Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Me and My Terrible, Ungrateful Thoughts


My Daughter's Vest Airway Clearance Machine

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (NIV)
I have a million little thoughts during the day.

Most of these are fleeting thoughts about mundane activities or things to do. Many thoughts come and go without me really giving them any pause.

I wonder if the laundry is done yet.

I need to start my daughter’s medicines.

I have five minutes to get to my work meeting.

I’m hungry.  

These thoughts aren’t bad nor are they Godly. They are the thoughts that just happen.

Occasionally, though, there is a thought that stops me. Recently, my family took a short 2-night trip. As usual, my child's vest airway clearance machine, bi-pap, nebulizer, and medications all came along too, filling up the free space in our hotel room. As I carried my daughter’s clunky airway clearance machine across the hotel room, I thought, “I hate that our vacations require medical equipment.”

It was a short thought. It was also an honest thought. I wish on vacations we could vacation from all of it. No matter where we are, there are medications that need to be done, machines that need space in our living area, and time set apart to complete daily medically necessary treatments.

After this thought, I had a split-second decision to make. I could:

A)   Throw a pity party regarding how daily interventions must be done even on a fun vacation. This may end with silent tears into a pillow before drifting to sleep.

B)   Get mad about moving the machine around the small room and how 100 minutes of our vacation day is devoted to medications and treatments. This will end with me getting snippy with the people around me as anger tends to grow and explode.

C)    Take captive the thought. This requires me to take the thought, accept it occurred, but remind myself that the equipment keeps my daughter healthy. (After all, my daughter is really the one enduring it all!)

Thankfully, I chose the last one. It has taken me years to recognize the thoughts that are not helpful and choose to ignore them. Sometimes, I still mess up and allow a negative thought to ruin my mood and steal my joy. That night, I didn’t allow it. The medical equipment wasn’t going to make our vacation terrible, but focusing my thoughts on things I can’t change could have.
Besides, isn't the joy on her face worth it all?

As you go through your day, pay attention to your thoughts. Are there any that you need to take captive to keep your day more peaceful?  

Prayer:

Thanks, God, for giving us minds that are amazing. Give us thoughts that are Christ-like especially when we are caring for our children with special/medical needs. Help us recognize thoughts that are not Godly and take them captive so they won’t affect our moods and behavior. Let us see the good in our situations and have a heart of thanks. Amen!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Don't Be Such a Martyr

Copyright: bialasiewicz / 123RF Stock Photo
When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
Romans 5:6-8, NLT

People say some pretty ridiculous and hurtful things to us when we are raising medically complex children. Among the more demeaning things I have been called is "Martyr Barb." A hostile neighbor took to calling me this when she could no longer stand the demands on my life by my high-needs children. I also made her uncomfortable by simply embracing my faith. Unable to empathize or show compassion, she couldn't perceive how my life could possibly be as difficult and sacrificial as it appeared to be. Therefore, I just needed to quit being such a martyr or drama queen in her eyes. 

I used to be really wounded and offended by being told, "Don't be such a martyr." It already felt awkward being very different from the average family. And when wave after wave of difficulty hit our family, it was almost embarrassing to tell others of the latest trouble. It had me questioning myself. Am I being overly dramatic? 

Then I had an epiphany...
God is a martyr!

via Merriam-Webster.com

Why wouldn't I want to look just like God? After all, Paul instructs us in Ephesians 5:1-2,

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. (NASB)

Read the Merriam-Webster definitions of a martyr. I am especially taken by the second definition, ": a person who sacrifices something of great value and especially life itself for the sake of principle." Does that not perfectly describe what we parents do for the children we love? We make an intentional sacrifice of our own personal time, our wealth, friendships, hobbies, so very much sleep, and even dreams to invest in the well-being of our struggling children. Our undying principle is that we can make a positive difference in the future of our sons and daughters. We learn and advocate all to provide the best possible outcomes for those we love. What a noble pursuit!

Unfortunately, the world too often views us at Merriam-Websters third definition of martyr, ": VICTIM; especially: a great or constant sufferer." That we are NOT. My family may undergo quite a bit but we also overcome that much more. We are no victims. In Christ, we have learned to live above our circumstances. His example taught us what sacrificial love looks like. We attempt to be single-minded and have an eternal perspective.

So let the mockers mock. If I am going to be called a martyr, I will wear it like a badge of courage, embracing God's standard of martyrdom and not the world's. There will never be a shred of regret for the sacrificial life I have lived for my children.

Pray with me...

