Tag Archive | hope

Reaching Out

Reaching out

If you really want to find out if others understand your journey, it’s possible. There are other moms raising kids with mental illness (MI).

Reaching Out To Other Moms

Why do we want to know we’re not alone? Maybe it’s because:

  • It helps to know there actually are other mothers who know what it’s like to raise a child with MI.
  • We want to know that there are other moms (like me) who do all they can to help their child with MI, and still have times of turmoil. That tells us that those behaviors truly are challenging. It’s not that we have overlooked something. Caring, attentive mothers still have to face HARD times. There’s a limit to what we can do. That’s the nature of the illness.
  • We need to know other moms face the same struggles and still survive. That gives us some hope.
  • Moms in similar situations can show us other ways we can help our kids.
  • We can find empathy without judgement.

So I searched for like-minded moms. I stumbled on a blog where a mom, Christina Halli, shared her story. For one year she posted messages relating what it’s like to raise a son with numerous conditions. That’s right, throughout the years, her son has displayed symptoms of MANY different conditions associated with MI.

What struck me was how many people visited her blog, and shared their situations. Her blog was filled with TONS of stories, each one more horrific than the next. Each one just as heart-wrenching.

As I read the countless comments posted, my heart filled with sorrow. My eyes puddled up with tears. Because I could relate to their private pain. So could you.


 

Here are a few links for you to read for yourself.

On HealthyPlace.com you’ll find Christina Halli’s personal story calledLife with Bob.

Christina began her story with a brief introduction, About Christina Halli, Author of the Life with Bob Blog.

A sample of one of Christian’s posts: “A Letter to My Son with Mental Illness on Mother’s Day


 

Reaching Out to Find Something More

reaching.out.2.God

My experiences have shown me that horrific details are just part of my story. God is a HUGE part of the picture.

We can grasp what we really need. Just reach out and grasp what God offers.

  • When faced with discouragement, He gives divine endurance.
  • When faced with horror, He loads us with abundant hope.
  • When faced with uncertainty, He uplifts us. The God of the future assures us He’s got it all under control He’s still on the throne.
  • When faced with helplessness, He provides heavenly wisdom and holy promises.
  • When faced with chaos, He responds with compassion.
  • When faced with overwhelming needs, He overwhelms us with His love and protection.
  • In our sorrow, we experience the supernatural peace of God.
  • In our loneliness, we feel the Lord’s presence.
  • In our fears, we find a faithful God.

Think it’s just for me? He’s reaching out to you, too!

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Encouragement

Make.way.wldns.3

What would help you through the day? No matter what your situation, my guess is that you could use some encouragement. That’s what I’ve needed while raising a child with mental illness (MI).

I remember several times during my journey with Chris’s MI that the future wasn’t simply uncertain; it seemed hopeless. Normalcy had halted. Routine activities weren’t possible. I wondered if mental stability would be restored to Chris. Or if he’d ever feel joyful again.

Those were times when Chris struggled most to regain mental stability. Times that left me facing a battle in my own mind.

I don’t know if I can endure this trial. How can I minister to Chris when I’m feeling so discouraged, sorrowful, and afraid? How much more of this can I take?

Verses like 2 Thessalonians 2:16 helped me hang on. It promised that God, Himself, would encourage me.

“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.”

‘Eternal encouragement’: imagine that! God has given us everlasting encouragement. What a surplus!!!  Surely, He could provide a portion of that to me today.

I faced a relentless onslaught of worries. My solution was to listen to one particular song which assured me that God was still in control. Don Moen’s popular song “God Will Make a Way” reminded me of the promise in Isaiah 43:19.

“See, I am doing a new thing! … I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:19).

Here are some of those lyrics:

God will make a way

Where there seems to be no way

He works in ways we cannot see

He will make a way for me

 

He will be my guide

Hold me closely to His side

With love and strength for each new day

He will make a way, He will make a way

What seems impossible to me is possible to God.

It renewed my hope to believe that God would make a way, when there seems to be no way. So I listened to that song over and over and over. Until that Truth echoed in my mind and until the promise filled my heart with encouragement.

What seems impossible to me is possible to God.

 Listen to Don Moen’s popular song “God Will Make a Way.” Let the lyrics minister to you and give you God’s good hope and a portion of His eternal encouragement.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zo3fJYtS-o

Windows: A Source of Peace and Contentment?

window.2

Until then, only snakes and dentists scared me. One snowy night in December, I felt fear unlike never before.

