Tag Archive | emotions

Unbreakable

Humpty.best

 

Have you entered Humpty Dumpty’s world? Do you feel like you’re teetering on the brink of destruction? About to fall apart?

Mom’s raising kids with mental illness (MI) didn’t choose the wall we’re ‘sitting’ on. Our emotions are as fragile as our children’s at times. We wonder who will put us together again if we splinter. Thankfully, we don’t have to rely on all the king’s horsemen and all the king’s men who couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again. Our heavenly Father is the King who holds us together again. And again.

When our child has a great fall, God holds us together. His loving arms are there to catch us. And soften the blow.

Our Creator was, “before all things, and in him all things hold together (Colossians 1:17).”

In Him all things hold together. Creation. Our lives. Our child. And us.

The Bible assures us that we will not shatter in the face of our trial. God’s power in us is unbreakable.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:7-9).”

We have evidence of His power all around.

As long as chairs don’t disintegrate when we sit on them, we know that God holds the molecules together. As long as we can enjoy beautiful waterfall, we know God’s invisible gravity is still working.

Each season reminds us God is still revolving the earth around the sun. Each sunrise assures us God is still spinning the earth on its axis.

Life seems chaotic at times. But we can trust in His invisible order.

A magnet holds photos on our refrig. Representing God’s control of unseen forces. Birds migrate to just the right place. Showing us God is in control of guiding His creations. Water evaporates and later falls again as rain. Proving God is in control of cycles in life. Our bodies heal from colds and cuts. Demonstrating God is in control of the healing power He created in all of us.

He’s also given us visible examples of His masterful designs. Each person’s DNA proves there is order in His creations. We have visible displays of His order in each unique thumb print or snowflake. We find it in the colorful patterns on each butterfly or on Macaw birds. Exquisite symbols which tell us, “God can restore order in your life.”

We spot His power in creation. We detect it in forces like gravity. And we can sense His power working inside of us. Keeping us from breaking.

Listen to ‘Because He Lives’ and picture God holding you while He holds the future in His hands.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4M-zwE33zHA

 

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Overtaken

race.overtaken

 

 

 

It’s rare when a teenager teaches his parent something. That’s what happened when our son, Rob joined the track team in seventh grade. A completely new venture for him.

“Mom, do you wanna come watch our first home meet?” Rob asked.

“Sure. I’ll be there.”

I approached the bleachers with great anticipation. Excitement filled my heart. Butterflies fluttered in my stomach. The gun signaled the start of the race. My face beamed as I watched Rob spring into action. Hope oozed through my tightly-squeezed folded hands. I rocked in pace with his step as if I could help him soar.

Gradually, the pack of runners divided into two. A bunch of fierce competitors bolted ahead with the speed of gazelles. A smaller clump of runners drifted further and further back. I found Rob in that back bunch. Runner after runner overtook him. Every competitor passed him. All but one.

My hands went limp. My heart sunk. I began searching for wise words to give Rob. How could I console him?

Oh well. He tried. But that kind of loss will surely make him want to quit. Should I let him quit?

At the end of the meet, I waited in the car to take Rob home. I spotted him approaching the car and braced myself. Then I noticed he had a bounce in his step and a smile on his face.

“Did you see that Mom? I beat out one kid!” he proudly proclaimed. Grinning as if he’d won.

His words left me speechless. I hadn’t anticipated such an upbeat response. Suddenly my heart was full of pride.

“Yes, Rob. Good job.”

The runners who had overtaken him didn’t discourage him. Because he had a different perspective. His focus wasn’t on the mass of kids who had run faster. Rob rejoiced in the one he had passed.

The next time he ran, I witnessed him pass two runners. The following meet, he passed three. Each race filled his heart with great rejoicing. Always viewing his triumphs instead of defeats.

Rob’s focus taught me how to focus. Not on trials. But on God’s blessings. Not on the cares of this earth. But on future treasures in heaven. Not on huge burdens. But on His power.

As moms raising children with mental illness (MI) we have to deal with our own emotions. Sadness for the turmoil our child experiences. Grief over the loss of our once happy-go-lucky child. Despair due to lack of effective treatments. Frustration because of others who don’t understand: teachers, mental health care workers, siblings, or husbands.

