Tag Archive | escape

Prepared and Protected

wisdom.sm

I wonder if I’ll get a few good pictures at this renaissance fair.

Photography is my hobby. All my cares disappear when I’m involved in a photo shoot. It’s my escape. I get so focused on the next image to capture that I can ignore everything. Once, I was oblivious to the fact that mosquitoes were biting me. The breathtaking sunset seemed to activate only my visual senses. That outing yielded stunning pictures, and two armfuls of mosquito bites!

Whenever I go on a photo shoot, I’m excited if it yields just one fantastic photograph. However, the renaissance fair didn’t hold much promise. I entered the fairgrounds and disappointment hit. At first glance, nothing seemed snapshot-worthy. No good Kodak moments presented themselves. But, I wandered around snapping pictures anyway.

Nothing really excited me. Until I came upon the birds of prey. A thin rope surrounded three birds, each tethered to a perch on the ground. The owl grabbed my attention. I’d never been so close to a live owl. Inches separated me from the gorgeous bird. I could have reached out and touched it. But, I resisted the temptation.

Suddenly, loud clanging sounds pierced the silence. Behind me, two costumed men were having a sword fight. Each time their swords clashed, the owl spun its head around. The huge eyes stared in my direction. I stood mesmerized. Suddenly, I jolted to my sense, set my camera on the sports function, and snapped away.

Humans do something similar when on high alert. Someone shouts, “Heads us!” and we duck. A ball is thrown in our direction and we automatically protect ourselves. If only we can hold that picture in our mind as a symbol of what to do with mental illness (MI). At the first indication that more challenges are being hurled our way, the best thing to do would be to lower our head in prayer.

Our reflexes protect us from physical injury due to an incoming ball. Can we likewise learn to respond with instant prayer to incoming trials? Can we get better at responding quicker with spiritual protection? When we see our child slipping, can our immediate response be to bow our heads in prayer?

That’s not always my immediate reaction. Here’s an admission: initially my emotions drive my reactions. Worries come. Tears flow. Problem-solving thoughts swirl in my head. It’s not my automatic response to seek God’s help.

So here’s my resolve: When sorrow is heading to my heart, I’ll strive to get better at seeking God’s protection—FIRST.

By the way…isn’t the phrase, “heads up” the wrong thing to scream? Shouldn’t we instead shout, “Heads down?” While contemplating those words of misdirection, I considered using them for spiritual protection. If I can keep my spiritual “heads up”, with my heart lifted to God, I just bet I could face the next trial with more of His peace. Make sense?

Here’s my plan. The next time I sense things are shaky with Chris, I’ll repeat to myself, “Heads up … Heads up … Heads up …” That’ll remind me to turn my heart heavenward, bow my head in prayer, and trust Him. I know He’ll remind me of His faithfulness. And that He’ll provide the peace and protection needed. In addition, He’ll help me prepare for whatever by giving me His wisdom.

Most of us have a first aid kit. We’re prepared for any physical injury or illness. In our heart, we can have a MI first aid kit: prayer and God’s Word. That’s a kit which will keep us prepared, protected, and at peace.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5).

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Surviving Loneliness

1.2012.Rachels

Why do you go for a walk? Would it be to exercise, think, relax, or explore? Maybe it’s to take pictures, study creation, or enjoy the scenery?

There are different motivations for walking with someone else. To take a romantic stroll or have an uninterrupted conversation.

Sometimes the walk can be routine or boring. Like walking to get somewhere. Or it could result in a precious memory. Like when my husband and I held the tiny hands of our one-year-old granddaughter.

Aborigines practice a more serious type of walk. They go on a journey—‘going walkabout’—which takes months. The concept of ‘going walkabout’ is new to me. I recently learned about the Australian aborigine ritual from a devotional posted on Rest Ministries by Kerryn. In her message titled ‘Going Walkabout To Be With My Father’ she described the aborigine form of initiation.

Wikipedia explains that a walkabout refers to, “a rite of passage during which male Australian Aborigines would undergo a journey during adolescence and live in the wilderness for a period as long as six months.

In this practice they would trace the paths, or “songlines”, that their ancestors took, and imitate, in a fashion, their heroic deeds.”

I read that and wondered: What are songlines?

The article ‘How Indigenous Australians Use Music to Mark Geography’ by kuschk offered a description of songlines.

“In Aboriginal mythology, a songline is a myth based around localised ‘creator-beings’ during the Dreaming, the indigenous Australian embodiment of the creation of the Earth. Each songline explains the route followed by the creator-being during the course of the myth. The path of each creator-being is marked in sung lyrics.”

I may not believe in their mythology, but it got me thinking. Do I follow the true Creator’s lead in my life? Psalm 89:15 assures me that, “Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim You, who walk in the light of Your presence, Lord.”

How I yearn to find His light in the midst of trials. Sometimes it’s difficult to track God’s lead when raising a child with mental illness (MI). It can be a lonely life. Only someone walking that same desert journey can understand what it’s like. Because of the stigma that surrounds the illness, most moms don’t talk about it. Their hesitancy to reach out compounds the loneliness. Deep sorrow and anguish fill the isolation. We wander aimlessly in an emotional wilderness devoid of understanding companions.

