Friday, September 28, 2012

The "Secret Sauce" in Financial Well-Being



“Bring one-tenth of your income into the storehouse so that there may be food in my house. Test me in this way,” says the Lord of Armies. “See if I won’t open the windows of heaven for you and flood you with blessings." (Malachi 3:10, GW)

There is no doubt that there are often financial challenges to raising a child with special needs.  Depending upon the diagnosis and whether there are financial supports surrounding that particular diagnosis, funding care for a dear loved one can put a family in a place of serious desperation.  One of our three children has a diagnosis that currently requires him to be treated with approximately $250,000 per year in medication alone, with the guarantee of that cost rising as he grows.  Unless a family is earning an unusually high annual income, there is no way treatment for such a diagnosis can be afforded.  The stress that accompanies such numbers is heavy to say the least.

Yet, in our previous post "Money Troubles", we examined the notion of encouraging one another by sharing the stories of God's provision in these very types of situations.  We learned that the name "Jehovah Jireh" was given to the Lord by Abraham thousands of years ago when He provided the ram for the sacrifice, sparing Abraham's son.  And God remains that same ultimate provider to this day.

But that provision is not necessarily unconditional.  We all know families or individuals who are not surviving or thriving in the midst of their challenges.  And I would contend, that it may very well come down to a demonstrated sign of complete trust - tithing.  This huge step of faith is really the "secret sauce" in our financial well-being.  Am I implying some sort of Voo Doo ritual to guarantee stability?  Certainly not!

There is no "magic" involved in tithing.  The Scripture cited above, however, is the only promise of God where He urges us to test Him.  It's as if He is asking us to see if He really makes good on this promise.

The interesting thing is that when we take the risk to take Him up on His encouragement to try that promise out, we find Him faithful every time.  It seems completely counter to our human logic, but perhaps that is why He encourages is to do so.  When we take that leap of faith, trusting and obeying Him, we learn that the only way we could have possibly been provided for was by His hand.

In another passage, God also reassures us of His provision, "I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread." (Psalm 37:25, NIV)  This is why I chuckle when I think back to the days where my husband and I had the faulty logic of thinking, We can't afford to tithe.  In fact, we couldn't afford not to tithe!  God's words from Malachi tell us that he won't just provide the bare minimum we require, but that we will be flooded with blessings when we step out in trust.

Friend, I will tell you, every time I have tithed and then second guessed the truth in the promise, I have been proven the fool.  When we have given 10% of our paychecks to church or Christian charity, then doubted that God would come through in our financial pinch, we found ourselves surprised by His generous grace.  He delivers in awesome, unexpected ways, so that there is no question that it is Him.

It seems outrageous that I should be suggesting such a thing to parents who are already cash-strapped and financially stressed.  Yet, I know our own financial position and how the Lord has moved in our lives.  That motivates me to offer this challenge.  I dare you to step out in faith today.  Try tithing.  Whether it be to your local church or even this ministry, test God in this as He asks.  We want to hear back from you afterwards.  Let us know the effect of tithing in your lives.  We expect that we will be hearing reports of miracles.

PRAY:  Jehovah Jireh, I know that every good and perfect gift comes from You.  Help me to rest and trust in Your promises.  But also help me to step out in faith by daring to give the first 10% of what I am given back to You.  I am eager to see surprising miracles!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Money Troubles


And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide;[a] as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”
(a. Genesis 22:14 Hebrew YHWH Yireh)
~Genesis 22:14, NKJV~

Don't laugh, but after years of serving parents of special needs children and blogging, I am aghast that I have never written anything about the incredible financial challenges parents endure in our situation.  One does not have to look very far to find numerous articles on the impact of special needs on family finance.  Issues range from the unseen financial toll of special needs to the ways that money troubles can influence divorce, and there is plenty of information out there.

Regardless of what is being discussed in the public arena, what impacts us most is what is happening in our own individual lives.  No one can convince us it will be okay when we are the one with no money and no financial help in sight.  The absolute stress and anguish when we have a child with essential needs, and endless bills flooding our mail, is one of the toughest parts of parenting such a unique human.

That is why those of us who have not only survived, but now thrive in spite of such trials need to share our own personal stories. These are tales of hope, encouraging us to hang on in spite of what seems like impossible circumstances.  Our stories edify and give strength to press forward for even one more day when it feels easier giving up.

