Friday, September 27, 2013

Dear Doctor...

Hear now my argument;
    listen to the pleas of my lips.
~ Job 13:6, NIV ~

Dear Doctor,
I'm scared.  My child, the one I love more than life itself, is not well.  Won't you please help?  I know that your training and experience allow you to access tools that can bring us answers and treatments that are lifesaving.  

Dear Doctor,

I'm scared.  this isn't the first time we have faced this type of medical crisis, but we just can't seem to get to the cause.  You keep prescribing the same treatment.  Yet, these maladies continue.  Aren't you curious?  I'm concerned.  I hope we get to some answers here.

Dear Doctor,
My child has missed so much school.  He feels miserable.  He is praying for death.  Please help us!  The color has blanched from his face.  His usual humor is gone.  Something is not right here.  Won't you please look a little further to get at some possible causes?  I know he is anxious, but I also know this isn't all in his head.

Dear Doctor,

I am upset and sleep deprived.  I keep following the instructions you give us and nothing improves.  Your staff treats me with aggravation every time I call.  I am not trying to annoy all of you, but wouldn't you be persistent in your pursuit of answers if this were your child?  Please help us!


Dear Doctor,
I wish you knew what it was like to live our lives.  We don't have the income you have, to pay all of the bills that bury us from the countless times we have been charged to come see you for answers.  We remain without resolution.  My child is ostracized by other children.  It is so heartbreaking to watch my child in endless pain, both physically and emotionally.  I really thought you were going to help us.  Now I'm not so sure.

Dear Doctor,

I am a competent, informed advocate for my child, not an ignorant, apathetic fool.  Watch how you speak to me.  You work for me.  I do not work for you.  I expect you to return my phone calls when I specifically ask to speak to you.  I am trying to save time -- both for you and for myself.  Believe it or not, my time is worth something too.  If I miss many more days of work to be with my sick child, I won't be able to pay all the bills you are so vigilant in sending to me.  It benefits you to get my child well just as much as it benefits me.  Let's get some answers here!

Dear Doctor,
I am tired of the way you treat our family.  I have found the strength to explore my other options.  Do you honestly think we parents don't talk to others to compare our experiences?  I have tried to give you the benefit of the doubt.  We have followed all of your instructions.  All we wanted was to be listened to and to be treated with a little human dignity.  Instead of granting that simple request, you have added to our sorrow and suffering.  We hired you to relieve it.  I am currently visiting other doctors for second and third opinions on my child's health.

Dear Doctor,

We are moving on.  You are fired.

PRAY:  Father, turn the ear of doctors towards their patients.  Help them to treat us like part of the team, rather than an annoyance.  Soften their hearts, and increase their empathy.  At the same time, Holy Spirit, give parents like us an extra measure of self-control.  Put your arm around our shoulders and your hand over our mouths, so that we do not give full vent to our frustrations when we speak with medical staff.  Give us discernment, so that we know when to press for answers and when to keep silent.  Thank You for the blessing of our children.  We want to do the very best for them.  Please honor that desire you have implanted in our hearts.

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Emotional Wrestle With Hospitalization

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
    and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
    How long will my enemy triumph over me?
~ Psalm 13:2, NIV ~

What is it about modern medical facilities that so mess with my mind?  There always seems to be a love/hate relationship going on between my local children’s hospital and I.  Rated one of the nation’s top pediatric facilities and only Level I Trauma Unit in the area, our medical “second home” has it all.  With an adjacent medical college and top specialists in every manner of rare disorder, I should be grateful that my family has this place to rely upon.

Yet, I struggle between wanting my child to be admitted and wanting my child to be home.  When one of my children is having a medical difficulty that we just cannot seem to resolve at home, I am glad to have our children’s hospital.  Whether it is tonsils and adenoids, asthma and allergies, swallowing a dime, rheumatology, or myriad bleeding issues, I have felt a tremendous sense of relief that God deemed me worthy of living somewhere in the world with a facility like this.  And when one of my children is having trouble that I know they could fix at this hospital, but the doctor refuses to admit them, I find myself distraught, convinced that it is the key to our relief.

