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Better than a Resolution

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Things shift our focus.

The death of a loved one causes us to look back and reflect.

January 1st signals the time to look ahead.

An airplane window beckons us to look down.

My husband always lets me have the window seat when we fly. On one flight, I stared out the window of the plane and spotted something symbolic. An entire housing development surrounded a baseball diamond.  As if to say that the lives of all the residents centered abound baseball. That got me to thinking.

I’ll bet some people’s lives DO revolve around baseball. What does my life revolve around? What’s at the heart of my life?

Like most Christians, I immediately thought of the Lord. My family came in second.

My mind continued to wander.

What do I think about most? What occupies my thoughts? What uses up most of my mental energy? What do I pray most about? What has impacted me the most? What has broken my heart more than anything?

Funny how a mind can wander. Especially when there’s lots of time to think.

It didn’t take me long to answer those questions. My son who has mental illness (MI) has captured much of my energy: mental, emotional, and spiritual. I’m sure that’s the same with you, if you also have a child with MI.

As I think of the year ahead, selecting a New Year’s resolution hasn’t crossed my mind. The date on a calendar won’t change my life-long resolve to be the best mother I can be for Chris (and my other son, his family, and my husband).

People make resolutions, then break them. Moms raising kids with MI can’t afford to break their resolve.

We resolve to continue supporting our vulnerable children. Take them to therapists. Help them adjust to treatments.  Advocate for them. Comfort them. Protect them. And pray for them.

What lasts longer than any resolution? A mom’s love. Especially a mom’s devotion to her child who has MI. The more our kids hurt, the more determined we are to help them.

Shakable VS Unbreakable

The mind is involved in listing resolutions. Good intentions drive resolutions. Thoughtful decisions formulate resolutions. Cracks in commitment occur when temptations arise. New priorities cause us to abandon resolutions.

Something much more powerful shapes a mother’s response to her child with MI. Love drives her actions. Motherly instincts solidify her determination to protect and comfort her child. Her love is unbreakable.

So, rather than begin a new year with resolutions, we start each day with our unshakable determination to:

  • Worry less, and trust God more
  • Succumb to anxiety less, and rest in His peace more
  • Watch TV and check out social media less, and seek His Word more
  • Strive to design our own plans (for our child’s life) less, and yield to God’s plans more
  • Talk less and listen more (to our child and to God)
  • Lecture less, and encourage more

Will we succeed every day? Absolutely not! But God’s faithfulness will never fail. At the end of 2016, we will be sure of one thing:  God kept all His promises.

 

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How to Get Through It

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How would you describe the insurmountable problems facing you? One mother raising a child with mental illness (MI) said, “It’s like a tunnel in the mountains: you can’t go around it; you have to go through it.”

Maybe your challenges are your Mt. Everest. You know you’re out of energy to take another step. You fear an avalanche of sorrow will drown you in a pool of tears (if you start to cry).

Christ used a mountain to encourage His followers. He assured them, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20).

Yes, we know that we serve the God who can do the impossible. But, how can we remember that His is able when daily struggles tempt us to forget His power and faithfulness?

I recently stumbled on a strategy. My pastor was giving a message on 2 Thessalonians. He gave a reference in Ezekiel to reinforce a point. I turned to Ezekiel and noticed I had put a box around the phrase ‘the Sovereign Lord.’ Then, I spotted another box with that phrase. And another. And another.

My pastor’s words faded into the background. All I could ‘hear’ was God speaking to me, “I’m sovereign. I’m sovereign. I’m sovereign. I’m sovereign.” Calmness flooded my heart.

I turned the page in Ezekiel and found ‘the Sovereign Lord’ in several more places. So, I boxed them. I found myself searching the entire book of Ezekiel. The repetitious act of boxing that precious phrase settled my heart.

Later that day, I searched the phrase ‘Sovereign Lord’ and found a great article in Christianity.com. In his article, Chip Ingram answers the question, “What does the phrase ‘God is sovereign’ really mean?”

If you’re world seems chaotic and out of control, uncertain and dark, take time to read his article. You’ll be reminded that God IS in control.

