How should a christian vote?
What an election year! Can we say this is epic? Are we allowed to compare this to every other election year and actually admit the process has become base and degrading and unlike previous years? One might argue that every year mudslinging takes place and candidates up the ante with negative campaigns and exaggerations of the truth and even outright lies, but this year seemed to have started earlier and gotten uglier much faster.
I have been witnessing people become polarized over “their” candidate and their political views. People are angry, protesting candidates, and the lies, wow the lies are just every where. The press cannot be trusted to be objective and talking heads and reporters takes sides and skew the political rhetoric to appeal their own views. I am exhausted from the robo calls and television ads, the mailers and the divisiveness of our country. So, how am I to vote? I have been told by just about everyone on TV how and what I should do, I have seen and read articles by pastors, preachers, teachers, politicians, journalists, comedians that tell me who not to vote for and why and what will happen if I do. So, once again I ask, How am I to vote?
I have broken it down to what I believe can be a way to clear out all the noise and get to heart of the issue. But it will take effort on your part, do not read this if you just want someone to spoon feed you an answer. Don’t read further if you get offended easily.
- I will choose a candidate that will allow me to practice and proselytize my christian faith. As a Christian ,it is not enough to just be allowed to attend church or a bible study, but I am commanded to go into all the world and preach the Gospel and make disciples of all peoples. I am to love them and tell them about the saving and forgiving love of Christ by faith through grace and not forgetting repentance. So I need to be free to teach biblical truth about marriage, the sanctity of life, all life, unborn, elderly, disabled, enslaved, and imprisoned. That is the most important issue to me-a founding father constitutional right-freedom of religion.
- Although I have been told by teachers of the law that a man who is arrogant and brash cannot be allowed to preside over America, I wonder what they think of all the presidents who have served before these potential candidates? We have learned that many were foul mouthed, adulterous, liars, cheats, etc–they just did it behind closed doors until they were caught. Am I to assume that if one doesn’t speak that way in public that somehow he or she is moral? truthful? honest? humble? The past has shown us that what we have seen has not always been truth. There was NO Camelot. Politicians are by their very job skilled at speeches and telling people what they want to hear to get votes. They use their tongues to spin tales using half truths and false promises, as WE LISTEN ugh! Do people really believe that these professional politicians who line their pockets with our hard earned taxed dollars–that’s right, their pay is OUR money–do not make deals with our enemies or keep the status quo so they can keep their jobs? I sometimes believe a leader like Saul, who was Israel’s first king, was given to the people so they might repent and return to God. He gave them what they demanded, He did this to show them their need for Him. Once again, I look for the freedom of speech, religion, and the press.
- You must be willing to learn. This election has forced me to actually learn the constitution, the bill of rights and the amendments. Because the press can no longer be trusted to keep the checks and balances I have had to get out of my comfort zone and actually see what our founding documents say. I need to know what power “we the people” have. Then I am able to see through the clutter. I can see the twisting of the truth, the sound bites, the media seeking viewers to drive up commerical dollars and therefore profits. I have learned to read what the candidate say on their pages, not just what they say in 4 second bites that get played out of context and warped to once again fit the opinions of those promoting their own ideology. This drives me back to number one again: Freedom–freedom of the press so I can write, publish my own findings, freedom to fact check, freedom to see who gives money to these people and what they will want in return. Freedom Freedom Freedom
You see when Jesus came in His first advent, He did not come to overthrow Rome and yet this is what the people wanted. They wanted someone to ride in and fix the mess. They were not concerned with their sin, they had their laws and sacrifices, they just had this issue with Rome ruling over them If they had the right person to rule then they all could just keep on living their lives and be free from Roman oppression. They didn’t want a heart change, just a leadership change. When Jesus did not do as they thought he should they found a way to kill Him; interestingly enough, that was the plan all along. Jesus was in on it too, He went to the cross on His own power, knowing His blood would even save those who were killing him, if they would only believe. Many did, and the rest is history. This is the one time in history that ONE MAN could impact the entire world.