Our children’s hospital offers some amazing things for patients.  There is a newer wing of the hospital that has rooms with hardwood-look floors and a relaxing set-up that rivals many top hotels.  Parents have their own little desk and TV to help endure the admission.  Bathrooms are huge and sunny, with floor to ceiling frosted windows.  Kids can rent videos and games for free from the family resource center.  There are centers in the hospital for kids to do art projects, engage in sibling activities, or hang out in a teen room.  The staff are all so incredibly kind, accommodating patients and parents in any possible way. 

But the fact is, this isn’t a hotel.  Everything in that hospital comes with a hefty price tag, which will knock your feet out from underneath you the minute you think you are beginning to emotionally heal from your inpatient stay.  If you have the courage to actually ask for an itemized bill, you will surely see insane things like $10 boxes of Kleenex.  Furthermore, that expense doesn’t necessarily buy you top notch service.  Sadly, there is always a pull with the resident on the floor between administering proper care and getting you out of that hospital quickly.  It almost feels akin to the waiter standing at your table in the restaurant, watching every bite go into your mouth, asking you repeatedly, “Are you done yet?  Are you done yet?”.  The pressure to contain costs and get patients out the door definitely makes the inpatient experience more stressful for families like mine.

There are many other aspects of inpatient hospitalization that make it rough, even if you know it is the best place for your child to be at times.  When rooming in with your child, the parent's bed is like sleeping with a coat hanger jabbing your back, whether you fold it out or sleep on it as a couch.  Sleeping in the recliner chair is an option, but it is sleeping in a chair.  If your child is miserable and crying out for your comfort into the wee hours, it will only add to your sleeplessness.  All of the interruptions taking vitals, drawing labs or silencing alarms going off in the middle of the night aren’t necessarily conducive to restful recovery either.  The food stinks, it’s lonely, and incredibly isolating as well.

So how do I process this emotional wrestle with hospitalization?  I thank God for sound medical care!  It isn’t perfect, but it is better than much of what the world receives.  My help comes from the Lord.  With each hospital stay, I pray that I get better at handling the details of the crisis, finding help going in and coming out.  I also improve at advocating for my child as I gain increasing knowledge of the nuances of how things work in the various systems of medicine.   I hate that I have to use the children’s hospital, but I am grateful for how it has spared my children’s lives and restored them to a livable health more than once.  And good or bad, it always gives me perspective, increasing my gratitude for life’s smallest gifts.

PRAY:  Lord, calm my heart during these times of wrenching inner conflict.  Thank You for good medical care.  Help us when we need to recover from hospitalization.  And lead us to grow in remarkable ways from the trials we face.

Monday, September 23, 2013

A PEEK INSIDE MY JOURNAL: A Mother's Prayer in the Midst of the Storm

Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. 
~ James 5:16, NRSV ~


Be still, my soul.  O Holy Spirit, how I long to sit quietly in Your presence and meditate on Your goodness!  Your ever-faithful presence is a gift beyond all gifts.  You alone grant me clarity and peace.  Only you can grant me the wisdom needed for every decision.  And the awesomeness of Your glory takes my breath away.

Yet, my circumstances have obscured my view.  I look to You and struggle to see because I am drowning.  Life buffets me on every side, and I fight to regroup and press on.  My brain is scrambled.  Exhaustion and discouragement overtake me.

Spirit of the Living, Loving God, take over! Clear my brain fog.  Direct each step I take.  Bring order out of my chaos.  Grant that I might be effective rather than scattered.  Replace my stressed, racing heart with Your overflowing love.  As life continues to bump into me, let that sweet love spill out of me onto all who are near.  Thank You for going with me, because I realize full well, I cannot do it alone!

*Footnote:  Journal posts are taken from past entries on my special needs journey, offering parents a chance to identify with another person who has faced similar emotions and circumstances.

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013


But I gave up those things that were so important to me for Christ. Even more than that, I think of everything as worth nothing. It is so much better to know Christ Jesus my Lord. I have lost everything for Him. And I think of these things as worth nothing so that I can have Christ. I want to be as one with Him. I could not be right with God by what the Law said I must do. I was made right with God by faith in Christ.
~ Philippians 3:7-9, NLV ~

One of the hardest parts of raising a child with special needs is the loss.


