On Wednesday, May 21st, I will have lived a half-a-century. What does a person write about that, especially in devotional form?
These have been 50 grueling years. I have had a very messy life. It hasn't at all turned out the way I dreamed.
Still, had you ever told me that I would one day have the honor of being used by God to encourage and support other parents raising children with special needs, I would have told you that you're crazy. In fact, most days I think I am really of no help at all to others. It's everyone else who gets the book deals, the speaking engagements, the nice vacations, the awards, everything the world counts as measures of success.
Regardless, when I die, I want to be known as a servant of the One True King who relentlessly cried out for others to love and care for parents raising kids with chronic illness or disability. They are the marginalized amongst the marginalized. As I am known to crassly say, People love taking feel-good holy pictures serving our children, but what is desperately needed is the unglamorous, long-term work of supporting a parent in the trenches every day.
In light of these facts, I guess the best way, the only way to face down 50 is through the lense of God's word. Here are some Bible verses that have been my favorite sign posts along the journey:
- "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and
have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I
will not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on the palms of
my hands; your
walls are ever before me." (Isaiah 49:15-16a, NIV) When I was a girl, these words brought me such comfort. They were written on my heart via Dan Shutte's 1975 song "Though the Mountains May Fall"... Could the Lord ever leave you
Could the Lord forget his love
Though a mother forsake her child
He will not abandon you.
- Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (Colossians 3:12-14, NIV) As my beloved and I floated high above farm fields with 2 witnesses and a minister back in 1992, we shared this admonition from God with one another.
- Raise me up when I am most afraid, I put my trust in you; in God, whose word I praise, in I God I put my trust, fearing nothing... This I know: that God is on my side. In God whose word I praise, in Yahweh, whose word I praise, in God, I put my trust, fearing nothing... (Psalm 56:3-4, 9b-11a, JB1966) As we rushed to an emergency ultrasound at my OB/GYN's clinic in 1995, I clung to these verses. We found out I had miscarried a 2nd time once we got there.
- You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever. (Psalm 30:11-12, NKJV) In 1997 years of miscarriage and infertility were paused that I might successfully carry to term our firstborn daughter.
- In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1) In a near nervous breakdown back in 2004, with my husband between jobs once again, I clung to the only thing that my brain could grasp as truth. This was it. This was all that kept me from completely slipping under.
- "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5, NIV) What a blessing to embrace the truth in 2005 that I could do nothing apart from Jesus.
- Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2, NASB) Life raising children with chronic illness and special needs is an endurance race. I have clung to this encouragement from Hebrews since my kids were young.
- 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 receive from God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NIV) Our ministry has embraced this as our key verse because it has become my life's verse. God has given my suffering meaning through this verse. He carries me, so I can pass on the blessing to another. Hallelujah!
I am nothing special, more ordinary and easy to forget than most. Yet I serve an AWESOME God! My 50 years on this planet may be nothing remarkable, but I am made significant by the remarkable Father who created me. It is the same for every precious person who comes into this world. That makes it worth mentioning His amazing grace at a landmark time such as this.
PRAY: Lord, thank You for the gift of life. Even when it hasn't been easy, You have given me value. Before I was ever born, You knew me and saw me. Thank You for life's landmarks to remember and reflect on Your grace. I commit all the days You allow me to have on this earth to bringing You the glory that you are due.
~ Barb Dittrich
If you are so inclined, Barb would love for you to celebrate her 50th birthday by supporting the parents she loves, donating to Snappin' Ministries' 50/50 Challenge.