So once again, How do I vote? Well I know that no one man or woman can fix this country. It belongs to the people and if the people are too lazy or busy or distracted to care about saving it then we get what we deserve. If this offends you then thicken up your skin. Most people are too consumed with their own lives to do the hard work of studying government, or law, man’s or Gods, we all have become slaves to pleasure and work in a vicious cycle. No man or woman is supposed to “save” us, no amount of money or free programs will work, no economic plan will rectify a broken and sinful world, no climate control can stop the inevitable course of action of our planet to end in fire; God’s word tells us that this is the future. God will come again, He will come to judge this time. So as a person who is blessed to live in a free country at the moment, and have the privilege to vote, I will, but I will choose based on who will keep the freedoms our constitution was written to protect. I do not want to lose my right to teach the bible, to tell my neighbor about Christ and not be thrown in jail, to express God’s desire and plan for one man and one woman in holy matrimony and not be in fear of being fined or jailed or forced to take a sensitivity course. When it comes down to two people in November, I WILL vote, even if that person is arrogant, yep I will, because I have studied enough to know they all are arrogant, full of pride, have huge amounts of money given to them so that they will be swayed in one arena or another, they all will fall short, the system has been hijacked and we the people have allowed it. They are sincere, they do want to help the country, although there plans are as different as the ocean is vast. Look to who will keep you freedom to praise Christ, and in the event we lose that right, we will still not lose heart, for we know the One in charge.
So before you take what the media says at face value, before you hate your neighbor for voting for a person you don’t care for, ask yourself if you know the truth? Have you even tried to find the truth? Do you use God’s standard for truth or the cultures? Have your read their biographies, their websites, or do you blindly trust those who are more than glad to keep you in the dark, silent and being led like sheep to the slaughter? Voting should not be about a name you recognize, or how they look or sound, you should be informed and in this day and age you have no excuse. Every candidate has their own information out there. If you are more offended by someone saying something against a political candidate than you are offended by those who degrade God in heaven then you have a political idol. If you believe one person can build America up or destroy America then you do not trust God. After all it is God who puts kings in positions and He wields them as He will.
So Vote, vote informed, vote knowing that God will be placing a man or woman in charge and it will be we deserve. We have a duty to our God, our family and our Country. If we neglect any of these we will lose them. So trust God, trust in His plan and believe He can use any person to fulfill His Will; No candidate has more power to rule than the Lord has allowed them to have.
I am off the soapbox, this was long and painful. I hope you will get through this election year intact, full of grace and mercy and ready to pray for the leaders put in place. God’s way is always for our good according to His riches in Glory.
Your sister in Christ
Ponytail and Boots
Recently I returned home from one of my favorite places to visit, the Isle of Palms, or IOP, South Carolina. I have been fortunate to visit often since 1989, it is a home away from home. A place I walk with my dogs early in the morning as they run and play off leash. Because I have just finished a bible study on Hebrews this last visit was especially meaningful due to the instructors analogy of “drifting away” and the ocean. The second chapter of Hebrews teaches us “to hold on to what we have been taught, lest we drift away”. It is a clear teaching that we must live intentionally for Christ. We cannot simply float around and think we are okay. She gave a great illustration of a riptide pulling tugging you along and you not being aware of how far you have traveled down the beach. You do not even realize how far you have drifted until you make your way to shore and have to walk 200 yards back to your chair and cold drink! She went even further to give the riptide a name, the Devil; that prowling lion who is out to kill, steal and destroy us.
I have felt this very current many times while playing in the ocean. Sometimes the riptide is mild and other days it can literally pull you under water leaving you gasping for breath. When I was 3 years old I was pulled under the surf by a powerful undertow along the Oregon coast. My dad was franticly trying to find me as I rolled over and over in the current. My parents thought I would die or at least be terrified of the ocean after that day. By God’s grace and mercy my father was able to grab my tender foot and pull me to safety. I am so fortunate that he saved me and also that I have no memory of that day or a fear of water or the ocean. I only have their stories of the day I nearly died and was rescued.
