Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Mama - Wipe My Tears

photo credit - society6.com 

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.

Psalm 56:8 NLT


Bethany:  intense pain on her right side, tender to touch, temp 100, chills and nausea. But tears were the final clincher for me to call our doctor! Tears are rare for Bethany, and she has a high tolerance for pain so tears and complaints of pain set off alarm bells in my brain. 

Our doctor had no openings for 2 days! After listening to the symptoms she asked us to go to the ER to rule out appendicitis. (Bummer - that's what I'd been afraid of.)

We checked into the ER about 4:30. The entourage of nurses and doctors, and tests began. 

The tears began in earnest (her and me) as the nurse poked and dug the needle this way and that, trying unsuccessfully to find a vein.  

I finally said, "Please, just leave it for now. Can get somebody else to do it?"

As she left the room, Bethany asked, "Mama, will you wipe my tears now? I'm too tired."  

As I wiped her tears and stroked her hair, I murmured how much I loved her, how proud I was of her. I wished I could just take her place. But all I could do was to be fully present in her pain and pray my love would comfort her.

But how much more is the Father heart of God? He didn't just "wish" He could take our place -- Jesus took our place; our pain, our sorrows, our suffering.

Image result for Jesus holds us
Photo credit- Trinity Mount Ministries
We toss and turn. He not only notices -- He is instantly moved with compassion and takes action.


Our lives are full of sorrow. He knows sorrow -- He knows grief. He covers us with His wings and shelters us from destruction.

Our hearts are overwhelmed and afraid. His heart beats one with ours and He whispers His love.

We cry. He wipes our tears and stores them in a bottle! He actually collects every tear!!!

Why?

Because His love compelled Him to rescue us from our sin and sorrows.

To the point of death. 

His death swallowed up death, hell, and the grave, for you, for me.

His life infuses us with new life and a good future.

In the appointed time, He will deliver us from the life of dangers, disease, disability, disappointment, and death. 

He is a God moved with compassion. He even stores up our tears. Someday, when we look at our bottle, we may understand just how much He cares!

***Thankfully, it was not appendicitis. The CAT scan/Xray revealed pneumonia and inflammation of the pericardial sac around the heart. Thank God for antibiotics, ER rooms, and most of all Jesus- who is with us every step of the way! It's been a week and Bethany is gaining strength every day!
 
Pray: Father God! Thank you for wiping our tears, for holding our hands through tough times, for never leaving us alone. Your love is more than we can comprehend! Help us through this life! 
In Jesus Name! Amen

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Dimetapp, Robitussin, Church and Grace

"Is that all you have for me?"

20 plus years of parenting knowledge condensed down to two words; Dimetapp and Robitussin. My secret ingredients revealed. I suppose you were expecting church and grace? Sorry to disappoint you, it's Dimetapp and Robitussin.

You see, in my house, if you are sick, it doesn't matter what your symptoms are, I am going to give you Dimetapp and Robitussin. It's my "go-to", my "power suit", my traveling snake oil salesman's "cure-all elixir". Okay, maybe I am getting a little carried away, but you get my point. 

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Corinthians 1: 3-4 NIV)

Praise be to God, I have thanked Him for those two medicines on many occasions when they have helped my sick children. I have also passed the knowledge of their comfort on to others when I have found them searching for medicine, whether they fit the symptoms they were describing or not. I would often laugh and joke that it didn't matter what the symptoms were, just give them Dimetapp and Robitussin...they cover most things.

(Just to be perfectly clear...I am in no way giving you actual medical and/or pharmacological dispensing advice!)

Not too long ago, in the hopes of connecting with other special needs moms and families, I inquired at our church about a special needs Bible study or group of some sort. (It's a large church with multiple campuses. I was open to anything.) They referred me to someone, who referred me to someone, who eventually called me. This person was very nice and truly seemed to be concerned about my family and our need to attend church together. (Even though that wasn't what I asked about.) We spent a great deal of time discussing our church attendance, our son, and his needs. We talked about things that might work for my husband and I to attend church together and a couple of things that they have in the works for newly diagnosed families. (This last thing she was sure I could appreciate the need for and remember what those early days were like, or at least I think that's what she said, my son was screaming for chicken.) I managed to slide in my original Bible study question a couple of times in our conversation, but never quite got the answer I was looking for. (A "We don't but maybe we could see if there is interest" might have been a nice response.)

I have to tell you, I hung up the phone a little grumbly; I felt a little square peg hammered into a round hole. I called my husband, "Apparently we have to attend church together before we can move on to the hallowed ground of Bible studies, small groups and the next level of Godliness."

His response, "Are you surprised?"

I was.

I was surprised.

I was surprised and I was grumbling, murmuring, and complaining.

So my husband listened, I ranted about inclusion and not fitting anywhere and then he said something about grace and we're all sinners and he had to go.

So I sat there, in my grumbling, for a couple of days.