But sorrow doesn’t have to engulf us. Worry doesn’t have to overtake our thoughts. Like Rob, we can choose what to focus on. Each day we can begin with this resolution: with God’s help, I’ll look for the blessings my heavenly Father puts in my life. I’ll keep my mind’s eyes on Him. Searching for His faithfulness and provision.

Some children with mental illness (MI) can’t easily choose their outlook. Some don’t have complete control over their thoughts. Distorted thinking creates false realities. A mind filled with paranoia convinces the person that others seek to harm him. Resulting fears are very real. Their thoughts overtake them.

Darkness may surround us and attempt to overtake us. But we need not be swept away by our circumstances. We need not flail as if drowning in an emotional tsunami. We have the words in Isaiah 35 to comfort our soul. With thoughts firmly fixed on eternity, our sadness fades. Images of life in heaven squelch our sorrow. Hope returns. Once again, we’re able to envision an end to our tears. We picture new bodies without MI. Then our sadness is overtaken by gladness and joy.

“They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads.

Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away (Isaiah 35:10).”

Encouragement for Emotional Exhaustion

calm.response

Are there days you wish you could be like Star Trek’s Spock? Void of emotions. Ever wish you could take a day off from your emotions?

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could pick and choose which emotions you’d experience? I’d keep exuberant joy, passionate love, and heartfelt compassion. And pass on sorrow, worry, depression, and frustration.

Emotions seem so hard to tame. It’s critical to control our responses to a child with serious mental illness (MI). If we don’t hide our reactions, we could enflame an explosive situation. If we reveal our frustration, we could drive a child deeper into depression.

A new perspective will help us maintain a calm demeanor. Here’s how I tried to convey that point to a teacher. As Director of Instruction, I provided support to educators. One day a teacher came to me with a concern.

“Frank comes into my class every day late. He never has all his supplies or his homework. He doesn’t pay attention and calls out regularly.”

“Why are you angry?” was my reply.

He blinked in confusion and repeated his statement.

“Frank comes into my class every day late. He never has all his supplies or his homework. He doesn’t pay attention and calls out regularly.”

“Why are you angry?” I repeated, using a casual tone.

Assuming I didn’t understand his statement, he elaborated on the points made.

“Frank interrupts my class by coming into my class every day late. He’s failing academically because he never has all his supplies or his homework. When he doesn’t pay attention he feels it’s okay to call out without raising his hand.”

“Why are you angry?” I repeated with the same calm tone.

In stunned silence he glared at me. He needed my support and expected my sympathy. And felt like he got neither. First, he needed to hear my explanation.

“Frank’s not doing it TO you. You’re the professional. You need not take his behavior personally. He has ADHD. He’s lacking the skills. I can help you by providing suggestions and support to equip Frank with improved study skills.”

Anger can make a situation worse. It’s possible to respond without being annoyed when we understand the source of the behaviors.

MI causes behaviors which mimic noncompliance. A parent demands, “Answer me.” The depressed child who remains silent can seem disobedient. A mother shouts, “Stop throwing things!” The psychotic child who throws again can appear rebellious.

Do we excuse wrong behaviors because the child has MI? No. Do we stop requiring appropriate behaviors? No. But we need not react in anger when our instructions aren’t followed correctly.

It helps to keep a focus on the source of behaviors. Allowing the Holy Spirit guide our reactions helps even more. The fruit of the Holy Spirit includes gentleness. We have access to divine calmness if we learn to yield to it. Could that be one reason God has allowed MI to enter our world? For our spiritual growth. To see Him work in our lives.

One of my favorite inspirational speakers and authors is John Maxwell. Here’s one of his quotes.

“… if you don’t have peace, it isn’t because someone took it from you; you gave it away. You cannot always control what happens to you, but you can control what happens in you.”
John C. Maxwell, Be a People Person

John Maxwell’s father once told him, “It’s not what’s happening around you that’s important; it’s what’s happening IN you.”

God is using our trial to cultivate the fruits of the Spirit: gentleness, long suffering, joy, peace, and unconditional love.

Father, help us know which battles to choose and when to ignore behaviors. Help us pause in situations to let You have victory in our emotional responses.

Matt Redman sings about God being slow to anger in his song ‘Bless the Lord.’

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jYLTn4fKYQ

Happy Days

Chris and Bobby at Disney World

Chris and Bobby at Disney World

“Happy days.” What does that conjure up in your mind? The Fonze? Carefree times, now gone? A yearning for joy to replace mental illness (MI)?