So, here’s my tip for the day: head to Ezekiel and do your own hunt for the phrase ‘the Sovereign Lord.’ I pray that the repetition will lead to your reflection of His sovereignty. That truth will relieve anxiety, fear, concern, and worry.

Jason Castro sings about the mountain crumbling faith of Matthew 17:20 in his song ‘Only A Mountain.’

As you listen to his song, reflect on God’s sovereign power that can remove all your fears and anxieties.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UxWayfx3p2s

Banish Worries

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I love ‘but.’  It’s a powerful word to declare moving day on worries and cares. The Psalmist loved using it. It helped him focus on Someone bigger than his problems. He deliberately shifted his focus to God. No small accomplishment, given his problems. I can’t begin to understand what it’s like to flee from approaching armies. I can, however, relate to the writer’s raw emotions. His difficulties: affliction, rejection, sorrow, loneliness…

I’m guessing that most moms raising kids with mental illness (MI) can relate to unrelenting challenges. Symptoms our children struggle with evade our comfort. We’re powerless to fix their thinking or soothe their emotions. As the battle continues with MI, a war wages in our own minds. We’re tormented by worries and cares.

The tiny word ‘but’ can be our best defense. It has the power to helps us shift our focus. It represents our deliberate action to climb out of the pit of worry. And consider the Almighty: what He’s done, what He can do, and who He is. With our thoughts fixed on God, we begin to see that His power is greater than any problem. The One who overcame death can surely help us through the trial we face today.

Read the following list of verses from Psalms. It just might become your personal pep talk to shove away all anxieties. And fill your mind with thoughts of God’s greatness and love.

After you read the list, write your own version. It might go something like this:

“My heart is shattered as I watch my child in torment. Can I cry any more tears? Can I withstand another day? I lie awake fearful, imagining what might happen to him if this treatment doesn’t work. Does anyone fully understand what I’m going through? I feel so lonely. And so tired…But, I know that God will sustain me, as He has done so many times in the past. He’s shown me how to comfort my child. He’s led us to compassionate and caring professionals. I know He’ll strengthen me physically and emotionally. He is my refuge and strength. In Him, I can find rest and peace.”


Psalm 3:1-3

“Lord, how they have increased who trouble me! Many are they who rise up against me. Many are they who say of me, ‘There is no help for him in God.’ Selah But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head.”

Psalm 13

“How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? How long will my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and hear me, O Lord my God; enlighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; lest my enemy say, ‘I have prevailed against him’; lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved. But I have trusted in Your mercy; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me.”

Psalm 18:18

“They confronted me in the day of my calamity, But the Lord was my support.”

Psalm 31:10-14

“For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away. I am a reproach among all my enemies, but especially among my neighbors, and am repulsive to my acquaintances; those who see me outside flee from me, I am forgotten like a dead man, out of mind; I am like a broken vessel. For I hear the slander of many; fear is on every side; while they take counsel together against me, they scheme to take away my life. But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God’”

Psalm 34:19

“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers him out of them all.”

Psalm 41:7-10

“A11 who hate me whisper together against me; against me they devise my hurt. ‘An evil disease,’ they say, ‘clings to him. And now that he lies down, he will rise up no more.’ Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me. But You, O Lord, be merciful to me, and raise me up, that I may repay them.”

Psalm 59:1-4, 16

“Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; defend me from those who rise up against me. Deliver me from the workers of iniquity, and save me from bloodthirsty men. For look, they lie in wait for my life; the mighty gather against me, not for my transgression nor for my sin, O Lord. They run and prepare themselves through no fault of mine. But I will sing of Your power; yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning; for You have been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble. To You, O my Strength, I will sing praises; for God is my defense, the God of my mercy.”

