Monday, December 12, 2011

Tidings of Comfort and Joy

Christmas brings with it great meaning and for some great difficulty.  It's the time when our losses are are heart felt once more, and the changes that have come with those losses, are emphasized.  This is especially true when attending family gatherings and parties, or in some cases being alone. For me, the reminder of what Christmas is really about, makes the difference between sadness and peace.

I find it interesting that in the Christmas carol "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," it speaks of "tidings of comfort and joy." Comfort is what it brings to me, that God loved us so much that He sent a part of Himself as a man to save us all. There is a  wonderful assurance of heaven after this short life, in which we will all be fully healed in His presence. There were times when I felt mad at God for what he let me go through in my life, but look at what Jesus went through in His life.  Absolutely nothing was for Him, it was all for us, people who were ungrateful and didn't deserve it.  God made us all as we are, illnesses and all, for a reason, which we will surely never know.  What I have learned is that he uses everything for the good (Romans 8:28), and that His plan for us is ultimately for good (Jeremiah 29:11.)

Christmas brings mixed feelings to many of us, but going to God with all these feelings brings such a sense of peace, and yes comfort to me.  What about you?

This Christmas, I wish you all "tidings of comfort and joy."

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Sometimes it takes just one simple but thought provoking sentence to change your perspective.  Three days ago, that happened for me, and this sentence has stuck with me ever since.  The sentence was, "If all you had today was everything you thanked God for yesterday, how much would you have?"  What this question made me think about was all the things that I don't think to thank God for.  There is much that I tend to take for granted that many do not have.  I believe, that if I were to make a list of everything there was to be grateful for, it would take a very long time to finish it.

Isn't it funny how sometimes, when we need it most, we hear or see the very thing we need right at that time?  I have had multiple issues to deal with recently that have been very difficult, and are not going to resolve overnight.  When my mind fully embraces gratitude, it gives me strength and peace.  It's like a finding a bright, warm flame in the darkness. Everything I have and all I am are from God. They are His to give and His to take away; it's so easy to forget that.  Every morning, I am now taking a few minutes to embrace my blessings, and it seems to be making life easier to deal with and to be changing how I view everything..

Thank you Lord, for all You are, for all You have made of me, and all you have given to me.  Thank you for embracing me with Your incredible love. In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Cry Out To Jesus

There is hope for the helpless
Rest for the weary
Love for the broken heart
There is grace and forgiveness
Mercy and healing
He'll meet you wherever you are
Cry out to Jesus, Cry out to Jesus

~"Cry Out To Jesus" by Third Day

Grieving is a process we go through when we feel loss in our lives.  Although we associate grieving with loss of a loved one, grieving also takes place when we feel any loss in our lives.  Examples of this would be loss of dream, a relationship, a job, an illness, the list goes on. Change can cause us to grieve, even when we know that it is a good change; it still causes us to leave our comfort zone.

How do you deal with grief?  Do you try to stay overly busy and avoid feeling it?  Do you sink into the depths of despair?  Do you get angry and look for someone to blame?  All of these are normal reactions to grief.  So what is the best way to get through it?  What does God have to say about this?  The Word, and reaching harder and more often to Him helps me the most.  Below I will share some of the passages that speak to me about grieving.

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." Matthew 5:4
"Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you, he will never let the righteous fall" Psalm 55:22.
"Come to me all of you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and .   learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" Matthew 11:25-30.

What these passages say to me is that we are to bring our grief to the Lord, and he will take it on himself. The emotions and reactions that weigh us down will be lifted from us when we ask Jesus to do so.  Although the grieving process is still there, it isn't as difficult to bear.

"Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning." Psalm 30:5
"Do you not know, have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:18-31
"The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on her ruins, he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord.  Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing."  Isaiah 51:3

What do these passages say to you?  What they say to me is that there is hope, that God has compassion for us and that He will make us even better than before.  It is easy to reach for what is physically near us, but our true comfort and hope lies with our God.  I try to remember and think of him as "my God"; He cares that much for me.  It is hard when we want immediate feelings of relief to go to Him, since sometimes his answers take some time to see.  When I take the time and make it a priority, going to Him in prayer and in the Word ultimately is the most healing and comforting of all.  What passages speak to you and provide the most comfort and hope to you?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

He Is Strong In Our Weakness

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.   ~2 Corinthians 8-10

Feelings of weakness and vulnerability are very difficult for me to handle.  I want to feel on top of my game, like I have things under control!  In the above passage the apostle Paul is talking about the "thorn" that God left him with.  Many speculate as to what that thorn might be, but one thing is clear.  It left him weak, taught Him to depend on God in a whole different way, and to always know how small he was and how large God is.  It gave him humility.

What does this mean to you and I?  What did it mean to Paul, who was one of God's chosen ones?  Although I do not have to choose to wear a label, I believe God wants me to be transparent, to let people see the weaknesses I want so much to cover up.  I think there is no better testimony to others of the power of Christ than for people to see him working in our lives, and yes in our weakness, in which He is strong.

What do you think?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Let The Light Shine Through

"So I tuck it all away, like everything's okay
If I make them all believe it, maybe I'll believe it too
So with a painted grin, I play the part again
So everyone will see me the way that I see them"

From "Stained Glass Masquerade"
by Casting Crowns

It never ceases to amaze me the way each time I open up with someone about something in my life that I normally keep private, the person I shared it with will often make a similarly surprising revelation.  In those too often infrequent exchanges we learn who the real person is beneath the protective veneer that so many of us hide behind.  One wonders if everyone is playing a part, how do we ever really get to know each other?  How can one love anything more than the surface person they're able to see?  Even more so, how can one feel loved when people aren't loving them but a veneer that does not reflect the inside.

As children of God, The Almighty loves us just as we are.  After all, he created us and made each of us a unique individual with our own strengths, weaknesses and talents.  For those of us who have a mental illness or love someone who does, we need to remember that God loves us completely and unconditionally! There is nothing to be ashamed of. We may each have our own set of challenges, but with Jesus in our hearts, he can shine through us to others.  The only way to do that is to stop hiding and give God the reins.  He will give us what we need to get where he wants us to be, according to his will. 

My favorite part of being in a support group and small group in church is seeing people open up and let others in.  I feel so much more comfortable when I can see a person's human or vulnerable side;  the one that makes as many mistakes and feels as insecure as I do sometimes.  As the stanza above states, "I will play the part again, so everyone sees me the way I see them."  Where does the roleplaying end?  When someone who cares asks how we are, why not tell the truth?  I have always found that what speaks of my Christianity more than anything, isn't what I say, nor is it hiding behind a mask and appearing to be something I'm not. What speaks to people the most is what I allow people to see, the mistakes, thee problems and the ways Jesus sees me through the really hard times. When people allow me a glimpse of Jesus in them, and the grace by which He does bring them through it reinforces my own faith.  I only hope that I can do that for others.

I have such a long way to go.  I walk in mercy and grace with Jesus in me.  My God is everything good in me and has given me everything good in my life. Looking back, I think that the weird or strange kids were really just willing to drop the veneer. I think I can safely that I am "cracked,” and I hope to always allow the light of Jesus to shine through my many cracks.  I can trust Him, he knows the best way.  

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Letter From God

My Dear Child,

I see your struggles. I feel your pain.  I know you get angry with me for not taking the illness away.  I know how much it hurts when you the world rejects you and turns away from you because of your circumstances.  My Son went through the same thing.  When you feel alone, know that you are never alone.  All you have to do is ask, and I will hold your hand and walk with you.  When you need me, I will carry you.  Come to me and I will dry your tears and ease your pain.  I will lighten your load, if only you let me.

My child, you cannot fix everything, it is not your job.  You cannot will things away.  I am here for that too.

Please remember, that I made each one of my children exactly as I intended.  I love you and accept you the way you are.  I just wait for you to ask me to help.  I know your every thought and desire; I know your heart.  I have a perfect plan for you and though it may not look like your own, it is a much better one.  I can see things that you cannot, and I know things that you may never know.  It is okay to question me, but please trust me!  I am your Father and I will not let you down.  You can lean on me and depend on me.

