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Choosing a Focus Word for the New Year

choosing

What word would you choose as your focus word for 2014? Would it be ‘survive’, ‘simplify’, ‘save’, ‘family’, ‘gratitude’, ‘service’, ‘inspire’…?

My word will be ‘choose.’ I discovered it in a pool while water walking. Typically, just getting to the gym is a huge accomplishment for me. It involves ignoring the aches and pains of my multiple sclerosis.

Recently, however, exercising was more grueling. Shoveling snow off our cars had to be done. But my arms were sorer than normal. The whole ordeal got worse when I got into the pool. I heard an annoying sound coming from a nearby utility closet. Steady whirring added to the agony of my exercise. Ugh!

It dawned on me that the bothersome sound had a beat. So I chose to embrace it by matching my steps to the rhythm. Imagining the sound as a metronome distracted me from feeling pain. Synchronized jogging helped relax my mind.

Then I realized that, similarly, I can choose to have more peaceful thoughts in 2014. Romans 8:6 tells me how to accomplish that goal.

“The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”

The Holy Spirit can help me drown out the droning of my concerns about mental illness (MI). I can ignore the bombardment of ugly thoughts. Fears, worry, frustration, self-pity, and anger will not batter my brain as long as I remain focused on His presence.

I can also choose to have an eternal focus. With the knowledge that in heaven there will be no more tears or suffering. No more MI.

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things (Colossians 3:2).”

So my word for this New Year will be ‘choose.’ I’ll choose to accept whatever comes my way. I’ll choose to view circumstances with a positive perspective—filtered through the Holy Spirit.

Listen to the hymn: Finding It Home.

I love to reflect on the words: “Just think of stepping on shore and finding it heaven. Of touching a hand and finding it God’s. Of breathing new air and finding it celestial. Of waking up in glory and finding it home.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1glUFnLC928

Don’t Underestimate Your Influence

PositiveInfluence

Do you ever wonder if you’re helping your child who has mental illness (MI)? His illness may prevent him from thanking you. Your spouse may not acknowledge your efforts. When we near our breaking point, we’re tempted to give up.

This message is dedicated to the countless moms who privately provide support. No one sees all you do. No one could know how you minister to your child, in spite of your broken heart. You’d much rather crawl into bed and cry … for a week or two. But there’s no time for you to grieve.

Recently, I witnessed beautiful motherly care and attention. My good friend sat beside her adult son in a mental health care facility.

She had recently totaled her car, which left her with some back pain. She and her husband had settlement the day after her son was admitted into the hospital. Her husband had paper work to do. So she went to visit her son alone (not knowing I’d come alongside her).

In spite of fighting a cold, she asked all the right questions. Presenting each one lovingly.

“Did you eat last night?”
“How did you sleep?”

“Do you like your psychiatrist?”

“Do you take a walk in the hallway sometimes?”

“Did you have group?”

“What are you thinking?”

Periodically, she gently stroked his arm. Sometimes, she allowed silence.

She reassured him without promising something that may not happen.

“Do you think I’ll be able to go to my Bible study’s Christmas party on Friday?” her son asked.

“Maybe. Hopefully,” was her honest reply.

My friend held it together while in the hospital. Until we stepped outside after visiting hours. The exit door became a faucet for her tears.

I tried to comfort her. “Are you okay?”

“I’m numb,” she said as she softly cried.

I gently stroked her back.

Will her son be released before Christmas? That remains to be seen. Will his new medication restore him to his sweet self? Time will tell.

When is it a good time to be hospitalized for MI? Certainly not at Christmas.

Seventeen years ago Christmas wasn’t a time for celebration. Our son, Chris, had to be hospitalized. Those memories mercifully have begun to fade. Visiting my friend’s son threatened to arouse painful emotions.

“Are you sure you want to go?” asked my husband lovingly. Wondering if it would be too difficult for me to relive reminders of our son’s hospitalization.

“This will be healing for me,” I answered. “I know how much it would have meant if someone sat by me when Chris was hospitalized (if you couldn’t come). Especially if that person knew exactly what I was feeling.”

So I went. And was blessed by what I saw in my friend’s compassionate care of her son.

