Friday, October 24, 2014

The Problem with Fear and Anxiety Disorders

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." ~2 Timothy 1:7

Fear. It has a way of dealing with us in the most deceptive ways. It can come at you in full force without hiding or it can just sneak up on you like a ninja ready to fight. However, I think the worst kind of fear is the low level, day by day, fear that is fed to us little by little by the media or other constant fear-mongering sources.

We don't need help with fear. The media exposure just enhances that for us. Our minds will hold on to fear all on their own. Yet the outside influences of this present age could be petrifying.

Yet, we see that God did not give us a spirit of fear but a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline. Did you hear that? The only fear we should have is fear of God. God gave us a spirit of power, such power by His spirit that resurrected Christ from the dead (Ephesians 1:19-20). That power lives in us. That kind of power has no need for fear.

Also, by His spirit we are given a spirit of love. Scripture tells us that God's perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18). The Father chose us before time began, knew we would need saving, sent His perfect Son Jesus to restore us by taking our deserved punishment only to make us right before God. What kind of love is this?! We don't deserve it, can never earn it, but just because He so chose us, He did all we needed to be right with Him. He is a pursuing and rescuing God. He put that amazing spirit of love in us. In that there is no room for fear.

Then the passage says He gave us a spirit of self-discipline which also can refer to a sound mind. In HIM, we do not have to submit to fear. God by His promise and the Holy Spirit that indwells within us can move us from the bondage of fear.

I write this all today because I have a high anxiety child in my house and when the articles start coming out about terrorists, children being beheaded because of their faith, the spread of Ebola and Ebola scares this induces a grand amount of anxiety and bondage to fear.

But these type of trials do give us opportunity to trust God and His promises. An opportunity to learn to take those anxieties and make them obedient to Christ and His word. We must practice and discipline our minds to not stay focused on fear. By disciplining our minds to focus on the cross and what Christ did for us, little by little we will be set free from fears grip.

PRAY:  Father, we thank you for being our stronghold. We thank you that you are in control of all things. We thank you we can trust you! Help us to hold tight to your promises and focus on You alone. In Jesus Name. Amen.

~Angela

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Devoted to Doing Good

Photo Courtesy of Gualberto 107/freedigitalphotos.net
Do everything you can to help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way and see that they have everything they need. Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives.  Titus 3:13-14

This week we embark on a new adventure.  For 10 years we were seeing the same doctors in Madison, WI.  They had seen us through good times and bad.  They had delivered us both exciting news and devastating news.  They had become trusted, loyal, and steadfast companions in our WAGR Syndrome journey.  

But that chapter comes to a close and we now turn our eyes to the medical professionals in California.  They don't know us.  They don't know our history.  They don't know I'm a blogger.  They don't know we're Christians.  They don't know that we count on prayer as much as we do medicine.  They don't know that Evie still rocks back and forth to sooth herself so she always has snarled hair on the back of her head.  They don't know how amazing she is at singing and dancing...or that her speech didn't really develop until she was 4 or 5...that she didn't walk until she was closer to 3. 
They don't know.
I have to remember this. 
I also have to remember that God has instructed us, through Paul, to devote ourselves to doing only what is good.  That means I cannot easily become frustrated, nor quick to anger as we acclimate ourselves and our doctors to this new chapter in our lives.  

This could be the most challenging part for me, because when I feel confused I get frustrated, and when I get frustrated I panic, and when I panic I cry and can't hold my emotions in...it's hard to DO GOOD when you can't control your thoughts; when you can't control your emotions.

I think I'll write out a note card for the binder that I carry to appointments ~the card will read:
Do ONLY what is GOOD in order to LIVE a PRODUCTIVE life. 
I'll give you a brief example of what I've already had to do concerning one of the appointments.  

