wave wave.2  wave.3

Listen to me!!! The sister of an unstable woman tried to warn police.  She told authorities that her sister was, “talking about demons prior to leaving the residence with her three young children.”

The NY Daily News article provides the account of what happened next. The police followed up and stopped Wilkerson’s car. They found no evidence of an unstable woman at the wheel. She appeared calm and the children seemed happy. The officer sent her on her way. Unfortunately, symptoms of mental illness (MI) aren’t always recognized by strangers—even officials.

Wilkerson’s sister had every reason to be concerned. She sensed doom.

Hours later, bystanders watched in horror as Wilkerson drove her SUV directly into the ocean. Witnesses heard the children’s screams for help and sprang into action. Ordinary onlookers sprinted toward the SUV.  Hurdling over waves, they reached the vehicle before it got swept into the ocean. Thankfully, those bystanders rescued all three children. Just before waves engulfed the vehicle and swept it away.

The outcome could have been tragic. Why didn’t the authorities heed the sister’s warning? Ineffective laws prevent authorities from taking action when a family member senses danger. Often the danger isn’t apparent to others.

When we’re brave enough to reach out to others, do they understand?  Usually not. How can they? Should we expect them to know what it’s like to live with someone who denies having MI and refuses treatment? Would they be able to comprehend our sense of helplessness? Sometimes relatives or church members even blame us for our child’s behaviors. Little do they know how much we invest into the lives of our kids with MI. How hard we try. How much we pray. How often we cry.

Some of us get to the point when we realize our own need for help. Does reaching out help? Sometimes. Some of us have found well-qualified health professionals. Perhaps you’re like many who have taken your child to several doctors and received a different diagnosis from each.

Or maybe you’ve mustered the courage to confide in others. Only to discover that even relatives or church members misunderstand. Instead of support, they pile on blame.

Are you tempted to drive into the ocean of despair? See Christ in your storm of life and reach out to Him.

Reaching out to God always helps! Our heavenly Father is in the business of rescuing His people. When Pharaoh’s chariots pursued the Israelites, God parted the Red Sea.

God’s people rejoiced and sang, “I will sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea.

“The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.

“Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?

“The Lord reigns for ever and ever. (Exodus 15:1-2, 11, 18)”

Aaron Keyes wrote about God’s power in ‘Song of Moses.’ See if you can relate to those lyrics:

Though the storms of hell pursue, In darkest night we worship You

You divide the raging sea, From death to life You safely lead

 Oh praise the Lord our mighty warrior 

Praise the Lord the glorious one

By his hand we stand in victory

By his name we’ve overcome

Life will not engulf us. We will not drown in MI. In our darkest night we CAN worship Him. By His hand, we’ll stand in victory.

Let those lyrics minister to you.

2014 Winter Olympics


Looking forward to watching the Olympics? So am I. Click on the link below for your 14 pg. printable version of NBC’s TV coverage (I used the info. provided by Sports Media Watch and created a pdf document). Share it with your friends!

Winter Olympics 2014 TV schedule

Other helpful links:

NBC’s TV coverage

Schedule of all the Events

Preparing for the Storm


What do ants and Solomon have in common? Wisdom.

“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 4:30).”

“Four things on earth are small, yet they are extremely wise: Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer (Proverbs 30:24-25).”

Why do I care about that little fact? Will I ever be a king? No. Will I ever be an ant? No! But the ant teaches me an important lesson. Be prepared.

This winter we’re getting slammed with snowstorms. I just cleared snow off our cars. Again. sad.face  Whew! Now I can rest.

Yesterday I got my invitation to join the preparedness party. Local meteorologists sent this announcement:

Who: All ‘guests’ living in the northeastern section of the US

What: Another impressive storm: a massive clipper system, followed by an arctic blast

When: All day Tuesday and into Wednesday morning

Host: God would provide the decorations. Snow and plenty of it.

