Tag Archive | restore

Follow Close

Follow.closely

“No matter where we go on a field trip, there’s one important rule to follow,” I advised my student teacher. “Return with the same amount of students.”

What’s the trick of keeping track of twenty-five eight year olds? Constantly count to make sure no one has wandered away. And appoint a chaperone to walk at the end of the line.

As long as my students followed me, they were safe.

We’re like those young children. It’s necessary for us to follow the One who can keep us safe.

Many of us raising a child with mental illness (MI) can’t see where life’s headed. Sometimes it’s like driving in a blizzard. The white-out conditions make it difficult to find the road. And blind our eyes to the curves ahead. We peer into the distance, trying to find safe patches of road. Holding our breath as we maneuver through unknown territory. Bracing for slick spots—icy patches in the road that would send us spinning out of control.

Suddenly we spot two faint dots straight ahead. Could it be another car? As we inch our way closer it becomes easier to identify the lights. We breathe a sigh of relief. Another car IS driving ahead. Casting light onto the road.

Thank You, God. I’ll just follow those tail lights.

There’s relief in following a leader. Especially when God is the One pointing the way.

But in the midst of our trials, it’s sometimes hard to find God. Job described his search.

“Oh, that I knew where I might find Him. Look, I go forward, but He is not there, And backward, but I cannot perceive Him; When He works on the left hand, I cannot behold Him; When He turns to the right hand, I cannot see Him” [Job 23:3a, 8-9 (NKJV)].

Can you relate? Do you look into the past to see if God left any hints that your child would become depressed, suicidal, psychotic, enraged, or tormented? Do you try to track God in your current circumstances, wondering if He’s working at all? Do you look into the future and try to figure out how God could help your child?

Job was able to endure great losses because he followed God. In the midst of his suffering he stated with assurance that God “knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside. I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread” (Job 23:10-12).

We, too, can follow God’s steps by treasuring His Word. God goes before us as our guide. He speaks to us through scriptures.

In the Bible we all find comfort for our broken heart.

The mother of a child who displays unprovoked anger and rage finds the Source of unconditional love and long-suffering. As she trusts in His powers to help her endure, she looks to the One who can restore perfect peace in her child.

The mother of a psychotic child finds godly wisdom to know where to turn for help.

The mother of an emotionally fragile child finds examples of Bible characters who found inner strength from the Holy Spirit.

The mother of a troubled child without a clear diagnosis reads about a Creator who knows all. He knows thoughts before they are spoken and numbers every hair on heads. She can rest in the knowledge that He will guide experts to finding a diagnosis.

The mother of a suicidal child finds promises of our Protector who can prevent harm.

The mother of a MI prodigal can sleep a bit easier when she reads about our omnipresent and omnipotent Father (who is everywhere and all-powerful).

In the New Testament we find Christ’s desire for us to follow Him. Jesus invited many to follow Him saying, “‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” (John 8:12).

We also read about how to follow. There was one woman who followed so close to Christ that she could touch the hem of His garment. What led her to follow so closely? Mark 5:25-26 tells us, “A woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse.”

Sound familiar? Has your child “suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors” and gotten worse instead of better? Have you spent all you have on therapists?

No wonder the woman knew she’d get relief from her suffering if she could only touch Christ’s clothes (Mark 5:27-28).

Not only did Jesus heal her, but he sent her away with these words, “Go in peace and be freed from your suffering” (Mark 5:34).

So ‘maintain a safe distance’ when traveling through life. Stay close to Jesus. He still frees people from suffering and helps them go in peace.

 

 

 

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Restored

dry.bones.2

What’s the strangest thing you ever snuggled up to? Mine is a collection of skeletons. When visiting our son’s college science lab, a trio of bones lured me over. I abandoned any attempts to hide behind them and playfully peeked through them for a fun picture.

Those bones are a reminder that an entire nation shares the emotions of moms raising kids with mental illness (MI).  God gave Ezekiel the symbolism saying, “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land (Ezekiel 37:11, 14).”

