Category Archives: Help! This was not in the book!

To the People Who Embrace My Daughter: Depression, Anxiety, and All


Words barely express the ways your actions have breathed life into my daughter.
Movement into unknown territory involves risks. Your willingness to do that does not go unnoticed. As you know, she’s not one of those outgoing social butterfly types. She’s an observer. In addition, her mental illness makes identifying and controlling emotions challenging. She realizes the impact of her actions and words, yet, managing the whirlwind within becomes difficult at times.
By inviting her into your space, you moved beyond the walls of fear that easily keep us from engaging with those who seem different from ourselves. Sometimes the fears are rooted in real experiences, yet, each of us has our own narrative. You have demonstrated to others that learning how to give and receive support is a significant life skill. There is no “us” and “them.” Everyone faces their own struggles.  Read more at:
https://themighty.com/2017/05/a-letter-of-gratitude-for-loving-my-child/

You are Not Alone: Hope for Parenting in Those Unexpected Moments

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Upon giving birth to my first child, I was determined to be “that mom”-the one whose children would never fall prey to the sneaky dangers surrounding them. The phrase “My kids would never do THAT” found a place in my mind.

What is “THAT” exactly?

Electrical outlets? Covered (nevermind the fact that I once found a way to stick my finger in one as a toddler). Cords to the blinds? Well, we don’t have any. Toxic substances? Locked away in the childproof cabinets that I can’t even open sometimes.  As a new parent, I scoured the lists for precautions to make sure my child would be safe.  Of course there were some things that I didn’t worry about because in my mind, “What kid would really do that?”

Like plastic grocery bags?  The ones that my child would never put over his head? Yet, in his state of natural human curiosity did it anyway?

Like toilet screw covers? Those small white caps that just happen to fit the size of a toddler’s mouth perfectly? In fact my daughter managed to fit one in her mouth (don’t go there) while I was in the bathroom getting ready to preach at church. As she looked up at me gagging, my instincts sprang into action. Fortunately, I noticed and quickly resolved the situation. And then it was on to leading worship an hour later.

Ahhh, the naivety of parenting. Actually, there is good reason for that.

We’ve Never Done it Before

A toaster comes with a manual. In fact, even a Happy Meal toy comes with one.  But parenting? Nope.

Sure there are books out there to help.  Social Media groups beckoning you to join their posse. Conversations with people who have “been there.”  But, ultimately, there is nothing to prepare you for the moment by moment process for raising a human-one whose DNA is unique from any other. Add in family history, genetics, personality traits, lifestyle….and it is a learning experiment.  We hope and pray for the best.

In a sense we all become “That Mom.”  Most of us truly want what’s best for our kids. We become schooled in how to keep them safe; trying to keep a balance between not being concerned enough and being accused of being a helicopter parent (I’m afraid of heights so that probably wouldn’t describe me).

Unexpected Problems

Just when you think you have prevented catastrophes, some other strange quirk pops up and catches you off guard.

Prolapsed rectum? Yep. Experienced that.

Body suddenly covered in hives? That too.

How about Teen onset Epilepsy? Mental illness? Cholesteatomas (I had to look that up too) in the ears leading to chronic ear infections and destroyed ear bones? Triple yes.

It’s Not All About Us

What we learn as we parent is that we can set our eyes on being the most competent parents ever, yet we are not in total control. That demands perfect people or robots.

The beauty is that God has trusted us with a most humbling responsibility. We get to participate in it while resting in the assurance that no matter what happens these are God’s children (Psalm 139:13-14, Jeremiah 1:5).

Upon leaving the hospital with my firstborn, I remember thinking, “I really get to take him home?”

There is nothing that can fully prepare you for this journey.  And that’s O.K. Because this parenting thing isn’t all about us.  We are partners with their Creator; the One who also created us and knows us intimately.

We will make mistakes. Unexpected circumstances are a given. You are not alone.  In the words of a once popular song from a teen Disney Musical, “We’re all in this together.”

