Tag Archive | trust

Faith-stretching

faith.stretching

Silly Putty Stretched Faith

How strong is your amusement-park faith? Mine ended at the mammoth roller coaster. I’d go on any ride except that one. Until our friend, Ed increased my faith in that ride.

“I’m heading to the roller coaster,” he announced.

“Not me. I won’t go on that ride,” I balked. “That’s where I draw the line. I’m too afraid that the car I’m in will be hurled off the tracks. And catapult me into the air.”

“That’s the safest ride in the park,” Ed declared.

His assessment gave me the confidence I needed to join him. Not because of the way he stated the fact. But because of his credentials. For decades Ed had worked for a large city as their inspector of bridges and other structures.

At the end of my first ride, my fingers had to be pried off the lap bar. By my fifth ride I’d gone from terrified to thrilled. My faith in the ride increased, helping me to relax and enjoy the ride. I even joined the ranks of the brave hand-raisers. My arms waved in the air as the car whipped me up, down, and around the tracks.

Life can feel like a roller coaster. Especially when raising a child with mental illness (MI). Our journey surely wouldn’t be included on the list of fun rides at a theme park. Yes, God fills our lives with blessings. But there’s no amusement in the MI trip. Faith is necessary. Our trial makes it painfully obvious that trusting God is a daily process. That’s how we survive.

We put our trust in the Designer of the track we’re on. That step in faith enables us to relax in His care. Our eyes are opened to see His faithfulness. Then we’re able to fling our hands in the air as we praise Him for His power and love.

The thing about faith is that it comes in all amounts. Some days we might have strong and abundant faith in God. Other days it may be harder to relax in His care. Pressures grow. Stress increases. Faith weakens. How do we handle those faith-stretching times in our lives?

Early on in my journey with our son’s MI, it was as if I’d been trust onto the ride of terror. There were unexpected dips and turns. Chris had a break from reality and had to be hospitalized. Thankfully, he quickly became stabilized. Homeschool was needed. Thankfully, God provided instructors who could teach Chris’s college-level AP courses. Chris’s body chemistry changed, triggering another psychotic episode. Thankfully, there were other medications available which successfully treated him.

The more I rode the MI rollercoaster, the more my confidence grew. With each crisis came God’s provision.

There have been periods when I’ve had breaks from the MI rollercoaster. Then, suddenly, I’d realize I had been placed back on the ride. I’d sense the subtle clues. Chris’s behavior would change slightly. The sparkle in his eyes would fade. Tell-tale puffiness around his eyes would reveal secret torment. His conversations would be reduced to grunts.

Those were times which tested my faith. Times when I echoed the apostles’ request to, “Lord, Increase my (our) faith”! (Luke 17:5).

The book of Hebrews became my go-to place to shop for greater faith. It reminded me that I’m, “surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1).”  I’d picture giants of faith mentioned in Hebrews eleven cheering me on. I’d hear Noah, Jacob, Abraham, and Moses yelling, “Hang in there, Vicki. God is with you. He’s still in control.”

Those men of great faith were human, like me. How did they keep the faith and even abound in faith? What was their secret? I think it’s found in Hebrews 12:1-3

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

That passage in Hebrews begins with the challenge to throw off what hinders and entangles us. We’re burdened by our own thoughts and emotions. Worry and fear can weigh us down. Making it difficult to continue running our race. Our nurturing thoughts drive us to solve every problem. Some situations regarding our child’s MI can only be handled by treatment or therapists. And some need God’s intervention alone. In those cases our need to control the situation can block our path to complete trust in God. So we wonder if God’s still in control.

Verse one assures us that God is still in control of our lives. This race we run has been ‘marked out for us.’ It is a God-appointed path.

So how do we run? Our Trainer has provided instructions in verses one through three. We’re to run with perseverance having our eyes fixed on Jesus, while considering Him. As we reflect on all that He is and all that He’s done, our faith increases. The One who conquered death is on the throne. He’s alive and able! He’s the Source of all the inner strength we need.