Psalm 69:1-13

“Save me, O God!  For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing; I have come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me. I am weary with my crying; my throat is dry; my eyes fail while I wait for my God. Those who hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of my head; they are mighty who would destroy me, being my enemies wrongfully; though I have stolen nothing, I still must restore it. O God, You know my foolishness; and my sins are not hidden from You. Let not those who wait for You, O Lord God of hosts be ashamed because of me; let not those who seek You be confounded because of me. O God of Israel. Because for Your sake I have borne reproach: shame has covered my face. I have become a stranger to my brothers, and an alien to my mother’s children; because zeal for Your house has eaten me up, and the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me.  When I wept and chastened my soul with fasting, that became my reproach. I also made sackcloth my garment; I became a byword to them.   Those who sit in the gate speak against me, and I am the song of the drunkards. But as for me, my prayer is to You, O Lord, in the acceptable time; O God, in the multitude of Your mercy, hear me in the truth of Your salvation.”

Psalm 71:13-16

“Let them be confounded and consumed who are adversaries of my life; let them be covered with reproach and dishonor who seek my hurt. But I will hope continually, and will praise You yet more and more. My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness and Your salvation all the day, for I do not know their limits. I will go in the strength of the Lord God; I will make mention of Your righteousness, of Yours only.”

Psalm 73:26

“My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Psalm 77:1-14

“I cried out to God with my voice – To God with my voice; and He gave ear to me. In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; my hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing; my soul refused to be comforted. I remembered God, and was troubled; I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah. You hold my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak. I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times. I call to remembrance my song in the night; I meditate within my heart, and my spirit makes diligent search. Will the Lord cast off forever? And will He be favorable no more? Has His mercy ceased forever? Has His promise failed forevermore? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies? Selah. And I said, ‘This is my anguish; But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.’  I will remember the works of the Lord; surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will also meditate on all Your work, and talk of Your deeds. Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary; who is so great a God as our God? You are the God who does wonders; You have declared Your strength among the peoples.”

Psalm 86:14-16

“O God, the proud have risen against me, and a mob of violent men have sought my life, and have not set You before them. But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth. Oh, turn to me, and have mercy on me! Give Your strength to Your servant, and save the son of Your maidservant.”

Psalm 88:3-4, 13

“For my soul is full of trouble, and my life draws near to the grave. I am counted with those who go down to the pit; I am like a man who has no strength, But to You I have cried out, O Lord, and in the morning my prayer comes before You.”

Psalm 102:4-5, 8, 11-12

“My heart is stricken and withered like grass, so that I forget to eat my bread. Because of the sound of my groaning my bones cling to my skin. My enemies reproach me all day long, and those who deride me swear an oath against me. My days are like a shadow that lengthens, and I wither away like grass. But You, O Lord, shall endure forever, and the remembrance of Your name to all generations.”

Psalm 109:3-4

“They have also surrounded me with words of hatred, and fought against me without a cause. In return for my love they are my accusers, But I give myself to prayer.”

Psalm 119:23-24

“Princes also sit and speak against me, But Your servant meditates on Your statutes. Your testimonies also are my delight and my counselors.”

Psalm 119:61-64

“The cords of the wicked have bound me, But I have not forgotten Your law. At midnight I will rise to give thanks to You, because of Your righteous judgments. I am a companion of all those who fear You, and of those who keep Your precepts. The earth, O Lord, is full of Your mercy; teach me Your statutes.”

Psalm 119:69

“The proud have forged a lie against me, But I will keep Your precepts with my whole heart.”

Psalm 119:70

“Their heart is as fat as grease, But I delight in Your law.”

Psalm 119:78

“Let the proud be ashamed, for they treated me wrongfully with falsehood; But I will meditate on Your precepts.”

Psalm 119:81

“My soul faints for Your salvation, But I hope in Your word.”

Psalm 119:87

“They almost made an end of me on earth, But I did not forsake Your precepts.”

Psalm 119:95

“The wicked wait for me to destroy me, But I will consider Your testimonies.”

Psalm 119:113-114

“I hate the double-minded, But I love Your law. You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word.”

Psalm 119:161-162

“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 119:163-165

“I hate and abhor lying, But I love Your law, seven times a day I praise You, because of Your righteous judgments. Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble.”

Psalm 141:7-8

“Our bones are scattered at the mouth of the grave, as when one plows and breaks up the earth. But my eyes are upon You, O God the Lord; in You I take refuge; do not leave my soul destitute.”