Does your mind wander back to happier days before MI hit? Or do your senses sabotage your emotions?

One day, I visited our son’s former Christian elementary school. To attend the funeral of a loved one. I cried more AFTER the service ended. It’s because I chose to exit the building through the classroom hallways.

The familiar smell of the building instantly transported me back 25 yrs. Back when Chris was in elementary school. Back when life seemed less complicated. Back when Chris’s eyes sparkled with joy.

Funny how one whiff of a building can flood you with feelings you had forgotten. Like an electric shock, the aroma jolted my thoughts to days when Chris seemed happy-go-lucky. Memories rushed through my mind. Suddenly, I “saw” Chris bouncing into my classroom at the end of the day to share what he’d learned. I “heard” his young voice telling me what he did at recess.

I “heard” him share happy news. “Mom, we’re going to go on a field trip to the science museum. I’ll get to see what a real planetarium looks like. I can’t wait!” Echoes from the past so real they tempted me to look for an apparition.

I had shoved those scenes deep into my memory. Locked them into a trunk stored in the attic of my mind.

Don’t unpack those memories, Vicki. Don’t even consider mentally caressing them for a second. Those times are gone. Love Chris for how he is now. Be grateful for glimmers of Chris’s personality and joy.

I quickly exited the building. Barely making it to my vehicle before violent sobs overtook me. I sat in the car with streams of tears pouring down my cheeks. As painful as it was, I needed that moment of private grief.  I needed those precious reminders of the son I know and love. God ministered to me in that quiet sanctuary.  He gently reminded me that Chris is still there. Locked behind an illness that masks his joy and peace.

Other aromas spark emotion. Reminders of happy days include: ballpark franks, burning leaves, boardwalk fudge, movie popcorn, Thanksgiving turkey, new school supplies, and Grandma’s perfume.

We wonder if we’re making any difference at all in the lives of those around us. Wouldn’t it be nice if we were the fragrance that stirs someone’s heart for Jesus? 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 tell us, “In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life. But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting corpse.”  (MSG)

Imagine that…through us, God is spreading the fragrance of the knowledge of Him.

Reflect on this sentence:

“God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade.”

Easter lilies remind us of another happy day…of when Jesus washed our sins away. Enjoy “Oh Happy Day.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a37bBm8pXSk

 

Clearer Thinking, Calmer Emotions

“Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord.”  Psalm 31:24  (NKJV)

Do you wish your child could have clearer thinking and calmer emotions? Is that your wish, your prayer, or an impossible dream?

It’s easier for me to reflect on the care-free days of the past. My thoughts often drift back to before Chris entered elementary school. Those memories draw me back to simpler times. I welcome those daydreams. They help me relive times when Chris seemed happier.

Back then, observations from complete strangers sounded like, “He’s such a happy little boy.”

It’s true. Chris smiled all the time, up until he turned five.

That’s when struggles at school sucked that smile right off his face. Difficulties caused in part by his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

But those struggles don’t come close to the challenges of mental illness (MI).

Nowadays, it’s rare to see a relaxed smile on his face.

How I yearn to ease his pain. Remove any torment.

That’s why I love to hear occasional comments from him which give me a glimpse of happier emotions. Recently Chris shared, “I’m more content than I’ve ever been. It’s nice to have freedom from responsibilities.”

What mother of a child who has MI hasn’t wished she could put a band aide on her child’s turbulent emotions? Kiss away memories of rejection. Vacuum the fog from her child’s mind.

But we can’t change thoughts and feelings. There is One who can. Why do we have trouble trusting God to do that mighty work?

We trust teachers to care for our kids and police officers to protect us. Unwavering faith in machines is demonstrated every day. People enter an elevator without fearing it will crash to the basement. They trust it will gently deliver them to the selected floor. Meals are prepared with confidence that ovens will cook instead of explode and burn. Most of us find security in locks and alarm systems.

We even trust forces of nature we can’t see. Sliding boards are monuments to our belief in gravity. Sails are installed on boats as proof of our trust in the wind.

Why can’t we trust God who has all power and perfect love? The Creator of the universe, the One who conquered death, can surely work mightily in the hearts and minds of people.

When I’m resigned to “fact” that my son will always suffer with MI, I’m denying the power of God. Living in the past because realities of today are too hard to face is no way to live. Resignation and denial can be overcome by hope. Hope in a living and loving Father.