Anchor and Umpire

Over the last few weeks I have cried tears of joy…. and tears of sorrow.

During the last weekend in January I was blessed to watch another grandchild enter this world. You would think that after the other two births I would know what to expect and not be so utterly overcome by the emotions of awe, love and joy. Not so! It happened again just like it did  the other two times. Waves of tears, laughter, praise and words of aaahhh’s and ooohhh’s kept flowing from within me. My job during labor and delivery is to help my son-in-love (heard that term from a friend and I like it a lot better than son-in-law).  He in turn devotes himself to attending to his wife, my daughter. I fetch his snacks and coffee, text updates to the rest of the family and friends, take memory-making photos and pray. This loving couple place their focus intently on the task before them. Their unity and support of each other is precious to behold. I am so thankful they allow me to witness the births of their babies. Who can ever fully explain the marvel of a newborn baby drawing his first breath of air and flexing his lungs with hardy cries! With tears of joy it is so easy to praise the Lord and release words of thankfulness in prayers to Him.

100_1969

Then came the tears of sorrow. Due to circumstances, unexpected and from another area of life, confusion and turmoil manifested. I again felt emotions flow from deep inside of me, but this time the tears were mingled with fear, worry, anxiety, and discouragement. It was harder to kneel before the Lord with thanksgiving and praise. It was difficult to find that place of rest in Him, His peace. But as I ran to Him, thanking Him for His love and trusting Him to bless me through this dilemma, He lovingly and patiently taught me how to deal with my problem and gave me two very precious verses to encourage me. Blessings came in the form of hope and peace as His grace made my path straight again.

I am a visual learner so I love word pictures that teach a principle. Both of the verses  the Lord revealed to me use a specific word to elaborate the truth.

Hebrews 6:17-20 New International Version (NIV)

17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised,he confirmed it with an oath.18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged.19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain,20 where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

An anchor “holds something else secure; gives stability or security”.  In the verse above, hope is the anchor for the soul. Not just hope in general, like being positive or optimistic. It is hope in God, His truthfulness, His faithfulness, and the fact that He is a promise keeper. What He says He will do… will be done. Whenever trouble comes, it is our hope in Him that anchors us. The waves of life don’t have to sweep us into the rocks of the shoreline. I found it interesting as I looked for images of anchors to discover that many anchors have a cross in the center of their design. The work Jesus did at the cross provided us with the ability to approach our Heavenly Father with confidence, to go through the veil of the Holy of Holies, meeting Him, receiving the fullness of our inheritance in Him, and finding our security through His promises that He has the power, desire and ability to accomplish.

Colossians 3:15 Amplified Bible (AMP)

 

15 And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ’s] one body you were also called [to live]. And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always]

This verse really got my attention when the Amplified translation interpreted  ” let the peace from Christ rule” as like an umpire.  An umpire is “a person chosen to render a decision in a dispute; an official who administers the rules”.  The Peace of Jesus Christ, who is the Prince of Peace, is the umpire of our hearts, continually ruling out the thoughts that do not line up with the Father’s heart and purposes for our lives. The enemy, the world and our own minds can speak into our lives untruthful words of hopelessness, despair, faithlessness, and words lacking in love. We are all tempted when turmoil enters to allow these destructive thoughts to take seed in our hearts.  If we do, the harvest is fruitlessness and defeat. When I yielded to the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, His Peace lovingly pointed out the untruths that I was allowing to germinate within me. He knew those thoughts would prevent me from being in the blessing of God’s game plan for that difficult situation. The analogy grows weak as I compare Jesus Christ to a real life umpire. Jesus is not the demanding, dictatorial force that would insist on getting the final word in His ruling. No, the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ stands ready with His wisdom and love, waiting on us to seek His way and yield to His work in us. I  see Him as that consistent Reminder saying, “this is the way, walk in it”.  So, this turmoil became another opportunity to praise and give thanksgiving to God even in the midst of it. He calmed the storm within me, giving me His Peace.  Then I could live with hope in Him, waiting and expecting Him to calm the storm around me as well.

