Friday, January 31, 2014

Silo Thinking


Teach a wise man, and he will be the wiser; teach a good man, and he will learn more
~ Proverbs 9:9, TLB ~

The wise man is glad to be instructed, but a self-sufficient fool falls flat on his face.
~ Proverbs 10:8, TLB ~

A fool thinks he needs no advice, but a wise man listens to others
~ Proverbs 12:15, TLB ~

I have a BEEF to pick with nearly every type of professional assisting our kids with chronic diagnoses or special needs.

Don't get me wrong -- We desperately need specialty groups and areas of expertise.  Without intricate detailed wisdom in small, defined areas of concern, we would be utterly lost in helping our children

But there seems to be a pervasive, toxic attitude that poisons the hope of ever having different groups and specialties work together for the best possible outcome.  It is silo thinking.

Although my own family has long been subjected to its corrosive effects, I only felt compelled to write about it when an I recently saw an ugly little piece of medical "professionalism" exposed.  I was shocked when another mother and I were talking, both noticing that on one particular hospital team, a psychologist we both worked with was treated by the other specialists like he was a low-life nothing.  Dismissive, arrogant, and tuned-out to what this psychologist had to bring to the table, these other doctors were treating him as if he were not at their professional level.  Not only was this behavior offensive, it was also detrimental to the treatment of the children seen by this team.

I have personally had situations where one specialty group is not properly consulting with another specialty group, thereby misprescribing medication that put one of my children at peril.  Without ever having had a previous discussion with me about it, I have also had one specialist give total treatment authority to another specialist rather than to me, the parent.  Completely unacceptable!

At the crux of the problem, these professionals often fail to remember that a child is a whole person.  They may talk a good talk, but in practice, completely fail to ponder how one disorder may be affecting another.  This is maddening to a parent, who is not only with that child the majority of the time, but who also wants their child to experience optimal health.

It begs the question...

When does natural curiosity die in these people?

Aren't these the same people that were once inquisitive, wanting to solve problems and break open difficulties to explore for answers?  When did these professionals suddenly decide that they would only deal with what is inside their own little box, looking at nothing beyond? 

And it is not just in medical circles.  Educational circles are also prone to silo thinking.  Administration, which can sometimes be detached from the daily schoolroom function of a child, may override the decision of special education staff.  Or the regular school staff can completely disregard how the special educational needs or special physical needs of a student are affected as they try to move a class collectively forward.

Fewer things can be more frustrating to a parent raising a child with special needs than having different pieces of all the moving parts working against each other rather than working in harmony.  But how does it get better?  What would this look like if it all worked correctly?
  • Parents would be persistent, pleasant bridge-builders.  This means that we do not pull out our "Mr. Angry Eyes" at our first inkling of something going awry.  Coming into a situation with "guns ablazing" only earns you a reputation as a problem or difficult parent.  It IS possible (and preferable) to assert yourself while being 100% respectful of all involved.  Be persistent in explaining the difficulties.  Be willing to do your part to move everyone out of their silos.  And never stop asking good questions.
  • Professionals, whether they be medical, psychological, physiological, or educational would all look outside of their own little box.  They need to be big picture thinkers who are willing to see how their piece works in concert with the whole.
  • Professionals would stop having an attitude of "that's not my job" and get out of their field if they have no desire to see our children reach their best potential.  Rather than being "professional", this attitude actually marks a person as consummately unprofessional.  No favors are done to anyone when someone who is unhappy and uncooperative stays in this sort of job with children.
  • Professionals would take parents more seriously, rather than being dismissive.  I personally have told doctors in the past, "You may know this disease better than I do, but I know how it behaves in my child better than you do."  A medical license is not a license to be rude and arrogant.
  • Everyone would to come together as a team, being more focused on problem-solving than on being inconvenienced.  The best group I ever had the opportunity to work with was a grade school team who rallied to create the best IEP possible for one of my children.  The homeroom teacher was uncooperative and moody, but the team fought to bring all of the moving parts together.  And THEY. GOT. RESULTS!  Within a year-and-a-half they had a child reading and writing to a grade appropriate level where this child was at a standstill prior to the plan being implemented.  If only all school staff saw the value of working together in such a way!
I pray that these suggestions are ones that are helpful to you or that can be passed along to those with whom we special parents work.  For my family, the battle against silo thinking continues.  We never stop looking for new methods and suggestions on integrating strategies, because when competent adults actually COMMUNICATE with one another, REALLY LISTENING to what others say, our children come out the winners.

