Monday, April 24, 2017

The Chocolate Easter Bunny Hangover

At the crack of dawn on Sunday, the women came to the tomb carrying the burial spices they had prepared. They found the entrance stone rolled back from the tomb, so they walked in. But once inside, they couldn’t find the body of the Master Jesus.

They were puzzled, wondering what to make of this. Then, out of nowhere it seemed, two men, light cascading over them, stood there. The women were awestruck and bowed down in worship. The men said, “Why are you looking for the Living One in a cemetery? He is not here, but raised up. Remember how he told you when you were still back in Galilee that he had to be handed over to sinners, be killed on a cross, and in three days rise up?” Then they remembered Jesus’ words.
~ Luke 24:1-8, MSG ~

As a pastor, I anticipate Easter with joy and excitement – after all, it’s the most important holiday in the Christian year. It’s the time when we get to celebrate the miracle that changed everything – when Jesus defeated sin and death and came to life again. It’s the time when we get to sing the most exciting worship songs, preach from the most powerful and mysterious texts, meet new friends that may be approaching church for the first time, and cement again our belief in the God who loves us more than life itself. It is an exciting and powerful day.

The mom in me, on the other hand, approaches Easter with a bit of fear and trembling. Facing each day without the routine of school, finding creative ways to entertain children while studying Scripture and prepping for worship services, and then dealing with the sugar rushes, meltdowns, and iPad over-use seem to sap my strength and energy, leaving me with more dread than drive. So I tightly ration the Easter candy in order to quell the resulting behavioral crises that are sure to come, not to mention the circumference that it adds to my hips. Locked up tight behind a complex system of tot locks and pantry doors, the last of the candy is still hanging around, mostly some jelly beans and stale M & M’s, perhaps a few toffees or forlorn taffy. The Peeps are always the first to go, and the chocolate Easter bunnies never make it past Easter day. And after the little people have had their fill of Easter spoils, and the big people have stolen nibbles and bites from the kids' sacred stash, we are left with the chocolate Easter bunny hangover.

It's that slightly icky feeling in the pit of your stomach from eating too much chocolate. The dull headache that’s left over from the backend of the sugar rush, and the swollen fingers and toes from the salty Easter ham that was devoured at brunch. Chocolate Easter bunny hangover, indeed. It’s that moment when you realize the fun and the hype are over, and the worst is yet to come – the meltdowns are coming on strong, the laundry (which is consequently streaked with jelly beans and chocolate) is piled up in the hallways, and the chores and the messy kitchen are just plain overwhelming. Life after the fun is just plain overwhelming. Life, perhaps, is even a little bit hopeless.

We see a picture of hopelessness in the women who went to look for Jesus in the tomb, expecting Him to still be dead, hoping to somehow anoint His body with burial spices. How could they possibly have hope when their hopes and dreams for a powerful Savior died on the cross on Friday? How could they possibly have hope when they were suffering such grief, such loss? How could they have hope when the man that they had seen do miracle after miracle gave up His right to life in order to show His resurrection power that would be the saving grace for every one of us? How could they even begin to hope?

But God. The God who overcame death, who brought Jesus out of that tomb, met those women right where they were, in the middle of their fear and their hopelessness. Those hopeless women who showed up anyway were the first to hear the news that Jesus was alive. They were the first to peer into the shadowy darkness of the tomb to find nothing left but a few linens because Jesus was gone from that place of death. God took those hopeless women and turned them into joyful preachers of the Good News – the news that Jesus was and is alive! God’s resurrection power gave those hopeless women a brand new hope.

And that’s kind of how God works. When we show up in our brokenness, our helplessness, our hopelessness, God transforms us through His resurrection power. He gives us grace to handle the chocolate Easter bunny hangover, the piles of laundry, the mess and the meltdowns. Because the same resurrection power that raised Jesus from the dead is the same power that lives in each of us who believes. That resurrection power isn’t just for a powerful Easter sermon, it’s for meltdown Monday, for chocolate Easter bunny hangovers; it’s for the best day of your life and the worst day of your life and it is for every single day in between. And I hope that you can live in the constant awareness that Jesus Christ is alive and He is ready and willing to turn your hopelessness into joy through that very same resurrection power.