Philippians 4 New King James Version (NKJV) 

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Connecting, with love

Donna

Hope and Deliverance

100_1431

December 16, 2012 Huffington Post

parents

‘I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother’: A Mom’s Perspective On The Mental Illness Conversation In America

Posted: 12/16/2012 9:15 am EST  |  Updated: 12/16/2012 2:34 pm EST

Lizalongnotforreuse

Written by Liza Long, republished from The Blue Review

Friday’s horrific national tragedy — the murder of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut — has ignited a new discussion on violence in America. In kitchens and coffee shops across the country, we tearfully debate the many faces of violence in America: gun culture, media violence, lack of mental health services, overt and covert wars abroad, religion, politics and the way we raise our children. Liza Long, a writer based in Boise, says it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.

While every family’s story of mental illness is different, and we may never know the whole of the Lanza’s story, tales like this one need to be heard — and families who live them deserve our help.

Three days before 20 year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother, then opened fire on a classroom full of Connecticut kindergartners, my 13-year old son Michael (name changed) missed his bus because he was wearing the wrong color pants.

“I can wear these pants,” he said, his tone increasingly belligerent, the black-hole pupils of his eyes swallowing the blue irises.

“They are navy blue,” I told him. “Your school’s dress code says black or khaki pants only.”

“They told me I could wear these,” he insisted. “You’re a stupid bitch. I can wear whatever pants I want to. This is America. I have rights!”

“You can’t wear whatever pants you want to,” I said, my tone affable, reasonable. “And you definitely cannot call me a stupid bitch. You’re grounded from electronics for the rest of the day. Now get in the car, and I will take you to school.”

I live with a son who is mentally ill. I love my son. But he terrifies me.

A few weeks ago, Michael pulled a knife and threatened to kill me and then himself after I asked him to return his overdue library books. His 7 and 9 year old siblings knew the safety plan — they ran to the car and locked the doors before I even asked them to. I managed to get the knife from Michael, then methodically collected all the sharp objects in the house into a single Tupperware container that now travels with me. Through it all, he continued to scream insults at me and threaten to kill or hurt me.

That conflict ended with three burly police officers and a paramedic wrestling my son onto a gurney for an expensive ambulance ride to the local emergency room. The mental hospital didn’t have any beds that day, and Michael calmed down nicely in the ER, so they sent us home with a prescription for Zyprexa and a follow-up visit with a local pediatric psychiatrist.

We still don’t know what’s wrong with Michael. Autism spectrum, ADHD, Oppositional Defiant or Intermittent Explosive Disorder have all been tossed around at various meetings with probation officers and social workers and counselors and teachers and school administrators. He’s been on a slew of antipsychotic and mood altering pharmaceuticals, a Russian novel of behavioral plans. Nothing seems to work.

At the start of seventh grade, Michael was accepted to an accelerated program for highly gifted math and science students. His IQ is off the charts. When he’s in a good mood, he will gladly bend your ear on subjects ranging from Greek mythology to the differences between Einsteinian and Newtonian physics to Doctor Who. He’s in a good mood most of the time. But when he’s not, watch out. And it’s impossible to predict what will set him off.

Several weeks into his new junior high school, Michael began exhibiting increasingly odd and threatening behaviors at school. We decided to transfer him to the district’s most restrictive behavioral program, a contained school environment where children who can’t function in normal classrooms can access their right to free public babysitting from 7:30-1:50 Monday through Friday until they turn 18.

The morning of the pants incident, Michael continued to argue with me on the drive. He would occasionally apologize and seem remorseful. Right before we turned into his school parking lot, he said, “Look, Mom, I’m really sorry. Can I have video games back today?”

“No way,” I told him. “You cannot act the way you acted this morning and think you can get your electronic privileges back that quickly.”

