Not Always The Happiest Time Of The Year

Psalm 34:18  Jehovah is near to the brokenhearted; and saves those who are of a contrite spirit.

Charles Dickens opened “A Tale Of Two Cities” with this timeless sentence.  “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times….”

For so long in my life the time from Thanksgiving through the New Year was nothing but happiness and anticipation for good things. This isn’t the reality for so many who suffer from so many different things who find it almost impossible to find joy in anything as their suffering is so intense.

When I was in sales the last three months of the year was when things would get exciting.  As I sold payroll services those three months were the time of year when potential clients were most apt to make the switch to our company.  That meant sales and income.

Knowing this our company put on some pretty awesome contests for those of us in sales to motivate us to make them more profitable.  There were huge bucks to be made if you closed the year strong.  As I was one of the top salesmen in the company (voted sales person of the decade for 1990-1999) I always walked away with big bonus checks.

The extra money meant we were in a good place to celebrate the holidays with family.  We were also in a place that we had extra money to help out anyone who might be in a tough place financially.  Those were the best of times.

These last few years I’ve become keenly aware that this holiday season represents the worst of times for scores of people.  They don’t get bonuses let alone even have a job.  Many wonder where their next meal is coming from.

Our nation is at war and many families have lost loved ones who have fought on our behalf as they served bravely overseas.  We are in the midst of a financial downturn that has seen many families lose their jobs with no job in sight to replace it.  Scores of families have lost their homes as a result of this downturn.

Across the globe there is suffering on a scale that is hard for me to wrap my mind around.  Living in America I am isolated from so much of that suffering.  This type of suffering occurs in varying degrees throughout the world.  For me this suffering is print on a page or a report on television.  I haven’t experienced it.

Natural disasters happen each year with untold thousands of men, women, and children dying unexpectedly. The survivors are left to pick up the pieces and carry on as best they can.  Quite often in unspeakable conditions supplies that are donated never find their way to these victims.

Yet untold suffering takes place in our own nation.  It always has and it always will.  It’s a part of the human condition.  Many times this suffering is invisible to the naked eye.

Maybe you are a Christian woman who chose at some point in the past to have an abortion.  Thinking your life would become more manageable you find yourself haunted with the pain you feel every holiday season as you recall the choice you made.  Maybe this is your deep dark secret that you are terrified to share with anyone.  I don’t know that the pain will ever go away but I do know there is help for you.  Healing Hearts is a ministry that was created for women just like you.  Their website is located   HERE.

Maybe you or a family member is a returning veteran who is struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  This illness takes its toll on the victim and victim’s families alike.  Sadly many sufferers take their own lives as they see no way out of their anguish.  Give An Hour is a nation wide organization that provides free counseling for those who have been impacted.  Their website is located   HERE.

Maybe you suffer with bipolar disorder or depression.  Maybe things seem so dark you see no way out.  Maybe God has brought you here at this time to let you know there is hope.  The darkness can end.  Things can improve.  The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline exists for people like you at times like this.  They are waiting to talk to you.  You can contact them at 1-800-273-8255. Their website is located    HERE.

Sadly I haven’t really scratched the surface.  That’s a reality that saddens me deeply but yet I realize there is hope.  You may be struggling in one of a number of ways.  Maybe you suffer with OCD, anxiety and panic attacks, schizophrenia, or an eating disorder.  THERE IS HELP AND HOPE FOR YOU!

This blog exists for times like these and for people like you and me.  You will find all sorts of resources to your right and scores of articles in the archives.  Please take the time to have a look around.

Mental Illness is not the proof you are a failure in life or a disappointment to God.  Those are lies.  You are made in the image of God and He loves you more than you could ever imagine.

I’ve been through dark times when I thought He had abandoned me and there was no hope.  He was very quiet when I wanted to hear His voice so desperately. In His perfect wisdom He chose another path for me.

I don’t understand God’s decisions and why He does and doesn’t do things in specific fashions.  There are times when we need to set our feelings aside and trust God the best we know how.  Reaching out to others for help does not fly in the face of trusting God.  He has chosen to use others to offer help to those without faith or hope.  Quite often those people were exactly where you are now.

So often the hardest step to take is the first one.  I pray you would do that soon.  God bless you. in the coming year.  Allan

Could Schizophrenia Have Been Part Of The Confusion At The Nelson Mandela Memorial

Taken from the   Mental Wellness Today  newsletter.