I will prime the pump with just a few of the amazing tales of how God has been our Jehovah Jireh in the most unlikely of times.  Hard-working and fiscally responsible would describe how my husband and I viewed ourselves before becoming the parents of children with special needs.  We did not carry credit card balances or have car payments.  We only spent what we had.  Yet, that fiscal responsibility of our own did us little good when my husband found himself between jobs 5 times over a 7 year period.  Add to that stress the tsunami of medical bills that came our way when our son was born with an outrageously expensive genetic illness.  Add to that the financial challenges of my need for 3 knee surgeries, physical therapies, pain management therapies and an eventual partial knee replacement all stretching over a 2 year period.  Add to that a second child with special needs, with most of the diagnoses or treatments not being covered by insurance.  Add to that dental issues in 3 of our 5 family members costing over $6,000 out-of-pocket beyond what dental insurance covers in one year.

By the world's standards, our family financial situation is utterly hopeless.  There is no reason we should have been able to hang on to our home.  There should have been no reason we could keep our eldest daughter in a private Christian school through her second grade year.  There should be no reason we have clothes or food on the table or cars to drive.  And yet, we live an unexpectedly wonderful life.

I could (and just may) write a book about the times and ways God has rescued us by His provision.  There was the time that our eldest daughter had her remaining tuition paid for by a generous anonymous donor during that second grade year.  There was the time we were completely out of money and that same daughter came home from school with a sealed envelope with $200 cash in her backpack.  There was another time where an anonymous cashier's check came in the mail, with enough to pay for our mortgage.  There was the church Thanksgiving basket that showed up in a laundry basket at our house.  There was the local company that mysteriously arrived, buying Christmas gifts for each of our children.  There were the refund checks that we didn't know we had coming that showed up in the mailbox.

These are just a few of the instances where God appeared just in time to launch our financial rescue in the face of utter desperation.  No doubt, He took us to the very edge of the fiscal cliff, but he never let us plummet off of it.  I would contend that He did this so that we would know that He is our provider and no one else.  Until we were willing to fully rely on Him because He was all we had, deliverance was not possible.  But He graciously and gloriously showed up.  (In a future post, I will describe why I think help came for us when sometimes, it does not come for others.)

Friend, know that in the midst of the disproportionate financial burdens that families with a child who has special needs may bear, there is a God who is our Provider.  He is able to do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine.  He is the God of miracles.  And He stands at the ready waiting for you to turn to Him.

PRAY:  Lord, I want to know you as Jehovah Jireh, my Provider.  I put my trust in You, crying out for your help.  I need a miracle to financial provide for my family.  Help me to be a wise steward of that which You have blessed me with.

Monday, September 24, 2012

FAVORITE VERSES SERIES: Starting at the Beginning

 
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." ~ Genesis 1:1, NIV

Sometimes we make false assumptions, and it seems that I am guilty of having done such in my post last week "Do You Have a Favorite?".  In it, I asked readers to share their favorite Bible verses, the ones that really encourage them or get them through life's toughest times.  While I didn't expect every reader to leave a favorite verse in the comment section, I was shocked that not even one reader shared.  Eventually, one person shared via Twitter, but that was it.  
This tells me a couple of things.  First, it is possible that my readers haven't enjoyed God's word in depth enough to actually have a favorite verse.  Second, if they do have a favorite verse, they don't fully appreciate the strength of the Word and the impact of sharing it with others.
In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NLT) we are taught, "All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work."  There is tremendous power in God's Word!  When we are down, it lifts.  When we are confused, it clarifies.  As my friend, Margo, so often reminds, "The Bible is the only book that reads us as we read it!"  I frequently pray to be a sharp tool in God's hand, and that effectiveness only comes through His Word.  I can't do special needs parenting (or any parenting for that matter) on my own.  I need Him to make it happen.

Knowing that I am not the only one in this position, I urge you to start at the beginning with me.  Once a week, on a Monday, we'll enjoy a new entry for our "Favorite Verses Series".  We'll cover a new verse that just may become your favorite.  We'll examine the verse and explore how it impacts our living today.  We'll learn how it equips us to be the best parent of a child with special needs.

Today's verse, Genesis 1:1, is probably the first Bible verse my children ever learned.  Years ago, when life had caved in on me as it never had before, it was the only truth I could hang onto.  What does it tell us?  First, when there was nothing else, there was God.  That is no less true today.  When everything falls apart, God remains as our help, our love, our rebuilder.  Second, He created.  When the world wants to demean our personal value or the value of our precious children, we can find immense purpose in the fact that we are God's creation.  His fingerprints are all over us.  We are His image-bearers.  Third, He created what we see in front of us as well as that which is out of reach.  God is to be trusted because all of creation is in His hands.  What is beyond us is not beyond Him.

