Archive | May 2015

Wasted Wondering

Rear.Guard

Would you ever hop in a car without knowing your destination?  I have.

Our family used to have elaborate road rallies. We’d pair up with a partner and hop in a car, not knowing the destination or route. Just before we took off, my cousin, Kate, would hand us a list of directions and clues.

We had to locate specific information along the way. Kate’s cleverly-worded clues made it like a scavenger hunt.

At the dead end, turn right. How many birdhouses does the Italian family own?

On that road, we’d spot a house displaying an Italian flag. We’d count the number of birdhouses and move on to the next set of directions and clue.

Prizes were awarded to the pair who got the most correct answers in the shortest time. Part of the fun was traveling unfamiliar roads and not knowing where we were heading. It was an exciting adventure. We’d wonder, What’s over that next hill? Where’s Kate taking us?

But, not knowing where a crisis is heading can be terrifying. Helping a child who’s suffering with mental illness (MI) can be complicated. It’s hard to know what’s going on. Waves of wondering overtake our thoughts.

I wonder if my son is really feeling better. I wonder what he’s thinking. I wonder if he is taking his medication. I wonder if he’s isolating at school. I wonder if other people know what’s going on…

Wondering about the present causes us to carry a burden we’ve been invited to relinquish. We don’t need to carry our heavy load of cares. Peter reminds us to, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

Wondering about the present often leads to wondering about the past. We secretly feel responsible for our child’s suffering.

I wonder if I missed something. I wonder if I should have done something more. I wonder if I should have found a different therapist. I wonder if this wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t so busy…

Wondering about the past causes us to feel guilty.  Christ’s own disciples wondered the same thing when they saw a blind man. They asked Jesus, “‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ (John 9:2.)”

Christ’s answer relieves us from unnecessary guilt.

“‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him’” (John 9:3).

Then there’s the future wondering. MI can be so unpredictable. It’s difficult to see a clear path of recovery.

I wonder where this will lead. I wonder how bad this will get. I wonder if my marriage will survive this. I wonder if I can endure watching my son suffer. I wonder if he’ll be able to graduate. I wonder if he’ll be able to work. I wonder if he’ll experience another breakdown. I wonder how much stress he can handle. ….

Wondering about the future often leads to fear and worry. Christ said, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34). God knows your needs and has promised to care for you.

Here’s a verse that will remind you that He’s guiding your steps and He’s got your back.

“The Lord will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard” (Isaiah 52:12b).

None of us chose this trip with our child’s MI. We didn’t hop into a cab and say, “Please take us into downtown MI. Be sure to take the route with the most winding roads.”

Thankfully, we’re not on a journey driven by a taxicab driver. GOD is in control of our journey.

My problem with wondering is all about wandering.

I find that I fall into a snare of wondering when my thoughts wander from Him. The more I think about God, the easier it is to rest in His care.

How would you ask God to remove your wasted wondering?

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Windows: A Source of Peace and Contentment?

window.2

Until then, only snakes and dentists scared me. One snowy night in December, I felt fear unlike never before.

Decades ago, several of my girlfriends joined me as I babysat two children. It was New Year’s Eve. The children were in bed. Teenage sounds filled the dining room. Music from a Beatles’ album accompanied the noise of giggling and chatting girls.

THUD!!!

A loud noise interrupted our festivities. A muffled bang sounded as if landed right outside the dining room wall. Fear muzzled our merriment. Like scared rabbits, we sat frozen with ears and eyes open wide. Listening. Did we imagine it?

The music played on. Then, we heard the sound again.

THUD!!!

We screamed and scurried away from the dining room wall. And tore into the living room.

Survival instincts kicked in. We started trying to figure out if danger lurked outside.

“I think someone is pounding on the wall.”

“It sounded like a gun shot.”

I felt a sense of responsibility to protect the children from…whatever. Suddenly, I realized my big brother was home. From the back window of my house, Ken would be able to see the dining room wall of the home where I was babysitting. So I called him on the phone.

“Ken, look outside our back window. Do you see anyone near the dining room window where I’m babysitting?”

“Oh yeah. I see large footprints in the snow leading right up to the window,” he teased.

Brothers!!!

One of my friends solved the mystery. “Vicki, it’s fireworks!”

We were never in danger. We simply forgot it was day of celebration.


Sounds in the night tend to scare everyone. The darker the night, the more terrifying is the noise. Vulnerability and helplessness magnifies fear.

Consider a woman is who is enjoying a quiet evening alone at home. Suddenly, she hears an unusual sound just outside her window. She peeks through the curtains to identify the source.  It may satisfy her curiosity. But, it won’t calm her nerves if she sees a burglar trying to enter her home.

