Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Uber-Friend


Joshua did what Moses ordered in order to fight Amalek. And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went to the top of the hill. It turned out that whenever Moses raised his hands, Israel was winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, Amalek was winning. But Moses’ hands got tired. So they got a stone and set it under him. He sat on it and Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on each side. So his hands remained steady until the sun went down. Joshua defeated Amalek and its army in battle.
Exodus 17:10-13, MSG

Where would we be without our friends? I, for one, would have made an extended stay at a local mental health care facility, if not for the support and prayers of friends.

Of course, there are friends and there are FRIENDS. The best friends help in crisis by:
  1. Praying with or for us when we can't pray for ourselves. (This is also known as "The fellowship of the mat." See Matthew 9:2)
  2. Knowing when to speak, and when to withhold opinions, just listening.
  3. Offering us a helping hand by bringing a meal, giving a ride, watching a child or the like.
  4. Laughing when we laugh, and crying when we cry.
  5. Encouraging and affirming us in our lowest moments.
  6. Refraining from gossip and keeping our confidences.
  7. Filling in the voids left by those who lack understanding.
Like Aaron and Hur, a helpful friend will understand that we are tired, and will offer us refreshment in these times. They will help us keep our eyes and hands lifted to heaven. These cherished people will stand shoulder to shoulder with us until we win the battle.

My prayer is that God will bless you with dear friends like these. Make it your commitment to wisely chose people like this to be part of your "inner circle". And when God does bring them along, don't forget to accept their help!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Mmmm! Smells Good!

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. (2 Corinthians 2:14-15)

Our sense of smell is an amazing tool given to us by our Creator. None of our senses can so quickly transport us back to a specific place and time as when a familiar odor hits us. In terrible ways, nothing is as easily recognizable as the smell of death, internal bleeding or rotten food. In delight, we deeply inhale the scent of baking cookies, a lovely woman's perfume or beautiful flowers.

God surely uses children with sensory integration issues to show us how much of an impact smell has! I have been to more than one "scent-free event" while serving in disability ministry. I've seen some of our parents have to leave the closeness of another friend just because a given odor has set their child off. And I've worked with one mother to get her school to use low-odor products to clean the classrooms and bathrooms, so her son's behavior and headaches can be adequately controlled.

With all this is mind, why shouldn't we think that WE leave an AROMA everywhere we go? God shows us in His word that we can leave that fragrance of Jesus, a scent like no other, wherever we may roam. How? Let me use an acrostic to tell you:
A - Attitude - We can carry a loving attitude wherever we go, no matter how difficult our circumstances.
R - Reality - We need to be real with people, sharing our sorrows and challenges, so they know they're not
the only ones. We give others the chance to watch more closely to see how Christians are
called to deal with life's ups and downs.
O - Obedience - There are so many times when it would be easier to opt-out and do life our own way. We can
use our children's diagnoses to excuse our rebellion. But ultimately, we give God the most glory
when we obey no matter what situation we face.
M - Manners - Being courteous has high impact when we are in stressful situations at hospitals, doctor's offices
or dealing with schools. When we treat others the way we would have others treat us in the
same situation, people stand up and take notice. This is what it looks like when Jesus calls us to
"be holy" in the same way He is.
A - Anticipation - 1 Peter 3:15 says, "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you
to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect..." When
people see us living this life like we're just passing through, carrying the full anticipation of
heaven in our hearts, their focus will be turned in the same direction.

Friends, when we leave this AROMA everywhere we go, the people we encounter can't help but say, "There's something different about them. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I want what they have." As my pastor often reminds us, "Whether or not you know it, people are watching you." How amazing that we can leave the intoxicating fragrance of our Savior just by the way we live-out-loud each day!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Please Support SNAPPIN' MINISTRIES in This Simple Way!

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Thanks for supporting our mission to "continuously support and encourage those living with the challenge of parenting a special needs child, so that the genuine love and hope of Jesus will be experienced and shared in their everyday lives"!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Job's Comforters

My daddy told me that words are like seeds.
The good ones grow flowers; the bad ones grow weeds.
To open my mouth and say something unkind
Is like planting a seed in somebody's mind.
I'd rather grow flowers; they're pretty and sweet.
Planting the good stuff, that's really neat!
(Author Unknown)

So goes the poem my eldest daughter learned in K4. There are many adults who could stand to learn that poem, and unfortunately, we parents of kids with special needs have far too many encounters with them!

