Thursday, October 30, 2014

I Elect -- 11 Choices Beyond the Voting Booth

Photo image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
“So revere Jehovah and serve him in sincerity and truth. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Worship the Lord alone. But if you are unwilling to obey the Lord, then decide today whom you will obey. Will it be the gods of your ancestors beyond the Euphrates or the gods of the Amorites here in this land? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”
~ Joshua 24:14-16, TLB ~

I don't know about you, but I will be SO glad when this election season is over with!  All of the ads with dark, scary music playing in the background, as the serious voice over tells you that one candidate's opponent is a puppy juggler or zebra tickler, are enough to make a citizen crazy.  Politicians make big promises and warn of dire consequences if they are not voted into office every. single. election.  

Honestly, although have friends who hold political positions, I put my hopes in THE One True King.  Any other expectations of human leaders are bound to be met with disappointment eventually.  Just look at how much darker this world grows every day!

So to take the focus and turn it to where it should be, I made this little list...

I ELECT...
  1. To BELIEVE that Jesus Christ is the Son of God made flesh, who died on the cross for my sins, and rose from the dead to secure my future in heaven.
  2. To TRUST that God knows me better than I know myself, and that He know what is best for me.  He always has my good  in mind.  I can trust Him with my children, their needs, and their futures.
  3. To LEAVE my greatest fears and worries with God, KNOWING that He is big enough to handle every concern.  He can carry the angst about medical bills, school issues, and world peace.
  4. To REST in the assurance that any trial I may face can and will be recycled for my good and God's glory.  He calls me friend and does not endeavor to harm me.
  5. To AGREE that I am Christ's ambassador, here temporarily, being used by Him to push back the darkness of this world, on my way to my heavenly home.
  6. To REJOICE that there is a Leader who is smarter and more capable than all of the doctors, lawyers, and geniuses of all time combined.
  7. To BE THANKFUL for every grace, every blessing, every good gift that God pours over me in addition to my undeserved salvation.
  8. To live a life SET APART from this world, being conformed more to the likeness of Christ through every trial, and looking less and less like my fleshly self. 
  9. To OBEY my Maker, because He is God, and I am not.
  10. To REJECT this world's standards of worth, beauty, success, importance, valuing God's criteria instead.
  11. To LOVE and FORGIVE, even when it's not easy, realizing that I owe people nothing less, because I am loved and forgiven by God.
What would YOU add to the list???

PRAY:  LORD, I chose you over this world.  Keep my eyes fixed on your glory and your business, without being distracted by those wrestling for power in this life.

~ Barb Dittrich

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Pick Anthony!


The reason we never sit in the front row of a show is the inevitable request to the audience, “I need a volunteer.”

The reaction of virtually everyone was the same… Look away… Don’t make eye contact… Sit completely still and don’t appear that you can be separated from the herd…

Everyone except Anthony.  Anthony’s hand shot in the air with all the enthusiasm of Arnold Horshak on a re-run of Welcome Back Kotter. “Oh! Oh! Oh!”

I was sitting up in the balcony well out of the “accidental volunteer zone,” and it seemed everyone around me knew Anthony.

“Look at Anthony.”
“Anthony wants to volunteer.”
“I don’t think the juggler sees Anthony.”

Thus began the cheer from the cheap seats.  “Pick Anthony! Pick Anthony!”

I never actually met Anthony, but I knew of Anthony almost immediately when my husband and I took a recent fall New England cruise. Whether it was our fellow dinner companions, casual conversations in the gym, or chatting with fellow passengers on tours, it seemed everyone knew Anthony.

“Have you met Anthony yet? “
“No.”
“Oh, you will!”

I’m sure there are many things Anthony can’t do.  Frankly, I don’t care about those things.  There are plenty of things I can't do either so that makes us even. A young adult in his mid-twenties, he was gregarious, friendly and everyone who talked about him thought he was great and had a funny story to tell. He sat in the front row at every show, always starting a standing ovation and blowing kisses to the dancers. Anthony was a unifier. Anthony was a cheerleader. Anthony was everyone’s friend. Our tablemates hung out with Anthony a good bit since their cabin was close to his and I always enjoyed hearing the stories that started, “Guess what Anthony did today.”

I suppose one of the favorite things about my vacation was that I got to experience a place called acceptance. No one focused on what was different about Anthony, but rather what was great about him.  It reminds me of Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth where they played favorites and he reminded him that we are all in it together.

As it is, there are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another.  If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it. (1Corinthians 12:20-26 NRSV)

Paul reminds us how to get it right. Everyone belongs. Everyone has a gift to share. It was a pleasure to see that lived out among my fellow passengers. The trip would have been less without Anthony. I’m glad God picked us to be on his ship.

Holy God, thank you for Anthony and the way that you have gifted him. May all those who share his unique abilities find a place called acceptance. Amen.