We can be confident that we’ll be counted among those heroes of faith, “… whose weakness was turned to strength (Hebrews 11:34).”

We need not quiver in fear like Christ’s disciples who cried, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown! (Matthew 8:25).” Jesus will calm the storms in our lives.

We can be like the centurion who told Jesus, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed (Matthew 8:8)”. We can have that same faith because we trust in the same God.

Clearly life is not a roller coaster. We don’t need to simply brace ourselves or buckle up. Our preparation involves wearing godly accessories. No outfit is complete without God’s shield a faith protecting our heart.

“In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one (Ephesians 6:16).”

Shields up!

Listen to Steve Green’s song: “Find Us Faithful” and imagine that great cloud of witnesses cheering you on.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zi-Mn5tRHvM

 

 

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Cast

emotions.healing

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

Where will my child fit in?

square-hole-round-peg-web-i

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.

Moving On

next.chapter

What’s harder than parenting? Stopping parenting. Sure, we never really stop parenting. But there comes a time when children grow up and move on. A mom attends her ‘baby’s’ graduation with pride in her heart, a camera in one hand, and a tissue in the other. Tears are sure to flow.

Graduation marks a time of reflection. To recall God’s faithfulness. To think about the graduate’s accomplishments. To gaze into his bright future. But what if the future didn’t seem so bright? What if it seemed fragile? Or uncertain?

How does a mother of a child with mental illness (MI) deal with her emotions when facing such a milestone? We’re tempted to continue protecting our child. To keep handling everything. We’re torn between letting him go out on his own or keeping him safe in a stress-free lifestyle. How do we find a place for our child? Is there a place for a young adult with MI? What does the future hold?

Those were questions that badgered me in the spring of 1998. Chris was about to graduate high school. I found peace and assurance by looking back. I recalled God’s faithfulness throughout Chris’s life.  God had provided all Chris needed: comfort whenever peers bullied him, caring and capable teachers who understood his Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), healing and restoration when he suffered a psychotic episode.

Chris was about to travel to Germany, return home, and then go off to college. I needed to know he’d be okay. Would I be able to trust that my Father would be with Chris wherever he went? God reassured Jacob, Moses, and Joshua. He promised that He’d be with them wherever they went. They believed God would do what He said. Could I believe in that promise?

  ♦♦♦♦♦♦

I had perfected the art of squelching painful emotions. The secret: deaden the feelings with details. A mountain of responsibilities can bury the worst fears. So when the headmaster asked me assume another role, I welcomed the opportunity

“Would you be willing to fill in for one of our second grade teachers? Her doctor recommended bed rest during her final weeks of pregnancy.”

“Sure,” I gladly accepted. I still had to handle everything related to my position as Director of Instruction. But the busyness would keep my mind off Chris’s upcoming graduation.

All the arrangements for Chris’s graduation had to be done after work. I purchased party decorations, bought his gift, addressed invitations, etc. We even arranged to surprise Chris with a limousine to pick him up after graduation.

I also had to help Chris with preparations for his trip to Germany. That involved getting gifts for the host family doing laundry, getting traveler’s checks … The high school held a meeting for the families who were involved with the exchange program. Howie, Chris, and I attended the meeting.

As we planned for Chris’s trip, we also prepared for Robert’s trip. As soon as the school year ended, Rob would be off to a two-week Christian camp where he’d be a counselor in training (CIT). As if our lives weren’t complicated enough, Rob had to have a mole removed. It looked suspicious to the doctor. I managed to find an afternoon that matched an opening with the doctor’s schedule.

Even my nights were packed. That was the only time I had to complete paper work. None of it could be done during the day because I was teaching in a classroom.

The busyness of life made it easy for me to stuff my emotions. Shoving my feelings deep inside couldn’t work forever. Sooner or later they’d escape. And escape they did.