What Comes After the Storm of Mental Illness Calms


Now, what?”
I asked myself this a few months ago. After years, consisting of very long days, of family struggles with mental and medical conditions, the season began to change. At first, I dared not believe it. So many times, there had been brief glimpses of light as we forged through the darkness. But those moments seemed to fade quickly. Once again, we would be left trying to find our footing and walk forward together: my daughter, my two sons, my husband and myself. To say the relationships between us were strained would be an understatement. When one person in a family struggles, everyone is affected.
The dynamics between us does not resemble the picture I had in my mind before my husband and I started a family. My daughter began treatment for bipolar disorder at 9 years old (she is now age 15). My older son (age 18) has battled anxiety and depressionalong with a host of unexpected health concerns along the way. The youngest son (age 13), whom I call the “comic relief,” manages mild anxiety. None of their conditions define them, but they do affect the climate of our home. It hasn’t always felt like the refuge I hoped my husband and I would create. We have tried to initiate traditions, affirm each other’s strengths and attempt to carve moments of time together. We have sought out therapy, utilized resources and developed a support system. Humor has even found its way in. Yet, we couldn’t always keep the storms at bay.
Truthfully, the winds, at times, seemed so forceful I wasn’t sure I had the strength to resist them. My husband and I could be a strong force together; yet each of us developed our own methods of survival. We also felt as if the storm was invisible to everyone else. Mental illness carries a stigma. There are plenty of opinions regarding how to “fix” your child. “If we would just . . .” Meanwhile, the unpredictable nature of episodes and triggers as well as the financial stress and school concerns mount. And in the midst of it all, you are trying to sustain your marriage, pay bills and pray for endurance, provision and healing.
It occurred to me one day that this long season of storms may have finally transitioned into a season of calm. When you are so used to living in survival mode, you don’t always realize the storm has weakened. Weeks no longer seemed packed with doctors’ appointments, evaluating medications, financial distress, school battles, emotional burnout. It may be the beginning of a season of restoration. On the surface, a calm after the storm sounds welcoming. But, truthfully, the implications are daunting.
How do you begin cleaning up the mess?
Branch by branch, piece by piece. I remember a horrific storm that erupted suddenly about 10 years ago. When it was safe, we made our way outside to access the damage. Thankfully, our belongings remained intact. However, our street and our yard were filled with tree limbs and branches scattered everywhere. In order to move toward restoration, you must begin cleaning up the mess one branch at a time. It may take a while. And I’ve learned (reluctantly) that’s OK
Restoring our relationships with each other will take time. One branch at a time. I often wonder how my kids would relate to one another had our situation been different. I will never know the answer. It would be tempting to dwell on the “what ifs,” but that would require looking back. We are heading forward. The medical concerns have not resolved. The winds may indeed return. We have found space to breathe and rest. We have found our footing once again and set our eyes on God; who is in the business of making things new. I find inspiration in the promise given to the Israelites:

See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
Isaiah 43:19 (NIV)

Originally published at http://mudroomblog.com/cleaning-up-mess/, this post also appeared at https://themighty.com/2016/10/when-things-calm-down-parenting-children-with-mental-illness/
 

How I Found Peace Living in the Not Yet

Sometimes, life leaves your brain full and your mouth empty.A season of life two years ago encompassed one of those times for me. The thing is-these seasons don’t just end with a nice and tidy resolution. They don’t leave us with an instant epiphany of profound theological insight. Rather, we are left with a reminder-:spiritual, physical, emotional- that we are humans wrestling with the realities of living in a place of in-between.

It is not yet Heaven.

The days of December 2013 quickly filled up with preparations for Christmas as well as doctor’s appointments. My eldest son became increasingly ill. A periodic problem with an upset stomach evolved into a daily issue. Watching your child feeling sick packs a punch to the stomach and the heart. The immediate desire is to fix it.

Yet, beginning in October, we sought an answer from many physicians and no one could fix it. How can that happen? We live near Chicago; a mecca of renowned and state-of-the art medical centers. A gold mine of wisdom on the complexities of the human body. Yet, each visit to a different specialist yielded more questions. We just wanted answers.

Emergency room doctors ruled out some things But nothing made him better. Daily, he made the trek to school with virtually nothing in his stomach except a bit of protein shake. Sometimes, he couldn’t gather the stamina to make it to school. My husband and I worried. The school pressured. The bills mounted.
We prayed. Friends prayed. Strangers prayed. But there were no answers.

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 (NIV).

Embracing the peace of Christ in the midst of uncertainty challenged me.

Finally, after many tests and procedures, a diagnosis was reached. Whew!  Finally a name and a course of treatment. Finally, an answer! Medicine would bring healing and resolve the problem. I grabbed hold of the answer and felt a sense of relief; control; no uncertainty. How easy is it to acknowledge the “peace that passes all understanding” when circumstances line up according to our expectations?
But would that peace permeate if the circumstances change? The events of the next day confronted me with that question.