Decades ago, several of my girlfriends joined me as I babysat two children. It was New Year’s Eve. The children were in bed. Teenage sounds filled the dining room. Music from a Beatles’ album accompanied the noise of giggling and chatting girls.

THUD!!!

A loud noise interrupted our festivities. A muffled bang sounded as if landed right outside the dining room wall. Fear muzzled our merriment. Like scared rabbits, we sat frozen with ears and eyes open wide. Listening. Did we imagine it?

The music played on. Then, we heard the sound again.

THUD!!!

We screamed and scurried away from the dining room wall. And tore into the living room.

Survival instincts kicked in. We started trying to figure out if danger lurked outside.

“I think someone is pounding on the wall.”

“It sounded like a gun shot.”

I felt a sense of responsibility to protect the children from…whatever. Suddenly, I realized my big brother was home. From the back window of my house, Ken would be able to see the dining room wall of the home where I was babysitting. So I called him on the phone.

“Ken, look outside our back window. Do you see anyone near the dining room window where I’m babysitting?”

“Oh yeah. I see large footprints in the snow leading right up to the window,” he teased.

Brothers!!!

One of my friends solved the mystery. “Vicki, it’s fireworks!”

We were never in danger. We simply forgot it was day of celebration.


Sounds in the night tend to scare everyone. The darker the night, the more terrifying is the noise. Vulnerability and helplessness magnifies fear.

Consider a woman is who is enjoying a quiet evening alone at home. Suddenly, she hears an unusual sound just outside her window. She peeks through the curtains to identify the source.  It may satisfy her curiosity. But, it won’t calm her nerves if she sees a burglar trying to enter her home.

Moms raising a child with mental illness (MI) can identify with that woman. The onset of our child’s illness rattles our nerves with equal intensity. It interrupts the solitude of a peaceful home. As the darkness of mental illness (MI) closes in, we’re more susceptible to fear.  Sometimes, our child’s symptoms suddenly increase.

A heavy THUD pounds on our heart. Survival instincts kick in. And we start trying to figure out how to help our child.

What just happened? What caused that?

We’re tempted to close the curtains of our lives. And hide all the turmoil and pain.

At times, we’re drawn to the window for a different reason. To gaze out and watch care-free families going about their daily routines. To see reminders of what life was like without MI. To catch glimpses of normalcy.

A window can’t provide lasting peace or true contentment. We’ll find comfort in God’s Word. Peering into the pages of the Word will calm our heart more than peering out any window.

How I love God’s Word! It’s my go-to place to find comfort. I echo the sentiments of the Psalmist who cries, “My eyes fail from searching Your word, saying, ‘When will You comfort me?’” [Psalm 119:82 (NKJV)].

Open the Word and find comfort.

The Bible hasn’t let me down. In my darkest times, I’ve found comfort. How is it possible to find comfort in the midst of our child’s illness? The Psalmist explains it this way:

“This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your word has given me life” [Psalm 119:50 (NKJV)].

Open the Word and find delight.

We can do more than go through the motions of each day. God’s tender mercies will help us live as we delight in His Word.

“Let Your tender mercies come to me, that I may live; for Your law is my delight” [Psalm 119:77 (NKJV)].

God’s Word keeps us from dying on the inside.

“Unless Your law had been my delight, I would then have perished in my affliction” [Psalm 119:92 (NKJV)].

“Trouble and anguish have overtaken me, yet Your commandments are my delights” [Psalm 119:143 (NKJV)].

If the Psalmist can find delight in God’s Word in the midst of trouble and anguish, surely so can we.

Open the Word and find strength.

Does the Psalmist’s plea sound like something you could have written?

“My soul melts from heaviness; strengthen me according to Your word” [Psalm 119:28 (NKJV)].

Seek God’s strength.

Open the Word and find hope.

Many of us find ourselves in hopeless situations. We hope in therapists or treatments. But, find they can’t always provide assurances for restoration. God’s Word never fails. The more we cling to It, the more we can proclaim, “You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word” [Psalm 119:114 (NKJV)].

Open the Word and find how to live each day.

God guides us through the days that begin and end in His Word.