There are times that it never seems to end.  Of course, when we speak of loss, most people think of that time when our children are initially diagnosed and dreams are smashed in a million glistening pieces.  Everything we had hoped for our children comes crashing to the ground.  I think of so many sports-loving fathers who have to come to terms with the notion that they will never toss a ball with their son or watch him attend their alma mater on an athletic scholarship.  

What most of the world doesn't realize is that the loss doesn't end at diagnosis.


There are almost continuous waves of grief that seem to wash over us as we raise our kids.  The departure of normalcy is one we must adjust to, creating a "new normal", while still being ever-aware of our differences.  We experience financial forfeiture as the bills begin to mount.  Certainly, our children are worth every penny we pour into them, but we would much rather be spending those funds on delightful birthday presents, family vacations and a terrific college education than on therapies and endless medical bills.  We also lose access -- to friends, to church, to inclusion at play dates, to a simple date with our spouse, and to countless public places we once wandered.

Yes, we just begin to recover from the buffeting of one wave of grief when another seems to inundate.  Raising children like ours is a lesson in perseverance to be sure, getting back up again, and again, and again.  At the same time, we are growing the skill of showing ourselves mercy, allowing for these times of sadness and departure from pleasant expectations.

I, for one, could certainly never bear these times without the firm foundation of Jesus Christ to lean on.  (See 1 Corinthians 3:11)  He is rock solid in our completely unstable world.  (See Deuteronomy 32:3-5)  He is hope to the hopeless and joy to the joyless.

Because of this, all of the loss that seems to subsequently march in waves through our lives presents a unique opportunity to have our eyes opened to a great gain.  That immense profit is none other than our Saving Lord.

The reality of our faith can be lived out in new ways because of our deficits.  Our loss has taught us that we can survive and even thrive without much of what the world counts as essential.  We have the opportunity to learn in a remarkable way that losing it all for the sake of Christ is, in fact, gain.  He becomes our treasure because we are stripped bare of the false gods that can so easily lead others to settle for a misplaced contentment -- health, financial stability, a smooth school career, social acceptance.  

My friend, let's support one another as we push through these waves of grief, taking encouragement in knowing that "weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning." (Psalm 30:5b, NIV)  As the modern adage states, "We may not have it all together, but together, we have it all."  In other words, our lives in this world may look like total loss to everyone around us, but because of Jesus, we are actually boundlessly blessed winners.  

PRAY:  Father, some days the loss in our lives seems to be more than we could ever bear.  Continue to bring to mind the fact that in Jesus, we are life's greatest winners.  Thank You for being the solid ground underneath our shifting lives, bringing us comfort and peace.

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Judge Not!

Judge not, that ye be not judged. ~ Matthew 7:1, KJV ~

In my 4 dozen plus years on this planet, I have seen today's verse used to justify every sort of deviant behavior known to mankind.  Sexual sins of every kind, "lifestyle choices", and abhorrent behavior of public figures are expected never to be called into account or evoke outrage.  As the culture circles the drain and slips ever more into depravity, this Bible verse tends to only be misquoted with increasing measure.  Yet, one place I never seem to see the "judge not" mentality applied is to the judgment of those with special needs or their families.

Sometimes it seems that raising a child with remarkable qualities is like a sidewalk into the most personal parts of your life.  People often judge your child with every manner of misguided perception, never caring how it wounds, hinders or destroys.  I have told the story in the past of the stranger who felt obligated to tell me, when my son was an infant, that she had to put her dog down from the same diagnosis that beset my newborn.  I still have a sister-in-law who refuses to believe that our youngest has any official diagnoses, and instead makes unkind remarks about our inadequate parenting.  And don't even get me started on the arrogant assumptions some of our doctors have made repeatedly over the years.  They never seem to back off until they have me in tears. 

If you are parenting children like ours, you have stories no less painful.  Relatives, neighbors, medical professionals, school staff, and even complete strangers think it is their God-given right to give a full airing of their opinion on how they judge your life.  Never mind if it is true or not.  They are going to tell you how it is, and if you don't embrace it, you are to be demeaned.

