Tag Archive | worry

Discouraged?

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Colonial Williamsburg

Ever notice that fears feed discouragement? You’re afraid of what might happen to your child with mental illness (MI) and your worrying grows. The problems inflate to a size too massive to handle.

I can’t begin to figure it out. What if school problems get worse? What if his new medication doesn’t work? What if our insurance won’t cover the new medication? What if we can’t find a better therapist? Giving up isn’t an option. Where can I go to escape this trial?

You’re not alone in wanting to escape. Take Elijah. He was so fearful that he felt completely isolated. He went into a cave. There he cried out, “‘I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.’” [1 Kings 19:10 (NKJV)]

The Lord met Elijah in his loneliness. He spoke to him in just a whisper.

“And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice” [1 Kings 19:10-12 (NKJV)]

Listen to part of what God told him:

“‘Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.’” [1 Kings 19:18 (NKJV)]

Elijah had become so discouraged that he thought that he was the only person left who had not bowed to Baal. Boy was he wrong! A whopping seven thousand others in Israel had remained faithful to God.

Things aren’t as bad as they seem. God understands our despair. He has words to encourage our hearts. He’ll meet us in our loneliness and discouragement. Not in the wind, or an earthquake, or a fire. But in a still small voice. We just need to tune into God’s soft messages. But how do we do that?

The Lord gave me insight when our piano was being tuned.

A friend of ours came to our house to tune our piano. While he worked, I did my devotions. The piano tuning drew my attention away from the Bible. I wondered, How is he able to tune our piano by ear?

Then I realized he had developed his keen musical ear as a music teacher. The more time he spent listening to notes, the easier it was for him to discriminate between pitches.

My mind shifted back to my devotions, but then continued to wander again.

How can I develop a keen ear to hear God’s voice? Probably the same way. The more I listen to His words, the easier it will be for me to distinguish His voice from all the other noises in my head. But how can I hear God’s messages for me?

With the piano-tuning serenade in the background, God whispered to me. “Remain in My presence and you’ll hear My voice.”

Remain in His presence. That’ll help me get my heart tuned up. 

With deeper focus I searched for verses about being in God’s presence.

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast”  (Psalm 139:7-10).

His presence never leaves us.

“You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence” (Acts 2:28).

His presence fills us with joy.

“This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence” (1 John 3:19).

Our hearts can rest in His presence.

So next time I’m discouraged, I’ll rest in His presence and tune into God’s still small voice.

 

Rain to Wash Away Confusion

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“Mother Nature is confused,” reported the meteorologist. The roller coaster temperatures of early spring led him to that conclusion.  Weather reporters often get the weather wrong. We can’t blame them. They’re not God. They’re not in control of the weather. So I can excuse a faulty weather prediction.  But I take issue with a false statement. The meteorologist can’t give “Mother Nature” credit for controlling weather.

Even the report, “God is confused” would be inaccurate. God isn’t confused. I’m sure He knew just what He was doing when He sent a burst of snow on April 9th.  Those of us who were weary of winter moaned. But the fact that we have seasons is evidence that God still IS in control.

After Noah finally exited from his ark, he built an alter to the Lord to worship Him. God promised never again to destroy every living thing. He said, As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease” (Genesis 8:22).

When things in our world go wacky, there’s comfort in the knowledge that God still IS in control. We may be confused about what’s happening in our lives. We may wonder why our most fragile child has to struggle with mental illness (MI).  We’re not alone. I’m guessing at some point everyone wonders what’s going on. They ask, “How did I get here?” and “Why is this happening?”

The Israelites wandering in the wilderness became confused when they became hungry. Confusion caused hundreds of thousands of God’s people to complain.

“In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, ‘If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.’” (Exodus 16:2-3).

God had freed them from captivity. But things seemed much worse.

They wondered, How did we get here?  Why is this happening?

I’ll bet you’ve wondered the same thing when you watched your child with MS suffer. In your confusion you may have wondered, How did we get here?  Why is this happening?

Jacob also must have been confused. He had made a deal with Laban to work seven years for him so he could marry Laban’s beautiful daughter, Rachel. But after Jacob fulfilled his end of the bargain, Laban tricked Jacob and gave him his other less-beautiful daughter, Leah. And required Jacob to serve Laban for seven more years to get Rachel as his wife.

