Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Saturday, April 18, 2009
We have dear friends who have served and continue to serve in places like Swaziland and Kenya. These friends have seen first-hand the power of God as they pray with individuals who then receive a physical healing. There is not a shadow of doubt in my mind that my friends' stories are true. And I covet their experience.
Several years ago, our son Charlie's hemophilia was causing some serious disruptions in our lives. The poor boy was experiencing nosebleed on top of nosebleed that never seemed to end. We had him to an Ear Nose Throat Specialist who cauterized him. It felt like we were infusing gallons of clotting factor that would not stop the bleeding. Creams applied topically and oral syrup did nothing to provide relief. We couldn't go grocery shopping, to church or enjoy any sort of recreation without Charlie "springing a leak".
Finally, my girlfriend, Anne, asked me if I had ever considered having him anointed. Truthfully, I hadn't. It wasn't that I thought God was incapable of healing Charlie's hemophilia. But I felt that God had other plans that didn't include removing this trial from him. And if I'm completely honest with myself, I had never heard of Jesus delivering someone from a genetic illness like Down Syndrome or hemophilia, so I wondered if it could happen. I do believe, but this was my seed of doubt.
Despite the shortcomings, we did move forward with the small amount of faith that was in our hearts. Charlie was anointed and prayed over by elders and friends. To God's glory, the bleeding inexplicably stopped! Now, Charlie still has hemophilia, but the ceaseless season of his troubled nose came to an abrupt halt.
Take some time today to read the story of the father begging Jesus to heal his son in Matthew 17:14-21, Mark 9:14-29 and Luke 9:37-43. I AM that father! And if you're truthful with yourself, I'll bet you're that father too. You profess with your lips that you believe in God and that Jesus is Lord. You want to hope, want to believe. But there are those miserable, nagging seeds of doubt: "Healing is for others, but not for me;" "Maybe healing is all in the imagination;" "There might be ways to explain those healings other than divine intervention."
Pray with me today! "I do believe; help me to overcome my unbelief!" Our faith can only be bolstered by fleeing to God in prayer. If we just take that one small step of trust toward God, in His amazing compassion, He does the rest of the work. Does this mean that God will grant us healing every time we ask? Of course not! In His infinite wisdom, He knows what is best in the "big picture". But if we never ask, seek, knock, then the answer is always "no".
~ Barb Dittrich
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
We live in a culture that is fixated with avoiding pain or discomfort at all costs. The prevailing acceptance of abortion eliminates the discomfort of giving birth to a disabled or unwanted child. The rising occurrence of assisted suicide expedites imminent death while eliminating its pain. Heck, we can even be sedated to snooze through a dental appointment if we choose!
Unfortunately, we as Christians are prone to buying into this cultural folly. We want Easter Sunday without Good Friday. We want The Resurrection without The Crucifixion.
This distorted mindset has plagued us since the dawn of history. Sarah felt the need to help God along, attempting to remedy her pain of childlessness by getting her husband, Abraham to sleep with her maidservant, Hagar. (See Genesis 16) Barak insisted that the prophetess Deborah accompany him into the battle God had ordered him to lead, hoping to insure an easy victory. (See Judges 4) Saul rushed ahead of God in an attempt to calm the fears of his soldiers, refusing to wait for Samuel the priest to arrive and offer a burnt offering to the Lord. Instead, Saul offered the sacrifice. (See 1 Samuel 13) None of these situations resulted in an outcome pleasing to God. Thus, the people involved forfeited their own enjoyment of God's best for their lives.
We would do well to take notice of these outcomes as a cautionary tale to all of us!
There are many lessons that can only be learned through the school of crucifixion and suffering. Humility, self-denial, mercy, compassion, persistence and commitment are not traits that naturally come to us with ease. Furthermore, God assures us that His power is made perfect in our weakness. (See 2 Corinthians 12:7-10) We rob God of glory that could be displayed through us when we try to circumvent suffering at all costs.
The perseverance that glorifies God and carries us through to our final destination is much closer to the athletic mantra of "No pain, no gain!" than it is to the insanity of our luxury-driven culture. As we struggle through our daily trials, know that these "...light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." (2 Corinthians 4:17) Obeying our Wise Father, even if it means discomfort, is where we should set our sights. This is the exact behavior that our beautiful Savior engaged in when He took the hope-giving route from Good Friday to Easter Sunday!
PRAY: Holy Spirit, make me brave in the face of pain and discomfort so that it brings You the most glory.