Her son also impressed me. There he sat in a psychiatric hospital speaking about God’s Word. He quoted verses from the Bible and discussed some of his favorite stories. His shattered cognition didn’t dampen his determination to focus on the Lord. His inner turmoil didn’t rob him of his love for God. My friend can take credit for investing Truth in him. God’s Word promises that His Truth will not come back void.

Isaiah 55:11 tells us, “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”  (KJV)

Can anyone relate to the thankless care you provide for your child with MI? Certainly the Lord can. He healed ten lepers, but only one thanked Him. He died on the cross for the sins of all mankind, but men mocked Him as He hung dying. Spewing anger in return for His unconditional love. Countless still ignore His free gift of salvation.

Christ surely knows what it’s like for you. He sees your faithful labors of love. So seek His approval. He’s well-pleased with you. And know this: you’re having a positive impact on your child even though it can’t be measured.

Hang in there, with your focus firmly fixed on Him.

The song “In Christ Alone” (from the Secrets Of The Vine CD) reminds us that, “Here in the power of Christ we stand.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExnTlIM5QgE

 

Hang onto Christmas Carols

christmas.carols

Preschoolers get words hilariously confused at times. Here’s an adorable mistake one four year old made when singing the last line to Away in a Manger. “The little Lord Jesus asleep on the head.”  Cute, but not correct. Not even close!

Another young child didn’t quite get the words right to Oh Come All Ye Faithful.

“O come, let us ignore Him.” Clearly, we’re not to ignore Him! His gift entices us to adore Him.

Singing favorite Christmas carols can warm the heart. Unless you’re trying to share the joy of Christ’s birth with your child who has mental illness (MI). Unless the songs magnify your pain by reminding you of happier times.

Engaging in familiar traditions becomes more complicated in the context of MI. Getting a family portrait for the Christmas card can be tricky. How do you get a depressed child to smile on cue? It’s a bit difficult to deck the halls while trying to keep an unstable child calm. Mental illness doesn’t take a break during family gatherings.

So why bother listening to Christmas carols? Favorite holiday tunes have powerful messages for us. Scriptural lyrics remind us of God’s love.

What Child is This?

“This, this is Christ the King, Whom shepherds guard and angels sing.”

When we don’t recognize our child who has MI, we can be comforted by these lyrics. What Child is this? We recognize Him. It’s Christ the King. God’s unchanging Child. Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  

“The King of kings, salvation brings, Let loving hearts enthrone Him.”

When life seems out of control, we can remember Christ is still on the throne in heaven. May He remain on the throne of our hearts.

Silent Night:

“All is Calm.”

When MI robs our homes of calmness, we can reflect on that holiest of nights—the night when God sent His Son to bring the promise of peace.

Joy to the World:

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come.”

When we yearn for restored joy, we can reflect on the joy Christ brought into the world and into our hearts. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can have joy in the midst of sorrow.

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen:

“Let nothing you dismay. Remember Christ the Savior was born on Christmas day.”

We can reflect on those words. The Savior who came to save us from sin and death can save us from our trials. We need not be dismayed.

Mary Did You Know:

“Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy will give sight to a blind man? Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy will calm the storm with His hand? Did you know that your Baby Boy has walked where angels trod? When you kiss your little Baby you kissed the face of God?”

When life seems unpredictable or hasn’t turned out like we’ve expected, we can think of Mary’s Child who is always faithful and reliable. We can reflect on Mary and remember she didn’t plan on being our Savior’s mother. God brings things into our lives that we don’t plan. Though we may not understand them, His plans are always perfect. The words to this Christmas carol remind us that we have a Healer, Creator, and King. We have access to His unlimited power and love.

Do You Hear What I Hear?

“Said the king to the people everywhere,

Listen to what I say

Pray for peace, people everywhere!

Listen to what I say

The Child, the Child, sleeping in the night

He will bring us goodness and light

He will bring us goodness and light.”

We can remember He will bring goodness and light to our darkest days.

It Came Upon A Midnight Clear:

“O ye beneath life’s crushing load,

Whose forms are bending low,

Who toil along the climbing way

With painful steps and slow;

Look now, for glad and golden hours

Come swiftly on the wing;

Oh rest beside the weary road

And hear the angels sing.”

Let’s rest beside our weary road this Christmas season to stop and hear the angels sing.