Dear God,
Sometimes our lives are overwhelming. Sometimes, our lives feel hopeless. Please meet me in my hopelessness, and transform me through Your resurrection power. Please grant me fulfillment when the mundane chores are piling up. Please grant me strength and patience when the meltdowns and the stress begin to overwhelm me. Please carry me each day in Your resurrection power and turn my hopelessness into joy.
Amen. 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

That Easter Feeling! ~ #SacredSunday

Easter isn't just one Sunday of the year. It's a joy that lives inside of our hearts every day when we embrace Jesus. Celebrate that Easter feeling today!
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Friday, April 21, 2017

Striving for the Best Possible Version

Photo image courtesy of skeeze at Pixabay.com
I am sprinting toward the only goal that counts: to cross the line, to win the prize, and to hear God’s call to resurrection life found exclusively in Jesus the Anointed.
~ Philippians 3:14, VOICE ~

It's IEP season. This means that I end up chatting with a disproportionate number of parents who are frustrated with their child's progress or lack thereof in school. Irritation mounts as parents prepare to once again go to battle for their child, contending with educators that all too often want to take the easiest, most minimal steps possible to comply with the law.

All we parents want for our kids is to have the opportunity to become the best possible version of themselves they can be. 

Why is that so hard to understand? Why is that too much to ask?

The sad part is that just tiny, consistent adjustments and small accommodations can make such a huge difference for our kids. Working with our children instead of working against them can make all the difference in helping them to reach their full potential. It may be inconvenient or require some effort on the part of the team, but the outcome is definitely worth it.

Examining the inherent truths of this situation, I have to ask, Why don't we parents expect the same for ourselves? Yes, we have all heard thousands of times the airline passenger analogy of putting our own oxygen masks on before we assist our kids. Unfortunately, we nod our heads and continue our self-neglect, especially when it comes to our spiritual lives.

"I don't have time!"

"I'm so tired!"

"God understands."

We rationalize as our spirits continue to dwindle. Our stress is through the roof. We are constantly exhausted. Emotionally we are discouraged, depressed, anxious, and angry. Exercise is absent. Overeating is habitual. Marriages are strained. An intimate relationship with Jesus? What is that?

If this were our child's IEP team, we would be furious!

We need to strive to become the best possible version of ourselves every bit as much as we push for it in the lives of our children. How we spend our time reveals what is important to us. Straining towards that relationship with Jesus FIRST helps all the rest fall into place. (See Matthew 6:31-33) He alone can transform us into the best possible version of ourselves. The power of His Holy Spirit in us increases our perseverance and gives us the self-control to push through the small adjustments and effort needed to create positive personal change. 

Is that too much to ask? God doesn't think so. There is nothing He has withheld from you to help you reach your full eternal potential.

PRAY: Lord, in the crazy busy-ness of our days, remind us to put first things first. Help us to remember that we are a poor example to our children when we don't maintain and improve ourselves first. Make us good stewards of every one of Your good gifts.

~ Barb Dittrich 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

When I Was the One Who Triggered the Meltdown

Image Courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /freedigitalphotos.net
When they kept on questioning him, 
he straightened up and said to them, 
“Let any one of you who is without sin 
be the first to throw a stone at her.” 
John 8:7, NIV

As parents of children with special needs, we know all too well that those who DON'T deal every day with Sensory Processing Disorder, or Autism Spectrum Disorder, or blindness or -fill in your child's diagnosis here - just don't understand how we work; how it ALL works.

I was recently listening to a friend talk about how her son with autism was "given" an item he had been obsessing over by his teacher. She was upset about it because she was trying to teach him that he didn't NEED that object; that life without the object would still be okay. I agreed with her that this was definitely something done in ignorance. But, suddenly, God brought back to my memory something that I had done many, MANY years ago...
It was Summerfest in Milwaukee, WI. The day had been filled with sun, fun and music. I was in one of the public restrooms washing my hands, and a mom was in there with her two daughters. One daughter was crying because she had wanted a cheap beaded necklace (you know, the dollar store ones which we all have now realized bleed onto our skin when we sweat.)  
Well, I just happened to HAVE such a necklace, and, being in my happy state after a sunny fun-filled day, I said, "Oh, here, Sweetie, you can have mine."
Oh, geez. Clearly the move of a "non-mother" and ignorant graduate student who did NOT know how the world works...
The OTHER daughter exploded into a fit of tears. "How come she gets one and I don't???!!!"
I wanted to crawl into the corner, and I'm CERTAIN their mother did as well. I did NOT have a second necklace to give, and now I was the reason for a round of sibling rivalry that I didn't have to resolve.
With this memory in the forefront of my mind, I began to empathize with the teacher who had given the object to my friend's son.
She DID IT out of love and concern for him.
She DID IT for a wonderful reason!
She DID IT thinking that it would make someone happy.
So, how do we, as Christian parents, and parents who are responsible for raising children with as much social skill as possible express to others WHY we can't give in to our child's obsessions or their every desire?

