Tag Archive | MS

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.”

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No One Knows

old couple in love
The elderly woman shuffled out the door of the nursing home. Her husband drove up and got out of his car to open her door.
Her words said, “Oh, you don’t have to do that,” but her smile said, “I love how you pamper me.”
In a strong Russian accent he lovingly replied, “How many times (will) I have this honor?”
In his twilight years, he still considered it an honor to open the door for his wife. And savored each time he had the opportunity. Not knowing how much longer he’d have with his bride. He sincerely cherished the privilege to serve her.

What a blessing it was to witness his caring spirit!
Who knows how long he’s been caring for his wife? Who knows how many decades he’s tenderly helped her?

Who knows how long you’ve been caring for your child who has mental illness (MI)?

No one knows how many times you’ve extended kindness without getting any thanks in return. No one knows the hurt you feel when your loving acts are shunned or not acknowledged by your child. No one knows how hard it is to keep doing it. Day after day.

Our job is often a thankless job. And yet we continue. Why? Love compels us.
Many of us serve family members to honor God. Knowing He sees our compassionate parenting.
God understands our motives and our pain. The Psalmist echoes our desires:
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” Psalm 139:23

Do you ever wish you could simply give up? Get away. Take a vacation from all the responsibilities.
I used to teach second graders. I loved teaching, but hated grading papers. One day, while buried in papers, I whined to my husband, “I HATE grading papers!”
He calmly advised, “Don’t think of it as something you have to do; think of it as something you can do.”

What a transforming thought! I don’t have to view hard work or difficulties as drudgery. It’s my choice how I perceive unpleasant or challenging situations.

Like having multiple sclerosis (MS) in addition to having a son with MI. I can view it as a curse or a blessing.
A fellow MS patient once shared her reaction to the two disabilities in our family. “What a double whammy!”
I replied, “Actually, it’s kinda bitter sweet. Yes, it stinks to have MS. But, my son Chris and I understand each other’s medical challenges. He’s very compassionate about my cognition problems. He once told me he’s glad that he can help me in return for everything I’ve done for him. Chris witnesses the peace God gives me and knows it’s for real.”

We all have a choice. Some days are better than others. Sometimes it’s easier to maintain a positive attitude. Other days, only God’s grace can help us manage a smile.

When I’m having one of those days, it helps me recall the words of a black Baptist preacher. He bellowed his admonition, “Wives, when you wash the dishes, do it AS UNTO THE LORD! Men, mow the lawn AS UNTO THE LORD! Teens, do your homework AS UNTO THE LORD! Children, clean your room AS UNTO THE LORD! Workers, complete your tasks AS UNTO THE LORD!”
The Holy Spirit fills my head with those words. They prod me to keep going as if coaching me through my day. Do it as unto the Lord. That’s right. Do it as unto the Lord. You can do it. Do it as unto the Lord.

A favorite song reminds me of my free will to praise God no matter what. The song, “Blessed Be Your Name” expresses my intention:
“You give and take away. You give and take away. My heart will choose to say, blessed be Your name.”
MS has taken away my ability to teach second graders. But, my heart chooses to say, “Blessed be Your name, Lord.” With an eternal perspective, I’m able to notice the advantages of having MS. Grading papers are gone, and occasional photo shoots are in. I can visit my mother an aunt periodically. How I cherish those get-togethers! Just like that dear man holding the door for his wife, I don’t know how much longer I have with them.

I can sigh, “No one knows what I’m going through.” Or, I can choose to remember Him. My heavenly Father knows. He is well-pleased with my labors. He knows I’m doing the best I can.

Think no one knows? God sees it all. Keep going for Him.
“Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people.” Ephesians 6:7

Halloween and a Troubled Mind: A Bad Combination

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

I have multiple sclerosis (MS). Heat and MS are a bad combination. Heat and humidity make my aches more painful.

So, I avoid them at all cost. There are things I can do in my home. Lowering the temperature revives me. Air conditioning is like medicine. Closed blinds scream, “Sun, do not enter!”

But, outside searing rays are all around. Exposure to the heat seems inevitable during the summer. Am I doomed to a reclusive life four months of the year?

No! I refuse to be banished from outdoor activities. A cooling vest, a battery operated hand-held fan, and a large floppy hat protect me from burning temperatures. Life is more bearable. Avoiding a bad combination is the key.

Others know the dangers of harmful exposures.

The diabetic refrains from binging on sugar. The lung cancer patient ceases from smoking cigarettes. Sweets and smoking feed those diseases. Resisting past indulgences improves one’s health.

What should someone with mental illness (MI) avoid? Halloween. Exposure to disturbing images can’t be good for someone with MI. Such a person needs relief from distorted thinking or turbulent emotions.

Should we resign ourselves to the steady diet of ugliness October brings?

No! We can refuse to have our children’s heads contaminated with grotesque get-ups masquerading as fun costumes. And feed our kids spiritually healthy food instead. Filling their minds with joy and hope.

The Bible is our sword of defense. God’s Truth can shift the focus to pure and pleasant thoughts. That’s how we combat their troubled thinking and dark emotions.

When Chris was recovering from his first psychotic episode, I gave him a 2” X 3” Bible verse card each day.  He kept it in his pocket. That tiny card became his private lifeline in the midst of assailing ugly thoughts. During his school day, he had instant access to biblical truths.

Whenever he began to feel overwhelmed, fearful, or sad, he reached for the card. Healing promises refreshed his soul. Helping him to refocus on God’s love.

I, too, find refreshment in His Word. Reflecting on God’s faithfulness gives me strength. I feed on the promises of the Bible. They are a feast for my heart.