Yes, child, you have your work to do.  I see how hard you try and that is important.  I can help you to become the best and get the farthest if only you believe.  Know that when I let you go through the valleys it is to teach you, to foster your growth and to build your strength.  I know what is best for you.

My child, do not be ashamed, for you are a child of God.  You are mine and you are loved by the most High.  I will always be here and I will always love you with the Agape love that you will not find anywhere else; so rest in me.

With love from your Heavenly Father,

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Be Still

We've been running without a direction
We're afraid to get there late
What we need is the strength
To just kneel down and wait

Be still and know he, know he is holy
Be still and know He is God
Love him more dearly, see him more clearly
Be still and know He is God

from "Be Still" by the Steve Taylor and Peter Furler
performed by The Newsboys

It is so hard to be still.  Our society in general seems to run in a fast, hurried pace.  Keeping busy is a great way to deal with problems, or is it?  While it's so important not to dwell on our problems, avoiding them through activity isn't healthy either.  What happens to all those unaddressed thoughts, feelings and worries?   The answer is we stuff them inside.  When we eventually do think about them, how many times do we  choose to lay them at His feet?  How can we really grow closer to God if we don't have our quiet time with Him?  How do we really depend on Him if we're not still enough to hear Him?

We work so hard to do the right things.  We pray unceasingly and ask others to pray for us.  We read the Bible, devotionals, and other inspirational literature.  These are all very important in our walk.  We definitely need to be doing these things.  My question is when we pray for things like peace, strength and answers, how can we receive them if we're not still?  Someone once told me that we need to make our prayers shorter and give equal time to being quiet.  This is very difficult for me, but when I can do it, it works! 

When I had a long drive to work, I used to play the Christian station on the radio and sing along with the songs I knew.  I would also talk to God (when I wasn't on my cell phone-I just told on myself!)  The problem was that so many times, I didn't leave time for an answer.  I believe that hearing a word from God can manifest in moments when you unexpectedly change your mindset or have thoughts and do not know from where they came. I love when I feel peace just wash over me like a spring shower. My wish for you is to feel that calm, inner peace: the peace that knows no understanding.  

For those of you who don't truly have a quiet time, I challenge you to try it.  Even 5 minutes a day can make a huge difference.

"Be stll and know that I am God."  Psalm 46:10

Friday, March 25, 2011


Painting by Rob Northampton
When you swim against the tide
  It's hard to reach the other side
   When you hold onto the hurt
      It makes you sick inside

       Like following a storm
  When you're tired of the rain
      Wounds can never heal
   Until you let go of the pain

     Longing for an apology
     But you're the only one
Who can lay it down before Him
     And have the battle won

     You know forgiveness
  God forgives you every day
     And all he asks of you
Is you forgive in the same way

     Letting go of anger
     Is the dawn of a new day
     God loves us so much
        And there's no price for us to pay

    I was hurt so deeply
       It changed my life in many ways
   I laid it on the altar
  Now I walk away

       Praying for one who caused such pain
      What only Christ could help me do
    The battle's deep inside
    As I let go, He makes me new

     The power of forgiveness
     Shines a light so deep within
     I pray His presence is felt
     That it touches those sins

     The wounds are finally closing
     And the door behind me too
     Love no longer hiding
     As I move on to chapter two

     The rainbow after the storm
     Such brilliant shades and hues
    The clouds are moving aside
     As the sun comes shining through


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Favorite Bible Verses

What are your favorite bible verses; which are most helpful to you?  I want to compile a list of verses that would be most comforting for people dealing with mental illness in their lives or the lives of those they love.

Mine are:

1- Phillipians 4:6-9
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. 

As someone who deals with a lot of anxiety and still has some trust issues, this is the answer.  Trust God, consciously think about good things and know He is with you.

2- Isaiah 40:31

31 but those who hope in the LORD
   will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
   they will run and not grow weary,
   they will walk and not be faint.

This says it all! There are many times that it feels like I am all used up.  When I depend on God, and
give it all to him, his strength is given to me, and I can keep going!

3- Psalm 139:13-14

 13 For you created my inmost being;
   you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
   your works are wonderful,
   I know that full well.