Jacob must have wondered, How could this happen to me?  It’s so unfair.

I’ll bet you’ve wondered the same thing. After you’ve invested all your best efforts and your child still has MI, your confusion may have caused you to wonder, How could this happen to me?  It’s so unfair.

Jacob’s son, Joseph must have also been confused. His brothers conspired to kill him and then decided instead to sell him to the Ishmaelites (who later sold him to the Egyptians).

Joseph must have wondered in his confusion, How did I get here? What did I do to deserve this?

But Joseph’s bad times turned good. His master saw that the Lord was with Joseph. So he elevated Joseph to the position of overseer.

“From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the Lord was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field” (Genesis 39:5).

But soon Joseph’s good time turned bad again. Potiphar’s wife wanted Joseph to lie with her. When he refused, she falsely accused him of a crime. And Potiphar threw him into prison.  Here’s what Joseph said to one of his fellow captives, a butler:

“I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon.” (Genesis 40:15).

Joseph was echoing his father’s confusion as he wondered, How could this happen to me?  It’s so unfair.

After two years, Pharaoh called for Joseph to be taken out of the dungeon to interpret his dream. God gave Joseph the interpretation of the dream and its meaning. Pharaoh elevated Joseph to be over his house, all the people and over all the land of Egypt. Things were once again good in Joseph’s life.

Where was God during all Joseph’s trials? Had God abandoned him during the tough times? Through good and bad time, the Bible tells us that the Lord was with Joseph (Genesis 39:2-3, 21).

During our darkest days, we may also wonder, Where is God? No matter what the weather, the seasons are proof God is real and He is with us.

“But God was always there doing the good things that prove he is real. He gives you rain from heaven and good harvests at the right times. He gives you plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy” [Acts 14:17 (ERV)].

Dear Father, remove all confusion from our minds. Fill our hearts with joy once again. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

 

Worry Workout

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There’s a lot to worry about working out.

Do any of these questions reveal your inner thoughts?

Why did I skip my work out? Why can’t I get disciplined and work out regularly? How will I measure up to others exercising who have well-toned bodies? How often will I have to work out before I get trimmer? Why bother?

We bother because research proves it’s helpful. Certain benefits can be linked to exercising. Those benefits motivate us to get to the gym. Sometimes.

 Wishful Thinking

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if working out could eliminate worry? The more we’d run, the more peaceful we’d feel. All worries would disappear. That would certainly motivate me to get to the gym!

Moms raising kids with mental illness (MI) are given good reasons to worry.

We find ourselves on the worry treadmill. Fears elevate our heartbeat. Anxieties cause us to sweat.

Why isn’t he smiling? What happened before he got home? What is he doing in his room? Why is he isolating? Has he taken his medication? Has he eaten today? Why hasn’t he showered? Why isn’t he talking? …

 Wonder about Worrying

Does worrying help?

That question is asked in the recently-released movie, “Bridge of Spies.” The plot surrounds actual events that occurred during the Cold War in the ‘60s. Tom Hanks plays the part of an insurance lawyer named James Donovan. Donovan is appointed to defend a Russian spy named Rudolf Abel. Several times during his conversations with Abel, Donovan observes, “You don’t look worried.” Abel’s reply each time is the same: “Would it help?”

The spy didn’t appear to be asking a rhetorical question. The pointed look on his face hinted at a more instructive question. It seemed like he wanted Donovan to consider if worrying would even help.

That’s our challenge. Consider if worrying helps. The passage in Matthew 6:25-34 tells us it doesn’t.

“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? … Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:27, 34).

That whole passage assures us that God will take care of our needs.

 Wonderful Workouts

Paul, in his letter to Timothy, compared physical exercise to godly living. He pointed out, “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come” (1Timothy 4:8).

A spiritual workout has eternal value. But, what is a spiritual workout?

It involves toning up our spiritual muscles by daily praying, reading the Bible, following God’s guidelines, and telling others about Him. Simply put, we step on the spiritual treadmill and…Read. Pray. Show. Share … Read. Pray. Show. Share … Read. Pray. Show. Share … Read. Pray. Show. Share …

Our spiritual workout also involves rest. We rest our hope on the One who is still on the throne. The “music” running from our biblical earbuds remind us, “We have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe” (1 Timothy 4:10).