PRAY:  Lord, we all seem to get so stuck in our own little worlds with "silo thinking".  That is easy for me, as a parent, to do as well.  Help me to treat others with respect and mercy, while encouraging them to work together as a team.  Open the eyes of our hearts, Lord!

~ Barb Dittrich
Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhoto.net

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Old has Passed Away

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV
Every year the trees prepare for winter, losing their leaves in a splash of brilliant color. By mid season their branches are bare skeletons stark against the white winter sky. Long after the leaves are raked and burned and snow falls the trees look lifeless.

But spring does come and the same bare branches burst forth with life. From buds to flowers and green leaves the trees are again adorned with color and shape. They nurture animals and their offspring with food and shelter. Year-after-year the story unfolds in a cycle of constant renewal.

While the work of salvation is accomplished by an act of faith, sanctification is an ongoing process. Believers go through seasons of growth and shedding in which, the old has passed away. Like many of you, I look back over the flourishing days and long for them again. You see, I've been in a winter season with the ugliness of my character flaws on full display. I'd rather just coast along on cloud nine as everyone basks in my fruit and foliage.

I'm no fan of winter in my life or on the calendar.

I look forward to spring.

So, when this season of letting go of the old and bearing the cold wears on me and those around me I'll try to remember, the new has come. It has in the past and will in the present.

Pray: Lord, You are faithful in my highs and lows. You are making me better and stronger. It isn't for my, but Your glory.

~ Mike Ritter

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

O Be Careful, Little Mouth, What You Say

Speaking recklessly is like the thrusts of a sword,
but the words of the wise bring healing.
~ Proverbs 12:18, NET ~

Oh be careful little mouth what you say,
Oh be careful little mouth what you say,
For the Father up above is looking down in love,
So be careful little mouth what you say.
 (Children's Bible Song ~ Author Unknown)

We all know that parenting children is hard work.

Anyone who takes 5 seconds to notice, in merely a cursory way, realizes that raising a child with special needs presents even greater challenges.

Add to that the endlessly hurtful things people say to parents of such children, and well, now you have a good start at grasping why God established Snappin' Ministries.

Despite the fact that people said horrible things to me when my first marriage fell apart (My mother wins hands down with, "What did you do to that poor boy to make him leave you?"); despite the fact that people were completely devoid of compassion when I suffered multiple miscarriages (The winner in that category?  "Well, at least you know you can get pregnant!"); despite the fact that people had shockingly horrid things to say when we were enduring years of infertility ("You want kids?  I'll gladly give you mine!"  Nice woman, huh?); nothing could have prepared me for the painful things people would say once we became parents of first one, then two, then three children with special needs or chronic disorders.  I'll spare you the details as I might give root to an evil spirit of unforgiveness in myself.

Suffice it to say, a MAJOR source of the isolation special needs parents feel come from the hurtful words of others.  Speaking for myself, it has almost come to the point where I cannot even let people know what is going on with our family on social media because I will inevitably receive some snarky remark from others, publicly or privately.  These jabs come in some of the following ways:
  1. Spiritual superiority -- There are those who think that because you are being transparent, you are not godly.  Have these people ever read the Book of Psalms?  People who watch us want to know that our faith is REAL, not just some fake pretense.  In being authentic in our struggles, others learn that they can wrestle with their faith and still be loved by God.  What an awesome gift!  Yet, it is usually those who have not had their faith tested in the same way or those who don't want to have to feel guilty about never lifting a finger to help you that are quick to point out the fact that you are not "trusting God" to the extent they think you should be.
  2. "I have it worse than you do." -- These are people who somehow think life is a pain contest.  What they fail to realize is that your problems do not shrink just because they have problems too.  Often times, they will compare apples with oranges or the superficial with the serious.  They may not intend to, but these folks come across as minimizing your troubles.  The message behind the message sounds much like, "You have no right to complain/feel bad about/be concerned about/grieve over your situation."  They may as well call you a big cry baby to your face, because that's how it feels.  Talk about "thrusts like a sword"!
  3. "Your child doesn't have special needs.  You are a bad parent." -- Oh, these accusations are so horribly isolating, ignorant, and bone crushing!  Sadly, they often come from relatives or people that rarely see you.   Not at all uncommon, they often come from individuals who are not exemplary parents themselves.  Parents like me will often gauge whether or not to attend events based on whether or not people who accuse like this will be there.  Perhaps they are merely attempting to build themselves up by putting others down.  Regardless, their words are like kerosine thrown on the fire of self-doubt that burns inside the heart of nearly every parent raising a child with a diagnosis.
  4. "If you would only..."  (AKA "I know better than you.") -- These are people who feel certain that they have found the solution to our problem.  They may have found something that works really well for their family, and thus, assume it will be the "magic bullet" for us.  It can be anything from a multi-level marketing product, to a homeopathic remedy, to a vaccination, or refusing a vaccination, or gluten-free, or dye-free, or the therapy-du-jour.  Whatever that thing is, it likely worked for them or their family.  That's wonderful!  However, these word-wounders are such zealots that they treat others who don't choose their path with disrespect and disdain.
These are only a few of the many ways people wound parents with their words.