I look at it as the same way God parents us. He knows each of us and our weaknesses. Sometimes He shields and protects us from the things He knows we cannot handle, but other times He pushes us out of our comfort zones and makes us stare our fears and weaknesses straight in the face.

For example, as a child, I was tremendously anxious...and a BIG hypochondriac. Oh my goodness, in my childhood, when characters on TV shows were diagnosed with cancer, or AIDS, suddenly I had all the symptoms too. My poor mother and father spent many a sleepless night assuring me that I was not sick.

And how does God deal with this fear of mine? Of course, give that girl a child with a rare disease! However, with rare disease, God made me face my fears head on with HIM as my champion and hero. Only by my faith can I get out of bed every day and not be paralyzed with fear. Rare disease has drawn me closer to Him.

But, God HAS given ME moments some peaceful times as well. Those "answered prayers" which come in the nick of time and satiate my desire to feel some relief from my anxiety. Once, for example, we had our daughter in for surgery for her glaucoma...and, as an answer to prayer, she DIDN'T need surgery!  REALLY? Yes! If you can imagine the feeling of relief you might get when you hear, "Surgery is canceled, she's okay today!"

God does that for us too...out of love, out of mercy, and our of knowing that we might just break with that "last straw on the camel's back".

So, I guess my thoughts here are that maybe we can feel less frustration or less offended when a stranger (or someone who "just doesn't get it") gives in to our kid and tries to appease their obsessive desire. I know, it feels like two steps forward and one step back...but, sometimes even God gives us what WE are also anxiously obsessing over...
Some of the most frequent disagreements between my husband and I are over JUST THIS topic. When do we give consequences? When do give her the benefit of the doubt? When do we reward? When do we take away?
These aren't easy questions to answer, and we rarely know if our decision was right or wrong...but they can become contentious and hurtful for the adults involved if we aren't careful.

Ultimately, the question for me comes back to this...How many times have I been the one who, without know or without intent, triggered the meltdown? More than I'd care to know is my guess. So, if I have already been the culprit, do I have any right to cast a stone in anyone else's direction?

Pray:  Heavenly Father, we often have our protocol, our system, our RULES for how to handle certain situations with our children. Help us to remember that there are many wonderful people out there who don't know these rules, and may just be following their heart. Ignorance of our child's particular diagnosis can be frustrating; so help us to remain gracious, and follow Jesus's example. Amen.

~Tammie Hefty 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Watching Your Child Bloom

"Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these." 
Matthew 6:28-29, NASB

I went for a walk the other day, just soaking in God's creation unfurling after a long winter when I happened upon the flower you see above.
At first, I was sad for it.  There was a beautiful garden about five feet away from this flower, where its friends were growing.  And here was this flower, all by itself, growing between a crack in the sidewalk.
But then, my perspective changed and I was suddenly proud of this lone flower.  It did exactly what it was created to do: spread its roots and grow and bloom and share its color and beauty with the world, despite its unusual circumstances.  It could have withered up and died, but it was blooming.
And as I marveled at God's creation a new thought struck me: My children are not in the garden I expected them to grow in. I expected them to thrive at play dates and in school, and instead, they struggle in those environments. I expected them to grow among their peers, and instead, I watched them fall further and further behind, finally mastering every milestone months or years behind their peers.

