What’s the strangest thing you ever snuggled up to? Mine is a collection of skeletons. When visiting our son’s college science lab, a trio of bones lured me over. I abandoned any attempts to hide behind them and playfully peeked through them for a fun picture.
Those bones are a reminder that an entire nation shares the emotions of moms raising kids with mental illness (MI). God gave Ezekiel the symbolism saying, “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land (Ezekiel 37:11, 14).”
Does that describe how you feel at times? Dried up, without hope, and cut off?
We feel cut off from those whose lives haven’t been devastated by MI. Parents of healthy children could never fully understand our daily challenges and hurts.
What makes us feel dried up at times? I think it’s because we try everything we know to bring about restoration. In our child. In our marriage. In our home. In our heart.
We’re designed to nurture. We thrive on tenderly caring for a hurting child. We’re not equipped to deal with helplessness when our child needs Mom to make it all better. A fact I’ve learned from experience.
When our sons were young, I felt fully equipped to mend any problem. A skinned elbow needed a Band-Aid and a kiss. Trouble with a playmate required listening and assurances that they’d remain friends. Homework struggles presented opportunities for me to apply my teaching skills. A shattered toy could be fixed with glue.
There came a time when my motherly affections couldn’t solve the problem. MI struck Chris. Glue couldn’t restore his joy. A wise word or warm hug couldn’t repair his shattered mind. Only God could repair our son’s emotions, mind, and life. Only God could repair my broken heart.
As I reflected on the word ‘restoration’ I thought about my mother’s pew. She purchased it for a dollar from our church back in the 60’s. Growing up, I loved sitting on her pew because it reminded me of services we attended in that little Episcopal church.
One of my earliest memories is of the back of the pew in church. I couldn’t see over it. So I would play with the hymnal in the rack attached to its back. My finger would trace the design in the wood. I’d peeked over at my mom and dad sitting beside me on the pew. And watch them holding hands as they listened to the sermon.
Years after my father died of cancer, my mother decided to downsize. The purchase of a smaller home meant she had to choose what to keep and what to give away. I found the old pew on her list of things to unload.
“You’re not giving the pew away, are you Mom?”
“Yes, dear,” she answered. “It’s in bad shape.”
How can she part with that pew? She and Dad spent countless Sundays worshipping on that pew.
My husband and I rescued the pew. We found an expert skilled in restoring furniture.
“Do you want me to smooth out these parts?” he asked, pointing to the dents and gashes in the wood.
“Absolutely not! That’s what makes this pew so special,” I replied. “It’s evidence that many heard God’s Word while sitting on this bench.”
Chris’s MI left me like that damaged pew. It pierced my heart. The gashes in my memories are signs of sabotaged perspectives. Times when my focus on God got snagged on earthly concerns. Thankfully, God didn’t discard me. He healed my hurt and transformed my thoughts.
In His restoration process of my heart, God left holy reminders of His faithfulness. Each scar is coupled with healing passages: verses God used to encourage and comfort. The Good Shepherd of Psalm 23:3 continues to restore my soul.
God’s ways surely aren’t like our ways. He allows trials into our lives. Carries us through them, while revealing His faithfulness. Making us stronger by bolstering our faith. Just like a painful procedure I endured as a young child. A procedure that restored a ruptured artery and made it stronger.
An artery in my nose grew quicker than the nose itself. So it would spontaneously start bleeding. All attempts to stop the flow of blood failed. The only way a doctor could stop it was to apply heat to the bleeding point. Thereby sealing it. A scar would leave that spot in the artery stronger.
Similarly, God plugged my gusher of doubt with assurance of His care. At precise moments of despair, the Great Physician revealed His power, presence, and peace. Restoring my faith and making it stronger than ever.
Oh how we need God to breathe new life into us! And how we need to feel settled in our hearts. Ezekiel witnessed God breathe new life into bones. And He promised to settle the Israelites in their own land. That same God can breathe new life into you. He can settle your heart in your own home. We can face another day because His Spirit is in us.
If you need a good cleansing cry, listen to Steve & Annie Chapman’s song ‘Goodnight Kiss.’ The lyrics will take you back to the simpler times of being a mom to toddlers. Times that required endless physical stamina. Times of hurried care. But times filled with precious memories of when you could easily restore what was broken.
What a beautiful posting, Vicki – full of the truth and reality of God’s faithfulness even as we receive those wounds that become scars on the pew of our lives. How amazing to have that actual pew where your parents and you sat years ago – and today it remains a legacy reminder of faith filled times.
Yes, Lynn those of us who belong to Him know our scars represent wounds of God’s faithfulness…that we didn’t endure those difficult times alone. Those scars become reminders of God’s mercy…of painful experiences which would have been far worse if we hadn’t had Him in our lives (can’t imagine wearing scars of emptiness and senselessness).
Am very behind on my reading and just read this. So heartwarming and so real to me. I know exactly what you are talking about when times were simpler and we could fix our little ones wounds with a bandaid and a hug.
