Archive | November 2013

All I Want for Christmas

Manger

Is Christmas a time of drowning for you? Not in debt, but in the quicksand of life with mental illness (MI). You may be thinking, “All I want for Christmas is that it will quickly end.”

Christmas lights, gifts, and baking can be reminders of times before your child had MI. The Hallmark TV channel has already begun airing Christmas movies. Plots which contain scenes of Norman Rockwell families. None seem to show how to celebrate the season in the context of MI. Stores have started selling Christmas decorations. None that can silence sadness.

It can feel like life is passing us by. We tend to believe everyone else lives ‘normal’ lives (whatever that means). Life appears to be so easy for others. People don’t know how complicated life is for us—too complicated to participate in favorite holiday traditions.

Oh, how we yearn to feel the joy of Christ’s coming to earth as a babe!

Chapter nine in the book of Matthew tells us about a lady who got caught up in the hustle and bustle of Christ’s visit to her town. Many probably didn’t even notice her. She was the one who endured a bleeding disease for twelve years. No one knew the courage it took for her to fight her way through the mob of people just to get to Jesus. Surely people stepped on her foot, accidentally jabbed her arm, or knocked her down. But she persevered. She needed a Healer. She sought a Lifesaver to rescue her from drowning in the loneliness and isolation of her disease.

Jesus felt His power go from Him. He noticed her and healed her.

Is there a way for us to celebrate Christmas while we deal with MI? Can we view the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season in a new way? A way that will lift our spirits? Can that lady inspire us to say, “All I want for Christmas is Jesus.”

The message of Christ’s birth is sweeping through our towns. We can face the mob scenes just like that lady. A woman who suffered adversity for many years knew how to keep her focus on Christ. Jesus entered her world and she simply wanted to touch the hem of his garment.

We share similarities with the lady in Matthew 9:20-22.

  • She endured a disease which caused her to hide herself. We often hide ourselves in shame.
  • Her disease weakened her and most likely kept her in anguish. We, too, are tired and worn out by MI. In anguish we watch our child with MI deal with life.
  • Surely, she spent all her money on cures – to no avail. We often spend lots of money on psychiatric care for our fragile or tormented child. And wait for restored joy and clarity of thought.
  • She touched Christ’s garment by faith and in secret. We approach Christ by faith and in secret.
  • She needed Christ’s comfort. We, too, seek His comfort—for those in our family who are troubled.
  • Christ called her daughter, speaking tenderly to her. Christ calls all believing women His daughters. We hear Him speak to us tenderly from His Word.
  • Christ honored the faith of that humble woman. He honors our humble faith.
  • Society shut her out, calling her unclean. But that didn’t shut her out from approaching Christ. Society shuts out those who struggle with MI. But that doesn’t stop us from entering into Christ’s presence. In prayer we bring our concerns, hopes, and requests to Jesus.
  • Jesus entered her world. Christ left heaven to enter our world. He made a way for us to get to heaven. He’s acquainted with all suffering. Those are Truths worth rejoicing!

Outdoor Christmas lights don’t have to mock our struggles. They can be beautiful reminders of what we celebrate: Jesus’ presence in our lives.

Emanuel, God with us, is more than a Christmas greeting on a card. It’s a Truth we cling to. We rely on the promise of His presence. He is with us every minute, every day, all year long. Providing renewed hope, perfect peace, heavenly wisdom, and constant protection.

Reflect on the fact that Jesus left heaven for YOU as you listen to O Holy Night sung by Josh Groban:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Zh-yR0pbmU

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Speechless

megaphone

Could you function without your voice? It would certainly be challenging. Especially for teachers. I know. For several months I had to teach without a voice.

Years ago, right before the start of a new school year, my cousin encouraged me to attend dirt car races.

“You haven’t lived until you’ve experienced dirt car races,” she assured me.

Upon arrival to the track, I was greeted with a set of ear plugs. Apparently, dirt cars race without mufflers. Soon I got caught up in all the excitement. Thinking it was just like any social event, I shared my thoughts and emotions. I shouted to be heard through the ear plugs and over the thunder of the cars.

Hours of screaming left my vocal cords injured. At first I thought I had a case of laryngitis.

Greeting my new second graders presented a challenge. My students needed to learn all about their new curriculum, my procedures, their schedule…

After four weeks my voice still hadn’t returned. So I visited the doctor.

“You have to stop using your voice if you want it to heal. Even a stage whisper will prolong the healing.”

My doctor’s recommendations stunned me.

How can I teach without a voice?

Out of desperation, I assigned an announcer. Each day one student was designated to proclaim any message I whispered in his ear. My seven-year-old students rose to the challenge. They loved declaring each statement.

They stood straight and tall and yelled the message. Clearly. Loudly. Slowly.

“MRS. CHANDLER SAYS, ‘PLEASE GET OUT YOUR MATH BOOKS AND TURN TO PAGE 38.’”

The students’ reactions were quite surprising. Whenever I’d whisper to them individually, they’d whisper back. So adorable! The ambiance of my classroom became calm and quiet. All day long.