I received a call from the oncology group we will see in California.  The person who called to get us scheduled gave me a date which was only about 3 days away from when she called.  I said, "I'm sorry, but I can't pull her out of school this early in the school year.  Can we schedule something for October?" She offered me a date in October, but it was quite early in the morning which led me to ask, "Will she have an ultrasound performed before the appointment?"  (After all, why meet with an oncologist if you don't have a current "picture" of the area that once had cancerous tumors, right?).  She told me "no" that "we don't schedule those without a referral."  I said, "Okay, I'll give our primary doctor a call and get that referral."  Her tone was quite huffy with everything she said, so I even tried to smooth things over by saying, "Please, don't be offended.  We are new here, and everything was done in one hospital in Madison.  This is new to me."  

To make a long story short, every conversation I've had with this person has felt "yucky".  She's been short with me; inflexible, and sarcastic.  "Do you have a copy of your daughter's ultra sound to give to the oncologist?" she asked the last time I spoke with her, "I KNOW you don't want to see the doctor without it...". 
Do ONLY what is GOOD in order to LIVE a PRODUCTIVE life.
I'll admit; I'm afraid to meet her face to face.  I'm afraid that I'll lose my cool.  I'm afraid that I will lose the filter that holds all my biting come-backs inside of me.  When this post publishes at 6 am CST, we will be just leaving our house to drive the 2 1/2 hours to our appointments.  
If you could, please say a prayer for me.  

Pray:  Father God, I need the Holy Spirit to take over my heart and my emotions.  When I'm not focused on you, my human side takes over; the selfish, threatened, bitter part of me that says "Why do we have to go through all of this???".  Take my heart and soften it as I communicate with the professionals with whom we come into contact.  I want them to see Jesus through my words, actions, and faith.  The only way I can do that is by doing good, and living a productive life with a legacy of peace, forgiveness and patience behind me.  Amen.

~Tammie Hefty

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

In the Storm


When you pass through the waters,
   I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
   they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
   you will not be burned;
   the flames will not set you ablaze.
Isaiah 43:2 (NIV)


My family is in a storm now. It’s scary, and we don’t know what the outcome will be. The situation is spiraling out of control, despite our best efforts to keep it in check. It’s in God’s hands, and we’re struggling to stay focused on Him and trust that He will tenderly care for us and see us safely through to the other side. As I contemplate our situation and try to struggle through to the peace beyond comprehension (Philippians 4:7), I remember another storm I faced . . . .


Last week, I had to travel to a conference to fulfill some contractual obligations. Severe weather was predicted for later in the day, but I kept hoping and praying that the weather would hold until I got home. I had gotten up at 4:00 am to travel two hours to the conference. I was tired and hungry, and I didn’t feel very alert.


To try to remedy those issues, I stopped and got something to eat (along with some caffeine in the form of iced tea). Then I stopped to put some gasoline in my vehicle, and I headed home. The problem was that the skies had gotten very dark and were filled with ominous clouds. I could see flashes of lightning in the distance. I began praying that I would get through the mountains and to the interstate before the bottom dropped out.


God heard my prayer. I made it safely through the twists and turns of the mountains, where there was no cell phone signal. I called my husband to let him know where I was, took a short break, and got back on the road. It was interstate all the way, and I was praying that I would make it home before the weather got worse.


I made it five miles before the bottom dropped out.


It rained so hard that I could hardly see. I kept begging God to let me see the solid line on the shoulder. That was my guide for driving in the storm. I stayed focused on that line and drove right alongside it to keep myself in my lane. The rain let up periodically, but the lightning was terrible. The bolts splitting the sky from clouds to ground in the darkness made it very difficult for me to see. My eyes couldn’t adjust quickly enough from dark to light to dark again. The flashes were going off all around me. Then the rain would start up again. I was tired and terrified.


I did the only thing I knew to do. I prayed, and then I sang every praise song that came to mind---as loudly as I could sing it. I’m sure I didn’t remember the words or tunes perfectly, but my heart was in the right place. I wanted my Creator and Redeemer to know that I remembered Him in the middle of the storm, that I was crying out to Him with everything I had, that I knew He was all I had and all I needed.


He met me there. He reminded me I wasn’t alone with a peace that made no sense in the rather desperate situation I found myself in---alone in a rural area of Southwest Arkansas, a raging storm, no street lights, and so tired I was almost ill. The peace was real, and so was the assurance that He was going to see me through the storm, that I wasn’t alone, and that He had the whole situation in hand.