While some days are better than others, I can only seem to get through these erroneous value judgments by remembering that I was also once the same type of fool.  Since the words, "Judge not," from the book of Matthew 7 are so often misquoted, the perfect remedy for our foolishness is to look at Jesus' words in their entirety.  His full statement from this Sermon on the Mount is,

"Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged. For the way you judge others is how you will be judged — the measure with which you measure out will be used to measure to you. Why do you see the splinter in your brother’s eye but not notice the log in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ when you have the log in your own eye? You hypocrite! First, take the log out of your own eye; then you will see clearly, so that you can remove the splinter from your brother’s eye!" (Matthew 7:1-5, CJB)

This in no way implies that we are not to discern, evaluate, or seriously consider a person's behavior.  Only a few verses later, in Matthew 7:15-23, our Lord talks about carefully weighing whether a person is offering the truth or falsehood.  What God IS saying in Matthew 7:1-5 is that he alone is God, not us.  It is not our right to usurp his authority and decide who is a "bad kid" and who is a "good" one.  We are not the appointed arbiter of who is a good parent and who is a bad parent.  We have absolutely no right to decide who has a valuable life and who has a life that is not worth the oxygen they take up in this world.  Each of us bears the image of God, but we are most certainly not the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, Ruler of All.
The truth set forth in Matthew's gospel finally got through my thick head when I became the parent of a child with special needs.  I have no doubt in my mind that I judged others in ignorant, unfair ways prior to our children's diagnoses.  Most definitely there were times where I deemed other parents to be over-protective, permissive or incompetent when I briefly processed what I thought I was seeing.  I made big assumptions with little information.

Now, as I am on the receiving end of so much of this, I find myself defensive.  "Don't judge me, man!", I internalize with indignation.  How easy it is to forget, I was once the unfair, shoot-from-the-hip accuser.

These words of Jesus definitely open our eyes to the underlying law of reaping what we sow.  Although oh-so-painful to endure the unkind ignorance of others, it is to our benefit to move through that hurt by remembering the Lord's unqualified command and who we were when we were on the other side of these judgments.  Offer mercy, educate when you are able, be gentle in your admonitions, and judge others the way you would have them judge you in that same position.  And when you can't, scream into your pillow, take a deep breath, take a vigorous walk, and begin again.

PRAY:  Father, I confess that I am harsh in how I view others who are not like me.  Rid me of my foolishness when I am indignant about how others judge me or those I love.  Holy Spirit, make us one, just as Jesus prayed on his final night before death.  Soften my heart, and increase my wisdom.
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Friday, September 13, 2013

When Doctors Won't Listen

Listen to my words, you wise men.
    Open your ears to me, you intelligent men.
~ Job 34:2, NOG ~

I can remember finally bringing home our jaundice baby boy after the continual bilirubin heal pricks had returned him to the hospital NICU.  Almost immediately afterward, we had his first hematology clinic visit with our entire family of 4 sitting in a small exam room for 5 hours, becoming painfully acquainted with the world of hemophilia.  We left that appointment with the bible of bleeding disorder books, Raising a Child With Hemophilia: A Practical Guide for Parents.  Over the next week or two, I stayed awake into the wee hours of the morning devouring every word on every page.  I devoted myself to becoming an educated, wise advocate for my son, transferring many of the skills we had learned in our infertility treatment to our son's critical care.  The in-person training we received from our clinic's nurse coordinator also buttressed what I was reading, teaching me to stand up for my son and push back in the medical system.

Thirteen years later, I would like to say it has become easier, but it really hasn't.  Those same medical professionals who taught me to know what's best and defend my children are now increasingly dismissive when I push back against or question their course of treatment for our son.  There is no room for a mother's intuition, despite the fact that they are the ones who taught me "no one knows your child like you do."

The fact is that advocacy is a permanent part of our assignment as parents raising awesome kids with special needs.  We never get to coast.  We must be ever-vigilant.  If we become complacent in our roles, it could literally cost our children their lives.  This is a stressful calling, but one we do well to accept. 

When we learn to accept our role as advocate for our child, we begin to approach life differently.  We absorb information like sponges, so that we can make wise decisions.  Being observant and noticing small, critical variations in our children becomes habitual for us.  Building networks with other parents walking the same path, we learn what other practitioners in different areas are doing for their patients.  We become stronger, knowing that we can push back rather than taking our doctor's decisions as gospel.  And we never forget that every hospital has a patient relations department.