I wish I had $1 for every mother who has told me that people insult their parenting skills when they are in public with their autistic child. I myself have received unsavory glares and unkind comments when they see my child wearing large welts or angry bruises. People often accuse parents such as us of making a big deal out of nothing. That makes the pain of our challenges weigh on us even heavier. We are not unlike Job in Chapter 19, verse 2 saying, "How long will you torment me and crush me with words?"

Still, God sees our frustrations and cares deeply about our hurts. Although Proverbs 12:18 confirms, "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing," God also promises that He catches our tears in His bottle (Psalm 56:8). The Lord knows our hearts and the added pain of ignorant words that we endure more frequently than the average person.

Perhaps, since our Father is so in tune with our sorrow, we would do well to listen to His advice! Job 12:11 says, "Does not the ear test words as the tongue tastes food?" I have a cherished former colleague who used to say that people "don't know what they don't know". If our ears can test the words coming at us as the tonge tastes food, and realize that the people saying such painful things "don't know what they don't know", we may find that it adds to our strength. True, some days we will be better at this than others. But Christ calls us to offer the same mercy to others that we ourselves would ask of them.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Having a Front Row Seat

This talk was given at half-time to the spectators of all 4 Upwards Basketball League games, Saturday, January 17, 2009. I thought I'd share it with you:

Is there anything like having a front row seat at a sporting event? Being down on the floor at a basketball game, so close that you can see the player’s sweat really makes you feel like you’re part of the game. Sitting in the end zone to be there for that Lambeau leap is an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience. And having tickets right behind the dugout is a close as a spectator can get to sitting with the baseball team. You can great pictures. You can get sweat on. You can catch balls or have players land in your lap.

But I would contend that there’s an even better front row seat than any of these – and that’s having a front row seat to watching God work. This season, I challenge each of you to keep your eyes open. Watch to see the “win” God allows you to be a part of. It may be seeing a neighbor willingly help you out in a pinch with the kids. It may be witnessing the Lord care and provide for your family through a jobless situation. It may be beating the odds in a serious medical situation. I’ll bet many of those passengers on that plane that landed in the Hudson on Thursday were able to see God up close and personal.

The fact is folks that God tells us in Jeremiah 32:27 “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is there anything too difficult for me?” I’m here to testify to you that this word from God is true!

I am a woman who has lived through a great deal over the years. But I had no peace through life’s challenges until I stopped trying to figure it all out for myself, and started believing, I mean really believing that God alone is worthy of my trust. Then I got those front row seats to see Him provide for my family in unexpected ways when my husband found himself between jobs 5 times in 7 years. I got the front row seat to watch Him provide us with children after years of miscarriage and infertility treatment. I got that front row seat to witness Him carry us through the challenges of raising a child with a bleeding disorder that costs over $150,000 to treat. By the world’s standards, we should be losers. We should have lost our home. We should have lost our sanity. We should have lost our hope and our faith. Now, I’m not going to tell you that you’d have the same outcome as us, but you’re never a loser when you have a front row seat to watching God work.

May today mark the beginning of you getting in the game by opening your heart and trusting the Lord. Then you’ll have a front row seat to witness Him making some miraculous plays in your life!

Monday, January 12, 2009

From the Mouths of Babes...

“When great things are brought about by weak and unlikely instruments, God is thereby much honoured, for his strength is perfected in weakness, and the infirmities of the babes and sucklings serve for a foil to the divine power.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Complete & Unabridged)

Before you go any farther in this BLOG, dust off your Bible and read Matthew 21:14-17. In this passage, Jesus turns from those who think they’re “all that” in their own eyes, to those who God treasures, the weak and humble.

It never ceases to amaze me how God uses children of all kinds. This past weekend, I had the distinct honor of being presented with a sizable donation from a group of 6th grade girls who had ventured out on a 1 day missions project. These energetic, giggly youths stood at 3 different grocery stores, telling the story of SNAPPIN’ MINISTRIES and begging donations to send a kid to camp. They stood in the cold. They put up with rude, grumpy people. And they did this all while they were fasting. What a testimony they are to the goodness and glory of God! In turn, God surprised them by blessing their efforts, producing 6 times their original goal.

In another example, I was able to watch my child glorify God in spite of his circumstances. At the emergency room last week, Charlie wouldn’t allow me to infuse him before we prayed. He does this with every infusion I give him, but only the family is a witness to this act. In the ER, medical staff were allowed to witness the humble petition of an 8 year old boy.

On Monday, we travelled to Children’s Hospital lab for a panel of blood tests. This is particularly hard on Charlie as he has to sit for quite some time while more than a half-a-dozen tubes of blood are drawn. Nevertheless, he bowed his head once again in front of the lab technicians, calling out to the Lord above before he faced one of his greatest fears. What testimony it was to these unsuspecting adults!