As I look at the storm my family is entering now, I remember that storm and the sense of relief I felt when I finally arrived home to my family. I know we will come through this storm with that same sense of relief. I know that God will see us through. What we need to do now is turn to Him with all that is in us, giving Him all that concerns us and then praising Him with everything in us, reminding ourselves that He is with us, He is powerful, He loves us, and He is good.


Pray: Father, thank You for Your peace and the assurance of Your presence during life’s storms. Help us to keep our minds and hearts focused on You so we can receive that peace that doesn’t make sense, the peace that keeps us going when we can’t see the way. Thank You for Your love and care for us. Amen.

~ Jennifer A. Janes

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Perseverance Through Seasons of Change

Photo image courtesy of Arnel Manalang via 123rf.com

"Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
    wisdom and power are his. 
He changes times and seasons;
    he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
    and knowledge to the discerning.
He reveals deep and hidden things;
    he knows what lies in darkness,
    and light dwells with him..."
~ Daniel 2:20-22 ~

Have you ever found a really great teacher for your child?  Someone who discerns just how much to push, while still maintaining incredible compassion?  Someone who is so effective that they just bring the best out of your child?  Then the school year comes to an end.  A new one starts, and the current teacher that leads your child is nothing like that one who had your child thriving.

Or have you worked on figuring out a part of your child's treatment, one that's given you trouble?  After years of learning your child's rhythms or physical cues, you finally get it down.  The difficulty is controlled.  Crises are far less frequent.  Life is normalized.  Then suddenly, your child goes through a growth spurt, or puberty, and you are right back to square one, feeling lost, confused, and upset at returning to an unpredictable life.

CHANGE...  It is an inevitability of life.

While there's so much of us that wants change for our children, there's also a huge part that doesn't.  Change signifies growth, increased ability, hope, and newness.  However, change can also bring turmoil, bewilderment, uncertainty, and fear.  Often times the ugly parts of these seasons of transition lead us to the good ones.

That's where life gets icky for parents like us.  Face it, there's an extra measure of exhaustion in parenting children like ours.  Problems are a bit more complex.  We CRAVE for something to be simple... dare I say it, normal...  even if it is our own, revised standard of normal.  The challenges of change upset that apple cart, often robbing us of that elusive desire.

Because parents like us are frequently in this precarious season of change more than once, we are in a unique position to learn God's deep truth in ways typical families are not -- Circumstances may change, but our faithful God remains constant.  

In today's devotional passage, Daniel is at a crossroads.  Taken into captivity to Babylon with Israel's best and brightest, Daniel faces execution along with all of the other wise men of the kingdom, because no one can describe the king's dream to him or interpret it.  Rather than fixing his eyes on the dire circumstances swirling around him, Daniel turns to an unchanging God, who he knows is capable of intervening in this situation.  A confession of praise goes out from his mouth, proclaiming God's faithful reliability, even through the tumult of change.

If the Lord is so clearly reliable in a major situation affecting an entire nation like this, can we not trust him in the changes of our children's lives?  He assures us in James 1:17, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." (NIV; Emphasis mine)  We may have no clue what is going on with our child or how to exactly improve things in the immediate-term, but our Maker does.

When we feel battered about by unwelcome change, God is there not only as our anchor, but also to help us adapt.  No other hope can establish our perseverance like this constancy of our Eternal Father.

PRAY:  LORD, happy are the adaptable!  Thank You for offering the hope of that adaptation in me.  Holy Spirit, remind me when changes and turmoil discourage, that You are there with unshifting reliability.  May Your Name be praised for such faithfulness!