Searching for Beauty

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What can you do when darkness has shrouded your heart? In the secret places of your mind, are you groping in the dark? Are you squinting to find even a glimmer of hope? Are you straining your eyes to spot a flicker that will illuminate the way out? Are you afraid to admit that your life feels black?

Your child’s struggles with mental illness (MI) may not have ended. It may seem like the light of your life has gone out. Leaving a cloud of doom hovering over your home.

I can assure you from experience that life isn’t always as black as it seems. In the midst of my darkest hours, God’s love and faithfulness shined brightest.

Scratch art symbolizes buried beauty. Young children delight in discovering bright colors hidden beneath black. Similarly, you will delight in discovering God’s light in your darkness. It’s truly there.

Colors are revealed most vibrantly against a dark backdrop. Like a sunset glowing in the night sky. Or a diamond presented on black velvet. Sometimes, you just have to look closely. Like in a microscope.

Those who search for beauty in a microscope find treasures not visible to the naked eye. Dr. Fernan Federici is a perfect example. His microscopic images of plants, bacteria, and crystals reveal hidden masterpieces—created by the Master.

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That same Master invites us to look into His Word to examine His love. A closer study of the scriptures reveals a treasure trove of Truth. Like the power of a King and the faithfulness of a Friend.

Zoom in on 2 Corinthians 1: 3-4a to spot a tiny, yet encouraging word.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles …”

Did you find it? “ALL” We have access to a loving Father who is the God of ALL comfort. He comforts us in ALL our troubles. How does He do that? By easing our anxieties. Think about each burden you’re bearing and envision God removing them from your shoulders.

Now zoom in on Isaiah 9:2 for a powerful and assuring Truth.

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light.”

Did you find it? “IN” We will find Christ, “the light of the worldIN the midst of our dark times. How does He do that? By making His presence known when we’re going through turmoil. Consider the current struggle you’re experiencing and imagine Christ walking beside you, holding your hand.

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners …to comfort all who mourn … to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isaiah 61: 1-3).

That same Lord wants to bind up your broken heart, to proclaim freedom for you from the darkness of MI, and to comfort you. He wants to replace your ashes of sorrow with a ‘crown of beauty.’ To transform your mourning into joy. To turn your despair into praise.

New School Year: SUPPLY Needed

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The approaching new school year means…excitement or apprehension, depending on your circumstances.

Students entering school for the first time eagerly anticipate going to school “like the big kids.”

Students returning to school with mental illness (MI) may worry about “the big kids” who bully.

School pressures can cause concern to any student. But for someone with MI, it can easily increase anxiety. And threaten mental stability.

That’s why moms raising kids with MI can also experience increased anxiety late in August. As the start of school creeps closer, her thoughts might become more consumed with her child’s stability.

I remember when Chris was heading back to school the year after he experienced a psychotic episode. Fears swarmed in my head about what might happen.

Will Chris remember to take his medication? Will his medication need to be adjusted? Will other students ask him intrusive questions? Will he be able to handle the pressures of homework? Will he be able to concentrate and think clearly? What will happen when he has to face his first test?

 We needed to get Chris’s supplies in order. But I needed to BE supplied—by God. I needed His provision, peace, presence, and power. God proved to be more than sufficient. He faithfully provided all Chris needed. And calmed my fears.

Moms raising children with MI need help. Back-to-school TV commercials fill us with a sense of urgency to seek God’s help.  Here’s a suggested prayer from one mom to another:

Heavenly Father,

Please help my child find a loyal friend. Place a caring teacher in his path this year. Lead us to a skilled therapist that will connect with my child, and who will teach him effective coping strategies. Guide me to a compassionate school administrator or staff member, who will be a proactive advocate for my child. Provide sufficient finances to pay for expenses that insurance won’t cover. As life gets more complicated, give me wisdom to know how to manage all the details of life. Show me ways I can support my other children, while ministering to my most vulnerable one. And please give me strength to endure. Protect my marriage in the midst of this trial. Finally, I ask that you help me keep my focus on You, rather than on the challenges that may come. Remind me that You’re still on the throne and in control.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen

 Our heavenly Father is able to supply all that and more. He promises to reveal His peace, presence, and power.

