Thursday, April 24, 2014

When God Says No to a Mother's Heart Cry

"Yet even when you do pray, your prayers are not answered, because you pray just for selfish reasons" (James 4:3, CEV).

"Please, God, Please don't let my daughter have autism," I cried out as the reality of it pierced my heart. It was a prayer I spoke silently in my heart several years prior. There were moments when I knew something was different. Those moments when all the toys had to be in a line perfectly or enduring fits thrown that seemed out of proportion because I had no idea what went wrong. These little but distinct things were things I secretly held in my heart and I cried out to God.

Fast forward to age eight. Things continued to solidify my suspicions. As her peers moved out of the concrete thinking stage, could enjoy jokes, and started learning social cues, my girl floundered. All the suspicions stored up in my heart compacted. I felt a pain in my gut. I prayed, cried, and freaked out. I reacted in fear.

BUT, God's "perfect love casts out all fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us" (1 John 4:17-19). I had been selfishly worrying about how this all would effect me. I feared the "punishment" of this. I had my own plans, dreams and ideas about my life and special needs was not part of it.

Those truths were so hard for me to admit but they were true. I would not chose this life on my own if I had a clean slate to pick from, however, living it now I can see it is the best plan for us. God is wise and good in His foreknowledge and planning of our lives. He will work out everything for our good and use it to conform us into the image of His Son (Romans 8:28-29). This is most important.

God chose to answer my prayer with no. We did get an autism diagnosis of Asperger's. When I look at it now I see the blessing in it. My entire family is more mindful of others because of the path we daily walk. We are more empathetic and helpful to others struggling in life. We take note of others with these same daily challenges that many others do not see. Most importantly it does allow us the opportunity to die daily to ourselves and cling to our Savior, our constant source of strength. As we follow His pattern of laying our lives down, we then rise up in greater strength. Death to self must come before the resurrection of strength in Him.

As a good Father, God saw this path as best for us. I also know my aspie girl is thankful for how God made her wonderfully and fearfully (Psalm 139). How He did not make a mistake as He knit her together in my womb (Psalm 139). She is thankful to be unique and would not change it. I would not either for we trust God's great plan for us in and through the challenges of it. We embrace it and rely fully on Christ.

Prayer: Father, help us to embrace the greater plan you have for our lives even when we do not understand or do not like it. Help us to trust you and allow our trials to conform us into the image of Christ. Help us to see others and help when we can. Help us to comfort others as you comfort us. In Jesus Name. Amen.


~Angela Parsley

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Gas, Giggles, and a God-sized YES!



And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:1-2 NLT


I’m reading Rhinestone Jesus by Kristen Welch (as part of the book's launch team), and I have cried and prayed my way through half of the book so far. I have begged God to show me what my God-sized YES is, what He would have me do that’s bigger than myself for the good of others and for His glory. I don’t know what I expected. Maybe I thought my husband would come to me with some idea for ministry or missions for our family. Maybe I thought God would birth a crazy dream in my heart that hadn’t been there the day before. Maybe I thought my story would look a lot like Kristen’s.


It doesn’t. What I got instead was a Maundy Thursday service at a church in the denomination my husband grew up in, which is a very liturgical church and very different from what my daughter is used to. (Are any red flags going up for you yet? Clue: Different.)


Everything went well until the minister began to present his devotional thoughts on the Scripture reading. His demeanor did not set well with our daughter. She became very agitated and started trying to whisper to me to convey her displeasure. I was whispering back to tell her that we would talk about it after the service when I smelled it. Yes, you know what. I looked at her, and she was, to her credit, trying to squeak out an “Excuse me.” But she was also about to break down in hysterical giggles.


I quickly led her out of the sanctuary and downstairs to a bathroom, where I let her vent about her perceptions of the minister and had her go to the bathroom so the giggles wouldn’t turn into an embarrassing incident of another kind. After she had giggled for a while, I asked her to please hold on for a little longer, for her daddy’s sake. She agreed to try, and we returned to the service. My husband and I made eye contact and tried not to break down into a fit of giggles ourselves.


