Friday, August 18, 2017

Loving God Enough to Let Go

Copyright: kuznetsovkonsta / 123RF Stock Photo
Offer the sacrifices of righteousness
        by trusting the Lord.
(Psalm 4:5, GW)

Last week I spent five days in a row with a group of remarkable "warrior moms" at a special needs day camp. On Friday mornings I have been training an inspiring group of mothers to be mentors. Other days I am speaking with parents one-on-one, in our small groups, or connecting with moms and dads by happenstance. The prevailing theme always seems to be the samefear and worry.

At the same time, I am preparing to send one of my children who is still in search of medical answers abroad for a full year of study in Japan. Her college advisers have marveled at how her father and I cheer her on in this endeavor. We are so proud of her! And while I hate the thought of not hugging my precious girl in my arms for an entire eleven months, I cannot wait for the woman she will become on this trip. 

At camp, we shared many, many stories of our children. My daughter's release was juxtaposed to other parents who are terrified to even leave their child alone with their spouses. The dread of the new school year also seemed to haunt many. Others still were wrestling with the thought of their child's transitions to adulthood in the not-so-distant future. 
Copyright : ymgerman
Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.
(Proverbs 22:6, NKJV)

"I don't know how you can be so calm about letting her go!" one of the mothers commented to me at camp. 

I have had parents I serve say virtually the same thing to me as my daughter's departure draws nearer.

Strangely, if you had ever told me that I would be at this point of peace twenty years ago, I would have told you that you were crazy. Still, God has done a work in me that only He could do. In my younger years, I had an almost relentless desire to be a mother. That certainly made it extra-challenging going through repeated miscarriage and infertility treatment. I was also a high-strung control freak. But God broke me of that tendency as He taught me very early on in parenthood to hold my children with an open hand

Perhaps hemophilia was a gift to me in this way. The worst things always seemed to happen to my son when I was standing right next to him or when they were without explanation. Like the time he stood up in the double stroller and landed face first on the hospital floor, seemingly bleeding from nose and mouth, astonishing his hematologist who hadn't really dealt with a toddler having frank bleeding in recent years. Or the time he got into the car after school one day after school with an "Ouch!" to his upper thigh and then ended up hospitalized for a week with home health care for a month because of a life-threatening bleed in his hip compartment. 

"We like to have control, don't we?" I pondered with the camp moms. 

The funny thing is that if having a medically fragile child or one with special needs doesn't teach you that you are not in control, nothing will. 

God has proven Himself faithful before and He will be again. Jesus told us that God has numbered every hair on our heads. I haven't even done that with my own child's head. How much MORE must God love my child than I! 

In the worst of circumstances our Father has been provider, comforter, healer, and defender. When things seem hopeless, He is our hope. Despite hardships, He shows us an incomparable peace and joy.

The natural response to this matchless love is for me to love God enough to let go. As I release my children to Him, I worship Him with my trust. And each time I trust Him, He shows Himself more trustworthy. After all, 90% of the things we worry about never come to fruition! 

With the unsettling behavior of North Korea increasing, my eldest and I have had the "what if something happened" talk. She was taken aback when I expressed to her that, while I would be crushed if the worst case scenario took place, I have the blessed confidence that I will see her soon again in heaven. She would be the lucky duck who got to beat me there! That reassurance of knowing what will happen to my girl regardless of earthly circumstances is a blessing beyond all measure. 

So as I lovingly escort my daughter to board that plane to Japan; as I trust my son to venture out one more day, despite having missed an infusion; as I suddenly allow my youngest daughter to have a sleepover with her new-found friends, I know that my faithful Savior will go with each of them when I cannot be there. They will spread wings to become their best selves. And I grow deeper in love with the One who is truly worthy.  

Pray with me...

Father, we parents raising remarkable kids always seem to have to be on high alert. A disproportionate amount of worry and concern seems to haunt moms and dads like us. Holy Spirit, fill us with Your strength to push through those emotions to a point where we can trust You fully with our children. Help us to love you enough to let go.

~ Barb Dittrich

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Following God Makes All The Difference

“So Moses told the people, ‘You must be careful to obey all the commands of the Lord your God, following his instructions in every detail. Stay on the path that the Lord your God has commanded you to follow. Then you will live long and prosperous lives in the land you are about to enter and occupy.” 
Deuteronomy 5:32-33 NLT

Life is broken and messy and confusing and stressful! It doesn’t seem to take much to pull our eyes and heart away from God. A typical day seems to be filled with much more heartache than hallelujah. But I wonder if that is true or if my perspective is often slanted by my lack of following God wholeheartedly. 

What if all the twists and turns are part of the journey He designed? 

What if I just need to take a deep breath and trust Him as I follow Him? 

Before we can really talk about following God, we need to determine who He is. Early in this passage in Deuteronomy, God’s glory and greatness are spoken of with great fear by the Israelites. They had seen the thunder and lightning, they had heard the loud voice, and they were surprised to still be living. The Almighty God of the universe is a merciful God who desires intimate relationship with us. 

