Tag Archive | Christmas

Boast

whiter.snow

Adults tell kids not to do it, but do it themselves. Brag. Tis the season for bragging.

“I’m finished all my Christmas shopping.”

“I got a 50” TV for Christmas.”

“We have the most outdoor Christmas lights in the neighborhood.”

“I bake the best cookies—ever!”

Moms raising kids with mental illness (MI) could brag about other things:

“I survived another day with my own sanity intact.”

“In return for unprovoked anger, I answer with gentleness.”

“In spite of physical abuse, I show unconditional love.”

“Even though my spouse abandoned our child, I remained to face his illness together with him”

“Without any end in sight, my faith in the Lord remains strong.”

“I’ve worked harder at parenting without any support or compassion (due to the stigma of MI).”

“I’ve endured silent sorrow for years, longing to see my child’s smile once again.”

What would be the point of that kind of bragging?

Boasting inflates. Instead of boasting about life with MI, we can boast about God. That will reveal His power, while uplifting our spirit.

May your heart swell with renewed hope as you read these verses:

“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; The humble shall hear of it and be glad. (Psalm 34:1-2  NKJV)”

In God we make our boast all day long, and we will praise your name forever (Psalm 44:8).”

“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world (Galatians 6:14).”

“But, ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord (2 Corinthians 10:17).’”

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me (2 Corinthians 12:9).”

“This is what the Lord says: ‘Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, in these I delight, ‘declares the Lord (Jeremiah 9:23-24).”

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God (Romans 5:1-2).”

“For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation (Romans 5:10-11).”

“It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).’”

“Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace (2 Corinthians 1:12).”

“For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh—(Philippians 3:3).”

Also:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud (1 Corinthians 13:4).”

“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith (Philippians 3:7-9).”

“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world (1 John 4:4).”

I love the story in 1 Kings 18:24-38 where Elijah boasted about God’s power:

“‘Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire—he is God.’

“Then all the people said, ‘What you say is good.’

“Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, ‘Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.’  So they took the bull given them and prepared it.

“Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. ‘Baal, answer us!’ they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made.

“At noon Elijah began to taunt them. ‘Shout louder!’ he said. ‘Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.’ So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.

“Then Elijah said to all the people, ‘Come here to me.’ They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the Lord, which had been torn down. Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, ‘Your name shall be Israel.’ With the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs of seed. He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, ‘Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.’

“‘Do it again,’ he said, and they did it again.

“‘Do it a third time,’ he ordered, and they did it the third time. The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench.

“At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: ‘Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.’

“Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.”

Our awesome God answered Elijah’s prayer and displayed His power. And turned everyone’s heart back to God.

“When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, ‘The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God (1 Kings 18:39)!’”

The Lord—He is God! Amen!!!

 

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

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?