Friday, May 29, 2015

The Limitless Life is Coming - Wait for it

 But someone may ask, “How will the dead be raised? What kind of bodies will they have?" 
~1 Corinthians 15:35, ESV

Do you ever wonder about the resurrection? What will our bodies really be like then? We suffer much on this side of Heaven in our earthly bodies. Some of us have broken bodies. Some of us have broken minds. some of us have both that are broken or maybe not functioning to their highest potential. These things are hard. Will we always be this limited?

I can only think of Jesus who can relate to this limited life that has been given to us who have special needs in our midst. Many people can go and do just what they want when they want with out an incredible amount of planning, but when you have special needs, before you go and do, it requires planning and certain limits that others do not always experience. Yet in the special needs life this becomes your normal and Jesus can relate.

Jesus voluntarily limited Himself and lived a life of limits within His own flesh. He had all power, wisdom, authority without limits but He subjected Himself to extreme limits to put on flesh and live among us. This was probably harder than any of us even know but He did it because of His love for us. He did this to restore us and make all things right at the resurrection.

Jesus then allowed the men to falsely accuse Him and hang Him on the cross. Jesus died. He was buried (in the borrowed tomb) for in three days He would rise again making resurrection a reality. Resurrection that we all would now get to experience if we are found in Him.

Paul goes on to answer the question posed above about our resurrected bodies like this:
Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength (1 Corinthians 15:42b-43).
 Did you catch that?! 
  • Our bodies will be raised to live forever.
  • Our brokenness will be raised in glory.
  • Our weakness will be strength.
 Now that is healing. What a joy it will be to live in bodies that are unrestricted and whole! Oh that day will be bliss all because of Jesus and His choice to limit Himself to life in the flesh and death on the cross!!! This is where we can place our hope. Resurrection is coming and those of us who experience limitations of the stricter kind will appreciate this even more; a precious gift that is coming. Wait for it. For one day we will be limitless.

Pray. Lord Jesus come quickly. Help us wait faithfully for this great day. Amen.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

"Me-OW," said God...


Keep deception and lies far from me,
Give me neither poverty nor riches;
Feed me with the food that is my portion,

That I not be full and deny You and say, “Who is the Lord?”
Or that I not be in want and steal,
And profane the name of my God.
Proverbs 30:8-9 NASB 
 

They look so peaceful when they're sleeping, don't they?

But, my little buddy, pictured above nestled in with his football, no longer wants to sleep at night!  No, Jinxy Kitty; now 13 years old, has decided that he needs to eat at 3 am, if not earlier.  What that means for me is:
  • Beginning at sometime between 1 AM and 3 AM, every morning since January, I begin to feel his "gentle" nibbling on my eyebrows, biting on my head, or pawing at my nose.  
  • He has also began to pull at our window blinds, so those usually are opened at bedtime in order to ensure they are out of his reach.
  • After being fed, he promptly retreats back to the master bedroom; while I, now awake, read for about an hour in the recliner until I nod off again for an hour until my alarm sounds.
I'm tired...I don't go to bed very early, so I'm only getting about two hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.

But while others say, "Put him in another room," I cannot; because I KNOW with every ounce of my being that God is teaching me something through this.

He's reminding me that I can do NOTHING apart from Him. 

God KNOWS that my weakness is my pride and my sense of "accomplishment" and "contentment".  When I have nothing else going on, I get sloppy and I stray.

I would much rather RELY on God through the exhaustion caused by my cat, than through the chemo that coursed through my daughter's body 9 years ago, or the migraines that threw my life into chaos a year ago, or the pain that my dad's death thrust upon my family three years ago.

This.is.NOTHING...

Not only does God want me to rely on Him, but He's also using this "early morning time" for me to get to know Him better.  I think of my grandma Ev and how she would wake up at 4 am and do her morning devotionals while looking out over Owl Lake.  She was so devoted to knowing her Savior; and her life reflected her time spent with God.  

He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, 
we may live together with him. 
1 Thessalonians 5:10 NIV

We're told over and over again by the people around us how important sleep is; and it IS important to our human, earthly bodies.  However, the amount of sleep we get has no influence on our salvation and our eternal life.  Therefore, I have come to realize, through this time with God, that a "lack of sleep" will not mean the end of me.  God will use the time I have; and use it WELL, if I give it to Him.

