Friday, June 23, 2017

When You Are Tempted to Give Up

"But as for me, I am poor and needy;
    please hurry to my aid, O God.
You are my helper and my savior;
 O Lord, do not delay."

~ Psalm 70:5 ~
Today I am perplexed. My child who is high on the ASD spectrum is acting in a way that is "off." Usually, this is a warning to me that some sort of anxiety is brewing. But she cannot always express it so the "off" behaviors continue. One after another. Some being sinful behavior. I am becoming weary and I do not know how to respond.

Yet the only thing I can do is to cry out to God and He reminds me, "let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up" (Galatians 6:1, NLT). And the verse above promises that God is my helper and my Savior. I can trust Him as I cry out on behalf of my own heart and the heart of my child.

The Psalm above begins with a cry to put to shame those who try to kill us or delight in our troubles. The one who is actively trying to kill us is our enemy the devil. He would love to keep the heart of my child distracted away from God. He would love for me to stop crying out for her heart. He is who the battle is with, not our children.

In Ephesians, after Paul is talking about family order and roles he ends with the importance of the knowledge that our fight is not with flesh and blood but with the powers and principalities. He then gives us instruction on how to fight this spiritual battle. It is through prayer. And that is what I am doing as I pray back this Psalm for the sake of my child.

There are wise methods I can implement to try to help her as well. Like pointing her back to the word of God and discerning how she is trusting Jesus today as she behaves. These practical steps are also helpful yet the often neglected battle is mostly won through prayer. The circumstances may never change yet I can trust and put my hope in Christ who is at work restoring all things.

How do you become weary with your children?
Do you ever feel like you cannot keep doing what you are doing?
How do you help your child if they seem to not want help?

Lord, thank you for this community. It is hard to know what is going on when our children have unique needs. Thank you for your wisdom. Help us to cling tight to you and your promises. We are needy and desperate for you.

~Angela Parsley

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Just Following God is Enough

“You shall be careful therefore to do as the Lord your God has commanded you. You shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.” 
Deuteronomy 5:32 (ESV)

I must confess that I am a naturally self-absorbed and stubborn individual. I like figuring things out on my own, blazing my own trail and standing my ground. Admittedly, this is rarely the best course of action, especially as a leader, and I am grateful that God has brought enough people into my life over the years to show me that following God just might be the better course of action.

As a prime example, when my wife and I were dating we attended a UCLA football game at the Rose Bowl. The parking there is primarily located on the golf course next door and after the game, I became disoriented regarding where the car was and we spent several hours walking in circles until we finally found the car. I wasn’t truly worried until we saw the flashing lights of tow trucks entering the golf course. While we were able to laugh and joke during our journey, my wife-to-be had stated at the outset where she believed the car was parked. I, of course, ignored her, set about on my merry way and eventually ended up right where she had first suggested.

How often do we treat God in a similar manner? He has blessed us with the Holy Spirit who is a daily guide to keep us on the path that God has designed for us. If only we would slow down, listen, and then respond appropriately. Unfortunately, we often find ourselves living more like Pinocchio who completely ignores Jiminy Cricket, winds up in a world of hurt, and must be swallowed by Monstro the whale before we finally decide that that still small voice just might know a thing or to.

In this passage in Deuteronomy, God reveals His heart’s desire that we would always fear Him, follow His commands and trust that He has great plans for each of us.

We are commanded to learn His commandments and expectations. We are encouraged to never turn from them and go our own way. As we remain in a worshipful place of awe concerning God, this becomes easier to attain.

Once I begin to lose sight of who God truly is, I begin to think I am king of my own world again.

Why does any of this matter? How is just following God enough? Because of the promises that are tied to our following. It will go well with us and our families. We will live long and have abundant life and experience the blessings that our Almighty God desires to pour out in our lives. Does this mean we will never have stress, or bills to pay, or other discomforts of life? Absolutely not! But in the midst of it, we know that we are following a loving and merciful God who will never leave us high and dry.

Be encouraged that regardless of what it might feel like in the midst of your circumstance, just following God is truly enough. He will guide your steps, overwhelm you with peace and provide the strength and grace for the day. Let’s prayerfully be a bit less like Pinocchio today and a bit more like Isaiah who simply said, “Here I am, Lord. Send me!”