Lord, when we are demeaned by the world for the sacrificial life we live, remind us that You are our model for such a life. May we not walk in the self-pity of victimhood, but be empowered by knowing we are standing strong in principle. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Failing at Life


Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. 
Romans 12:9-13, NLT 

I didn’t see the good. I was too transfixed on all that was going wrong to see the things that were actually going right. And the stress of it all weighed on my shoulders until my spirit was feeling feverish and wobbly and my body was tired. Last week, we trekked our way through three separate visits to urgent care, for three different children, with three entirely unrelated ailments. Two were sent home with antibiotics, one with allergy meds. Then there was the emergency plumber. Somehow, someone (or someones) managed to sneak the approximate equivalent to a toy box worth of toys into the bathroom, flushing them one by one until the plumbing in the entire house was backed up. I only discovered the bathroom fiasco when someone tried to flush, nearly spraying my personhood with the backlog of sewage. If that wasn’t quite enough, Queen Elsa, one of our family milk goats, became severely ill and we are still unclear of what the future holds for her. And there are still struggles with the transitions that have happened because school has drawn to a close and summer break is in full swing. With all of this and more happening within a week’s time, I felt like I was failing at life. What could I have possibly done to deserve this?

It’s easy to complain. It’s easy to see all of the things that are not going right. At least, it is for me. But that becomes distinctly problematic because God tells us in His Word to do all things without complaining, as if we were doing them for the Lord. Scrubbing toilets for the Lord, administering medications to children and goats for the Lord, these things seem far from holy to me. I was miserable because life with special needs is hard enough, why should I have to face these other frustrating life issues as well?

But God tells us in His Word to hold tightly to what is good. I missed so much good because I was just plain stuck on the bad this week. I forgot to laugh when my children pretended to run with the bulls as my flock of chickens raced from the coop to the feeders for their breakfast. I forgot to be in awe of the kindness that my impish toddlers are capable of bestowing without any coaxing. I didn't soak in the progress my children are already making this summer or the fun they are having and the skills they are practicing. I almost missed the ways God is working on my heart, softening me up for His work. And I almost missed the amazing thoughts and questions that my brood of little ones have about God. I almost missed the opportunity to share God’s love with each one of them because I was too full of the bad stuff to even think about the good.

God doesn’t call us to a successful, easy life. He calls us to an abundant life, a hard-working, enthusiastic, hospitable life. God calls us to share God’s love and to be His hands and feet. To hold tightly to what is good. To hold on to those happy memories you’re making in spite of the surfacing behaviors. Don’t let go of the spontaneous hugs, the high fives, the adoring glances from the littles just because you need a break for your tired arms and your weary heart. And never forget that enthusiasm for the things that God has given, the blessings big and small, the children who love you, and the hope they offer the future of this world.  The only way I’ll stop this feeling that I am failing at life, is to focus on the good stuff that is in it, the good family I’ve been given, and the Goodness of the Giver.

Dear God, I haven’t been focused enough on the good today. Help me to turn my thoughts from complaints to thanksgiving, from entitlement to graciousness. Help me to focus on the good gifts You have given me, the good people in my life that need to see Your love, and the goodness that You see in me, so that I can share it with others. Help me cling to what is good, especially, You. 

Amanda Furbeck

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Above and Beyond ~ #SacredSunday

As we revel in the delight of the summer skies, it becomes gloriously apparent how very small we are. Yet, we are infinitely loved! When life shakes us to the core, we can take comfort in knowing that God's knows so much better than we do. His thoughts are greater and his brain is bigger, above and beyond what we think is best. Even when our tiny minds disagree.

Follow us on

and  on

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Second Look Saturday - 3

Isn't it great how God gives you the same message over and over again?
Hmm...what do you think it means when He does that? *wink, wink*
Yes, I've been getting the same message that Jennifer A. Janes was getting a little over a year ago when she wrote: "Because You Say So" ...
Because God says so, I should do it.
It cut me to my core when I read her words:
In my quest for answers - and my demand that God supply them immediately - I have forgotten that God has already given me a lot of direction. It's direction that I haven't followed, so why would I expect Him to give me more information?
After you've gone back and read this quick post from Jennifer, I encourage you to grab some paper and a pencil or pen and take a few minutes to ask yourself these questions and try to put your ideas on paper.  No one else needs to know, this is just for you, but it may help you move beyond the rut in which you find yourself.

REFLECTION QUESTIONS:
  • What direction do you continue to feel like God is pulling (or pushing) you in, but you're afraid to acknowledge?
  • What parts of God's Word have you decided to ignore, or change, or re-define in order for them to fit YOUR will?
  • What areas of your life are you BLAMING God for, and wondering why He hasn't been meeting your needs?

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