Tag Archive | victory

Tangible Reminders

Bible Post-Its 002

What’s the strangest thing you have in your home? I’ve got a giant work boot, the size of an umbrella stroller, and a mannequin.

Mannequin

Why, you ask? Those items were part of a collection I had when I taught second graders. The mannequin served as a 3D bulletin board. The giant boot was the perfect size for an eight year old to rest and read a book.  They remind me of fun times.

Other items remind me of God’s work in my life. Like the Post-its in my Bible. When our son, Rob, was a senior in high school, he wanted to have devotions with me. The Post-its represent portions of the Bible we read together. I’ll never remove them.

There’s someone in the Bible who put an unusual item in his tent (or some believe he put it in God’s tabernacle). Read what the boy, David did just after he killed the giant.

“David took the head of the Philistine, and brought it to Jerusalem; but he put his armour in his tent” [1 Samuel 17:54 (KJV)].

What an odd thing to do: store the enemy’s armor in his tent! Why would he do such a thing? It served as a reminder of how God enabled him to have victory over a giant.

Has God enabled you to have victory over the mental illness (MI) giant? What can you use as reminders? Why is it important to have tangible reminders?

We try to forget horrible times when our child struggled with MI. So, we tend to forget that God revealed His power, peace, and presence when we needed it most. That’s why we need reminders. Concrete items preserve the memory of His sufficiency. They help us when challenges return (as we know they will with MI). When the enemy attempts to incinerate our faith, those memories extinguish his efforts. Each memory strengthens our fortress of divine assurance, which protects our heart from breaking.

I know God will carry me through, just as He has done in the past.

My tokens of God’s goodness include: entries in my journal and Bible verses God embedded in my heart during difficult times. I also cherish photographs which depict Chris’s restored mental stability and renewed joy.

What items do you have or could you collect?

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You can be an extreme survivor.

football.mercy.best

Can an enemy be more than dead? Are there degrees to an army being slaughtered? None of my history books made distinctions between defeated foes: slightly destroyed soldiers VS completely demolished warriors. Victory is victory. So what’s the meaning of Romans 8:37?

“In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

Sounds like the kind of victory I’d love to have. Is it possible to be more than a conqueror of a trial? How ‘bout the trial of raising a child with mental illness (MI)?

The phrase, “more than conquerors” reminds me of how my second graders would write. Their limited vocabulary didn’t stop them from expressing emotion. If they wanted to convey extreme excitement, they simply used repetition.

“We had a very, very, very, VERY, good time!” The level of enjoyment dictated how many ‘verys’ were used.

Adults use much more sophisticated language. We use superlatives.

Some superlatives can be offensive. Like an obsolete term assigned to individuals with an intellectual disability. People with cognitive limitations used to fall into one of three categories: mildly mentally retarded, moderately mentally retarded, or severely and profoundly mentally retarded. It’s now unacceptable to refer to a person as someone who is severely and profoundly mentally retarded.

I once had a conversation with Chris about words used to describe children with disabilities. He was interested in hearing what I’d be teaching my college students in an upcoming Foundations of Special Education class.

“We’ll be discussing our nation’s history of special education. We usually have a lively discussion about labels which are used to describe children,” I explained. “It seems there’s a label for every exceptionality except gifted.”

“I’m severely gifted,” Chris playfully replied.

As always, I enjoyed his quick wit. His humorous oxymoron lightened the conversation.

It’s difficult for me to understand the phrase “more than conquerors.” However, I could relate to the phrase if it was “partial conqueror.” Having a son with MI fills my life with alternating victories. One day is peaceful—a delightful conquest. The next day is filled with challenges and I’m filled with despair—a surrender and retreat.  Spiritual territory is regained the following day as I rely on God to help me respond. I give an gentle answer in return for unprovoked anger—another battle won.  Maybe I’m more like a “sputtering conqueror” … relying fully on God one day, then not even seeking Him the next.

I’d love to believe I’m more than a conqueror. My problem is that I lose sight of the Victor. “We are more than conquerors THROUGH HIM WHO LOVED US.” During uncertainty I tend to forget the battle’s already been won.

Athletes know when the battle’s been won. Football players realize there’s no need to ravage an inferior team. When the score reflects the opposition has no chance of winning, they precipitate the ending. The mercy rule specifies that the clock should keep running (except for limited reasons).  The intention is to put an end to the misery as soon as possible.

God has His mercy rule in place. Eternity’s clock is ticking. There will be an end to our misery here on earth. In the meantime Romans 8:37 assures us that, “We are more than conquerors.”

Yes, the battle has already been won. God has gained an overwhelming victory. Believers can rest in His promise and presence. We’ve been promised eternal life with Him in heaven. And if that’s not enough, we have His presence in the form of the Holy Spirit. His indwelling power helps us with our earthly trials.

When things get tough with MI, we wonder if God has left us. We ask, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword (Romans 8:35)?”

Romans 8:38-39 assures us no hardship—not even MI—will separate us from His love.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The mention of angels and demons reminds us there’s a spiritual battle being waged. God’s angels protect His people. Sometimes God sends a heavenly messenger. Like the one sent to Daniel. Here’s how Daniel described the divine interaction:

“Again the one who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength. ‘Do not be afraid, you who are highly esteemed,’ he said. ‘Peace! Be strong now; be strong.’ When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, ‘Speak, my lord, since you have given me strength (Daniel 10:18-19).’”

How did Daniel qualify for that celestial encounter? The messenger explained what Daniel had done to earn the honor.

“Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them (Daniel 10:12).”

