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On the Brink

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When we’re on the brink, does disaster always follow? Or can something wonderful happen? If everything around us looks bleak, can we feel anything but worry or fear? Or can we be filled with a calm assurance?

Moms raising kids with mental illness (MI) have teetered on the edge of disaster… times when we’ve stood by helplessly watching our child lose control or hope.  Some have witnessed their typically placid child suddenly lash out in violence. Others have seen their normally exuberant child shrivel up in despair.

Is it possible to face an uncertain future with optimism? When healing and restoration seem impossible, can we remain hopeful? There’s a man in the Bible who shows us that it IS possible.

Joshua and the children of Israel faced an insurmountable obstacle—the Jordan River.  How would they cross that body of water? God instructed Joshua to, “Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river’” (Joshua 3:8).

God had commanded that the priests literally take a step in faith and stand. They had to trust that the One who created the seas would reveal His mighty power over that river.

It wasn’t like when the Red Sea blocked the way. In that case, God’s people took their first step on dry land.

With Pharaoh’s army fast approaching, God separated the Red Sea and provided a way of escape. God’s people didn’t have to step into the water. Moses lifted his staff and the Red Sea opened.  They first witnessed the miracle of divided water before they took their first step.

But, Joshua’s priests literally stood on the brink of deep waters. God asked them to move ahead in faith, without first witnessing a miracle. Could they trust God to provide a way out? Or would fear of drowning prevent them from moving ahead?

What did they choose as they stood on the brink? Fear or faith?

Joshua 3:15-16 provides the account:

“It was the harvest season, and the Jordan was overflowing its banks. But as soon as the feet of the priests who were carrying the Ark touched the water at the river’s edge, the water above that point began backing up a great distance away at a town called Adam, which is near Zarethan. And the water below that point flowed on to the Dead Sea until the riverbed was dry. Then all the people crossed over near the town of Jericho” (NLT).

They took a step in faith and stood in the turbulent water. And God was instantly faithful to His people. He dried up the Jordan so they could cross.

Are you struggling with that choice as you stand on the brink? Do you wonder if you can take a step of faith and stand, without fear of drowning in sorrows?

Our Good Shepherd of Psalm 23 is still in the business of providing and guiding.  He calls us to dip our toes in His oasis of care.  When we’re thirsty for relief, the psalmist reminds us to, “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him” (Psalm 34:8).

Dictionary.com defines “on the brink” as “a crucial or critical point, especially of a situation or state beyond which success or catastrophe occurs.” Success or catastrophe. Why does God take us to a crucial point where we anticipate some sort of extraordinary ending? Joshua’s story helps us understand God’s purposes.

For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God” (Joshua 4:23-24).

There’s the answer: “He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful…” He takes us to the brink so that everyone might know the Lord’s is powerful. He gives us tangible reminders of His power. So that we’ll remember His power is greater than all our troubles.

I love the psalmist’s prayer about being on the brink:

“God, you did everything you promised, and I’m thanking you with all my heart. You pulled me from the brink of death, my feet from the cliff-edge of doom. Now I stroll at leisure with God in the sunlit fields of life” [Psalm 56:12-13 (MSG)].

May you enjoy your stroll with God today.

Power for the Powerless

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Could the gunman’s mother have prevented the Dallas June 13th attack? Once again, the nation’s attention is on parents of a killer with mental illness (MI).

As you watched the drama unfold, did you scream at the TV and yell, “That man is obviously mentally ill. The mental health system is broken! Who is there to help when an adult with MI goes off his meds?” We couldn’t help but fear for the lives of law officers. And pray that innocent citizens would be safe.

After it all ended, the investigation began. All-too-familiar questions were raised. Where there warning signs? How could a man with a troubled mind and past gain access to an arsenal of weapons and an armored vehicle?

Did you sympathize with the mother? How much did she know? What had she already endured? Stories soon came out with reports.

