Tuesday, August 31, 2010
There are certain things in this great big world that will just never make sense to us. As parents of kids, with special needs we already wrestle to understand why a loving God would allow our children to suffer the way they do. But the trials of parenting a child with difficult diagnoses does not necessarily exempt us from further difficulties.
I recently returned from a vacation to receive news that a loved one is facing some new challenges with their cancer treatment. It took me to a place I have been more times than I care to admit at my young age. I have grieved at the funerals of at least two special needs moms and one of our faithful volunteers in the first decade of this ministry. Another of our mothers recently saw her young daughter relocate to her home in heaven, way too soon by our standards. Such unspeakable anguish can't help but leave a person reeling and wondering why! Haven't these people been through enough? How could God allow such things?
The only way we can find peace in such awful turmoil is by trusting in our loving God. He assures us that His ways are beyond our comprehension. This gives me confidence that there is some positive purpose for all our bitterest grief. Jesus alone fills me with the hope that, "our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." (2 Corinthians 4:17, NIV)
I must encourage you that in each of the situations I have mentioned above, God was glorified! While two of the deaths were very sudden, others bore the hallmarks of humor, endurance, growing in faith and increasing value in what was truly important. Even the families mentioned who experienced the shock of sudden loss praised God and had their vision set towards heaven through their tears. They were all living testimonies that our response to tragedy can be a light in this very dark world.
As I share the grief in my heart with you today, I would like to spur you on to a hope that goes far beyond the circumstances of today. There is so much we don't see or know that God is working out in the heavenly realms. And when we get to heaven, the beauty of His unveiled purposes for every heart ache will overwhelm us with joy. I leave you today with a poem that I post every now and then that has been a great encouragement to me over the years:
My life is but a weaving between the Lord and me;
I may not choose the colors, He worketh steadily;
For He can view the pattern upon the upper side,
While I can see it only on this, the under side.
Oft times He weaveth sorrow, which seemeth strange to me;
But I will trust His judgment, and work on faithfully.
'Tis He who fills the shuttle; He know just what is best,
So I shall weave in earnest and leave with Him the rest.
Not till the loom is silent and the shuttles cease to fly,
Shall God unroll the canvas and explain the reason why -
the dark threads are as needful in the Weaver's skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver in the pattern He has planned.
Friday, August 27, 2010
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
It seems inevitable, but we parents so often seek to remedy things when our children suffer through the "unfair-ness" of life. It just doesn't seem right that our children should have to grow up too soon by facing things like tough medical treatments or surgeries, discrimination or even facing the worry of death. In our heartache, we try to balance the scales by seeing our kids worthy of some huge reward for all they have to endure. Spoiling them rotten with toys, treats and outings can seem only natural when they endure and are forced to understand things that would cause even most adults to faint. We may even refrain from disciplining them, offering them an "out" that we wouldn't offer kids who are unaffected or healthy.
This is commonly known as overcompensation, and I've done it myself. In fact, my hilarious friend Tony Piantine who runs Camp Daniel in Athelstane, WI often jokes with my eldest, neurotypical daughter that the two of them are going to run off to McDonald's together to make up for all the times they've been slighted when their sibling with special needs got to go. Tony's brother, Dan, surrendered his battle with a neuromuscular disease for a heavenly home in 1994, while our daughter still lives with a brother who has hemophilia and a younger sister who has several diagnoses including ADHD, severe allergies and sensory processing issues. Despite the span of time, our eldest can certainly relate to the memories our friend has of his disabled brother.
How challenging it is to not tilt the scales towards showering our kids with all that delights their hearts when they face the injustice of awful suffering! I would much rather have it be me than them who is subject to painful tests, treatments and countless hospital visits. My heart aches right along with theirs as they battle to have a reasonable life.
But when all is quiet, and I'm steeped in God's word, I must admit the truth. God never promised a picnic in this life. In fact, Jesus promised, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33, NIV) So why do I try to make this world heaven for my special kids? There's something that God hard-wired into mothers that makes us quick to protect and defend our offspring. But that must be balanced out by teaching our children coping strategies and how to navigate through life's difficulties.
If we sincerely believe the truth of Romans 8:28 that God can and will use everything for the good of those who love Him, then we need to couch that overcompensation. We need to use this opportunity to shape our kids to reflect His glory in powerful ways that an adult never could. That can only happen by balancing the extra TLC our kids may need with the proper discipline that they require. Every child, no matter what their level of challenges or abilities needs to be taught love of others, kindness, teamwork and pushing oneself a bit. That may look very different in each child, but it's essential to their growth into a well-adjusted adult.
Let's also be honest that no one likes a brat! And when our kids always get their way, get every little object their hearts desire, this is what they become. How does that endear them to those who don't understand the disabled? Does that reflect light or darkness? It's certainly not a positive way of recycling pain. Instead, it makes the ignorant feel righteous in their faulty beliefs that we get what we deserve and we're nothing like them.
The next time you feel that knee-jerk reaction to give in to your child with special needs, remember a few things. First, remember God loves that child even more than you do (Matthew 7:11). He's even numbered the hair on their heads (Luke 12:7), which is certainly more than what you've done in love as their parent. Next, take seriously all of God's mandates to raise that child up in a responsible way. (Proverbs 22:6) His or her adulthood depends on it! And God saw fit to make you the steward of that precious gift. Finally, remember that God never says in His word that you will take away your child's ever tear or sorrow. "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." (Revelation 21:4, NIV, emphasis added)
Friday, August 20, 2010
Monday, August 16, 2010
A sweet friend of mine received the serious diagnosis of cancer this year. Faced with the grueling treatments of radiation, chemotherapy and surgery, her dear mother has traveled from another state to be there by her side. Her presence has not only given much needed aid at home, but it has also given great moral support and comfort.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Friday, August 6, 2010
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
- Meet Him first thing in the morning. Let Him get you off on a right start. God blesses you when you put him first in your life. And giving him the first part of every day is a great way to make it known that He is your primary focus.
- Meet Him in the quiet. Our days are filled beyond capacity with the noisy demands of parenting. We can be too easily distracted even with the background sound of having the news on. Some of my favorite quiet times are in nature, on the patio, on an early morning walk or in the woods when we're camping. My spirit is then open to hearing what God has to share with me.
- Meet with him in a special place. When it's warm out, my sunny patio with views of the blue sky and lush surrounding greenery is my special meeting place with God. I feel His presence there and almost hate to leave as the day carries on. When the weather turns cool, I have a special chair in the living room where I have a beautiful view out the windows, paintings of gardens and statues of angels that all naturally make me contemplate the One I'm meeting with.
- Meet Him with the right tools. A translation of the Bible that you can read and understand is a must. I've heard people share a humorous little acronym for Bible: "Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth". But I prefer to see it as God's love letter to us. His word is so rich with loving, merciful insights. Your time wouldn't be the same without His word to refresh you. Some people also find devotional books helpful as well to enhance their understanding or the practical application of God's word.
- Meet Him in a special environment you've created. The word "holy" or "sanctified" means "set apart". Make your setting with the Lord unique in a way that feeds your soul. Perhaps it's with candles. I love candles not only for their peaceful glow, but also because they have signified the presence of God throughout Christian tradition. And I dare not have these lit when the children are bouncing around the house! Other things like a lovely journal and fancy pen, a soft blanket, flavored tea or coffee help make your time with God extra sacred. You go all out when guests come, why wouldn't you do the same for the Lord of the universe?
These are things that will fill your cup when practiced on a regular basis. We must be deliberate in carving out that time each and every day or we will reach a breaking point. We were not made to be constantly drained without being replenished. But we were made to have fellowship with our Creator!