Tag Archive | worry

Whatever!

0Path.stones

Long before Twitter, teenagers spoke their own language. Adults didn’t adopt their expressions. But, parents clearly understood their child’s messages. Especially when they were conveyed in grunts or in split syllables (for emphasis).

“What – EVER!” was code for, “I’m not happy about it. But you’re gonna make me do it anyway.”

I confess that secretly I’ve groaned, “Whatever!” to God at times. A publisher’s rejection zapped my contentment before I had a chance seek His peace. A new illness flooded me with fear before I remembered His promises.

My Father waited patiently while I wallowed in frustration. On each occasion, I eventually tired of my disgruntled attitude and turned to Him.

“Father, forgive me for my reaction. I know it’s based on fear. Please help me trust You for this new phase of my life. Remind me that You’re still in control. Strengthen my shield of faith so I, ‘can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one’ (Ephesians 6:16).”

Sometimes I’d groan, “Whatever!” when a new round of symptoms would emerge in Chris. They’d warn of more stress, another disruption in life, sleepless nights, and endless tears.

Are you good at sensing more fragile emotions in your child who has mental illness (MI)? Does your motherly intuition serve you well? Can you discern something is wrong even by hearing a subtle change in your child’s voice?

If you’re like me, your first reaction is to brace for “Whatever!” I think that’s a completely normal and understandable response. Knowing what you’ve been through previously, fear or worry might be the only logical emotions. Who would see an emotional storm brewing and say, “Oh goody! Bring it on! I was hoping I’d have another trial to test my faith.”

It helps me to know that Paul, the champion of contentment, didn’t discover God’s peace in one day (as if some apostolic genius). It was a process. Thankfully, he revealed, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11).

Paul learned to be content no matter what. The unspoken message is that he didn’t get it right the first time, or the second time, or even the third time. Arriving at contentment was a process. The encouraging news is that we too can gain greater and greater contentment.

How can we become more contented in our situations? Here’s the hard news to swallow: through our trials.

Paul lets us in on his secret. Imagine him holding his pointer finger to his lips and whispering, “S-h-h. Listen up. I know life stinks at times. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12-13).

His secret: He learned to trust in God, rather than himself, others, or things.

I find that easier said, than done. My first reaction isn’t worry or fear so much anymore, but it’s often to rely on my own wisdom to figure out a solution. God has proven time and time again to be faithful to His Word. Why is it so hard for me to trust Him sooner, rather than as a last resort?

Thankfully, Paul didn’t stop there in his pep talk to his brothers. He included a word of encouragement saying, “My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

He knew we’d need a reminder that God will meet all our needs. And that He will supply according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.

“Dear Father, Help me get to a place in my walk with You that I can utter with calmness, ’Whatever.’ I know that circumstances don’t change who You are: my loving Father. Give me an image of You standing beside me as I face any trial. Help me feel Your presence and rely on Your promises. Thank You for Your peace that passes understanding, a perfect peace that protects my heart and mind. In Jesus’ name, Amen”

How do you cast your care on Him? Worship songs sometimes help.

Matt Redman sings about a heart that can say, “Whatever.” Part of the lyrics to “10,000 Reasons, Bless the Lord O My Soul” include:

The sun comes up

It’s a new day dawning

It’s time to sing Your song again

Whatever may pass

And whatever lies before me

Let me be singing

When the evening comes

Use Matt Redman’s song as your prayer to God.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pt5VnHYc-4k

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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

Warrior

prayer.warrior

My dad is my hero because he is a great worrier.

A great worrier? Could it be that the youngster is impressed with his father’s ability to worry?

That sentence doesn’t make sense unless you’re a second grader. It should read, “My dad is my hero because he is a great warrior.” A young boy would certainly look up to a father who is in the military.

The spelling of a word can be easily corrected. But it would be vastly harder to transform a true worrier into a valiant warrior. What if the word ‘worrier’ wasn’t misspelled? Are some people great worriers?

