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Discouraged?

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Colonial Williamsburg

Ever notice that fears feed discouragement? You’re afraid of what might happen to your child with mental illness (MI) and your worrying grows. The problems inflate to a size too massive to handle.

I can’t begin to figure it out. What if school problems get worse? What if his new medication doesn’t work? What if our insurance won’t cover the new medication? What if we can’t find a better therapist? Giving up isn’t an option. Where can I go to escape this trial?

You’re not alone in wanting to escape. Take Elijah. He was so fearful that he felt completely isolated. He went into a cave. There he cried out, “‘I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.’” [1 Kings 19:10 (NKJV)]

The Lord met Elijah in his loneliness. He spoke to him in just a whisper.

“And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice” [1 Kings 19:10-12 (NKJV)]

Listen to part of what God told him:

“‘Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.’” [1 Kings 19:18 (NKJV)]

Elijah had become so discouraged that he thought that he was the only person left who had not bowed to Baal. Boy was he wrong! A whopping seven thousand others in Israel had remained faithful to God.

Things aren’t as bad as they seem. God understands our despair. He has words to encourage our hearts. He’ll meet us in our loneliness and discouragement. Not in the wind, or an earthquake, or a fire. But in a still small voice. We just need to tune into God’s soft messages. But how do we do that?

The Lord gave me insight when our piano was being tuned.

A friend of ours came to our house to tune our piano. While he worked, I did my devotions. The piano tuning drew my attention away from the Bible. I wondered, How is he able to tune our piano by ear?

Then I realized he had developed his keen musical ear as a music teacher. The more time he spent listening to notes, the easier it was for him to discriminate between pitches.

My mind shifted back to my devotions, but then continued to wander again.

How can I develop a keen ear to hear God’s voice? Probably the same way. The more I listen to His words, the easier it will be for me to distinguish His voice from all the other noises in my head. But how can I hear God’s messages for me?

With the piano-tuning serenade in the background, God whispered to me. “Remain in My presence and you’ll hear My voice.”

Remain in His presence. That’ll help me get my heart tuned up. 

With deeper focus I searched for verses about being in God’s presence.

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast”  (Psalm 139:7-10).

His presence never leaves us.

“You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence” (Acts 2:28).

His presence fills us with joy.

“This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence” (1 John 3:19).

Our hearts can rest in His presence.

So next time I’m discouraged, I’ll rest in His presence and tune into God’s still small voice.

 

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God knows.

parched land

From the ground, the residents may not be able to see the impending doom. But I could see that the river was drying up. That’s because I was in an airplane.

Are you like that river? Are your mental, emotional, and spiritual resources drying up? Is it getting harder and harder to find one more drop of compassion? One more trickle of tenderness? Has your energy evaporated? Are you just so tired? Worn out. Do you fear your caregiving drought is on the horizon?

No one can really tell how dried up you feel, but God knows. Things look different from His vantage point.

There are times we wish that we could just get away. Or at least mentally escape the concerns about our children with mental illness (MI). If only we could refrain from worry, even for just one day. Do our husbands or loved ones know just how much we need a break? Maybe not, but God knows.

Can a mom temporarily put her concerns on pause? If she did, who would attend to the needs of her most vulnerable child?  Isaiah 41:17 promises that “The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the Lord will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them” (Isaiah 41:17).

God will not forsake us or our children. God knows we need to be rejuvenated. Isaiah 35:1-2 assures us that God will restore life in a parched land. As we walk in our MI wilderness, we’ll witness God’s restoring power.

“The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom …they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God” (Isaiah 35:1-2).

I’ve learned that God is able to provide quiet moments with Him in the midst of chaos or uncertainty. He has arranged times when I could take a mental break from my responsibilities. The key was putting ALL my cares in His hands. The challenge was to trust that God knows all—what I need and what each of my family members need.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8

Completely relinquish your child into the hands of God who loves him more, knows all, and has unlimited power. Trust God to give you a much-deserved break. God knows you need it!

Listen to Yalonda Adams’ song, ‘Still I Rise’  where she rejoices that, “God is able to strengthen me.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tfj-UDua9RE

 

Surviving Survival Mode

Tyler Park Newtown, PA

Photo taken by Vicki Chandler at Tyler Park Newtown, PA

How would you describe your life raising a child with mental illness (MI)? Have you ever witnessed your loved one’s sweet personality engulfed by psychosis? Could you even begin to explain what it’s like to see that loved one in a psychiatric unit? How would you describe the impact that had on your life and your family?

A close friend’s four-word description spoke volumes: “We’re in survival mode.”

How would you convey that message? What details would you share to help someone understand ‘survival mode’? Here’s my attempt to further clarify those two words:

Survival Mode

It’s a minute-by-minute existence.

An emptiness filled with despair.

Trivial cares swallowed by mental illness.

Secretly crying, “This isn’t fair!”

There ARE no adequate words to describe what it’s like to see your own child in a psychiatric unit. Broken and in torment. No wonder our hearts break when we learn of friends enduring the same anguish.

That’s precisely why my heart is breaking. Just thinking about their ordeal brought it all back to me (the times our son endured a psychotic episode). Their news filled me with empathy. Empathy led to pain. Pain thrust me to a local park. There, I found a temporary escape from the distractions of the world. There, I found the oasis of God’s creation.

Just two side notes:

The park is located in a very congested Philadelphia suburb. So, if you feel drawn to escape distractions (for a short time), I’ll bet you could find a quiet corner of your world. If it’s not possible for you to escape your home (while watching your child), perhaps a video I made will offer you a virtual escape.

There are many families dealing with similar unspeakable trials. The details may vary, but the sense of loneliness is the same. If that’s you, I wanted to share my heart in a more personal way. So, I grabbed my video camera and tripod. And headed to the park. The brief message I recorded (below) isn’t a professional-quality movie. It’s just sincere words of encouragement, from my heart to yours.

https://youtu.be/DBID02_zNJ8