Keith had 3 meltdowns over the phone these last few weeks. I was getting ready to go on the Kairos Outside Prison Ministry and Satan always works overtime whenever we are pursuing God’s work. I had to hang up on him; then called back and he was so sorry, please forgive me mom. Just like a little boy sayin, mommy, I’m sorry, I won’t do it again. Heartbreaking.
Much going on lately but God is always good. His restoration for our mother’s broken hearts is always amazing to me, as He heals the woundedness and scars through the trials we face and His strength, grace, love and mercy are always always there for us. All we have to do is call onn Him. When I just can’t pray, I call out Jesus, Jesus and the Holy Spirit does the rest.
I love your pew story: makes me think of Gaithers “Precious Memories”! It’s a beautiful piece on the outside but even more beautiful due to the “inside treasured memories”.
Thank you, Vicki, again, for sharing your heart for God and for all of us moms with the challenges we face with these “special” children. I just said to Bud after the weekend, someone has to have these kids for whatever His reasons are, so why not me and you, etc.—–
I’m SO glad to hear from you. In between our brief contacts I continue praying for you and your family. Even though I don’t know how to pray specifically, I know our Father knows the details. So, like you, I call on the Christ to intercede on your behalf.
My heart is heavy when I read the heart wrenching details of your life with Keith. But am always amazed when you can say in the next paragraph words like, “God is always good.” I’m encouraged by your steadfast faith. It’s such a powerful testimony!
“Someone has to have these kids for whatever His reasons are, so why not me and you, etc.”: Amen!
In my prayers for your family, I’ll ask God to bless your prison ministry.
Have a blessed celebration of our Lord’s gift of salvation.
Together in Him,
Good morning Vicki,
What an Easter season!!! For me, personally, the weekend prison ministry, an upcoming reunion with these who can come where we are allowed to bring friends , spouses, for a potluck supper. The guests are still our guests for this: then they will be like us, hoping and praying they will hear God’s call on their heart and join us in whatever ways they can and be part of the “team”.
After and before the weekend, Satan assaulted me with great force and the whole team and the guests. Between Keith, my falling, normal pain and illness life became a whirlwind. Thank God for His mercies and all the miracles He performed during all this time. I know you understand all this as you have gone through so much with Chris, illness and trying to do your ministries(besides this one, I know you do a lot more, like writing books , WOW, etc.
So when I came home, was, of course, flying high with God. But Satan was still wanting to devour my peace and joy. I went to my HK group on the following week after the weekend and discovered that one of my gals had decided to end her life. I know this is confidential but she doesn’t get on internet and nobody knows her here. Have written to Lisa for some help with my HK group as we are down to 4 (that includes me) and am getting discouraged and wondering what God wants me to do or not do. This news of my friend devastated me and all 3 of us. In particular, her closest friend, who brought her to the group. A lot happened but I can say she survived and came back to HK last week. So, yes, what a time. From the highest emotions to the lowest despair!!
Then Keith called with a plumbing problem (57 yearold house) and was having a panic attack meltdown on the phone with his dad. They have issues. Really tough. But my beautiful husband said in the middle of all this, Keith, we are coming down to see you sometime in May after we get the new travel trailer! Wow. Keith perked up, started to calm down and we got a substitute fix till we get there.
Anyways, just giving you some background on us as to where we are, like you do when you describe in your postings, although my words are just words explaining some of our life situations. Your words are always so eloquent, inspiring, filled with scripture and leaning lessons from and with God.
But these are my humble stabs at trying to communicate with you, Vicki, as I don’t know many moms with MI kids, so you are so very special to me in so many ways. And last, but certainly not least, thank you so very much for your continued prayers for myself and family. That just blesses me beyond measure and means more to me than you will ever know.
Sorry so long, but guess am trying to let you get to know me and mine a little better. I hope you want to continue to talk from time to time. You are special to God , your family, and all you touch. And thank you for commenting on my steadfast faith. I have been hearing that lately as God has been using people to tell me just such words like you said and I am totally blown away. I have never had much self confidence, but slowly coming to believe God is really using me for His plan for my life and am becoming aware that this humble person can really be God’s servant and that I have a testimony He wants me to use to help others . Thank you Jesus!!
Again, sorry so long!!
Don’t apologize for writing from your heart. I cherish our friendship just as much as you do. It’s always good to hear updates. They help me know how God is answering prayers, and gives me insight so I know how to pray specifically for you and your family.
It surely does sound like you’ve been on an emotional roller-coaster. You had me on the edge of my chair as I read one crisis after another. Relief replaced concern when I read the lady in your survived her attempts at ending her life. Gratitude filled my heart as I read how your husband softened Keith’s anxiety with his offer to go down to see Keith sometime in May.
I’m so glad that God is assuring you in many ways that, “this humble person can really be God’s servant and that I have a testimony He wants me to use to help others.” Your steadfast faith inspires me!
Until next time: Grace and peace,