The point of these stories is to remind you that Christ tells us, “’From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise'” (Matthew 21:17, Psalm 8:2) and “"I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). God can and will use our children, no matter what their health status, to present us with a heavenly example. We need to hold our children with an open hand, instruct them in the ways of the Savior and pray that God would use them to reflect His glory to everyone around them. He is faithful to answer that request. And when He does, we will have the privilege of being awed as we have a front-row seat to watching Him work.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Zombie Woman

Remember the part of TOY STORY where Buzz Lightyear is petting slinky dog and Woody pushes his fanny off the bed, his slinky body following downward? That's what I feel like some days, my hind quarters dragging and the rest of me starting to follow. After late night visits to the ER or being up with your child, days can be especially trying. Some days I feel like Zombie Woman, walking around in a fog, bumping into the walls of life. In fact, I have another special needs mom whom I've affectionately named "my sleep sister". All I have to do is call her and notify her that I didn't get my 8 hours last night and she can empathize immediately with my exhausted state.

While I often feel like I'm falling short because of my lack of stamina, my Savior has mercy on me. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest," Jesus comforts. (Matthew 11:28) I'm grateful that the Lord loves me even if I am a Zombie Woman. The same Savior that came and walked amongst us for 33 years understands our overload! The same Jesus of the New Testament is the encouraging Word of the Old Testament, saying in Isaiah 40:29-31, "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

God knows that you are carrying that extra weight by dealing with the daily challenges of parenting His special child. Don't feel guilty about the additional "time out" you may need to recharge your battery! He has mercy, love and replenishment enough to put you back on your feet again. Soon you'll be transformed from "Zombie Woman" to "Steady Betty"!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Fear Not!

"Fear not!" "Do not be afraid!" Do you know that this is the most commanded phrase in the Bible, occuring over 100 times in a variety of ways? Yeah, right! That's easy for the average person whose greatest worry is keeping up with the Joneses, but how does a special needs parent live by that command?

Over this past weekend, our son took a hard face-plant on an icy snow bank and hemorrhaged so hard that we had to run him to the ER. Was I scared? You bet! Was he scared? Well, he was crying out, "I am going to die!" There's your answer. Nevertheless, as I tried to get him calmed and get all of the details out of him so I could tell the emergency staff, I had to remind him Who was with him. That's the key to obeying this COMMAND of God's... Remembering He is with you!

In Joshua 1:9 (which my children & I sang in a nifty tune when we homeschooled), God comforts Joshua as he is about to go into the promised land, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." My job as a follower of the Lord is to remember that the God who could speak the Universe into existence is big enough to handle my son's bleeding disorder. In fact in Luke 12:7, He assures me that He has even numbered every hair on my child's head. I, his loving mother, have not even done that!

The next time fear overtakes you as a special needs parent, and there are plenty of fears facing us every day, pull yourself aside and remember Who is with you and your child. He is able to do all that we ask or need of Him.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy Holidays?

Okay, let's face it, there's nothing like getting through the holiday season with a special needs child! Schedules are totally disrupted (which special needs kids especially thrive on), emergencies happen (regardless of the scheduled celebrations), and stress is through the roof (anticipation only feeds it more).

Having a son with severe hemophilia-A, I've had my fair share of challenges. Nothing can put me to the test like a nasty bloody nose right before the school Christmas program starts. Having relatives walking through the front door as I'm just about to start an emergency infusion isn't all that fun. And running to the ER while everybody else is enjoying food and football is exhausting, to say the least.

Even so, God is with me. In the book of Isaiah, Chapter 26, verse 3, the Lord promises us He "...will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you." Am I cracked? No. (At least not on most days.) What I'm saying is that my mind is always on God (ie "steadfast"). I NEED Him. I trust Him, because most days He's the only one I find worthy of my trust. Face it, being in a sleep-deprived, stressed-out state doesn't make me the most trustworthy person. Doctors are "practicing" medicine and not living with what we do every day, so they're not the most trustworthy. And family and friends, well, God love 'em, but they're opinions aren't always as helpful as intended.

We are promised in Hebrews 13:8 that, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." My prayer is that through the holiday season, you will find Him as trustworthy and peace-giving as I always do!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

INTRODUCTION

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)"


Special needs parents especially struggle through daily living, trying to find comfort in the midst of chaos. Jesus came to bring hope and comfort to those weighed down by the trials of daily life. He calls us to do no less. Through this forum, special needs parents are invited to present Christ to one another by offering compassion to other challenged parents. After all, nobody knows what you're going through like another who has walked in your shoes!