His face turned cold, and his eyes were full of calculated rage. “Then I’m going to kill myself,” he said. “I’m going to jump out of this car right now and kill myself.”

That was it. After the knife incident, I told him that if he ever said those words again, I would take him straight to the mental hospital, no ifs, ands, or buts. I did not respond, except to pull the car into the opposite lane, turning left instead of right.
“Where are you taking me?” he said, suddenly worried. “Where are we going?”

“You know where we are going,” I replied.

“No! You can’t do that to me! You’re sending me to hell! You’re sending me straight to hell!”

I pulled up in front of the hospital, frantically waiving for one of the clinicians who happened to be standing outside. “Call the police,” I said. “Hurry.”

Michael was in a full-blown fit by then, screaming and hitting. I hugged him close so he couldn’t escape from the car. He bit me several times and repeatedly jabbed his elbows into my rib cage. I’m still stronger than he is, but I won’t be for much longer.
The police came quickly and carried my son screaming and kicking into the bowels of the hospital. I started to shake, and tears filled my eyes as I filled out the paperwork — “Were there any difficulties with… at what age did your child… were there any problems with.. has your child ever experienced.. does your child have…”

At least we have health insurance now. I recently accepted a position with a local college, giving up my freelance career because when you have a kid like this, you need benefits. You’ll do anything for benefits. No individual insurance plan will cover this kind of thing.

For days, my son insisted that I was lying — that I made the whole thing up so that I could get rid of him. The first day, when I called to check up on him, he said, “I hate you. And I’m going to get my revenge as soon as I get out of here.”

By day three, he was my calm, sweet boy again, all apologies and promises to get better. I’ve heard those promises for years. I don’t believe them anymore.

On the intake form, under the question, “What are your expectations for treatment?” I wrote, “I need help.”

And I do. This problem is too big for me to handle on my own. Sometimes there are no good options. So you just pray for grace and trust that in hindsight, it will all make sense.

I am sharing this story because I am Adam Lanza’s mother. I am Dylan Klebold’s and Eric Harris’s mother. I am James Holmes’s mother. I am Jared Loughner’s mother. I am Seung-Hui Cho’s mother. And these boys—and their mothers—need help. In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.

According to Mother Jones, since 1982, 61 mass murders involving firearms have occurred throughout the country. Of these, 43 of the killers were white males, and only one was a woman. Mother Jones focused on whether the killers obtained their guns legally (most did). But this highly visible sign of mental illness should lead us to consider how many people in the U.S. live in fear, like I do.

When I asked my son’s social worker about my options, he said that the only thing I could do was to get Michael charged with a crime. “If he’s back in the system, they’ll create a paper trail,” he said. “That’s the only way you’re ever going to get anything done. No one will pay attention to you unless you’ve got charges.”

I don’t believe my son belongs in jail. The chaotic environment exacerbates Michael’s sensitivity to sensory stimuli and doesn’t deal with the underlying pathology. But it seems like the United States is using prison as the solution of choice for mentally ill people. According to Human Rights Watch, the number of mentally ill inmates in U.S. prisons quadrupled from 2000 to 2006, and it continues to rise — in fact, the rate of inmate mental illness is five times greater (56 percent) than in the non-incarcerated population.

With state-run treatment centers and hospitals shuttered, prison is now the last resort for the mentally ill — Rikers Island, the LA County Jail and Cook County Jail in Illinois housed the nation’s largest treatment centers in 2011.

No one wants to send a 13-year old genius who loves Harry Potter and his snuggle animal collection to jail. But our society, with its stigma on mental illness and its broken healthcare system, does not provide us with other options. Then another tortured soul shoots up a fast food restaurant. A mall. A kindergarten classroom. And we wring our hands and say, “Something must be done.”

I agree that something must be done. It’s time for a meaningful, nation-wide conversation about mental health. That’s the only way our nation can ever truly heal.

God help me. God help Michael. God help us all.