Last week I wrote about how I'm working on scripture memorization, and how God has blessed me as I've been committed to this project.  The fact that I'm missing out on sleep that I used to have has opened up new time for me to spend with Him.  I would often sit in my day-to-day life and say, "Lord, I'd love to spend more time with you, but I just don't know where to find that time..."  Well, God has decided to find that time FOR ME. 

Finally, through this time of trial and error; trying to figure out HOW to get my Jinxy to sleep though the night again (or at least let ME sleep through the night), God has reminded me that there are things I can't fix, and there are questions that I will never have answered.  
I can try all the tricks in the book to get Jinxy to leave me alone at night.  Covering my head, playing extra with him during the day, feeding him and then trying to go back to bed, feeding him later at night...NOTHING has changed the pattern.
All I have left is prayer.  
I have found that the nights I REMEMBER to pray about it, God has given me a later wake-up call, or He's given me an extra energetic day...He has proven that if I pray about it as much as I talk about it, He WILL provide me the rest that I need.

I know that many of you out there have children with special needs and you haven't had a good night's sleep in a few months, or even years!  I know that my "cat-zample" may not feel as though it can speak to your exhaustion, to your frustration, to your desperate need for a week or more of 8+ hours of sleep a night for a week...but I also know that God has given me this burden for "such a time as this" in order to encourage you and remind you that He KNOWS you are tired...He KNOWS you are weary...He KNOWS that your load is weighing heavy on your shoulders...

...and He wants to carry it...

Pray:  Heavenly Father; God who has called me to come to you for rest, I ask you to grant me the rest I need to get through each day.  I want to know you more, so I will work to use the time you give me each day to honor you, and to grow closer to you through scripture and worship. I pray, Father, that you bless me by multiplying the sleep I get each night...bless it to my body...help it nourish my soul whether it be 2 hours or 10.  You fed the 5,000, and I know you can feed me.  Amen.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Look How Far We've Come!


"See, the former things have taken place, 
and new things I declare; before they spring
 into being I announce them to you." 
Isaiah 42:9 NIV

Last week we took a year-end field trip with another family to a hands-on science museum about two hours away from home. We spent six hours there, playing on rope netting, splashing in a water feature, crawling through a manmade cave, studying the "recycling" dermestid beetles do to rat carcasses, climbing a ten-foot gyroid, and tinkering with electricity. We took a couple of breaks to go out to the car for a picnic lunch, drinks, and snacks, but the majority of the time we were active and busy. When we left, there were two moms and three kids who were tired, hungry, and ready to go home. We had a gift card to a restaurant about thirty miles away, so that was our plan for supper. 

The only problem was that we got stopped going down the mountain between one town and the next, in an area with no cell phone signal and no available alternative route. As you can see from the picture, the traffic was backed up for miles ahead of us, and it quickly backed up for miles behind us. We were stuck there. For an hour.

Two years ago, the two kids with sensory issues in the van would have started screaming about halfway through the wait, certain they were going to die from not having eaten, from not having moved their bodies out of the seat in so long, from the lack of vehicle movement. Even a year ago, the situation would have been almost unbearable for all of us. This year, however, although those kids were both aggravated and did plenty of complaining, fussing, and singing annoying songs loudly and over and over again, they stayed relatively calm for that hour. (It helped that we had a big bag of chips and some grapes left over to keep the hunger pangs under control.) There were no huge meltdowns, the smaller periods of freaking out were alleviated with humor, and it was a fairly calm and pleasant hour (as much as was possible with five exhausted and hungry people involved).

In the past, parents and professionals alike had assured me that things would get better for us as my daughter got older. On the bad days, I was skeptical. I had difficulty seeing past the moment to what might be. But I see it now. With age comes a bit of maturity, and many hours of occupational therapy and counseling haven't hurt either. She is a different person now, with quirks and challenges, that's true, but different from when she was first diagnosed.

I hope I'm continuing to grow and develop too, and that others are seeing a different me from the one they knew a few years ago.

Look how far we've come, indeed!

