Tag Archive | choose

Gratitude and Sorrow?


How many decisions do you think you make each day? Adults make an average of 35, 000 decisions each day.

Some are good, some might be bad, and others might be—hard …really hard…like choosing to be grateful in the midst of sorrow.

Is it possible to choose gratitude in hard times? What might happen if we surrender to sorrow? That decision could lead to the deadly D’s. With us being sucked into the abyss of depression, despair, and discouragement.

Sorrow could be a perfectly normal feeling for a mom raising a child with mental illness (MI). If a child says something bazaar, starts to unravel, refuses to eat or talk, cuts herself, lashes out in unprovoked anger, or abuses substances, sorrow would be a typical emotion. What mom wouldn’t feel deep sorrow while watching helplessly as her child slips away or heads towards disaster?

We wonder what is happening to our MI child when he is away. It’s easy to let our imagination get carried away. For our own mental health, we have to refuse to entertain those fears. When I’m tempted to go down the worry path, I consciously begin to count my blessings.

I’m grateful Chris lives with us. And that he involves himself in constructive activities, rather than isolating. I’m grateful he’s goal-oriented. And that he works to achieve those goals, instead of being unmotivated.

I’m grateful for times we have positive interactions. And that he initiates happy conversations, rather than shutting us out.

I’m grateful when I get glimpses of his intellect, musical ability, or technology talents. And that he’s willing to share those gifts with us from time to time.

Sometimes it’s not that easy to shift emotions. What can we learn from real people in the Bible? The Bible is full of decisions people made.

Some decisions were bad: Jonah decided to run from God’s will.

Some decisions were courageous: The boy David chose to stand up to a giant, in God’s power.

Some decisions were good: The Good Samaritan chose to help the victim of a robbery.

And some decisions were hard: The biological mother of a child told King Solomon to spare her baby’s life and give the boy to the other woman who falsely claimed he belonged to her (instead of dividing the child and giving one half to each woman).

The Psalmist gives us an example of how to deal with negative thoughts and emotions. Many times the writer calls out to God in his despair. Often his cry of fear or sadness is followed by a sharp turn in focus. One tiny word helps him rejoice in God. The word “but” represents a deliberate decision to reconsider his situation in light of God’s power and faithfulness. Essentially, he says, “My situation seems hopeless. But God is able to support, help, deliver, protect, strengthen, and give peace.”

Here’s a list of those “But Verses in Psalms“.

Matt Redman sings about choosing to bless the Lord in all circumstances—good or bad. His song “Blessed Be Your Name” includes these lyrics:

You give and take away

You give and take away

My heart will choose to say, Lord

Blessed be Your name, Lord


Choosing a Focus Word for the New Year


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.”


No One Knows

old couple in love
The elderly woman shuffled out the door of the nursing home. Her husband drove up and got out of his car to open her door.
Her words said, “Oh, you don’t have to do that,” but her smile said, “I love how you pamper me.”
In a strong Russian accent he lovingly replied, “How many times (will) I have this honor?”
In his twilight years, he still considered it an honor to open the door for his wife. And savored each time he had the opportunity. Not knowing how much longer he’d have with his bride. He sincerely cherished the privilege to serve her.

What a blessing it was to witness his caring spirit!
Who knows how long he’s been caring for his wife? Who knows how many decades he’s tenderly helped her?

Who knows how long you’ve been caring for your child who has mental illness (MI)?

No one knows how many times you’ve extended kindness without getting any thanks in return. No one knows the hurt you feel when your loving acts are shunned or not acknowledged by your child. No one knows how hard it is to keep doing it. Day after day.

Our job is often a thankless job. And yet we continue. Why? Love compels us.
Many of us serve family members to honor God. Knowing He sees our compassionate parenting.
God understands our motives and our pain. The Psalmist echoes our desires:
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” Psalm 139:23

Do you ever wish you could simply give up? Get away. Take a vacation from all the responsibilities.
I used to teach second graders. I loved teaching, but hated grading papers. One day, while buried in papers, I whined to my husband, “I HATE grading papers!”
He calmly advised, “Don’t think of it as something you have to do; think of it as something you can do.”

What a transforming thought! I don’t have to view hard work or difficulties as drudgery. It’s my choice how I perceive unpleasant or challenging situations.

Like having multiple sclerosis (MS) in addition to having a son with MI. I can view it as a curse or a blessing.
A fellow MS patient once shared her reaction to the two disabilities in our family. “What a double whammy!”
I replied, “Actually, it’s kinda bitter sweet. Yes, it stinks to have MS. But, my son Chris and I understand each other’s medical challenges. He’s very compassionate about my cognition problems. He once told me he’s glad that he can help me in return for everything I’ve done for him. Chris witnesses the peace God gives me and knows it’s for real.”

We all have a choice. Some days are better than others. Sometimes it’s easier to maintain a positive attitude. Other days, only God’s grace can help us manage a smile.

When I’m having one of those days, it helps me recall the words of a black Baptist preacher. He bellowed his admonition, “Wives, when you wash the dishes, do it AS UNTO THE LORD! Men, mow the lawn AS UNTO THE LORD! Teens, do your homework AS UNTO THE LORD! Children, clean your room AS UNTO THE LORD! Workers, complete your tasks AS UNTO THE LORD!”
The Holy Spirit fills my head with those words. They prod me to keep going as if coaching me through my day. Do it as unto the Lord. That’s right. Do it as unto the Lord. You can do it. Do it as unto the Lord.

A favorite song reminds me of my free will to praise God no matter what. The song, “Blessed Be Your Name” expresses my intention:
“You give and take away. You give and take away. My heart will choose to say, blessed be Your name.”
MS has taken away my ability to teach second graders. But, my heart chooses to say, “Blessed be Your name, Lord.” With an eternal perspective, I’m able to notice the advantages of having MS. Grading papers are gone, and occasional photo shoots are in. I can visit my mother an aunt periodically. How I cherish those get-togethers! Just like that dear man holding the door for his wife, I don’t know how much longer I have with them.

I can sigh, “No one knows what I’m going through.” Or, I can choose to remember Him. My heavenly Father knows. He is well-pleased with my labors. He knows I’m doing the best I can.

Think no one knows? God sees it all. Keep going for Him.
“Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people.” Ephesians 6:7