Taking this thought even deeper I thought of the possibility of floating into harm’s way without even having a clue. There is an inlet between Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island called “Breech Inlet”. It has warning signs posted everywhere on huge white signs that warn people of the dangerous currents and riptides. No swimming is allowed and it warns people stay out of this inlet at all tides, high and low, but especially during the tidal shifts. It can be very deceptive at low tide. Seeing those exposed sandbars is enticing and it can be quite an adventure to explore underwater spaces during low tide. After all you can walk to the sandbar at low tide in ankle deep water, but without warning the tide shifts and suddenly you find you must swim in deep water fighting the destructive currents the entire way back. I know, I have been out there before, not actually in the inlet, but nearby and I have had to swim hard to get back.
Your christian walk must be an intentional walk. Jesus tells us to turn away from sin that so easily entangles us and to walk with our hand on the plow, not looking back. He sends the Holy Spirit to be our counselor and teacher to instruct us on the Way, His Way. It is a race and once we start we can only go one direction on the track or course. It can be slow like the tortoise or crazy like the hare, but we are on an endurance race no matter. Our destination is Jesus and along the way we are to tell as many as we can about this eternal and amazing prize, a man/God Christ Jesus, who takes away our sin and redeems our lives. It is an intentional trip, no looking back. Jesus even goes so far to tell us if we turn back we are not fit to enter the kingdom of God. Wow! Strong words. We cannot casually walk in and out of our faith when we need it. We cannot walk into church once in awhile and think we are just fine. The pastor of Hebrews tells his flock that many are in the habit of not meeting together, but they are not to fall into that trap. We encourage each other while together, to be alone is not safe, two are better than one, a strand of three is not easily broken. We will inevitably wake up hundreds of yards away from the truth if we do not pursue Christ with all our hearts, souls and minds. And do not forget while drifting away we could end up in a sudden and violent current that steals our life, family, livelihood or friends.
The writer of Hebrews implores us to remember what we have been taught, actively pursue Jesus, consider Jesus, stay in weekly gatherings with other believers at a church AND in small groups. The devil is the riptide and he does not slow down in his pursuit to steal, destroy and attempt to kill us. He is a ravenous lion seeking whom he can destroy. He comes when we are distracted, when he can deceive us, when we have drifted away from sound doctrine and believe tales of angels and false christs.
So walk in a manner worthy of your calling, look to Jesus, who saw the joy before him and endured death, even death on a cross and ignored the disgrace it brought Him. He is our example, He is our lifeboat when we do drift, He does and will rescue us when we cry out to Him. Know Him, Know the Truth, stay the course and above all remember the race. Imagine if a coach told you to come to practice when you could, work out if you felt like it or that training once a week on your own for an hour was sufficient to expect a victory in the game Friday night. Coaches have daily practice, off season training schedules, dietary requirements for optimal health and in addition to physical workouts, mental training for plays, positions, defensive and offensive strategies. An effective coach knows what is needed for victory and if he sees a team member not actively participating he will cut them. This is how I understand Christ’s words about not being fit for the kingdom. Jesus knows what we need for victory over our adversary and He coaches us to practice daily, learn the plays, memorize mental and physical muscle memory skills, be part of the team meetings and practices, (even in solo sports there are many components), and to know the playbook by heart. This is the walk of a Christian. Do not drift away, stay the course, for we run not for a crown that fades but for an eternal crown for His glory.
Have a blessed week and pursue Jesus diligently and remember His words the next time you are floating in the ocean.
God Bless, your sister in Christ,
ponytail and boots
The lamb born in a stable
I love Christmas time. I always have. Growing up in a liturgical church, we had such an array of festival and pageantry that Christmas was a time I always looked forward to; not only because of receiving gifts, but the nativity. I loved the nativity scene. My parents owned a jewelry store back in the day; Hart’s Jewelers. They worked late in December and we would always drive home in the darkness or fog after a full nights work. On the way home there was a star off in the distance with cascading streams of light. You could see it 5 miles away, at least that’s how I remember it. Under the star was a full-size life ( not living) nativity scene. It was truly amazing. Every night on the way my brother and I would beg my parents to drive by the “star”. They did, probably once a week, although I could have gone every night. I can remember every detail in my memory and it simply was the Christmas story for me. Jesus, in the manger, his parents over Him, the shepherds and wise men near by. Camels and sheep, lots of sheep. It was lit up and straw was all around. It was magical.