(Originally published at The Anarchist Soccer Mom.)

 I am Adam Lanza’s mother

100_1506

I have a dear friend, who has a God-given gift of expressing His truths with the clarity of a ringing bell.  Sherri has given me permission to use her thoughts about this article:

I admit that I’m in a very reflective mood this afternoon. If you choose to read the article above, I have some thoughts to the last line. The mother admits she needs God’s help. How does God help today?

He either helps directly apart from us for His sovereign purposes, or He works through you and me. Generally, I believe He desires to work through you and me.
 
As I read this article I couldn’t help but think about the much needed deliverance in all of these young men. How we need to be available…and how needy is our society to SEE the power of God and NOT just the power of Satan. Without seeing the power of God, it leaves them with only the power of self-determination to survive (unless they know Christ personally).  I wonder what would happen if someone had offered to pray for deliverance if there might not have been a different ending in these cases…maybe not. People must be willing to receive help, but it seems like this is a mother who was ASKING for help from the only source she thought was available. Is this not an indictment against Christianity…form without power? 
 
God help us to be full of compassionate…and may Your restorative power be revealed in this ever-increasing darkness for YOUR glory and fame. Sherri D.
On this week before Christmas, as the internet and the world are filled with anguish and confusion over the tragic loss of life in Connecticut, I present another change that Jesus offers to us all. While He offers this change for us, it is not a change for Him. When He walked this earth as man, everyone who came to Him for help received it. He never turned anyone away and no illness, mental or physical, was ever too difficult for Him to heal. He gave hope and He gave deliverance from the demons that plague minds and bodies. He still offers this hope and deliverance today. However, we have to believe He is still able and still willing. When asked by a needy man, Jesus expressed His heart….I am willing. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. The first step to receive this deliverance is  faith in what He gave us through the work of  His cross, trusting in the power of His Name and in His Blood.
I continue to learn more about healing, and can honestly say, I don’t understand how this manifests on a consistent basis. But I do know it is wise to seek Him in the midst of troubles, tragedies and trials. It is worth it.
Luke 4:18  New King James Version
“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
Connecting, with love
Donna

Overcoming the fear that cuts down our blessings



Dealing with fear is common to all humanity, in one form or another. Some fear is healthy, warning us of danger. A healthy fear or respect is due something potentially dangerous  like fire.

  • Fear is a kind of bell, or gong, which rings the mind into quick life and avoidance upon the approach of danger. It is the soul’s signal for rallying.   Henry Ward Beecher

Fear of God is justified. Fear of man is not.  A good fear is a reverence toward God, and Him alone; it is awe inspired devotion, to who He is, and to what He does.  With gratitude and thanksgiving, we are drawn by His great love and our hearts are filled with desire to please Him. In His loving wisdom, the Lord knew that denial, of His will and way, would only bring loss and grief. God  provided a way, through Jesus and His Spirit, for us to avoid being outside of His will, His favor, and vulnerable to fear. The Holy Spirit, within us, beckons if we begin to move outside of His protection, and points the way back to restoration. His power is able to defeat that which alarms us.

  • Happy the soul that has been awed by a view of God’s majesty. A.W. Pink
  • The fear of man strangles us, because we can never please everybody; but the fear of the Lord frees us, because it challenges us to live and serve for an audience of One. Paul Chappell
  • To win the war against fear, we must know the true God as He is revealed in the Bible. He works to give us lasting peace. He receives joy, not from condemning us but in rescuing us from the devil. Yes, the Lord will bring conviction to our hearts concerning sin, but it is so He can deliver us from sin’s power and consequences. In its place, the Lord works to establish healing, forgiveness and peace. Francis Frangipane

The opposite of healthy fear is irrational, worrying, faithless fear. This anxious fear leads us to focus too heavily on our circumstances and the dealings of the enemy, and to doubt God’s goodness and faithfulness.  As it creeps into our lives, it robs us of freedom, health, peace and joy.  As surely as a sharpened ax or power saw can fell a tree, so this type of fear can cut down our blessings. Experiencing this robbing fear, your body reacts to its presence. A sickening chill running down your spine, a queasy, churning stomach, clammy or cold hands, headaches, a stiff neck or other muscle tension, weakness, confused thoughts, heart palpitations, panic attacks, shallow, rapid breathing, trouble sleeping, depression or dread….one or several of these reactions might be warning that fear has arrived.