One evening while grading papers I heard Howie playing the piano. Suddenly I recognized the song. It was “Pomp and Circumstance.” A tsunami of emotions erupted. I found myself sobbing.

School had been such a struggle for Chris. Not because of the academics. Learning came easily for him. His ADHD made it difficult for him. He had to work hard at developing social and organizational skills.

“One day you will graduate,” Howie and I would say to encourage him. “Then life will get easier. Adults aren’t as mean to each other as children.”

That “one day” had arrived. It had come so quickly. I was unprepared for the emotion I felt. The river of tears flowed from painful memories of all Chris had endured. They also flowed from tremendous joy that Chris had made it. He accomplished so much in spite of ADHD and MI.

Just eighteen months earlier, during Chris’s psychotic episode, I didn’t even know if Chris would be restored to reality. I had wondered if his broken mind and shattered life could be restored. But now he was graduating with plans to travel to Germany. And then to college.

Chris had received the John Philip Sousa band award. An honor bestowed on only one student each year. The inscription on the plaque read, “In recognition of outstanding achievement and interest in instrumental music, for singular merit in loyalty and cooperation, and for displaying those high qualities of conduct that school instrumental music requires.”

What triumph over adversity! Thank You, Father for Your grace and power!

As I reflected on Chris’s life, I realized that, like Paul I had “learned to be content whatever the circumstances (Philippians 4:11).” They weren’t easy lessons. There were times I wasn’t sure whether Chris would live or die. Whether he would ever think rationally again. But over and over God had shown His faithfulness. My trust in Him had grown. My faith hadn’t been shaken.

I never expected to be spared form tragedies other Christians have to face. When those trials hit, the promise of God’s grace comforted me. When I didn’t know how things would turn out, I clung to the fact He is a loving Father. I reminded myself that He had a perfect plan for our lives. Through it all I remained firm in my belief that God would sustain me.

Summer arrived and both boys were away. Freedom from responsibilities with the boys and work allowed more time for reflection. My thoughts naturally shifted to the next chapter in Chris’s life. He’d soon be going away to college.

My baby will be leaving home for college soon. I know You’ve prepared the way for Chris, Lord. But I need You to help me with these emotions I’m feeling.

Once Chris came home from Germany I returned to my familiar coping strategy. I cluttered my mind with details in an attempt to crowd out the emotions. I made lists of what to buy and what to pack.

The time came to drive Chris to college. I felt emotionally stronger and up to the task of letting him go. We had to take two cars to fit all his stuff. Rob came along to help move Chris into his dorm. We arrived on the campus and proceeded to unload the cars.

Chris’s room looked unwelcoming. I got to work unpacking his belongings

I’ll get all this stuff unpacked. Then this room will feel more like home for Chris.

Chris interrupted my motherly ritual. “I’ll do that Mom.”

The time had suddenly come to say good-bye. I had successfully managed to deliver Chris to college without getting emotional. I hugged Chris.

“Isn’t this the time for you to share some motherly wisdom with me, Mom?” Chris asked.

I hadn’t prepared any pearls of wisdom. I had forced myself to do just opposite. I didn’t want to think about the fact that we were turning the page to a new chapter in our lives. The Lord helped me give the most important reminder.

“Remember, Chris, the Lord is with you everywhere—even at college.”

As we drove home my head was flooded with questions.

Will Chris remember to take his medication? Will anyone find out about his medication and condition? How will he get along with his roommate? How will he handle any stress? Will he make friends with anyone? Will he call?

Wondering can easily lead to worrying. So I stopped wondering and focused on the fact that Chris planned on coming home every weekend.

Anyone can make it five days apart from a loved one. He’ll be fine. God is with him.

 ♦♦♦♦♦♦

As Jacob journeyed to a new land, the Lord promised him in a dream, “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go (Genesis 28:15).”

God reassured Moses of His presence by saying, ““My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest (Exodus 33:14).”

In Moses old age, he transferred his leadership to Joshua. His dying message echoed God’s reassurance: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6).”