“I rise before the dawning of the morning, and cry for help; I hope in Your word. My eyes are awake through the night watches, that I may meditate on Your word” [Psalm 119:147-148 (NKJV)].

The Bible satisfies our longing as we reflect on His promises throughout the day.

“Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day” [Psalm 119:97 (NKJV)].

Open the Word and find treasure.

Many of us feel life’s unfair. The Psalmist experienced unfair circumstances and still could say,

“Princes persecute me without a cause, but my heart stands in awe of Your word. I rejoice at Your word as one who finds great treasure” [Psalm 119:161-162 (NKJV)].

Let him be your inspiration today.

Open the Word and find light.

Stumbling around in the dark can be scary. Flicking on a switch instantly brings relief. There’s danger of stumbling when we walk down a dark path. But, a flashlight illuminates our path, letting us know where to step. That’s what it’s like when we open God’s Word. The darkness of our situation suddenly seems brighter. The Bible reveals our next step.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” [Psalm 119:105 (NKJV)].

“The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple” [Psalm 119:130 (NKJV)].

When seeking peace and contentment, we have a choice: window or Word.  I choose God’s Word. How ‘bout you?

Abundant

Life.Full

It’s funny when it happens to others. The sight of someone dropping a bag of groceries can be hilarious. The shopper picks up several items, only to drop them while chasing down a runaway orange.

“Oops! Get back here. Oops! …  #* &#%!@!”

We can relate to their misfortune. Who hasn’t tried juggling two bags? Or who hasn’t fallen victim to a self-destructing grocery bag?

But, it’s no joke when we find ourselves dealing with more than we can handle emotionally. That’s what happens when our child struggles with mental illness (MI). Somewhere in the midst of coping, we discover we’re juggling the details of life, while ministering to our child. Our minds are full of worries and work, cares and responsibilities. No wonder our heavy hearts break.

Our mind’s eye keeps checking the needle of our stress meter. We watch it edge closer to the danger zone: the limit to what we can handle. We dread reaching the point where we’ll run out of emotional fuel to keep going. Then what would happen? Who would collect our cares and carry the load?

God offers His abundance.

When stress is abundant, seek His abundant grace and peace.

“Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” (2 Peter 1:2).

When despair is abundant, seek His abundant hope.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).”

When sadness is abundant, seek His abundant joy (the fullness of His joy).

“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16:11).

When a sense of inadequacy is in abundance, seek His abundant indwelling power.

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” [Ephesians 3:20-21 (NKJV)].

When uncertainty is abundant, seek His generous wisdom.

“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).

Many of our local food stores have hired helpers who offer assistance in the parking lot. When I exit the store, I can easily find them. They wear bright vests so a shopper in need could easily spot them. Often one of those teenage helpers, with bulging muscles, runs to my car and cheerfully asks, “Do you need any help?”

Usually I decline his offer. But, I’d be a fool to turn down God’s offer. He approaches me throughout my day and asks, “Do you need My help?”

Breath

Breath.of.God

“I’m thankful I can breathe.” Who would say such a thing? Don’t we all take breathing for granted? Not a woman I know who had multiple sclerosis. Her symptoms are severe. She’s unable to walk. And she can’t talk clearly. Swallowing is difficult at times. Yet, she praises God for allowing her to still breathe. She rejoices in being alive.

Breathing is a sign of life. A breath is sometimes associated with strong emotions. A beautiful sunset can leave us breathless. In awe of God’s majesty.

Breathing a certain way can be beneficial. Taking a deep breath can restore calmness. Slow, cleansing breaths promote relaxation. Those exercises can even help distract from pain. Ask any mother who relied on them during labor.

Even young children can find breathing exercises helpful. When one of my second graders sobbed uncontrollably I’d say, “Take a deep breath….Now breathe out…Take another deep breath…And breathe out slowly…”  Gradually, they’d calm down.

That method could help a child with mental illness (MI) deal with anxiety.  Some individuals may it helpful in reducing worry and apprehension.

Breathing can be severed temporarily. By bad news. When someone is told about the sudden death of a loved one, they gasp. As if it’s impossible to take in air, while absorbing the information. Breathing is halted at the shock. Only to resume when tears begin to flow.

Do you find yourself holding your breath as you face another day? Not knowing what kind of day your child with MI will have. Not sure what will be required of you. Wondering if you’ll be up to the challenge.

