Tag Archive | peace

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

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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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In Knots

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Williamsburg, Virginia

“Grandpa has a sore belly,” our daughter-in-law explained. Our granddaughter wouldn’t have understood pain from a gallbladder attack. But she surely could sympathize with belly pain.  So could lots of us.

The booming gluten-free industry is proof my husband’s not alone in digestive misery. People suffer from Celiac Disease and irritable bowel syndrome. Then there’s the ‘itis conditions’: colitis, diverticulitis, gastritis, pancreatitis, and more. A simple google search of ‘digestive illnesses’ yields a long list of miserable conditions. All of which can make your stomach feel like it’s been through a meat grinder.

Mom’s raising kids with mental illness (MI) know another type of stomach pain. The kind that results from worry and stress. Concern can cripple our digestive systems. Rendering us sick with belly pain. Leaving our stomach in knots.

What can ease that kind of twisted torment? Think about what parents to do ease the belly pain of a toddler. We softly stroke their tummy. Our heavenly Father can unknot our stomach when worry twists it like a strand of Christmas lights. Not only will His loving hand soothe our pain, but He’ll replace it with His perfect peace.

If MI has left you in knots, join me in using Psalm 90:15-16 as your prayer:

“Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery! Replace the evil years with good. Let us, your servants, see you work again; let our children see your glory” (NLT)

Stop and reflect on the phrase, “gladness in proportion to our former misery.” We serve a God who promised to, “turn their mourning into gladness,” and to, “give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow” (Jeremiah 31:13).

He will restore your joy. Because He loves you that much.

 

Thanksgiving: Praise and Prayers for Those Suffering

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What comes to mind when you think of the word ‘spread’ at Thanksgiving? For most people, that word conjures up fond memories of a huge feast. A golden turkey surrounded by Aunt Sally’s stuffing, Cousin Sarah’s sweet potato topped with marshmallows, Ben’s bean casserole, and more. Followed by another spread of desserts. Apple pie a la mode, pumpkin pie, and the ever-popular Grandma’s homemade chocolate cake.

Sitting around the holiday table with loved ones can be uncomfortable—in more ways than one. We pig out on the food. And wind up stuffed. Uncle John raises awkward conversations. And we wish we could crawl under the table.

As Thanksgiving approaches, a mother raising a child with mental illness (MI) might have additional things on her mind. Instead of enjoying fond memories of a food spread, some of us fight emotions. Fear spreads as we conjure up thoughts of worst-case scenarios.

Will my child with MI be stable enough to join in the celebration? Will other family members be accepting of him? What if his symptoms emerge? How will others react if he doesn’t eat? How will I respond to probing questions? Can I bear seeing him sitting in a corner all alone another year?

Most Americans pause to thank God on Thanksgiving. Surely, those of us raising kids with MI have a list of praises for God at this time. That He’s protected our own sanity, if nothing else. Wouldn’t it be a relief if Thanksgiving was also a time to send prayers for those who are suffering?

We may feel alone in our journey, but we’re not the only ones who suffer. Everyone suffers at one time or another. President Lincoln demonstrated his awareness of that fact in his Thanksgiving Proclamation. Find his words of compassion in a portion of that proclamation:

“I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans. mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.”

Lincoln was referring to the suffering of the nation faced with civil strife. He invited citizens to pray for ‘the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.’ Those same words could be applied to us.

Here’s my Thanksgiving Day prayer for you:

Dear Father,

I thank You for how You’ve provided for mothers raising children with MI. For those who have seen Your hand in their lives and who have seen improvement in their children. I’m grateful for Your protection. For each mother reading this, I now ask that You give ‘full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union’ in her home.  May Your love spread in the hearts of each family member. Bless each one with a truly joyous Thanksgiving Day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Abundant

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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?”

Whatever!

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Long before Twitter, teenagers spoke their own language. Adults didn’t adopt their expressions. But, parents clearly understood their child’s messages. Especially when they were conveyed in grunts or in split syllables (for emphasis).

“What – EVER!” was code for, “I’m not happy about it. But you’re gonna make me do it anyway.”

I confess that secretly I’ve groaned, “Whatever!” to God at times. A publisher’s rejection zapped my contentment before I had a chance seek His peace. A new illness flooded me with fear before I remembered His promises.

My Father waited patiently while I wallowed in frustration. On each occasion, I eventually tired of my disgruntled attitude and turned to Him.