I was made as God wants me to be!  If he wanted me this way, then I can accept myself, flaws and all.

Please share what verses inspire you the most!

Friday, March 4, 2011

What If

Whether you have a mental illness, or you love someone who does, the "what-ifs" are something we need not give a voice to; I think at some point we have all done it.  For someone with a mental illness it can go something like this: "What if I didn't have a mental illness, what would my life be like?"  From there it can become "What could I have been?" or questioning how much better it could be.  For a family member the questions can be "What if I had known sooner?" or "What if I had done things better?"

This is dangerous thinking that can only be destructive.  When we think in these terms, we hold onto guilt and focus on what we don't have rather than what we do have.  Thinking along these lines is unrealistic on so many levels.  For consumers, how many tend to think that if they didn't have a mental illnesses their lives would be great?  Mental illness is a very long, difficult road to travel, but we have no way of knowing what our paths would be if life had been different.  This is also true for family members.  It's easy to think that if you had done things differently you could have been more help, or your loved one wouldn't have to live with the symptoms of their illness that they do.

Remember, God created us the way we are supposed to be, each one of us . Read Psalm 139:13-16:  He loves us just the way we are.  He uses the very things we go through to form our characters and make us strong.  He has a special love for those who have the hardest things to cope with. There is great reward for those who go through suffering in this life.  Read the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:  God is also so forgiving.  Many who cope with mental illness in their lives whether in themselves or others, carry a lot of guilt, much of it being false.  Regardless of whether the guilt is valid, asking God for forgiveness can lift a huge burden off your shoulders.

If God loves us the way we are, I think it's time that we do the same for ourselves. Ask yourself this- how would you treat someone going through what you are going through?  Don't you deserve to think of yourself the same way?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

I Love You Just The Way You Are

These are our babies- Lady the Lab, Buddy the Bassett/ Beagle and Max the Menace. We love them like they are our children, and boy do they act like children. Not only that but we know that if our dogs were people, each would have a mental diagnosis.

Lady is 9 years old. She has a combination of generalized anxiety and/or post-traumatic stress disorder. She was abused as a young dog and she scares easily as a result. She also has phobia. She is frightened to death of thunder and shakes like a leaf during storms. She also has a very hard time adjusting to change and when we moved 21/2 years ago, she got so stressed that she was put on an antidepressant.  She has abandonment issues that are typical of PTSD.

Buddy is 31/2 years old.  He was homeless when I found him almost two years ago. He has borderline personality and obsessive/compulsive disorder (OCD).  He bullies my other dogs when he wants more attention.  He closes our laptops with his paw when he wants our attention.  He climbs on top of us and stands inches from our faces. In other words, he can't get enough.  When he's not scaring off my other dogs, he carefully cleans their eyes and ears, indulging in one of his obsessions. He's either chasing them away or cuddling with them. And then there's his dirty underwear fetish, but we won't go there.

Max is our Dennis the Menace.  He is the epitome of ADHD. Max never wants to stop and I don't think he could if he tried.  He won’t stay in one place or sit still for very long.  He is impulsive and even though he knows he will get in trouble, he keeps digging out of the backyard and running off.  He refuses to come back until he's ready, and will walk up to us and then run off as if saying, "You can't make me!"  He is disruptive in a group and cannot stay focused on one thing for long.

Yes, we have our hands full with our "kids."  Every time we start to feel frustrated, they do something to redeem themselves.  They are affectionate and have many great qualities too, but we love them quirks and all.

We love them unconditionally.  That is what real love is all about. This means that we love them for who they are, although we will continue to try and curb their naughty behaviors.  That's the way God loves us.  Even when we are at our worst, he loves us the same.  At times you may feel like you have no one but God is always there just waiting for you to accept His love.  His love knows no bounds, it never changes and it only grows. He will never leave and he will always accept you.  Come as you are and he will love, support, and help you.

Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like
the great deep.
You, LORD, preserve both people and animals.
 How priceless is your
unfailing love, O God!
   People take refuge in the shadow of your

-Psalm 36:5-7

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Who's Driving?

Is God In The Driver's Seat?