I always believed in Jesus, I didn’t doubt His existence or the virgin birth or the Angels appearing in the heavens singing “Gloria in excelsis Deo “. But I just didn’t realize what was really happening. God, leaving His throne, His kingdom, His worshippers to put on human flesh. To feel human, fully human; joy, pain, love, grief, anger, and abandoned. He became everything that we are; born, a life full of family drama ( remember no one believed Mary was a virgin, except Joseph ,Elizabeth, and Zechariah.) His brothers and sisters thought He was crazy and his earthly father died before His ministry began. He knew He was God, but He never used His powers beyond what we ourselves as believers with faith could use also. He didn’t come handsome so that people would look at Him and say”now there is a king!” He knew deep moments of loneliness that would not be satisfied the way it was in the heavenlies. And above all, He came knowing the mission, to die for all humans, to die in each and everyone’s place for their sins, great and small, filthy dirty icky sin. Every human that has been conceived He paid in full their debt for sin and filled an account full of all they will ever need. That account sits full awaiting the activation that occurs when you believe. Even those who rejected Him to their final breath have an account in their name that only awaits their belief. What belief? The need for being rescued.
This salvation that Christ came to redeem is all about the story of us. Our need to be rescued from bondage, a place we can’t get out of ourselves; a problem arises that impedes God’s purpose for life and blessing*. What God wants is for us to cry out to Him For help, to recognize we need help. The problem that arises, however, is that we think we can handle problems thrown our way; that we can work it out, create a plan to solve it. Our American culture is simply full to the brim of American self reliance and hard work. We built this country and we can make it better, we can bring it back, we just need a new leader, a new plan, or more money, but we can handle this, we don’t ask for help, that would be too dependent.
The crux of the salvation story is right at the beginning, God waiting to hear from us, to cry out. He gave us example after example of a people He called out to live so that we would see the pattern. The Israelites cried out and God heard them, the primal scream for redemption*. This is what we need to hear this season. Not what leader will get us, but what a God, The God, is waiting for. He seeks us out and asks “where are you?”
This Christmas season, don’t just remember the baby, the incarnate Word of God in human flesh, but remember why He came. That we might recognize our feeble attempt to save ourselves from a difficult life or circumstances. Those very issues are there to cause of to realize we can’t do it without this Almighty God. He is there, waiting in the garden, in the stable, on the cross, and in the empty tomb. Embrace your lack of control, embrace life’s curve ball that hits you in the eye, God wants you to need Him. Then sit back and watch the mighty rescue of your God. See his wonders and receive His grace. Without suffering or pain we would never know we need to be rescued.
Merry Christmas and may 2016 be the year you allow God to save and rescue you in everything, great to small. Then He receives the Glory and we get to share our story of rescue.
A Broken System
The Mental Health System is broken. It is not functioning well, it is disconnected, lacks congruity and relies on short visits from doctors, not prepared to see their “patients” and a long list of drugs that they think will work within 4 days. They don’t, medicine takes time and should be accompanied by a healthy diet, good sleep, exercise and trust. This is now the 5th hospital stay for my son in two years. Each visit lasted one week to 5 weeks. He was always discharged right when our insurance was about to end. We didn’t notice this until the pattern emerged after the third stay. My son knew this too, he has learned to be institutionalized, he knows his rights and what he can refuse and not refuse. Now I don’t want the reader to think I believe all mental health care workers are bad or incompetent, but the system in which they work seems to be like the mind of a schizophrenic; many voices shouting over one another, people doing things that overlap, a system that doesn’t believe the patient, or the caregivers input. they simply want to stabilize and get them home. Trying to work with them leaves me so exhausted and stressed I just want to find a way to start my own facility. Get about 10 million dollars in grants, buy land, build housing, base the model on a system that incorporates the spiritual element as well and use the money so people can actually afford to come live there. A self sustaining facility, growing their food, nutritionists, fitness trainers, doctors who want to stay and mental health nurses and aids that love people and don’t get cynical. A wild fantasy for sure. There are a few I have found some that sound promising ( except the spiritual part) but they run about 26,000-30,000 per month. That’s right, per MONTH. Who can afford that? Average stay is one to three years.