Quiet your hearts as you listen to Carrie Underwood sing Do You Hear What I Hear?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ad7KU9bCTAM

 

All I Want for Christmas

Manger

Is Christmas a time of drowning for you? Not in debt, but in the quicksand of life with mental illness (MI). You may be thinking, “All I want for Christmas is that it will quickly end.”

Christmas lights, gifts, and baking can be reminders of times before your child had MI. The Hallmark TV channel has already begun airing Christmas movies. Plots which contain scenes of Norman Rockwell families. None seem to show how to celebrate the season in the context of MI. Stores have started selling Christmas decorations. None that can silence sadness.

It can feel like life is passing us by. We tend to believe everyone else lives ‘normal’ lives (whatever that means). Life appears to be so easy for others. People don’t know how complicated life is for us—too complicated to participate in favorite holiday traditions.

Oh, how we yearn to feel the joy of Christ’s coming to earth as a babe!

Chapter nine in the book of Matthew tells us about a lady who got caught up in the hustle and bustle of Christ’s visit to her town. Many probably didn’t even notice her. She was the one who endured a bleeding disease for twelve years. No one knew the courage it took for her to fight her way through the mob of people just to get to Jesus. Surely people stepped on her foot, accidentally jabbed her arm, or knocked her down. But she persevered. She needed a Healer. She sought a Lifesaver to rescue her from drowning in the loneliness and isolation of her disease.

Jesus felt His power go from Him. He noticed her and healed her.

Is there a way for us to celebrate Christmas while we deal with MI? Can we view the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season in a new way? A way that will lift our spirits? Can that lady inspire us to say, “All I want for Christmas is Jesus.”

The message of Christ’s birth is sweeping through our towns. We can face the mob scenes just like that lady. A woman who suffered adversity for many years knew how to keep her focus on Christ. Jesus entered her world and she simply wanted to touch the hem of his garment.

We share similarities with the lady in Matthew 9:20-22.

  • She endured a disease which caused her to hide herself. We often hide ourselves in shame.
  • Her disease weakened her and most likely kept her in anguish. We, too, are tired and worn out by MI. In anguish we watch our child with MI deal with life.
  • Surely, she spent all her money on cures – to no avail. We often spend lots of money on psychiatric care for our fragile or tormented child. And wait for restored joy and clarity of thought.
  • She touched Christ’s garment by faith and in secret. We approach Christ by faith and in secret.
  • She needed Christ’s comfort. We, too, seek His comfort—for those in our family who are troubled.
  • Christ called her daughter, speaking tenderly to her. Christ calls all believing women His daughters. We hear Him speak to us tenderly from His Word.
  • Christ honored the faith of that humble woman. He honors our humble faith.
  • Society shut her out, calling her unclean. But that didn’t shut her out from approaching Christ. Society shuts out those who struggle with MI. But that doesn’t stop us from entering into Christ’s presence. In prayer we bring our concerns, hopes, and requests to Jesus.
  • Jesus entered her world. Christ left heaven to enter our world. He made a way for us to get to heaven. He’s acquainted with all suffering. Those are Truths worth rejoicing!

Outdoor Christmas lights don’t have to mock our struggles. They can be beautiful reminders of what we celebrate: Jesus’ presence in our lives.

Emanuel, God with us, is more than a Christmas greeting on a card. It’s a Truth we cling to. We rely on the promise of His presence. He is with us every minute, every day, all year long. Providing renewed hope, perfect peace, heavenly wisdom, and constant protection.

Reflect on the fact that Jesus left heaven for YOU as you listen to O Holy Night sung by Josh Groban:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Zh-yR0pbmU

Where to Find God

Sofieeggs

Kids love Hide and Seek and a good Easter egg hunt. Finding things brings such delight!

Think you’re too old to play Hide and Seek? If you’re like me, you seek God during dark trials.  Finding Him would bring you such delight—and peace.

How can God be found?  July 4th will give us a reminder.  What’s the secret to spotting fireworks? Simple. Look up. In the darkness you’ll find beautiful lights.

Sounds easy. Not so easy when we’re trying to find God in our struggles.

Where are You God? Are You still there? My child’s in torment. How can I help him see Your hand in his life when I can’t find you?

It’s hard to trust Him when we can’t track Him.