Marinate on the value of this verse that may have otherwise seemed simple to you.  Treasure this in your heart for the days when life is beating you up.  And share this verse with others who could be blessed by it.  Scripture memory is a wise pursuit.  Challenge yourself to have this verse memorized by the time we have a new one next Monday.

I pray that this blesses you and that you are excited about our Scripture journey together.

PRAY:  Lord, your Word is life!  Let me discover it and treasure it always.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Do You Have a Favorite?

How sweet are your words to my taste,
    sweeter than honey to my mouth!
~ Psalm 119:103, NIV ~

I hate chain letters!  With the advent of the internet, these irritating pieces of superstitious fiction just seem to flood our mailboxes all the more.  Many tantalize by stating, "...See what happens!"  Others make out-and-out false promises of prayers answered or fortunes granted.  The only good part of receiving them online is the instant gratification of the "Delete" key.

However, the other day I received something similar from a Christian author and fellow special needs parent.  This was worth taking note of because it was all about sharing a favorite Scripture verse with others.  In fact, when I first received it, I thought that my friend was directing it specifically to me because of recent worries I had expressed.  Much to my delight, it was instead another perfectly timed comfort from the Lord.  Of course, I had to return the blessing by sharing one of my favorite verses in turn.

This lead me to think of you, dear Reader.  Do you have a favorite Bible verse?  What encourages you?  God's Word is so rich!  There is nothing in life I can face -- joy, sorrow or boredom -- that Scripture does not address.  Even so, there are a few verses that feed me time and time again.  Allow me to share three of them with you:
  • "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1-2, NIV1984)   This passage always helps me to readjust my focus properly and press on, no matter what.
  • "Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them.  Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'”(Isaiah 30:20-21, NIV1984)  These verses always reassure me that I can trust in God's guidance.
  • " 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, NIV1984)  Appearing at the end of every e-mail I send, these verses praise God for the purpose He has given us in the trials we face.
How often we hear of the value in memorizing Scripture.  It blesses and transforms us with every new chapter of life we walk through.  Yet, how seldom do we actually write it on our hearts or express it to others in our lives.

So, I ask again, do you have a favorite verse or passage?  If so, why is that your favorite?  What a blessing it would be for you to share in the "Comments" section of this post!

PRAY:  Lord, I know that Your words are life, a lamp to my feet, and more valuable than the food I eat.  Grant me time alone with You to immerse myself in Your precious conversation with me.

Monday, September 17, 2012

YOU Are Not Enough!

About this time another large crowd had gathered, and the people ran out of food again. Jesus called his disciples and told them, "I feel sorry for these people. They have been here with me for three days, and they have nothing left to eat. If I send them home hungry, they will faint along the way. For some of them have come a long distance.”

His disciples replied, “How are we supposed to find enough food to feed them out here in the wilderness?”

Jesus asked, “How much bread do you have?”

“Seven loaves,” they replied.

So Jesus told all the people to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves, thanked God for them, and broke them into pieces. He gave them to his disciples, who distributed the bread to the crowd.  A few small fish were found, too, so Jesus also blessed these and told the disciples to distribute them.

They ate as much as they wanted. Afterward, the disciples picked up seven large baskets of leftover food.  There were about 4,000 people in the crowd that day, and Jesus sent them home after they had eaten.
~ Mark 8:1-9, NLT ~

In hindsight, it's easy to read the Gospel accounts and shake our heads at the disciples.  How could they be such fools as they walked side-by-side with the Savior of the Universe?  There's so much they seemed to miss as Jesus stood right there in their presence.  Despite all the miracles they witnessed, every new crisis left them in the type of panic as if they had witnessed none.  It's easy to look at this sort of behavior in the Bible and scoff.

Yet, here we are, thousands of years later with the insight of knowing how the story ends, no better than these intimate followers of our Lord.  I would suggest that we parents of children with challenges have much to learn from the Gospel passage in Mark 8:1-9.  First, I want to point out that too often we, like the disciples, think that when God calls us to do something we should be able to do it on our own.  I am no less guilty of this than the next parent.  I would be a rich woman if I listed every time I was like the disciples in thinking that I don't have enough for what the situation at hand demands.  The irony is that when I think this, I am right.  None of us are enough.  You are not enough.  I am not enough.  Only the One who calls us to obedient service has what is required to satisfy the situation at hand.  We should take note that only when the disciples turned to Jesus could the mission be accomplished.  If we want to succeed in whatever the demand with our children may be, we must do the same.