Yahoo’s online article “Dallas suspect had talked of ‘shooting up schools and churches’” (by Jason Sickles), shared a quoted made by the gunman’s mother. Sickles reported that, “Boulware’s mother told a detective that her son ‘talks to himself quite frequently and appears delusional, but also said that he is not taking any medications.’”

Her son had gone off his medications. She verified what we suspected. Those of us raising kids with mental illness (MI) can only wonder how Boulware’s mother felt. After the recent incident, Jeannine Hammond, Boulware’s mother, provided some insight.

She released a statement which was quoted in The Daily Mail’s article “Crazed Dallas gunman went on nine-hour rampage after losing custody of his son to his own mother as judge who oversaw case says ‘I knew this would happen’” (by Kelly Mclaughlin, Kieran Corcoran, and Thomas Burrows). The article stated, “Hammond wrote in a statement released by an attorney … She said that he talked to himself ‘quite frequently and appears delusional …We apologize to the police for his behavior … We loved him and will remember him as the man he was before all of this took place. We are so grateful that no other families are having to bury anyone because of his actions.’”

Surely, Jeannine Hammond is grieving the loss of her son. Her statement reveals that she knew her son had MI. It also tells us that she didn’t stop loving him and never forgot what he was like before MI ravaged his life and the lives of others.

Feeling Powerless?

We can just imagine how powerless she felt to prevent such an attack. But, she wasn’t alone. Apparently, even a judge was powerless to prevent the attack.  The Daily Mail’s article reported about a judge who encountered Boulware in her courtroom for a custody hearing. The reporters shared that Judge Kim Cooks stated “Boulware threatened her multiple times after the custody trial and said she was ‘in shock’ after hearing about what happened at the police headquarters.” They went onto quote Cooks as saying, “‘’I knew he was going to do something, but I always thought his target would have been me.’”

If that judge couldn’t stop that man who threatened her life, who could?

It’s worth emphasizing that most individuals with serious MI don’t become killers. But, moms raising kids with MI can surely identify with a mother who feels powerless to help her child. A daughter has an eating disorder and a mom tries to get her to eat. A son is severely depressed and the mom tries to get him to talk, smile, or do anything. A son explodes verbally or physically and a mom is no match for his unprovoked anger. An adult prodigal with MI calls home periodically. His mom tries to convince him to take care of himself (to take his meds and not attempt suicide). To no avail.

Helpless and powerless find power. Our Source of Power:

Is there power for the powerless? Yes. There is One who can work in the hearts and minds of our children. Our almighty Father created the entire earth into existence simply by His word. Surely, God has the power to protect and guide His creation—our kids and us.

Just think about His incredible power. He said, “Let there be…” Instantly, He spoke beauty on the earth in all kinds of species, rock formations, and constellations. Held together by Him in perfect order and in breathtaking colors.

Stopping to reflect on such amazing power helps shrink the size of our problems. Suddenly, they seem smaller in light of His awesome strength.

His power is unmatched and personal. We need to remind ourselves that we have access to that power.

Sun and Son:

Solar panels rely on the sun for power. They serve as reminders to us. We can rely on God’s Son for power. His power gives us strength to endure each day.

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“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 1:18-20).

On days when MI seems like an unconquerable foe, repeat that passage over and over again. Then, ask God to make that power real in your life.

Dear Father,

Thank You for assuring me that Your incomparably great power is for me. If Your power can conquer death, I will trust it to do a mighty work in my child’s mind, heart, and life. Increase my faith and help me see evidence of Your power today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Power: It’s blowing in the wind.

Wind turbines use wind to make electricity. They remind us that it’s God who causes the wind to blow, giving power to the turbines. Our almighty God, who controls the strongest tornados, has power carry us through.

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“The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life” (Job 33:4).

Dear Father,

Breathe new life into me today. As Your Son used His power to calm the wind and waves, calm my heart. In Your Son’s precious name of Jesus, Amen.

“You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people.

Praise be to God! (Psalm 68:35).

Desert Island Paradise?