  • Fear imprisons, faith liberates; fear paralyzes, faith empowers; fear disheartens, faith encourages; fear sickens, faith heals; fear makes useless, faith makes serviceable. Harry Emerson Fosdick

Fear can be real or imaginary.

  • Imagination frames events unknown, In wild, fantastic shapes of hideous ruin, And what it fears, creates.Hannah More

If  our confidence is in the goodness of God, His faithfulness and everlasting love,  and we rely on His Holy Spirit within us, Who leads us to appropriate the power of Jesus’ name and shed blood, fear will surrender to faith.

  • How sweet the name of Jesus sounds, In a believer’s ear! It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds, And drives away his fear. John Newton
  • God incarnate is the end of fear; and the heart that realizes that He is in the midst… will be quiet in the middle of alarm. F.B. Meyer
  • If my attitude be one of fear, not faith, about one who has disappointed me; if I say, “Just what I expected,” if a fall occurs, then I know nothing of Calvary love.  Amy Carmichael
  • Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God. Corrie Ten Boom

To accept what the world, the enemy or self says, over God’s word, is to invite fear to enter your heart.

  • Our lives are full of supposes. Suppose this should happen, or suppose that should happen; what could we do; how could we bear it? But, if we are living in the high tower of the dwelling place of God, all these supposes will drop out of our lives. We shall be quiet from the fear of evil, for no threatenings of evil can penetrate into the high tower of God. Hannah Whitall Smith

The door to fear is closed by detecting the first signs of anxiety and allowing the Holy Spirit to bring that hopeless despair into submission before God’s truths.  The Lord has said “Fear not” over and over because He has only good things planned for us and God’s heart is a heart of perfect love.

  • 1 John 4:18 (NKJV) There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.
  •  The presence of fear does not mean you have no faith. Fear visits everyone. But make your fear a visitor and not a resident. Max Lucado
  • Giving in to fear alters God’s best plan for your life. So use the power of God’s Word to do what He wants you to do…even if you have to do it afraid! The rewards are great. Joyce Meyer
  • Beloved, I say, let your fears go, lest they make you fainthearted. Stop inspiring fear in those around you and now take your stand in faith. God has been good and He will continue to manifest His goodness. Let us approach these days expecting to see the goodness of the Lord manifest. Let us be strong and of good courage, for the Lord will fight for us if we stand in faith. Francis Frangipane

The thievery of  anxious fear is defeated by meeting it head on, in the power of the Holy Spirit, never denying nor hiding it. Fear can not be medicated away.  Victory over fear comes through God, by trusting in Him, plain and simple.

  • Never turn your back on your fears. Woodrow Kroll
  • Are you facing fear today? Perhaps you are afraid of losing your job, of developing cancer or being left by your spouse. At times all of us experience fear. But don’t allow fear to keep you from being used by God. He has kept you thus far; trust Him for the rest of the way. Woodroll Kroll
  • Hebrews 10:35 (AMP) Do not, therefore, fling away your fearless confidence, for it carries a great and glorious compensation of reward.
  • John 14:27 (AMP)  Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]

I yearn for a greater understanding of our Father’s heart to fill our churches, and draw the lost to His salvation. Without a doubt, our world faces many occasions for fear to knock on our door. A reverent fear of God assures our hearts of His love and His Holy Power,  providing us with freedom from fear .  This blog is a montage of thoughts and quotes gathered together for emphasis, because one voice joined by others declares a message more clearly.

connecting, with love

Donna