As I researched ‘breath’ in the Bible, one passage described how I’ve felt at times.  It’s a familiar story in Ezekiel. The Lord gave Ezekiel a vision of dry bones being brought to life by God’s breath.

“The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’

“I said, ‘Sovereign Lord, you alone know.’

“Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord (Ezekiel 37:1-4).’”

Those dry bones represented people who were hopeless. And lifeless.

“Then he said to me: ‘Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off (Ezekiel 37:11).’”

Dried up. No hope. Cut off. But God promised to breathe new life into His people.

“Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord (Ezekiel 37:12-14).’”

Moms raising kids with MI can sometimes feel dried up, without hope, and cut off.  We often need to be filled afresh with His Spirit so we can live again.

There’s hope in the breath of God. His breath has power to create. Like when He gave life to Adam:

“Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being (Genesis 2:7).”

And when He created the starry hosts:

“By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth (Psalm 33:6).”

Job attributed his very existence to the breath of God. He said, “The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life (Job 33:4).”

Isaiah reminds us that it is God who gives breath to all people. With His almighty power, He can make all things new.

“This is what God the Lord says— the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it: ‘I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles …See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you  (Isaiah 42:5-6, 9).’”

The One who gives breath will take hold of your hand.

Do you think your situation is too impossible for God? Consider the story of Lazarus. Christ breathed new life into a person without life.

“When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face (John 11:43-44).”

Ask God to breathe new life into you. To make something new in your situation. Be renewed with hope as you listen to Hillsong’s ‘Breathe on Me.’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmxFQpSL4Bk

Never-ending

God.everlasting

Sometimes we don’t want it to end. Other times we plead for it to end. Saying, “PLEASE. Just make it stop!” It all depends on the ‘it.’

If we’re talking about our child’s mental illness (MI), we wish it would end. All of it. In that case, ‘never-ending’ has a painful connotation. It conjures up images of persistent pain, relentless unrest, perpetual prayers, unending uneasiness, and ceaseless sorrow.

Change ‘never-ending MI’ to ‘never-ending God.’ And suddenly, there’s unlimited hope. With a shift in focus comes more than we could ever imagine or need. New words fill our minds with restored hope.

Out from our cloud of darkness we see glimmers of God’s faithfulness that’s endless and ever reliable … for any situation we’ll ever have to face.

Through His Word we gaze into His heart and find love that’s unconditional and unlimited … for our child, our family, and us.

In our situations, He reveals His power that’s boundless and unconstrained … more than we’d ever before experienced.

In our loneliness, His presence is continual and all-encompassing.

Because He’s God.  Yahweh.

Ever wonder what Yahweh means? I did. In my initial search, I discovered it means “HE IS.” That made it clear as mud for me! So I dug deeper. And found a great article.

I learned a lot about the name Yahweh from Timothy Lin’s article “God’s Biblical Name ‘Yahweh’ And What It Means.” Lin explained “HE IS” this way:

“He named Himself ‘HE IS . . . ,’ an unlimited and unsearchable name bearing all the necessities of His people.  If they needed redemption, ‘HE IS Redemption’; if peace, ‘HE IS the Prince of Peace’; if help, “HE IS the Counselor.” If they were sick, ‘HE IS the Healer’; if poor, ‘HE IS the Supporter’; if in trouble, ‘HE IS the Deliverer.’”

Later in his article, Lin wrote something that grabbed my attention.

“Now, Moses came and proclaimed that he had been sent by ‘HE IS;’ that was exactly what they needed to hear. They needed a name by which all their problems would be solved and all their questions would be answered.  And here it was.

“If they would say, ‘We are too weak,’ the answer of this name would be HE IS your strength; ‘We are too poor,’ HE IS your wealth; ‘We are too ignorant,’ HE IS your wisdom; ‘We are not trained for war,’ HE IS God Almighty.

“What name could be more comforting and encouraging to those faint-hearted people? No wonder when they heard ‘HE IS’ had visited them, ‘they bowed their heads and worshipped’ (Ex. 4:31).

“No other words in the entire vocabulary of language could be better used by God to name Himself than ‘I AM’ or ‘HE IS.’

“It is a heavenly blank check. No matter how much one needs, God has reserved more than enough in His eternal bank.”