On Tuesday, December 10th, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa, the memorial service for President Nelson Mandela was held at the Johannesburg stadium. By now it is no secret what happened at the memorial with the interpreter, who was later found out that he had schizophrenia. In the unlikely event that you are not aware of the event, this is what happened. An interpreter from a local agency was hired to do the signing for the memorial. During the memorial it became apparent, to the deaf community, that the man, Thamsanqa Jantjie, was not signing the service correctly. He was described on BusinessInsider.com as “flapping his arms around” and “just making funny gestures.” During my initial research of this event I was unable to find any real evidence that Mr. Jantjie was, or was not, a fake interpreter. It certainly appeared to be the case when the agency that Mr. Jantjie was hired through seemed to disappear. It was also noted that the address and phone number that Jantjie provided appeared to be incorrect. A lot of controversy is surrounding this entire media debacle but I would just like to raise two points here, keep in mind that, yes, even the government can make mistakes but consider this:

  • Upon hiring this man, the African National Congress (ANC), had to have contacted an agency somewhere and gone through a standardized screening process of some sort – to which Mr. Jantjie’s security clearance had checked out at the time
  • Is it possible that, following this public humiliation, the company to which Mr. Jantjie was affiliated could have made a quick exit to avoid even further humiliation?

After all, Independent.co.uk says that “Earlier, South Africa’s Deputy Disability Minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu revealed that the company who employed Mr Jantije had since “vanished“.”The (ANC) has made it public knowledge that this same man had been previously employed by them to sign at council meetings to which no incidents were reported on the validity of his skills. This was the only evidence to the contrary belief that he was a fake and I think before anymore mud is slung at this man – his skills should be tested to prove whether or not he can do what he says. “Sign language experts have accused Mr Jantije of making up bizarre gestures and referring to prawns and rocking horses while translating eulogies at Mr Mandela’s memorial service last week.” Says a quote found on Independent.co.uk so would it not make sense that if he were actually signing something that his ‘gibberish’ could be contributed to a psychotic relapse?

Let’s discuss some speculation surrounding the downhill slide of this event. This man has been slapped with many accusations since the event. It’s been said he is facing charges of rape, kidnapping and theft charges – so prove it, and if it can be proven then the fault falls on the ANC officials for not doing proper background screenings on the people invited to attend this event. Is that not a fair thing to do? Would it not be fair to place the blame on those who have the power over the event rather than a mentally ill man? I do not excuse this ordeal because the man is mentally ill but do you think that someone’s long term reputation should be put to shame for one single event? This incident that happened because Mr. Jantije’s prescribed medications were clearly not working. This was made evident to him and his wife prior to the incident but they postponed their checkup with Sterkfontein Psychiatric Hospital so that Mr. Jantije could do the job. A poor decision on his wife’s responsibility as a caregiver to a man suffering a mental illness – a fair assessment, wouldn’t you agree?

This entire event is just one of many reasons that the general population have such a negative outlook – or stigma – on mental illnesses such as schizophrenia. The media blows it highly out of proportion, placing the blame on the mentally ill person, and doesn’t consider the facts. Fact – schizophrenia is a mental illness that splits the persons mind from reality causing many positive and negative symptoms. Positive, being an addition of unusual symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations, and negative, being the absence of usual characteristics like happiness and joy. So upon knowing the definition of the illness wouldn’t it be fairly accurate to say that this man had no coherent command over his own actions at the time of the event and therefore not directly accountable for his mistake? I think this is a perfect example as to why those of us who have a steady grip on the importance of mental illness, get so frustrated by those who are clearly and utterly ignorant of it.

Sing Sweetest In The Dark: Streams In The Desert, December 28th, 2013

“Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice” Philippians 4:4
“Sing a little song of trust,
O my heart!
Sing it just because you must,
As leaves start;
As flowers push their way through dust;
Sing, my heart, because you must.
“Wait not for an eager throng
Bird on bird;
‘Tis the solitary song
That is heard.
Every voice at dawn will start,
Be a nightingale, my heart!
“Sing across the winter snow,
Pierce the cloud;
Sing when mists are drooping low
Clear and loud;
But sing sweetest in the dark;
He who slumbers not will hark.”
“An’ when He hears yo’ sing, He bends down wid a smile on His kin’ face an’ listens mighty keerful, an’ He says, ‘Sing on, chile, I hears, an’ I’s comin’ down to deliber yo’: I’ll tote dat load fer yo’; jest lean hawd on Me and de road will get smoother bime by.”‘