Pray: Father, thank you so much for allowing me to see the growth and progess in my daughter. Help me to stay focused on you and on everything you're doing in, through, and around me. I pray that others will be able to see growth and progress in my life too. I don't want to stay stagnant. I want always to grow closer to you and be transformed into Christ's image. Amen.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Finding My Real Life

 “Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand.   Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.   For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.” 
 Colossians 3:1-4


Before Bethany (who happens to have Down Syndrome) was born, we lived a "normal" life (whatever normal is)  We had 5 kids, ages 5-17, who had various interests, worked, played sports, and our life revolved around youth group and church. 

Then Bethany was born and special needs thrust us into a new dimension.


I remember once, when Bethany was about five, I was overwhelmed with the enormity of the task that lay ahead of me.


My life seemed to stretch out endlessly before me. It hit me like a sledge hammer that Beth didn’t “pick up” information like all my other children.   She had to be taught one concept at a time, spell one word at a time, memorize one math fact at a time, be shown one safety concept at a time- and not only that- but each new “concept” had to be taught repeatedly until she could get it from her short term memory to her long term memory.


Self- focused, I began to feel sorry for myself. I remember quite grouchily questioning God:

“Is my whole life going to revolve around teaching Bethany everything for the rest of my life? 


Do you hear my whine and self-pity?  My limited perspective of God’s plans and providence?:)


Surprisingly, I heard His answer that stunned me and then actually made me smile.

Cindy, what better thing did you have in mind to do with your life?” 

Indeed! 



What better thing do I have to do than to have the honor to teach my children to know God and walk in His ways, to give them the skills they need to be a giver of God’s love to this world?  Isn’t that why I sing and what I desire to do- “I surrender all” and “Take my life and let it be consecrated Lord to Thee”?


Oh, how easily I can get caught up in the carnal perspective of what is “successful” and “worthy” of my time.  My "real life" is hidden IN CHRIST!  I have to let go of our old perspective and dreams to discover the abundant life God has waiting for me. 


Real Life: I never dreamed I would find such joy in losing my life, and embracing the treasure of the life God has for me.


PRAY:  Father, help us find our true lives and identity in You! Give us eyes to see what you see.  Prepare our hearts to walk in Your ways.  Give us a thankful heart and rejoice as we embrace the life you have lovingly chosen for us!  In Jesus name, Amen.


~ Cindy Barclay

Monday, May 25, 2015

Lessons From The Fallen

Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.
~ 2 Timothy 2:3-4, NIV ~

This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves.
~ 1 John 3:16, MSG ~

SUFFER - Now there's a word antithetical to today's culture!   In fact, we seem to live in the days of avoiding suffering at all costs.  From the disposable nature of marriage to the discarding of life through abortion, culture deems us a fool to lean into anything unpleasant that may deny us temporal happiness.

The lives we remember every Memorial Day expose the faultiness in that thinking.  The path our fallen heroes walked reveals what we truly esteem.

The FALLEN HERO is the one who is willing to be tested, run through thankless rigors, facing humiliation to have their resolve strengthened.

The FALLEN HERO endures the discomfort of less-than-optimal living conditions, separation from family, and deprivation of common modern conveniences.  He or she goes through hell to bring us a little bit of heaven here on earth.  
 
The FALLEN HERO is the one who follows the orders of the commanding officer, even though it puts him or her in harms way.  The big picture is in mind when a soldier like this deploys.  No sacrifice is too great to reach the end game.

The FALLEN HERO lays down their life for a purpose they love.  As so poignantly expressed in "America the Beautiful":

Oh beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife
Who more than self their country loved

And mercy more than life*

I can't help but shed tears of awe every Memorial Day, remembering those who held NOTHING BACK from the nation they loved.  We should all aspire to live life with such duty and dedicated passion.

Yet, I also find every Memorial Day that we parents walking this hard fought battle of chronic illness or disability possess so many characteristics similar to those who have fallen throughout the generations.  We may go into this wide-eyed and naive, but we are put to the test in short order.  We suffer greatly.  Humiliation is our constant, unwelcome companion.  We endure hospital stays, away from the rest of our family, in living conditions far from optimal.  Just a shower feels like a luxury some days.  Still, no sacrifice is too great as we lay down our lives for those we love.  We follow God's orders to press on, setting aside our own egos and plans to give sacrificial care and relentlessly advocate for our kids.