After Moses died, the Lord Himself reminded Joshua of His abiding presence saying, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you (Joshua 1:5).”

God enabled me to rest in the knowledge of His presence in Chris’s life. When you think of it, we all need to trust in God’s presence in our child’s life. Even the youngest child won’t be in our presence every minute of the day. There’s comfort in knowing God’s presence remains when we’re absent from our child.

 

Amazing Moms

super.mom.frame

The most amazing moms have nothing. Think about it.  That’s when they have to rely completely on God. That’s when they shine.

Take, for example, two widows in the Bible.

One of the women had an encounter with Elijah. God had directed Elijah to see her. We read about their meeting in 1 Kings 17:8-12.

“Then the word of the Lord came to him: ‘Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.’ So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, ‘Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?’ As she was going to get it, he called, ‘And bring me, please, a piece of bread.’

“‘As surely as the Lord your God lives,’ she replied, ‘I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.’”

Now THAT’S desperate! She had no husband, not enough food to feed her son, and felt impending death. But God had other plans.

Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land. (1 Kings 17:13-14)’”

What did she do? “She went away and did as Elijah had told her (1 Kings 17: 15).”

That response inducted her into the Hall of Amazing Moms.

Dire circumstances didn’t dampen her trust in God. Her faith in Him didn’t waver. What a display of trust in the Lord! Maybe temptation taunted her to feed her son first. Who would blame her? A perfect stranger delivered a challenge. Did she believe him for the promise? No. Her firm belief rested on God and His faithfulness.

The result?  “So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah. (1 Kings 17: 15-16).”

Let’s peek into the life of another widow.

“The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, ‘Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.’

Elisha replied to her, ‘How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?’”

‘Your servant has nothing there at all,’ she said, ‘except a small jar of olive oil. (2 Kings 4:1-2)’”

Think about her life. No husband, creditors coming to take her sons as slaves, and only a small jar of olive oil to feed her family. Maybe the enemy slithered into her thoughts, tormenting her by saying, “Your husband revered the Lord. Your God abandoned you.” No wonder she cried out to Elisha. Wouldn’t you? I’d be screaming, “Help! Someone PLEASE help me!!!”’

Then Elisha gave an odd response. He said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side. (2 Kings 4:3-4)”

I don’t know about you, but I would have asked Elisha, “Don’t you get it?!!! What part of ‘only a small jar of olive oil’ didn’t you understand?”

Not that widow. By faith, she collected jars from her neighbors. I’m guessing her neighbors may have known she only had one jar of olive oil. Maybe they thought, “What does she plan on doing with empty jars? She’s lost it. Poor woman.” Obviously, she didn’t care what her neighbors thought.

By faith, she followed the rest of Elisha’s instructions. Like the other widow, her faith in God didn’t waver, in spite of her dire circumstances.

“She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full, she said to her son, ‘Bring me another one.’

“But he replied, ‘There is not a jar left.’ Then the oil stopped flowing.

“She went and told the man of God, and he said, ‘Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left. (2 Kings 4:5-7)’”

Those widows weren’t supermoms. They were amazing women of faith, with an unshakable trust in God. They were a lot like us—desperate mothers. Crying out to God, “Please help my family.”

Don’t let their powerful message melt away. Magnify it in your mind. Listen to their encouraging words. As they whisper, “Cling to Him and His Word. He’s faithful. Just cling to Him and His Word. In your emptiness, you have everything. Cling to Him and His Word.”

Their testimonies inspire us to remain strong in our faith. We can trust God, in spite of our circumstances.

Years ago, I used to experience attacks due to my multiple sclerosis (MS). During those times, I couldn’t teach because the attacks rendered me listless. I couldn’t function. A close friend asked, “What verse are you leaning on?”

Her question encouraged me. It told me she knew I clung to God’s Word during difficult times. She also knew the Bible is the Living Word of our Father. It speaks to every believer, offering truths and promises needed for each trial.