Wow.  God really knows how to test me when    
it comes to being submissive to His will.  I mean
surrendering my children to Him?  Really, what is
He thinking?  How can I do that for more than
say an hour?  If we're supposed to completely
surrender our children, no matter what the age,
then why are we programmed this way?  I don't
understand God.  It's hard enough for me to"be
anxious for nothing" in matters concerning me. 
You can't expect me to be that way with my kids as well? 

Every night my husband and I pray together before we go to bed.  We start with our ill child, and then cover the other two children and the rest of our family.  We ask for specific things for them, and then say things like "according to your will," but honestly, I think deep down I am really thinking "according to my will."  Yes, I'm coming clean and admitting that I am not good at this surrender thing.  God knows I try to do it enough.  Sometimes I even succeed for a while, at least until I once more try to take the wheel from God. 

In my mind I know it doesn't make any difference.  He is still in control.  I can even imagine Him laughing at me saying, "You silly child, how could you possibly think you have any control?"  I don't think I have control, but when things feel out of control, it's almost like going on what I call "autopilot."

I know what I need to do, I know what needs to happen, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. God has His reasons for everything and He will work his plan with or without me. 

Okay God, I understand why you hit me with what feels like yet another two-by-four.  I can be so stubborn when it comes to my kids.  But one thing I have learned is that you made my son the way you did for a reason.  He has survived because of You and not me.  With all that has happened there is no earthly reason he should still be here.   You are faithful Lord.  Help me to be faithful and trusting, You are the one with the power. 

He is faithful and so much bigger than us.  Has anyone else prayed a prayer like this?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Random Acts of Kindness

It's a time I'll never forget.  I was waiting tables in 1995, trying to get a job in my chosen field.  I worked at a Cracker Barrel in a small town in northwest Georgia.  There was a customer that came in once a week at lunchtime.  Everyone knew who he was, because of the extraordinary thing he would do each time he came.  He picked a table and paid their bill when he paid his own.  We were not allowed to tell anyone who did it, but it was the most incredible thing to watch the reactions of the people when they realized someone else had paid their bill.

The Bible calls for us to give generously and says that our giving loses meaning when we take credit for it.  God wants us to give from our hearts, and not for our own self gratification.  Reaching beyond ourselves and beyond the illness we live with is good for the soul.  We are reflecting the love of Jesus when we do that.

When the man I waited on each week performed his anonymous act of kindness, it affected everyone in the room.  I watched this simple act move people to tears. There seems to be an unwritten law of nature that goes into effect when we give.  Unfailingly, we get something back in return.  Not usually from the person or persons to whom we have given something, but often from another source at another time.  When we give unselfishly to those with a legitimate need, we are blessed tenfold.  People around us learn from our example as well.  It does not matter whether you have a mental illness or you are the caregiver.  Random acts of generosity command respect and please God; in addition, these acts automatically change one's attitude.  When you want someone else'e behavior to change, the only thing that may help that to happen, is for them to see a change in you.  I have witnessed his many times over with the people in my own life.

Next time you feel down, consider doing a random act of kindness.  It can not only turn someone else's day around, but your day as well.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Half Full Cup

It breaks my heart to see the shame that people with a mental illness seem to always carry.  It's always there is some shape or form, like a dark cloud hovering over one's head.  We are all children of God, made in his image; that must make each one of us special.  Loved ones seem to carry the same shame.  People with mental illness were created with the genes to have it, just as gender and race are determined by our genes; just as those born with the gene for diabetes or a weak heart, there is no fault here.

THERE IS NO FAULT HERE!  Sometimes we all need that reminder.  People with a mental illness do not have to be defined by it; nor do family or friends have to be defined by their loved one's illness.  We may be in a minority, but we can choose the half full cup, rather than the half empty cup.  Today, try looking at the positive in you as a result of your experiences. For some, it is a new found compassion or wisdom.  For others, it may be a new way of experiencing true faith.  Where there is pain, growth usually follows.  How have you grown through this? How has this changed you in a positive way?  Just a few things to ponder...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

For Everyone

When it feels like you're at the end, it's a new beginning.
Christ will carry you and get you through.
I aim for not being at the end, before I submit to Christ
And lay my burdens at the cross.