Another lesson we can learn from this Gospel passage is that we serve a compassionate God.  He cares about our smallest concerns.  How sweet is it that Jesus cared about his listeners growing weary on their trek home?  If He cared for these, will He not also care for us and our children?  If He cared about food enough to get the crowd from his preaching venue to their homes, there is no doubt He cares for even more serious issues like our children's health, well-being in school, social difficulties, therapies, finances, and what sort of future our children may have.  In the face of concern, we should follow His example of thanking the Father for what we have, and moving forward in trust.

Parents, with our children's diagnoses, we carry God-sized issues on our shoulders.  But we were never meant to face these issues on our own.  In our imperfect human love, and with our other imperfect human resources, we are not enough.  What a relief to know that the Savior we follow IS enough for anything we face!  Stop burning yourself out, frustrating yourself and everyone around you by attempting to be the super-human that you can never be.  Trust His hand and watch Him carry you through today.

PRAY:  Jehovah Jireh, you provide enough for each new day.  Calm my anxious heart.  Wake me up to the fact that I am not enough.  Increase my trust in You.  Thank You for all You have given me.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Dream BIG!

"I know the greatness of the Lord
    that our Lord is greater than any other god."
~ Psalm 135:5, NLT ~

Expectations...  Too often we are reminded that ours may not be very realistic.  We hope for a cure and live a life without one.  We pray that the daily living with our children will get easier, and it only gets more difficult.  The finances always seem lean and that lottery ticket is never a winner. 

Yet, today I'm going to challenge us to dream bigger than we have before.  After all, we know the difference that a parent who believes can make in our children.  How many times have we heard tales of doctors delivering grave predictions upon diagnosis?  The breath is sucked out of mothers and fathers every day across this nation as they are told their child will never walk, talk, have cognition, or be a productive member of our society.  Dreams of even simple normalcy are smashed to the ground leaving parents in tears with the shards of their future.  Then in those same tales, we hear of a mother who refused to let herself be dominated by those heart breaks or a father who ran a triathalon with that child.  We hear of the child who was supposed to be permanently paralyzed walking after tireless years of parental work.  And we get to know the person that we knew was inside that non-verbal body through the use of a speaking application on an iPad.

We serve the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob!  This is the God who dissolved the walls of Jericho just by having the people obey in their march.  Thousands of Midianite troops were overcome by only 300 Israeli soldiers at this God's hand.  This God fed 5,000 men and the women and children with them by multiplying only 5 loaves and two fish.  The permanency of a tomb wash demolished when this same God brought His sun forth in life on Easter Sunday.  Yes, our God is the God of the impossible situation!

What does this mean to us as mothers and fathers of precious children in seemingly hopeless situations?  Dream Big!  Never give up!  While our lives may never look like the famous or even the typical life, we can set goals for our children.  When doctors tell us that things will never improve in our children's lives, we can remember who our God is.  There is no human greater than Him!  We can continue to get to know our kids and their unique personalities, not giving up on their value as individuals.  We can be motivated in the power of our Lord to seek answers and work for a brighter future than our children would have had if we had just collapsed in resignation.

And what if God doesn't improve the circumstances?  Then we need to continue in the trust that He has something even greater planned for us and those we love.  When the cure doesn't come or the condition doesn't improve, there is great power to reflect God's glory to a hurting world.  People watching us see circumstances that are seemingly hopeless, but they discover hope and joy when they witness us praising in life's storms.  In addition, our suffering produces a far greater eternal reward for those of us who are steadfast.

Don't allow your dreams to be squelched.  Look up in eternal hope!  Today, because of parents who refused to give up, we are seeing those with special needs achieve more than could ever be imagined.  We continue to be surprised by victorious souls who confound the "experts".  Remember Who your God is, and trust in Him completely.

PRAY:  Father, throughout your love letter to us, the Bible, there are countless stories of how you achieved what is impossible to humans.  Help me to remember that when my circumstances seem impossible.  Help me to walk victoriously, trusting in You no matter what the outcome is.