Moms raising kids with mental illness (MI) know about worrying. We have reason to worry. Anxiety can flood our hearts with uneasiness. We fear our child will hurt himself. Or others. We’re afraid of what will happen next. Or in the future.

Our hearts are troubled. We battle anxious feelings. Is it possible to convey how we feel when parental concern turns into consuming worry? The Online Etymology Dictionary describes what it’s like. The origin of the word comes from Old English wyrgan which means “to strangle.” What a picture! Imagine worry as an enemy reaching around your throat, cutting off your ability to breathe. Visualize your hands wringing in helplessness as you succumb to the attack. Now picture your hands folded in prayer. ‘Feel’ the relief of God releasing you from the grip of worry. Take a deep breath of His peace.

Many of our children with MI have good days and bad days. On those bad days why do we succumb to worry? Feelings of inadequacy feed anxiety. The dung of doubt tends to fertilize fears. Weeds of worry choke our resolve and crowd out His peace.

I couldn’t prevent his condition, so I won’t be able to help him deal with it.

I’ve tried everything I know to help her. I’ve done everything her psychiatrist recommended. Nothing seems to work. I’m not equipped to deal with her MI.

I can’t face another day like this. I don’t think I can go on much more.

Our home—or heart—may feel like a battle zone at times. When we feel depleted, we’re tempted to wave the white flag. And give up. Those are the times to surrender our worries to God. Leaving them at His throne. We approach Him as a worrier and leave His presence as a prayer warrior.

Our prayers release the almighty power of our Father. He reminds us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).”

What does a modern-day prayer warrior look like? My mom is a great example. She prays unceasingly for her loved ones. Starting each day on her knees. Seeking God’s faithfulness, healing, and intervention throughout her day. Ending the day as she started: bowing before Him in prayer once again.

I’m grateful my mother has shown me how to pray faithfully for others. That’s what I love most about her. It’s been a comfort to pick up the phone during a crisis and ask her to pray. Knowing she will. My goal is to leave that same legacy of prayer to my children.

Heavenly Father,

Sometimes I feel limited in what I can to do help my son. Remind me that I can provide the very best: prayers offered to You on his behalf. I’m so grateful I have access to You. Knowing You love Chris more than I could ever love him. Knowing You have unlimited power to help and protect him. Knowing You’re with him wherever he goes. Help me become a greater prayer warrior.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.  

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:7

Real or Unreal

Macaw

The Macaw caught my eye. Was it real or stuffed? Soon I found out.

The aisles in the tropical bird store were crammed with supplies for bird-lovers. I stepped back to snap a picture of the feathery creature and knocked into a shelf of feeders. “Uh-oh,” flew out of my mouth proclaiming my fear that they’d all topple over.

“Uh-oh,” echoed back.

Did I just hear that? To confirm my suspicions, I repeated my reaction. “Uh-oh.”

“Uh-oh,” bellowed back the refrain from the perch. That parrot, asserted itself by honking, “Uh-oh!”  As if mocking my clumsiness. Proclaiming my private mistake to the entire store.

Thankfully, a parrot can’t repeat unspoken words. Ideas hidden in peoples’ minds are safe.

“A penny for your thoughts.”  Would you reveal your most intimate thoughts so cheaply?

That phrase won’t necessary buy accurate information from a child with mental illness (MI). You might only get silence or a glare.

Years ago, when I attended part of Chris’s appointments with his psychologist, the doctor would ask, “So Chris, what are you thinking?”

Chris often looked at me as if to say, “I’m not gonna say anything with her here. My thoughts are private.”

Can you blame him? Would you willingly reveal your every thought? Certainly not the ugly ones.