He is overwhelming, awe-inspiring, and glorious. We are to fear and revere and respect Him… this is true worship!

As powerful and majestic as He is, the relational aspect cannot be missed. God desires His people to fear and obey, not to avoid judgment primarily, but to enjoy relationship. It pleases God greatly when we follow and worship Him. In the midst of the crazy, we must remember that God is for us, no matter what the circumstances of life may communicate. So, if this is who God is and what He thinks about us, how does following Him make all the difference? 

Following God opens the door to a relationship and a perspective that completely shifts how we see the world around us. Suffering can be viewed through His eyes and, as Joni Eareckson Tada so eloquently declares, “Sometimes God allows what He hates in order to accomplish what He loves.” 

Following God provides comfort and peace in the midst of the storm. 

Following God ushers in the abundant life that Jesus promises. This is not necessarily a life free from pain and hurt and suffering, but rather is the life He has designed for us. Life with Jesus is infinitely better than life without Him. 

Following God is truly the only path to making any sense out of a broken world. And when even sense isn’t to be made, there is nothing that compares to knowing you are loved and cared for by the Creator of the universe.

Let us come together and make a covenant to stand against distractions and to see the world through the eyes of God so that we may live and enjoy the life He designed for us, even when it seems to be the very opposite of what we might have chosen for ourselves. 

Lord God, You are truly the Lord Almighty. Your voice rumbles like thunder and Your very presence overwhelms us. Yet, You desire intimate and personal relationship. May we say no to the distractions of everyday life. May we prayerfully see the world through Your eyes. May be follow You above all else because You truly make all the difference in our lives.

 ~ Mike

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Broken but still usable

"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, 
O God, You will not despise."  Psalm 51:17 (NASB)

Every day, we make our daughters formula. She is on the ketogenic diet, and each of the measurements is very precise in order to keep seizures at bay.

Several of the tools we use are various sizes of measuring cups. 

One of these measuring cups is special - just the right size and hard to find. It has to be ordered, takes a few weeks to arrive in the mail, and not available locally.

And it is made of glass, this measuring cup is fragile.

Recently, after I made girlie's daily food, I put the measuring cup in the sink to be washed, and I accidentally knocked it with another dish (or two, oh my). Let me just admit it, I put it in the sink full of other dishes.

Our fragile measuring cup crackedA long crack down the side appeared along with a chip at the top.

First thing I did was run to the computer to order another one.

But in the time between when the crack happened and when the new one arrives, what do I do?

Use the one I have, of course. With a huge crack down the side and chip in the top, is it still usable?

Praise God! It still held liquid! It still held the formula and did not leak!

The messed up measuring cup still worked. No formula leaked out of the crack.  

It was broken but still usable.

Girlie is a broken vessel, trying to live in a body that does not work, in a body that just won't cooperate.

Yet, God uses her just like she is. With her perfect and pure spirit but broken body, Girlie glorifies God just like she is.

Me too. I'm broken. I'm a broken clay pot.

But my life still holds Jesus, still holds love, still holds hope, even with a big crack down the side.  My brokenness is just not as visible as girlie's, but it is there none-the-less.  

A broken vessel can still glorify God.

Dear God, I thank you for my brokenness. I thank you for my daughter who glorifies You, and teaches me more than I could ever have imagined. I pray that you would bless the moms who need to see You even in the brokenness.

Melanie Durity

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Going After The One

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭15:4‬ ‭NKJV

I knew it was coming. I could feel it. He was standing there shifting from one foot to the other as we waited. In my infinite wisdom I had chosen the self check out at the grocery store. I was sure it would be quicker...even with my coupons. 

I was wrong. 

My Six foot tall man-sized son, who normally does pretty well grocery shopping, had no intentions of waiting for the chatty little checkout guy to scan those coupons. 

He ran. 

He ran right out the door.

Into the busy parking lot. 

He was, "Abandon ship, and every man for himself!"

I was right behind him, or as right behind him as a 45 year old, overweight and out of shape woman can be. I lost him at one point and a couple of times I froze as he ran behind cars that were backing out, but I didn't give up. I didn't stop looking for him until I found him, until he was safe. I am his parent and "going after him" is woven into my DNA. 

I was a real life, live action Luke 15:4 "leave the 99 sheep to go after the one" example.

I left behind my change, my purse, my groceries, other two kids. Thankfully the girls are 11 and well, they are not strangers to interesting circumstances. 

When I caught up to my son, who had finally located our vehicle and climbed into the back seat, I looked behind me and saw those two little girls that I had left in the store, running to catch up to us. They were carrying my change and my purse. 

When they made it to the car I hugged them and asked if they were ok. They handed me my stuff and shook their heads "yes." "Good," I responded, "Now run back in there and get the groceries." 