What I really want to ask is, WHY do people think it is their God-given right to verbally inflict their opinions on others?

How much more would people think of you if you spoke LIFE into them?  I mean, doesn't life itself beat us all down enough without beating down each other?  Wouldn't you want your words to be considered "the words of the wise"?

I was recently interviewed for a public access show and asked what I would tell people about how to treat people raising children with special needs.  In a much calmer, concise way, I conveyed these very thoughts.

Words matter.

Isn't that what we are always hearing these days?  Schools will go to great lengths for bullying programs, while adults give full-vent to their hurtful words.

Have mercy, people!  Think deeply before you recklessly use language that ends up being like "thrusts of a sword".

PRAY:  Holy Spirit, stand as a guard over my mouth.  Help me to use words that build another up rather than minimizing, accusing or tearing down.  Also guard my heart.  Help me to focus on who I am in Christ, so that the hurtful words of others more easily roll off of me.  Jesus, increase your compassion in each of us.

~ Barb Dittrich

Photo image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Our Lives Matter

Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak;
O Lord, heal me, for my bones are troubled.
~ Psalm 6:2, NKJV ~

I couldn't help but sit and cry watching the video.  

Even after nearly 14 eventful years of life, something like this brings back the pain as if it happened yesterday.  

That fear.  

Suddenly having something not-quite-right with your newborn. 

Trying to situate a rocking chair close enough to the IV lines and wires, so you can rock your baby while the NICU works at keeping him alive.  

Watching him helplessly through the glass of an incubator.  

Having your heart broken because a NICU nurse refuses to have you in the room while she puts a new IV line in him.  

That all comes flooding back and crushes your heart after seeing a video like this.

I caught the story of precious Ward Miles' first year of life through his father's viral video last month.  Oh, how I wish I could have hugged his mother!  And my heart takes great delight in following his miraculous, progress.

Benjamin Scot may never fully realize what a tremendous impact he had sharing the very personal story of his own son through video.  It truly captures the fragility of life.

At the same time, I caught some viral photos of a child who didn't have the same happily-ever-after outcome.  Norwegian photographer, Sara Marie Rams√łe, has taken up as her favorite subject an 11-year-old boy named Jon.  This child from her neighborhood was born without eyes, is non-verbal, and also appears to have severe cerebral palsy.

None of these issues are uncommon to a baby born prematurely.

As I look at the startling, poignant, intimate photos of Jon, I can't help but notice how he is loved every bit as much by his mother as the toddling, animated Ward.
   
Both of these boys reflect God's glory in ways that words cannot express.  Each life has infinite value.

Culture?  I am fairly certain does not get it.

When life is turned on its head, we cry out to God.  He has blessed us with the knowledge to make medical advances that rescue those little humans who spend months moving and beating so close to their mothers' hearts.

Society slides backwards, rejecting the wisdom God offers along with that scientific knowledge.  Our foolishness makes culture bipolar -- Saying, "Aw, isn't that wonderful!" when the outcome is good and, "That child would have been better off dead," when the outcome is not typical.

The pain of my mother-soul wants to scream out to a cold world, "OUR LIVES MATTER!".  We may be weak.  Our bones may be troubled.  But we have a GOD who hears us.  And EVERY life needs some sort of healing.

No matter what the ability level of our children, their lives matter.

If we will slow down this manic world, running at break-neck speed long enough to look at tiny fingers or the non-verbal tear running down a face, perhaps we will see it.
God's glory in just being.

How strange that we want science to advance, we search foreign planets for signs of life, yet we ignore the fragile treasure of life right under our noses.  We will spend billions on digging through moon sand, but express disdain at the way money is spent on treatments for a child with autism, or spina bifida, or you name it.  We have become completely turned upside down.

Sorry for the mental meandering...

It's just the tears of a mother's heart talking.

PRAY:  LORD, slow us down long enough to notice the miracle right underneath our noses.  Awaken every human heart and mind to the realization that they are just one emergency room visit away from being a family with special needs.  Provoke compassion and push back the darkness of those who see no value in the lives of our children.