Thankfully, most of us can suppress vindictive, angry, impure or judgmental thoughts. We put the mental brakes on opinions that threaten to contaminate our conversations. We resist the temptation to blurt out impressions like, “Wow! I can’t believe she …” We stifle our speech when feeling, “I wish he would just …”

Foreign thoughts that invade our thinking are annoying. It could be worse. What if we couldn’t trust our thoughts? That would be horrifying. That’s what it’s like for individuals with MI who hear voices. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish real from unreal.

We can help children who hear voices by suggesting how to distinguish between real and unreal. Those that spew hurtful or hateful messages are most likely not real; they’re symptoms of MI. The best offense is to fill their minds with undeniable Truth. God is real. He loves them.

We need to remind ourselves of that fact. God is real. And His love for us is very real.

Troubles seem to stalk our families. Bazaar behaviors become the norm. We seem to stumble through dark days searching for an ounce of hope. Praying for normalcy.

I don’t know about you, but there were days I thought I’d simply ignore the reality of MI in my life. As if I could will it away with positive thoughts.

Today, I’m going to be at peace.

But anxious thoughts would ambush my plan. Worries would pounce on my artificial peace. And pound away at my awareness of His presence. Sometimes I’d experience more subtle attacks. My focus would meander throughout the day. Carefree thoughts would focus on this chore and that errand. Then curiosity would lure me down dark paths in my mind.

I wonder if Chris is sitting alone at lunch. Did he remember to ask the teacher for testing in a quiet setting?

Such seductive contemplation would suddenly entrap me. I’d find myself snarled in my own deception.

Chris can’t be okay because no one is there to help him.

Then I’d come to my senses and remember God wouldn’t abandon Chris. At those times, I refused to allow concerns to trample my trust in Him.

How could my trust in God be unshakable? Because of who He is.

In my training to be a vision support teacher, I had to experience what it’s like to be blind. The professor instructed me to wear a blindfold and follow a sighted guide. My level of trust depended on the person leading. If I knew he’d protect me from injury, I relaxed. If my guide had difficulties paying attention, I peeked under my blindfold. Knowing I had to depend on myself.

The more I know of God and His love for me, the more I can rest in His care. I assure myself: “Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. (Psalm 62:5-6)”

Thank You, Father, that You’re very real. Your Word is true and I can depend on Your love. Make Your presence known to me today in greater ways. Align and synchronize my thoughts with Yours.

God answers, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)”

Rejoice in His strength as you listen to Hillsong’s ‘Believe.’

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbIXoPblF8Q

The Dreaded New School Year

school.supplies.worry

When purchasing new supplies and new clothes for your child with mental illness (MI), did you buy some new worries too? I did. Chris would have to face changes in his senior year of high school. He’d have to trust new people. Would he be able to handle the stress? Would I?

My greatest fear: another breakdown. With God’s help, Chris finished his junior year of high school on time. His studies were interrupted by hospitalization, followed by out-patient care, followed by home bound instruction. Yet, Chris successfully completed eleventh grade. I convinced myself things would be smooth sailing for Chris from then on. That happy place of denial didn’t last long.

The only thing worse than watching your son “lose his mind” is noticing some warning signs that indicate it’s about to happen again.

In October of Chris’s senior year that’s exactly what happened. From my first experience with Chris’s breakdown, I learned to notice early warning signs. When I realized Chris getting close to the edge again, I felt very helpless. I didn’t know if anything could be done. He already was on medication.

At the same time, I felt confident the Lord would sustain me as he had before. But I dreaded having to watch Chris suffer like that again.

When I picked Chris up after school he acted differently than normal—especially on days he had band practice. He either talked incessantly or fell asleep immediately. He started getting some nose bleeds, which indicated his blood pressure might be unusually high again.

I knew we had to do something, but worried there was nothing that could be done. Worry led to shame…I felt ashamed I wasted emotional energy worrying. God tells us in His Word we shouldn’t be anxious because it can’t add one day to our lives. In my mind I knew worrying wouldn’t accomplish anything (except maybe cause me health problems!). In my heart I believed God was able to do beyond all I could imagine. Yet, I feared the situation would only get worse. Sometimes our imagination is our greatest enemy.

