Tag Archive | God

Power for the Powerless

IMG_6033

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.

IMG_5079

“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.

IMG_5068crpdPS

“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).

Advertisements

Feeling Powerless

cursive t

“I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high”                                                                                                                                                                                          (Luke 24:49.)

“I can’t deal with it anymore.”

What’s your “it?”

Is it watching the news—seeing what’s happening in our nation and in the world? Or is it life’s challenges? Or perhaps it’s your marriage. Maybe your “it” is struggling to forgive someone who’s hurt or betrayed you.

I once had a second grader who couldn’t deal with writing his first cursive t. That was his “it.” Even though Tommy had an artistic gift, he convinced himself he couldn’t write the new letter. His helpless feeling overwhelmed him. Feeling defeated, he stopped trying.

“Mrs. Chandler, Tommy’s crying.”

I walked to his desk. Countless erasures revealed his failed attempts.

“You can do it, Tommy. I’ll walk you through it. Start off with an undercurve stroke. That’s right. Now loop back and then make a slant. Yes, good. Now, do another undercurve. OK. Cross it. Yay! You did it! What a beautiful letter you wrote. See, you can do it.”

“Yeah, but you told me what to do.”

“Okay. I won’t tell you the strokes. I’ll just stand here to remind you that you can do it. Try again.”

All Tommy needed was my presence. That made a huge difference.

Perhaps all we need to face our “it” is God’s presence.  As believers, we have access to a power source greater than any nuclear power plant. Power that lasts longer than any solar power. Because God’s Son is the Source of that power.

Little things overwhelm us when our hearts are already overwhelmed. One tiny problem can break us. Make us want to give up.

We can cast our load of care on Him.

God with us, living within us, can carry our burdens. He will give us supernatural inner strength and peace.

Like, Tommy, we sometimes begin our day defeated. Fears overwhelm us even before we step out of bed. Powerlessness fills our heads with pessimistic thoughts.

I can’t face today. I’m powerless to control things, handle situations, or prevent problems.

Wouldn’t it be nice to put on power just as easy as we put on our clothes? We can! It’s possible to adorn ourselves in something more powerful than Superman’s cape.

Christ told His disciples they will be clothed with power from on high. We, too, can wrap ourselves in that power. As believers, it’s already within us. Who knew God was our personal fashion expert!

Dear Father, fill me afresh with Your Holy Spirit.

Hurricane

Hurricane Sandy seen moving towards the east coast of the US in this NASA satellite image taken on 10-29-12

Yesterday, a friend and I drove towards the approaching Hurricane Sandy.

Dubbed “Frankenstorm”, the storm promised to be large, powerful, and dangerous. The ingredients were enough to impress meteorologists and terrorize residents along the northeast coastline of America. The 2nd largest hurricane ever would cross land in the most populated part of our country.  A powerful Jetstream from the west and a high in the north would create a wind tunnel. Increasing the storm’s intensity.

The storm was predicted to hit our area on Monday. But, a hurricane that has tropical storm-force winds extending out to 520 miles can pack a punch even from a distance. As we drove home toward the Philadelphia area, we were grateful the wind and rain weren’t too bad.

So, why would my friend and I even think of venturing out Sunday afternoon? We wanted to connect with other families who would understand what it’s like to have a loved one with mental illness (MI).

We know there are other moms like us who have a child with mental illness. But, we wanted to meet other courageous families who know exactly what our lives are like. So, we traveled 82 miles to attend a support group meeting at No Longer Alone Ministries. Attending their Christian support group meeting was our motivation.

We left feeling blessed and encouraged. Those who attended the meeting inspired us. They told stories of how they cling to their faithful Father in the midst of deep sorrow and grief.

Each day, they live in the midst of a storm.

Some experience swirling winds of emotions, and crashing violence. Some spoke of the impact MI had on finances.

Others face an eerie silence from a once vibrant child.

All expressed an awareness of the challenges of a storm: unpredictability of their situation, loss of power, disruption of normalcy, uncertainty of the future, and destruction of lives.

All offered testimony to how God has provided. Surely God can be found in the storms of life.

Exodus 24:12 tells us the Lord invited Moses to, “Come up to me on the mountain and stay here…”

That’s His invitation to us. Moses heard God speak from within the cloud.

We, too, can hear God speak to us inside our clouds. Listen to His promises.

As I watch scenes on TV which show the power of the storm, I’m reminded of God’s power and provision. His people wandered in the wilderness and God provided for their needs. Food rained down from heaven in such abundance that it couldn’t be counted.

“He let loose the east wind from the heavens and by his power made the south wind blow. He rained meat down on them like dust, birds like sand on the seashore.”  Psalm 78:26-28

That same God will provide for our needs as we journey in our wilderness.

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.

Ice Cream Sundae Prayers

“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God…And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (Romans 8:14-16)

Little children know how to ask specifically for what they want. “Daddy, may I please have an ice cream sundae with two scoops of chocolate ice cream, lotsa rainbow jimmies, chocolate syrup, nuts, whipped cream, and two cherries?”

Their detailed lists help us know exactly how to bless them.

But requests we make to our heavenly Father are brief. “Please, God, help my child feel better.”

No details. Nothing specific.

Why do we hold back from asking exactly what we want? Perhaps we’re too busy. Maybe we fear He won’t provide what we need. Or that we’re undeserving.  So we whisper simply, “God please spare my child any stress.”

Our son, Chris, experienced his first psychotic episode while attending a public school. I dared to come before the Creator of the universe and lay a list of requests at His throne.

I cried out, “Oh merciful Father, move mightily in the hearts and minds of the educators in Chris’s life. Create in them a compassionate attitude toward Chris. Guide them to respond lovingly to our son. Provide a way for Chris to get relief and help if he feels overwhelmed during the school day.”

God’s answer: The principal presented Chris with a gold pass. A get-out-of-class-without-any-questions-asked pass. It could be shown to any teacher at any time. Teachers were instructed to allow Chris to leave class. Support personnel were designated on each floor to be available to Chris (guidance counselors, principal, and nurse).

During that year, Chris participated in a foreign exchange program. In return for us hosting a German student the previous year, Chris flew to Germany. He lived with a German family for a month. Instead of simply asking God to take care of Chris, I asked, “Please Father, help Chris take his medicine. Provide clarity of thought. Help him feel Your presence.”

Once again, God faithfully responded.

The next year, Chris wanted to live away from home. He chose to attend a university known as a party school. The specific prayer this time sounded like this: “Oh God, please provide just the right roommate for Chris. One that doesn’t drink. One that will be a perfect match for Chris.”

God’s answer: Chris had a Christian roommate. A quiet young man who took his studies seriously.

We want to bless our children when they ask us for things. Surely God wants to do the same. The difference? His love is perfect. His power is limitless. His faithfulness is dependable.

Cry, Abba and run into God’s loving arms. Boldly beg for His intervention.

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).