Does that describe how you feel at times? Dried up, without hope, and cut off?

We feel cut off from those whose lives haven’t been devastated by MI. Parents of healthy children could never fully understand our daily challenges and hurts.

What makes us feel dried up at times? I think it’s because we try everything we know to bring about restoration. In our child. In our marriage. In our home. In our heart.

We’re designed to nurture. We thrive on tenderly caring for a hurting child. We’re not equipped to deal with helplessness when our child needs Mom to make it all better. A fact I’ve learned from experience.

When our sons were young, I felt fully equipped to mend any problem. A skinned elbow needed a Band-Aid and a kiss. Trouble with a playmate required listening and assurances that they’d remain friends. Homework struggles presented opportunities for me to apply my teaching skills. A shattered toy could be fixed with glue.

There came a time when my motherly affections couldn’t solve the problem. MI struck Chris. Glue couldn’t restore his joy. A wise word or warm hug couldn’t repair his shattered mind. Only God could repair our son’s emotions, mind, and life. Only God could repair my broken heart.

As I reflected on the word ‘restoration’ I thought about my mother’s pew. She purchased it for a dollar from our church back in the 60’s. Growing up, I loved sitting on her pew because it reminded me of services we attended in that little Episcopal church.

One of my earliest memories is of the back of the pew in church. I couldn’t see over it. So I would play with the hymnal in the rack attached to its back. My finger would trace the design in the wood. I’d peeked over at my mom and dad sitting beside me on the pew. And watch them holding hands as they listened to the sermon.

Years after my father died of cancer, my mother decided to downsize. The purchase of a smaller home meant she had to choose what to keep and what to give away. I found the old pew on her list of things to unload.

“You’re not giving the pew away, are you Mom?”

“Yes, dear,” she answered. “It’s in bad shape.”

How can she part with that pew? She and Dad spent countless Sundays worshipping on that pew.

My husband and I rescued the pew. We found an expert skilled in restoring furniture.

“Do you want me to smooth out these parts?” he asked, pointing to the dents and gashes in the wood.

“Absolutely not! That’s what makes this pew so special,” I replied. “It’s evidence that many heard God’s Word while sitting on this bench.”

Actual Pew from All Saints' Episcopal Church  Fallsington, PA

Actual Pew from All Saints’ Episcopal Church
Fallsington, PA

Chris’s MI left me like that damaged pew. It pierced my heart. The gashes in my memories are signs of sabotaged perspectives. Times when my focus on God got snagged on earthly concerns. Thankfully, God didn’t discard me. He healed my hurt and transformed my thoughts.

In His restoration process of my heart, God left holy reminders of His faithfulness. Each scar is coupled with healing passages: verses God used to encourage and comfort. The Good Shepherd of Psalm 23:3 continues to restore my soul.

God’s ways surely aren’t like our ways. He allows trials into our lives. Carries us through them, while revealing His faithfulness. Making us stronger by bolstering our faith. Just like a painful procedure I endured as a young child. A procedure that restored a ruptured artery and made it stronger.

An artery in my nose grew quicker than the nose itself. So it would spontaneously start bleeding. All attempts to stop the flow of blood failed. The only way a doctor could stop it was to apply heat to the bleeding point. Thereby sealing it. A scar would leave that spot in the artery stronger.

Similarly, God plugged my gusher of doubt with assurance of His care. At precise moments of despair, the Great Physician revealed His power, presence, and peace. Restoring my faith and making it stronger than ever.

Oh how we need God to breathe new life into us! And how we need to feel settled in our hearts. Ezekiel witnessed God breathe new life into bones. And He promised to settle the Israelites in their own land. That same God can breathe new life into you. He can settle your heart in your own home. We can face another day because His Spirit is in us.

If you need a good cleansing cry, listen to Steve & Annie Chapman’s song ‘Goodnight Kiss.’ The lyrics will take you back to the simpler times of being a mom to toddlers. Times that required endless physical stamina. Times of hurried care. But times filled with precious memories of when you could easily restore what was broken.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIpVDAqa2ug