Now THAT’S something I understand: a heavenly blank check! God is all I’ll ever need Him to be. What an amazing thought: I have access to His eternal bank. And so do you!

manger2

At Christmas we reflected on Emanuel, God with us. Continue to reflect on other names of God. They will remind you of His never-ending qualities.

If you wonder if He’s abandoned you, remember He is the Living God.

If you feel like you’re groping in the dark, look for the Father of lights.

If you need someone to lean on, rest in the arms of your Heavenly Father.

If others have abandoned you, trust your Everlasting God and the King eternal. He’ll always be there.

If your situation seems impossible, leave it at the throne of the Almighty God, the God of heaven, who created all things. Nothing is too hard for Him.

If you’re worn out, enlist Yahweh Nissi: “The Lord is my Banner” to help. He’ll fight for you.

If your resources are depleted or you lack wisdom, look to Yahweh Jireh (Yireh):“The Lord will provide.” He’ll meet all our needs.

If you feel lost, trust YahwehRo’i: “The Lord my Shepherd” to find you. He’ll care for you tenderly.

If you heart’s in turmoil, seek inner calmness from Yahweh Shalom: “The Lord is Peace.”

Hillsong sings of God’s never-ending glory in their song ‘From the Inside Out.’ Unleash your soul and cry out to Him as you listen to their song:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-afZJ9_TIM

 

Hope

Hope

Life has a way of ripping the in-control rug right out from under us. When mental illness (MI) hits our child, we’re thrust into survival mode. Dreary routines give way to psychiatrist appointments. Laundry could easily be tackled. But emotions must first be healed. Priorities shift. Our kid’s happiness, clarity of thought, and safety become the only things that matter.

A complicated life also simplifies life. We moms, who are used to taking care of everything and everyone, suddenly focus on one person: our vulnerable child.

In a simplified life, short devotionals are in order. So I’ve decided to do several messages based on one-word reflections. The word for this one is hope.

Hopeful children express delightful anticipation. “I can’t wait for our family’s movie night!”

But nothing kills bright expectancy like countless disappointments. Dashed hopes create fragile trust.

“I hope my father will come to my performance tonight. He promised he’d be there. But things always happen to make him break his promises. I doubt he’ll come.”

Many well-meaning parents have to disappoint their kids when life interrupts plans. Things happen that are unpreventable, unavoidable, and unexpected. Love doesn’t let their child down. Limited power does. We humans can’t know the future, let alone control it.

But the One who holds our future can control it. And He won’t let us down. Hebrews 6:19-20 assure us, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf.”

As long as we’re anchored to Christ, we can find peace in the midst of a storm, calmness in the midst of sorrow.

Many of our kids with MI face an uncertain future. Nothing seems sure except the promises of God. As we cling to Christ, we’re fastened to the throne of God. With access to His power, love, comfort, and peace.

MI storms can set our souls adrift. Tornados of emotions rip through our heart as we helplessly watch our child suffer. When symptoms resurface we feel like we’re heading down rapids toward a waterfall. But we have an anchor for our soul.

God is our hope.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).”

 With Him, we can overflow with hope!

When our child with MI is a prodigal, we can entrust him in the hands of our ever-present Father.

When our child needs healing, we can place her in the hands of the Great Physician.

When our child is emotionally shattered, we can seek His perfect peace.

When we need direction, we can lean on His promises for wisdom and provision.

When MI causes division between loved ones, Christ our Mediator can restore relationships.

God reminds us to put our hope in Him.

Jeremiah 14:22 tells us, “Do any of the worthless idols of the nations bring rain? Do the skies themselves send down showers? No, it is you, Lord our God. Therefore our hope is in you, for you are the one who does all this.”

The Psalmist reminded himself to put his hope in God.

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God (Psalm 42:5).”

Isaiah 40:31 tells us the benefits of putting our hope in the Lord. “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

1 Timothy 6:17 urges even the rich to put their hope in God. “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.”

Are you wondering, “How can I go on?”

If you think you can’t take it anymore, 1 Timothy 4:10 reminds you God is real and alive. He’ll help you hang on.

“That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.”

Colossians 1:27 reminds those who are saved have Christ’s indwelling power. “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

The Psalmist reminds you that God is faithful.

“But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish (Psalm 9:18).”

So, like Paul, we can, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer (Romans 12:12).”