No, my children are like that lone flower, growing right where they are planted. But I am learning to embrace the unique way they are blooming: their own rate of development, their personalities, their abilities, their passions, and yes, even their quirks. And when I focus on them that way, I see that they are indeed blooming, showing off their unique colors to this world desperate for a little color and joy in it.
And that makes me one proud and blessed mama.  🙂
Pray: God, help me to see my child through your eyes. Help me to let go of the garden I expected my child to grow in and embrace the way they are growing. And give me the wisdom to nurture my child and watch them flourish. Amen.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Why My Child?

"Everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made."
Isaiah 43:7 NIV

"God why, why my child?'


If we are truthful, we have all said it or thought it at some point.

For some, it may have been at the time of a diagnosis, for others it may be with each and every trial that you and your child have to face.


On more than one occasion I have uttered, even loudly proclaimed, those words myself.

You don't have to be the parent of a child with a disability, illness, or any unique need, to have occasion to question God and the path that you find yourself on. But it does seem sometimes, that some of us more than others, have the "God why?" market cornered.

No one likes to see their children struggle and suffer, there is not a parent a live that longs to see their child in pain and hurting. We do not beg for precarious and uncertain futures for our off spring. Not one of us longs for sleepless nights filled with worry.

But sometimes, that is where we are, it's what we experience, and harder yet to understand, it's the reality our children live.

So we cry out, "God why, why my child?"

I have often said I don't know the answer to the question "why?" and I don't...

Except, I do.


I do know the answer.


The answer's Jesus, the answer is always Jesus, even when you don't realize it, even when you don't think it possibly can be, even when you don't want it to be.

It is.

He is.

However, if all I can do is tell you is Jesus is the answer to your questions of "Why?", what good does that do you, what comfort does that bring?

What it may actually bring you is another question of  "Why?"

"Why is Jesus the answer?"

If you are reading this right now and you are thinking, "No, it's not Jesus, Jesus is not the answer. I just don't believe that. I have never believed that. How can a God who is supposed to care, who is supposed to 'be love' let this happen to me, to my family...to my child?"


I want you to know; right here, right now, beyond a shadow of a doubt, with every bit of faith that I have, I know God loves and cares about every detail of your life. I know this because I have seen Him in the details of my life, of my families life, and I have seen God in the details of my son's life.


Right now, I see him in the details of your life, because I had no intentions of writing any of this when I sat down and started writing. I want you to see it too, I want you to see it with your heart.


If you are reading this and you are scared and worried, if you are tired and lonely, if you are doubting that God ever shows up.


He does.


I know He does.


You can know it too, 
because you are reading these words.

They are for you,


whoever you are,


wherever you may be.


God cares, He created you and your child.


"Being confident in this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6, NIV


Sometimes in our pain, it is just too much to see that there is some bigger picture and some greater good that is forming from the pain and suffering that we endure that our children endure.

Why is there a God who allows the innocent to suffer and families to go through great hardships?

"Why?"

There is a story in John where Jesus heals a man who was born blind:

His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus "but this happened so that the works of God may be displayed in him." John:2-3, NIV


If you know Jesus it can bring you great comfort.

I can't tell you exactly why, and what the purpose of the pain you experience is, but I can point you toward the best comfort and direction that I know for navigating your way through that pain.

You are not alone.


My prayer:

God, I thank you for every moment and every detail that You have so carefully woven together. God from our very creation to the last breath we take You are there, You do not leave us. Father, I pray that the peace and comfort of Your all knowing and all powerful existence be felt by those who are doubting, lonely and afraid. You know the challenges that we face and God, help us to see that You are in even the most difficult ones, help us to see you there and feel your presence. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.

~Beth

*FOR FURTHER EXAMINATION: Snappin's Mentor Video - "Why My Child?"

Monday, April 17, 2017

When I Was At My Worst

Copyright: wavebreakmediamicro / 123RF Stock Photo
Finding someone who would die for a godly person is rare. Maybe someone would have the courage to die for a good person. Christ died for us while we were still sinners. This demonstrates God’s love for us.

Since Christ’s blood has now given us God’s approval, we are even more certain that Christ will save us from God’s anger.
~ Romans 5:7-9, GW ~

Holidays. They bring out the best in people and the worst in people. 

Forty days of Lent all crescendo with the solemnity of Holy Thursday and Good Friday followed by the joy of Easter Sunday. While the whole of Christendom centers around these few days on the calendar, the practical demands can be overwhelming.