What verse are you leaning on for your current trial? Don’t have one yet? Here you can borrow one of my favorites: “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’” (Psalm 91:1-2)’”

God cares about desperate moms. He fights for us. Whatever we fear, He’s our mighty warrior. By His hand we stand in victory.  By His name we overcome. Listen to those words in the song by Aaron Keyes: ‘Song of Moses.’

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TI8yTeMv0Uo

Not Me!

Thanks.No.Thanks

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.” 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioJf4EpVdU8

 

Where to Find God

Sofieeggs

Kids love Hide and Seek and a good Easter egg hunt. Finding things brings such delight!

Think you’re too old to play Hide and Seek? If you’re like me, you seek God during dark trials.  Finding Him would bring you such delight—and peace.

How can God be found?  July 4th will give us a reminder.  What’s the secret to spotting fireworks? Simple. Look up. In the darkness you’ll find beautiful lights.

Sounds easy. Not so easy when we’re trying to find God in our struggles.

Where are You God? Are You still there? My child’s in torment. How can I help him see Your hand in his life when I can’t find you?

It’s hard to trust Him when we can’t track Him.

CAN God be found? Does He want us to find Him? Yes.

Psalm 14:2   tells us, “The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.”

In Hebrews 11:6   we read His promise that, Anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Deuteronomy 4:29  even tells us how to seek Him.

“But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.”   

Psalm 63:1  gives us an example.

“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.”

1 Chronicles 22:19  tells us, “Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the Lord your God.”  

In Matthew 4:12-16 we read about the fulfillment of God’s promise. That Light will come into the world. God sent His Son to provide light in darkness.

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.”  Isaiah 9:2

His light is much more than a beautiful burst of colors that brightens the sky and quickly disappears. His light illuminates our heart with lasting and perfect peace.

“…because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”  Luke 1:78-79

Where is His light? Remember what you do when you enjoy fireworks: look up. He’s hiding in plain sight.

He can even reveal Himself to your child who has mental illness (MI). Read how he did it for our son:

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God revealed His presence and protection to me when Chris was out of touch from reality. I experienced His faithfulness when Chris was in the psychiatric unit. I felt His peace when Chris went to the partial-care unit. Chris, however, still couldn’t see how much healing had taken place because he was busy making up schoolwork.  His torment pierced my heart.

“God doesn’t love me. Why did He let my life get so shattered?”

I had no response. Only a plea for God.

Father, please help Chris know You still love him. Reveal Yourself to him.

Soon after, God answered my simple prayer in two powerful ways.

Chris gradually weaned back to school. Starting first with only one or two days a week. Building up to a full week. He even started going to musical practices. This was a risky move because it involved a great deal of stress. Students had to audition to be in the jazz band at Chris’s school. The director selected professional-level music. During Chris’s recovery, he hadn’t practiced his trombone. Was he ready? Could he handle the pressure?

One day, the band traveled to a nursing home for a performance. One of the other trombone players, Adam, didn’t show up. So, the director asked Chris to play his part (without any preparation or notice!)

As they were walking up to the stage, he turned to Chris and said, “I need you to play Adam’s part.”

Chris proceeded to sight read the other part perfectly! He even spontaneously created an improvisation solo that would fit the background music. Chris’s fellow musicians were stunned to witness what Chris was able to do. They didn’t’ know the half of it. They didn’t realize he was recovering from an illness that affected his mind.

God revealed His love and faithfulness to Chris when he took several tests. Anyone would be stressed at the thought of taking a pre-calculus test. Chris had to make up SEVERAL in just ten days. On one of the make-up tests, there was a problem none of the other students got correct. But Chris got it correct!

Chris finished that school year on time with all his work made up, earning nothing lower than a B on his report card. A report card which included several college level AP courses.

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Yes, God can reveal His love and faithfulness even to our children who have MI.

Hillsong’s God is Able

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CJfdfNWjRw