Diamond Head Honolulu, Hawaii

Diamond Head
Honolulu, Hawaii

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prosperity in the land of sorrow?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can we relate to Joseph?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Father,

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

Follow Close

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“No matter where we go on a field trip, there’s one important rule to follow,” I advised my student teacher. “Return with the same amount of students.”

What’s the trick of keeping track of twenty-five eight year olds? Constantly count to make sure no one has wandered away. And appoint a chaperone to walk at the end of the line.

As long as my students followed me, they were safe.

We’re like those young children. It’s necessary for us to follow the One who can keep us safe.

Many of us raising a child with mental illness (MI) can’t see where life’s headed. Sometimes it’s like driving in a blizzard. The white-out conditions make it difficult to find the road. And blind our eyes to the curves ahead. We peer into the distance, trying to find safe patches of road. Holding our breath as we maneuver through unknown territory. Bracing for slick spots—icy patches in the road that would send us spinning out of control.

Suddenly we spot two faint dots straight ahead. Could it be another car? As we inch our way closer it becomes easier to identify the lights. We breathe a sigh of relief. Another car IS driving ahead. Casting light onto the road.

Thank You, God. I’ll just follow those tail lights.

There’s relief in following a leader. Especially when God is the One pointing the way.

But in the midst of our trials, it’s sometimes hard to find God. Job described his search.

“Oh, that I knew where I might find Him. Look, I go forward, but He is not there, And backward, but I cannot perceive Him; When He works on the left hand, I cannot behold Him; When He turns to the right hand, I cannot see Him” [Job 23:3a, 8-9 (NKJV)].

Can you relate? Do you look into the past to see if God left any hints that your child would become depressed, suicidal, psychotic, enraged, or tormented? Do you try to track God in your current circumstances, wondering if He’s working at all? Do you look into the future and try to figure out how God could help your child?

Job was able to endure great losses because he followed God. In the midst of his suffering he stated with assurance that God “knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside. I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread” (Job 23:10-12).

We, too, can follow God’s steps by treasuring His Word. God goes before us as our guide. He speaks to us through scriptures.

In the Bible we all find comfort for our broken heart.

The mother of a child who displays unprovoked anger and rage finds the Source of unconditional love and long-suffering. As she trusts in His powers to help her endure, she looks to the One who can restore perfect peace in her child.

The mother of a psychotic child finds godly wisdom to know where to turn for help.

The mother of an emotionally fragile child finds examples of Bible characters who found inner strength from the Holy Spirit.

The mother of a troubled child without a clear diagnosis reads about a Creator who knows all. He knows thoughts before they are spoken and numbers every hair on heads. She can rest in the knowledge that He will guide experts to finding a diagnosis.

The mother of a suicidal child finds promises of our Protector who can prevent harm.

The mother of a MI prodigal can sleep a bit easier when she reads about our omnipresent and omnipotent Father (who is everywhere and all-powerful).

In the New Testament we find Christ’s desire for us to follow Him. Jesus invited many to follow Him saying, “‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” (John 8:12).

We also read about how to follow. There was one woman who followed so close to Christ that she could touch the hem of His garment. What led her to follow so closely? Mark 5:25-26 tells us, “A woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse.”

Sound familiar? Has your child “suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors” and gotten worse instead of better? Have you spent all you have on therapists?

No wonder the woman knew she’d get relief from her suffering if she could only touch Christ’s clothes (Mark 5:27-28).

Not only did Jesus heal her, but he sent her away with these words, “Go in peace and be freed from your suffering” (Mark 5:34).

So ‘maintain a safe distance’ when traveling through life. Stay close to Jesus. He still frees people from suffering and helps them go in peace.

 

 

 

Cast

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Imagine having enough money to hire someone to worry for you. The designated worry wart would provide you with care-free thinking and peaceful emotions. Their job description: take on all your anxiety. Specific tasks would include: wringing hands, enduring sleepless nights, and imagining worst-case scenarios (however unrealistic). The trusted employee would promise to: never share any of their negative thoughts or painful emotions with you, never offer you any advice to improve situations, and never pass along encouraging words to you.