Following dinner, upon preparing to study for finals, he fell to the couch and began to seize. Never having witnessed a seizure, it was the most terrifying moment of my life. The limp look of his body; the lifeless look in his eyes, will remain etched in my mind for a long time. Those five minutes led me to a profound realization as my mind grasped to acknowledge the surreal reality spinning around me: there are many things I can control-but death may not be one of them.

Fortunately, he came out of the seizure, was quickly rushed to the hospital, and the scans came out clear. But, more questions arose...and yet no answers. In my frustration, I hesitated to let go of what I thought to be a resolution. I didn’t want to believe that our lives were once more catapulted into the abyss. How do you embrace the peace that transcends all understanding when God’s movement does not align with Earthly expectation?

As we dealt with the uncertainty in his health, we attempted to proceed with the rhythms of life. That wrenching moment rewound in my mind in the midst of my days. Ambulance sounds caused shivers down my back. Yet, I attempted to let Jesus, not me, guard my heart.

The dark, frigid winter painted an appropriate backdrop to the events and feelings over those next several months. While we continued to hold on to the glimmer of light held out for us through scriptural promises, the realities of living in the “not yet” continued to speak into our lives. How does one live in the truth of new life in the resurrection, yet, face the reality of destruction and death of the things of this world?

My heart and my mind bear the scars of living in a kingdom that is both now and not yet. But I am keenly aware that I am not the only one. In one way or another, all of us feel that paradox. Circumstances may differ. Our expectations and God’s answers may or may not merge. Yet, the testimony and scars of others bear witness to the peace that Christ offers, while living in a kingdom that unfolds toward completion.

It’s the peace that Jesus promised to his disciples, who had given up everything for him. “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NLV).

Eventually, the winter season yielded to the brighter, warmer days of spring; not just meteorologically, but symbolically as well. My son’s health improved. I am aware that I am bound to encounter those seasons of restlessness again. They too are promises of Jesus. But He also imparts a peace that “transcends all understanding” as we navigate through them. 

Why “Back to School Season” is Not Exciting For Some of Us

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It happens every year around July 5th…..As we walk into a store, the former 4th of July/Seasonal section transforms in the blink of an eye to shelves filled with notebooks, markers, crayons. Fall beckons even though the temperature bathes us in swelting heat. And the dread begins. School will begin soon.

For some parents, the reminder of the school season brings relief. Structure helps us all. For kids, boredom has set in and the opportunity for new friendships, learning environments and knowledge provides comfort. The issues of safety, school provided meals and childcare make the school year welcoming. Furthermore, I think we can all attest that, by August 1, the sibling fighting season is coming to a “point of no return.”  The lure of soon-to-be peaceful hours on the homefront presents itself. I laughed when I saw that Trader Joes hosted a “back to school” tasting party for the parents on the first day of school. I’d love to say that I felt such a sense of exhilaration but I didn’t.

For me, the sight of school supplies on July 5th, brought very mixed emotions.  My daughter struggled in school.  While kids excitedly found out the names of their teachers  we felt a lump in our throats. Would he/she see the beauty in my child that I see?  While other kids frantically called up their friends to see who else shared their teacher assignment,  the school suggested placing a familiar student in her class so that she would perhaps engage socially.

For us, it meant hoping that her teacher(s) would cooperate with the IEP easily so that I didn’t have to spend time at night emailing them about assignments. My other kids tired of being pushed aside in order to help my daughter complete her homework.  We’re talking long tension filled hours which resulted in exhaustion for my daughter as well as my husband and me.  Those days seemed to resemble a scene from the movie, “Groundhog Day.” I actually loathed going to sleep as I knew that the events of the day would all play out again the next day.

Getting my daughter to school proved to have its own challenges.
How do you manage to get a child to school on time when the clutches of anxiety/depression attempt to pull your child away from your hands ?
How do you move on with your day after dropping your child off at school after an hour long battle? Her eyes, swollen and puffy, her demeanor signifying defeat?

Don’t get me wrong.  Summer is not always a picnic either when you have a child with behavioral/mood disorders.  The lack of structure, the full on presence of everyone at home, everyday, and the lack  of respite for the parents (and siblings) from the unpredictable outbursts make Summer days tedious at times. Yet, the beauty is that the child is in a familiar environment, and we can shape the schedule and activities around her needs.

These last few years, the approach of “back to school” season  has not brought on the dread as much as in the past. A few years ago, we made the decision to home school our daughter.  It was the best decision for our family.  This choice presents its own set of challenges but we have developed a routine that works for us. I realize that homeschooling may not be the best solution for everyone.

