Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Forget What's Behind and Press On

 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3:14


As we approach the new year, there are 3 things I'm going to do.

Forget what lies behind.

My mistakes,my definition of special needs, my fears and  failures, my shortcomings, my doubts that I can finish this race.

Next I'm going to reach forward to what lies ahead.

New beginnings, new opportunities, new lessons, better understanding, more clarity, healed relationships, more compassion, deeper insight, renewed strength - a finish line.

Then I'm going pick up the pace and press on- I'm going to run my race!

Because, for the believer - there is a PRIZE coming at the finish line of life! 
Understanding and perspective will come! Service and sacrifice will be rewarded!  Complete deliverance from the bondage of sin ~ A "Well Done" from our Savior ~A crown of righteousness ~ A new life with a new body and a transformed mind!

We are not alone in this race.  He is with us - always. 

So forget what lies behind, reach forward to what lies ahead and pick up the pace and press on into His wonders and grace!


Our prayer:  Our Father-

Thank you for bringing us this far! Thank you for charting the path ahead- for going before us, behind us, and keeping your hand of blessing on our head!  (Psalm 139:1-7, Isaiah 45:2, Duet. 31:8)


Give us strength and courage to live life to the fullest; to not shrink back in fear and doubt, but to rise up in the power of Your Spirit!



Remind us of Your faithfulness.

Return us to Your promises.

Revision us for the future.

Refill us with Your Spirit.

Refit us for Your kingdom’s work.

Refresh us from our weariness.

Revisit us with Your presence.
 Renew our passion for You!


In Jesus’ Mighty Name- Amen!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

OH, WHAT A YEAR!


Photo image courtesy of neydt via 123rf.com
I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.
Philippians 3:12-14, MSG

In the non-profit world, plans must be made, goals must be mapped out, budgets must be outlined, deadlines must be set.  If not, the organization has absolutely no direction, and donors/grantors are hesitant to provide any funding.  Furthermore, there is great truth to the saying, "Aim at nothing, and that's exactly what you'll accomplish."

Even so, God reminds us, "We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps." (Proverbs 16:9, NLT)  In other words, we can set all these goals with intricate detail, but the end result it ultimately up to the Lord.  

This past year has been full of goals and surprises as Snappin' Ministries has pressed on toward the goal of offering "Special Care for Special Caregivers."  It has been beautiful, and at times hair-raising to see where God has taken all of us on the journey.  As we step into 2015, we foresee the Lord building upon all that He has birthed in 2014.  Here are some of the exciting things that happened:

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 2014's TOP 10 BLOG POSTS


10. Taking a Walk On The Dark Side
      by Jeff Davidson, published June 27, 2014
9.   Singing a Different Song
      by Alexandra Dittrich, published July 7, 2014
8.   Trey Turns 25
      by Jeff Davidson, published August 11, 2014
7.   Love Is All You Need?
      by Barb Dittrich, published February 6, 2014
6.   The Day Somebody Paid My Daughter a Compliment 
      by Barb Dittrich, published July 15, 2014
      by Jeff Davidson, published July 14, 2014 
      by Barb Dittrich, published September 12, 2014
      by Jeff Davidson, published 
      by Tammie Hefty, published July 10, 2014
      by Barb Dittrich, March 21, 2014

This year we added several new contributing writers with unique perspectives to our devotional blog.  We also added regular features like the "Are You Serious?" Awards, and #SacredSunday.  As a result, readership engagement and subscription increased.


It was a year of excellence and recognition!
Receiving a generous check from All American Windows & Doors during the 620WTMJ "We Love Wisconsin Tour," March 28, 2014