CAN God be found? Does He want us to find Him? Yes.

Psalm 14:2   tells us, “The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.”

In Hebrews 11:6   we read His promise that, Anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Deuteronomy 4:29  even tells us how to seek Him.

“But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.”   

Psalm 63:1  gives us an example.

“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.”

1 Chronicles 22:19  tells us, “Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the Lord your God.”  

In Matthew 4:12-16 we read about the fulfillment of God’s promise. That Light will come into the world. God sent His Son to provide light in darkness.

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.”  Isaiah 9:2

His light is much more than a beautiful burst of colors that brightens the sky and quickly disappears. His light illuminates our heart with lasting and perfect peace.

“…because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”  Luke 1:78-79

Where is His light? Remember what you do when you enjoy fireworks: look up. He’s hiding in plain sight.

He can even reveal Himself to your child who has mental illness (MI). Read how he did it for our son:

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God revealed His presence and protection to me when Chris was out of touch from reality. I experienced His faithfulness when Chris was in the psychiatric unit. I felt His peace when Chris went to the partial-care unit. Chris, however, still couldn’t see how much healing had taken place because he was busy making up schoolwork.  His torment pierced my heart.

“God doesn’t love me. Why did He let my life get so shattered?”

I had no response. Only a plea for God.

Father, please help Chris know You still love him. Reveal Yourself to him.

Soon after, God answered my simple prayer in two powerful ways.

Chris gradually weaned back to school. Starting first with only one or two days a week. Building up to a full week. He even started going to musical practices. This was a risky move because it involved a great deal of stress. Students had to audition to be in the jazz band at Chris’s school. The director selected professional-level music. During Chris’s recovery, he hadn’t practiced his trombone. Was he ready? Could he handle the pressure?

One day, the band traveled to a nursing home for a performance. One of the other trombone players, Adam, didn’t show up. So, the director asked Chris to play his part (without any preparation or notice!)

As they were walking up to the stage, he turned to Chris and said, “I need you to play Adam’s part.”

Chris proceeded to sight read the other part perfectly! He even spontaneously created an improvisation solo that would fit the background music. Chris’s fellow musicians were stunned to witness what Chris was able to do. They didn’t’ know the half of it. They didn’t realize he was recovering from an illness that affected his mind.

God revealed His love and faithfulness to Chris when he took several tests. Anyone would be stressed at the thought of taking a pre-calculus test. Chris had to make up SEVERAL in just ten days. On one of the make-up tests, there was a problem none of the other students got correct. But Chris got it correct!

Chris finished that school year on time with all his work made up, earning nothing lower than a B on his report card. A report card which included several college level AP courses.

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Yes, God can reveal His love and faithfulness even to our children who have MI.

Hillsong’s God is Able

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CJfdfNWjRw

Good Friday?

Jesusoncross
Why do we reflect on Christ’s crucifixion? How can we relate to such torture? How can we understand such love?

God transformed a traumatic memory to give me insight. Read how:

The psychiatrist advised, “You have to get Chris into the hospital as soon as possible. He’s becoming very dangerous.”

How am I supposed to get him to the hospital without him first harming me? I hid all sharp objects, but Chris has his black belt in karate.

A few nights later, our family returned home from the movies. Robert and Howie went upstairs. Chris approached me in the kitchen with an audiocassette tape in his hand. Breaking it in front of me he said, “This is what I will do to you.”

Suddenly, he struck my jaw with a karate chop.

Chris turned and walked towards the steps, punching a hole in the wall. I followed him.

Chris walked into our bedroom and began to speak calmly to Howie, as if nothing happened. Unprovoked, he suddenly attacked Howie with a running side kick (a powerful karate foot kick). When he turned toward me, Howie grabbed him.

Quickly, I helped Howie hold Chris down on the floor. Chris’s nose started bleeding. Blood poured from his nose onto our carpet.

With Howie was on one side of Chris and me on the other, I couldn’t see what was happening to Howie. But, I could hear Howie making grunting sounds as if he was getting hurt. Chris thrashed his feet about in an attempt to break loose. kicking me over and over. He cursed at us and growled like a caged animal.

I screamed, “Robert, call 911! Tell them to send an ambulance.”