Monday, September 10, 2012

God of the Unseen

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
~ Psalm 139:14-16, NIV ~

Today marks the first day of National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week.  Founded in 2001 by our friends at Rest Ministries, this annual observance seeks to build awareness and compassion for the millions who suffer without any outward sign.  Given that Rest Ministries estimates 1 in 2 people have some sort of invisible chronic condition ranging from autism to migraines to rheumatoid arthritis, we ought to be giving thanks during a week like this that our God is the God of the unseen.

I think of all the times I have given praise over these past 12 years that one of the names of God, which is revealed in the book of Genesis, is El Roi or "God Who Sees."  Too many times over these years we have been subject to the harsh judgment of others, with no visible signs of our son's hemophilia or subsequent anxiety disorder.  Somehow, people think that if they are unable to see something, it cannot be life-threatening.  Hurtful comments are made with disdain, implying that you are "making a big deal out of nothing" or "being overly dramatic" about the severity of diagnosis.  Despite explanation and even hospitalization, those not living with such challenges often refuse to accept that the most dangerous bleeding episodes our son has endured cannot be seen with the naked eye.  

The same is true of our daughter's severe allergies, severe ADHD, sensory processing disorder and social deficits.  Since people cannot see with their eyes that there is a serious diagnosis, they suggest that "if you just lay down the law with that kid" or "stop trying to excuse her behavior," it will all just get better and go away.  They do not see the hours and hours that are poured into desensitizing, adapting and retraining a child like this, who cannot take medications for these life-long challenges.  They do not see the tears flow from her eyes as she demeans herself, wishing she were "better" or "a good kid."  It's enough to break a parent's hear every day.

But thank God, He sees!  None of those tears are shed in vain.  While the world can leave us second guessing ourselves, God gives us blessed assurance to guide us through the daily living.  He sees every protein in the blood that is not there.  He sees the neuropathways that are not formed in the typical fashion.  And He has the power to use them for our good and His glory.

Ultimately, for those who will hear God's voice, our "invisible" trials are a conduit to connect to an Eternal Hope.  For those with hardened hearts, people like us are cast aside.  Fortunately, as awareness is built, those individuals are the exception more than the rule.  For those who are more pliable, our lives are a vibrant witness to the fact that when the world thinks life should be worthless, there can be joy beyond human explanation.  The God Who Sees is there to hold our hand through all of the ignorance and unkind words, making us instead people of great value and bearers of His image.  Our lives are worth living.  We gratefully live well and with a much deeper perspective.

Knowing that this awesome God gives us purpose in our challenges, gives me strength enough for each new day.  And I have the privilege of imparting this hope-filled promise to my precious children who fight difficult invisible battles.  Thank You, El Roi, for walking through this all with us, and for making the seemingly ugly parts of life beautiful!

PRAY:  Oh, God, may we always be found to advocate for our brothers and sisters who endure chronic illnesses that no one can see on the outside.  By the power of Your Holy Spirit, may we have the right words in our mouths to soften hearts and change minds.  Thank You, for seeing and understanding when others do not.  You alone are our hope!

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Test of Trust and Obedience


He established written instructions for Jacob’s people.  He gave his teachings to Israel.
He commanded our ancestors to make them known to their children so that the next generation would know them.  Children yet to be born would learn them.  They will grow up and tell their children
            to trust God, to remember what he has done, and to obey his commands.
~Psalm 78:5-7, GW~

Transitions.  We all have to face them.  And in the world of special needs, much planning and deliberate thought goes into those transitions.  These times of life involve leaving the certainty of what we know, and moving into an often frightening unknown.  Not surprisingly, God uses them to test us in the areas of trust and obedience.

Oh, the stories of God's faithfulness I am blessed to be able share because I trusted and obeyed!  One example was when there was utter turmoil with my eldest child in 2nd grade.  She was crying herself to sleep over spelling.  The teacher's unyielding style was turning her off to learning.  After much prayer and speaking with 17 different homeschooling families, my husband and I stepped out in faith to homeschool both our eldest child and middle child.  I was scared, but we trusted and obeyed.  That test resulted in a daughter who has regained her love of learning, who has a better understanding of math and who hopes to one day have a career where she can use her talent as a gifted writer.  That test also provided a blessing when our son was hospitalized at that time.  The flexibility of the homeschool schedule left him no worse for the wear.  And because I had the privilege of teaching him how to read, write and apply concrete concepts to abstract math, he remains an excellent student.

