Tag Archive | Job

Where will my child fit in?

square-hole-round-peg-web-i

Mental illness (MI) has a way of altering parents’ expectations for their children. Howie and I just want Chris to be happy and healthy. But Chris wants more. Can you blame him? He’s a typical adult who yearns to live on his own.

When Chris graduated from college he realized what a tremendous accomplishment it was. He gave himself permission to take some time off. During those years he occupied himself constructively. Often he’d work on computer projects for himself or for others. He also spent time working out at the gym and by volunteering at the Christian school where I worked.

Now Chris is ready to find a job that would provide enough money for him to move out.  I’d love to point him in the right direction and say, “Check that job out. It would be perfect for you. I know the manager.” But Chris is an adult. He wants to search on his own. So I have to trust God to guide him.

I don’t know about you, but that’s hard. You think by now I’d be an expert at trusting God. To place Chris in the loving and capable hands of the Creator of the universe. It helped me to remember a driving lesson I had with our other son, Rob.

Rob had had about four lessons. So he felt like an expert. Before he pulled away, while the car was still in park, he revved the engine. With a playful grin he said, “Watch this!”

To say the least I didn’t find any humor in it. It took all my emotional resources to find the courage just to let my baby sit in the driver’s seat. He lacked experience and ability so I could not rest easy while he drove. It was necessary for me to be alert, on the lookout for any possible danger that he would not foresee. As he gained more experience I felt more comfortable with him driving. Not nearly as comfortable as I would feel if God were in the driver’s seat.

That thought floods my mind with a vision of God at the wheel. As I pass the keys to Him I say, “Here are the keys to my life’s journey. Here are the keys to Chris’s exploration of job possibilities. Here are the keys to my heart.”

He looks at me with a smile and says, “Watch this!” I sit back and relax. I’ve witnessed Him drive me safely up MI Mountain. He faithfully protected me around winding curves in our journey. I’ve grown to trust Him as the expert Driver of my life. So this is just a new road to travel. He knows the way. I’ll just enjoy the scenery.

When my faith in Him wavers, I’ll recall past experiences. Memories of His provision and protection during heart-wrenching episodes with Chris’s MI.

We’ve invested so much in the lives of our vulnerable children. So I think it’s only natural for us to plan our child’s future. We try to figure out where our child with MI will fit in. That can be mentally and emotionally exhausting. We need to cast those cares on the Lord. Knowing He will carry that burden.  He’s been faithful before and He’ll provide again.

Our experiences with MI give us a peek at His power. We can be assured He has a plan for our child’s life and a purpose for him. And He’s fully able to guide our child towards that purpose.

“A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”  Proverbs 16:9

So here’s what I pray for Chris as he applies for jobs:

Dear Father,

Help Chris be sensitive to Your leading. Reveal to him Your plan for his life. Close doors to activities which would cause undue stress and open those You’ve prepared for him to enter. In Jesus’ name, Amen

Dictionary.com defines work as, “exertion or effort directed to produce or accomplish something; labor; toil.” I have multiple sclerosis (MS). At a support group meeting a mother of a child with MS said, “I tell my daughter that her job is to take care of herself.” I appreciated that comment. My progressive illness makes it harder and harder for me to contribute. It’s necessary for me to do water walking to maintain my mobility. Getting to the gym requires tremendous effort. Without a doubt it’s ‘exertion to accomplish something.’ Doing that exercise is like running a marathon. It’s work.

People ask me, “What do you do?” They expect to hear the typical answer. Like what I do to earn money. Sometimes I proudly answer, “I water walk.”

We can help our kids understand that part of their job is to take care of themselves. That’s nothing to be ashamed of. Beyond that there are other things your child can do with his time. The Bible is a great place to find possible “occupations.”

Spreading the Gospel

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:19-20).”

I know a young man who has serious MI. He also loves the Lord. All he wants to do is tell others about Christ. He spends his time going to church and Bible studies. In spite of the emotional turbulence he feels and the voices he hears, he smiles and talks about Jesus. Now THAT’S a life full of meaning!

Doing Good Works (helping those in need, visiting the sick, helping the poor, etc.).

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).”

“This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men (Titus 3:8).”

“But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’  Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also (James 2:18, 26).”

“My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth (1 John 3:18).”

“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me (Matthew 25:37-40).’”

Bringing Joy Into The Lives Of Others By Sharing A Talent

“And so it was, whenever the spirit from God was upon Saul, that David would take a harp and play it with his hand. Then Saul would become refreshed and well, and the distressing spirit would depart from him (1 Samuel 16:23).”

“Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people. (Philemon 7).”

Our Chris has his father’s musical gift. He can pick up any instrument and play it. He’s shared his talent by playing in church and at nursing homes.

Perhaps your child is creative in other ways. Maybe he’s able to paint well or sculpt. Those projects could become gifts for loved ones or sold on a website.

If you think your child has nothing to offer the Lord, think again. Scripture tells us that weaker members have an important purpose.

“There is [absolute] necessity for the parts of the body that are considered the more weak. And those [parts] of the body which we consider rather ignoble are [the very parts] which we invest with additional honor, and our unseemly parts and those unsuitable for exposure are treated with seemliness (modesty and decorum) …But God has so adjusted (mingled, harmonized, and subtly proportioned the parts of) the whole body, giving the greater honor and richer endowment to the inferior parts which lack [apparent importance] [1 Corinthians 12:22-24  (AMP)].”

The world may consider individuals with MI to be less important. It’s comforting to know God gives them greater honor.