~ Barb Dittrich

Monday, January 27, 2014

If You Knew

(Photo Courtesy of en.wikipedia.org)

 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13, NIV)

She waited to leave home until she was sure most people had already returned home from getting the day’s food and drink needs. Given her circumstances, going out in public was just something she found difficult and awkward to do.

She was embarrassed, and yet hated herself for feeling that way. She would have been perfectly happy to just stay in her isolated home and avoid the crowd altogether. They pointed at her as they whispered behind her back.  They muttered and gossiped.

Her home was her safe haven. Her home was where she felt the least vulnerable and the most protected. But her home was also her prison. 

Her life circumstances made her different from the others. As a result when the other women would engage socially, laughing and talking as they went about their daily basis, she sat home by herself and waited. She didn’t feel they would really understand or grasp her situation. It made her feel like an outcast. She hadn’t planned on her life turning out this way, but it had happened. The challenges and the trials had taken a toll on her.

So she was waiting. Waiting for enough courage to leave. Waiting for the right moment. Waiting until she felt it was safe. Waiting until no one else was around to notice. Waiting until she didn’t have to look anyone in the eye.

But mostly she was waiting for hope. Waiting for someone to make sense of all this to her. Waiting for an explanation of how this could possibly be God’s choosing for her life. Waiting for someone to please show her meaning, significance, and fulfillment given the challenges and circumstances of her life. Waiting for someone to tell her how to find sense and joy despite her difficulties.

“Is this all there is to my life,” she may have wondered. “Is this as good as it gets? What good could ever come out of this experience?”

Have you as a parent of a child with special needs ever wondered that yourself? Have you ever felt like the woman in the story I just detailed? Have you ever cried for an explanation from God or searched for meaning in this journey as a parent of a child with special needs? Have your struggled with your role in the story of your life? 

Seeing by the sun that the time was right, she slipped out with her bucket and headed to the well. At that moment she realized that her soul was thirstier than her body. And she ached to satisfy that never-ending quench.

All the other people drew their water from the well in the early morning hours. So as she carefully approached the well in the noontime heat, she was startled to see a strange man sitting beside the well.

She averted her eyes, preferring to do her business quickly and concisely. She didn’t want him to speak to her and she certainly didn’t expect him to initiate a conversation with her.

“Will you give me a drink?”

She looked up and blinked rapidly. “Was he talking to me?”

He looked her right in the eyes. Nobody ever did that to her. Nobody ever searched her eyes and soul like this stranger. She glanced away in shock and defensively blurted out the first thing to come to her mind, “why are you asking me for a drink?”

“If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water, the stranger said.

“If you knew the gift...” The words echoed in her mind.

"If you knew the gift...”

When we learned of my son’s profound special needs, I went through a season of not just questioning God, but of expressing my anger, frustration, and rage at Him every day.

I would rail against the God I thought I had known all my life in my bitterness and despair. At night I would walk from our house to a nearby little creek by a willow tree for my tirades.

And then one night, in the stillness and calmness between my eruptions, the sweet Spirit of God nudged a door open in my heart and said, “I have given you a blessing, what you do to it is up to you.”

“I have given you a blessing…”

“If you knew the gift…”

Sixteen years later I can say that this unexpected journey as a special needs parent has been excruciatingly difficult, brutally hard, and incredibly draining. It’s been more challenging than I could have ever realized.

But it’s also been an incredible blessing and an amazing gift.

“If you knew the gift,” said the voice of God to the woman at the well in the fourth chapter of John.

“I have given you a blessing,” said the same voice of God to the man at the creek by the willow tree.

There is living water for all of us. Drink furiously and lustily of His water and never thirst again.

 I beg you to stop by the well and drink today.

When you feel the darkness threatening to engulf you; when you feel discouraged; when you feel all alone and desperate for a glimpse of hope; when the hurt won’t go away and the weariness overcomes you; drink deeply from His well and quench your thirst.





Saturday, January 25, 2014

"ARE YOU SERIOUS?" Awards: Volume II


We kicked it off last week.

As I said, "Despite all of the work poured into building acceptance and inclusion, it seems that that there are STILL too many in this day and age who choose to live back in the dark ages."

Last week's sad winner was the employee of Panera Bread's Abercorn Street location in Savannah, Georgia who insisted that a 2 year old with special orthopedic shoes remove them because another customer had complained of their squeak.

This week's winner moves from the barista in Georgia to a group of political players in Texas.

In a fierce, and seemingly ugly campaign for governor of the Lone Star State, some campaign workers for candidate Wendy Davis were caught on video having a MORE than unsavory conversation about her opponent Greg Abbott.  Apparently, these workers found it funny that Abbott uses a wheelchair due to paraplegia, while their campaign slogan is "Stand With Wendy".  In the video, they also go on to mock their opponent's looks as well as they way he speaks.  In fact, the candidate herself is on record as making the outrageous statement, "he hasn't walked a mile in my shoes."