Image courtesy of “Hand Reach to Sky” samuiblue at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Beauty in the Broken Places

Recently Jolene Philo at DifferentDream.com kindly invited me to guest blog on her site and I shared this story about what I've learned about letting go of perfection in a life with special needs. You can read the original post here:  http://www.differentdream.com/2014/10/beauty-in-the-broken-places-of-special-needs-parenting/
Who Me
I have lived with cats my entire married life.  They are naughty.  Every day as my son leaves the house he calls out, “Coco, don’t set anything on fire.”  This has yet to happen, but I tell you she has the potential.
I find that living with cats impacts my home d├ęcor. Knick-knacks need to be non-fragile, bottom heavy, or inexpensive.  Preferably all three. My mother visited Spain and brought back for me a tall and delicate porcelain figurine.  I’ve glued it back together so often that it is more glue than porcelain at this point.  Coco just looks at me all innocent, “Who? Me?”
When I was younger imperfections bothered me. Nicks and chips and brokenness have come to matter less. Maybe that has to do with the lessons learned over a decade or two with special needs. We all have brokenness somewhere. Maybe it’s the brokenness that says, “I’ve lived a life. I’ve taken some hard knocks. I’ve come out stronger for it. The chips and nicks mean I’ve been out there trying.”
There is a style of Japanese art work called Kintsugi. It means “beautifully broken.” It is pottery that has been broken and then repaired with seams of pure gold or silver. When I see these amazing creations of beauty from brokenness I see that perfection is over-rated. The real beauty comes from the brokenness.
Sometimes as a special needs parent I feel broken like that porcelain figurine. I’m sure you do too sometimes. Knocked about, nicks and chips out there for everyone to see.  I also know we are not alone.  God walks with us on good days and bad days alike, pouring his love and grace into the broken places.  Where God pours in the gold, we are made all the stronger for the journey.
"But he knows where I am going. And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold.  (Job 23:10 NLT)
Prayer: Loving God, fill the broken places so that your glory shines in the world for all to see. Amen.
To see the beauty and variety of Kintsugi, search for images with your favorite search engine. It is stunningly beautiful art out of everyday simple things. Also, Keep an eye out for Jolene's new book Caregiver's Notebook coming out soon.  It's a great organizational tool for special needs parents. You can read more details here:  http://www.differentdream.com/2014/10/caregivers-notebook/
Photo: "Who Me?" by Lorna Bradley

Monday, October 27, 2014

5 Ways to Encourage Your Husband on the Special Needs Journey

Photo image courtesy of Volodymyr Baleha via 123rfcom
"Better to live on a corner of the roof
    than share a house with a quarrelsome wife."
Proverbs 21:9, NIV
 
Better to live in a desert
    than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife.
Proverbs 21:19, NIV

The wise woman builds her house,
    but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.
Proverbs 14:1, NIV 

These may seem like harsh words when we are trying to draw near to God.

Yet, we mothers have a very bad, pervasive habit.  That habit is only magnified when we are raising a child with a chronic illness or special needs.  We complain that we want help.  But when we receive help from our husbands, we criticize and complain.

"You're not doing it right!"

We rip control back, only to undermine the very assistance we crave.  It's no surprise that Dad's offers of help come less and less every time we berate his performance.

Here are some thoughts on how we can become the type of mother who BUILDS her home, her family, rather than one who DESTROYS it:
  1. Come to grips with the fact that your husband is not going to do things exactly like you do.  Your way is not the only way.  It is not necessarily the perfect way.  My husband and my son found a new system to doing an infusion.  I never would have thought of the short-cut the two of them invented.  And when things don't turn out exactly the way I would like them done, I remind myself, God made my husband the father, not the mother.  Good enough is good enough.  It doesn't have to be perfect to still be helpful.
  2. Involve your husband in the care and decision-making.  I know way too many mothers who are nervous about involving their husbands in the care of their children.  This can especially be the case when a child needs involved medical care.  One thing that has always blessed me is adopting the attitude, "I need to know that he can take care of these kids if I get hit by a truck."  With this mindset, I was able to work a rhythm with my husband where every-other-treatment would be handled by him.  This gave him adequate practice with  procedures.  He also comes to medical appointments and IEP meetings any time he is able. While he still struggles completely understanding the daily issues involved with our children's care, he has a better understanding than if he weren't involved in those pieces of the huge process.  This also helps to involve him in meaningful dialogue regarding important decisions for our kids' health and education.
  3. Realize that dads can often bring a certain fun factor that we moms simply don't.  Because men tend to be more gross motor in their activity than women, and tend to worry a bit less, their non-conformity to our ways can be a beautiful blessing to our kids.  They may take some reasonable risks that we mothers are too fearful to take. This broadens our kids' horizons and offers them joyful, exhilarating experiences they wouldn't otherwise have.  My husband is the one who takes the kids cross-country skiing, water-skiing, and sneaks them onto contraband trampolines.  Sometimes I just need to take a deep breath, close my eyes, and let them have these types of fun experiences with their dad.
    Photo image courtesy of jarenwicklund via 123rf.com
  4. Develop a sense of humor while you develop your boundaries.  There are some non-negotiable things that my husband needs to know about.  There are no compromises when it comes to sterile administration of intravenous medication.  Medical alert tags must be worn by the kids when they're away from us.  But there's a lot of wiggle room beyond those boundaries.  I used to have neighbors say scary things when I would return from business trips, "Oh, you must've been gone.  We saw the kids dancing on the roof of your Suburban."  Or my husband would tell me that he took the kids to the Irish Pub for their music circle.  Hmmm.  Rather than nagging or quarreling, I have learned to jokingly say as I head out of town, "My bare minimum requirement is that my children be alive and unharmed by the time I return."  He and I are both sporting a smile with these parting words, which eases a lot of tension and makes for a more pleasant time apart. 
  5. Remind your children that Daddy is NOT Mommy.  In addition to unreasonable expectations from us wives, our husbands can feel immense pressure from the criticism of our littles.  Kids with chronic illness and special needs can frequently be obsessive and ritualistic about the way things are done.  It can be critical in stretching our children's horizons to assure them that all will be well, even if the person caring for them doesn't do things exactly the way Mom does.  This also opens up the opportunity for new bonding between our kids and Dad, rather than driving them apart with the wedge of irritation, criticism, and unmet expectations. 
These are just a few of the things that have helped build up our family, rather than letting my tendency to nag or quarrel tear us apart.  