Husbands travel their own wilderness—one of mental wandering. As they struggle to discover the way out…some solution for their child’s pain. A way to fix the problem.

At the root of a mom’s loneliness is her need for someone to understand. Christ understands. He experienced times in the desert and even welcomed lonely places. “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16).

So we can meet Him in our lonely places.

My research about ‘going walkabout’ shed new light on my walk with the Lord.

Tourism Australia promotes the modern-day benefits of going walkabout. Their article ‘Walkabout’ stated, “Today we can learn from the Aboriginal concept of ‘walkabout’ and leave the pressures of everyday life behind to re-discover what is important to us. For the majority of us, going ‘walkabout’ means taking a holiday and using this time to escape the pressures of daily life and to get back in touch with ourselves.  Going ‘walkabout’ restores a sense of magic and wonder to our lives.  It enriches our spirit.”

I like the part about escaping the pressures of daily life. But disagree with getting back in touch with myself. True spiritual enrichment can only be found in Christ. Salvation through Jesus provides me with the gift of the Holy Spirit. I can think of no greater wonder than to benefit from the indwelling power of God in me.

Raising a child with mental illness (MI) can be painful. It’s a long drawn-out grieving process. Great sadness comes from desiring a better life for our child. Denial teases us on good days.

He seems to be doing so well today. Maybe he’ll be able to handle future stress.

But familiar symptoms return. Reality hits. Grieving returns. Where do we turn?

The world offers solutions. Tourism Australia points out that, “Contemporary understandings of ‘walkabout’ remain true to the concept’s Aboriginal heritage. To go ‘walkabout’ in the 21st century is to escape from the pressures of everyday life and to reconnect with yourself, with loved ones, and with the natural world.”

Escaping ‘from the pressures of everyday life’ sounds enticing. But reconnecting with myself sounds empty. I’d rather retreat and reconnect with Christ. He alone knows my secret pain.

My walk with the Lord should parallel an aborigine walkabout in one way.

Tourism Australia explains that, “a ‘Walkabout’ is not an aimless activity but a deliberate and focused journey connecting Aboriginal people to their traditional lands and spiritual obligations.”

My walk with the Lord should be ‘a deliberate and focused journey.’ What would that be like?

I’ll imagine Christ joining me on my private walkabout. I’ll picture Him joining me when I withdraw to pray for my son who has MI. I’ll ‘watch’ Him wipe away tears from my face and fears from my mind.

I’ll visualize him holding my hand as He guides me through each day. I’ll listen to the songlines He marks along my path. Worship songs will help me be alert to signs of His leading.

Heavenly Father,

Forgive me for not having a closer walk with You.  How I love spending time in Your presence!  Help me to keep my focus on You, walking with you each day.

Escape

Joseph Ambler Inn
Horsham, PA

Irrational thoughts set in after I survived seven hours of labor.

I’m done. That’s it. I’m going home.

That wasn’t an option since our son hadn’t been born yet. Still, my brain conjured up the possibility of a literal out-of-body experience.

Amazing how suffering can play with your mind.  Especially when the struggles have been hard to endure. For too long. Like dealing with your child’s mental illness (MI).

Are you done? Do you fantasize about packing it in…running away from it all? Perhaps you dream of getting away. To rest under a palm tree in Hawaii and listen to the soothing sounds of the ocean as they wash all your cares away.

The Israelites understood suffering. So, God gave Moses a message for them.

“‘I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord.’”  Exodus 6:7-8

God kept His promise.

“God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob.”  Exodus 2:24

“The Lord said, ‘I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey…’”  Exodus 3:7-8

That same God hears your groaning and sees your misery. He’s concerned about your suffering. He has a promised land for you.

God gave me a taste of that milk and honey. My earthly promised land was the healing of my marriage. Howie and I just celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary at Joseph Ambler Inn bed and breakfast. Years ago, I never would have thought it possible. I was ready to pack it in. Couldn’t stand any more pain. Didn’t know how to forgive unconditionally.

But God, who made a way for us to reach the ultimate Promised Land in heaven, made a way for me to trust again. He restored our marriage, making it stronger than ever. We went to a bed and breakfast to mark the milestone and share our gratitude.

Maybe you’re still waiting to arrive at your promised land. Thankfully, we can trust in our good Shepherd to lead us to a peaceful place and refresh our soul. He “makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul… (and) anoints my head with oil…”    Psalm 23:1-3, 5

Imagine that…God inviting us to spend time in His oasis and get treated in His spa! A free getaway made possible by simply entering into His presence.

Dear Father,

Thank You that You hear my groaning, see my misery, and care about my suffering. Help me find time to read Your Word. To find encouragement and hear You speak to me. So that I can persevere. In Jesus’ name. Amen

During the days of trouble in our marriage, Steve & Annie Chapman’s songs helped me cling to the hope of restoration. Here’s one of them:  “Turn Your Heart Toward Home”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNvafd0FzGc