Dress: Layers of clothing, boots, hats, mittens…

I joined all the invited ‘guests’ who headed straight to the food stores to stock up. I wound my way through crowded aisles grabbing all the items on my list. The expressions on people’s faces said, “I’m so done with all this snow. Enough!”

Getting ready for storms requires certain rituals. We reluctantly engage in them. Experience has taught us it’s wise to be prepared. We can weather the storm if we’ve planned ahead.

How ‘bout the storms of life? Do we prepare for them? Hardly. Most people don’t even entertain thoughts about facing a trial. But mental illness (MI) forces us to expect anything. It can hit any day or any minute. A child with MI can be unpredictable.

Often it seems turbulence in the home (due to MI) can’t be controlled any more than swirling winds in the sky. Are there things we can do to minimize the impact of an emotional storm? Yes.

Stockpiling would be the recommended strategy. During calmer days, load up on Bible verses. Mentally fill all the corners of your brain with passages from scripture. Then when troubles come, God’s Word will sustain you.

During some of our most horrific moments, it wasn’t possible to sit and read my Bible. Dangerous situations dictated that I stay alert. Often, in the midst of a crisis, a verse popped into my head. One that comforted me. Verses like:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33).”

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:37-39).”

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you (Isaiah 26:3).”

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).”

Word to the wise: be ready for anything. The time to prepare is now. Feast on His Word. Then, just as I rested after clearing off the cars, rest—in Him.

Only our Lord can prepare our hearts. Reflect on His perfect work in you as you listen to ‘Sanctuary.’

Emotional Pain of Bullying


Vicki's Picture Book

Vicki’s Picture Book

“What if my son wasn’t bullied?”

Is that thought among your what ifs? Do you wonder what role bullying played in your child’s mental illness (MI)? Thinking maybe bullying caused it.

Bullying is painful for the target and for the victim’s mother.

Our son, Chris, was the object of bullying throughout school. His ADHD made him an easy target. Other kids knew how to torment him in class without getting caught. If Chris told them to stop, he’d be the one to get in trouble for disrupting the class. His belongings were often taken from him. Kids teased him at recess. Even beat him up. He got so taunted on the bus that I drove him to and from school.

As he got older, it got worse. In sixth grade Chris became a latch-key kid. My new job prevented me from driving him to and from school. He had to take the bus. When he got off the bus, children harassed him. The school district said there was nothing they could do. The police advised against taking action. Saying it would only enflame the situation. So each day when I came home I’d check him for bruises. Then I’d comfort him and repair his damaged self-esteem.

Just when things seemed like they couldn’t get worse, they did. In high school he joined the marching band. I often watched his peers walk past him as if he didn’t exist. A form of bullying that says, “You’re not worthy enough to be acknowledged.” Someone even pulled a knife on him. In college a teacher whacked him on the head with a book because he slept in class. NOTE: His medication made him drowsy.

Undoubtedly, bullying impacts mental health. The website addresses the effects of bullying. They state, “Bullying is linked to many negative outcomes including impacts on mental health …”

Some children are bullied more than others. Even just one traumatic event can scar someone emotionally. It’s time to update the old adage: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never FOREVER hurt me.” Emotional scars can last a lifetime.

Ask my mother-in-law, Mary. When she was alive, she frequently told the story of an incident that happened when she was eight years old.

At home, her parents spoke Ukrainian. So, Mary pronounced ‘soup’ by saying ‘zoup.’ In second grade she told her teacher, “I’m having zoup for lunch.”

Her teacher asked her to repeat what she said.

Mary repeated it and the entire class laughed at her. Including the teacher.

Mary told that story over and over again … even 85 yrs. after it happened.

Bullying has impacted my life as a bystander, parent, educator, and administrator. That’s why I wrote a picture book to empower bystanders. Children who witness bullying are often too intimidated to tell an adult. There seemed to be a need for a book to help bystanders. One that parents and educators could use to teach bystanders what they can do to prevent bullying. Heart Eyes: Beth and the Bullies is now available on Amazon in print or as an eBook.