Eventually my voice healed and I could speak for myself.

Sometimes people need others to speak for them. Not due to medical limitations, but because of emotional reasons. Some are too shy. Fear prevents those who feel threatened or vulnerable from sharing what they need. In some cases people don’t speak up because they know how others will react. Either they’ll be ignored or misunderstood.

Mothers who are raising children with mental illness (MI) are often reluctant to speak up. Many reasons cause us to keep our thoughts to ourselves: shame, desire to protect the dignity of their child with MI, sheer exhaustion (mental, physical, and emotional).

Moses felt overwhelmed by God’s call to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. He worried that the people wouldn’t believe him or listen to his voice (Exodus 4:1). Moses argued with God saying that he wasn’t eloquent (Exodus 4:10). God assured Moses that He would give him the words and provided a helper. Aaron, Moses’ brother, would be his spokesman (Exodus 4:11-16).

God faithfully provided a speaker for Moses. And recently God provided someone to be a voice for me. A fellow blogger, CeeLee, nominated this blog for the Liebster Award. I’ve been praying for others to find this blog. There are millions of moms like us raising a child with MI. Many don’t know the hope they can have in the Lord. Many need to know they are not alone. Need to have peace and joy restored.

Thanks to CeeLee, others will learn about this blog. Check out her blog Swim In The Adult Pool Adult ADHD, Parenting Feats, Family Follies. It’s filled with humor, photography, and honesty about life with ADHD. I’m grateful to CeeLee for her public recognition of this blog.

Accepting my nomination involved nominating 10 more blogs that have less than 300 followers.  Each nominee has the choice to accept or decline the nomination. If you’re a nominee and decide to accept the nomination, answer the 10 questions below (after the 10 nominees). Post your answers on YOUR blog (rather than here-a mistake I made when nominated…oops!). Check out this link to find out more information and rules for Liebster Award winners: http://booksintheburbs.com/tag/liebster-award-blog-winners/

liebster-blog-award

Here are my Liebster Award nominees:

1. Living a Blessed Life: http://livingablessedlife.blogspot.com/

Mary Jo’s Profile: I am desperately in love with my Savior, Jesus Christ. I am married to my best friend, Geoff. Together we parent 6 precious children (3 in our home and 3 in our hearts.) My life has taken some interesting twists & turns, but MY GOD IS FAITHFUL!!! May you know His love and grace as well.

2. Encouragement from my heart:  http://encouragementfrommyheart.blogspot.com/

Lori’s Profile: Poems begin from deep within, from God’s heart, through my hands. Writing from my heart is passion. Writing from my soul is prayer…”I am a woman after “God’s Heart

3. Strength for Today: http://strengthfortoday.wordpress.com/

Part of Diane’s Profile: I hope you’ll be strengthened in your walk with the Lord for the time you spend here with me.

4. His ways are not our ways: http://www.hisways-isaiah558.blogspot.com/

The Mission of Paula’s Blog: I want my posts to be about God and to be about YOU…touching you in some way to enrich your life, strengthen your walk, encourage your heart, or enlighten your mind. This is a ministry for me…to write from my heart what the Lord speaks to me…to be a vessel that God uses for YOU.

5. Grain of Faith: http://grainoffaith.wordpress.com/

Part of the Blog’s Mission: The Lord has placed in my heart a desire to help or just be there for women like me.  Women who live to serve God.  Women who are hurting for whatever reason.

6. Abundant Blessings: http://www.hisabundantblessings.blogspot.com/

Shelley’s Profile: Shelley wears many hats: wife, homeschooling mom, Christian, writer, weaver, business owner, marketing director, and many more depending on the day. Here you will find a mixed blend of everything related to her writing projects, crafting , our ministry with house churches, our homeschooling, family and more.

7. Unfailingly Loved: http://unfailinglyloved.blogspot.com/

Andrea’s Profile: My passion is to encourage women to be strong and courageous in their walk with Jesus, and to trust in Him and believe in His unfailing love for them. It has been said that “out of our misery comes our ministry.” My desire is to share with you, dear reader, the truths that I know of God. My prayer for each of you is that you are strenghtened in the Lord and drawn closer to Him, as He uses these truths in your own life.

8. Bound to His Heart: http://www.boundtohisheart.blogspot.com/

Charity’s Profile: My name is Charity. My husband and I have been married since 1998. God has been faithful to us through the ups and the downs of the last decade and we fully trust that He will continue to show His faithfulness to us into our future!

We have 4 beautiful children (ages 9, 7, 6, and 4 years old). Motherhood is a job, far beyond what I expected. It’s by far harder and by far more rewarding. Being a mom gives me glimpse into the HEART of God. Often He whispers thoughts to me as I talk/interact with my kids. They are often convicting and always leave me in wonder of the way my Savior unconditionally loves me.