“Father, forgive me for my reaction. I know it’s based on fear. Please help me trust You for this new phase of my life. Remind me that You’re still in control. Strengthen my shield of faith so I, ‘can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one’ (Ephesians 6:16).”

Sometimes I’d groan, “Whatever!” when a new round of symptoms would emerge in Chris. They’d warn of more stress, another disruption in life, sleepless nights, and endless tears.

Are you good at sensing more fragile emotions in your child who has mental illness (MI)? Does your motherly intuition serve you well? Can you discern something is wrong even by hearing a subtle change in your child’s voice?

If you’re like me, your first reaction is to brace for “Whatever!” I think that’s a completely normal and understandable response. Knowing what you’ve been through previously, fear or worry might be the only logical emotions. Who would see an emotional storm brewing and say, “Oh goody! Bring it on! I was hoping I’d have another trial to test my faith.”

It helps me to know that Paul, the champion of contentment, didn’t discover God’s peace in one day (as if some apostolic genius). It was a process. Thankfully, he revealed, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11).

Paul learned to be content no matter what. The unspoken message is that he didn’t get it right the first time, or the second time, or even the third time. Arriving at contentment was a process. The encouraging news is that we too can gain greater and greater contentment.

How can we become more contented in our situations? Here’s the hard news to swallow: through our trials.

Paul lets us in on his secret. Imagine him holding his pointer finger to his lips and whispering, “S-h-h. Listen up. I know life stinks at times. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12-13).

His secret: He learned to trust in God, rather than himself, others, or things.

I find that easier said, than done. My first reaction isn’t worry or fear so much anymore, but it’s often to rely on my own wisdom to figure out a solution. God has proven time and time again to be faithful to His Word. Why is it so hard for me to trust Him sooner, rather than as a last resort?

Thankfully, Paul didn’t stop there in his pep talk to his brothers. He included a word of encouragement saying, “My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

He knew we’d need a reminder that God will meet all our needs. And that He will supply according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.

“Dear Father, Help me get to a place in my walk with You that I can utter with calmness, ’Whatever.’ I know that circumstances don’t change who You are: my loving Father. Give me an image of You standing beside me as I face any trial. Help me feel Your presence and rely on Your promises. Thank You for Your peace that passes understanding, a perfect peace that protects my heart and mind. In Jesus’ name, Amen”

How do you cast your care on Him? Worship songs sometimes help.

Matt Redman sings about a heart that can say, “Whatever.” Part of the lyrics to “10,000 Reasons, Bless the Lord O My Soul” include:

The sun comes up

It’s a new day dawning

It’s time to sing Your song again

Whatever may pass

And whatever lies before me

Let me be singing

When the evening comes

Use Matt Redman’s song as your prayer to God.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pt5VnHYc-4k

Cast

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Imagine having enough money to hire someone to worry for you. The designated worry wart would provide you with care-free thinking and peaceful emotions. Their job description: take on all your anxiety. Specific tasks would include: wringing hands, enduring sleepless nights, and imagining worst-case scenarios (however unrealistic). The trusted employee would promise to: never share any of their negative thoughts or painful emotions with you, never offer you any advice to improve situations, and never pass along encouraging words to you.

Sounds like an enticing proposition, huh? It would only work if you turned over your concerns completely. Holding anything back would keep you in the worry loop. Maybe having enough money for that extravagance isn’t your biggest problem. If you’re anything like me, the complete release would be the greatest challenge.

Why do I find it so hard to leave my concerns at the throne of God?

Recently football gave me insight into why I withhold my cares. A quarterback has to fully release the ball in order to be part of a successful pass completion. Once he throws the ball, he relies on the skill of the receiver to catch it. Not every ball is caught. Athletes are human.

But we have access to a perfect Receiver. If we toss our cares heavenward, God has promised to receive them. However, we must fully release them. We know He has the almighty power to handle our problems. We sometimes lack the willingness to trust Him with all the details.

Here’s a peek into my half-hearted trust:

Heavenly Father, please protect Chris as he ventures into the city. Thank You that You go with him wherever he travels. I know You love Chris with a love more perfect than mine.

As night falls and Chris hasn’t yet returned, the worries I held back begin to emerge.

Did Chris wear warm clothes. What if he missed the last train out of the city? Has he been harmed?

I’m like a quarterback who thrusts his hand forward, while keeping his fingers tightly gripped on the ball. What’s the point of worrying? Do I really think it will do any good?

