Archive | December 2014

Never-ending

God.everlasting

Sometimes we don’t want it to end. Other times we plead for it to end. Saying, “PLEASE. Just make it stop!” It all depends on the ‘it.’

If we’re talking about our child’s mental illness (MI), we wish it would end. All of it. In that case, ‘never-ending’ has a painful connotation. It conjures up images of persistent pain, relentless unrest, perpetual prayers, unending uneasiness, and ceaseless sorrow.

Change ‘never-ending MI’ to ‘never-ending God.’ And suddenly, there’s unlimited hope. With a shift in focus comes more than we could ever imagine or need. New words fill our minds with restored hope.

Out from our cloud of darkness we see glimmers of God’s faithfulness that’s endless and ever reliable … for any situation we’ll ever have to face.

Through His Word we gaze into His heart and find love that’s unconditional and unlimited … for our child, our family, and us.

In our situations, He reveals His power that’s boundless and unconstrained … more than we’d ever before experienced.

In our loneliness, His presence is continual and all-encompassing.

Because He’s God.  Yahweh.

Ever wonder what Yahweh means? I did. In my initial search, I discovered it means “HE IS.” That made it clear as mud for me! So I dug deeper. And found a great article.

I learned a lot about the name Yahweh from Timothy Lin’s article “God’s Biblical Name ‘Yahweh’ And What It Means.” Lin explained “HE IS” this way:

“He named Himself ‘HE IS . . . ,’ an unlimited and unsearchable name bearing all the necessities of His people.  If they needed redemption, ‘HE IS Redemption’; if peace, ‘HE IS the Prince of Peace’; if help, “HE IS the Counselor.” If they were sick, ‘HE IS the Healer’; if poor, ‘HE IS the Supporter’; if in trouble, ‘HE IS the Deliverer.’”

Later in his article, Lin wrote something that grabbed my attention.

“Now, Moses came and proclaimed that he had been sent by ‘HE IS;’ that was exactly what they needed to hear. They needed a name by which all their problems would be solved and all their questions would be answered.  And here it was.

“If they would say, ‘We are too weak,’ the answer of this name would be HE IS your strength; ‘We are too poor,’ HE IS your wealth; ‘We are too ignorant,’ HE IS your wisdom; ‘We are not trained for war,’ HE IS God Almighty.

“What name could be more comforting and encouraging to those faint-hearted people? No wonder when they heard ‘HE IS’ had visited them, ‘they bowed their heads and worshipped’ (Ex. 4:31).

“No other words in the entire vocabulary of language could be better used by God to name Himself than ‘I AM’ or ‘HE IS.’

“It is a heavenly blank check. No matter how much one needs, God has reserved more than enough in His eternal bank.”

Now THAT’S something I understand: a heavenly blank check! God is all I’ll ever need Him to be. What an amazing thought: I have access to His eternal bank. And so do you!

manger2

At Christmas we reflected on Emanuel, God with us. Continue to reflect on other names of God. They will remind you of His never-ending qualities.

If you wonder if He’s abandoned you, remember He is the Living God.

If you feel like you’re groping in the dark, look for the Father of lights.

If you need someone to lean on, rest in the arms of your Heavenly Father.

If others have abandoned you, trust your Everlasting God and the King eternal. He’ll always be there.

If your situation seems impossible, leave it at the throne of the Almighty God, the God of heaven, who created all things. Nothing is too hard for Him.

If you’re worn out, enlist Yahweh Nissi: “The Lord is my Banner” to help. He’ll fight for you.

If your resources are depleted or you lack wisdom, look to Yahweh Jireh (Yireh):“The Lord will provide.” He’ll meet all our needs.

If you feel lost, trust YahwehRo’i: “The Lord my Shepherd” to find you. He’ll care for you tenderly.

If you heart’s in turmoil, seek inner calmness from Yahweh Shalom: “The Lord is Peace.”

Hillsong sings of God’s never-ending glory in their song ‘From the Inside Out.’ Unleash your soul and cry out to Him as you listen to their song:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-afZJ9_TIM

 

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Boast

whiter.snow

Adults tell kids not to do it, but do it themselves. Brag. Tis the season for bragging.