We still needed the food. I had already paid for it, and leaving my son to go back in was simply not an option. 

They knew that. 

Without hesitation, they turned right around and headed back toward the store. 

We have been talking about this idea of "going after the one" at church. Luke Chapter 15, verse 4 says, “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?”
(‭‭Luke‬ ‭15:4,‬ ‭NKJV‬)‬

We don't often get to live this so literally. While I was chasing my almost grown autistic son through the grocery store parking lot, I was not thinking how incredible it was that this adventure parallels this verse. I was just thinking I had to keep him safe, I had to find him; stopping, resting, giving up...not even an option. 

Can you imagine the depth of love and concern, the determination that God has when he comes after us? 

God I am so thankful for Your love and willingness to come after us, to search for us and not stop until you find us. You know that our children wander and bolt and run, many times without concern of direction and danger. Protect our children and protect our hearts.  In Jesus' name we pray. Amen

Monday, August 14, 2017

A Prayer for My Child's Therapist

Wealth and honor come from you;
    you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power
    to exalt and give strength to all.
Now, our God, we give you thanks,
and praise your glorious name.
1 Chronicles 29:12-13, NIV

When the morning bell rings, the children scurry to their classrooms. The teachers are there to greet our children and lead them through the school day. Teachers are the people we often first think of when we discuss going back to school. But, parents of children with disabilities have other school people in mind -- our child's therapists.

Whether it's a school based occupational therapist, physical therapist, or speech-language pathologist, parents know that their child's therapist is an important part of the school year. Like teachers, the school therapists are gearing up for the new school year. Unlike teachers, they may not always have a dedicated room to themselves to prep, but there are many things a therapist must prepare for at the beginning of the year. 

Therapists have a difficult job. A therapist may have to travel from school to school to see kids on their caseload. A teacher may be responsible for 20-30 students, a therapist may have double or triple that number to plan for and treat. Therapists primarily evaluate and treat children, but meetings and paperwork constantly mean adjustments to their schedule and flexibility to get it all done. 

Therapists are not always popular either. While some children may love doing therapy, some may not. These therapists may have some unwilling participants to work with under the strain of required IEP minutes and schedules. Therapists are not always received well by parents, especially if treatment hasn't been going as well as expected. While teachers will receive Christmas or end of the year gifts, the therapists often walks away empty handed because no one thinks to remember their small part in the child's life. 

Yet, these professionals choose to work with and serve our children with delays and disabilities. Some people do not understand the needs of our children, but these people do. As parents, we need these therapists! If we tried to get these services privately, we would have to jump through insurance hoops, worry about co-pays, and track how many sessions we can have before we max out for the year. The school therapists are the unsung heroes in our children's school life. 

As school starts back, I think about my children and their therapists. My daughter will work on her fine motor skills in occupational therapy and build language skills with her speech-language pathologist. Her progress will be slow, but by the end of the year there will be some new success to celebrate. My son will make an unhappy face when his physical therapist arrives to see him for his hypotonia and loose joints. He'll also work hard trying to produce a clear /s/ in speech therapy too. The therapy my children will receive is important, and I'm grateful for it. 

I know how challenging the work of a therapist is, therefore I know I need to cover them in prayer. With all that in mind, I offer this:

Thank you for the caring and dedicated therapists in my child's life. Bless the occupational, speech, and physical therapists who will be serving my child at school this year. Help them to feel appreciated while they are on the job and loved by the children they serve. 

Lord, 1 Chronicles says that You know how to give strength to all, so I humbly ask that you impart this strength to the ones working with my child. Give them patience when my child is not so cooperative. Help them to not take these poor attitudes personally, but help them to extend grace to the child that may not be in the mood for therapy. Give them wisdom when they need to make decisions about my child. Give them a fresh perspective on my child's condition and new ideas on how to best treat them. Help them to fight discouragement when there seems to be no progress happening. Let them experience joy in seeing new successes too. 

Help your spirit to shine through my child for the therapist to see. Let my children have good attitudes in therapy and build a positive relationship with their therapists. I pray that each of my child's therapists will come to know you personally this school year, and help me to be obedient if I am part of that equation. Give me patience and grace with my child's therapist. Help me to treat them as you would God, and help me to appreciate them more this school year. Amen!

*Mom of 2 kids in therapy & a pediatric speech-language pathologist*

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Second Look Saturday - 8

I know, I know...this is an OLD one!

But I was thinking about Jeff Davidson the other day, and thinking about how much his family must miss him.

So, I clicked Jeff's name on the "labels" portion of the page and started reading some of his older posts.  He always knew how to comfort so many people.

Enjoy some inspiration from Jeff today by reading My Garden of Gethsemane and then answer some of these questions yourself:
  • Have you come to a place of surrender to God's Will?
  • Do you see God's Plan in your roll as a parent of a child with special needs?
  • What does it mean to realize that your purpose is deeper than your pain?

~Tammie Hefty