ANNUAL IMPACT
  • January 12, 2014 – We had the honor of speaking to congregants at Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, Delafield, WI about how they support families raising children with special needs.
  • January 18, 2014 – Family Bowling Party held at AMC Lanes in Waukesha, WI.  Attendance increased by 12% with 65 people enjoying food, fun and door prizes.
  • January 22, 2014 – Our executive director and foundress, Barb Dittrich, was once again interviewed by Trinity Broadcast Network for their local report.
  • February 7, 2014 – New volunteers joyfully joined us for our Valentine’s Respite Date Night held at Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Delafield, WI.  We entertained 18 children, so that 10 couples could enjoy a sweet evening out.
  • February 28, 2014 – The Lt Governor of the Great State of Wisconsin joined us and the students of Nature Hill Intermediate School, Oconomowoc, WI in proclaiming World Rare Disease Day.  Students had learned about kids with rare disorders during their Circle of Power & Respect time each morning that week, and purchased blue jean ribbons to “Wear that they Care” each day at lunch during the week.  It was truly a remarkable observance!
  • March 20, 2014 – Supporters rallied by dining out at Fiesta Garibaldi in Oconomowoc, WI.  This yielded $400 to fund our programming.
  • April 3-5, 2014 – It was our great privilege to have 2 of our board members, Barbara Dittrich and Jolene Philo, speaking at one of the nation’s largest disability ministry conferences, the McLean Bible Church Accessibility Summit in Tyson's Corner, Virginia.  We had a wonderful opportunity to chat with many parents and colleagues at our booth at the 2 day summit.
  • April 24-25, 2014 – We met new faces at Wiscsonsin’s Circles of Life Conference, held at the Madison Marriott.
  • April 27, 2014 – Nearly 60 people soared to new heights with us at The Gift of Wings on Milwaukee’s Lakefront.  Families enjoyed lunch, personal kite making, a trick kite demonstration, and assorted flying goodies to take home.
  • May 3, 2014 – Mothers enjoyed our FIRST EVER Mother’s Day Retreat at the Cedar Valley Center in West Bend, WI with guest speaker, Ellen Stumbo.  A lovely lunch, massages, manicures, and time to enjoy the beautiful grounds all helped to refill the tanks of mothers raising kids with special needs.
  • May 16, 2014 – Our Recess respite program offered the parents of 17 kids one last break before school was out for summer. 
  • June 19, 2014 – Through the generosity of Tammy & Mike Derynda, over $1,800 was raised at all 3 of their Wisconsin Culver’s Restraurants.
  • July 13, 2014 – Our annual family picnic was a blast as Kurt Roskopf and friends availed attendees of the opportunity to try adaptive water-skiing.  Many volunteers made this exciting event happen.
  • August 11-15, 2014 – We had a FABULOUS week collaborating with Mission Bells Ministries on their Christian Disciple Farm special needs day camp.  Autism Solution Pieces of Racine again joined us in leading approximately 30 women participating in the Moms Group.
  • August 22, 2014 – It was our great privilege to be a Silver Sponsor of the Oconomowoc KidsFest this year.  We quickly found ourselves wiped clean of the 300 sensory hand-outs we arrived at the event with.  Kids and their parents loved the activities we were able to offer.
  • August 22, 2014 – Back-to-School “Recess” wound down our respite for this year at Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Delafield, WI.  Our team entertained 11 children whose parents received a much-needed break.
  • September, 2014 – Our Parent Mentor Program was retooled into our new Side-By-Side Small Groups.  We were THRILLED to launch 5 small groups, 2 in-person and 3 via video conferencing, to connect parents to others walking a mile in their shoes.
  • September 28, 2014 – In lieu of our Awesome Autumn Outing, we collaborated with Crosspoint Community Church for their Fall Festival.  Offering the opportunity to engage in our Kids’ Art Contest, our volunteers had fun helping get the creative juices flowing.
  • November 8, 2014 – Our 2nd Annual Christmas Mini-Mall to benefit SNAPPIN’ MINISTRIES enjoyed a 40% increase in vendors and a Kids’ Art Contest to engage families as well as supporters. 
  • November 10-30, 2014 – In an effort to reach more busy in a fresh way, we began an online book discussion of Amy Julia Becker’s new release SMALL TALK:  Learning From My Children About What Matters Most.
  • In addition to these specific events, this year our organization provided $2,452 in the way of gift cards and TLC gift baskets, daily devotional blog posts from a team of 16 different writers, information distributed through Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook all for thousands parents connected to SNAPPIN' living with the challenge of raising a child with special needs. 

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Favorites on Instagram

video

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ALREADY SCHEDULED AND COMING UP IN 2015...

  • NO MORE PEANUT BUTTER SANDWICHES, Book Group on Facebook beginning January 12, 2015 in conjunction with Rising Above Ministries
  • Snappin' Side-By-Side Small Group Mentoring reconvening in January, 2015
  • Winter Water Park Adventure for Families at Country Springs, January 11, 2015
  • GET YOUR JOY BACK, Book Group on Facebook, beginning in mid-to-late February, 2015
  • Mother's Day Retreat at Cedar Valley Center, West Bend, Wisconsin, May 15-16, 2015
  • Awesome Autumn Outing, Lapham Peak State Park, Delafield, Wisconsin, September 27, 2015

And THIS Is Just The Beginning!
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If you think this type of support is worth continuing, we would be so grateful for your financial help...
 

PRAY:  El Roi, THANK YOU for being a God who sees the challenges parents raising kids with special needs face!  THANK YOU for carrying us through every trial and joy in 2014.  Go before us and beside us in 2015.  Apart from You, we can do nothing!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Called to Good Works


“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 ESV

This was one of the first verses of Scripture that I learned as a new believer. In tandem with the verses preceding it, it’s a reminder that salvation is all of Christ, all of grace. As his workmanship, God displays his works in us and through us. We’re saved to walk a path of God-ordained good works as part of our maturation in Christ. There is an immediate conception in my mind as to what that looks like: it’s in acts of service to the Body of Christ, the sharing of my faith, and acts of mercy. It’s natural to make the association with one’s gifts and proclivities, but how does this verse relate to parenting a child with special needs? Rarely have I given this thought.