This last hospital visit was the worst. The facility was the nicest, it was the cleanest, almost posh, but the workers were detached and didn’t even know my son’s name. I came to visit and no one talked to me, acknowledged me or my son, it was so odd. Not a hello, or “is this your mom”? or “this is how he is doing”….they called him by his first name ( a big clue that they didn’t even know he went by his middle name). Visitation was a joke, one hour at the worst time of day ( three times per week). My son, for the first 3 and 1/2 weeks was throwing up his meds. I told them he was, but they didn’t believe me. They said that couldn’t happen. But he was pacing so much his socks wore out and he lost weight. We had to buy new pants and socks, but still they told me there was no way he wasnt getting the meds into his system. I explained about his personality, but the doctor told me he couldnt listen to my ideas based on a hypothetical theory. I said, it isn’t theory, he is waiting you out, he won’t comply because he know you will release him in 30 days. The doctor did take that to heart and told him he would keep him longer. Then an amazing thing happened, my son took his meds and began to participate. He slept through the the next four days but stopped pacing and barely ate. He needed the sleep I am sure but now he was a zombie. Now by this point the dosage was so high because they thought he wasn’t responding, he turned into a walking zombie. they were happy because he stopped pacing and actually slept longer than one hour per night. I requested they drop the meds back down to entrance levels and the doctor actually agreed with me and lowered the dosage, but it was still very high and because he refused to give blood they couldn’t test the depakote levels. We knew that day 30 was arriving and they would release him because our insurance was up, I asked for a 4 day extension because my husband was still in Korea for an army conference and I didn’t feel safe bringing him home alone. We haven’t been safe, it has been dangerous, emotional, violent, erratic and we feel like we are fighting an unseen fiend who is preying on our son. Everyone in the household is on edge and the tension is unbearable. This, unfortunately, feeds my son. He , like an X-man mutant, receives all our tension and feeds on it. We try to conceal this life from others, but it pours out like water you try to hold in the palm of your hand.
We then had to follow up with the local law mandated appointments with the county run center. My son would not speak, paced the halls, was verbally abusive and obviously mentally unstable at the time. I could not make sure he ingested the meds. ( to the novice reading this, I assure you that following around a 21 year old man and watching him to ensure he keeps the pills down can be dangerous, to avoid violent conflict I ask and trust and then watch behavior, if he is acting out I tell him I have to call 911, that usually makes him compliant, I just do not want the reader to think it is as easy as watching him swallow pills or stand outside the bathroom, what you deal with in this situation is not rational or reasonable, you must throw out those techniques) But the county behavioral health did NOTHING for us. I begged for help, I needed in home help, a nurse or a mental illness specialist to help me or a home or living facility he could stay, anything. But nothing exists. She spent 15 minutes typing as I talked, because my son “saw fit” that I should speak and not him”, of course everything I said “were lies and needed to be deleted” She was typing continuously while I talked, it was a loud keyboard and extremely annoying, I don’t know how my son didn’t come flying across the table. Want to be tense?, just type everything a person is saying while they talk, don’t look at them or listen, just type type type….maybe a new system could be installed, voice recording and then have someone type it later? I dont know. Just don’t irritate mentally unstable people more please. I asked what I should do, I was a little scared, she said ” he said he wasn’t suicidal or homicidal so she could do nothing” I actually said that, remember he wasn’t speaking…. She said I could take him to the ER but they would only think he was an angry teenager, but he isnt, he is 21, almost 22. So alone in a vast sea of undulating waters that pulls us down to the bottom while we fight the current trying to get a breath we go on. I left and wanted to sit in my car and cry. But I knew my son would feed off that emotional surge and I had to remain calm.