Sounds like an enticing proposition, huh? It would only work if you turned over your concerns completely. Holding anything back would keep you in the worry loop. Maybe having enough money for that extravagance isn’t your biggest problem. If you’re anything like me, the complete release would be the greatest challenge.

Why do I find it so hard to leave my concerns at the throne of God?

Recently football gave me insight into why I withhold my cares. A quarterback has to fully release the ball in order to be part of a successful pass completion. Once he throws the ball, he relies on the skill of the receiver to catch it. Not every ball is caught. Athletes are human.

But we have access to a perfect Receiver. If we toss our cares heavenward, God has promised to receive them. However, we must fully release them. We know He has the almighty power to handle our problems. We sometimes lack the willingness to trust Him with all the details.

Here’s a peek into my half-hearted trust:

Heavenly Father, please protect Chris as he ventures into the city. Thank You that You go with him wherever he travels. I know You love Chris with a love more perfect than mine.

As night falls and Chris hasn’t yet returned, the worries I held back begin to emerge.

Did Chris wear warm clothes. What if he missed the last train out of the city? Has he been harmed?

I’m like a quarterback who thrusts his hand forward, while keeping his fingers tightly gripped on the ball. What’s the point of worrying? Do I really think it will do any good?

My worrying leads to guilt feelings. I feel like my faith is weak and I’ve failed in my walk with the Lord.

Thankfully, God knows I’d need assurances. He leads me to these reminders:

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken (Psalm 55:22).”

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).”

The next time I’m facing a potentially worrisome event, I’ll picture my thoughts tucked inside a football. With my mind’s eye focused on God, I’ll imagine throwing the package full of care His way. And “watch” my fingers unfold from the ball and fold again in prayer.


Raising a child with mental illness (MI) can be a lonely journey. Other words which include ‘cast’ come to mind. Like castaway. Do you feel like you’ve been cast aside? Left all alone like a castaway?

Have you been so devastated that you feel downcast? On the brink of depression?

Imagine Christ putting a cast around your heart. Like a cushion to stabilize your emotions while they heal. Feel His arms embrace you. And cast your eyes upon Him.

The lyrics of “Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus” remind us of the benefits of shifting our focus towards Christ.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,

Look full in His wonderful face,

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,

In the light of His glory and grace.

Rest in His peace as you listen to ‘Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus’ by Alan Jackson

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nO4uIyz_d90

Calgon take me away, PLEASE!

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How can water help when you’re drowning? Would staring at it help? How ‘bout tossing a coin into it, with a wish all your troubles would vanish?

Maybe you could hold it all together if your sole responsibility was to parent a child with mental illness (MI). But MI doesn’t come in a vacuum. For me it comes with being a wife, mother to my son and his wife, grandmother to their two daughters, patient of multiple sclerosis…

Perhaps water could help. A marine biologist believes water has stress-reduction qualities. I read about it in Washington Post’s article By Eric Niiler “‘Blue Mind’ explores the calming effect that water has on people.”  The title grabbed my attention.

The article, posted on Jul 28, 2014, had huge implications for people living with MI. Marine biologist, Wallace J. Nichols wrote a book entitled Blue Mind to share his research findings. He found evidence of the healing power of water.

In a telephone interview with The Post Nichols was asked, “What is ‘the blue mind?’”

He replied, “It refers to a mildly meditative, relaxed state that we find ourselves in when we are in, on or under water. It’s something I’ve been experiencing and observing my whole life.”

So the solution to our troubles lies in immersing ourselves in water. For how long? Could we go on a scuba diving excursion and return home to a normal life? I doubt it.

I do believe the key lies in water, however. Passages which involve water offer much hope. In Mark 4:38, for example, we read about how Christ, “rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.”

It’s easy to give into feelings of abandonment. We’re tempted to cry, “God, where are You?” It helps to know Christ’s disciples looked at the turmoil surrounding their sinking boat and assumed He didn’t care. They dared ask Him, “‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown (Mark 4:37)?’”