And that’s when it hit me. Sometimes the God-sized YES in our lives is the seemingly small yes. It’s the one that says YES to God when He gives you a child with special needs to raise. It’s the one that realizes being a living sacrifice is in the daily, mundane living and not just in the big things. It’s in saying YES to loving my child on the days when she’s determined to make everyone very aware of autism. It’s in saying YES to another therapy appointment, the need to see yet another specialist, the uncertainty of what the future holds. It’s in daring to let God change me through the process, saying YES to how this changes my writing and speaking and the way I conduct my life.


I think this is the point that Kristen has been making all along. When your sparkly, safe faith is no longer enough, you surrender to a God-sized YES that may be much different than what you imagined. And what special needs parent can’t say that’s true?

Father, thank You for entrusting this precious child to me. Help me to follow you into whatever YES you have planned for our family. You are good, and I know your plan for all of us is amazing. I can’t wait to see what You’re going to do! Amen.

~ Jennifer A. Janes

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Audience of One

Image Courtesy of Naypong/freedigitalphotos.net
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ...Philippians 3:8

God often reminds me that the world is NOT my primary audience. I am not here to become popular, famous, or highly acclaimed.  I am here to carry out his will, whatever that may be.  He most recently is reminding me of this with my current condition; daily migraines. 

For those who have not suffered from migraines, the only way I can describe it is a searing pain that runs from my lower right shoulder blade, up through the back of my head, radiates down through my right ear into my jaw and creates a stabbing pain behind my right eye.  Even when I am able to take a medication that might alleviate the pain, my body still experiences the migraine, so I am exhausted.

That being said, I have been unable to really workout for the past week (I typically workout daily, alternating a turbo jam aerobic workout with a free-weight lifting program, my), my "packing for our big move" has come to an abrupt halt, and I find myself going to bed right after Evie falls asleep and having a hard time making it through the day without a nap.  

In other words, I'm completely useless.

This is often how God tells me that I need to slow down.  It seems like whenever I'm in a flurry of activity and busy-ness, God knows that he needs to hit me over the head with an a iron skillet in order to get me to slow down and remember that "I'm not all that".  When I am in the middle of a cycle of migraines, I am brought to a state of humility unlike any other time.  I have to recognize that sometimes my mind can't over come my physical circumstances, and I have to recognize that, even without my involvement, LIFE GOES ON.  

So, now, as I sit here writing and thinking about all the things I "have to do" today, I also realize that God is saying, "Tammie, you are not the center of that task...without you, life will go on."  
My salvation does not rest on my ability to DO anything today.  My life with God in Heaven does not hinge on my completion of a to-do list.  Anything that I accomplish to bring ME glory is garbage in the eyes of God.
Pray:  Heavenly Father, help me to slow down and look to you.  Help me to remember that my life was created to bring YOU glory. Help me to lay aside my pride and look to you for strength.  Amen.

~Tammie Hefty

Monday, April 21, 2014

Secrets Revealed




“… God revealed these things by his Spirit.  For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets.  No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit.  And we have received God’s Spirit…, so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.”  1 Cor. 2:10-12  NLT


I remember one time when I was talking with my son, David, and he was trying to explaining how NO ONE understood him.  He went on to try and explain how his brain was working so differently than anyone else he knew.  He often had deep discussions with people and came to this conclusion based on that and talking with his psychiatrist.  I could only get a small glimpse from him telling me how his brain was working counter to the norm.

Once, before he was even a teenager and had a full diagnosis of his mental condition, he had said out of the blue, “If I wasn’t real ,I would be real.”  Who says that and what does it even mean? 

Another time when he was an adult he said, “My brain doesn’t work right and no one can fix it.” 

He said many other things to indicate that the “wiring” in his brain was out of sync.