For the average family, the usual pressures close in. Which relatives will we be spending the holiday with? The kids need new clothes for church on Sunday! What will we put in the Easter baskets this year? Ugh. The candy! And oh, the craziness of spring break!

Now add to that layer the challenges of parenting a child with a disability, a chronic illness, a rare disease, or special needs. Spending the holiday with relatives suddenly looks like being repeatedly criticized as your child struggles in an unfamiliar setting with lots of commotion. Sensory processing issues make a fancy dress or a nice tie an impossibility. Being stuck in a hospital with your child may eliminate the chance to worship at church. Or if you can get to a church, the noise and lack of inclusive accommodations may just make you feel that it's not worth the effort. Easter candy? Dietary restrictions can turn this time of year into endless contention between you and your child. And that sudden one-week break in the family routine can make this brief vacation feel like torture.

It's easy to feel bitter, contentious, and resentful when you're in this position as a parent. 

There is a soul fracture between practical life and faith. We should be feeling joyous, but instead, we often feel irritated by extended family for their lack of understanding during yet another holiday. The awe of the resurrection should be overwhelming our hearts, but we act like all of the rest of the world owes us something because of our overwhelming circumstances. We should be celebrating Jesus' victory over death, but we become cranky, and edgy, and fed up with everyone around us.

Here has been the game-changer for me this year: Although I've heard it hundreds of times, it finally sank into my heart that Jesus couldn't be any more in love with me than when I am at my worst. I don't have to "get right" with Him before He is willing to give His life up for me and offer me total forgiveness. So when I'm grumbling under my breath about the nasty relatives, Jesus says, "I'll still go to the cross for you, Barb." When I'm blowing my stack or saying something unkind to my husband, Jesus doesn't think less of me, He wants to set me free. Like the little kid who feels ashamed when they've blown it and gotten their Easter clothes torn and filthy, Christ takes me by the hand, washes me clean, and makes me good as new. That blows my mind!

If that's how I am loved when I am at my worst, how can I withhold that sort of love and forgiveness from others? The death and resurrection of Jesus is a living example that I need to offer those relatives extra grace because I am no less a sinner than they. I need to exchange my attitude of entitlement, indignity, and pride for a spirit of boundless gratitude. I need to offer that church of mine some mercy because they are trying to accommodate so many people at Easter, and they honestly have zero training on how to build an inclusive environment for worship. The serenity of soaking in resurrection awe needs to replace my contentious resentment. 

I'm so grateful that Jesus never gives up on us, even when we are seemingly the most unlovable. Now you and I need to go and do the same because of the magnitude of such a crazy, relentless love.

PRAY: Jesus, it was ME yelling, "Crucify him!" on Good Friday, yet You were still willing to die for me. My mind is blown! Take over and spill out that same sort of love through me, so that I can offer mercy and forgiveness to others who are sinners just like me.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

From the Archives: Meditations for Easter

We pause from our usual Snappin' Saturday Share to soak in the incredible MAGNITUDE of what was done for us through Jesus' death and resurrection celebrated at Easter. Our collection of writers has shared so many incredible insights over the year. Today, we share twelve of our writers' previous posts from Holy Week and Easter for you to meditate on as you await the celebration of the Resurrection.

  1. Sunday Without Friday
  2. God's Love is for the Most Childlike Among us
  3. Jesus Was Disabled, Too
  4. Feasting on the Bread of Life
  5. Special Needs and the Beauty of the Cross
  6. Not Forgotten
  7. NAILED
  8. You Think YOU Have Problems?
  9. BRUTAL
  10. MAGNITUDE
  11. Moving Beyond the Cross
  12. Easter People
Be blessed! 

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Sun Stopped Shining

It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining… he breathed his last.
(Luke 23: 44-46, NIV)

I was reflecting earlier in the week on my childhood memories of Holy Week. My Dad was Pastor of our church so inevitably our whole family life at Easter took on the shape of Holy Week beginning with the noisy praise and bustle of Palm Sunday, the together time of Maundy Thursday, right through to Easter Sunday celebrations. Good Friday and Easter Saturday always had a solemn heaviness all their own. A tangible weightiness, more than sorrow or sadness, I suppose looking back I experienced them as a hush, an expectant hush. A holding of breath, a waiting for Sunday.