“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;

he delivers them from all their troubles” (Psalm 34:17).

This song will help you face each day. The lyrics will remind you that He’ll carry you and your loved ones through. Let King & Country’s song “Shoulders” minister to you:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40wYfjv6yt8&feature=youtu.be

Desert Island Paradise?

Diamond Head Honolulu, Hawaii

Diamond Head
Honolulu, Hawaii

Would you pick up a travel brochure that advertised, “Visit the Land of Sorrow”? Perhaps it would at least grab your attention.

Curiosity might tempt you to peek at the inside pages. You’d read:

The Land of Sorrow promises to be both exhilarating and frightening. There will be times of fear, followed by times of fun.

Pass through the parched Desert of Dried-up Dreams. Then, visit the Island Paradise of Joy-filled Living.

You’d quickly return the brochure to its fellow unwanted pamphlets. That kind of trip wouldn’t appeal to you. The destination would sound all-too familiar. Kinda like life which includes raising a child with mental illness (MI)—a rollercoaster life.

Recently Genesis 41:52 grabbed my attention. My daily devotional included the verse, “God has prospered me in the land of my sorrow” (MSG).

Prosperity in the land of sorrow?

Curiosity tempted me to peek inside the Bible and find out the context.

Genesis 37, 39, and 40 set the stage. Those chapters describe Joseph’s land of sorrow. Out of jealousy, his brothers threw him into a pit and left him to die. Then, they realized selling their brother would be profitable. So, they lifted him out and sold him to the Ishmaelites, who took Joseph to Egypt. There, the captain of the guard’s wife lied about Joseph. So, Joseph was cast into prison. While in the dungeon, Joseph interpreted the chief butler’s dream. Joseph hoped that when the butler was released, he’d convince Pharaoh to release him. But, when the chief butler got released, he forgot all about Joseph.

Then came Joseph’s prosperity. Two years later, the butler finally remembered Joseph. He told Pharaoh that Joseph could interpret his dream (Genesis 41:1-13). Joseph assured Pharaoh, “God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace” (Genesis 41:16b). Joseph’s interpretation pleased Pharaoh so much that he said, “‘You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you … See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt’” (Genesis 41:40-41).

That was just the beginning of Joseph’s prosperity. He and the people of Egypt enjoyed seven years of abundant food. Pharaoh gave Joseph a wife, who bore him two sons.

That’s the part of the story which includes the intriguing verse.

“He named his second son Ephraim (Double Prosperity), saying, ‘God has prospered me in the land of my sorrow’” [Genesis 41:52 (MSG)].

The context gave me insight. Joseph endured hardship in the land of Egypt. Later, he enjoyed prosperity in the same land. It encouraged me to read about someone who experienced an easy life after tremendous hardship. His God could do the same for me. So I read on.

Just as God had instructed in Pharaoh’s dream, Joseph stored up food during the seven yrs. of plenty to ensure he’d have food during the seven yrs. of severe famine. Genesis 41:53-54 reveals the wisdom of God’s advice.

“Then Egypt’s seven good years came to an end and the seven years of famine arrived, just as Joseph had said. All countries experienced famine; Egypt was the only country that had bread” [Genesis 41:53-54 (MSG)].

Can we relate to Joseph?

He was treated unfairly by his brothers, by the captain of the guard’s wife, and by the chief butler. It can seem unfair that we’ve been charged with raising a child with MI (especially if we’re also dealing with other challenges).

Like Joseph, we’ve gone through times of sorrow. We’ve watched our children suffer losses, experience turmoil, or endure depression and anxiety. Some of us have witnessed our children bear paranoia or psychosis.

Joseph prepared for the oncoming famine by storing up grain. We can prepare for the possible re-emergence of MI symptoms by storing up verses.

Pharaoh told his servants, ““Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?” (Genesis 41:38).

The same Spirit, which was in Joseph, is in those of us who have received Christ as our Savior. The Holy Spirit will give us wisdom and discernment to help our fragile and vulnerable children.

We still may get hung up on the taunting question of why. Why did God allow MI to strike our children?