So for those of you who are familiar with the dread of which I speak, keep on keeping on.  God knows how much you love your child and that you want the best for them.  What can you do?
Ask for help.  You are not a bad parent because you cannot manage this school thing alone. Utilize your school village: social workers, resource teachers, aids to help your child navigate the learning environment. Furthermore, know your child’s legal rights for education. If necessary, seek advocacy outside of the district.  There are some lawyers who offer services pro bono (search for local resources).
Let your vulnerability speak of your journey. I remember one phone call with my daughter’s resource teacher in which the tears came so quickly and so fiercely, that I could barely speak.  Sometimes, others really do not understand the depth of the frustration and pain you feel for your child.
Most of all, know that God has created your child for a purpose. A sacred purpose. No one can take that away.

What can you do If you are reading this post and do not face the dread posed by “Back to School” season?  Consider the little things that can make an impact on our families in a big way.  Providing meals (even a gift card), extra affirmation to the siblings and generally listening without judgement speaks love into their souls. Pray for them.
These days can be hard.  Sometimes, the words to form our prayers are just not there. But remember this: “Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. “(Romans 8:26, Msg.)

What You Don’t Expect When You’re Expecting….

I am not pregnant!  Let’s get that out of the way first. Having a child at 51 years old is not on my bucket list.

The title of my post comes from my mantra, “That (insert any unexpected child rearing moment of perplexity) wasn’t in the book!”  The book of course is the popular, What to Expect When You’re Expecting.  Like many would- be parents, I bought the book.  I even remember the moment.  In April 1997, having just had my first pregnancy confirmed by the Dr., I excitedly ran to the big box bookstore nearby and purchased my copy.  It was a pinnacle moment as I felt I had entered a long sought after season of life.

During the next nine months, the book became a constant companion of advice and knowledge concerning my changing body and, well, what to expect.  Admittedly, there were parts of the book that touched on areas of pregnancy that no one wants to really encounter:  the signs of a failing pregnancy/fetal distress.  But, I didn’t focus on those parts because that vision didn’t fit with my expectations and the visuals portrayed in T.V shows and photographs.  For me, I held a picture of giving birth to this God created human being on whom my husband and I would love.  The three of us would adapt to life together.  Giggles, snuggles, walks, celebrations of milestones would mark our new journey.
The picture I held of our life together remained similar to the information in the book. The sleepless nights were hard (I shudder to think how I functioned at work on a few hours of sleep), the feeding schedule (every two hours for six months), and the pumping were an awakening for me.
However, throughout the years, more and more situations surfaced that result in my re-evaluating just what was it that I was expecting?
Sickness (requiring a trip to the E.R or 24  hour drugstore for medicine)?  Sibling arguments (that make the WWE look lame)?  Didn’t see that coming.  Pulling a cap covering the toilet screw from my 2 year old daughter’s mouth while getting ready to go to church and preach?  Writing a sermon in bytes while alternately cleaning up after my son who had a stomach bug? The harsh reality that it is not uncommon to lose a pregnancy (I had two ectopics)?
Fast forward to the recent moments: realizing I ran out of bread in the morning and choosing between running to the store or counting change for hot lunch,  getting a child who isn’t a morning person out the door without missing the bus, the diagnosis of disorders/medical maladies that I never knew existed, some I wish didn’t (mood disorders, epilepsy), some you would never believe either).  What about the run of the mill fever, stomach bug or sore throat-those were NOT IN THE BOOK!
The realization, of course, is that if parents were given a complete vision of the future, a drastically reduced population would probably result.  Truthfully, the response would be, “there’s no way I can do this!”
But, that is exactly what God, the Creator of our children, wants. For our sake and  that of our children, the call to parenthood begins with a glimpse of what we can expect. Parenting involves humility; realizing that we don’t know all the answers. We need discernment, strength, and wisdom from the One who Created them (and us).  We function as God’s image bearers and vessels as we walk alongside our brothers and sisters-sometimes staggering. laughing, crying, conversation, praying, supporting, advocating…..
In the midst, we experience God in a way that we never “expected”-it’s beyond our expectations.
God has always called His people to tasks that seemed overwhelming-Moses, Noah, Abraham, Mary, Joseph-just to name a few. Yet, they obeyed (some reluctantly) with just a little information given to them.  They had no idea what was in store but trusted in the God that called them.
I will continue my mantra, “THAT WASN’T IN THE BOOK,” as it reminds me, often humorously, that I’m not in this parenting thing alone.  Come to think of it, that goes for life in general.
I wonder what surprise awaits me tomorrow?