As a mother to sons, including a child on the autism spectrum, my life is very much centered in the home and on my children’s needs. It’s hard and important work, and all that is entailed in caring for and educating a child with a disability can feel overwhelming. Even so, I have yearnings outside of that role—an escape to even more work. So often at this time of the year, then, I have been tempted to recount abandoned resolutions, projects started and left incomplete, targets aimed for and unreached. Each year, I fall into the twin laments of unachieved goals set for my child with special needs, and unrealized pursuits of greater works and ministry. This year, though, I am finding an answer to those regrets in this unlikely verse of Scripture.

It has been easy to fall into the trap of seeing caregiving as a detour from or obstacle to a higher calling (and I recognize a similar struggle in friends).  But to apprehend the Lord’s sovereignty over the paths of our lives, including the entrance of disability into our stories, is to come to understand our care for our loved ones with disabilities as part of the good works uniquely ordained for us. To understand his grace not only in salvation, but also in the working out of our faith—it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure—is to live with fewer regrets. Regardless of what is left unaccomplished of my agenda, his will has and will be accomplished through and in me.

Martin Luther said of our vocations in life, “What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. For what we do in our calling here on earth in accordance with his word and command he counts as if it were done in Heaven for him.” For some, ministries and spectacular works are birthed out of our disability stories and experiences. For most of us, though, our calling is to day-to-day faithfulness with our loved ones. In both cases, he suits us, empowers us, and rewards us for the work he gives.

At the beginning of each year, I like to review JC Philpot’s message, The Year Before Our Eyes. He opens with Deuteronomy 33:25, “As your days, so shall your strength be,” and in the piece he reminds us:
He who has brought us thus far on the road, who has so borne with our crooked manners in the wilderness and never yet forsaken us—though we have so often forsaken him—will still lead us along; will still guide and guard us, and be our God, our Father and our Friend—not only to the end of the next year, if spared to see it, but the end of our life.
This is my comfort at this close of 2014, and as I look ahead to the New Year: Despite my weaknesses and failings, I’m on a path that is preordained and the end of which is certain. This journey includes the God-empowered role as nurturer, educator, and caregiver to a young man with a disability. It is good work, it is God work, and the Lord will see it to its completion.

Prayer: Lord, clarify for us the works that you have set for us in this season.  Remind us that these tasks, though finite, are of infinite worth, because they are yours. Give us contentment in them.  Strengthen us to work for your glory and for the benefit of others, and use them to help us grow in grace. Amen


Friday, December 26, 2014

God's Money-Back Guarantee ~ Best.Gift.EVER

Praising at Lifest in Oshkosh, WI
As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,  
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.  
Isaiah 55:10-11 NIV 

What is the greatest gift I can give my child?

I'm sure this question has passed though many of our minds, especially on the tail end of Christmas.

I have decided that the best gift I, or anyone, could give my daughter is God's Word.  

Sure, we can argue that a Bible (not a Children's Bible, but the real Bible) is too complicated for a child to understand...really, it's almost too complicated for a grown up to understand.  But, God tells us straight up that His Word will not return empty.  

I've seen this in my daughter.  That's her in the picture above, praising God at a Christian music event in Oshkosh, WI called Lifest.  We have been big Lifest-ers for the past 5 years, and even continue to buy our tickets although we now live in Nevada.  Why?  Because, it is not only a great gift for us, but it is one of the greatest gifts we can give our daughter.  

She is legally blind, a cancer survivor, and developmentally delayed.  How ELSE are we going to get her to feel God's presence wash over her but to expose her to His Word???

God promises us, in the scripture from Isaiah, that He will not let his Word return void.  There will be a harvest to reap.  There will be truth that we glean, even if we don't see it immediately.  

As you head out with your "Christmas Money" after all the big holiday gatherings have come to a close, consider a Bible, or a Christian concert ticket, or book purchase from Snappin' Ministries as a way to heap blessings upon yourself and your family.  God has pretty much given us his "money back"guarantee that we will be satisfied with what we find in His Word.  

Pray:  Lord, I know I don't read your Word as often as I should, and I don't meditate on it as you would desire; please help me to be motivated and encouraged to open the Bible so I can reap the harvest you have sown in the words on the pages.  You have promised that it will not be too much for me to handle.  Grant me your wisdom and discernment so I can make sense of even the smallest passage.  Amen

Thursday, December 25, 2014

How do we have HOPE when it seems that all hope is lost?

Surely that is what Mary and John felt as they knelt and wept at the foot of the cross. 