Certainly, that wasn't the last time I was tested to trust and obey.  After 2 years of homeschool, I distinctly sensed God telling me to put all of my children into public school.  We had never attended public school and had heard many horror stories.  I really questioned God on this one.  I was scared, but we trusted and obeyed.  I am not going to say it was easy.  My eldest had huge social struggles assimilating into a group of 5th grade children who had been together since kindergarten.  Nevertheless, it stretched all of us in positive ways, allowing each of us to be lights in a dark situation.  Our son developed new friendships, introducing a wider world to hemophilia.  Ultimately, our youngest received new diagnoses, excellent support and sound therapies all because we had obeyed God in our children's educational placement.

This school year brings a brand new transition test.  Our youngest child, who thrived under the care she received through her grade school IEP, has now graduated to intermediate school.  At the end of last school year, her IEP was downgraded to a 504 Plan because she had made such progress.  While that was joyful news, it was also frightening.  I was so concerned that she may not receive what she needs in a new school setting with twice as many children.  Yet again, I am being tested to trust and obey.  Thankfully, we have a fabulous relationship with the intermediate school staff because of the intensive cooperation required with our son.  And because we have been put to the test more than once, we feel certain that God is worthy of our positive response.

This I know:  God has never proven our trust and obedience to be misplaced.  Ever.  What He asks of us is not easy.  It requires total dependence upon Him to accomplish it.  But in the end, it is so completely fulfilling, stretching us beyond a potential we could never fathom reaching.  

PRAY:  Lord, help me to trust and obey.  It goes against everything in my human nature.  Yet, I know that You provide Your best for me when I rely completely on You.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Top 5 Reasons YOU May Want to Step Up as a Mentor

"When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required." ~ Luke 12:48, NLT

For the past year, a small committee of dedicated servants have been working on a tool to benefit parents of children with special needs.  Our passion is to equip parents to grow from a place of despair and sadness to a life of hope and purpose.  With that in mind, we set forth to build a program to train parents of children with special needs to mentor others who are struggling.  Yesterday, we opened up the opportunity for individuals to begin applying as mentors.

Today, I am going to share a few key reasons why you may want to explore stepping up to this role yourself:
  1. Jesus was a mentor.  If God Himself left us a model of how to disciple one another, then shouldn't we follow that model in our own lives?  Christ spent 3 years of his earthly life walking side-by-side with 12 men to whom he would eventually pass on the mantle of leadership.  While they may have seemed like thick-skulled fools, that mentoring eventually became an essential part of what they needed to go forth and build the Church.
  2. You remember how hard it was and can still be.  Because you have walked more than a mile down this dusty road of parenting a child with some challenges, you have a good understanding of how tough the daily living can be.  Battles with doctors, schools and insurance companies are second nature to you.  That nod of acknowledgement offers great comfort to those who are stressed by these things.  While others not living this type of life may be dismissive, make hurtful comments or simply be ignorant, you have a level of compassion that can only come from one who has experienced similar circumstances.
  3. When you mentor another person, you both grow.  Coming alongside another person helps them to witness how you "do life."  This not only helps that person to see that life can be manageable, but stretches the one modeling.  The mentoree may have improved ideas on how to take what the mentor is doing, and make it better.  And when questions arise, both the mentor and the mentoree learn together.
  4. Because you have been given much, you have much to offer.  Rich in experience, you have a gift too amazing to keep to yourself!  As you grow to a point where you are capable of being a mentor, you gain wisdom and knowledge of the nuances involved with raising a child who has a diagnosis.  In your own unique way, you have become a specialist, an expert in navigating this sort of thing.  That expertise wasn't granted to you merely to use on your own family, but also to bless others.
  5. You have been given a renewed hope.  When we first recognize something is not quite as it should be with our children, there is grieving and heartbreak.  There are many uphill battles along the way.  In time, by God's grace, we realize the truth of Romans 8:28.  God can and does use even the most anguishing parts of special needs for our good and His glory.  We see that we are given a unique platform as we pass through this world on our journey home.  And we get to know our children as the remarkable people they are, equipped with special abilities and infinite value.  Our lives become richer, deeper.  And we get to identify with our Savior through the privilege of any suffering we endure.  Our kids are not burdens, but blessings.  We are not living in tragedy, but triumph.  This is a story that needs to be shared with those who are hopeless.
These are only a few of the reasons you may want to get serious about boldly stepping forward to join our mentor program.  Only 2 dozen individuals will be given the opportunity of going through our inaugural training session.  Contact us today at Barb@snappin.org for more information and an application.

PRAY:  Father, I know You have given me much, which means You expect much in return.  Help me discern whether now is the right time for me to step forward and bless another parent by mentoring.