Dear God, thank You for Your love and Your desire to have an abundant relationship with me. I confess that all too often I take my own path and end up somewhere I really don’t want to be. Help me to listen to Your Spirit, to know Your commandments, but most importantly, to follow You every day! Amen. 

~ Mike

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Oh Help, Not Again! that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience.
(Colossians 1:10-11, NIV)

I have just finished finding (again), folding (again) and putting away (again) my little one’s clothes. She has this habit when stressed and wanting different clothes, she opens each drawer in turn and wildly flings and throws the clothes behind her into the room until she finds something she can tolerate the thought of wearing… it’s wearing (what else would it be!).

There are a few things in family life that really try my patience. Other things that might drive someone else mad I can handle, but for me here are my (at the moment) absolute top 5 "Not again!" things:

- shoe scuffs on those bits of board at the bottom of the kitchen cupboards/skirting boards

- finding clothes that I have washed and folded in a tumbling heap rather than put away

- clothes pulled (or wildly flung) out of drawers to find things

- when I’ve done something to help a perfectly adequate way, and then have to do it all again the ‘right’ way for it to be acceptable

- when I’m talking to someone and one of my little ones is pulling (clawing) on my clothes and face and talking right through everything else to get my full attention

"Oh Help!" is so often simply an exasperated sigh or frustrated shout in the midst of those things that really try my patience. But I am challenged by this verse to turn "Oh Help!" moments into a conscious prayer for strength. It’s an amazing thought that we can be strengthened with God’s mighty power – not just for the remarkable moments when we exercise amazing faith, or when we feel prompted to some courageous action by the Holy Spirit, or for speaking a timely or wise prophetic word – we can be strengthened with God’s mighty power so we can be patient, and endure! Strengthened for the often unseen daily living out of faith in action, and speaking truth in love… the unseen daily ins and outs that we are quick to overlook as amazing, courageous, and wise godliness.
As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us. (Colossians 1:10-11, MSG)
We may feel at times that this everyday stuff isn’t valuable enough to warrant God’s attention let alone the full strength of his mighty power at work within us as we fold those clothes, again, and again. Yet it seems God delights in pouring that strength into us. He sees. He recognizes the value of these moments. He hears our cry – it’s time to turn my "Oh Help!" sighs and shouts into expectant prayer.

Powerful God, when I am facing situations that try my patience today give me strength to endure patiently and act wisely as your mighty strength fills me and encourages me to live today with amazing faith, courageous love, and wise godliness. Amen.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

We Can Not Help But Speak

Our daughter's broken and displaced thumb.
"As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard."
 Acts 4:20 NIV

Here is what I have seen and heard this week:

8,000 paint samples

"Cooper drank all the milk."

"You will need two gallons of paint." (I bought one, guess what...I needed two.)

The constant dinging of an emergency brake light that will not go off.

"We were in an accident. The ambulance took Wesley to the hospital"

"Her thumb is broken and she will need surgery."

Dog poop on the rug by the front door.

"Let's take the kids to Magic Springs today."

"Why are you not doing any laundry?"

"Junie peed in her crate."

My 11-year-old daughter holding on to her 17-year-old brother's hand as we navigated our way through the water park.

"Chicken, yes!"

"Cookies, yes!"

The smile on Coopers face while he rode a roller coaster.

"What's for dinner?"

Two little girls working hard to help paint their bedroom.

"Have you seen my...?"

An X-ray of a broken displaced thumb.

"What's for breakfast?"

Cute flip flops that my husband brought home for me.

"Can we go to Target?"

"Let's go get a milkshake."

The Bible verses my children highlighted on the Bible app that I didn't slow down long enough to read.

"I'm going to have to take your car to the shop, you don't need it today do you?"

Empty medicine bottles that need to be refilled.

A sink overflowing with dirty dishes.

and a lot of other stuff...

You have stuff too.

I have to not had one moment to myself. I know that sounds selfish and some of you may laugh that I feel frazzled from that list. I know many of you are dealing with far more and things that are far more serious.

I don't think this list is exactly what is meant by speaking of what we have seen and heard. But this was my week and I am tired. I don't feel like I hear God speaking to me through this mess. So when I sit down to try and share my thoughts with you on how we should "boldly speak"...

I just want to be quiet. 

I get tired and discouraged and I want to quit.

