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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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Strange

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In the midst of the Christmas gift-giving, my mother noticed something odd. With a frisky tone of voice, she pointed out, “Howie’s listening to a glass … we’ve lost him.”

All eyes shifted to see my husband, who in fact was holding a glass to his ear.

Howie explained, “My ears are hot and the cold glass—”

“No need to explain,” interrupted my mom, playfully. With a frolicsome smile, she spun her hand at the wrist as if wiping his explanation away.

Her implied message, said in jest: we love and accept you no matter what you do.

Here’s the thing about strange behaviors: some are easy to accept. Others: not so much.

Strange, Funny, and Humorous:

Some strange actions tickle our imagination and make us laugh. Like unusual things captured on YouTube videos.

Babies are always a favorite subject in YouTube videos. Like the ones in these “Funny Baby Videos”:

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

Add music and narration to funny animals and you’ve got a hilarious funny animal video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOr8ryJUOyQ

Strange, and Not So Funny:

Mom’s raising kids with mental illness (MI) often witness strange behaviors in their own homes. Seeing our children act in unusual ways is far from funny. It’s concerning and heart-breaking. The strange happenings seem so foreign to “normal” life. We convince ourselves we’re the only ones enduring such an abnormal existence.

If people could peek into our home, they couldn’t possibly understand such bizarre behaviors. No one would believe what’s going on in our home.

The fact is there are countless other moms who WOULD understand. Because they’ve also faced what we’ve faced. There is nothing we’ve experienced that hasn’t been experienced by other moms throughout all time. And since others have experienced and are experiencing what we’re going through, we’re not alone. Others understand.

Solomon guarantees that, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

We can be sure of Solomon’s insight because, “God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore. Solomon’s wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the people of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt” (1 Kings 4:29-30).

So Peter cautions us, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12).

Strange and Accepted:

Think about your child who has MI. Is there anything he would do that would make you stop loving him? Are there any behaviors that would seem so extreme that you’d lose your compassion for him? No. Your love is unconditional.

The rest of the world may think our kids are a bit odd and seek an explanation. But, like my mother, we simply say in our hearts: “No need to explain.” And love them no matter what.


 

NOTE: This message is not to imply that life with a child who has MI is full of strange behaviors. Unexpected behaviors may occur, but they’re not constant. Life is simply complicated. A lot like everyone else’s life: full of ups and downs, twists and turns. Happy times and hard times.

 

Comfort Food

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Mom’s Sweet Potato Casserole

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Thanksgiving Turkey

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Grandma’s Homemade Chocolate Cake

I sat at the kitchen table planning my day, not expecting the surprise. Without saying a word, Chris presented me with a soft pretzel. He simply put the treat on the table and left the room. His gesture satisfied my taste buds and warmed my heart.

It was the best comfort food I had eaten in a long time. Because it came from Chris. One of his most admirable character traits is thoughtfulness. Happily, mental illness (MI) hasn’t ravaged his thoughtfulness. Chris gives the best gifts ever.

Chris knew I’d appreciate a soft pretzel from our local pretzel store—the only place we ever go to buy pretzels. The blessing lingered long after I had devoured the pretzel, because it was a for-no-reason gift. They’re the best kind!

A side note: Philly is known for its soft pretzels. But not all soft pretzels are created equal. No self-respecting resident of Philadelphia would settle for a street vendor’s “soft pretzel” (and I use that term loosely when used in reference to those cold and hard cheap imitations). A true Philadelphian seeks out stores which bake soft pretzels daily on the premises. Those soft and warm pretzels are made with only the finest dough.

I’ll cherish that memory of Chris giving me comfort food. It’s usually moms who provide comfort food. What is it about food? It arouses emotions and triggers memories. It’s enjoyed in the context of happy social events. For those of us raising kids with MI, food can be thought of in the context of two periods in our lives: times before MI hit, and times during and after MI.

Food triggers powerful memories: Before MI struck, our lives were full of happy food-related events. Christmas cookies remind me of when I baked cookies with the boys each year. Popcorn reminds me of the countless weekends the whole family went to the movies. The Ground Round Restaurant was the place our family regularly ate with the boys’ grandmother. Strawberry jelly reminds me of when I picked strawberries with the boys (and returned home to make jelly). The smell of hot dogs transports me to all the football games where the boys participated in their marching band performances.

We still enjoy happy food-related events with Chris. They’re even more precious to me now.

Food for kids with MI: Once MI became part of our lives, food took on a different role. It became part of Chris’s treatment plan. His neuropsychiatrist helped Chris understand how different foods could help or hurt his emotional stability. We learned, for example, that carbohydrates can impact emotions. Note: Scroll down to find a few links to articles written on the subject of nutrition and MI.

Food expresses love, compassion, and appreciation. We bake to bless others. We cook meals to encourage a patient or widow. We plan parties to celebrate accomplishments. The Bible is full of references to food.