When God’s Compassions Are Extended Through Relationship

How do those “compassions” manifest themselves to us? In my last post, I wrote about God providing an endless supply of compassions.

“We were not completely wiped out.
        His compassion is never limited.
23 It is new every morning.
    His faithfulness is great.”
(Lam.3:22-23, God’s Word Version)
 

God’s compassions extend to us in many forms

In May, Scott, Seth and I traveled to Mayo Clinic.  This four day trip revealed not only medical answers but a reminder that God’s mercies are “new” every morning.  I always read that verse as meaning that there is an unending supply of God’s mercies.  While that is true, another truth emerges to me: God’s compassions are revealed in a multitude of forms.  New forms.  Forms that I didn’t expect. 

In this case-mercy was granted to our family through the body of Christ.  Prayers, meals, groceries, listening ears, financial support, and care for Lena and Eli during our week in Minnesota.The burden to seek out Mayo Clinic was simply a thought in October. 

When answers seemed to elude us, taking him to Mayo surfaced in my mind. However, lurking in my mind were the practical questions: How would we afford it? Our medical debt was piling up by the week.  Who would watch our other two kids?  For a whole week?   What about…….?  Yet, as it turned out, the finances came together and a group of amazing friends-some who didn’t know each other- merged into a second family for Lena and Eli. I still marvel at how God’s compassions came to us in that week. 

In April, Scott’s beloved grandmother passed away from a brief battle with cancer.  She was 97 years old. Yet, we were stunned.  I know that sounds surprising but……Granny lived independently, she drove, birthday and holiday meals were still made with love by her. And…..she still drove weekly to deliver Meals on Wheels to the elderly.  In fact, she was nominated by Meals on Wheels as national volunteer of the year in 2012!  Everyone who knew her, experienced a taste of Heaven. Providing meals, celebrating birthdays, sacrificing time, sharing her home with  family and friends of family in need of refuge,  and living in such a way as to provide financially for her family after her death- God’s compassions extended through her. 

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As I found out at her funeral,  her desire to show God’s mercy to others came from the examples of her own parents.  One story, in particular, struck me.  As a child, growing up in Delaware, she lived next door to a small boy born with Downs Syndrome.  As we all know, people have difficulty accepting those that are different.  Combine that truth with a lesser knowledge of how to care for children born with anamolies and the result usually involved sending the child “away” from society. 

However, Granny’s parents consciously communicated to her that all of us were created by God and share in His likeness.  Therefore, it was expected that she would treat this boy with the same respect as any other human being.  The same was expected in regards to race.  For individuals considered outcasts in society, Granny’s kindness toward them was countercultural.   God’s compassions were extended to others through her life.

In a poignant letter written by her son-in-law, he summed it up well: “she always greeted us with hugs and kisses, done with an enthusiasm which left no doubt we were home….and loved….  She made love real.” Her ability to extend God’s compassions to others overflowed out of the supply of compassions God had extended to her.

How do you make love real to others? How do the compassions of God physically work their way out of your supply and into the lives of those who you encounter?
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Embracing God’s Compassions for Life’s Wild Rides

I’ve heard many metaphors for life: seasons, ride, roller coaster. Each of those words gives a word picture to help us express and define how we experience day to day living.  Sometimes, only one metaphor aptly fits your given scenario.  As I reflect on the last nine or so months, riding a roller coaster best describes the sensation of breathtaking speed and long climbs of the events of daily life.  In a previous blog, I wrote about the image of riding a roller coaster and how it applied to  my life at the time.  I have always felt more comfortable in the front seat because that way I can see what’s ahead.

Not feeling in control is an area of challenge for me.  But sometimes, you  don’t get the front seat.  That fact was never more clear to me than this past year.
In October, my oldest son, Seth began having health concerns.  His symptoms did not seem worrisome at first.  As a mom, you always balance that “I don’t want to be paranoid” mentality with the “what if I’m ignoring something life-threatening” train of thought.  So we waited. 

Sometimes he seemed better.  Sometimes he didn’t.  Several visits to doctors resulted in more confusion as to the root cause of his symptoms.   We heard the names of illnesses we can’t pronounce as well as being told that it’s all “in his head.”  Remedy after remedy tried….and failed.  More doctors, more time and energy spent troubleshooting; no answers.  As fall ended, and more school was missed, frustration grew. It invaded family life.  Siblings were feeling left out.  My ability to home school became confined by doctor’s appointments and my diverted attention. Seth was growing sicker and I couldn’t help him. The ride was going fast, and I wanted off.