Christ didn’t rebuke the disciples. He rebuked the wind. Because of His love for the disciples. He wants us also to bring our cares to His throne of grace.

We can pray to the One who calmed the wind and waves:

Dear Jesus,

I don’t know why my child has MI. But I believe You care about my child, my family, and me. I praise You for Your power over all things. In the midst of this tumultuous time, calm my fears. Restore peace in my child and household. In Your precious name I pray, Amen.

That prayer could be whispered in complete confidence that Christ hears and answers. Or it could be spoken with uncertainty.

Did He hear that? Was He listening? Will He answer? It’s possible. Maybe. I hope so. What if He doesn’t?…

Rough waters give us a picture of doubt. James 1:6-8 describes the prayer of one with shaky faith.

“But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do (James 1:6-8).”

When Chris was a toddler, he’d ask me for his lunch. I’m pretty sure he didn’t follow up his request with these thoughts:

I wonder if my Mom will feed me today. Did she hear me ask for my lunch? Should I ask again? Did I remember to say ‘please’? She fed me yesterday, but maybe she’s too busy today.

A young child can be certain of his earthly mother’s love and care. Jesus used our imperfect love to help us understand God’s abiding care.

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him (Matthew 7:9-11)!”

His point: we can ask with certainty that God hears and answers.

It’s nice to have data from a marine biologist to validate what we know: water is relaxing. It’s also refreshing. But the living water Christ spoke about in John offers much more than quenching a thirsty mouth. Jesus promises that, “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them (John 7:38).”

Several commentaries help us understand the richness of that promise.

Benson’s Commentary explains that whoever believes in Jesus, “shall not only be refreshed and comforted himself, but shall be instrumental in refreshing and comforting others.”

God’s comfort can flow through us to our hurting and vulnerable child with MI.

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary provides this insight: “The comfort flows plentifully and constantly as a river; strong as a stream to bear down the opposition of doubts and fears. There is a fullness in Christ, of grace for grace. The Spirit dwelling and working in believers, is as a fountain of living, running water, out of which plentiful streams flow, cooling and cleansing as water.”

God’s comfort is limitless. No matter how often we seek His comfort, we can be sure it will never end.

Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers describes the indwelling power. “There is in him a power of life which, when quickened by faith, flows forth as a river.”

We have unlimited comfort and grace flowing through us. Now THAT’S refreshing.

So I don’t cry, “Calgon take me away!” Instead I cry, “Christ, flow through me today!.”

Where will my child fit in?

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Mental illness (MI) has a way of altering parents’ expectations for their children. Howie and I just want Chris to be happy and healthy. But Chris wants more. Can you blame him? He’s a typical adult who yearns to live on his own.

When Chris graduated from college he realized what a tremendous accomplishment it was. He gave himself permission to take some time off. During those years he occupied himself constructively. Often he’d work on computer projects for himself or for others. He also spent time working out at the gym and by volunteering at the Christian school where I worked.

Now Chris is ready to find a job that would provide enough money for him to move out.  I’d love to point him in the right direction and say, “Check that job out. It would be perfect for you. I know the manager.” But Chris is an adult. He wants to search on his own. So I have to trust God to guide him.

I don’t know about you, but that’s hard. You think by now I’d be an expert at trusting God. To place Chris in the loving and capable hands of the Creator of the universe. It helped me to remember a driving lesson I had with our other son, Rob.

Rob had had about four lessons. So he felt like an expert. Before he pulled away, while the car was still in park, he revved the engine. With a playful grin he said, “Watch this!”

To say the least I didn’t find any humor in it. It took all my emotional resources to find the courage just to let my baby sit in the driver’s seat. He lacked experience and ability so I could not rest easy while he drove. It was necessary for me to be alert, on the lookout for any possible danger that he would not foresee. As he gained more experience I felt more comfortable with him driving. Not nearly as comfortable as I would feel if God were in the driver’s seat.