“I’m finished all my Christmas shopping.”

“I got a 50” TV for Christmas.”

“We have the most outdoor Christmas lights in the neighborhood.”

“I bake the best cookies—ever!”

Moms raising kids with mental illness (MI) could brag about other things:

“I survived another day with my own sanity intact.”

“In return for unprovoked anger, I answer with gentleness.”

“In spite of physical abuse, I show unconditional love.”

“Even though my spouse abandoned our child, I remained to face his illness together with him”

“Without any end in sight, my faith in the Lord remains strong.”

“I’ve worked harder at parenting without any support or compassion (due to the stigma of MI).”

“I’ve endured silent sorrow for years, longing to see my child’s smile once again.”

What would be the point of that kind of bragging?

Boasting inflates. Instead of boasting about life with MI, we can boast about God. That will reveal His power, while uplifting our spirit.

May your heart swell with renewed hope as you read these verses:

“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; The humble shall hear of it and be glad. (Psalm 34:1-2  NKJV)”

In God we make our boast all day long, and we will praise your name forever (Psalm 44:8).”

“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world (Galatians 6:14).”

“But, ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord (2 Corinthians 10:17).’”

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me (2 Corinthians 12:9).”

“This is what the Lord says: ‘Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, in these I delight, ‘declares the Lord (Jeremiah 9:23-24).”

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God (Romans 5:1-2).”

“For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation (Romans 5:10-11).”

“It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).’”

“Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace (2 Corinthians 1:12).”

“For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh—(Philippians 3:3).”

Also:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud (1 Corinthians 13:4).”

“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith (Philippians 3:7-9).”

“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world (1 John 4:4).”

I love the story in 1 Kings 18:24-38 where Elijah boasted about God’s power:

“‘Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire—he is God.’

“Then all the people said, ‘What you say is good.’

“Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, ‘Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.’  So they took the bull given them and prepared it.

“Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. ‘Baal, answer us!’ they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made.

“At noon Elijah began to taunt them. ‘Shout louder!’ he said. ‘Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.’ So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.

“Then Elijah said to all the people, ‘Come here to me.’ They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the Lord, which had been torn down. Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, ‘Your name shall be Israel.’ With the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs of seed. He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, ‘Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.’

“‘Do it again,’ he said, and they did it again.

“‘Do it a third time,’ he ordered, and they did it the third time. The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench.

“At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: ‘Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.’

“Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.”

Our awesome God answered Elijah’s prayer and displayed His power. And turned everyone’s heart back to God.

“When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, ‘The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God (1 Kings 18:39)!’”

The Lord—He is God! Amen!!!

 

Whole

heart.healed

What’s the dream of a mom raising a child with mental illness (MI)? For many of us the answer is found in the word ‘whole.’ Our greatest desire is for the broken child or family to be whole again. So our broken heart can rejoice once again.

It seems impossible to ignore the shattered pieces of a child’s life. We do all we can to put them back together again. But often feel like Humpty Dumpty’s king’s horses and king’s men who could put Humpty Dumpty together again. We would understand the cry of the king if he moaned, “What made Humpty Dumpty so fragile? Why didn’t he just roll away, unscathed?”

An army of why’s attack:

Why did this happen?

Why can’t any restore clarity of thought?

Why doesn’t anyone understand?

Why do we have to endure another holiday that’s overshadowed and complicated by MI?

Why can’t life just return to normal?

We writhe in emotional pain as we stand defenseless. Our arsenal of answers is empty. The barrage of why’s batters our soul. Leaving us secretly broken.

How can we feel whole while waiting for restoration?

If we love the Lord with our whole heart, we can crowd out sorrow. Sadness will remain, but God will refresh our soul. He did that for me as I searched His Word for verses about loving Him completely. He’ll do it for you.

Your situation may differ from mine. But God is the same. May He bless you as you read the following verses.

God requires us to love Him with our whole heart.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength (Deuteronomy 6:).”

“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul (Deuteronomy 10:12).”

