Tag Archive | recovery

Musical Strain


It’s powerful. It can make people move, smile, sleep, or cry. And can change the mood of a crowd.  Music has power to influence emotions. David played his harp and freed Saul from a distressing spirit (1 Samuel 16:23).

According to Wikipedia, a musical strain is “a series of musical phrases that create a distinct melody of a piece.” Musical strain, in Chris’s case, represented stress that threatened his peace. Music contributed to his breakdown.

Being in several competitive bands is demanding. It requires endless practicing. It proved to be too much for Chris. But once he recovered from his psychotic episode, Chris wanted to return to his old routine. That included music competitions.

Chris had been released from the hospital and had finished his junior year. Thanks to gifted homeschool teachers, Chris completed his work on time and received good grades. Summer vacations to Colorado and leadership camp proved Chris was well on his way toward full recovery. But I still worried.

Chris has accomplished a lot since his breakdown. But he might still be emotionally fragile. I don’t think he’d be able to handle the stress of those music competitions. How can I allow him to subject himself to such pressure? How can I tell him not to audition?

God reminded me His power is greater than any musical composition. His perfect peace can block out the most disturbing music. Here’s how it happened:


November was the month auditions were held for County Band (the best musicians in the county) and District Band (the best musicians in the area—several counties). That time of the month brought painful memories.

Just last year Chris auditioned for County Band and District Band. The day after his District Band try outs, he suffered his breakdown. Howie says we should let Chris enter the competition. I’ll ask everyone for prayer.

“Is it wise to let Chris do to the auditions?” many of my close friends would ask.

“If we don’t let him try out, he’ll feel more like a failure than if he auditioned and didn’t make it. He’d resent his mother controlling his life. I can’t refuse him the opportunity to demonstrate his incredible musical abilities. I don’t want to stand by and watch the added stress harm him again. That’s why I’m asking for prayer.”

We came up with a plan to support Chris as much as possible during the auditions. I made arrangements for Chris to see his psychologist immediately after the County Band auditions. Chris traveled to the auditions with his music director, Robert, and other students. I met him there and found the hosting school staff.

“My son, Chris, has a doctor’s appointment today. I’ll need to take him immediately after his audition,” I informed them.

Robert had to deal with his mother showing up at the auditions. Chris didn’t seem to mind. In fact, he welcomed my support. A reaction that both pleased me and concerned me.

District Band tryouts came next. Plans were put in place once again. I’d meet Chris at the school and take him to his appointment with the psychologist. I arrived at the school when all the students were warming up their instruments. The auditorium was filled with blaring, distorted sounds. The unrelated notes eerily resembled the “music” of a shattered mind.

What must this sound like to Chris? It can only amplify his apprehension and any distorted thought. I’ve got to get him out of this room!

I frantically searched for Chris. With a sense of urgency to free him of the noise. Usually it was easy to spot Chris because the slide of his trombone is easy to locate. Not this time. The longer it took for me to find him, the more I began to panic.

Where can he be? What’s happened to him? Was this a big mistake?

Finally I noticed him sitting on the edge of the stage. His head hung down and his shoulders were bent over. He was the only student not warming up. His pathetic appearance filled me with mixed emotions. Sorrow made my stomach feel like I’d just headed downward in a rollercoaster. But gratitude filled my heart.

I waded through the sea of instruments and musicians. When I reached him I asked, “Are you allowed to walk around?”

“Yeah. We can leave the auditorium.”

What a relief to reach the quiet, peaceful hallway. The Lord even helped me get permission for Chris to be tested earlier than scheduled.

While Chris was in a room being tested, two students walked by. They were saying unkind things about a fellow musician they’d seen last year.

“Do you remember that weird kid who acted so strange last year?” one asked.

“Yeah. He played the trombone. He was odd.”

They’re talking about Chris! I didn’t know he acted strangely last year. Not enough for others to notice. Father, why did I have to hear those unkind comments?

Thankfully, that audition ended without incident.

Soon after, we got the results. Robert and Chris made County Band. Chris also made District Band. Any musician would rejoice in such an accomplishment. In Chris’s case this represented a tremendous testimony of God’s provision. It was also proof of Chris’s determination, courage, and talent.

Dear Father,

Thank You for showing Chris that life can go on. I praise You that Your power is greater than anything. Dissonant music filled the room. But Your perfect peace inhabited Chris’s mind. You silence the discord in our hearts and our lives.



Not Me!


What is the main reason ladies attend a women’s retreat? To be able to say, “I’m going to the ladies room,” instead of, “Let’s go potty.” To have a reason to buy new clothes…for themselves. To have wonderful fellowship—lots of great conversations (all simultaneously, of course). For lots of laughing and good crying.

All true reasons, but not the main reason. They go seeking the Lord. To hear His voice. To worship Him—uninterrupted.

Not me. I went to escape the whole ordeal of Chris’s mental illness (MI). He was well on his way to recovery and didn’t need me as much. It had been four months since his first psychotic episode. His medication helped him return to school. Chris appeared to be managing things well.  Howie sent me on my way with his blessings.

The theme of the retreat was ‘Jesus is the Potter and We Are the Clay.’ Worship music helped me relax. MI was far from my mind. I basked in His love. His perfect peace refreshed my soul.

The speakers shared verses challenging us to yield to God’s molding. To let Him shape us into vessels worthy of service for Him. On the last day of the retreat one of the speakers held up a beautiful cup and saucer. Gold lining hinted at its extravagance.

“This cup and saucer are very special to me. Not because it’s an expensive piece of china. It’s valuable to me because of who gave it to me. A dear friend bought this for me. To thank me for journeying with her from insanity to sanity.”

“Journeying with her from insanity to sanity.”

Those words jolted me back to reality. My heavenly feeling was replaced with MI worries. A familiar empty feeling returned to the pit of my stomach. I forced myself to continue listening to the speaker. To resume my emotional vacation. To listen to God speak words I needed to hear.

The speaker presented the challenge: “Those of you who want to be servants of God, to be vessels chosen by the Master Potter, stand.”

Just about all 500 women in attendance rose instantly. Except me. I remained planted firmly in my seat.

Oh no…I know what this is all about. I’ve just been through the fire. Now I’ll be content to let the Lord just leave me on the shelf for a while.

Suddenly, I realized I was one of the few ladies still sitting.

How must this look? Many of the women know I’m the administrator. They’re probably wondering why Miss Christian School administrator isn’t willing to be God’s servant. Well, I don’t care. I’m not going to stand to be seen of men…I mean to be seen of women.

Then my thoughts began to wander. I reflected on how much I’d seen God work in our lives through Chris’s MI. Words from one of the workshops echoed in my mind.

“The deeper the pit, the brighter the light.” I’d experienced that first-hand. In my darkest hour, God’s light showed us the way. Reminded us of His presence. Surely, my trial had been bittersweet. I experienced the provision, protection, and comfort of God.

I went from ‘not me’ to ‘use me’ and stood confidently. With tears rolling down my face. Knowing the cost. Trusting in Him.

Father, I’m not standing by my own human courage. I’m standing on Your promises. Knowing that as You’ve been faithful before, You’ll be faithful again. So, I trust You to mold me and use me. 

I returned home from the retreat ready to face whatever. Knowing I’d be okay no matter what happened because I’m a child of the King.

And so are you!

Sing along and tell the Master Potter, “Have Thine own way.”