When I took Chris to see his psychiatrist, Dr. Newman, I learned there was a very simple solution.

“We can give Chris a tiny bit of extra medication at the time of day when he experiences the most stress,” explained Dr. Newman.

“How will that help? Most of his medications cause him to be drowsy. Won’t that just make him sleep more?”

“No. When Chris experiences additional stress, his brain produces adrenaline. Adrenaline reduces the effectiveness of his medication for psychosis. The adrenaline makes his mind race so he can perform under the stressful conditions. That’s why he’s more
talkative when he first gets in the car after school.”

“Why does he fall asleep sometimes?”

Dr. Newman went on to explain. “Once the stressful condition is over, Chris experiences a “bounce” which is a sharp decline in his mental energy. That’s why he falls asleep so suddenly. It’s the way his body allows him to recover from the stressful experience.”

It started to make sense to me. It seemed like what happens to infants when they get an injection. Sometimes they cry a lot and then fall asleep after the ordeal ends (the sharp decline in mental energy following a stressful experience).

We agreed to try administering just a tiny bit of medication as needed, at just the right time of day. I was still worried. I thought it could be dangerous to increase the dosage of a psychotropic medication with a teenager who was on the brink of another breakdown.

I needed to know, “What if this doesn’t work? Could this bring on a psychotic episode?”

“That would be a mini-crisis and you should beep me. Say it’s an emergency,” Dr. Newman replied casually. His casual demeanor didn’t reduce my level of concern.

Chris would be the one who would determine when he needed the extra pill, based on elevated stress. I knew Chris wouldn’t go to the nurse to get his medication. That could make him late for band practice. Being late for practice would just add more stress. Having the nurse show up at band practice to give Chris his extra pill would be an option either. What teen would appreciate that?

The best solution: Chris would carry his own extra pill. The school nurse initially wasn’t willing to let Chris do that. The school’s zero tolerance policy against drugs was the issue. But Chris was entitled to a reasonable accommodation. A compromise was proposed to have Chris also carry a note from the nurse giving him permission to carry the pill and administer it to himself.

When I picked Chris and Robert up from school, Robert got into the car before Chris.

“How did Chris act during band practice?” I asked him.

I never realized Robert had grown tired of my asking him how Chris acted in school (all during Chris’s junior year). Robert’s response was a wake-up call for me.

“Please stop asking me how Chris acts!”

“I’m sorry, Rob. I won’t ever ask you again.”

As soon as Chris got in the car I could see for myself how things went. He wasn’t talking incessantly. He didn’t fall asleep at all. It seemed like the problem was solved and the crisis was over.

Peace returned to Chris and to me. But there would be more critical periods that year. Times when I’d succumb to worrying. Occasions for God to reveal His faithfulness once again.

God can always make a way when there seems to be no way. Let Don Moen’s song “God Will Make a Way”  remind you of His unending faithfulness, power, and love.

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

Photo Shop

Bird Paradise digital 007 fixed Bird Paradise
Wouldn’t it be nice to photo shop your life? Tweak imperfections in relationships the way photographers tweak photographs?

Just for fun, imagine the possibilities.
Let’s delete shadows of painful memories. Click! Regrets of parenting mistakes gone.

Now, blur specific painful scenes. Click! Stories your child told of being bullied or ignored can no longer be seen in your mind’s eye.

Next, air brush ugliness away and smooth out edges. Click! Tension in the family dissolves.

Don’t forget to crop out unwanted emotions. Click! Anxiety and worry are gone from you and your child who has mental illness (MI).

Let’s try reducing the noise that clutters up a marriage. Click! Resentment is replaced with clear communication.

Finally, use the red eye tool to remove the tear-stained, sleep-deprived inflammation. Click! A false façade hides deep sorrow.