Praise & Worship, Keith Green: December 27th, 2013

Without a doubt the music of Keith Green has had more of an impact on my life than any other Christian artist.  It’s been so long since his last album I’ve moved on to other music.  After watching his life story tonight I knew it was time for me to share his music.  If you’re reading this please take some time.  If you’ve strayed PLEASE take the time to listen to the last song. What a joy it was for me to put this list together. I pray you might be blessed.  Allan

Song List

1.  Love With Me (Melody’s Song)

2.  Song For Josiah-      Written for his young son.

3.  The Lord Is My Shepherd  (23rd Psalm)

4.  Oh Lord, You’re Beautiful

5.  Grace By Which I Stand

6.  Romans VII

7.  Make My Life A Prayer To You

8.  I Don’t Wanna Fall Away From You

9.  Dear John Letter (To The Devil)

10.  YOU

11.  Create In Me A Clean Heart

12.  You Put This Love In My Heart

13.  The Prodigal Son Suite  (Luke 15)

Christmas Is About Giving

Mail, newspapers, radio, television, and now the internet.  All are tools to help separate us from our money during the Christmas season which began in October!!  The message is clear.  SPEND!!

Through all of the advertising available companies are convincing us to spend it all!  Don’t have the cash?  It’s amazing how one can be so broke but have so many opportunities to obtain credit for the holidays.  So we spend what we don’t have for presents we can’t afford.

I’m not against gift giving at Christmas. It’s nice to give gifts to those you love.  As a grandparent it’s especially nice to see the kids open their presents.

I do have an issue with the fact that through the years we as a nation have pretty much dismissed the meaning of Christmas.  In my youth I would never have imagined that it would be offensive to  greet someone by saying “Merry Christmas.”  I wouldn’t have believed kids wouldn’t be allowed to sing Silent Night in our schools,  Nativity scenes in public are frowned upon. It’s a sad state of affairs.

As much as we’d all love to shower family and friends with presents for Christmas this year the reality is many of us can’t afford to.  Unemployment is sky-high.  Many are working at jobs that pay them much less than what they’ve earned in the past.  Homes sit empty all over the country.  Times are tough.  Yet we’re still bombarded with pleas to spend money we don’t have.  And the beat goes on.

Earlier this week my wife and I went on a walk through the neighborhood to look at Christmas lights.  It was quiet out and very brisk. We stopped and looked at many of the homes.  A few had beautiful nativity scenes set up in their yards. As we looked at the beautiful decorations and lights I felt very peaceful.  How fitting as we celebrate the coming of The Prince Of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6  For to us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be on His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

As I bemoan the huge effort to have us go into debt to give Christmas presents something seems to escape me.  Christmas is all about giving.  After all Christmas is the time we celebrate the birth of our Savior.

John 3:16  For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.

Those of us who are Christians have received the greatest gift of all, eternal life.  It won’t go out of style.  We can’t break it. Nobody can take it from us. Mistakes we have made don’t take it from us. And as eternal  life is a gift we can do nothing to earn it. It’s ours to receive freely.

I want to share specifically with those who have been impacted by mental illness.  All I want to say is I know.  I don’t know your circumstances but I know first hand about the JUNK.  I don’t have magical solutions.  No one does.  Know that I care about you deeply.  That’s why I do this blog.  I pray you have a wonderful Christmas.

We all have something to give to our God.  Please never forget that.   Allan

Come, they told me, pa rum pa pum pum A newborn King to see, pa rum pa pum pum Our finest gifts we bring, pa rum pa pum pum To lay before the King, pa rum pa pum pum, Rum pa pum pum, rum pa pum pum So to honor Him, pa rum pa pum pum When we come

Little baby, pa rum pa pum pum I am a poor boy too, pa rum pa pum pum I have no gift to bring, pa rum pa pum pum That’s fit to give our King, pa rum pa pum pum, Rum pa pum pum, rum pa pum pum Shall I play for You, pa rum pa pum pum On my drum On my drum

I play my drum for Him So to honor Him

Mary nodded, pa rum pa pum pum The ox and lamb kept time, pa rum pa pum pum I played my drum for Him, pa rum pa pum pum I played my best for Him, pa rum pa pum pum, Rum pa pum pum, rum pa pum pum Then He smiled at me, pa rum pa pum pum Me and my drum When we come

Me and my drum