An army of police officers arrived at our house. I never thought I’d be relieved to have my son handcuffed. But, I was. I knew we would all be safe and Chris would have the best chance of getting better. The police took Chris away in an ambulance. Although Howie and I were exhausted, we jumped in the car and headed to the hospital.

We arrived at the hospital just as the police were escorting Chris into the emergency entrance. We caught up to him. The dark, empty look in his eyes was replaced by a pathetic look. I saw the helpless, pleading look of a son who needed his mother.

“I’m sorry, Mom.”

“It’s OK, Chris. We know you didn’t mean it. You’re just sick. That’s all.”

In the waiting room, Howie and I noticed our injuries. The inside of Howie’s lip was raw and bloody from being hit repeatedly by Chris’s head. There was a large cut on his face just under his eye. I had no cuts. Only bruises. All over my arms and legs.

During the six hours we waited, doctors and nurses tried to get Chris to admit himself. But he refused. He would have to be admitted against his will.

After a while, Chris fell asleep. He was taken to a room in the adolescent psychiatric ward of the hospital.

As we left the hospital, we were given a packet of information. It contained all the rules and regulations of the psychiatric ward. A lot to read after experiencing such an ordeal.

We returned home at 6:00 AM.

Later that day, Howie and I compared notes.
“What were you thinking when we held Chris down, Howie?”
“I felt tremendous sorrow for him. I didn’t want him to get hurt.”
“That’s exactly how I felt.”

Howie and I were careful not to hurt Chris as we held him down. Neither of us minded the blows we received. Even though Chris cursed us, we loved him unconditionally.

That’s how it was with Jesus. His accusers cursed, beat, and whipped Him. Yet, He took the pain upon Himself…For our transgressions. The Lord replaced that dreadful experience with a beautiful reminder of Christ’s love.

As a little girl, I wondered, “What’s so good about Good Friday?” Our experience with our son years ago gave me insight into Christ’s crucifixion. Jesus willingly died because of His unconditional love for us. He preferred to take our punishment so we could have eternal life in heaven.

Do you have a painful memory that haunts you? Christ, who overcame death, can surely transform those troubling thoughts.

Kristyn Getty’s “The Power of the Cross” reminds us of His unconditional love.

Thankful?

 

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  1 Thessalonians 5:18

“The man next door is building a tunnel under the ground and into my room.” Such was the statement born out of the woman’s disease rather than reality. Paranoia filled her mind with scary thoughts. The culprit? An aggressive form of dementia.

Two decades prior to my visit to that nursing home, I met Cathy. I first knew her as our son’s kindergarten aide. Through the years, I came to love her joyful spirit. I got to know her vibrant and sweet personality. At times, she could be mischievous. We shared many happy memories and became close friends. More like family.

It was only a year ago that love radiated from Cathy’s face, words, and actions. Such a stark contrast to her countenance in those unfamiliar surroundings. On that day in the nursing home sat a broken, fearful woman.

An inner sadness tugged the corners of her mouth downward. Sheer discouragement dragged her chin to her chest.

Confused thinking prevented clear communication. Yet, her body language shouted one clear message: I hate this place! I dread one more day living like this!

But, Cathy’s illness couldn’t smother her gratitude. For a brief moment, she lifted her head and whispered,

“Thanks for being here.”  Obviously thankful in her circumstances, not for them.

Aren’t we all like Cathy? In an intolerable situation, we’re grateful when someone comes along side us. At the death of a loved one, we’re comforted by the presence of a compassionate friend. A person who speaks not a word…just silently shares the sorrow.

We can empathize with others who know our sorrow. We can share their discouragement and anguish. Yet, we are not defeated. Why? Because of His unfailing love. Because of His wonderful deeds.

Like Cathy, we can be thankful for His presence. Grateful for His existence in our lives. Appreciative of His protection and provision.

A scared little child finds relief when a parent grabs his hand. Reach out to grab your Father’s hand.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  Isaiah 41:10

This Thanksgiving, we’ll be able to give Him thanks because of His love, help, and presence.