What’s the worst kind of bullying? Would it be when someone is threatening a person’s life? Imagine if your best friend’s father was trying to kill you? In the Bible we read about David. His best friend’s father, Saul, repeatedly tried to kill David.

David didn’t understand why he was so persecuted. He asked his best friend, “What have I done? What is my crime? How have I wronged your father, that he is trying to kill me?”  (1 Samuel 20:1)

Later in 1 Samuel 30:4 we read how things got so bad that, “David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep.”

Have you ever cried that much over the tragedy of your child’s life?

The same God who protected David’s life can minister to you. David strengthened himself in the Lord his God (1 Samuel 30:6). Find inner strength in the Lord your God.

We can praise God in our storm because we know He’s with us. ‘Praise You in the Storm’ by Casting Crowns reminds us of that truth.



Surviving a Child’s Suicide

Rick and Kay Warren

Rick and Kay Warren

Mental illness (MI) is once again in the news. Sadly, another mass shooting took place at the hands of someone who apparently suffered from MI. The shootings at the Navy Yard in our nation’s capital rocked the nation. Left us all grieving, stunned, and angry. Why does this keep happening?

Rick Warren, author of “The Purpose Driven Life” and pastor of Saddleback Church, knows what it’s like to have a child with serious MI. They faced a parent’s worst nightmare: the loss of that child to suicide. In April 2013, Matthew killed himself.

Matthew Warren

Matthew Warren

Last night, Pierce Morgan used his show to interview Rick Warren and his wife about MI and gun violence. The entire hour-long interview sounded like a message from the pulpit. Rick and his wife shared about pain, sorrow, grief. Yet their responses were sprinkled with unshaken faith in God, and words of hope. They spoke of seeing their son once again in heaven. And honestly admitted to nagging unanswered questions.

Here’s a portion of that interview:,0,3592656.story

Here’s another link:

When we’re going through a trial that seems like it could defeat us, it helps to turn to someone who’s experienced it and survived. Rick Warren is one of those people. He had to live what he’d been preaching. Now when he speaks, people can’t say, “That’s easy for you to say.” He’s living proof that God is faithful. Our Father upholds the weary. And comforts the sorrowful.

Spend some time listening from Rick yourself. On his church’s website, he has a series entitled “How to Get Through What You’re Going Through.” Pick one of those that would most meet your current needs. Here’s one:






Can there be humor after hurt? Can laughter flow from a person with a broken heart? Or does trauma extinguish a sense of humor? Trauma like the movie massacre in Aurora, Colorado.

A year ago, we watched the horror on TV. Our hearts broke for the innocent victims. We knew those who lost loved ones would endure the worst possible grief—the loss of life snatched away through a senseless act of violence. The survivors would forever have gruesome images seared in their memories. Could they ever laugh again?

It’s still hard to imagine the horror those movie goers experienced. Have twelve months healed their hurt?

Inspirational stories are being told about how the victims are moving on with their lives. Most are recovering. But many still have to deal with physical injuries. And endure emotional scars. One girl said she’d never eat popcorn again.

Television aired reports of how friends, families, and survivors marked the anniversary of the carnage. I joined Americans as they reflected back.

Last year as I watched the news of the shooting in Colorado I struggled with flashbacks. It brought back memories of Chris threatening to kill me if I gave him medicine.

Hearts broke for the innocent victims. Mine included.  I also felt for the shooter’s mom. I could identify with her—the mother of a son with serious mental illness (MI).

I subjected myself to hours of watching the disturbing news in hopes of hearing a compassionate word for the mother. But any references to the parents were spoken in judgmental tones.

“What kind of parents could raise such a monster?”

The daily dose of the news began to wear on me.

Vicki, you’ve got to stop watching the news.

Attending my Christian writer’s critique group would give me a break. Keep my mind off the nightmare that awakened my nightmare.