Moms raising a child with mental illness (MI) can identify with that woman. The onset of our child’s illness rattles our nerves with equal intensity. It interrupts the solitude of a peaceful home. As the darkness of mental illness (MI) closes in, we’re more susceptible to fear.  Sometimes, our child’s symptoms suddenly increase.

A heavy THUD pounds on our heart. Survival instincts kick in. And we start trying to figure out how to help our child.

What just happened? What caused that?

We’re tempted to close the curtains of our lives. And hide all the turmoil and pain.

At times, we’re drawn to the window for a different reason. To gaze out and watch care-free families going about their daily routines. To see reminders of what life was like without MI. To catch glimpses of normalcy.

A window can’t provide lasting peace or true contentment. We’ll find comfort in God’s Word. Peering into the pages of the Word will calm our heart more than peering out any window.

How I love God’s Word! It’s my go-to place to find comfort. I echo the sentiments of the Psalmist who cries, “My eyes fail from searching Your word, saying, ‘When will You comfort me?’” [Psalm 119:82 (NKJV)].

Open the Word and find comfort.

The Bible hasn’t let me down. In my darkest times, I’ve found comfort. How is it possible to find comfort in the midst of our child’s illness? The Psalmist explains it this way:

“This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your word has given me life” [Psalm 119:50 (NKJV)].

Open the Word and find delight.

We can do more than go through the motions of each day. God’s tender mercies will help us live as we delight in His Word.

“Let Your tender mercies come to me, that I may live; for Your law is my delight” [Psalm 119:77 (NKJV)].

God’s Word keeps us from dying on the inside.

“Unless Your law had been my delight, I would then have perished in my affliction” [Psalm 119:92 (NKJV)].

“Trouble and anguish have overtaken me, yet Your commandments are my delights” [Psalm 119:143 (NKJV)].

If the Psalmist can find delight in God’s Word in the midst of trouble and anguish, surely so can we.

Open the Word and find strength.

Does the Psalmist’s plea sound like something you could have written?

“My soul melts from heaviness; strengthen me according to Your word” [Psalm 119:28 (NKJV)].

Seek God’s strength.

Open the Word and find hope.

Many of us find ourselves in hopeless situations. We hope in therapists or treatments. But, find they can’t always provide assurances for restoration. God’s Word never fails. The more we cling to It, the more we can proclaim, “You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word” [Psalm 119:114 (NKJV)].

Open the Word and find how to live each day.

God guides us through the days that begin and end in His Word.

“I rise before the dawning of the morning, and cry for help; I hope in Your word. My eyes are awake through the night watches, that I may meditate on Your word” [Psalm 119:147-148 (NKJV)].

The Bible satisfies our longing as we reflect on His promises throughout the day.

“Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day” [Psalm 119:97 (NKJV)].

Open the Word and find treasure.

Many of us feel life’s unfair. The Psalmist experienced unfair circumstances and still could say,

“Princes persecute me without a cause, but my heart stands in awe of Your word. I rejoice at Your word as one who finds great treasure” [Psalm 119:161-162 (NKJV)].

Let him be your inspiration today.

Open the Word and find light.

Stumbling around in the dark can be scary. Flicking on a switch instantly brings relief. There’s danger of stumbling when we walk down a dark path. But, a flashlight illuminates our path, letting us know where to step. That’s what it’s like when we open God’s Word. The darkness of our situation suddenly seems brighter. The Bible reveals our next step.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” [Psalm 119:105 (NKJV)].

“The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple” [Psalm 119:130 (NKJV)].

When seeking peace and contentment, we have a choice: window or Word.  I choose God’s Word. How ‘bout you?

Not Abandoned

Lord.alone.bird

Do you feel you’ve been left to suffer alone? Has no one come alongside you to help you parent a child with mental illness (MI)?

When a loved one dies, friends and relatives flock to the home of the grieving family. When someone is going through cancer treatments, friends offer meals and send get-well cards. When a person has been in a car accident, family members rush to the hospital. It’s different when a child is admitted into a psychiatric unit.

Why do we feel so alone when experiencing a crisis due to MI? Often, it’s because our needless shame prevents us from reaching out. Sometimes others simply couldn’t understand the turmoil that’s in our child, in our homes, and in our heart. How could they? There are no words that could convey the devastation. The whole experience can seem so surreal—even to us.

Dealing with MI can be a long journey. We get so tired of … well, of it all. Especially the loneliness. But, you are not alone. It helps to know others understand.

Paul experienced abandonment.

The apostle Paul was literally abandoned. In the absence of supporters during his time of need, Paul didn’t abandon his faith. He knew God hadn’t abandoned him.

