Tag Archive | stand firm

Standing Together

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I had selfish reasons for asking my friend the question. “Is your daughter still dealing with depression?” Truly, I wanted to know if her daughter’s medication was helping her deal with the demands of life. I had been praying for her. But, I also needed to hear how my friend was dealing with her daughter’s mental illness (MI). If she could hang onto her faith, then I’d find renewed confidence in my own faith. An encouraging word from my friend would remind me that God is able to help us in the midst of a very dark time.

Happily, I found that the new medication was helping. What’s more, my friend expressed unwavering faith. Her strong trust in the Lord bolstered my faith.

If she can keep her eyes on the Lord through this trial, I can do likewise.

Godly friends can show us the way to handle great sorrow. When the enemy tries to saturate our soul with fears, they serve as living examples of how it’s possible to rely on God’s peace.

It reminds me of Paul’s inner struggle when he wanted to see his fellow believers in Thessalonica. Satan had been hindering Paul from going to them.

“For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan blocked our way” (1 Thessalonians 2:18).

Has your child’s MI made you feel like Satan is blocking your way, keeping you from moving on?

How did Paul respond?

“So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. 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. In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter had tempted you and that our labors might have been in vain” (1 Thessalonians 3:1-5).

He got to the point where he couldn’t bear it any longer.

We can relate to that, can’t we?

What did Paul do? He sent Timothy to go to Thessalonica. He needed to know if his fellow believers had been under similar temptations. He needed to know that their faith remained strong.

Timothy’s encouraging report comforted Paul.

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord (1 Thessalonians 3:7-8).

We gain strength from each other when we stand firm in the Lord. It’s uplifting to hear that a fellow believer has remained strong in the midst of dark trials.

Those of us who have lived many years supporting a child with MI can encourage others who are new in their journey. We can share how God revealed Himself in the midst of trials. And those starting their journey can be encouraged to persevere.

We can relate stories about how God has been true to His promises. And bolster a fellow mom in her faith walk.

We can tell about God’s faithfulness, and others will gain strength to carry on.

We can endure our own trials when we know others are finding strength in the Lord. Because we share the same living God. Who cares for us, helps us, strengthens us, provides for us, protects our children, and comforts us.

We’re connected in raising children with MI. And we’re connected in our faith. We can carry on by encouraging each other in our unwavering faith.

Remember, Paul needed to reach out to fellow believers. And so do we.

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Preparing for the Unexpected

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Certain signs can’t be trusted. Like signs that say, “Construction ahead.” After sitting in a sixty-minute backup, we finally arrive at the construction site.

No workers? Really?!!!!

No wonder we’re tempted to ignore the warning signs along the highway.

My husband and I recently traveled over 400 miles to visit our son and his family. Along the way, we actually saw numerous work crews repairing sections of the turnpike. We realized the sign “Construction vehicle—keep alert for sudden stops and turns” had accurately predicted that traffic would be halted.

“Keep alert for sudden stops and turns” got me thinking. Would a warning sign have helped prepare me for my son’s mental illness (MI)? What would I have done if a sign warned, “Suffering and sorrow ahead”? Probably nothing. I was powerless to shield Chris from the wretched illness.

Some dangers can be avoided. Like fallout from a bomb explosion. When I was growing up, my parents built a bomb shelter in our yard. (You read that right…a bomb shelter! Not a built in pool, but a bomb shelter.) We were prepared for any incoming bombs.

Sadly, there are no MI shelters. We can’t run for cover to escape the onslaught of our child’s MI.

Yet, that sign “Keep alert for sudden stops and turns” holds wise advice. Periods of manageable symptoms can be suddenly interrupted. Without warning, new burdens blindside us. A familiar trial torments our child. Fragile emotions re-emerge. Routine details of life come to a screeching halt.

Keep alert for sudden stops and turns. What does that mean? Should I remain in a vigilant state? Would that be good or even helpful? Could I possibly prepare for the unexpected?

Preparing for any trial:

My mother couldn’t prepare for my father’s impending death. Back in 1992, my dad fought lung cancer. Doctors performed surgery and treated him with chemotherapy and radiation. It became evident after two years that nothing would cure him. As his end drew near, my mother asked me, “Is this really happening?”