The shooting was on the minds and hearts of all the ladies in the group. As they described the events, emotions swirled in me. I suppressed them like holding back vomit. My flashbacks were sabotaging the serenity I sought.

Their comments switched to descriptions of the shooter.

“Such a depraved mind.”

“What a monster!”

“Evil. Pure evil.”

Suddenly, I burst into tears.

“I’m sorry. I’m having a hard time dealing with this. It’s brought back memories. I’m having flashbacks. It could have been my son. I know what it’s like to have a son with serious MI. There are MILLIONS of other moms raising children with MI. Who feel helpless and hopeless. They need to know they’re not alone. To know the hope, peace, and protection God can provide.”

In one voice the ladies came to my emotional rescue. Their compassion soothed me. They compelled me to write about it.

“You need to write an article for” (an online Christian newspaper). I sure didn’t embrace that idea.

Who would willingly open old wounds?  Freely reflect on their worst painful memories? Soon realized I had a story to share. One of hope.

Writing the article proved to be a labor of love. The project involved reliving my own dark trial. Memories I tried to suppress.

A week later, I presented an article to’s editor at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writer’s Conference.

“In order to publish this article, Vicki, we’ll need a press release from your son.”

On the way home from the conference, I prayed.

Dear Father, if You’ve called me to share Your story of faithfulness and love to millions of other moms raising kids with MI, have Chris agree to sign a press release. Help him to be in a happy and agreeable mood when I get home.

When I arrived home, I found Chris in a good mood. I explained the article and the need for him to sign a press release.

“Sure, Mom. I’ll sign it.”

“First you better read the article, Chris.”

I dreaded asking him to read it. Any mom would do anything to spare her child undue sorrow. I didn’t want Chris to relive the experience, but he had to know what I wrote.

Chris read the article and still agreed.

“We might need it notarized, Chris.”

“Okay. I can go with you tonight. They might still be open. I’ll go change”

I went to my computer to print out the press release I’d drafted. Chris stood quietly at the door. In a casual tone of voice he said, “Mom, I didn’t threaten to kill you.”

I matched his casual tone and replied, “Yeah, Chris. You did.”

In a more serious tone Chris said, “I don’t remember saying that.”

In a more serious tone I replied, “Well Chris, you did.”

In a very pointed and direct manner Chris said, “I would NEVER do that.”

I knew the very thought of him threatening my life was too painful for Chris to bear. He couldn’t imagine doing such a thing because it was so unlike him—so unlike the sweet young man he was before MI struck. I believed he didn’t remember it. Mercifully, his MI hid such a horrible memory.

Now I needed him to understand that he threatened me. He had to know I wasn’t writing lies in the article. So, I had to tell him the details.

“Every time I tried to give you your medicine, you told me you’d kill me. You thought the medicine caused your mental instability. You held a screw driver inches from my face and threaten me.”

Looking at the floor Chris answered in a soft and sad tone. “I’m sorry, Mom.” Then he walked away.

Chris has to know I understood it was his MI.I knew he was ill. I forgave him.

I tried to call out and console him, but choked back tears. From his room he yelled, this time in a playful tone. “Okay, Mom…cry later. We gotta go.”

What an amazing man! Just after learning such horrible news about his behavior during a psychotic episode, he still kept his sense of humor.

Hurt and humor. An unlikely pair.  When things are terribly sad and tears no longer help, sometimes humor refreshes a weary soul. Guess that’s why in Proverbs 17:22 we read, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

Can’t summon a sense of humor? Borrow a smile from kids…Their voices in worship just might put a bounce back in your step.





Need Support

flying buttress
Do you feel like you’re ready to collapse? Like you need to be supported by flying buttresses to remain standing.

Life that includes a loved one with serious mental illness (MI) can knock you off your feet. You regain your balance and resume your walk through mundane tasks. Then, BAM! Some bazaar behavior or unexpected comment hits you. Once again, the wind is knocked out of you. Time of prayer restores the pep to your step.