I had really hoped the doctor prior to discharge would use his leverage, and tell my son in order to be discharged he would have to 1. allow them to draw blood and run a full blood panel screen to check his system, 2. run a drug screen and 3. they could order a brain scan so we could look at this neurologically and rule out anything there. He denied all three. He said the brain scan was only for traumatic brain damage and would not help my son’s case, ( not true, I have several academic papers from Harvard, Mayo clinic etc) and they show schizophrenic brains on scans can show us a lot. He hasn’t had a blood panel since this started three years ago, we have no idea of white cell counts, and all other levels,. I was so upset because the leverage was needed to get compliance. We will try on our own to find a neurologist and get this done this week if possible. I will have to find my own care givers by searching alone yet again. And just for the record, I am a member of NAMI, I support them, but the support group I attended was so depressing I just couldn’t go back. I sat with women twice my age who had been taking care of their sons for 25 years and they were no better. They were in and out of hospitals , broke, non compliant with meds and many had been in jail. I am just not ready to concede. I would rather be in denial for a while longer , I would rather choose hope and and work to make a new system. I will await my miracle aslo.
My husband and I have decided to just tell people he has cancer when he acts strangely, we could just say he has brain cancer. Then people wont be so scared and judge him or us. It is crazy to say that, but if he was terminally ill anywhere else in his body people would be kind and helpful, but if it is a sickness of the brain, then it is our fault or his fault and they avoid us, judge us and leave us. ( most don’t say that out loud, but you hear what they say, people don’t’ keep secrets.) People just can’t handle unresolveable situations. Because it is so exhausting and you never feel like it will end, others just don’t want to be around that. I can’t explain it, but we have lost friends because they think we should fix this and move on and if they don’t see results then we arent doing what needs to be done. They don’t believe me when I tell them how broken the mental health system is, they just don’t believe me. And they don’t think it could ever happen to them because they are good people and good parents., that cause idea again. No one would ever blame a parent for cancer or diabetes or autism, but mental illness…..there is a stigma attached to that. I just have to smile and try to educated them. If they really want to know I have books to read and they can search. I have one dear friend who is already searching, reading and doing all she can to help, she was with me at lunch with my son and it so shocked her she went into full blown “I must help her mode” Thank heavens for friends like that. No judgement and the power to want to make changes.
Be that friend, be that person who will step in and help. Be that person that writes the congressional leader to fund grants to open facilities, who will stand in the gap with fervent prayer. I am so blessed to have that friend, I am not alone. Christ sustains us and sends us people who will love and care for us. Even in the mess. Because this is messy and weird and unworldly.
Relapse and Faith
Relapse is a word that I am familiar with. It is not a word I like. In the past week I and another dear friend have been hit with relapses. First, I am not sure if relapse is the right word, but it seems to fit the bill. The dictionary defines it as a deterioration in someone’s state of health after a period of improvement or temporary improvement. I suppose the word temporary is where I am going to camp. The relapses deal directly with our sons, our son’s health as specific.
I know what it is like to have a doctor tell you your son is fine. That he needs to live a certain lifestyle in order to maintain this healthy state, but he is not ” out of his mind’. I have a dear friend who also knows that feeling of joy, actually elation coupled with desperate relaxation that your son is healed. Though the road ahead is filled with things to deal with, at least he is on the way to recovery and a life. This past week we both were hit hard with bad news. Although our sons are separated by 19 years, they are still our sons. It happened so suddenly and then again when you look back there are those tiny tell-tale signs that you may have seen but weren’t quite sure. And here we, as mothers are, sent back to the hospital for our sons. Their conditions could not be more different than they are, but the one thing they have in common is the timing of the week of relapse. And it is a relapse that could be fatal in both cases.