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In the Shadow of Death

Our Beloved Pet

Our Beloved Pet


Are we ever prepared for the death of a loved one?

On Martin Luther King Day, we had to put down our beloved 13 yr. old cocker spaniel. Three days later, my 93 yr. old mother-in-law, Mary, passed away.

Losing a family member is devastating. Losing two loved ones in the same week is more painful.

Many of us who have a child with serious mental illness (MI) worry about an early death of that child because MI can lead a person to commit suicide.

Our son, Chris, often says, “I won’t kill myself. But if I die, I’ll be in a much better place.”
Each time he repeats those words, I wonder if God is preparing my heart to face the unthinkable: Chris’s life being cut short. How could I face such tragedy?

Christ’s disciples faced the death of their Lord. Such loss. Soon after, He arose from the grave and appeared to them. Such joy! But, then He left them again as He ascended.

Then the disciples did something unexpected. They worshiped Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and praised God.

When our dog died, my first reaction wasn’t joy. When I saw Mary in the hospital after she suffered a massive stroke, my inclination wasn’t to worship and praise God. Sadness flooded my heart. Tears flowed.

How were Jesus’ followers able to praise God when their Master left them? Luke tells us the answer.

“While He was blessing them, He left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.” Luke 24:51-53

They looked to God. They stayed in His presence.

Only there, can we find the same comfort. Remaining in His Word and continuing in prayer.

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3
We can have victory over the enemy’s attempt to get us to abandon our faith.

The Bible tells us that we have a cloud of witness (Hebrews 12). Heroes of faith who have gone on before us are cheering us on. Can you hear them speaking to you? They’re telling you, “Trust God. Be patient. He is compassionate and merciful. Keep running your race. You can do it because God is faithful.”

Still, I wonder if I could maintain a trust in God if my son died young. I know the Holy Spirit would comfort me.

That same Comforter helped Job. A man who lost not just one child, but all his children…in addition to his livelihood. Yet, he still praised God.

“Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’” Job 1:20-21

Job wasn’t the only one who lost his business and all his children.
In 1873 Horatio Spafford, a wealthy Chicago lawyer, wrote the words to the favorite hymn “It is Well with My Soul.”

Job and Horatio Spafford were real people. We can have a blessed assurance that God will help us through such grief. We may not understand why God allows suffering. But by faith we too can say, “It is well with my soul.”

Listen to that hymn as you read Horatio Spafford’s remarkable story.

It’s complicated.

Dodgeball

Ask a youngster, “What’s your favorite subject” and recess might be the answer. Some may say gym. My second graders loved to play Bombardment during phys. ed. What fun they had dodging balls coming at them from all sides! Sheer joy.

Do you ever feel like you’re the target in Bombardment? Sometimes it’s as if trials are being hurled at us from all directions. But, there’s no thrill in dodging them.

Recently, that’s been my life.

First, a realization hit me that I’m experiencing a mild relapse. Symptoms of my multiple sclerosis suddenly got worse. Knocking me out at the most inopportune times. Like when I was food shopping with my husband, Howie. Wham! That tell-tale listless feeling came over me. It was like an implosion inside my body. Energy collapsed down through my core, leaving me dizzy. The pain in my extremities got worse. With barely enough strength I whispered to my husband, “Please take me home. I need to go home now.”

In denial, I attended a Christmas party a few nights later with Howie. Bam! That same listless feeling came over me. Right in the middle of a game of Charades.  With puddles of tears in my eyes I announced, “I need to go home now.” What a party pooper!

The next barrage came the day after Christmas. This time, a phone call catapulted the news of and incoming trial. The phone rang at 11:00 PM (which was my cue to duck!).  My husband’s brother reported, “Howie, Mom’s fallen and I can’t get her up.” Howie’s 93 yr. old mother most likely experienced a brain stem stroke. Pow! Another trial slammed me.

Another attack floored me. We noticed our beloved Cocker, Allegro had a noticeable growth on his abdomen. Two years ago, a 12 inch tumor was removed. The cancer is now spreading.

Why can’t trials just take a number and wait in line, like we do at the deli section of the food store? Better yet, why do we need to have a bunch of challenges smash us at once? If I had to order them, I’d ask for just one rocky road please….or one scoop of suffering. Actually, I say politely, “No thanks…I’ll pass…not problems for me now.”

But life stressors hit us. It’s hard enough when they come all at once. But, when you add mental illness into the mix, it’s…complicated. In our current situation, we’re exploring nursing homes for my mother-in-law. Given her acute cognition problems and her frequent falling, she can no longer live in her home. She couldn’t safely navigate the 14 steps to get to the bathroom.

Our son, Chris, told us, “I think you’re doing to Grand mom what you did to me.”  (referring to the time he was hospitalized against his will). The last thing I want to do is remind Chris of a painful time in his life. But we can’t put each trial in a box and deal with them one at a time.

Job in the Bible knew a thing or two about trials hitting all at once. He lost all, but didn’t lose it. He lost his livelihood, but not his faith. He lost all his children, but not his mind. His God is my God. I’ll survive this challenging time by following Job’s example. Job was able to say,

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”  Job 1:21

If he could still praise the Lord, so can I. Job chose not to follow his wife’s advice:

“His wife said to him, ‘Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!’ He replied, ‘You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?’”  Job 2:9-10

Dear Father,

Help me accept whatever comes my way. Knowing You will never leave me.  Remind me this isn’t heaven. Help me focus on Your power and love to help me through this.