~ Barb Dittrich
Saturday, April 11, 2009
I think one of the things that I find myself constantly wrestling with as the mother of a kid with special needs is a sense of hopelessness. The daily living can be so exhausting, being on top of medications and treatments. The endless doctor's appointments hi-jack life and overload the brain with intense information. It's sobering realizing there is no cure in sight for your child's diagnosis. And it's equally sobering feeling like you'll never get out from underneath the mountain of never-ending medical bills.
If this life were the only thing I focused on, I would be utterly hopeless and depressed.
Easter Sunday is a day most worth celebrating because it's the day my hope was born! The God who is big enough to overcome death itself is big enough to handle any trouble I may have. The God who gave purpose to the horror of His Only Son's brutal crucifixion can surely give purpose to my suffering. Easter gives me hope that, in spite of all of my imperfections and shortcomings as a mother, through Jesus, I have a mansion in Heaven. Jesus' resurrection provides the promise that the anguish of this life is only temporary, but my joy is eternal.
With my eyes fixed on all the hope that Jesus died and rose to provide for me, the problems of this life suddenly fade. Although I may have days where I feel hopeless, because of my precious Savior, I am NEVER without hope! Hallelujah!
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
"Why? What crime has he committed?" asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, "Crucify him!"
When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. "I am innocent of this man's blood," he said. "It is your responsibility!"
All the people answered, "Let his blood be on us and on our children!"
Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. (Matthew 27:22-31, NIV)
Saturday, April 4, 2009
How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! (Psalm 133:1, NIV)
There can few more prominent concerns when a parent has a child with special needs than the relationship between siblings. The jealousy between the unaffected and diagnosed child can be more fierce than in a family where there are no health issues. In a family where a child has a special need, the sibling is not only burning with jealousy, they can also be burdened with guilt, anger, fear, worry and a sense of injustice. These siblings are forced to mature earlier and to make sacrifices along with parents in order to compensate for the special need.
While this brings additional anguish to any loving parent, there are some helpful ideas to keep in mind when dealing with your health children.
- Make the healthy child feel guilty because of their feelings or because they don't struggle with the same issues their sibling. Their troubles are certainly of concern to them.
- Try to make things even. They never will be!
- Overcompensate with the special needs child. This creates a whole host of problems, no the least of which is adding fuel to the flames of jealousy.
- Dwell on your guilt. While feeling guilty is only natural, it is important to remember that these circumstances are not your fault, and that even healthy siblings have rivalry.
- Ignore the problem. Properly addressing the issue will help you to get a handle on it. Ignoring it will only make the situation grow in size.
- Make some special time for your healthy child. Go on adventures to their favorite place, the ice cream shop, the playground or shopping. Building relationship through that reserved time helps them understand that they are equally important to you.
- Make it safe for them to express their emotions like anger and frustration. Appropriate venting and talking the feelings through will diminish negative behaviors.
- Applaud their accomplishments, including the kind treatment of their sibling with the special need.
- Let them use the skills they've gained as a sibling of someone with a special need to bless others. Our eldest daughter, who has the unique perspective of being completely uninhibited by the disabled, really enjoys encouraging special needs children in our local adaptive aquatics program by swimming with them. This helps them to see the positive benefits of having a sibling with a special need.
- Acquaint your kids with programs like SibShops (http://www.siblingsupport.org/sibshops/index_html) or books like VIEWS FROM OUR SHOES (http://www.siblingsupport.org/publications/views-from-our-shoes). In this way, they are comforted knowing that they are not alone.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
California Carol, my hip, fit, older sister has been an inspiration to me. She has fiercely devoted herself to a new and healthy lifestyle in recent years, and she's got the beautiful results to show for it. Rarely does a day go by when she isn't getting proper exercise or nourishing her body in wise ways. Besides looking great, she has the energy to meet the demands of her life.
If these amazing results are available in the physical realm, how much more does God seek to daily nourish us in the spiritual realm? By becoming human in the form of Jesus Christ, how boldly God sought to be called our friend. As with any friend, how can we know Him if we don't spend time with Him?
Above all other friendships, God provides great benefits to get us through our daily living. In His word, we are provided with encouragement, love, wisdom, joy, hope, and the list goes on. Who doesn't seek such things in their life? Surely, this alone is reason enough to merit spending daily time with Him. But additionally, He tells us in Isaiah 55:10-11 that time in His word is never wasted. When God speaks, good things happen!
Strengthen yourself daily, my friend, through prayer and the Word. It's a steady diet that will not only energize you for this life, but will also give you a joyful peek at the next!