So we don’t need to rest our hope on medications or therapist for our kids. Like the psalmist, we can say, “Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him” (Psalm 62:5).

In Knots

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Williamsburg, Virginia

“Grandpa has a sore belly,” our daughter-in-law explained. Our granddaughter wouldn’t have understood pain from a gallbladder attack. But she surely could sympathize with belly pain.  So could lots of us.

The booming gluten-free industry is proof my husband’s not alone in digestive misery. People suffer from Celiac Disease and irritable bowel syndrome. Then there’s the ‘itis conditions’: colitis, diverticulitis, gastritis, pancreatitis, and more. A simple google search of ‘digestive illnesses’ yields a long list of miserable conditions. All of which can make your stomach feel like it’s been through a meat grinder.

Mom’s raising kids with mental illness (MI) know another type of stomach pain. The kind that results from worry and stress. Concern can cripple our digestive systems. Rendering us sick with belly pain. Leaving our stomach in knots.

What can ease that kind of twisted torment? Think about what parents to do ease the belly pain of a toddler. We softly stroke their tummy. Our heavenly Father can unknot our stomach when worry twists it like a strand of Christmas lights. Not only will His loving hand soothe our pain, but He’ll replace it with His perfect peace.

If MI has left you in knots, join me in using Psalm 90:15-16 as your prayer:

“Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery! Replace the evil years with good. Let us, your servants, see you work again; let our children see your glory” (NLT)

Stop and reflect on the phrase, “gladness in proportion to our former misery.” We serve a God who promised to, “turn their mourning into gladness,” and to, “give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow” (Jeremiah 31:13).

He will restore your joy. Because He loves you that much.

 

New School Year: SUPPLY Needed

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The approaching new school year means…excitement or apprehension, depending on your circumstances.

Students entering school for the first time eagerly anticipate going to school “like the big kids.”

Students returning to school with mental illness (MI) may worry about “the big kids” who bully.

School pressures can cause concern to any student. But for someone with MI, it can easily increase anxiety. And threaten mental stability.

That’s why moms raising kids with MI can also experience increased anxiety late in August. As the start of school creeps closer, her thoughts might become more consumed with her child’s stability.

I remember when Chris was heading back to school the year after he experienced a psychotic episode. Fears swarmed in my head about what might happen.

Will Chris remember to take his medication? Will his medication need to be adjusted? Will other students ask him intrusive questions? Will he be able to handle the pressures of homework? Will he be able to concentrate and think clearly? What will happen when he has to face his first test?

 We needed to get Chris’s supplies in order. But I needed to BE supplied—by God. I needed His provision, peace, presence, and power. God proved to be more than sufficient. He faithfully provided all Chris needed. And calmed my fears.

Moms raising children with MI need help. Back-to-school TV commercials fill us with a sense of urgency to seek God’s help.  Here’s a suggested prayer from one mom to another:

Heavenly Father,

Please help my child find a loyal friend. Place a caring teacher in his path this year. Lead us to a skilled therapist that will connect with my child, and who will teach him effective coping strategies. Guide me to a compassionate school administrator or staff member, who will be a proactive advocate for my child. Provide sufficient finances to pay for expenses that insurance won’t cover. As life gets more complicated, give me wisdom to know how to manage all the details of life. Show me ways I can support my other children, while ministering to my most vulnerable one. And please give me strength to endure. Protect my marriage in the midst of this trial. Finally, I ask that you help me keep my focus on You, rather than on the challenges that may come. Remind me that You’re still on the throne and in control.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen

 Our heavenly Father is able to supply all that and more. He promises to reveal His peace, presence, and power.

“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;

he delivers them from all their troubles” (Psalm 34:17).

This song will help you face each day. The lyrics will remind you that He’ll carry you and your loved ones through. Let King & Country’s song “Shoulders” minister to you:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40wYfjv6yt8&feature=youtu.be

Encouragement

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What would help you through the day? No matter what your situation, my guess is that you could use some encouragement. That’s what I’ve needed while raising a child with mental illness (MI).

I remember several times during my journey with Chris’s MI that the future wasn’t simply uncertain; it seemed hopeless. Normalcy had halted. Routine activities weren’t possible. I wondered if mental stability would be restored to Chris. Or if he’d ever feel joyful again.