How do I process this in the face of what I know to be true? I know God intervened and sent us a most illogical and unexpected answer to prayer that my son was not mentally ill. That his condition is brought about by means he must stop. Another mother is seeing the evidence of God working miracles in her son’s precious life as day after day prayers are answered and faith turns to confidence in the outcome. But then it hit, that small nag in the pit of our collective stomachs, that mother radar that something is just not right. And then comes the doctors confirmation. What do I do? What do I say? Do I believe? There are those who are ready to tell me that the doctor was wrong the first time and he will always have this ( although “this” is yet to be defined) and we will float between relapse and health for the rest of his life. They don’t believe he was healed or ever will be. Do I listen to them? It seems plausible, I mean it took me by surprise to consider that God had heard our prayers and he was touched. But we did believe, we knew there was a change, we saw the steady progressive steps of healing that began to transform our son. We have a “new normal” for sure, but still we have a definite plumb line to distinguish when he is not himself.
And what of my friend? I have seen such an amazing answer to prayer, an outpouring of community that shows the absolute goodness of people and their dedication and support and belief that her son will come out of this illness whole, even if it is a “new normal”. I have the same conviction for her, I know God is near. But I am reminded of a lesson I recently taught while in a Beth Moore study on Daniel. It was how God always delivers us, but it can come in three different ways. The first is to be removed from the calamity or trial. Many people have been protected and delivered from trauma, trial, and pain due to God removing them from the situation. A door opens and they are able to escape what was coming. I have a couple of friends who fit this category. I admit, I am a tad jealous to see them have such drama free lives and such trouble-free days. But I know God has a plan and it involves all our histories and it involves more than ourselves. He is able and if He plucks you out of trouble, Praise His name!!
2 Then there is being delivered through the trial. This means you go through all the struggle, the pain, the suffering,but He is right there and leads you by the valley of the shadow of death, but it does not come near you. It feels close, almost certain, but God delivers your through this situation. This happened to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, they went through the fire, but God was with them and they didn’t even smell like smoke when they stepped out of the furnace. A furnace so hot it killed the men who were stoking it. The cords that bound them were loosed and burnt off, but they were not even singed and completely smoke free. I have known God to work great miracles in people’s lives and see them come back through a horrific accidents or a tumultuous marriage or even a season of sin that should have left them not only smelling of smoke but burnt up with scars, and yet God saw them through this fiery tribulation.
Then there is the third way He delivers. He delivers us right into His arms from the struggle. My sweet dear friend went through and then after a healing and a relapse she went straight into the arms of Christ where she is right now. I am sure she would have wanted to stay and be with her family, but I dare say if you asked her to come back she would decline. The word of God tells us that we cannot even imagine the things He has planned for us in the life to come. His sheer presence and love would surround her in such peace she would stay and wait for the time her sons and husband would see Jesus face to face as she does now.
As a human soul I of course will vote for being delivered from the trial I don’t even want to go through it, but in my 49 years I must say in all my many experiences, I see God gets me through. If I have been delivered from, then it comes from an unseen force and I am blissfully unaware, but I praise God in all things.
I do not know the road ahead, I am fighting the darkness that ensues when there seems to be no answer. I am so pleased to note that my friend has had an answer. She and her dear son will “go through” again, but it is an amazing answer to prayer again. I know God is in this plan and I and others pray for his strength to do this again. Sometimes it is hard when you know what to expect, but she also knows the strength of God to soar like an eagle. My road is less obvious at this point. We have no earthly idea what to do. I mean we really have no earthly idea, we have no plans, no ideas and in the world of mental health there is so little help or encouragement. So I pray and ask for direction. Some how there must be a way to get him safely out of this state, but it lies beneath the sound I am able to hear.
Relapse is hard, no doubt. It is not a new season; For in order to have relapse one must have had a respite. So I will trust that God has answered prayers, loves my son more than his dad and I, and that He has a plan to protect my son and get him out of harms way, if only in his mind.
I just want you all to know I am just a lone mom on a journey of life with Christ. A journey into the dark depths of mental illness. A place I never knew existed, or that this could even happen to my son. This was not in any baby books, or even teenager books. I have been hit broadside. I do not have answers and fight the desire to crawl back in bed and sleep. When there are no answers, no plan, no way to fix it and people flee from you because they can’t understand why you don’t fix it; you just keep on keeping on. So I will write, read, cling to my Lord and God and know that somehow He has a plan not only for my son, but my friend’s son ( although different illness) and for all those mothers who don’t know why this is happening.