Are you SERIOUS?!

This inappropriate speech and mocking of a diff-abled person make the Wendy Davis Campaign this week's award "winner" and good bad example.

To her credit, Wendy Davis did call this behavior "abhorrent".  However, taking back words and actions like this are much like trying to get toothpaste back in the tube.  If I were a Texan, any candidate who themselves spoke and behaved like this, and who had workers that spoke and behaved like this, would make me wonder if they would protect the best interests of families living with special needs.

Of course, my personal recommendation...

FOLLOW JESUS' LEAD!
Treat people with special needs the way
YOU
would want to be treated! 
*Do YOU have a nominee for a future "Are You SERIOUS?" Award?  E-mail us a link to the story with any of your own personal insights to barb@snappin.org  

Friday, January 24, 2014

A Heavy Heart Laced with Weighty Grace


“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.

    I have called you by name; you are mine.

When you go through deep waters,

    I will be with you.

When you go through rivers of difficulty,
    you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
    you will not be burned up;
    the flames will not consume you.
For I am the Lord, your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior" (Isaiah 43b-43:3a, NLT).

My life often feels like a puzzle with a missing piece. Things appear to be fitting in place like the beautiful box picture but then something happens and a piece is missing again. Smooth sailing takes a back seat for another day. It is disturbing. It is a heaviness my heart feels like it cannot take.

Yet all the promises of God are true for those that are HIS. That excites me and gives me great hope in the mist of deep pain. Though I had nothing special about me, God saw fit to chose me and redeem me to be His own. I ponder those things. I rejoice in them. I trust His promises. And my heart lifts.

Having a child with special needs is like being in deep waters some of the time. It feels as if the waves of it will sweep you away and drag you under. Yet He promises me, He is with me.

Having a child with special needs is at times like rivers of raging rapids yet God is with us in the boat and will not let us drown. He is my very breath! He is the air I breath. He gets me through.

Having a child with special needs is sometimes like walking through scorching fire but His promises to me is I will not be burned up. The flames, though very real, will not consume me, in fact they will burn away the impurities of my life! In this I can rejoice.

Why I was chosen to be a mother of a child with special needs is something I will never understand while on this planet. But I do know that God is good. He is the sovereign One. He knows best and will use everything in our lives for our good and His glory. So I face the waves, the wind, and the fire with a quiet trust. For the One who quiets the winds and the waves and the fire is the One who holds me close. Soul, rest in this.

Pray:  Lord, forgive me for my unbelief! Help me to rest in quiet trust of your promises and steadfast love.

~Angela

Thursday, January 23, 2014

One Word: Three Week Check In

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. ~ Romans 12:2, NLT (emphasis mine)

At the beginning of a new year, everyone seems to have their thoughts turned to transformation.  New habits are the common goal.  Like no other time of year, we crave getting rid of our bad behaviors and replacing them with constructive new practices.

Listening to experts is laughable.

In one 2009 study, a team from the Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Research Centre based at UCL Epidemiology and Public Health demonstrated that it takes an average of 66 days to form an addiction.   

In another article from 2009, psychologist Ian Newby-Clark scoffs at the notion of any specific standard in forming a new habit, but instead stresses repetition, repetition, repetition. 

Earlier this year, we talked about the notion of choosing One Word as your personal focus for the year, rather than trying to attack a long, unachievable list of resolutions.

For example, I chose the word ORDER as my 2014 One Word.

Accountability and mutual support increases success in reaching our goals, so today will mark our first check-in on this endeavor.  

Let me first ask, Have you chosen your One Word for the next 365?  If so, what word have you chosen, and why?

