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Archive for April, 2013

Dearest Child,

You have many God-sized dreams; nevertheless, they seem thwarted by your disability.

You repeatedly ask, “Why did God make me this way?”

“God does not make mistakes,” I reply, “He has a purpose for you.”

“What is my purpose?” you ask.

“I cannot tell you that, only He can. You must seek Him and He will teach you,” I exhort.

The lions grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Psalm 34:10-11

“But, I’m not normal, Mama?”

“The Lord says you are beautifully and wonderfully made, little one.”

“I don’t feel beautiful.”

“You are beautiful in His sight and that is all that matters!” I retort.

“My dreams seem impossible,” you say.

“Perhaps, it is not about your dreams, dear child, but rather His dreams for you? They will materialize if you follow them because He is God and you are not.”

“I have limitations, I have nothing to offer, Mama.”

“Everyone has something to offer, dear one. Think of the gifts He has placed in you from the beginning. What can you do with what you already have?”

“But, Mamma, I am afraid.”

“Child,” I reply, “the only fear you need is the fear of the Lord.”

The fear of the Lord, is the beginning of wisdom;
 All who follow his precepts have good understanding.
To Him belongs eternal praise.
Psalm 111:10

“I will be here for you, but you must seek God’s dreams for you – His God-sized dreams. When you find them, you will also find your calling. Follow it until the end of your days, my child.”

Lovingly,

Your Mama

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Sustaining grace promises not the absence of struggle,

but the presence of God.

Max Lucado

 

Struggles are numerous in life. Whether in our youth or in maturity, we face challenges that seem beyond our abilities. Our paths are laden with rapids, ruts, and rocks. We often find ourselves in circumstances we would not have chosen had we been in perfect control. However, the things that trip us up are the very things that cause our growth. As we persevere, character is developed, and hope attained. There is one promise from God we can count on in the midst of our struggles:

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)

This promise is not one I glibly roll off my tongue, but rather one that I have learned to appreciate from my journey’s hard bumps and deep valleys – a promise that, deep in my heart, I know is true. When I am in a troubling situation, I find comfort in knowing that God’s presence is available through His sustaining grace.

Today, I will count my blessings and be thankful for the struggles that have taught me life’s lessons – for the mercies that are new every morning – and for the beauty all around.

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It was Easter Sunday and I was as empty as the tomb of Jesus. I visited politely with the people around me at church, but my soul was a dry hole.

There was no apparent reason for the shroud of darkness that had enveloped me for weeks. It began right after writing that second book. I had a vague sense of feeling lost, not knowing where to step next. Although the previous six months had been stressful, surely I had been through worse periods of strain in my life.

I kept silent about the turmoil within, sharing my feelings with God alone. However, He seemed strangely distant. Certain that He had not moved, I entertained the idea that I had somehow stepped off the track, sinned, or missed a call.

Time dragged on. Answers to prayer did not come. Scraping my soul raw and repenting of all sin did not relieve the uneasiness; Bible study classes did not inspire; sermons waxed cold; and, ministry grew dull. Nevertheless, I continued every day to write in my journal three gifts I was thankful for and to read at least one Psalm.

While writing an article on depression, I reviewed the signs – a sense of sorrow, loss of purpose, lack of interest in normal activity, changed sleep patterns, inability to concentrate and/or make decisions, a vague sense of emptiness and anxiety… The signs were all there – I had slipped into depression. Imagine that! The very person writing and speaking about hope for mental illness was now depressed. 

Of course, there are those in churches who will say a Christian has no reason or right to be depressed. Yet, scripture confirms that it has been familiar to many throughout history:

The author of I Kings writes this about Elijah the prophet, “He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, Lord,’ he said. ‘Take my life…’” I Kings 19:4

David wrote, “My soul is in anguish. How long, O Lord, how long?” Psalm 6:3

Paul wrote, “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.” Romans 9:2

Even Jesus cried out when he was on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46.

There is no way of knowing what caused my depression and I thank God it was temporary. Nonetheless, several good things came of it – now I can truly mourn with those who mourn and I can comfort others in ways that I have been comforted. 

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Mental Illness is messy and most people do not want to deal with it. Admittedly, I too wanted to avoid it until it so stealthily crept into my home. Like cancer, mental illness is only a remote possibility until it touches us personally. However, when it hits us in the gut, right where we live, it becomes an untamable, inextinguishable inferno.