My worrying leads to guilt feelings. I feel like my faith is weak and I’ve failed in my walk with the Lord.

Thankfully, God knows I’d need assurances. He leads me to these reminders:

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken (Psalm 55:22).”

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).”

The next time I’m facing a potentially worrisome event, I’ll picture my thoughts tucked inside a football. With my mind’s eye focused on God, I’ll imagine throwing the package full of care His way. And “watch” my fingers unfold from the ball and fold again in prayer.


Raising a child with mental illness (MI) can be a lonely journey. Other words which include ‘cast’ come to mind. Like castaway. Do you feel like you’ve been cast aside? Left all alone like a castaway?

Have you been so devastated that you feel downcast? On the brink of depression?

Imagine Christ putting a cast around your heart. Like a cushion to stabilize your emotions while they heal. Feel His arms embrace you. And cast your eyes upon Him.

The lyrics of “Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus” remind us of the benefits of shifting our focus towards Christ.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,

Look full in His wonderful face,

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,

In the light of His glory and grace.

Rest in His peace as you listen to ‘Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus’ by Alan Jackson

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nO4uIyz_d90

Greater Rejoicing at Christmas BECAUSE of Suffering

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Little did we know back then that the Christmas story would hold the key to our son’s hope. When Chris was five years old he recited Luke 2:8-14 in church. Listen to his tiny voice declaring ‘peace to His people on earth.’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_yoVGaIaE8k

In December 1996 on another Christmas, eleven years later, Chris unraveled. Psychosis clouded his thinking and ravaged his emotions. He needed peace. We all needed peace.

Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines peace as, “freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions.”

Can there be peace in the context of mental illness (MI)? Can we hope for peace? Back in 1997 we experienced God’s peace in the midst of our sorrow.

Surely we have trouble. But we can rejoice: in Him we find peace.

John 16:33 reminds us that Christ’s birth brought peace. Jesus assured his followers, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Suffering has a way of illuminating joy. How is that possible? Think about it. Serious struggles in life clarify priorities. Small annoyances no longer bother us. Dark trials deepen our faith. Send us to our knees. That’s when we really experience God’s faithfulness, power, and love. The result: inner joy.

What are you hoping for this Christmas? That the calendar days will fly by and the holiday will pass quickly? That you’ll have an incident-free family celebration?

Maybe you’re yearning for the less-complicated life of the past—before MI struck your child.

Do you wonder how you can celebrate with a heavy heart? Are you afraid Christmas lights will mock your dark emotions?

Perhaps what we all need is peace. That’s precisely why we can embrace Christmas more than others who seemingly lead a carefree life. The message of the season is peace. But we know life is filled with stress and trouble. We can count on them: trials. Sooner or later we’ll find ourselves enduring a trial.

Paul accepted that fact and told the Thessalonians, “We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them (1 Thessalonians 3:2-3).”

Where can we find hope knowing that we’re bound to experience trials? Raising a child with MI can test our faith. How can we hold onto our belief in a loving, living God?

When things got tough for Paul, the unshakable faith of others kept him strong.

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith (1 Thessalonians 3:7).”

We’re like Paul. We see others going through a similar trial raising a child with MI. Their enduring faith encourages us. With bolstered faith we say, “If they can keep the faith during their ordeal, so can I.” Their testimony renews our trust in God. With greater assurance we declare, “If they can keep their eyes fixed on Jesus, so can I.”

In Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians, he encouraged them with this reminder:

“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 (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17).”

We all share in that ‘eternal encouragement.’ I don’t know about you, but I need endless encouragement. Reassurances from above that will settle my heart. And give me His peace.

The radio has already started playing Christmas songs. I love the familiar carols that remind me of His peace. Songs like these:

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

“Hark! the herald angels sing

‘Glory to the newborn King

Peace on earth and mercy mild,

God and sinners reconciled!’”

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

Their old familiar carols play,

And wild and sweet the words repeat

Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

It Came Upon The Midnight Clear

“It came upon the midnight clear,

That glorious song of old,

From angels bending near the earth

With news of joy foretold,

“‘Peace on the earth, good will to men

From heaven’s all gracious King.’”

Give yourself permission to unwrap your Christmas present from God early. Open up Isaiah 9:6. You’ll find that blessed Gift, God’s Son, the Prince of Peace. Along with God’s Gift comes perfect peace. You’ll find the promise of that peace wrapped lovingly in Philippians 4:7.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

That’s one re-gifting we can all celebrate! It’s for everyone!!!