God instructs both husbands and wives on how to treat one another in Paul's letter to the Church in Ephesus.  (see Ephesians 5:21-33)   He calls us wives to an attitude of respect and common decency, not micromanaging and criticizing.  I don't know about you, but I think that the more I stretch towards that goal, the happier we ALL are in this household.

PRAY:  Jesus, help me look more like YOU, and less like my cranky, demanding, perfectionist self.

~ Barb Dittrich

Saturday, October 25, 2014

"Are You Serious" Awards - Volume XXXVI: The Failing to Plan, Planning to Fail Edition

"The astute see evil coming and take shelter,
    but the stupid plow right on and then, of course, have to pay the price."
~ Proverbs 27:12, VOICE ~

I am a proactive parent.  For the past 14 years plus, I have learned to know my children, what is "normal" for them, and what the best course of treatment is for them.  I wasn't born with this skill.  I was taught by a terrific nurse coordinator when our son was diagnosed with severe hemophilia at birth.

For those who don't know the world of bleeding disorders, this illness, while chronic, can also be critical.  Therefore, parents are taught early on how to conduct triage and assessment on their child.  Over the years we learn how to diagnose internal bleeding and how serious that bleeding may be.

That being said, critical thinking skills become a frequent byproduct of this training.  Parents like me learn to get out ahead of a situation or how to avert a crisis.

If this is true of an average, old mom like me, then IS IT TOO MUCH TO EXPECT THIS FROM OUR MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS?

Let me tell you what I'm talking about.  About a week-and-half ago, I posed a question in a private chat group for those raising children with hemophilia.  I asked, "Given the nature of Ebola, has anyone discussed with their hematologist a protocol for treating someone with a bleeding disorder on the outside chance that they might contract this virus?"  I was afraid that other participants would think I was nuts.  I'm not an alarmist.  I merely want to have a plan of attack in place, should a serious illness confront my child.  I was SHOCKED to see what a great interest there was amongst my other parents/patients.  As many as 43 comments were left on this post, with 25 more interested in the answer.  Sadly, a few noted that they had spoken to their doctors and were either dismissed, or their professional had no plan.

 Are you SERIOUS?!


I also have a daughter with asthma and severe allergies.  As we know, there is an outbreak of EV-D68 currently spreading in this country.  When I spoke with an internist about it, they told me there is no vaccine for it, and merely shrugged it off.  I have heard nothing from my daughter's specialists on her care regarding this serious virus.  The only thing of use to us?  The above infographic from the CDC.  I don't know about you, but our family already does all of those things as a matter of habit.

My point is this, as frequent medical consumers, are we not reasonable to expect our medical professionals to at least be THINKING about these prevailing issues?  Isn't part of coordinated patient care helping the patient to be proactive in maintaining their own health?  Yet, that is exactly what we are not seeing as we jump with both feet into the cold and flu season.

At the very least, I would hope that our doctors could simply talk out a potential plan of treatment without being dismissive.  We love our kids, and it's normal for us to have concerns.  Our kids do best when we all work as a team.

What are your thoughts?  Do you have a plan for your child(ren) when it comes to serious communicable illnesses?  Have you pressed your doctor for a treatment plan should your vulnerable child be a victim of the flu or other circulating viruses?  Do you feel comfortable with the preventative care your specialist has recommended for your child?  I am not suggesting worrying yourself needlessly.  (See my post from October 3, 2014)  There are countless things in this world we cannot control.  However, prudence should be a hallmark of how we operate as parents.  God's word makes it clear -- When we fail to plan, we're planning to fail.

~ Barb Dittrich

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