I get weary, especially of late.  But fellow-parent, let's keep cheering one another on to the finish line.  Our kids are depending on us.  God has called us to a worthy role.  Let us advocate with His help and to the best of our ability.

PRAY:  Lord, thank You that when doctor's don't want to listen to me, You always will.  Strengthen me to stand up for my child when needed.  Holy Spirit infuse me with discernment, so that I will know when to push and when to go along with a treatment plan.  In the final analysis, let me be found to be a parent that was their child's best medical advocate.

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Tragedy's Teachers

Photo Image Courtesy of 123RF

Though the Lord gave you adversity for food
    and suffering for drink,
he will still be with you to teach you.
    You will see your teacher with your own eyes.
~ Isaiah 30:20, NLT ~

This day in American history will always be one that leaves a lump in our throats and a knot in our stomachs, especially if we are old enough to have lived through the chaos of 911.   Having been hit on our own soil for the first time since Pearl Harbor, and with such a tragic loss of so many innocents, Americans shook in horror on that sunny September day in 2001.  Life as we knew it stopped and no one was sure if or when it would ever be the same again.

Being the parent of a child with any sort of a serious health need was particularly stressful at that time.  Since planes were grounded and airports closed, just-in-time delivery of critical medications was seriously problematic.  Patients and medical professionals had to find new ways to creative problem-solve when it came to providing the life-saving care that we usually took for granted.

As so often happens when tragedy strikes, so many in this country cried out , "Why?".  Yet, what the Lord really wants us to ask at times like this is, "What?",  "What do you want to teach me through this, God?".  Because Yahweh alone has the ability to use everything for our good and His glory (see Romans 8:28), He can teach us things through tragedy that we would be unable to learn by any other means.  

So, what are some of the lessons that the crisis of 911 and other tragedies have taught us?

  • Our Lord is stable, dependable and true, even when everything else falls short.  When the world around us seems to be falling apart, and the systems we rely upon prove themselves to be not-so-reliable, a good scripture to read is Psalm 20:7.  "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God."  Learning to trust in Him during the good times is critical to surviving the worst of times.
  • Be prepared at all times.  This is true on multiple levels.  Ironically, September is National Emergency Preparedness Month.  As 911 taught those of us raising children with special needs, we must have a plan or we bring undue suffering upon ourselves.  If you don't have an emergency strategy, today is a good reminder to work on getting one in place.  In addition, our faith always needs to be prepared.  Both the Apostle Peter as well as the Apostle Paul admonished believers to be prepared "in season and out of season" to serve, to share your faith, to admonish, to encourage, and to kindly offer a reason for the hope that lives within your heart.  If the early church was called to do this, we are no less called to do the same today.  Living a life of chronic challenges with our children, we are uniquely poised to obey those commands given through the forefathers of our faith.
  • Never take those we love for granted.  In our dailiness and burdens, we tend to forget that our lives are but a vapor.  (Job 7:7, Psalm 39:4, Psalm 89:7 are just a few reminders.)  There is a reason that our Lord tells us to never let the sun set on our anger, to number our days aright, to love one another as He has loved us.  It is for our benefit, lest we find ourselves with regret for the one who may never come back from work after leaving home one morning.  Even when death does not prematurely steal our loved ones away, there is great comfort in the closeness of those we love when the rest of the world is in utter chaos.
These are only a few of the teachers that emerge from tragedy.  There are countless more.  As you remember life's crises, see if you can recall what you learned from that situation.  This will prepare your mind for the next time something serious hits, as it is sure to do.  And it will turn you into the wise learner that the Lord intends for you to be.

PRAY:  Father, let me never forget the lessons You have graciously taught me through tragedy.  Most of all, remind me to share Your matchless hope with those who are left in shock and dismay by life's worst moments.  Thank You that You are faithful though the whole world may fall apart.

~ Barb Dittrich

Monday, September 9, 2013

When I Look Down

But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.
~ Psalm 3:3, ESV ~

I am jealous.  There.  I said it.  It disgusts me.  I expect more of myself as a believer in the eternal promises of Christ.  But I know how it happens, how I get to that point of unhealthy envy.  I look down.