That thought floods my mind with a vision of God at the wheel. As I pass the keys to Him I say, “Here are the keys to my life’s journey. Here are the keys to Chris’s exploration of job possibilities. Here are the keys to my heart.”

He looks at me with a smile and says, “Watch this!” I sit back and relax. I’ve witnessed Him drive me safely up MI Mountain. He faithfully protected me around winding curves in our journey. I’ve grown to trust Him as the expert Driver of my life. So this is just a new road to travel. He knows the way. I’ll just enjoy the scenery.

When my faith in Him wavers, I’ll recall past experiences. Memories of His provision and protection during heart-wrenching episodes with Chris’s MI.

We’ve invested so much in the lives of our vulnerable children. So I think it’s only natural for us to plan our child’s future. We try to figure out where our child with MI will fit in. That can be mentally and emotionally exhausting. We need to cast those cares on the Lord. Knowing He will carry that burden.  He’s been faithful before and He’ll provide again.

Our experiences with MI give us a peek at His power. We can be assured He has a plan for our child’s life and a purpose for him. And He’s fully able to guide our child towards that purpose.

“A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”  Proverbs 16:9

So here’s what I pray for Chris as he applies for jobs:

Dear Father,

Help Chris be sensitive to Your leading. Reveal to him Your plan for his life. Close doors to activities which would cause undue stress and open those You’ve prepared for him to enter. In Jesus’ name, Amen

Dictionary.com defines work as, “exertion or effort directed to produce or accomplish something; labor; toil.” I have multiple sclerosis (MS). At a support group meeting a mother of a child with MS said, “I tell my daughter that her job is to take care of herself.” I appreciated that comment. My progressive illness makes it harder and harder for me to contribute. It’s necessary for me to do water walking to maintain my mobility. Getting to the gym requires tremendous effort. Without a doubt it’s ‘exertion to accomplish something.’ Doing that exercise is like running a marathon. It’s work.

People ask me, “What do you do?” They expect to hear the typical answer. Like what I do to earn money. Sometimes I proudly answer, “I water walk.”

We can help our kids understand that part of their job is to take care of themselves. That’s nothing to be ashamed of. Beyond that there are other things your child can do with his time. The Bible is a great place to find possible “occupations.”

Spreading the Gospel

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:19-20).”

I know a young man who has serious MI. He also loves the Lord. All he wants to do is tell others about Christ. He spends his time going to church and Bible studies. In spite of the emotional turbulence he feels and the voices he hears, he smiles and talks about Jesus. Now THAT’S a life full of meaning!

Doing Good Works (helping those in need, visiting the sick, helping the poor, etc.).

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).”

“This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men (Titus 3:8).”

“But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’  Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also (James 2:18, 26).”

“My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth (1 John 3:18).”

“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me (Matthew 25:37-40).’”

Bringing Joy Into The Lives Of Others By Sharing A Talent

“And so it was, whenever the spirit from God was upon Saul, that David would take a harp and play it with his hand. Then Saul would become refreshed and well, and the distressing spirit would depart from him (1 Samuel 16:23).”

“Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people. (Philemon 7).”

Our Chris has his father’s musical gift. He can pick up any instrument and play it. He’s shared his talent by playing in church and at nursing homes.

Perhaps your child is creative in other ways. Maybe he’s able to paint well or sculpt. Those projects could become gifts for loved ones or sold on a website.

If you think your child has nothing to offer the Lord, think again. Scripture tells us that weaker members have an important purpose.

“There is [absolute] necessity for the parts of the body that are considered the more weak. And those [parts] of the body which we consider rather ignoble are [the very parts] which we invest with additional honor, and our unseemly parts and those unsuitable for exposure are treated with seemliness (modesty and decorum) …But God has so adjusted (mingled, harmonized, and subtly proportioned the parts of) the whole body, giving the greater honor and richer endowment to the inferior parts which lack [apparent importance] [1 Corinthians 12:22-24  (AMP)].”

The world may consider individuals with MI to be less important. It’s comforting to know God gives them greater honor.