Finally, after mass amounts of blood work, and tests, there was a possible diagnosis: Reflux  At least there was a name.  And a bit of calm. But then in December, on an ordinary December evening, following dinner, my husband called me into the living room as we watched in horror as Seth began seizing.  Not knowing what was happening,  my reality of not having complete control hit me hard.  What if he is dying?


Fortunately, he came out of the seizure after what seemed to be the longest 4 minutes of my life.  After being admitted to the hospital, all  tests came back normal.  What??  Apparently, it isn’t unheard of to have a seizure with no answers.
But one month later, he had another seizure. And two weeks later, one more.

Now, I felt like I was clearly in the back car.

I couldn’t see where this ride was going. And neither could my family-my fellow passengers.  As it would turn out, Seth would have two more seizures.  We now added a Neurologist to his list of doctors.  And more questions…with no answers.

With Seth getting sicker, his ability to attend school was nearly impossible.  I was attempting to home school Lena, communicate with Seth’s school, return homework, carve out time for my husband and other child.  My body longed for rest. fatigue prevailed. Congnitive functioning became difficult. Maintaining control over the situation gradually morphed into grasping for answers….and help. The mom in me wanted to fix it. But I couldn’t. I found myself in the most uncomfortable place for me on a roller coaster: in the back seat.

The backseat on the coaster does not allow the rider to see clearly what hill is coming up next. The ride may inch by for a while if the climb is lengthy. Or the climb is barely noticeable because the hill was so small. Therefore, preventing worked up fear for the drop on the other side.
In either case, being in the back seat position means I lose a sense of control.  There may be unexpected climbs or stomach churning drops ahead. I can’t see them.  But God, who is sovereign can. God, my Creator, who knows my fears, sees what’s ahead. And that is to whom I must look to rather than my own devices of resolution.


In the midst of the ride I was taking, new turns were around the corner: a family friend and my kids’ piano teacher died suddenly: young and full of life-leaving us all stunned. My husband’s beloved grandmother, an independent,  97 year old woman and light of the family and her community developed cancer and passed away within a month. One month later, Scott’s beloved aunt left this earth. And did I mention that somewhere in the midst of these twists, his company was bought out?  What would that mean for us? And him?
I clung to  Lamentations 3:22-24:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”
 
 
Every. Single. Day. God’s compassions (or mercies) are new.
 
Those compassions breathe life into me when my physical being crumbles in exhaustion; when my mind feels that one more day of trying to stay emotionally stable seems impossible.
 
What scriptural truths get you through your wild rides?

 

a sovereign creation

7816330042_e3fd4937e0_zLately I have been reflecting on what it means that God “knits us together in our mother’s womb.” as is written in Psalm 139. When reading these words previously, I thought about the sanctity of life. That we are all created by the hand of God and reflect His image. That even in the midst of unexpected pregnancy, God’s sovereign and redemptive hand is at work.
While that understanding arises out of this verse, I’ve found another question to ponder. How does Psalm 139 speak to the features of human creation that we on earth view as flawed? My daughter is incredibly creative, sees the potential in the mundane, and has a witty sense of humor. She also struggles with manic modes, feeling “outside of the box”, and struggles with cognitive and emotional processing. Everyday moments become exhausting struggles.
What if she did not fight this disorder? What if it had never been in her DNA? What would she look like? How would she view life?
I am challenged by her “quirks.” As much as it can bother me at times, her distractibility teaches me to “stop and smell the roses.” I’m usually so focused on my agenda, that I miss the small things that enhance our lives: flowers, nature, sunshine. Maybe because she often feels out of control, she notices things that bring simple enjoyment.
She also can become very focused to the point of obsession in finishing a project. These are her most creative moments. Research shows that many people with Bipolar are incredibly creative and accomplished.
We joke about the many items that I have thrown out but are rescued by her and put to use: a gift bag; sprayed gold, stamped and ribbon attached is made from a bandaid box, a yogurt container becomes a planter, a sock becomes a cell phone holder.
While I do not believe that in God’s goodness, her life would be willed to struggle, could the affected parts of her brain actually enhance her being? Do these areas actually work to achieve God’s purposes for her and her ability draw people to her Creator?
What are the implications of accepting God knitting us together;quirks and all?
Doesn’t a knit item have a unique characteristic even if there’s a bum stitch or hole?
And doesn’t the fact that the item is still valued tell us something?
 
 
Photo taken from Flickr: Lisa Risager