When I look down, I see my messy life, and it isn't too pretty.  All that I lack overwhelms me.  My children's comparably poor health saddens me and weighs me down.  The lack of help from family or friends, leaves me feeling unlovable, alone and depressed.  Financial struggles build resentment as we work ourselves to exhaustion with little to show for it.  By the world's standards, my life looks hopeless, while the lives of most around me look amazing.  What they take for granted, I consider a simple luxury that we always seem to be denied.

When I look down, I resent that you get to go on that Florida or Colorado vacation.  When I look down, I'm upset that friends are posting on Facebook that they got together with other friends for dinner and didn't invite us.  When I look down, I'm angry that you have time to play tennis, but don't have time to volunteer for our ministry.  When I look down, I'm heartbroken that your children have the joy of going to prom while mine barely have a friend.  When I look down, I can't be happy for you because you go on living contentedly while not giving a whit about our challenges.

Does those sound like oppressively negative or toxic thoughts to you?  They are, and thankfully, these darkest plummets into my emotional valleys are rare.  But even the most positive parents find themselves here from time to time.  The trick is to not let yourself get stuck there.  Bitterness and apathy can rob you of your God-given purpose if you remain downcast.

Instead, I need to surrender to the "Lifter of my head".  When I allow God to lift my head, I can cooperate with His command to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith.  (See Hebrews 12:1-2)  When He lifts my head, all I can see is His beautifully, breathtaking glory, not my deficits.  When He lifts my head, my challenges are merely stepping stones as He includes me in the work of His big picture.  When He lifts my head, I am overwhelmed with awe-filled joy, gratitude for boundless blessings, and humility for lavish grace poured out on me when I hardly deserve it.  When He lifts my head, I am more than a conqueror through Christ.  When He lifts my head, I suddenly realize that I am a daughter of the One True King.  When He lifts my head, all of life's issues and blessings are temporal.  I am just passing through this world as His ambassador.  When He lifts my head, my troubles shrink, and my perspective becomes eternal.  I feel like the richest woman in the world, when He lifts my head.

God is a gentleman, my friend.  Every day we get to decide afresh whether we are going to look down at life's struggles or allow him to readjust our focus upward.  I am so grateful to surrender to the Lifter of my head.  Which will you choose?

PRAY:  Father, You make all things new!  I am so grateful!  I praise You because only You can lift our heads and bring us joyful hope in spite of this dark world.  Help me to reflect Your glory, by continuing to tell those around me of your loving faithfulness.

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Friday, September 6, 2013

Am I Doing Enough For My Child?

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. ~ 1 Peter 4:8, NIV

No matter how much I write and speak about battling the parental guilt that beleaguers all of us, it never seems to permanently evict the practice of questioning myself.  That is not necessarily a bad thing.  Introspection helps lessen my ever-raging sinful pride and soften my heart so that I am a bit more teachable.  Self-examination spurs me on to greatness by allowing me to see what I could do better next time.

Yet, there are times where the answers to questions about myself cannot be answered.  When my children are struggling with things related to their special needs, discernment can be so hard for me.  Am I pushing the school staff to much?  Or am I pushing too little?  Am I being too stubborn and irrational with the doctors?  Or am I being to acquiescent?  Am I doing enough for my child?  Should I be doing more?

I get frustrated.  When we are fighting over the same things at home or the same struggles continue at school, I want so badly to get unstuck.  When we are medically battling the same questions for years without improvement, I am angry and don't feel taken seriously by our providers.  When my children are not taking responsibility or lack the emotional maturity I think they should have, I wonder where I am going wrong. 

Fortunately, I have a Savior who covers all my mistakes.  The answers to each of those questions with which I wrestle are subjective at best and unattainable at worst.  My job is to do my level best, within the guidelines of what God has taught me in His word, and trust Him completely.  (See Colossians 3:23-24)  Any deficits on my part, He will cover.  He IS love, so if I work on behalf of my children with scriptural love, I can be assured that He will make up for my "multitude of sins" (and boy, they are many).  