Joseph’s story offers us an end to that torment. Joseph understood that God had a plan for his life. So, he was able to forgive his brothers. He told them, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20).

That presents us with a great challenge. Can we view our circumstances from a heavenly perspective? We may never fully understand God’s purposes for the trials we endure. But, we can be sure His plans are perfect and His love is endless. When life doesn’t make sense, God’s Word calms our fear and confusion. His unchanging Truths help us trust God even if we can’t track Him.

Dear Father,

Help me look past my circumstances that seem so unfair at times. Give me have an eternal perspective. Please prosper me and my family in our land of sorrow. Lead me to verses that I can use during stormy days. Verses that will remind me of Your love and faithfulness. Be gracious to restore joy and peace. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Whatever!

0Path.stones

Long before Twitter, teenagers spoke their own language. Adults didn’t adopt their expressions. But, parents clearly understood their child’s messages. Especially when they were conveyed in grunts or in split syllables (for emphasis).

“What – EVER!” was code for, “I’m not happy about it. But you’re gonna make me do it anyway.”

I confess that secretly I’ve groaned, “Whatever!” to God at times. A publisher’s rejection zapped my contentment before I had a chance seek His peace. A new illness flooded me with fear before I remembered His promises.

My Father waited patiently while I wallowed in frustration. On each occasion, I eventually tired of my disgruntled attitude and turned to Him.

“Father, forgive me for my reaction. I know it’s based on fear. Please help me trust You for this new phase of my life. Remind me that You’re still in control. Strengthen my shield of faith so I, ‘can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one’ (Ephesians 6:16).”

Sometimes I’d groan, “Whatever!” when a new round of symptoms would emerge in Chris. They’d warn of more stress, another disruption in life, sleepless nights, and endless tears.

Are you good at sensing more fragile emotions in your child who has mental illness (MI)? Does your motherly intuition serve you well? Can you discern something is wrong even by hearing a subtle change in your child’s voice?

If you’re like me, your first reaction is to brace for “Whatever!” I think that’s a completely normal and understandable response. Knowing what you’ve been through previously, fear or worry might be the only logical emotions. Who would see an emotional storm brewing and say, “Oh goody! Bring it on! I was hoping I’d have another trial to test my faith.”

It helps me to know that Paul, the champion of contentment, didn’t discover God’s peace in one day (as if some apostolic genius). It was a process. Thankfully, he revealed, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11).

Paul learned to be content no matter what. The unspoken message is that he didn’t get it right the first time, or the second time, or even the third time. Arriving at contentment was a process. The encouraging news is that we too can gain greater and greater contentment.

How can we become more contented in our situations? Here’s the hard news to swallow: through our trials.

Paul lets us in on his secret. Imagine him holding his pointer finger to his lips and whispering, “S-h-h. Listen up. I know life stinks at times. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12-13).

His secret: He learned to trust in God, rather than himself, others, or things.

I find that easier said, than done. My first reaction isn’t worry or fear so much anymore, but it’s often to rely on my own wisdom to figure out a solution. God has proven time and time again to be faithful to His Word. Why is it so hard for me to trust Him sooner, rather than as a last resort?

Thankfully, Paul didn’t stop there in his pep talk to his brothers. He included a word of encouragement saying, “My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

He knew we’d need a reminder that God will meet all our needs. And that He will supply according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.

“Dear Father, Help me get to a place in my walk with You that I can utter with calmness, ’Whatever.’ I know that circumstances don’t change who You are: my loving Father. Give me an image of You standing beside me as I face any trial. Help me feel Your presence and rely on Your promises. Thank You for Your peace that passes understanding, a perfect peace that protects my heart and mind. In Jesus’ name, Amen”

How do you cast your care on Him? Worship songs sometimes help.

Matt Redman sings about a heart that can say, “Whatever.” Part of the lyrics to “10,000 Reasons, Bless the Lord O My Soul” include:

The sun comes up

It’s a new day dawning

It’s time to sing Your song again

Whatever may pass

And whatever lies before me

Let me be singing

When the evening comes

Use Matt Redman’s song as your prayer to God.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pt5VnHYc-4k