Philippians 2:14 says "Do everything without grumbling and arguing." Different Bible versions use different words; grumbling, murmuring, complaining. Those words are listed first, before the words arguing or disputing, and that's important. They deal with our internal response to situations.

My internal response has been shaped by years of battling for services and inclusion for our son. We have lived through years of insisting he fits and belongs; that he should be included, in school and in the community. I needed grace, and after talking to a good friend who felt sure their heart was in the right place, my heart began to soften a little and remember to extend that same grace to others. 

That is when I realized...I had been Dimetapp and Robitussin-ed.

They responded to my symptoms with what they had and most importantly with what they knew worked. My husband and I know what it means to be able to attend church together during those early days and years of diagnosis. We have experienced a church being The Church and standing in that gap for us when we could not stand for ourselves and our family. It's good medicine, some of the best, and I thank God that our current church is there to dispense it to those in need.

It's just not the only need, and attending church together is not the only medicine. Sometimes it's not the right medicine, and that's ok. It's hard to meet every need and have all the answers; actually, it's impossible. I know that.

I also know that we are many unique members of the same body with our own purpose and needs, and most importantly, we are all under the care of a Creator and Healer who has a far greater repertoire of healing than Dimetapp and Robitussin.


So I will pray:

God our Father and Healer fill us with Your peace, remind us of Your grace and help us to always remember that You will meet every need and every symptom with exactly what is needed. God open our eyes and our hearts to those around us who reach out with needs that can not be met with what we have, expand our healing power beyond what we are familiar with, equip us. I pray that we see and recognize You meeting our needs and bringing healing through frustrating circumstances that so often leave us grumbling. Father help me to replace that grumbling with grace and extend it to others. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Monday, March 20, 2017

If I Didn't Laugh...

Copyright: nd3000 / 123RF Stock Photo
How we laughed and sang for joy. And the other nations said, 
“What amazing things the Lord has done for them.”
~ Psalm 126.2, TLB ~

It was a hurried, cranky morning as our family prepared for school and work. My two teenagers began yelling and quarreling over God-knows-what.

"Quiet, you two! You're making my eardrums bleed," I shouted.

"Hey! I'm the only one bleeding around HERE," my son shot back.

And given the fact that he was having a serious bleeding episode that was requiring him to infuse every single day for a week, the entire household began laughing. That's just how we roll in Dittrich-land. 

I have learned over the years that if I didn't laugh, all I would do is cry. And apparently, many of the mamas I serve feel the same way. The "dark" or "gallows" humor seems to lighten the load, even if for only a second. Giggling about the outrageous parts of our lives together creates a common bond.



Sometimes that humor is MAGNIFIED as we watch the typical world react to it. I've seen people's eyes bulge out, mouths fall open, or even recoil in horror as we laugh at our circumstances. People almost seem shocked, sometimes even downright uncomfortable, that we would mock our own difficulties.



Here's the secret the rest of the world may not know...
When we can laugh at something, we shrink its power over us.

If I can smirk, giggle, chuckle, or even be in tears produced by hysterical humor, then I own the situation rather than it owning me. My difficult circumstances become more of an annoyance than a total stressful meltdown when I can laugh. In humor, I gain perspective. I seize the joy of each moment as I let out my well-known, "SNORT!"

Furthermore, when people see us laughing in a life that they think should evoke nothing but tears, they want to know how we do it. What is the cause of our joy when we have, in their minds, every reason to live in despair? If they see a redeemed life, they just may realize that there IS a Redeemer.

So go ahead, warrior parent, laugh on! Show the world that your God is bigger than your troubles. And He has a sense of humor.


PRAY: Father, You tell us that "A cheerful heart is good medicine..." (Proverbs 17:22). Thank You for the balm of humor for our souls. Your Sovereignty frees us to laugh in the midst of our challenges, resting secure that You keep us and our children in Your constant care.

Friday, March 17, 2017

When Mom Guilt Tries to Take You Down

"In you, Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me; turn your ear to me and save me Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go;
give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress."
~Psalm 71:1-3, NIV

"Mom, there were only five kids left!" was what my son exasperated as I finally retrieved him from the car line.

Oh how I already knew this would most likely be the case. Yet, I was just glad he was not the last one. Mom Fail. Mom Guilt.

Earlier on, we had appointments with little time to fit in an emergency before the car line hour. However, I tried to fit it all in anyway, thinking I could do it all. Mom Fail. Mom Guilt.

I really made a fool of myself trying to rush and push all these things in a minimal amount of time.

Fear, worry, and anxiety won over again.

My emergency situation was for an extra anxious child who endured much shoulder pain for two days now. This was after I paid to take them to the trampoline park. Mom Fail. Mom Guilt.

My anxious child was in much pain (which she usually doesn't ever struggle with) and in tears over it on this day. If I didn't take her to get this shoulder injury checked out it would just escalate the anxiety. So I did what I had to do.