Even though I couldn’t fully understand all that David was going through in life, I could read up on his condition, listen to him, and try and help him in the best ways available for him from my understanding. 

I was able to do many things, but never could fully see all of his deep secrets or really understand his thoughts.  My help to David was limited because he couldn’t or wouldn’t share everything with me.  I couldn't "know his thoughts".

Here’s the thing though.  God offers us so much more.  If we are Christians he shows us His deep secrets.   He lets us see “His thoughts” through the Holy Spirit.  This is so amazing that the one and only God of the universe is letting us in on His thoughts, His secrets, and giving us wonderful things.   It’s absurd to even think that God would do that.  I am only one of the billions of people on this earth.  Does he really care about me to do something that amazing as to let me in on His deep secrets?  We all know the answer is yes and he does it because he loves us that much. 

Jesus told us he had to leave so that the Holy Spirit could come.  There are many other scripture verses that tell us what the Holy Spirit does in our life if we let him. 
A few are:
 "The Spirit gives us desires that are opposite of our sinful nature."  Gal. 5:17  NLT
The Spirit leads us in every part of our life if we let him.  Gal. 5:25 NLT
The Spirit gives us the mind of Christ.  1 Cor. 2:16 NLT 
"...letting the Spirit control your mind leads to a life of peace."  Romans 8:6b NLT

When we read the Word and utilize the Spirit in us, God’s secrets, thoughts, and blessings are revealed to us.  His thoughts are right in front of us and we know all of the things He freely gives us.  Plus the Spirit gives us a life of peace.  
Who doesn't want that?

Prayer: Lord, Thank you for sending your Spirit and loving us so much that would you even reveal your thoughts to us.  Help us to read your Word with the Holy Spirit’s help.  Lastly, help us live a Spirit led life.

Ann Gapinski

Image from freedigitalphotos.net by sumetho


Saturday, April 19, 2014

"Are You Serious?" Awards - Volume XIV: Beating Back the Bullies Edition


Bullying.  It seems to be a perpetual nightmare only exacerbated when a child has special needs.  While taunting is a part of every childhood, bullying threatens, intimidates, and can literally make a person shut down.

Since this is such a pervasive problem, with schools, advocacy groups, and even news media giving great attention to the issue, one would think that a school administration would be eager to quickly squelch any activity that clearly reveals bullying taking place.  But not this week's winner.

Are you SERIOUS?!

Image Courtesy of Facebook
As last week's winner was being announced, I was read news of 15 year old special needs student, Christian Stanfield, being arrested for capturing his bullies via recording on his iPad.  It seems that the young Mr. Stanfield resorted to this measure to assure his mother that he wasn't inventing stories of being bullied and abused by fellow students at South Fayette High School in Pennsylvania.  Only after he felt nothing was being done about previous incidents involving purposely tripping him, slamming books into his head, and nearly being burned by a cigarette lighter did this student resort to capturing these other students via audio recording.

When his mother arrived to meet with the principal regarding her son's tormentors, she was instead stunned to discover that the principal had referred her son to the police for felony wiretapping because of the recording.  In other words, instead of these deviant students being punished -- the very kids who were heard on audio threatening to pull down Stanfield's pants, spewing every sort of vulgarity, and mocking him right in front of a do-nothing teacher -- the principal, police officer and court all saw fit to further torment the one being bullied without intervention.  While it is true that consent must be given from both parties involved in a recorded conversation in the State of Pennsylvania, a lack of wisdom and discretion clearly prevailed in this instance.

Thankfully, the criminal disorderly conduct charges were eventually dropped.  It is good to know that there is at least one adult in the Allegheny County district attorney's office with some shred of common sense.
To her credit, Christian's mother, Shea Love, did a pretty remarkable job of keeping her composure and did the right things in this situation.  The Mama Bear in me would have had heads rolling if this were my school district, not to mention a lawsuit underway.  At the very least, Ms. Love is considering transferring her son to another school for the next academic year.  Let's all pray that no matter what her decision, this is the end of her son receiving such treatment in ANY school.