Clearly, there were warning signs that my father might lose his battle. Yet, nothing had prepared my mom’s heart for her loss.

Can anything prepare our heart for the struggles and losses our children will face?

When our son, Chris had his first break from reality, I had to be on alert—literally. One minute he’d be explosive and pound walls. The next, he’d be curled up in a ball, weeping. I learned to expect anything. Like what he did after we arrived home from the store one day. I parked the car and Chris took off running. Prompting me to drive around the neighborhood looking for him. Only to return home to hear a phone message from a neighbor saying Chris had gone to their house.

Being alert meant staying half-awake most nights. Chris’ psychosis prevented him from sleeping soundly. He’d pace the floor, while rambling on about things that made no sense. Mumbling bazaar comments. I’d strain my ears to hear sounds that might let me know of any danger.

Nowadays, Chris is doing fairly well. But those words on the sign still echo in my mind:

Keep alert for sudden stops and turns.

Does the Bible help us know how to keep alert – to prepare for the unexpected?

Peter instructs us to, “Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does” [1 Peter 5:8-11 (MSG)].

Thanks, Peter, for those reminders. We’re not alone; others are experiencing hard times like these. Suffering won’t last forever. We need to keep the faith.

How do we “keep our guard up”? By praying unceasingly and specifically for our child and our family. And by staying in His Word.

Belts:

Seatbelts protect us from injury in cars. God’s belt of Truth helps us stand firm in our faith.

“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist” (Ephesians 6:13-14a).

Reality and truth:

Some of our children cling to a thread of reality in their minds. Often even we struggle with the reality of our lives. Life tends to seem surreal.

Some truths can be shattered. I used to believe that my husband and I could teach our kids how to handle stress. But, then came along MI. My fragile truth collapsed. I used to think that I could protect my children. But, then MI struck. My truth of motherly protection evaporated.

Happily, I find unshakable Truths in the Bible. That’s something to hang onto. I can depend on His promises. God’s character is never-changing. So, I rely on God’s belt of truth. So can you. Buckle up! (one size fits all!)

Not Now

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When is a good time for a crisis? Most likely you quickly shouted, “NEVER!”

Mental illness (MI) interrupted my life when my son lost touch with reality. Chris was a junior in high school. I was the Director of Instruction at a Christian school. A school I helped start with just one other administrator, Sam.

The school began as a ministry of our mega church. With a congregation of 10,000 members, the school’s enrolment exploded in a few short years. The first year we had 380 students. In the second year, there were 570 students. By the fifth year, the enrolment swelled to 1,000! The headmaster and I were a little busy.

So when I needed to stay home with Chris, Sam was left to oversee it all. During the time of my absence, I visited our pastor.

“How’s it going, Vicki,” he compassionately asked.

“Chris is in the hospital. I’m concerned about Sam.”

“Why?”

“Because he needs my help with the school.”

Then my pastor made a statement that shocked me.

“God doesn’t need you, Vicki.”

His words made me wince.

That wasn’t very nice. He knows I’m going through this crisis. How could he say such a thing? Isn’t he supposed to say comforting words?

I quickly learned my pastor spoke God’s Truth in love. Those words helped me realize I’d been relying on myself instead of God. Eventually, that statement freed me from worry. Whenever I struggled to handle an insurmountable problem, that truth readjusted my focus. His words echoed in my mind, reminding me God’s in control.

God doesn’t need you, Vicki. He’s quite capable of solving this problem. He’s accomplishing His perfect plan in your life.

Paul understood his inclination to rely on himself. He acknowledged that his heavenly Father used life’s pressures to help him trust in God alone. He reassured the church in Corinth, “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead (2 Corinthians 1:8-9).”

As we raise our children with serious MI, we can feel as though it’s a task “far beyond our ability to endure.”

Do you feel like Paul? Are you under such great pressure that you despair of life itself? Listen to Paul’s encouragement. His voice of experience reminds you, “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:21).”

Whatever we face today, we can stand firm in Christ.

Chris Tomlin reminds us God is more than enough in his song, “Enough

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EW-toYBiF8o