The sense in which ‘normal life’ (whatever that is!) simply stopped as we stood and heard those words, imprinted on my heart early on the utter gravity of the event of the cross. The cost. The implications. The impact still being felt today.

Despite knowing the story wasn’t finished until Sunday came, Good Friday had a timelessness, a stillness in which as a child I remember finding myself hoping, seemingly against the odds, that my Jesus would do it… would defeat the darkness, would win… that this wouldn’t be the end.

"My life’s on the line before God, my Lord, waiting and watching till morning, waiting and watching till morning." (Psalm 130:6, MSG)

The whole of creation holds its breath, watching, waiting, breaking.
He breathes his last.

It seems almost impossible for our family life to stand still, for us to sense hush. Sometimes it happens, in extreme circumstances, maybe a shocking news flash on TV, or an unexpected phone call. Today is one of those days. The event of the cross changes everything. Jesus dies, and it should have been me, it should have been you. I can only think he must love me, he must love you.


Lord Jesus, I am stilled by your powerful unexpected love again today. I cannot turn away, I wait for you more eagerly than I long for the morning when I can’t sleep and the kids have had me up all night! I wait to see the sunrise in all its glory and color and feel its life-giving warmth and light as you scatter my darkness. Amen

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Because EVERY Day is Maundy Thursday

Image courtesy of Graphics Mouse/freedigitalphotos.net
Then he poured water into a basin 
and began to wash the disciples' feet 
and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, 
“Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, 
“What I am doing you do not understand now, 
but afterward you will understand.” 
Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” 
Jesus answered him, 
“If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.”  
John 13: 5-8 ESV

Jesus knew he was about to be betrayed, denied, abandoned and murdered, but he spent his last night on earth serving, washing, and SAVING his disciples.  

Today is Maundy Thursday, and it's time to reflect on Jesus's night before his death on the cross.  

Maundy is derived from the Latin word for "command" and specifically, Maundy Thursday refers to Christ's commandment for us to love each other the way he loves us; to act toward one another the way he acted toward us when he walked among us.  (See Guard the Deposit, "The Meaning of Maundy Thursday:  Love One Another" ).

As followers of Jesus, we want to obey his commandments, but as earthly human beings we find ourselves tired, worn out, stressed, and more inclined to seek to satisfy our selfish desires.  We often feel like God has given us more than we can handle because we have children with special needs, so HOW could He possibly expect any more from us?

But, many of Christ's apostles (ie. James, Peter, Paul...) challenge us by referring to themselves as BOND-SERVANTS. This term comes from the word DULOS.  It refers to one who is devoted to serving others regardless of his or her own interests.  

Well...doesn't that just mess up my idea for "taking a breather" next weekend rather than volunteering at the guest table at church?

How CAN a parent of a child with special needs best SERVE in order to carry out Jesus's commandment to love, and follow his example to wash the feet of those who are also tired and weary?

I personally find one of the best ways to serve is by volunteering WITH and FOR those who are in the trenches with us.  Serving other parents of children with special needs feels like the best way to "love one another" and turn our trials into blessings.  

Is there a non-profit organization for people with your child's diagnosis who need people to assist in some way?
Is there a special need's ministry at your church who could use volunteers?
Is there a Special Olympics or Club Unify in your area that could use your help?
Or how about volunteering and supporting a special needs ministry organization dedicated to creating a place for parents and caregivers to come together, both on the computer AND in person, where we can support, encourage, and spiritually lift one another up?
Let's face it, there are thousands of ways we can help...and, by golly, we are CALLED, no, COMMANDED to do so!

Maybe THIS Maundy Thursday is the perfect time for YOU to start.  Take a leap of faith and follow Jesus's example to "wash the feet" of those around you, EVEN while you struggle to make sense of what lies ahead of you.  

Here are THREE easy ways to start:

Contact Snappin' Ministries about ways YOU can use your talents to serve other families of children with special needs.

Make a monetary donation to Snappin' Ministries as this organization provides online Bible studies for parents and caregivers of children with special needs, as well as hosts events in Wisconsin for mothers, fathers, and entire families to attend to refresh and reset.  