~ Barb Dittrich


Read more at: Special-Ed Student Who Recorded Bullies Accused of Felony Wiretapping 
Teen punished for recording bullying against him
Criminal charge dropped against Pennsylvania bullying victim with learning disability who recorded his abusers
 
*Do YOU have a nominee for a future "Are You SERIOUS?" Award?  E-mail us a link to the story with any of your own personal insights to barb@snappin.org 

Friday, April 18, 2014

NAILED

Could it be any clearer? Our old way of life was nailed to the cross with Christ, a decisive end to that sin-miserable life—no longer at sin’s every beck and call! What we believe is this: If we get included in Christ’s sin-conquering death, we also get included in his life-saving resurrection. We know that when Jesus was raised from the dead it was a signal of the end of death-as-the-end. Never again will death have the last word. When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us. From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God.
That’s what Jesus did.
~  Romans 6:6-11, MSG ~ 

Crucifixion.  This form of execution surely represents one of the most searing, agonizing forms of torture known to mankind.

While we who are living in our relatively pleasant, modern-day culture tend to shake our heads in disdain at the behavior of the Jewish and Roman authorities of that era, we ourselves have much to do with what was hung on that cross Good Friday.

True, many of us would hope we are heavenbound because we have never done anything deviant to the level of murder.  Still, our sin represents ANYTHING that falls short of the glory of God.  So you know what Jesus took upon himself, what is NAILED to that cross with him?
  • WORRY -- How many hours have you spent in agony worrying over your child with special needs?  Will they get better?  How are things going in school today?  What will happen to my child when I am gone?  Jesus told you all that worry cannot add a single minute to your life.  He promised that he's got you covered.  He died to set you free from that worry.  He who did not even spare his own life for you is trustworthy.
  • ENVY -- Oh, how easy it is for parents like us to desire what others have -- a lack of suffering, money for vacations, a seemingly painless life.  But in this fallen world, there is no such life.  We don't always see that the other person may actually be in an unenviable position in the final analysis.  That green-eyed monster was nailed to the cross with Jesus.  He has MUCH better plans for you than that.
  • PRIDE -- Our egos become bruised in more ways than can ever be counted.  Someone failed to use "people first language" in speaking to us about our child.  We are in a tough position and have to ask for help from charity again.  A teacher implied we aren't doing what we should be with our child.  We disagree with the way a doctor is treating our child.  All of those situations that humble us ought to really remind us that our pride was stripped off along with Jesus' garments and nailed to that cross as well.
  • SUFFERING -- Chronic illness and disability can bring untold amounts of suffering.  However, those trials DO NOT have the final say!  Those days where the agony of imperfection threatens to steal our joy, we need to wrestle it back.  God's perfect will took all of our suffering and nailed it to the cross with His Son.
Name anything, ANYTHING that falls short of God's glory.  It is that very thing that you are being separated from in the same slow, tortuous way, wishing for death, but having to endure the discipline of the gradual. 

The great promise is that once that deficit is nailed to the cross, YOU gain freedom.  How AWESOME is that?!  

Jesus died to set you and I free from that which we could never break free from ourselves.  While we feel grief recalling our own shortcomings and life's many disappointments, especially when it comes to our kids with special needs, the matchless HOPE Jesus created for us through his willing sacrifice ought to fill us with boundless joy and gratitude.

Today, allow your heart to swell with thankfulness and your eyes weep with elation as you meditate fully on all that the Savior did for you nailed to that cross.

PRAY:  Jesus, there are barely adequate words to thank You for the excruciating agony You suffered willingly in my place.  See my heart.  I offer You my gratitude for setting me free in ways I could never know through any effort of my own.

~ Barb Dittrich

Photo image courtesy of Ken Wolter via 123rf.com