Yes, our hearts can relate to that of the soldier, because we are soldiers on a different battle field.  

At the same time, most of us will never, ever have to pay the ultimate price -- dying for that greater purpose.  Take time today to give thanks and remember those who died so that you could be free to advocate for your child, free to have access to great health care, free to receive public access and inclusion, and free to have your child partake of a range of services and supports, including a public education.  Someone lost their child, so you could offer the best life possible to yours.  

These are lessons worth remembering.  Reflect on them with me today.

PRAY:  Jesus, You showed us what true love is by laying down Your life for us.  Bless the families of those who have followed in Your footsteps.  Thank You for the sea of faithful citizens who gave everything, so we could live free.  Give us the fortitude to be as faithful to You as these soldiers were to our nation.
 
* "America the Beautiful"; 1895, lyrics by Katharine Lee Bates, music by Samuel A Ward; Public Domain

Saturday, May 23, 2015

"Are You Serious?" Awards - Volume LII: The "Flying Ignorance" Edition


Imagine you are a hard-working parent in need of some refreshment along with those you love.  Imagine you have the opportunity to get away with your family, and you choose to travel to Walt Disney World in Florida for a lovely vacation.  Sounds like a really special time, doesn't it?

Now imagine you are traveling on this vacation with your teenage child who just happens to be on the autism spectrum.  Without a doubt, extra measures need to be taken, but you are undaunted because your child has been flying on airplanes for at least 14 years.  Besides that, our TSA has help for travelers with disabilities and medical needs.

Everything will be fine, right?  WRONG!

In case you hadn't already heard of this weeks-old story, an Oregon family with a 15 year old daughter on the autism spectrum was recently kicked off of a United Airlines flight returning from their family Disney vacation.

Are you SERIOUS?!

According to the mother, her daughter was becoming agitated because she was hungry during their flight's layover in Houston.  The agitation hadn't reached the point of full meltdown, but the wise mother knew that there would be one if her daughter's needs were not met.  Once the mother convinced the flight attendant to get her daughter some hot food, the agitation ceased, and the girl sat quietly watching a video.  Even so, the flight crew made the decision to divert the flight for emergency landing in Salt Lake City, having the family removed by police as a behavior problem.
From Video taken by passenger Chris Hall made available at https://youtu.be/4rOUQjqVnyQ
Given the prevalence of autism today, you might think people are well-informed.  In fact, an individual on the flight who took video of the incidence even recognized that the move was ridiculous and that there would be a lawsuit over this treatment of the family.

Nevertheless, one only need read this article, ‘She wasn’t put off plane because of autism,’ to see how rampant ignorance about autism remains.  While the passenger taking the video said that this girl was no louder than a baby crying on a flight, another passenger lamented her howling, seeing her as an imminent threat.  The irritated, second passenger's fears were irrational to the point of thinking that this teen with autism would open up an exit door with the plane in flight, killing them all.  One wonders if this unfounded line of thought was running through the heads of an inadequately trained flight crew as well.

So, where do we in the special needs community go from here?

To its credit, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) has called for the Department of Transportation to offer assistance with clarifying and reinforcing the Air Carrier Access Act’s legal protections for passengers on the autism spectrum.  Issuing a press release on May 20, 2015, ASAN specifically cites the incident mentioned earlier and the fact that the rights of individuals with autism must be accommodated under the ACAA law.  The letter goes on to emphasize the need for appropriate training of airline staff, including informing of their legal obligation under the law.

I am sure each of you will be closely watching how the Department of Transportation responds to ASAN's demand for improvements.  If the rights of this family could be violated, then it could happen to each of us as well.  

Meanwhile, it is critical for each of us to remember to be praying for God's intervention on behalf of our traveling children and to be continually educating those around us.  We have made enormous strides, but that doesn't mean building awareness and inclusion can ever be discontinued, as this story so clearly displays.

~ Barb Dittrich

Source: Family Kicked Off Flight After Daughter With Autism Deemed 'Disruptive'