Those who cope with mental illness want to discuss it openly, but when we mention it in social settings, we sense a certain fear coming over others. Therefore, we retreat to our houses, pull down the shades, lock the doors, and isolate ourselves.

Somehow, the opposite is true if our loved one comes down with cancer, MS, or a rare disease. Everyone seems open to listening and discussing, helping out with family needs, and comforting the afflicted. Why do people want to avoid the subject of mental illness? May I suggest it is fear caused by stigma and shame?

Be honest with me now…

If we have had no experience with mental illness, what would our reaction be if a friend or acquaintance told us that their spouse, child, mother, father, brother, or sister has bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or borderline personality disorder? What would be our first gut response? Are we uncomfortable with the subject or do we want to change it? Does it strike fear in our heart? Do we start judging? Do we want to run?

How would we respond if that same person told us that his/her loved one was just diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor? We might experience some fear, but I think most people would volunteer to help the family in need.

Symptoms and behaviors of someone with a brain tumor and side effects of their medications could be very similar to those of someone who copes with a mental illness. Yet, the emotional reactions of outsiders might be very different in the two cases. May I ask, why?

I believe we all suffer from fear, stigma, and shame of mental illness – those who cope with it and those who do not. Fear is paralyzing, but there are ways to break this pattern, starting with education and open discussion.

May is Mental Health Month in the U.S. Let’s all do one thing this coming month to break the fear, stigma, and shame of mental illness.

book
Would you like to register to win a free book about my journey with mental illness in my family? Go to http://www.dorothyruppert.com to enter the drawing. Deadline for entry is 11:59 p.m. CDT on 4-15-13.

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A Run-Away Mom

Raising a child with an undiagnosed brain disorder was severely stressful. For seventeen years, I could not convince a doctor, psychologist, teacher, pastor, or counselor that my child was extremely ill, not just misbehaving. Her mood swings were rapid and intense, changing every few minutes. My hopes for a better future soon evaporated.

One morning, I was so distraught that I decided to become a run-away mom. Thinking that I could not live under the stress one more minute, I packed up a suitcase, a cosmetic bag, my Bible and guitar, and placed them near the back door. Before my husband returned home from work and the kids came from school, I would be gone.Run-Away Mom

The balance in my checking account was $487.00, a meager amount today, but in 1981, that was enough money to get by for several weeks. I was positive I could secure a job long before running out of cash.

However, there was a providential interruption…

About 9:00 a.m., a friend called saying she was in a jam. She had to leave for an important meeting in 15 minutes and her babysitter had just cancelled. Could I watch her son for 2 1/2 hours?

Because she was always available when I needed support, I felt compelled to come to her rescue. Confident that I had time to help a good friend in crisis and still get out of the house before my family came home, I declared, “Yes, I can do it.”

My bags were still sitting at the back door. Not wanting to explain the obvious, I quickly moved them out of sight. As the morning wore on, I interacted with my friend’s son, did a few household chores, and sat down to scan the Bible for answers to the confusion that filled my mind. Opening it to Psalm 139, I read…

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! (Psalm 139:7-8)

Enter – God’s grace…

Ah, yes, where could I go to hide? Where would I make my bed that night? No matter where I went, God would surely be with me; but, although I could run away from my troubled family, could I run away from myself? Could I live apart from being a wife and a mother – from doing what God had called me to do?

The text went on to state that God would surely uphold me; He would hold me in His right hand. The darkness that covered me was nothing to Him…

Even there your hand shall lead me
And your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
And the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is as light with you. (Psalm 139:10-11)

To stay or leave, the choice was mine. Suddenly, conviction washed over me. I had to stay – I had to bloom where He had planted me. Vowing not to tell anyone about my foolish impulse, I tearfully unpacked the bags and returned the guitar and Bible to their places.

God’s grace was enough – enough for an “almost” run-away mom!

DO YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO STRUGGLES WITH A MENTAL ILLNESS? Win a free inspirational book, “God Placed Her in My Path – Lessons Learned from the Furnace of Bipolar Disorder,” on this subject. In the book, author Dorothy Ruppert tells her compelling story of walking alongside a daughter who experienced bipolar disorder. TWO FREE BOOKS WILL BE AWARDED on April 15, 2013. Enter to win at http://www.dorothyruppert.com. Follow the rules for entry. The deadline is 12:00 a.m. CDT April, 15, 2013.

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