Those were times when Chris struggled most to regain mental stability. Times that left me facing a battle in my own mind.

I don’t know if I can endure this trial. How can I minister to Chris when I’m feeling so discouraged, sorrowful, and afraid? How much more of this can I take?

Verses like 2 Thessalonians 2:16 helped me hang on. It promised that God, Himself, would encourage me.

“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.”

‘Eternal encouragement’: imagine that! God has given us everlasting encouragement. What a surplus!!!  Surely, He could provide a portion of that to me today.

I faced a relentless onslaught of worries. My solution was to listen to one particular song which assured me that God was still in control. Don Moen’s popular song “God Will Make a Way” reminded me of the promise in Isaiah 43:19.

“See, I am doing a new thing! … I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:19).

Here are some of those lyrics:

God will make a way

Where there seems to be no way

He works in ways we cannot see

He will make a way for me

 

He will be my guide

Hold me closely to His side

With love and strength for each new day

He will make a way, He will make a way

What seems impossible to me is possible to God.

It renewed my hope to believe that God would make a way, when there seems to be no way. So I listened to that song over and over and over. Until that Truth echoed in my mind and until the promise filled my heart with encouragement.

What seems impossible to me is possible to God.

 Listen to Don Moen’s popular song “God Will Make a Way.” Let the lyrics minister to you and give you God’s good hope and a portion of His eternal encouragement.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zo3fJYtS-o

Wasted Wondering

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Would you ever hop in a car without knowing your destination?  I have.

Our family used to have elaborate road rallies. We’d pair up with a partner and hop in a car, not knowing the destination or route. Just before we took off, my cousin, Kate, would hand us a list of directions and clues.

We had to locate specific information along the way. Kate’s cleverly-worded clues made it like a scavenger hunt.

At the dead end, turn right. How many birdhouses does the Italian family own?

On that road, we’d spot a house displaying an Italian flag. We’d count the number of birdhouses and move on to the next set of directions and clue.

Prizes were awarded to the pair who got the most correct answers in the shortest time. Part of the fun was traveling unfamiliar roads and not knowing where we were heading. It was an exciting adventure. We’d wonder, What’s over that next hill? Where’s Kate taking us?

But, not knowing where a crisis is heading can be terrifying. Helping a child who’s suffering with mental illness (MI) can be complicated. It’s hard to know what’s going on. Waves of wondering overtake our thoughts.

I wonder if my son is really feeling better. I wonder what he’s thinking. I wonder if he is taking his medication. I wonder if he’s isolating at school. I wonder if other people know what’s going on…

Wondering about the present causes us to carry a burden we’ve been invited to relinquish. We don’t need to carry our heavy load of cares. Peter reminds us to, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

Wondering about the present often leads to wondering about the past. We secretly feel responsible for our child’s suffering.

I wonder if I missed something. I wonder if I should have done something more. I wonder if I should have found a different therapist. I wonder if this wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t so busy…

Wondering about the past causes us to feel guilty.  Christ’s own disciples wondered the same thing when they saw a blind man. They asked Jesus, “‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ (John 9:2.)”

Christ’s answer relieves us from unnecessary guilt.

“‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him’” (John 9:3).

Then there’s the future wondering. MI can be so unpredictable. It’s difficult to see a clear path of recovery.

I wonder where this will lead. I wonder how bad this will get. I wonder if my marriage will survive this. I wonder if I can endure watching my son suffer. I wonder if he’ll be able to graduate. I wonder if he’ll be able to work. I wonder if he’ll experience another breakdown. I wonder how much stress he can handle. ….

Wondering about the future often leads to fear and worry. Christ said, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34). God knows your needs and has promised to care for you.

Here’s a verse that will remind you that He’s guiding your steps and He’s got your back.

“The Lord will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard” (Isaiah 52:12b).

None of us chose this trip with our child’s MI. We didn’t hop into a cab and say, “Please take us into downtown MI. Be sure to take the route with the most winding roads.”

Thankfully, we’re not on a journey driven by a taxicab driver. GOD is in control of our journey.

My problem with wondering is all about wandering.

I find that I fall into a snare of wondering when my thoughts wander from Him. The more I think about God, the easier it is to rest in His care.

How would you ask God to remove your wasted wondering?