Along comes another whack. This time, it’s a diagnosis (or MISdiagnosis) or a blunt recommendation made by a specialist (who seems to have no clue what you’re going through). Blindsiding you. Like you’ve been demolished by a Mack Truck. Making you an emotional wreck. As if your feelings got churned up a meat grinder.

Weary from it all, it gets harder and harder to stand on your own two feet. Does that describe your life?

How can we go on when life hits us from all directions? When we’re too worn out to even stand.

Last week, President Obama spoke about getting knocked down. On April 18, 2013 he gave a message at the interfaith memorial service in Boston. He said, “Like Bill Iffrig, 78 years old — the runner in the orange tank top who we all saw get knocked down by the blast — we may be momentarily knocked off our feet, but we’ll pick ourselves up. We’ll keep going. We will finish the race.”

Pick yourself up. Just keep going. Sounds easy enough. Not so!

Moms who have a child with MI may need support. We need human buttresses—people to come along side us. Loved ones who will keep us from crumbling under the pressure.

Years ago, I worked as a Bible instructor at a Christian camp for handicapped children. One adolescent camper, Bruce, was huge in stature. His large physique was exceeded only by his big smile. The joy of the Lord lit up his face.

His mental retardation didn’t prevent him from memorizing hymns—every verse and chorus. His beautiful voice drew you into his world…a world where intellectual abilities are irrelevant. A world where rejoicing reigns supreme. Anyone who joined Bruce in his world of praise experienced his heavenly serenity.

Yes, Bruce could sing. But, he couldn’t roller skate. He needed support to stay erect on skates. The first year, it took six strong camp counselors to hold him up. He crept along like a floating tree powered by human training wheels. Skating ever so slowly. Inch by inch.

The next year, he needed only five supporters. The third year, it took only four. Eventually, he was down to only one helper. Then, it came. That moment of victory. The helper let go. Bruce stood on his own!

That’s a picture of what God will do for you. He’ll send human buttresses. His people to support you. As many as you need. For as long as you need them. Until you can stand on your own.

Or, He alone will miraculously help you move forward. He promises you, “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. For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” Isaiah 41:10, 13

Sometimes, it’s in the power of Christ alone that we can stand. Let those words minister to you as you listen to “In Christ Alone.”



Yesterday athletes’ agony became America’s agony. The bombs that blew up in Boston tore through flesh and emotions. Confusion gave way to fear and thoughts of terrorism. A marathon turned into mayhem.
All our hearts go out to the people in Boston. Those who lost loved ones. Those who were injured. Those whose dream of finishing the marathon was severed by an act of terrorism.

What’s your version of a mom’s agony? Having a child with mental illness (MI) missing, losing that child to suicide, suffering the anguish of innocent lives taken at the hands of your child with MI, or experiencing the daily challenges of the child living at home (disrupting the peace in the family, trying to stay calm so as not to trigger violence or break from reality)?

Rick Warren just experienced the horror of losing a child with MI to suicide. An unbearable tragedy. Inflicting unimaginable pain.

The parents of the Aurora Shooter suffered the anguish of innocent lives taken at the hands of their son. Who could withstand such public shame in the midst of that nightmare? A nightmare that doesn’t end.

A mother of a missing child battles relentless torment. Dealing with the daily struggle to fight back fears. Fears of what might be happening to her vulnerable son or daughter.

Anyone struggling with the daily challenges of MI in the home knows how it can wear you down…almost cause you to lose your own sanity.

Each person’s trial can be agonizing at times.

According to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, the definition of ‘agony’ is: intense pain of mind or body.

Does that describe your state of mind? Is your pain intense?

Is your mind troubled by thoughts of what’s happening to your child? Or do fears of what might happen plague you?

Regardless of the details of each mother’s trial, there are some similarities. Helplessness. Exhaustion. Strain on a marriage. Heartbreak for siblings who don’t get equal attention. Agony.