To Mary, this child had been brought into this world through a miracle. She knew that He was destined for greatness. She knew He was God’s son. When she first felt him kick in the whom, she had to know this was happening, just as the Angel had described. I am sure she prayed like no other expectant mother before or since. Surely she had great expectations for his life. And then he came and began his ministry with so much hope, such promise, so many miracles. And, yet on that day, he was hanging on a cross, beaten, bloody and dying. Her sadness is unimaginable. How could she still have hope? 

A very good friend of mine, whose daughter was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma over 5 years ago, told me HOPE stood for Having Optimistic Prayer Expectations. My friend, was forced to have HOPE when her daughter was diagnosed. And, she did. She and her husband were faced with insurmountable odds. Their daughter was not quite 14 years old. What would God do? How would they make it through this? They had to have HOPE. 

John had been beside Jesus for such a long time. His words in scripture tells us that his faith was strong. Yet, he stood and watched his best friend, his Savior, dying. Jesus’ body had been badly beaten. Some references say he was unrecognizable from the horrific ordeal his body had been put through. John and the disciples were hoping for a kingdom to be established by the Savior and now he was dying on a cross, humiliated before the world. Can you imagine how John felt at that moment? Do you think he had any hope left? 

I had a close friend die from cancer about 6 years ago. He was diagnosed and less than 6 months later, he was gone from this earth. Toward the end of his life, three of his friends were charged with being available via phone or to come over in person, if needed, in 8 hour shifts. I was one of them. I listened to Kurt over the phone, struggling to hang on once when he called me in the middle of the night. From his bedside at his home, I watched as his body wasted away. When his physical death was inevitable, I wondered where my hope had gone. How could God take him from us? He was such a wonderful and faithful man of God. 

And so, on this Christmas Day, we celebrate Hope in His physical form, in His birth. We celebrate, the coming of our Savior in the form of a child born of a virgin, in prophecy fulfilled. We put our hope in Him. We have great expectations today as we pray and we worship. 

But, for some, their circumstances are so horrific that it seems that all hope has been lost. I am reminded of this, not in my own family today, but in a prayer request sent to me from the leader of a prayer group. 

December 21st, this past Sunday, was my daughter’s 15th birthday. As we prepared to celebrate her birth, I received an email around 8:40 a.m. about a young boy named Tyler. He was 8 years old and had been battling cancer. His body was no longer able to fight it off and on Sunday, December 21st, on the verge of one of the most celebrated days of the year, his body gave it’s last breath. And as his Aunt so gently put it in her email to our prayer group,

“What a precious little boy. He brought so many people joy in his 8 years here on           
         earth....A very brave little boy just met Jesus. God is good and merciful.

As my eyes filled with tears, I could hear hope ringing in her words. At a time when so many are celebrating, this family laid their 8 year old son on his death bed. I don’t know them personally, but I can imagine. I have two sons who have a serious health issue and when the oldest was first diagnosed nearly 20 years ago, we thought he was going to live a short and painful life. Today he is fine, but that day we only knew the worst. That is the closest I have come to feeling what this mother and father must have felt that day. How can they have hope at such a time? 

God is good and merciful…God is in control…God gives us HOPE…We must have Faith.

Jesus suffered and his loved ones were dealt a heavy blow. Yet, the Father knew what HE was doing.

Mary had hope, and Jesus rose from the grave. John had hope and he saw his Savior ascend into heaven. And, John witnessed to the world about this miracle.  They made it through their circumstance when it seemed that all hope was lost. Christ's ordeal has changed the world forever. And, so we too must cling to Him and always have HOPE. 

If I have learned anything in the last 48 years on this planet, having to deal with this thorn, we call flesh, I have learned that what we think God is going to do and what we want are very seldom what is best and even less so, what God has in store for our lives. HIS plan for us is just that, it is HIS plan, not ours. HE is in control and HE loves us in a way we cannot understand in our humanness. We must know him in the Spirit. For He is revealed to us in the Spirit. 
In our brokenness, HE can reach us. 
In our suffering, we come to understand HIM.  
This is God’s plan. It has been this way from the very foundation of the Earth and so it will always be. Christ was broken in the flesh, he was restored and he is our only real HOPE for the life he brings us is eternal and not of this world. 

Let us cling to hope when it seems that all hope is lost. 

My prayer today for those that read this message is that God will give you the Faith you need, the Strength you need, to cling to HIM when you are completely broken, physically, mentally, financially, and even spiritually. For these are the times when HE is truly calling out to you to come home. These are the greatest of times when the flesh is no longer holding you back, because it is being torn away. These are the moments when heaven is the closest to you in this world. 

When it seems that all hope is lost, let go of this world and let HIM become your eternal HOPE. HE is good and merciful and HE will never forsake you, even when it seems HE is not there, you must cling to HOPE, for God is with you. Let HIM be your strength, let HIM be your HOPE. 

             Titus 2:13
                      "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of 
                                                               the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ"

12/25/2014

Christmas Day