I started blogging and sharing my thoughts because HE urged me to…

9. In Light of the Truth: http://inlightofthetruth.blogspot.com/#uds-search-results

Sarah’s Profile: My name is Sarah. I am a Christian stay-at-home mom, facing all the normal days-to-days that come with being a mom. I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart (Kevin) for seven years, and we now are blessed with our 6 yr. old son (Eli), 4yr old daughter (Hannah), and 3yr old son (Carter). My purpose of this blog is to learn from others, encourage others, and share my journey as I seek God’s will for my life.

10. LovingKindness Ministries: http://lovingkindnessministries.blogspot.ca/

Lori Dixon’s Mission: Speaking Truth in Love to Women . . . He makes beautiful things! No matter where you’re from, what you’ve done or what’s been done to you, God can make something beautiful out of your life.

Questions for My Nominees:

  1. What’s your life all about?
  2. What’s your favorite Bible verse?
  3. Who inspires you and why?
  4. Why did you start your blog?
  5. What was your most fun or unusual experience?
  6. If you had an entire day to yourself, what would you do?
  7. Love this/hate that…Example-here are mine: love caramel apples/hate spiders…What are yours?
  8. Will old fashioned letter writing die?
  9. What do you do with photographs?
  10. Favorite food to grill?

 

Greatest Need

jeannie.bottle

Growing up, I watched the TV show I Dream of Jeannie. I still enjoy the reruns.

What if you found a genie bottle? As master over one with unlimited powers, what would you request? Healing for your child who has mental illness (MI). Healing of your marriage. Peace in your home. A vacation at a spa resort. A shopping spree at outlet stores.

It’s fun to fantasize. For one man, however, it was his reality. The Creator of the universe spoke to King Solomon and said, “Ask! What shall I give you?” (1 Kings 4:6 and 2 Chronicles 1:7)

King Solomon asked for an understanding heart to judge God’s people (1 Kings 4:9).

Think about that. Solomon didn’t ask for riches or death to his enemies. Why was God’s wisdom so important? Because he faced a daunting task and wanted to honor God.

We face as daunting task. At times MI is so consuming we don’t know how to pray. MI impacts everything: the mood in our home, daily schedules, all members of the family, finances, our marriage… It drains us mentally, physically, and emotionally.

Most of us would say we need support—help when things seem hopeless and we’re at the end of our rope. Let’s echo Solomon’s prayer:

Father, give me an understanding heart. Give me Your wisdom. Help me know what to do and how to respond today.

God was so pleased with such a prayer that He “…gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore (1 Kings 4:29).” God even blessed Solomon with more than he requested saying, “Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings (1 Kings 3:13).”

Pray Solomon’s prayer and rest in the promise that our generous Father will supply His wisdom and more!

Let’s focus on His wisdom. Let’s trust that He will guide and direct our paths. Let’s ignore other voices (from those who don’t understand our journey). People share their earthly wisdom. But God gives us His perfect guidance.

Casting Crowns remind us to listen to His voice of truth in their song Voice of Truth.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcuiuIwtpa4

Death of a Dream

fall.leaves

In a matter of days these trees will look dead. When the leaves are gone, I’ll miss their beauty.

In winter, I’ll stare at bare branches and know they’ll come alive again in the spring. Green leaves will adorn them once more. Months later, fall will return. My favorite season. So I won’t mourn the loss of autumn.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the seasons of life could be that predictable? Perhaps we could endure tough times with our child who has mental illness (MI) if we knew in three months things would get easier.

What season are you in with your child who has mental illness (MI)? Maybe you’re enjoying the springtime of an easier phase. Or perhaps it feels like you’re enduring the doldrums of winter.

Has your child’s joy withered away?  Do you long to see his eyes sparkle again? Do you wonder if his spring will ever return?

It’s as if your child is there, but not there. He’s alive, but the former happy-go-lucky child is gone.

We need to grieve the loss of our former child. We mourn because we’ve experienced the death of a dream. We envisioned a certain life for our child. Those hopes are gone.

I don’t know about you, but I can be tough on myself. Impatient with my own emotions, I chastise myself.

Snap out of it, Vicki. Deal with it. Don’t add your emotions into the mix.

Like anyone going through grief, we need assurances things will get better. We find hope in passages like Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity … a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.”

God has ordained a time for us to laugh again. Joy will return.

We need comforting as we go through the stages of our grief. The Bible promises God’s comfort. Isaiah is just one book of the Bible where we find reasons to be comforted.

God will restore our joy: “The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.”  (Isaiah 51:3)

God’s Word is reliable. We can depend on its promises: “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)

God provides strength: “…The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary … He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.”  (Isaiah 40:28-29)

God is with us: “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)

God’s Son knows what we’re going through: In Isaiah 53:3-4 we read, “He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief … Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.” (NKJV)

We look forward to the ultimate end to grief. “He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces.”   Isaiah 25:8

Be comforted dear friend.

Your grief cannot sabotage the serenity you have in the Lord as you focus on Him. Reflect on His steadfast love for you as you listen to “Steadfast Love” from Scripture Lullabies.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdT1XQ5ZRuk