Next, let me share with you some brief nuggets on how the journey has looked for me with such a demanding word as ORDER:
  1. God has first shown me that ORDER begins with Him.  There is NO order in my life without Him in the driver's seat.  After all, isn't HE the one who created something called ORDER?  With all the demands of parenting 3 children with chronic diagnoses, working full-time, and having a husband whose employment has been up-ended, I am completely incapable of anything but attempting to manage total chaos.  My day must start before the kids get up, sitting quietly, reading God's word, and meditating on it for a bit.  My soul must begin in quiet reflection.  This demands that I set an alarm to get up at least 30 minutes earlier than the kids, or all I hear is "Mom!  Mom?  MOM!".  Starting my day like that is only swimming upstream when it comes to ORDER.  Of course, if I am getting up a bit earlier, I must also be conscientious enough to put limits on how late I stay up.  A tired mommy is not only a crazy mommy, but also one who is incapable of having anything to do with ORDER.
  2. God has shown me that this journey also begins with bringing ORDER to my thoughts.  With SO many demands on a mother's life, it is easy to have my thoughts race from this pressing issue to that, completely overwhelming myself.  Additionally, letting my mind wander to places of speculation, worry or assumption is entirely fruitless and even self-defeating.  Being deliberate about where I will or will not allow my mind to travel is foundational to any sort of ORDER.
  3. God has shown me that asking the right questions can help with ORDER.  I have written many times on the issue of boundaries.  When I examine a task or demand in my life with questions like, "How important is this in the big scheme of things?," "When will I be able to get at this?," "Even though this is good, should I really be taking this on?,"  "How will this benefit my family?," or "How does this fit in with my goal of ORDER?," I am much better able to set boundaries around what I will or will not do in any given day.
  4. God has shown me that ORDER takes place in bite-sized pieces.  "Once begun is half done," proclaimed Mary Poppins as she lead Jane and Michael Banks in cleaning the nursery.  The problem with beginning is that the task at hand can seem so insurmountably large, that we don't even know where to start.  In the past 3 weeks, God has accomplished ORDER in my life with things like putting Christmas photos in albums, separating hand-me-downs to keep for our youngest from clothes to go to charity, and getting through enormous piles of paper in my office all by chunking each of these jobs into smaller tasks.  This has helped calm my soul in ways that are beyond words.  Instead of the mountainous job of getting my whole house, my whole life in order at once, I am finding relief in attacking smaller pieces of the larger job.  That is forward movement!
So how about you?  What is God showing YOU about your One Word?  Might your One Word...
  • Start with God?
  • Also be controlled by your thought life?
  • Be helped by asking the right questions?
  • Make better progress in bite-sized pieces?
I will be praying that God doesn't leave you where He finds you this year.  Meanwhile, you pray about these questions as well.

PRAY:  LORD, thank You for showing me that I need to stop trying to transform myself apart from You.  I can't do this on my own.  Holy Spirit, point out the blank spaces of time in my life that I might be wasting.  Remind my forgetful mind to use those open spaces to meditate on my One Word for this year, and to listen quietly to what You are trying to teach me.  

To learn more visit http://oneword365.com/  

~ Barb Dittrich

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A New Thing



Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19 HCSB


A new thing. That’s what I love about a new year. It’s a fresh start, a “do over.” I desperately need one. I’m exhausted. We went from my daughter’s severe anxiety and meltdowns during the holidays to her having a sinus infection, the flu (Christmas week!), and then realizing the sinus infection wasn't gone. Now it’s GI issues and fatigue, difficulty figuring out why some of her infusion med is seeping out every week, and helping her meet her personal goals for this year.


Isaiah 43:19 was the verse of the day on New Year’s Day on my favorite Bible app. It ministered to something deep inside me, encouraging and reminding me. God is doing something new! He’s working on my behalf even now, although I can’t see it.


As I pray about my goals for this year, I see that God is definitely doing something new. Words like margin, rest, and no (as in, saying no!) keep coming to mind, and they’re being confirmed everywhere I turn---in sermons, an article in the paper, book reviews. This is the year of taking care of myself, building margin in every area of my life so that I don’t stay overwhelmed and exhausted, tapped out physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, and spiritually.


I’m saying no more often, which is hard for me. (I’m a recovering people pleaser.) I’m writing every day, but I’m only posting on my own site twice a week. I’m learning to knit, and I’m finding relaxation and joy in creating something beautiful. I’m spending more time with my children, laughing, playing board games, knitting, and enjoying unhurried discussions about their lives. I’ve closed shop on a business I've spent two years building. I’m changing my diet. I’m restarting my exercise program. I’m reading books about some health concerns so I can take measures to improve or prevent problems. I’m reading for fun too.


In taking better care of myself and enjoying my life, I am better able to take care of my children, to pour into my husband, to write something meaningful out of the overflow of the joy I feel.


It’s a new thing. It’s hard, but I like it.


Father, thank you for the new thing you’re doing in my life this year. Please help me to stay focused on what you have given me to do. I desperately need margin and rest in my life, but I can’t create this change without your help. Thank you for seeing me through each day and helping me to stick to the goals you've shown me so that I can joyfully serve the husband and children you've blessed me with.

How do you create margin and rest in your life so you can better care for your family?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Death of Me


"...I die daily."  (1 Corinthians 15:31, NKJV)

 You've heard the exchanges before --
"I'm a good person."