What comfort to know that the Lord has my back in raising my children!  On those days when I blow it and lose my cool with medical staff, I can know He can heal the damage I caused.  When I don't press hard enough for answers from school personnel, He is still advocating on our behalf.  All I need to do is my best, and that is good enough.

The other night I was slicing up some portions of meat for dinner.  As I divvied up what I had just cooked, the Holy Spirit brought a sudden revelation to me.  "And you are worried that you might not be doing enough for your children?  Your mother certainly wasn't slicing your meat for you at that age."  I smiled as this thought came over me.  I am not known for overcompensating for my kids, but I unexpectedly found myself with some good perspective.  

Thank God He covers our many sins as we imperfectly walk this path of parenthood!

PRAY:  Father, I cast my cares on You because I know You care for me.  Thank You for covering over my shortcomings by the power of Your love.  Remind me to trust in that reality the next time I find myself falling short.

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Starting Off On The Right Foot

"For if you give, you will get! Your gift will return to you in full and overflowing measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use to give—large or small—will be used to measure what is given back to you.” ~ Luke 6:38, TLB

After 3 months of having the children at home 24/7, vacationing, traveling, getting together with extended family, and all of the other things that come along with summer, most parents are feeling like this at back-to-school time...
While my children were certainly dancing on my last nerve as August drew to a close, I felt an unusual  trepidation looking towards the school year.  I have never started a school year feeling as scared as I was this year.  Despite my full reliance on God, the remnants of one of our worst school years ever, continued to haunt me as this year approached.

Last school year, I was in a relentless battle for my 11 year old child with a smorgasbord of diagnoses.  I had foolishly allowed her to be dropped down to a 504 plan, against my better judgment, at a time where she was transitioning from our grade school to the intermediate school.  I seemed to be in a constant mess of getting calls from the vice principal for altercations, non-adherence by the school to the accommodations she did have in her 504, and fighting the duration of the year to get her put back on an IEP.  In addition, my peanut needed minor surgeries for tonsils, adenoids and cauterization of her nose after suffering 4 bouts of tonsillitis in 4 months over the winter months.  By the end of the school year, this poor girl of mine was literally sobbing and wishing to be dead.

For the duration of the summer months, she only heard from school "friends" twice.  There were no invitations.  No play dates took place with the exception of the 1 we set up for her.  During the holiday weekend, when her brother and sister were enjoying one last friend sleeping over before the summer ended, she cried, lamenting her lack of peer relationships.  It broke my heart.

Given all of this, I suppose my dark feelings should not have surprised me.  Nevertheless, they did.  The thought of a repeat performance of last year nearly made me ill.  Trusting God, I pushed through the emotion and sought to do the next right thing.

What I was inspired to do was an unusual Pinterest moment.  Having the rare financial ability to do so, the Lord led me to make an investment in this new school year that I had never made before.  I began with kindness rather than contention.  I poured into relationship rather than wrangling with my daughter's teachers and administrators.  I crafted a gift for each of them, wishing them a good start to the new school year.

Here's how I constructed these simple gifts:
  1. I bought each of them a pair of socks bearing the logo and colors of our state's favorite sports team, the Green Bay Packers.  (Everyone knows the G really stands for "God's Team".)
  2. I also bought each a $10 gift card to the nearby coffee shop and tucked it in the top of the socks.
  3. I wrapped the socks in a clear birthday treat bag and labelled each, "Dear Mr./Mrs. _______ , Hope your school year gets off on the right foot!  With love from The Dittrichs".
The first day of school presented an opportunity to offer my daughter's school team a heaping measure of goodwill as we begin our journey together this year.  Knowing what God promises in His word, I can rest and trust that as I have made every effort to pour out kindness in abundance, it is most likely that I will receive that same level of kindness in return.

It may seem to be the last thing we want to do when we are anxious and worn, but that godly, lavish kindness is always worth the extra effort.

PRAY:  Spirit of the Living God, when I am anxious and nervous about dealing with school staff, remind me to treat each of them with the abundance of kindness that I would want to receive from them.  Continue to tap on my shoulder with creative ideas on how I can invest in each of them personally to encourage them in our teamwork.  Jesus, make this a great school year.  We need it!