“The Lord your God commands you this day to follow these decrees and laws; carefully observe them with all your heart and with all your soul (Deuteronomy 26:16).”

“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (Matthew 22:37).’” Also found in: Mark 12:30 and Luke 10:27

God blesses those who love Him with a whole heart.

“‘If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a successor on the throne of Israel (1 Kings 2:4).’”

“So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul— then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil (Deuteronomy 11:13-14).”

“The Lord will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your ancestors, if you obey the Lord your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul (Deuteronomy 30:9-10).”

“I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart (Jeremiah 24:7).”

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).”

A prayer asking the Lord for an undivided heart.

“Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever (Psalm 86:11-12).”

Praise results from a steadfast love of the Lord.

“My heart, O God, is steadfast, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music (Psalm 57:7).”

My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul (Psalm 108:1).”

“I will extol the Lord with all my heart in the council of the upright and in the assembly (Psalm 111:1).”

“I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart … and will praise your name for your unfailing love and your faithfulness … When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me (Psalm 138:1-3).”

Our challenge:

“But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you: to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to keep his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul (Joshua 22:5).”

 

Hope

Hope

Life has a way of ripping the in-control rug right out from under us. When mental illness (MI) hits our child, we’re thrust into survival mode. Dreary routines give way to psychiatrist appointments. Laundry could easily be tackled. But emotions must first be healed. Priorities shift. Our kid’s happiness, clarity of thought, and safety become the only things that matter.

A complicated life also simplifies life. We moms, who are used to taking care of everything and everyone, suddenly focus on one person: our vulnerable child.

In a simplified life, short devotionals are in order. So I’ve decided to do several messages based on one-word reflections. The word for this one is hope.

Hopeful children express delightful anticipation. “I can’t wait for our family’s movie night!”

But nothing kills bright expectancy like countless disappointments. Dashed hopes create fragile trust.

“I hope my father will come to my performance tonight. He promised he’d be there. But things always happen to make him break his promises. I doubt he’ll come.”

Many well-meaning parents have to disappoint their kids when life interrupts plans. Things happen that are unpreventable, unavoidable, and unexpected. Love doesn’t let their child down. Limited power does. We humans can’t know the future, let alone control it.

But the One who holds our future can control it. And He won’t let us down. Hebrews 6:19-20 assure us, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf.”

As long as we’re anchored to Christ, we can find peace in the midst of a storm, calmness in the midst of sorrow.

Many of our kids with MI face an uncertain future. Nothing seems sure except the promises of God. As we cling to Christ, we’re fastened to the throne of God. With access to His power, love, comfort, and peace.

MI storms can set our souls adrift. Tornados of emotions rip through our heart as we helplessly watch our child suffer. When symptoms resurface we feel like we’re heading down rapids toward a waterfall. But we have an anchor for our soul.

God is our hope.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).”

 With Him, we can overflow with hope!

When our child with MI is a prodigal, we can entrust him in the hands of our ever-present Father.

When our child needs healing, we can place her in the hands of the Great Physician.

When our child is emotionally shattered, we can seek His perfect peace.

When we need direction, we can lean on His promises for wisdom and provision.

When MI causes division between loved ones, Christ our Mediator can restore relationships.

God reminds us to put our hope in Him.

Jeremiah 14:22 tells us, “Do any of the worthless idols of the nations bring rain? Do the skies themselves send down showers? No, it is you, Lord our God. Therefore our hope is in you, for you are the one who does all this.”

The Psalmist reminded himself to put his hope in God.

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God (Psalm 42:5).”

Isaiah 40:31 tells us the benefits of putting our hope in the Lord. “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

1 Timothy 6:17 urges even the rich to put their hope in God. “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.”

Are you wondering, “How can I go on?”

If you think you can’t take it anymore, 1 Timothy 4:10 reminds you God is real and alive. He’ll help you hang on.

“That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.”

Colossians 1:27 reminds those who are saved have Christ’s indwelling power. “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

The Psalmist reminds you that God is faithful.

“But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish (Psalm 9:18).”

So, like Paul, we can, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer (Romans 12:12).”