I like to pull myself inside my shell and hide.

But I don't think I was called to hide, and neither were you.

I was called to speak and to write, and that is not always easy or comfortable.

You were not called to easy or comfortable and neither was I.

Often I think, "God is this even doing any good to share, to speak."

Then I recall those words from Acts 4:20 and they remind me "we can not help but speak of what we have seen and heard."

This little line is tucked into many verses that tell a story about two apostles, Peter and John. These two had front row seats for Jesus and his ministry. They were followers, followers who were changed by the existence of Jesus.

They were bold.

I am changed by the existence of Jesus.

I am changed by the existence of my son, a child given to us with a uniqueness that inspires and ignites a kind of boldness I never knew existed.

Each one of us has a unique purpose, designed to glorify God through helping others and pointing them toward Him.

We were created with the same unifying purpose of glorifying God, yet each one of us is given a unique way of doing that.

I am worn, maybe you are too right now.

We are not alone.

So I will write, and speak.

I am bold, you are too.  

So I will pray this prayer for us:

The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name' sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil:
For thou art with me;
Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies;
Thou annointest my head with oil;
My cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.

Psalm 23 KJV

Monday, June 19, 2017

3 Tips for Dealing With The Fadeaway Friend

Photo image courtesy of Marcisim via
A friend loves you all the time,
and a brother ·helps in [L is born for a] time of trouble.
Proverbs 17:17, EXB

I ran into her when I was out shopping the other day. We had a pleasant exchange sharing the latest with our kids before each going our separate ways to finish shopping. It was great to see her.

If you have a child with a chronic illness or disability, you very well may have someone like her in your life as well -- the fadeaway friend.

She is the friend who I used to see all the time at the fun group parties we attended back when our lives were "normal." We collected hilarious memories of silly things like adult scavenger hunts or summer street dances. She even visited after our son was diagnosed... And then I stopped seeing her. 

The invitations to parties or dinner with friends just disappeared. Life became isolated and lonely. Everybody seemed like their lives were carrying on so well... except us. The contrast between their lives and ours became more pronounced over time. While we were in the emergency room, they were on Harley rides through the hills. While we were paying for therapies, they were on adventures. Have I mentioned how lonely we felt?

How are parents, are PEOPLE like us to deal with this sort of thing without becoming bitter?

Here's what I have learned over the years:

  1. Some friendships are only for a season of life. Cherish the good times and memories from each season. But know that when a void is left in your life from the loss of one friendship, God will fill that space in your heart with a new one. Although I can become sad and wistful recalling the friends that have moved on since our child's diagnosis, I truly cherish the new friends the Lord has brought into my life. I wouldn't trade either group of friends for the world, and I don't have to. What a grace! Through adversity, God expanded my experience and my friendships!
  2. People get compassion fatigue. When our child is first diagnosed, we do what I call "the information puke." We can't help it. This experience needs to be processed by discussing it out loud. But we often talk about it with everyone all the time. Not living through this sort of experience themselves, people are at a loss for what to say. And even if we don't do the information dump, many people are repelled because what we are living is their worst nightmare. Their fight-or-flight response kicks in and they take off running. Please know that they are not fleeing from you, but from the pain. This can also reveal who is a true friend and who is merely an acquaintance. A true friend will "love at all times" and press into the discomfort rather than fleeing.
  3. Don't give up. Persistence is key when you would find it easier to curl up in a corner and feel sorry for yourself. Yours may be the only family living with disability or chronic illness that others have a chance to really know. Keep inviting that fadeaway friend. Love them rather than respond with disdain. Get out and do other things that don't involve your child's diagnosis so you can continue to expand your horizons and your friendships. This gives you the opportunity to be a positive living example to the typical world. In doing so, you become a powerful testimony to the fallacy that life with exceptional needs is not a life worth living. You are God's tool to push back ignorance and increase acceptance. You are a light in the darkness, but you must be willing to shine brightly rather than fizzle out in frustration. As the adage goes, to have a friend, be a friend.
This is hard work. It can be much easier to retreat to our natural human response, and even at the best of times, we still will. But if we are willing to let the Holy Spirit work in and through us, we can ultimately have a much brighter family story. God will wipe away those tears of losing friendships and restore us with new purpose if we cooperate.

