Tag Archive | purpose

Gone, but Not Gone

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Here’s what I have to say to my illness.

Wretched multiple sclerosis (MS),

You may have whittled down my ability to teach. You may have invaded my brain with countless lesions. Making it difficult for me to meet the demands of full-time teaching. But, I’m still teaching occasionally. You may suck the energy out of my body. But, not my life. I’m NOT gone. Neither are my skills and talents.

Always defiant and victorious, Vicki

Life created by God:

Consider a forsythia bush. It maintains the potential to display beauty regardless of the season. In winter, its branches look dead. But, deep inside its lifeless appearance lays a vibrant life.

I’m like that winter branch. I still have the potential to share God’s love regardless of my symptoms. I’ve found new ways to bless others. Instead of baking cookies, I snap photographs of God’s creation. And use them to design calendars.

zoo.peacock  zoo.flamgo  zoo.peacock2

Regardless of the seasons in my life, I remain the person God created me to be. I have the assurance that, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” (Psalm 139:14a). MS hasn’t destroyed who I am. My disease may have altered my plans. But, my illness can’t demolish God’s plan for my life.

Similarly, mental illness (MI) may have stripped your children of their desire to do anything. But, it hasn’t robbed them of their God-given talents and skills. Ask God to reveal evidence of those abilities.

God has given me glimpses of my son’s talents and skills. Chris occasionally plays his keyboard. The music I hear doesn’t merely fill me with pride. It fills me with gratitude.

That’s the Chris I know and love.

Recently, Chris was telling me about the operating system (OS) he had created for computers.

“Check out my website, Mom. Visitors will find instructions how to install the free OS.”

When I clicked on his site, I had no clue what it all meant, but was amazed. I was blown away by the clarity of his language. Obviously, MI hadn’t robbed him of his technical ability, or his ability to explain directions in understandable terms.

Life with a purpose:

Has despondency has left your child with little or no motivation to function? Or does your child desperately want to contribute, but isn’t sure how? Does MI seem to present insurmountable obstacles?

Do you look at our child with MI and wonder what will become of him? You’re not alone. Many grapple with the question, “What gives meaning to my child’s life?”

Perhaps, you’re determined that his existence won’t be all about MI. Ask God to arouse in him a desire to use his creativity or skills. Seek God’s wisdom to discern His plan for your child.

Power for living:

We imagine our kids living a life full of challenges. And our hearts are broken. What hope can we gain from the Bible? Did anyone face unending trials? The apostle Paul did. So, when he shares hopeful words, we listen.

First, read what Paul endured:

“Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked” (2 Corinthians 11:23-27).

It’s no surprise that Paul didn’t think he could endure it any longer. Join me in my “conversation” with Paul.

When you reached your limit, what did you do, Paul?

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9).

So, God’s grace helped you?

“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10).

It’s encouraging to hear that God’s power and grace worked through you. I pray my child will experience that same indwelling, divine power and grace.


Grace that’s never gone

So how did Paul endure? God’s grace remained with him.

 Regardless of the challenges our kids have to face, they will always have access to God’s grace.

Like Paul, I can say, “By the grace of God I am what I am.” And by the grace of God, our children will be who they are…who the Creator made them to be.

If you feel beaten down, let Hillsong’s “You Are My Strength” minister to you. The lyrics tell of God’s amazing grace:

“In the fullness of Your grace

In the power of Your name

You lift me up

You lift me up”

Listen to their song over and over until the lyrics block out all the thoughts that attempt to discourage you. The Truth is that God’s grace will lift you up.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwvGFWKBo4o

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Where will my child fit in?

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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.

Don’t Give Up

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Drifting…Lost Direction

Recently I’ve been feeling like a dead leaf. Lifeless and lacking purpose. Drifting without direction. Discouraged and defeated.

Surprisingly, raising a son with mental illness (MI) didn’t do me in. My multiple sclerosis (MS) hasn’t conquered me. My thwarted writing plans snarled me. Leaving me sinking in quicksand.

Strange how we can handle the big problems. And how smaller disappointments demolish our determination. So what was my final knock-down punch?

The marketing plan I created to promote my picture book hasn’t been yielding the intended results fast enough. My throne of self-sufficiency has crumbled.

Howie noticed my discouragement and lovingly said, “Don’t worry, Vic, we’ll figure it out.”

“I think that’s been my problem,” I replied. “I’VE been figuring it out. I need to figure HIM out.”

Since I can’t control the course of my MS or the symptoms of Chris’s MI, I’m starved for control. My problem has been this obsession to control things. I want to control SOMETHING in my life. Can you identify?

Our power to manage everything associated with MI is limited. MI prevents our kids from responding to our love.

Do you reach out to your child only to have him shut down? Is your comfort rejected?

Sometimes our well-meaning efforts backfire.

Do your peaceful words only enflame his anger? Does your child refuse to follow your advice? Do you intervene on your child’s behalf only to be misunderstood? Have you sought the advice of countless specialists only to have no clear diagnosis?

We encounter obstacles and dead ends.

What tempts you to give up? How many times can you get knocked down and rise again? How long can you support your child who has mental illness (MI) without seeing any improvement?

Quitting isn’t an option. What mother could ever abandon her most vulnerable child? So we try and try. Even though nothing seems to help our child with MI.

The eagle can provide insight into why our efforts fail. Instead of relying on its massive wingspan (average 6’ – 7.5’), it waits for the perfect conditions to step off its peak.

It soars and glides with less effort because it goes with the flow of God’s winds. Air currents, such as slope updrafts (winds that runs into a mountain and are forced to rise), enable the eagle to rise without flapping its wings. A massive eagle can simply float upward by catching a ride on rising bubbles of hot air called “thermals.”

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Like the eagle, we can wait for God’s perfect timing. That will keep us from flapping in our own strength. We can depend on His power to carry us through the journey.

Those of us who are downcast have this promise: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)”

Picture that. God’s hand cradling you. Then imagine Him gently lifting you up. In due time, He’ll uplift your countenance and soothe your emotions if you trust Him with all your cares. He’s sure to guide you along HIS path.

Feeling weary? Tired of the trial? In a pit of hopelessness? God’s Word promises you’ll soar like an eagle if you hope in Him.

“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. (Isaiah 40:31)”

God saw my problem: the anguish of my soul.

“I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul. (Psalm 31:7)”

God provided the solution: the Anchor for my soul.

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. (Hebrews 6:19)”

Let’s trade anguish for the Anchor. Let’s not lose hope. Or give up. Let’s keep doing our best and trust God for the rest.

Following God’s lead through trials gets easier. His constant faithfulness demonstrates the Truth of His Word. His love never fails.

The group Jesus Culture reminds us in their song ‘One Thing Remains’ that God’s love, “never fails, never gives up, never runs out.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_KXsMCJgBQ