecting to be confronted by a mass shooter. Like the thousands of people in the mall that day, many of us go out buying Christmas gifts. Expecting festive and safe stores.

Eventually, a sense of security will be restored. Rational minds will find comfort in the fact that the shooting was a rare incident. Shoppers will return to their carefree strolls through stores. With overspending as their greatest worry.

Some of us however will not have a sense of security. Families who have loved ones with serious mental illness (MI) expect the unexpected. In some cases, even danger is a daily fear.

We can imagine how someone can snap and unleash violence. How could it happen?

We’ll tell you how. We’re often powerless to prevent it. To get our loved one help without being harmed, ourselves.  Some of us face a child who is unstable. But, if he hasn’t proven to be a harm to himself or others, he cannot be committed against his will.

So, we live with uncertainty and anxiety. How can we find peace? We can cling to promises that calm our fears.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”   2 Timothy 1:7

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”  Isaiah 26:3

“Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me and I will listen to you.”   Jeremiah 29:12

You can take action. In your prayers for the victims of the holiday shooting, remember to pray for families who have loved ones with MI.

What do you see?


“So Pharaoh asked them, ‘Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?’”  (Genesis 41:38)

Does it irk you when someone advises, “Look for the silver lining”? Maybe you fight the urge to snap back, “That’s easy for you to say!”

My son, Chris, and I share the same dark cloud of disability. His mental illness (MI), mine multiple sclerosis (MS).

One day Chris asked me, “Do you feel like you’re in prison because of your illness?”

I replied, “I’m sure anyone could feel like they’re imprisoned by their disability. Chronic illness often steals freedom. It robs people of what they love doing. But, I don’t feel like I’m in prison. My MS isn’t in control of my life. God is.”

How could I manage to offer such a response? I surely didn’t follow the advice from a popular song. “Grey skies are gonna clear up, put on a happy face.”

Who wants to live life waiting for grey skies to clear up? What if they don’t? Does that mean God’s forgotten us? No!

Who wants to simply put on a happy face? Wouldn’t we rather feel true joy that radiates on our face?

Am I happy about my MS? Absolutely not! But, my physical challenges have caused me to understand the fruit of the Holy Spirit. God’s power enables me to have His joy while enduring longsuffering. It’s a power others have called upon in far worse trials. People like Corrie ten Boom.

How could Corrie ten Boom speak of God’s love when surrounded by the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp? The same way Paul and Silas could sing while in prison (Acts 16:25). God’s power inside them, the Holy Spirit, filled them with supernatural joy and peace. That’s the kind of joy and peace I want!

Jonah shows us that an affliction can change a person’s perspective. (Jonah 2:2) After spending three days and nights in the belly of the fish, Jonah lifted his voice to God with a “voice of thanksgiving.” (Jonah 1:17 to Jonah 2:9)

Job shows us that even if all is lost, we can still praise God. After losing everything, Job said, “I know that my Redeemer lives.” (Job 19:25)

Joseph faced betrayal from his brothers (Genesis 37: 23-28) and from his master’s wife (Genesis 39:10, 17-20). But Joseph didn’t become bitter. God prospered whatever he did. Pharaoh even knew the secret to Joseph: the Spirit of God lived in him.

Clouds can serve as reminders to us. When we look into the sky, we have a choice. Will we look at the grey cloud or the silver lining? Do we focus on the darkness around us or the Light shining inside us?

The clouds can remind us of the ‘great cloud of witness’ – the heroes of faith listed in Hebrews. (Hebrews 12:1) Those fellow believers are cheering us on. Telling us we can have joy in spite of our struggles.