Tag Archive | gratitude

Gratitude and Sorrow?

Choose.PS

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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Qp11X6LKYY

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Detecting Blessings

miracle.baby.McKenzie

How can you transform creepy crawly things into something beautiful? By freezing and framing them in a snapshot. That’s what I did with worms. They mimicked a lace design. What drew my attention to something I distained? A high school assignment which challenged us to photograph beauty found in unlikely places. Creating the project required a new perspective. I discovered exquisite beauty by seeing things differently. Viewing the familiar more closely, from underneath, and in unusual lighting revealed a new world of splendor.

Blessings are like beauty. We notice the ones which are easy to spot. Like the miracle baby our son and his wife just had. Infertility experts informed them they’d never conceive. So they adopted a baby girl. Then along came the “impossible”—a pregnancy. Last week I held their infant daughter, baby McKenzie. No one had to point out the obvious: my hands held God’s bundle of blessings.

Sometimes it’s harder to recognize a blessing. When mental illness (MI) hits, it engulfs life and eclipse blessings. But they’re there.

How did I find some? By viewing my situation differently. Concern over Chris’s MI was sucking me into the quicksand of despair, discouragement, and depression. In anguish I cried the prayer of a sinking soul: Where are You, God?

Determined to find Him, I set out to compile a list of His faithfulness and love. I trusted God hadn’t left me. And believed He’d been leaving trails of His powerful works along my path. I needed Him to open my heart and mind. To find evidence of His care and compassion.

Reveal Your blessings, Lord.

With pen in hand I sat silent. And waited for God to guide my thoughts.

He led me on a mental tour of His love.

The first blessing popped into my head:

Chris is stable.

Then another:

He’s safe.

And another:

He occupies himself constructively and doesn’t remain isolated.

Before I knew it, my paper was filled.

Chris works out regularly.

He sets goals for himself.

He’s responsible with money.

He laughs as refreshing humor.

He willingly helps me with computer problems….

Then a wonderful thing happened. My thoughts shifted to other areas of my life. Proof of God’s provision poured from my mind faster than my pen could write.

I highly recommend you ask God to lead you on a mental tour of His love. He’ll point out blessings.

The Psalmist shows us how to detect God’s blessings. Psalm 77 gives us a picture of turmoil which was abated by recalling the mighty works of the Lord.

“‘Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?’

“Then I thought, ‘To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand. I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds (Psalm 77:7-12).’”

I’m grateful for that passage (and others like it). It’s God’s way of telling me I’m not the only one who asks those questions when things seem too much to handle. It also shows me how to find God when I’ve lost sight of Him.

As I wrote this message, a familiar song kept running through my head.

“Count your blessings, name them one by one,

Count your blessings, see what God hath done!

Count your blessings, name them one by one,

And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.”

Enjoy the same spiritual refreshment and be blessed by that hymn:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fMjgS4vu4o

 

 

Bitter Sweet

Basket of blessings
When was the last time you thanked God for your sanity? Probably never. We take thinking for granted.

There are people who might appreciate clarity of thought. A person recovering from a break from reality. Someone who had a cloud of depression removed.

And me. My multiple sclerosis (MS) corrodes my cognition. Numerous lesions in my brain encroach on the healthy tissues. Making it difficult for me to process information easily when I’m tired. My synapses have to take detours around the scars caused by an overactive immune system which destroys good cells. Brain drain is an uninvited visitor in my head each day. What used to be automatic is now a deliberate act. I have to concentrate on my thinking.

My premature shrinking brain causes me to value cognition. I’m grateful for each important detail that pops into my head. I’m aware of God helping me remember what’s critical for me to know. The more I need to rely on Him, the more He shows Himself faithful.

A disability has a way of making someone grateful. Weird, huh? But true.

I often think about people with disabilities in the Bible. It’s fun to imagine what their lives were like after Christ healed them. After they thanked Jesus, what was the very first thing on their to-do list?

Did the lame man squish his toes in the sand as he walked along the edge of water? Did the blind man watch a sunset, and stay up all night to see the sunrise? Did the deaf person surround himself with children just to hear their chatter and giggling?

There is great joy when normalcy is restored. A patient discharged from the hospital rejoices. So does the soldier returning home from war.

Those of us who have children with serious mental illness (MI) yearn for normalcy to be restored. There are sweet moments when that happens.

Lately, my heart has been filled with gratitude. All it took was witnessing our son and my husband enjoying time together. They went to shoot some golf balls to prepare for an upcoming golf outing. As soon as they got home, they turned on TV to watch Jeopardy together. A daily tradition nowadays.

Often they run to the store to get a few things. What a blessing to know Chris has those happy times in his life! Simple, quality time with his father.

Howie’s tender love for Chris reminds me of our heavenly Father’s caring love for us. Be blessed as you listen to the song, “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us.”