Christ experienced agony. He knew exactly what would happen to Him. He’d experience emotional torment from the soldiers’ mocking. The soldiers He’d die to save. He’d endure physical torture from the beating, forty lashes, and crucifixion. He’d suffer unfamiliar spiritual pain from the weight everyone’s sin.

As the day of His crucifixion approached, what did He do?

“Being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” Luke 22:44 (NKJV)

God honored His earnest prayers and enabled Christ to carry out God’s plan. To willingly die for our sin.

“So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.
Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, ‘Who is it you want?’
‘Jesus of Nazareth,’ they replied.
‘I am he,’ Jesus said.” John 18:3-5 (NIV)

We can survive each day by depending on the Lord. For Him to provide hope, guidance, healing of minds and marriages…

When our pain becomes agony, we can follow Christ’s example and pray more earnestly. God will honor our prayers and enable us to carry out His plan for our lives. To willingly face another day in anticipation of His faithfulness. God is bigger than any problem we face or fear. Nothing is impossible to Him.

Let Hillson’s song ‘This is How We Overcome’ minister to your heart:

I Can Relate to Adam Lanza’s Mother


My son, Chris

In the wake of yet another mass shooting, many want to know what the Connecticut gunman’s mother knew.

As a mother of a son with mental illness, I have an idea. Assist News Service posted an article I wrote. Check out that article.

Not All Become Shooters


What’s so remarkable about a man who raised three children? He accomplished that and more, against all odds and in spite of his mental illness (MI).

As a baby, his twin brother died from a rat bite. Several years later, his father died in a war. His grieving mother had an abundance of children, but little money. She unleashed her anger on the man and his siblings.

In desperation, the man’s mother remarried. But soon after, his step-father lost an arm in battle. The great depression fueled his mother’s fury and frustration. As money dwindled, her rage grew. The abuse escalated.

So, in his early teens, the man left home. Farmers took him in. He worked on the farm before and after school to pay for his rent. During the day, he got teased by fellow students. Thick glasses and poverty seemed to give them license to taunt.

His days consisted of farm chores, school attendance, field labor, and homework assignments. Nothing more. No play. No friends. No family. Except the man’s older brother who stayed in touch with him.

The man attended college, financed by his older brother. Upon graduation, he got hired as an electrical engineer. Marriage, children, and a home in the suburbs came soon after. Followed by an earned master’s degree. Which led to depression. Treated successfully by medication.

The man’s children grew up and married. His son earned a Ph. D. from Harvard University. His two daughters became special educators and married. One of his grandsons became a physician. Another grandson is currently working on his advanced degree at Harvard University.

Who is the man? My dad. My hero. My son’s role model. Although cancer took his life years ago, his life is an example of someone who contributed greatly in spite of MI.

What do Abraham Lincoln and Brook Shields have in common? How ‘bout Ludwig van Beethoven and Catherine Zeta-Jones? Or Jesse Jackson Jr. and Herschel Walker? Or Vincent Van Gogh and Princess Diana?

They’re all famous people who contributed richly to society in spite of their MI.

Mental Health Advocacy Inc. has a lengthy list of people with MI living successful lives. Their point: people with MI have something to contribute.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) also has a list: “People with Mental Illness Enrich Our Lives” demonstrates that MI impacts people in all walks of life. It affects famous athletes, politicians, actors, artists, musicians, scientists, etc.

We can’t relate to the rich and famous. But, we can relate to the human spirit. The desire and drive to make a difference.

NAMI’s list reminds us that someone with serious MI can live a victorious life. Yes, it’s a struggle.

But, we are not alone:

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”  (Deuteronomy 31:6)

We can be more than conquerors:

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”  (Romans 8:37)

We often hear horror stories about MI. Like the mass shootings in Connecticut and Colorado. Anxiety can consume us after hearing those stories. Seldom do we hear success stories. How encouraging it is to know many people live fulfilled lives in spite of their MI.