I would much rather have that be my experience than descending into a permanent state of bitterness. Wouldn't you?

Pray with me...

Lord, You tell us in Your word that a friend loves at all times. Help me to BE that friend to others when they fade out of my life or abandon me. Exchange my bitterness for brightness. Rather than expecting compassion from ignorant people, Holy Spirit, do Your work in me so that I am extending compassion to THEM. Make me a reflection of Your glory so that when others see me they want to draw closer to You.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Celebrating the Family Cornerstone

"Gather, children, to hear your father’s instruction.
    Pay close attention so you will understand..."
~ Proverbs 4:1, VOICE ~

What is it that makes a dad so remarkable? 

Good or bad, virtually everyone has a thought on their father. Some have fond, sweet sentiments towards their dad. Others have horrible emotions from abuse, alcoholism, or infidelity related to their fathers. Even if a dad has never been in the picture, his absence is felt. Men truly don't realize the emotional impact they have on a family.

And THAT is what makes a dad so very noteworthy.

Dad is the family cornerstone. As Dad goes, so goes the family.
One only needs to look to the Bible to see how essential fathers have been and continue to be since the dawn of humanity:
  • The self-revealing God gives us the image of "Father" to foster relationship with Him. He could pick any mind picture to establish His role in each of our lives, but He chose that image of Father. Not boss. Not oppressor. Loving Father. This image sets the standard for all human fathers in this world.
  • The word "father" is used over 1,000 times in the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible. It is safe to assume that the family patriarch plays a pretty critical role in the world if God speaks about him this frequently.
  • A father is a portrayed as a provider in the Bible. Perhaps this is why a man's self-worth seems hardwired to his role as a breadwinner. The weight of this responsibility is often so onerous for a dad that he loses sleep or becomes emotionally vacant over it. Insurance woes and relentless medical bills only add to the heaviness and concern. What a gift of stability a dad gives to his family when he reports for work each day!
  • Dads are the family protector. "Shelter," "refuge," "shield," and "strong tower" are all words used in Scripture to describe God's protection. Those same words are an apt description for our earthly fathers as well. No one scares away the Boogey Man, squashes a hairy spider, or comforts during life's most frightening moments quite like Dad. 
  • Discipline is another gift a father gives to the children he loves. Dad knows that this will shape the character of his offspring preparing them for competency in adulthood. Again, God models this parenting skill with setting boundaries, redirecting behavior, and imparting insights. This takes an extra measure of patience when a child is on the autism spectrum or has behavioral challenges.
  • A father's love is distinctive from a mother's. In addition to the other characteristics named above, a dad's love is expressed in pleading on behalf of his child and in a quiet, intimate pride. The Gospel of John beautifully illustrates this love between Jesus and God the Father. 
Strength, wisdom, and loving care are all hallmarks of our family cornerstone. And even if he falls short, Dad deserves our respect. 

Big applause, today, for the man who has big demands and high expectations placed on his life. Please know that you have a matchless role model in your Heavenly Father, and you are so very loved by the family who has been entrusted to your care.

Pray with me...

Heavenly Father, I give thanks for You and Your role in my life. I also ask you to bless these remarkable dads who are raising exceptional children today. Grant them an extra measure of rest and encouragement. And help each father to depend on You because we are depending on them!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Second Look Saturday - 2

It's Father's Day weekend! Do you have big plans with Dad? 

As my children scheme and work on ideas for their father up until the last minute, I can't help but think back on Bobby Lanyon's post from February 23, 2016: Your Spouse Is Not Your Enemy. It just never seems that we mother's feel the same devotion to our husbands on Father's Day as they do for us on Mother's Day. It is almost expected that we women will be treated like queens, showered with gifts, wined and dined. Yet, the guys are supposed to feel grateful to get yet another tie and, if they're lucky, a good steak to grill for themselves. 

I'll admit it. I have been guilty of it over the years. I have harbored this poor attitude that I carried so much more of the parental load, so I deserve to be celebrated while my husband merely deserved to be somewhat acknowledged.

Give his whole piece a re-read and answer the following questions in the comment section after this post...

  • When do you feel that it's most difficult to stop treating your spouse like the enemy?
  • What would you think of someone else if they responded toward their mate like you do towards yours?
  • How could you gain more of a team mindset, remembering you are fighting the same enemy?