Heavenly Father,

I come before You humbly. I’m determined to fully understand Your victory. When all around looks dismal or when things seem out of control, help me remember Who’s fighting the battle. As Your messenger did for Daniel, strengthen me and give me Your peace. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The more we reflect on God’s love and power, the more we find rest in Him. How can we even explain such love? By using surperlatives. Like Chris Tomlin did in his song ‘Indescribable.’

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWdM4B1HEyI

 

Rescued

wave wave.2  wave.3

Listen to me!!! The sister of an unstable woman tried to warn police.  She told authorities that her sister was, “talking about demons prior to leaving the residence with her three young children.”

The NY Daily News article provides the account of what happened next. The police followed up and stopped Wilkerson’s car. They found no evidence of an unstable woman at the wheel. She appeared calm and the children seemed happy. The officer sent her on her way. Unfortunately, symptoms of mental illness (MI) aren’t always recognized by strangers—even officials.

Wilkerson’s sister had every reason to be concerned. She sensed doom.

Hours later, bystanders watched in horror as Wilkerson drove her SUV directly into the ocean. Witnesses heard the children’s screams for help and sprang into action. Ordinary onlookers sprinted toward the SUV.  Hurdling over waves, they reached the vehicle before it got swept into the ocean. Thankfully, those bystanders rescued all three children. Just before waves engulfed the vehicle and swept it away.

The outcome could have been tragic. Why didn’t the authorities heed the sister’s warning? Ineffective laws prevent authorities from taking action when a family member senses danger. Often the danger isn’t apparent to others.

When we’re brave enough to reach out to others, do they understand?  Usually not. How can they? Should we expect them to know what it’s like to live with someone who denies having MI and refuses treatment? Would they be able to comprehend our sense of helplessness? Sometimes relatives or church members even blame us for our child’s behaviors. Little do they know how much we invest into the lives of our kids with MI. How hard we try. How much we pray. How often we cry.

Some of us get to the point when we realize our own need for help. Does reaching out help? Sometimes. Some of us have found well-qualified health professionals. Perhaps you’re like many who have taken your child to several doctors and received a different diagnosis from each.

Or maybe you’ve mustered the courage to confide in others. Only to discover that even relatives or church members misunderstand. Instead of support, they pile on blame.

Are you tempted to drive into the ocean of despair? See Christ in your storm of life and reach out to Him.

Reaching out to God always helps! Our heavenly Father is in the business of rescuing His people. When Pharaoh’s chariots pursued the Israelites, God parted the Red Sea.

God’s people rejoiced and sang, “I will sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea.

“The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.

“Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?

“The Lord reigns for ever and ever. (Exodus 15:1-2, 11, 18)”

Aaron Keyes wrote about God’s power in ‘Song of Moses.’ See if you can relate to those lyrics:

Though the storms of hell pursue, In darkest night we worship You

You divide the raging sea, From death to life You safely lead

 Oh praise the Lord our mighty warrior 

Praise the Lord the glorious one

By his hand we stand in victory

By his name we’ve overcome

Life will not engulf us. We will not drown in MI. In our darkest night we CAN worship Him. By His hand, we’ll stand in victory.

Let those lyrics minister to you.

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

Happy Days

Chris and Bobby at Disney World

Chris and Bobby at Disney World

“Happy days.” What does that conjure up in your mind? The Fonze? Carefree times, now gone? A yearning for joy to replace mental illness (MI)?

Does your mind wander back to happier days before MI hit? Or do your senses sabotage your emotions?

One day, I visited our son’s former Christian elementary school. To attend the funeral of a loved one. I cried more AFTER the service ended. It’s because I chose to exit the building through the classroom hallways.

The familiar smell of the building instantly transported me back 25 yrs. Back when Chris was in elementary school. Back when life seemed less complicated. Back when Chris’s eyes sparkled with joy.

Funny how one whiff of a building can flood you with feelings you had forgotten. Like an electric shock, the aroma jolted my thoughts to days when Chris seemed happy-go-lucky. Memories rushed through my mind. Suddenly, I “saw” Chris bouncing into my classroom at the end of the day to share what he’d learned. I “heard” his young voice telling me what he did at recess.

I “heard” him share happy news. “Mom, we’re going to go on a field trip to the science museum. I’ll get to see what a real planetarium looks like. I can’t wait!” Echoes from the past so real they tempted me to look for an apparition.

I had shoved those scenes deep into my memory. Locked them into a trunk stored in the attic of my mind.

Don’t unpack those memories, Vicki. Don’t even consider mentally caressing them for a second. Those times are gone. Love Chris for how he is now. Be grateful for glimmers of Chris’s personality and joy.

I quickly exited the building. Barely making it to my vehicle before violent sobs overtook me. I sat in the car with streams of tears pouring down my cheeks. As painful as it was, I needed that moment of private grief.  I needed those precious reminders of the son I know and love. God ministered to me in that quiet sanctuary.  He gently reminded me that Chris is still there. Locked behind an illness that masks his joy and peace.

Other aromas spark emotion. Reminders of happy days include: ballpark franks, burning leaves, boardwalk fudge, movie popcorn, Thanksgiving turkey, new school supplies, and Grandma’s perfume.

We wonder if we’re making any difference at all in the lives of those around us. Wouldn’t it be nice if we were the fragrance that stirs someone’s heart for Jesus? 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 tell us, “In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life. But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting corpse.”  (MSG)

Imagine that…through us, God is spreading the fragrance of the knowledge of Him.

Reflect on this sentence:

“God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade.”

Easter lilies remind us of another happy day…of when Jesus washed our sins away. Enjoy “Oh Happy Day.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a37bBm8pXSk