"How do you KNOW you're a good person?"

"Well, I've never murdered anyone."
So goes the base human logic of trying to defend our own reputation to a perpetually judgmental world.

As Christians, we allegedly have the understanding that no goodness of our own could possibly win us eternity in heaven.  Only the sacrifice of Jesus' death on a cross, taking our punishment, could win us a right to be ushered into the breathtaking, awesome presence of the Almighty.

Between acceptance of Jesus' free gift to me and that eternity in heaven, there is plenty of room for the good, the bad, and the ugly.  My decision to cooperate with my Maker has everything to do with how that time will play itself out.

As I meditate on this truth, growing in my Christian walk, something becomes painfully, disturbingly apparent.  I profess with my lips that I love God, that I want His will to be done, and that I surrender all.

Then my son unexpectedly becomes hospitalized with a serious bleed...

Or my husband loses his job with the very place that sells us our son's clotting factor and houses his specialists...

Or my daughter is in total sobbing meltdown from feeling "stupid" and unloved by kids and adults alike at her school.

Suddenly, God's permissive will in my life becomes pretty darn unattractive -- objectionable even.

"How can You expect this of me, God?" I cry out in pain.

I have a chip on my shoulder the size of Texas.  I loathe those who show me no compassion.  I despise those who have wronged me, wronged my children, wronged my spouse.  I am bitter, depressed.  Why is this my life?  Is this how God treats His friends?

The notions of forgiving as I have been forgiven, loving my neighbor as myself, and trusting in God with all my heart suddenly go against the grain.

Maybe I'm not necessarily good because I have never committed murder.  In fact, maybe a murder is exactly what is called for here -- a death to SELF.

Every day I get to decide whether to say "yes" to myself or "yes" to God.  I cannot do both unless I have allowed the old, self-absorbed part of me to march willingly into the death chamber, because that old selfishness is in no way aligned with God's will.  The old me is only concerned with my own comfort and well-being, the happiness and safety of those I love, and total justice in this present life.

God lovingly fashions that death chamber through circumstances like allowing the serious internal bleed, the job loss, the school conflicts.  Those very things I think will be the death of me ARE the death of me in a positive way, if I cooperate.  

That death can be a beautiful thing.  
Like a caterpillar who mummifies himself in the death of a cocoon, a beautiful new creation emerges.  Allowing my will to be put to death, while stubbornly painful, allows me to take flight bringing glory to God.

Any time I can smile amidst the ugliness of a hospital stay; any time I attend church to offer a sacrifice of praise when the pain is so great that I don't want to get out of bed; when I forgive, and forgive, and forgive again that wicked former employer; when I press on with the extra duties inflicted by our circumstances without grumbling, I am a new creation in Christ, letting the old pass away.

It takes practice to glory in suffering, afflictions, injustices, lost dreams, and heartbreaks.  I thank God for His patience with me as I am being transformed through the ugly, struggling, painfulness of this daily death of me.

PRAY:  More of You, and less of me, LORD.


Butterfly image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Monday, January 20, 2014

I'm stepping on your toes.


“For you are a slave to whatever controls you.”  2 Peter 2:19b  NLT

I might be stepping on quite a few toes today.  I never could dance very well, so that's no surprise.  I know when I did this, it was quite easy to get into a pattern that negatively affected not only me, but my entire family.  It was a good thing taken to the extreme.  Many of us have been down this path to the detriment of everyone around us.  
It all started very innocently.  I was over the hump of some very difficult situations before even more difficult things were about to occur.  A friend had asked me to be part of an online chat and I agreed.  I was soon off and running with it for a little while.  But something else happened.  I started getting super busy on the internet with all things related to and surrounding the special needs topic.  Suddenly something that should have taken very little time was consuming a good portion of my day.  I was in research mode.  I wanted to be up to date on the latest of everything.  Someone would make a comment on the chat and I'd be off researching it later to the extreme.
Remember what it was like when you first starting researching your child’s disability?  Well, I started down that road and more.  I was super busy about “helping” everyone else and leaving my family behind in the process. 
After a few weeks of this, I somehow saw what I was doing.  I was addicted to all things special needs related.  I was reasoning with God that I was helping people.  We all know that whenever we feel the need to reason with God, that can’t be a good thing.  I reasoned that my family wasn’t really suffering because of me.  I reasoned that I am helping other hurting people with all of the advice that somehow I could only give.  I reasoned that my family needed to be more self-reliant.  You see where this was going.  I was indeed being a slave to this.   It was controlling me and I had to do something.   