We read of God’s compassion toward widows when He gave instructions regarding food for them (Deuteronomy 24:19-21).  That’s a reminder that His heart is compassionate toward us.

We read of God’s provision to His people in the wilderness, when bread came like rain from heaven and quails covered the camp (Exodus 16: 4, 11-19, 35). That’s a reminder that He provides for us.

We read of God’s promise to give “food in due season” (Psalm 104:27-28 and Psalm 145:15).

Christmas season—reflect on what Jesus did with food:

Christmas is a great time to reflect on events that involved Christ and food. Each one reminds us of what we need most. Moms raising kids with MI need to remember God’s love, Christ’s power and provision, Jesus’ ever-present life surrounding us, and His second coming (when there will be an end to our sorrow and to our child’s torment).

  • Christ multiplied food to demonstrate His power and provision. (Mark 6:32-44)
  • Christ’s birth was evidence of God’s love for us. (John 3:16)
  • He celebrated the Passover with his apostles, foretelling his death and resurrection.

We have the assurance that He is alive.


 

NUTRITION AND MI:

In an article, “Carbohydrate Reward and Psychosis: An Explanation For Neuroleptic Induced Weight Gain and Path to Improved Mental Health?” researchers state that, “evidence for nutrition interventions to improve psychotic symptoms has received little attention.”  Authors of the article, Simon Thornley,  Bruce Russell, and Rob Kydd, go on to say, “Carbohydrate modified diets may also provide an adjunct to antipsychotic medication, potentially limiting unintended effects such as weight gain and adverse increases of other indices of cardiovascular risk.” Their concluding remarks include this recommendation: “The common link drawn between eating, psychosis and mid-brain dopaminergic reward, logically, suggests that psychosis may be improved, by modifying carbohydrate consumption.”

In Mental Health Foundation’s online article, “Diet and Mental Health” they warn about the impact carbohydrates can have on emotions. They recommend that people, “Avoid sugar and sugary drinks, cakes, sweets and puddings. These are loaded with calories but have little nutritional value and may trigger mood swings because of their sugar content.”

Dr. Daniel K. Hall-Flavin clarifies the impact food has on mental illness (MI). The Mayo Clinic posted his article titled “Is it true that certain foods worsen anxiety and others have a calming effect?” In it, Dr. Hall-Flavin specifies which carbohydrates would benefit someone with anxiety.

Eat complex carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are thought to increase the amount of serotonin in your brain, which has a calming effect. Eat foods rich in complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains — for example, oatmeal, quinoa, whole-grain breads and whole-grain cereals. Steer clear of foods that contain simple carbohydrates, such as sugary foods and drinks.”

Thanksgiving: Praise and Prayers for Those Suffering

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What comes to mind when you think of the word ‘spread’ at Thanksgiving? For most people, that word conjures up fond memories of a huge feast. A golden turkey surrounded by Aunt Sally’s stuffing, Cousin Sarah’s sweet potato topped with marshmallows, Ben’s bean casserole, and more. Followed by another spread of desserts. Apple pie a la mode, pumpkin pie, and the ever-popular Grandma’s homemade chocolate cake.

Sitting around the holiday table with loved ones can be uncomfortable—in more ways than one. We pig out on the food. And wind up stuffed. Uncle John raises awkward conversations. And we wish we could crawl under the table.

As Thanksgiving approaches, a mother raising a child with mental illness (MI) might have additional things on her mind. Instead of enjoying fond memories of a food spread, some of us fight emotions. Fear spreads as we conjure up thoughts of worst-case scenarios.

Will my child with MI be stable enough to join in the celebration? Will other family members be accepting of him? What if his symptoms emerge? How will others react if he doesn’t eat? How will I respond to probing questions? Can I bear seeing him sitting in a corner all alone another year?

Most Americans pause to thank God on Thanksgiving. Surely, those of us raising kids with MI have a list of praises for God at this time. That He’s protected our own sanity, if nothing else. Wouldn’t it be a relief if Thanksgiving was also a time to send prayers for those who are suffering?

We may feel alone in our journey, but we’re not the only ones who suffer. Everyone suffers at one time or another. President Lincoln demonstrated his awareness of that fact in his Thanksgiving Proclamation. Find his words of compassion in a portion of that proclamation:

“I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans. mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.”

Lincoln was referring to the suffering of the nation faced with civil strife. He invited citizens to pray for ‘the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.’ Those same words could be applied to us.

Here’s my Thanksgiving Day prayer for you:

Dear Father,

I thank You for how You’ve provided for mothers raising children with MI. For those who have seen Your hand in their lives and who have seen improvement in their children. I’m grateful for Your protection. For each mother reading this, I now ask that You give ‘full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union’ in her home.  May Your love spread in the hearts of each family member. Bless each one with a truly joyous Thanksgiving Day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Windows: A Source of Peace and Contentment?

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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?

Never-ending

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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!

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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

 

Boast

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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!!!