Sadly, it seems impossible to remove painful memories, erase regrets, smooth away tension, restore a marriage, sleep peacefully, and stop the tears.

We walk from peaceful days into the darkness. Why?

I discovered a wonderful symbolism of God’s ways when I tinkered with tools in Photo Shop.

My newest pastime is altering photographs. I’ve recently learned how to change the background of pictures.

I captured a nice picture of a macaw. The context of the cage pulled my attention away from the bird’s pretty colors. I wondered if I could improve the picture.

When I switched to a black background, the glorious colors exploded like fireworks in the night. I gasped in awe at the result. Once distractions were removed, the exquisite rainbow of colors became strikingly vibrant.

Has MI plunged you into darkness? The Designer of the universe knows how to focus your attention on Him. The darker the trial, the brighter His presence. Suddenly all that’s seen is His vibrant love.

The complicated context of our lives masks God’s presence. When our lives are uneventful, we rarely notice Him. So, God switches the background.

Walking in darkness conjures up images of someone stumbling. It stirs up ugly emotions: fright, uncertainty, loneliness…But, God ways aren’t like our ways. He knows when we walk in darkness, we look harder for Him.

In our darkest of times, God’s presence captivates our attention. His love comes alive. His comfort reaches out to us. His peace calms our heart.

Words in the Bible, once a multitude of verses, become God’s personal message to us. The Bible, previously our Daily Bread, becomes a true feast for the heart. Our lifeline. We witness His faithfulness and learn to depend on His promises.

My camera has a switch for automatic. But, I prefer using the manual switch. I like to be in control.

Have you got your life on manual? How’s it working for you? Try switching to automatic. Let God capture your heart. He’s perfecting His masterpiece. Your family portrait is framed in His perfect plans. Wait for them to be fully developed. What He’s begun, He’ll complete.

For now, we see only in part. Like this small glimpse of a snapshot.
stainedglasscrop
God sees the big picture.
stainedglass
Ask God to give you His heavenly perspective.

Reflect on God’s Hand in your life as you listen to Chris Tomlin sing ‘Take My Life’

What if…

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit”  (Romans 15:13).

Chris survived his first psychotic episode that hit during his junior year in high school. With the help of excellent home bound instructors, he even finished the year on time. God was faithful.

The night before his senior year, lots of what ifs filled my head.

What if marching band proves to be too stressful for Chris? What if other students say something to him about his hospitalization? What if teachers are too demanding? What if he can’t make it to the nurse’s office to get his medicine? What if his friend isn’t in any of his classes? What if no one sits next to him at lunch? What if…

‘What if’ is usually followed by someone’s greatest fear, their worst case scenario. But suppose ‘what if’ was followed by someone’s greatest hope, their best case scenario.

Calm assurances would replace doubts and fear. There would be no limit to what could follow ‘what if.’

Here’s how it would sound:

What if God filled Chris with His perfect peace? What if the Lord arranged for Chris’s friend to be in several of his classes? What if several people sat with Chris at lunch every day? What if Chris remained content and clear thinking in spite of a stressful band director or demanding classes? What if I felt God’s presence during Chris’s school days?

What if I created new habits that led to transformed thinking?

What if I woke up and cast all my care on God, instead of worrying about what my day will be like? What if I eagerly anticipated how God will help me instead of feeling unsupported?

Jesus told his disciples not to worry about what they will eat, drink, or wear. Proof of His provision surrounded them. God’s care could be seen in the lilies of the field and the birds of the air.

Can you imagine a bird pacing around with her head down murmuring, “What if I don’t find any food? What if I can’t make my nest in time?”

Jesus assures us we’re more valuable to Him than any bird. There is no limit to the joy and peace we can have as we trust Him. The Holy Spirit will fill us to overflowing with hope.

What ifs can torment or comfort depending on our focus.

Oh heavenly Father, increase our faith!