The-appointment-to-the-car-line-time-frame-window was so close that I walked out of the appointment without the sling she needed, because I could not wait any longer, at that action they rushed up to me to give it. And fit it. Which again, ate into the time I needed to get to my son on time. Mom fail. Mom guilt.

I raced to my son. Probably putting us in danger. I thought of a brilliant short cut which mocked me in the end, because I ended up in another school zone which made my trip even longer! Mom fail. Mom guilt.

I then shouted a curse word. Yes, shouted. Mom fail. Mom guilt.

I had to apologize for that curse word and the added anxiety I was putting them into as I tried to speed to get my son. Mom fail. Mom guilt.

Ultimately, we made it in time; barely. No harm was really done. Every trial we go through is to help us learn dependence on God. Yet, I was not looking to that shelter and rock that God was for me. I was looking to my own strength.


As I take refuge in Him, He will not let me be put to shame. He melts away all the mom guilt I feel as I rest in His rescue. I am NOT a failed mom because of His grace at work in me. He is my fortress and refuge and even in a crazy situation like above, moms, dads, grandparents, and guardians, remember you are perfectly loved. Rest in Him.

Prayer:
Lord, some days are ridiculous to us and sometimes we are ridiculous. Yet, this does not surprise you. You graciously wait for us to turn back to you and your shelter. Help us to always remember to keep our eyes on you so we might not sin. Thank you for receiving our confession and our pain and giving us hope. Parenting is hard but we can continue to learn from you, our perfect parent.

~Angela

Thursday, March 16, 2017

My Unveiled Eyes

Image Courtesy of Feelart/freedigitalphotos.net
But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.  
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, 
there is freedom.
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, 
and being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, 
which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.  
2 Corinthians 3:16-18 NIV

I think we often forget how ever-present God is. Especially when we see catastrophes and tragedies around us daily, and we get one diagnosis after another for our child...it's hard to see God working.
However, the other day, I saw God...
I was driving my daughter to speech therapy.  My husband was out of town for work, and we had a long week ahead of us with me substitute teaching at my daughter's middle school, plus one meeting or another going on every afternoon. I was utilizing the "peacefulness" of the ride to contemplate the assessment my daughter was about to have at speech therapy which would test her for Auditory Processing Disorder.
She's also legally blind, so, let's just say that my brain was kind of working in overdrive about what this all could mean for her future.
If any of you has a panic disorder, you'll understand how quickly PANIC sets in. For some reason I started to think to myself:
We are in a car, heading toward the highway. If we get in an accident, Jeff's not here in town to get to us quickly. What if I die in the accident and she has to wait for Jeff to get back here from Arizona?
Yes, these are the thoughts of panic that seize my brain on a routine basis. I call that voice my Green Goblin of Fear.

Anyway, the Green Goblin was having a good old time in my head, so I started to pray:
Heavenly Father, protect us. Protect our car. Protect the other drivers on the road. Get us through this day safely. Amen.
Very simple. Nothing fancy.

As we approached the on-ramp to the interstate, I noticed that traffic going the OTHER direction was at a stand still. Bummer. Glad we aren't going east.

I get onto our stretch of highway and proceed to move to the far left lane as I'll be staying on this road for a while and it will get me there faster. I'm driving in my far left lane and see that traffic ahead of me has stopped.

I break.
I stop in plenty of time, and without even throwing my purse from the passenger seat to the floor. Yay, me!
I look in my rearview mirror to see how the guy behind me is doing.

A black Jeep is pulling to a stop behind me. He's doing fine too. Excellent!
But, the next thing I know, the black Jeep is suddenly stopped directly to my left in the shoulder. Our driver's seats are lined up right across from each other.
My heart never skipped a beat. I never broke a sweat. I never thought, "Oh my goodness...what do I do?"
God had veiled my eyes with a very specific purpose~to show ME what I needed to see in my rearview mirror in order to KEEP ME SAFE.
Then He unveiled them. To show me how He had answered the prayer I had only uttered moments before. Because, had I SEEN the jeep behind me struggling to slow down, I would have gone left, into the shoulder to give him more room to stop. Had I NOTICED his inability to stop before hitting us, I would driven us directly into that same spot where his vehicle came to a stop.

How many times do we miss it? How many times do we NOT see His glory all around us? How many times does He save us and our family DAILY without our noticing?

Let's remember that God has a plan for our lives and for the lives of our children. Often times our prayers seem to go unanswered or feel like they take FOREVER; but, wow, when God unveils our eyes and we are able to SEE the answers and how He works; THAT is the glory of God we can cling to even on our most troublesome days.

Pray:  Father God, you save us DAILY from tragedies we may never know about. Thank you for your love, mercy and sovereignty. God, please help me to SEE you working in our lives. Help me to give You the glory and never take it for granted.

~Tammie Hefty