Wednesday, August 23, 2017


A truism of life: sorrow and JOY often mix.

Proverbs 14:13… “Even in laughter, the heart may ache, and rejoicing may end in grief.”

One of the Top 10 joys of my life was the night I gave birth to my first child.  One of the Top 3 sorrows of my life (so far) was the morning decades later when I buried him.

Unspeakable joy fills my heart when I remember the days before the illness set in—and even the days afterward when David triumphed in remarkable ways over all that burdened him.  Yet, sorrow remains knowing that all he could’ve been was lost to something that’s so consuming and so pervasive in our world today.  Sorrow not only for me and for Mike, but for every parent who needs to make a hard decision or who passes through a dark, painful valley.

So it is with most children.  So it is even more with children who are plagued with a mental illness.

So, too, it is something that God himself knows first-hand and can walk through with us.

“So God created mankind in his own image…and He blessed them...”  Such JOY!

“The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness had become…and his heart was deeply troubled…”  “The waters rose and covered the mountains…and every living thing that moved on land perished…”  Such SORROW!

He knows our joy, and He feels our sadness.  He blesses our lives, and He supports our ‘tough calls’.  He’s our strength and our comforter, especially through life’s difficult seasons.

Some words of wisdom from all this…
Pursue joy and blessing despite the risk of sorrow.
Don’t let today’s grief erase yesterday’s joy—nor constrain tomorrow’s choices.
Run to God in both joy and sadness—first in thanks, then for guidance and comfort.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Aim For A New Point On The Horizon

While it’s important to carefully choose the story you tell yourself, it’s also important to accept reality and adjust as needed.

William Arthur Ward wrote…
“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”

For our family, the breeze blew in pleasant directions for years.  One of my favorite pictures captures the essence of our life at about the fifteen-year mark: Ann, Amanda, and Rachel smiling at an all-family Christmas gathering, the girls in matching dresses that Ann had made.  While the photo didn’t capture the boys, it told of a time when our whole family was happy and healthy, loving and laughing.  We had energy to spare and were creating more memories than the Cabin Notebook could hold.  Life was sweet!

And the dreams Ann and I shared for the years to come were as strong as ever: dreams of Godly children living fulfilling lives; visions of a home full of happy, healthy grandchildren; expectations of deep marital bonding.

But I had my personal dreams, too: after-work hours spent putzing around our mini-farm; weekends filled with fishing and hunting and hiking; quality time with grandkids and close friends; traveling the world with Ann.  Now, I didn’t share all those dreams with Ann, mostly because I didn’t want to put them before hers.  Plus, we were still busy building our family; some things needed to wait, and I was okay with that.

Then the mental illness gale rolled in, and dreams began to drown.  Not only mine, but hers and our kids’, too.  Worse yet, I mourned the losses privately.

No—even worse was that I didn’t try to understand Ann’s pain!  That went on for years, and our marriage, our family, and our relationships suffered.  Only after we shared our highest hopes and deepest disappointments did we together begin to adjust our sails.  Now, that “sharing” wasn’t easy.  It took a lot of time, tears, and effort, and it required that we both listened more with our hearts than with our ears.

In the end, we learned how to bend and how to use those gale-force winds to propel us toward a different point on the horizon, a point that will be just as sweet (but in different ways), a point that we couldn’t have found if not for that noisy, powerful, deadly storm.

Today, we’re confident that when another gale rolls in (and it will!), we’ll adjust our sails to yet a different point in the distance.  Nonetheless, knowing even now that we’ll need to throw some dreams overboard is sobering, but we’ve learned that it’s better to arrive alive than not at all.

What point on the horizon are your sails set for?  If it’s one that threatens to tear your ship apart given the direction the winds are blowing right now, accept realty, adjust accordingly, and arrive alive!