I'm sure many of you have been there or are there now.  It can be all consuming just keeping up with how to help our special needs child and where to turn for help.  We go down this path looking for answers and sometimes get so caught up in it all that we lose sight of what's really important.  We are so busy about checking out websites, authors, chats, blogs (yes, blogs), online support groups, Facebook, Twitter, Tweetchat,... that we leave everything and everyone else behind. 

For me, I had to stop "helping" everyone else and take the advice I was giving them.  I knew I had to be that drastic.  Now I am writing this blog because God has helped me have boundaries in this area!  So I'm not saying these things are bad.  What I am saying is to not let them take over.  A healthy balance is required.
If this isn't something that you struggle with you may ask yourself this question that I am asking myself too.
Are there any other areas of my life that I am a slave to?  TV, Facebook, food, shopping…. 

PRAYER: Lord, Help me be aware of areas of my life that I have let control me in an unhealthy way.  Help me to set up appropriate boundaries for myself while still helping others.

  Ann Gapinski
Infographic courtesy of Go-Gulf.com

Sunday, January 19, 2014

LIFE MATTERS


We have had parents abandon our support because of this issue.  Nevertheless, we see it as "a hill to die on".  In our Core Values Statement, Snappin' Ministries affirms the biblical worldview of life.

WHY?

First and foremost, we follow God as the Author of life and the Ultimate Authority over right and wrong.  If His word says it, we follow it.

Second, we find advocating for the rights of those with special needs and their families to be completely pointless if we don't first advocate for their right to event exist.

Today is "Sanctity of Human Life Sunday".  First proclaimed by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, this Sunday usually falls the weekend before the anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision.

In a world that has become increasingly hostile to the right of our children with special needs even having the right to be born; where 90% of all prenatally diagnosed babies with Down Syndrome are aborted; where professors like Peter Singer would even advocate that a living human being diagnosed with disorders like hemophilia or cerebral palsy be killed; we parents must speak up and affirm the value of our awesome, miraculous children.

Whether it be TODAY or later this week during the March for Life on the National Mall in Washington, DC, share the news of how blessed you are because of the life of your child.  Our children's value lays far beyond their diagnoses or abilities.  This dark world needs to know that.

And if you speak with someone who has had an abortion, treat them with love.  If that person is anything like the friends I have encountered who made that "choice", there is a great deal of pain surrounding that decision.  Usher them back to a place of healing in Christ.  Remember that none of us is without sin.  Give them the relief of knowing that there is a fresh start in Jesus. 

Most of all, spend time today thanking GOD for giving your child LIFE.  Many of us have difficult circumstances surrounding the pregnancy or birth of our child with special needs.  Meditate on the miracle of your child today.

PRAY:  Creator God, we thank YOU for the gift of LIFE today.  Forgive us for any poor past decisions we have made.  Bring us to a place of healing.  And Holy Spirit, use us to speak LIFE into anyone we encounter today.

~ Barb Dittrich

Here's TobyMac's latest release in honor of the occasion.  ENJOY!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Saturday "ARE YOU SERIOUS?" Awards: Volume I


It had to be done.  

Every week seems to bring another goofy story of some social faux pas or downright brutal violation of the dignity of those with special needs.

Despite all of the work poured into building acceptance and inclusion, it seems that that there are STILL too many in this day and age who choose to live back in the dark ages.

Perhaps shining a little bit of light on these persons, organizations or situations will help us focus on getting things turned around.

The intent of these weekly awards is to get you laughing at the foolishness of the award winners and shaking your darn head, rather than have smoke coming out of your ears in rage and frustration.  Think of these stories as good bad examples!

And let's face it...  Weekends were made for relaxing with laughter.  So, why not have a little chuckle here at how ridiculous we humans can be!  (As a side note, if you have never heard my talk on "The Healing Power of Humor", we shrink our problems when we can laugh at them.) 

So without further ado, I bring to you Volume I of Snappin's
"ARE YOU SERIOUS?" Awards.

This week's winner, hands down, is the employee of Panera Bread's Abercorn Street location in Savannah, Georgia who insisted that a 2 year old with special orthopedic shoes remove them because another customer had complained of their squeak.
Are you SERIOUS?!

To Panera's credit, an apology has been issued, and training on such issues increased.

My personal recommendation...
FOLLOW JESUS' LEAD!
Treat people with special needs the way
YOU
would want to be treated!

You can read more details of the story at http://www.wtoc.com/story/24425340/panera-bread-apologizes-to-child-with-disabilities

~Barb Dittrich

*Do YOU have a nominee for a future "Are You SERIOUS?" Award?  E-mail us a link to the story with any of your own personal insights to barb@snappin.org