Watching over, caring for, supporting a loved one with mental health challenges has forced me to learn many new things I never thought I’d need to know—things like how to apply for SSI, how to get a mental health warrant, how to research psychotropic medications and how to recognize and mitigate “triggers.” It has also helped me to learn to pray differently, trust God in deeper ways, be more empathetic with others and, most surprising of all, how to wait.
I have five grandchildren. Three live about 30 minutes away while the other two live with their parents in the apartment on the far side of my kitchen.
Other friends have grands who live hundreds or even thousands of miles away. To develop close relationships with their little ones, they have established very specific and deliberate ways of staying in touch, like regular Skype calls or recording readings of favorite children’s books. Those strategies are somewhat effective, but all ache for hugs and lap time. Continue reading
I’m the first one awake in my household most mornings. I grope my way in the darkness to resurrect myself with a cup of coffee as I curl up in my favorite chair. In the stillness and silence I turn on one soft lamp and then begin to read, pray and mentally prepare for the day. Gradually dawn streams into the room. Once again the light overcomes the darkness and I can see beyond my book to the rest of the room and down the hallway.
For so many years we were lost in our journey amid the darkness of mental illness. There were so many days when we couldn’t see where to turn or how to find our way. At times we felt the darkness would overcome us and we would be swallowed by the uncertainty of it all. Continue reading
I invited Douglas’ wife, who is a peer support specialist, to share with you some things she has mentioned to me that can help loved ones who deal with mental illness navigate the holiday season. Continue reading
As a mother, I am drawn to Mary in the Christmas story, but I am also drawn to Mary in the story of Golgotha. I identify with her joy at the manger and grieve alongside her at the cross. From the beginning to the end, Mary is there, pondering the miracle of her baby’s birth, preparing for the burial of her Messiah’s body. What bewilderment must have danced in her head. What prayers must have crossed her lips. What tears must have carved her cheeks. What courage must have mounted in her heart. Continue reading
One of the holiday traditions we celebrate as a family is lighting candles on our Advent wreath while we sing the hymn, “Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus.” We start with only the first stanza, then add another through the four weeks of Advent, so that during the week before Christmas the song is sung in its entirety* with meaningful reverence. I am glad, though, that my favorite lines are in the first stanza. That way they stay fresh on my mind for the full month as we sing the words over and over.