~ Barb Dittrich



Monday, October 20, 2014

The Prayer I Was Scared to Pray

"Overwhelmed" by puck90 via Flickr
Oh, that you would bless me, indeed,
and enlarge my territory.
That your hand would be on me
that you would keep me from evil
that I might not cause pain.
~ 1 Chronicles 4:10 NLT ~

The first time I read the Prayer of Jabez, I was horrified. That second phrase - and enlarge my territory - sounded like the scariest prayer I had ever heard; almost as terrifying as praying for patience. 
I am a Step-Mom/Mom of four boys: two of which have multiple disabilities (ages 10 and 18) and two of which are just starting to act more like humans, rather than wild animals (ages 3 and 4). I can not imagine why anyone would ask for MORE areas of responsibility. I was certain this would be a disastrous prayer for me to pray. Yet, as the day progressed, I could not stop thinking about Jabez's prayer. Finally, I gave in to researching the prayer further, even though I was still not ready to commit to praying it.
God took that one "inch" I gave him and made it a mile in the very first resource I stumbled upon. The Prayer of Jabez 30 Day Challenge broke the prayer into five easy-to-digest parts with clear explanations. I jumped right to the phrase that concerned me the most and was shocked and immediately revived beyond belief at what I read!
"Ask God to allow you to do more for him and his kingdom.  As your territory (opportunities to serve him) expands, your ability and resources supernaturally increase, too.  All he gives us to do, he will empower us to do by his Holy Spirit." - Sharing Hope Ministry Amarillo, TX
I am not asking for more exhaustion, more dread, more toil, wear and tear on my day.  I am asking for more opportunities to SERVE HIM. This is his yolk and his burden, which are easy and light (Mt. 11:28-30)!  And God doesn't just leave me alone to serve him, he increases his power and influence within me so that I may serve in power, love and self-discipline (2 Tim. 1:7)! This prayer is layer upon layer of the very things God promises us in the New Testament!

This prayer is already at work in my life and these words are the primary reason I am still able to smile (even if it's an internal, not external display) at the end of each day. These words are his own promises and gifts he wants for us. When I pray along with Jabez, I am basically saying to God that I want what HE wants for me. I want his promises. I want to be fulfilled by his ways, not my own. 

Now every day I voice this prayer with confidence and joy rather than fear and uncertainty. And every day it becomes just a little bit easier to see things from HIS perfect perspective, which makes my territory a little less painful and the temptation to "check out" a little less appealing. 

PRAY: Dear Lord, bless me indeed and enlarge my territory.  That your hand would be on me, that you would keep me from evil, that I might not cause pain.  Amen. 

- Emily Krill

Saturday, October 18, 2014

"Are You Serious" Awards - Volume XXXV: The Repugnant Politician Edition


I know my expectations are not realistic.  We live in a fallen world.  Our behavior is so far from the loveliness of heaven, some days it isn't even funny.

Nevertheless, there are some roads I wish we humans just wouldn't venture down.

Attacking a political candidate on the basis of their disability just ought to be one of those things, in my mind.  Yet, that is exactly what Texas gubernatorial candidate, Wendy Davis, did this week.  You can watch her controversial political ad on her YouTube channel

This commercial opens by focusing on her opponent's wheelchair, made necessary by an injury accident.


The ad, which frames his paralyzing injury with a dark voice, then goes on to attack Greg Abbott's voting record on a number of issues, including disability rights and tort reform.

What I find truly sad is the fact that these points all could have been powerfully made without casting Greg Abbott's paralysis in a negative light.

Are you SERIOUS?!

This particular ad is so beyond distasteful because it carries a dark, implied undertone.  It's as if the underlying message is, "Don't vote for this man because you feel sorry for him.  He's not really inspiring.  He's just using his wheelchair, his disability to trick you.  He's really evil.  He wants to hurt people who are injured like he is.  What a horrible man!"

I don't know about you, but I get tired of being caught in the cross hairs of ugly politics as I advocate for my loved ones with chronic illness or special needs.  I really don't like that the disabled are considered to be a voting block that is largely controlled by one political party.  No one side is right 100% of the time.  Reasonable people should be able to disagree without all of the venom and vitriol that have overrun this nation in ever-increasing measure over the past four decades.  

What sort of sad descent have we taken in embracing our utter depravity when we cannot disagree with a person's ideas or point of view without completely assaulting them personally?  Adding to that an attack shredding a candidate's character because they had a disabling accident should be considered beyond what any decent person of any political persuasion would think acceptable.

Frankly, this political ad goes too far.  And for that, the Wendy Davis campaign is the most unenviable winner of this week's award.

~ Barb Dittrich