Visit the Snappin' Ministries online store for books that you can read or share with others to help them in their spiritual walk.

Snappin' Ministries has been founded on the premise set in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 that God "...comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God."  

Jesus spent time with his disciples (even the ones who would deny and betray him) the night before his brutal death and commanded us to spend time with those around us...even in the midst of our most difficult trials.  And, as God provides us with the help we need, should we not, in turn, help others?

Pray:  Father God, this was a difficult message to read because it challenges the part of us that wants to give in to our weak earthly bodies.  But, you have commanded us to serve out of our LOVE for you.  Give us the STRENGTH, COURAGE, and MOTIVATION to do just that.  We want to be your hands and feet.  And we know that now is the time to do that.  Thank you for all the comfort you give us.  Now, may we go on to be a comfort to others.  Amen.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Resurrecting Autism Awareness

photo credit: pixabay.com
I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.
(Ephesians1: 19-20, NLT)

The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

(Romans 8:11, NLT)


It's April again. And I love April. Spring finally wins its valiant battle against winter and shows its resilience. I love being able to stand defiantly on the deck, without my winter jacket and celebrate the resurrection. Life wins!


Awareness - Enthusiasm

It's April. It's autism awareness month, and I have mixed feeling about that.  At first, April was an opportunity for me to grow in my awareness of the supports, treatments, therapies, schools, recreation... Social media comes alive with parent conversations and a lonely journey feels a little less alone. Of course, there is the excess of helpful emails from friends about the news clips and documentaries... After a few years, I became an autism 'expert' to my friends. I used April to advocate for my son's needs, sharing insights into the lives of people with autism and their families. I eagerly shared about inclusion in the spiritual community.


Awareness - Cynicism

But awareness never caught up with action, and I deeply understand the parents who cynically point out, 'autism awareness is every day!'. The gap only gets bigger as our kids get older. For many, the euphoria of the occasionally met milestone fades as the occasions seem fewer and fewer. The gap between need and action, especially in many of our communities of faith, can seem uncrossable, and I struggle to avoid the comfort of cynicism and resentment. I also struggle to share these conflicted feelings. I don't want to disturb/hurt the many who are just being stirred to further awareness and action by yelling 'it's not enough!' Still, I can imagine the man in the wheelchair watching the wheelchair accessible apartment building being erected, with an estimated date of completion in three years. What do we do in the meanwhile?


What? He died??

I think the disciples may have had a similar, though much more tumultuous experience in those last three years of Jesus' life. The burst of hope, new opportunities to make an impact, new therapies... I mean, insights into the scriptures and a blossoming relationship with the Writer of the scriptures. The aha! There's a reason for the pain of autism. 

Then things take a turn. and the turn looks windy, treacherous, and all down hill. And still, people ask you about your child's special gift, like in Rain Man. All you need is a rapid sequence of challenging moments in public or at school, and the hope of earlier years has been crucified. Gone. Dead.


Resurrection

Then, He came back to life. And He promises to continue bringing this life into our lives. Dead things come back to life. Dry bones get moving again. The scriptures say that He was back within 3 days, but recognizing Him was sometimes a problem. The 2 disciples on Emmaus road puzzled over their inability to recognize Him (Luke 24:13 - 35). Mary spoke to Him but thought He was the gardener (John 20:14-18). The resurrection life is at work in our lives, family, kids. I pray for eyes to see it, and faith to believe when I can't see it.

So this April, I will increase my awareness: 
  • of the life of God, resilient and powerful, always overcoming every appearance of death.
  • of the eternal power that raised Jesus from the dead, that energizes my body to be awake at 3 am to help a child navigate a crisis, or to clean the bathroom again, or to discuss blah blah blah with the doctors. 
  • of the hands of God creating support and ministry for families who need to experience resurrection.
  • of the miracle waiting to happen with the touch of my hands, the whisper of a comforting word, and the challenging message to embrace radical service to all who need our care.
I pray that we will experience resurrection power infiltrating all our lives, making everything new and creating space in all our faith communities for people of all abilities.



Dear God, Thank you for your Eternal, Indomitable Life, that will not be silent, that must release resurrection wherever it shows up. Energize our weary hearts. Reawaken your hope in us. Help us to see your life at work in our families, and to release your life to work wherever we are.