“At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (2 Timothy 4:16-18).

Can you feel God standing by your side, giving you strength to face another day?

Job experienced abandonment.

In the midst of his trials, Job experienced feelings of abandonment. He had suffered the loss of his business, animals, and children. Friends and family didn’t rally around him. They all left him. Imagine his loneliness.

Isolation led him to cry, “He has alienated my family from me; my acquaintances are completely estranged from me. My relatives have gone away; my closest friends have forgotten me. My guests and my female servants count me a foreigner; they look on me as on a stranger. I summon my servant, but he does not answer, though I beg him with my own mouth. My breath is offensive to my wife; I am loathsome to my own family” (Job 19:13-17).

So sad. So pathetic. Can you relate?

Sometimes MI causes our child to behave like one who is betraying us. Can anyone emphasize with that kind of hurt? Once again, we can reach back through the centuries and find someone who knows our pain. God speaks to our heart in the heart of the Bible. Smack in the middle of His Word we find the book of Psalms. There we read about David’s plight.

David experienced betrayal and persecution in the midst of abandonment.

“They repay me evil for good and leave me like one bereaved. Yet when they were ill, I put on sackcloth and humbled myself with fasting. When my prayers returned to me unanswered, I went about mourning as though for my friend or brother. I bowed my head in grief as though weeping for my mother. But when I stumbled, they gathered in glee; assailants gathered against me without my knowledge. They slandered me without ceasing. Like the ungodly they maliciously mocked; they gnashed their teeth at me” (Psalm 35:12-16).

Later in Psalms, David despaired that, Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me” (Psalm 41:9).

Here’s more proof that David endured betrayal and abandonment:

“If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were rising against me, I could hide. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend” (Psalm 55:12-13).

Christ experienced abandonment.

The night soldiers came to arrest Jesus, Matthew tells us that, “All the disciples forsook Him and fled” (Matthew 26:56b).

Is it comforting to know that Jesus understands your feelings of isolation?

Never Alone

The last thing we need is advice from people who have no clue what it’s like to raise a child with MI. However, someone who understands our loneliness would get our full attention if they shared advice. David knew we could benefit from his words of wisdom. He not only shared his hard-earned advice, but he added a promise. He recommended that you, “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken” (Psalm 55:22).

David could say with assurance, “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8).

For David, it was personal. He found comfort and assistance from the One who never left him.

“As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me” (Psalm 55:16).

Can you echo David’s words of assurance? Because God is unchanging and all loving, every one of us can make the same statement, “As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me.”  We don’t find confidence by mustering up hope. We find confidence by trusting the One who is faithful.

A biblical pep talk:

David has these words of encouragement for you:

“Blessed are those who have regard for the weak; the Lord delivers them in times of trouble” (Psalm 41:1).

“A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me” (John 16:32).

A lonely widow shows us how to trust God each day:

“The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help” (1 Timothy 5:5).

You’re not alone.

Abundant

Life.Full

It’s funny when it happens to others. The sight of someone dropping a bag of groceries can be hilarious. The shopper picks up several items, only to drop them while chasing down a runaway orange.

“Oops! Get back here. Oops! …  #* &#%!@!”

We can relate to their misfortune. Who hasn’t tried juggling two bags? Or who hasn’t fallen victim to a self-destructing grocery bag?

But, it’s no joke when we find ourselves dealing with more than we can handle emotionally. That’s what happens when our child struggles with mental illness (MI). Somewhere in the midst of coping, we discover we’re juggling the details of life, while ministering to our child. Our minds are full of worries and work, cares and responsibilities. No wonder our heavy hearts break.

Our mind’s eye keeps checking the needle of our stress meter. We watch it edge closer to the danger zone: the limit to what we can handle. We dread reaching the point where we’ll run out of emotional fuel to keep going. Then what would happen? Who would collect our cares and carry the load?

God offers His abundance.

When stress is abundant, seek His abundant grace and peace.

“Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” (2 Peter 1:2).

When despair is abundant, seek His abundant 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).”

When sadness is abundant, seek His abundant joy (the fullness of His joy).

“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16:11).

When a sense of inadequacy is in abundance, seek His abundant indwelling power.

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” [Ephesians 3:20-21 (NKJV)].

When uncertainty is abundant, seek His generous wisdom.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5).

Many of our local food stores have hired helpers who offer assistance in the parking lot. When I exit the store, I can easily find them. They wear bright vests so a shopper in need could easily spot them. Often one of those teenage helpers, with bulging muscles, runs to my car and cheerfully asks, “Do you need any help?”

Usually I decline his offer. But, I’d be a fool to turn down God’s offer. He approaches me throughout my day and asks, “Do you need My help?”