Sisters in Christ
What is family? Is it something you are born into? Is is something you are chosen for? There are families that have children from a biological standpoint and others from adoption. The quote ” blood is thicker than water” is often used with family. People say you can choose your friends, but your family is chosen for you. You have no control over that.
Many people struggle with family. Not everyone is blessed with a solid two parent ( male and female) family that is based in the strength and knowledge of the Lord. Not everyone has family that they can count on in this human existence. I think that is why some struggle to come to Christ, they have a bad taste in their mouth of family.
In my own bible studies we have women who have been molested as children, had alcoholic parents, unloving and absent parents, divorced parents, detached parents ( this goes along with siblings also). We have dealt with every sin listed in the bible and yet we get to declare to one another that we are the body of Christ, his joint heir, adopted into the family of God, no longer strangers to the promises of Israel, and know, because of Christ Jesus’s resurrection from the dead, He has made us one new man, joining us together, grafting us into one olive tree and making us ONE family–in Christ
One of my dear friends of over 15 years lost her husband last week to a sudden and unexpected death. She is now a widow. She woke up and he was gone. He was no doubt out riding his bike, as was his custom, and then in a second her whole world changed. What struck me as the ensuing days flowed along, was the absence of her mother, father and siblings. Finally after a few days and just one day prior to the funeral I asked her where were they? Why weren’t they here? I find it is sometime good to just ask bluntly and kindly and not try and guess or find out from another source. One look in her eyes and I knew the answer. She did not have a idyllic earthly family. She did not have a family that would swoop in and embrace her when she was utterly exposed and helpless and in a state of mind that needs a nurturing mother, sister, sibling. I knew at that moment I was her mother, her sister, her friend. If she had been my family sister I would have dropped my life and ran to her side. That is what family does. But you see, I did, as did so many others that came to her needs. We are her “blood” family; A true family of Christ and we swang into action. Blood is thicker than water, and that blood is the blood of Christ. This is a better blood, a perfect blood and one that saves us so we can be together in eternity. Because, make no mistake, we are all eternal beings simply inhabiting a body, one day we will leave this shell and head to parts unknown to our natural human senses, but there are places to spend eternity. Where will you?
As I sat with the women in bible study and we prayed and wept, I thought outloud and charged myself and them also, that we are that family member. We are that sister, that mother. This is our family, the family we are “born again” into. Not by choice, ( of course we have free will), but by the power of the Holy Spirit knitting together this family. Guess what? I don’t get to choose them either! Just like an earthly family I am born into this God family and it is no less a family than the one I live with daily.
We are called to be the family of God. We are to bind them up, mourn with them, stop life and sit with them, be there in the coming weeks, months and years, as life on this planet continues. Her husband was a believer, He is with Christ, we saw his body, he was not there. Paul tells us in scripture that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, He was absent from his body, He is with the Lord. But my dear sweet sister is very much in her body, and it is tired, sore, feeling all sorts of hormonal and emotional responses foreign to her and we are hear to help.
So today, I charge you, do not go back to your comforts of home, your closest family after simply giving a meal or a prayer. Treat the body of Christ closest to you as you would a member of the family you live with. This will cause sacrifice, schedule change, life change, but it is the call of God. James tells us that the true Gospel is to tend to the poor, the orphan and the widow. That is what we do, we tend and care. I don’t know how long because I have seen God show me that this is not a timeline, she is my sister and I am hers; I am there for her as long as I am near and able. This is how we are different from the world. We don’t just send a flower, a card, a prayer, we act as family members and family members that love, care and respond to need. What an amazing God we serve and what a privilege to show His love to another. It is an honor to serve in the kingdom of Jesus, the Messiah, our Christ.
Trina Turk dress. I want to rock this dress. Which jacket? Leopard? Pink? Could also look for faux fur pink. Rock it with my bling from #chloeandisabel