Dear Father, thank You for Your unfailing love and wonderful deeds. (Psalm 107:8, 15, 21, and 31)

I can face tomorrow because I can depend on Your love. Your Word promised that Your love endures forever. (1 Chronicles 16:34 & 41, 2 Chronicles 20:21, Psalm 106:1, Psalm 107:1, Psalm 118:1& 29, Psalm 136: 1-3 & 26, and Jeremiah 33:11)

Back on Track

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”  2 Timothy 4:7

It’s not even Thanksgiving and signs of Christmas are everywhere: in the stores and on TV commercials. The Hallmark channel has already begun their Christmas movies marathon. Ugh!

One Christmas movie featured a toy train set. I got to thinking. What do people love so much about toy trains? Is it the hypnotic, slow pace? Is it the power to control the pace? Is it the Christmas tree lights shining down on the train?

I’m sure the memories are what we love best. Reminders of a safer time in our lives. When life seemed simple and magical.

Most people have perfected the skill of getting a toy train back on track. You gently slide the train back and forth along the track until the wheels click back in place.

Wouldn’t it be nice to solve life’s derailments so simply?

Ever get on the wrong train? Scenes outside the window fill your stomach with a sick feeling. Being on the wrong track is never a good feeling.

Oh no. I’m on the wrong train. I’m headed in the wrong direction. This is so embarrassing. Where will this lead me? How soon can I get off?

Relief comes only when you’re safely on the correct train. Restoration to damaged pride comes later!

God’s people seemed to get off track when they wandered in the wilderness. God constantly got them back on track. They grumbled. God provided. They complained. God forgave and provided.  They whined. God remained long suffering.

When things get off track in life, it’s not so simple to restore smooth traveling. We may not know where we’re headed. Thankfully, our Father is the master conductor of our lives.

Parenting a child with mental illness (MI) tends to get us derailed. Like the Israelites, we tend to worry. Yet, God provides. We fear. God protects. We lose hope. God restores our faith in Him. Gently sliding us back on track. As we focus on familiar scenes of His faithfulness.

We’re not simply on a track leading through the tunnel of MI. We’re fighting the good fight. A battle for the spiritual well-being of our child and our family.  We face spiritual warfare right in our homes.

Yet, tribulation will not separate us from the love of Christ. Romans 8:35-39 assures us that nothing can separate us from the love of God. We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

When I see evidence of the enemy’s attempts to taunt or torture my son, I get angry. I quote Romans 8:35-39.

How are you fighting to keep the faith and to restore His peace?

Halloween and a Troubled Mind: A Bad Combination

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

I have multiple sclerosis (MS). Heat and MS are a bad combination. Heat and humidity make my aches more painful.

So, I avoid them at all cost. There are things I can do in my home. Lowering the temperature revives me. Air conditioning is like medicine. Closed blinds scream, “Sun, do not enter!”

But, outside searing rays are all around. Exposure to the heat seems inevitable during the summer. Am I doomed to a reclusive life four months of the year?

No! I refuse to be banished from outdoor activities. A cooling vest, a battery operated hand-held fan, and a large floppy hat protect me from burning temperatures. Life is more bearable. Avoiding a bad combination is the key.

Others know the dangers of harmful exposures.

The diabetic refrains from binging on sugar. The lung cancer patient ceases from smoking cigarettes. Sweets and smoking feed those diseases. Resisting past indulgences improves one’s health.

What should someone with mental illness (MI) avoid? Halloween. Exposure to disturbing images can’t be good for someone with MI. Such a person needs relief from distorted thinking or turbulent emotions.

Should we resign ourselves to the steady diet of ugliness October brings?

No! We can refuse to have our children’s heads contaminated with grotesque get-ups masquerading as fun costumes. And feed our kids spiritually healthy food instead. Filling their minds with joy and hope.

The Bible is our sword of defense. God’s Truth can shift the focus to pure and pleasant thoughts. That’s how we combat their troubled thinking and dark emotions.

When Chris was recovering from his first psychotic episode, I gave him a 2” X 3” Bible verse card each day.  He kept it in his pocket. That tiny card became his private lifeline in the midst of assailing ugly thoughts. During his school day, he had instant access to biblical truths.

Whenever he began to feel overwhelmed, fearful, or sad, he reached for the card. Healing promises refreshed his soul. Helping him to refocus on God’s love.

I, too, find refreshment in His Word. Reflecting on God’s faithfulness gives me strength. I feed on the promises of the Bible. They are a feast for my heart.