Monday, June 26, 2017

Failing at Life

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. 
Romans 12:9-13, NLT 

I didn’t see the good. I was too transfixed on all that was going wrong to see the things that were actually going right. And the stress of it all weighed on my shoulders until my spirit was feeling feverish and wobbly and my body was tired. Last week, we trekked our way through three separate visits to urgent care, for three different children, with three entirely unrelated ailments. Two were sent home with antibiotics, one with allergy meds. Then there was the emergency plumber. Somehow, someone (or someones) managed to sneak the approximate equivalent to a toy box worth of toys into the bathroom, flushing them one by one until the plumbing in the entire house was backed up. I only discovered the bathroom fiasco when someone tried to flush, nearly spraying my personhood with the backlog of sewage. If that wasn’t quite enough, Queen Elsa, one of our family milk goats, became severely ill and we are still unclear of what the future holds for her. And there are still struggles with the transitions that have happened because school has drawn to a close and summer break is in full swing. With all of this and more happening within a week’s time, I felt like I was failing at life. What could I have possibly done to deserve this?

It’s easy to complain. It’s easy to see all of the things that are not going right. At least, it is for me. But that becomes distinctly problematic because God tells us in His Word to do all things without complaining, as if we were doing them for the Lord. Scrubbing toilets for the Lord, administering medications to children and goats for the Lord, these things seem far from holy to me. I was miserable because life with special needs is hard enough, why should I have to face these other frustrating life issues as well?

But God tells us in His Word to hold tightly to what is good. I missed so much good because I was just plain stuck on the bad this week. I forgot to laugh when my children pretended to run with the bulls as my flock of chickens raced from the coop to the feeders for their breakfast. I forgot to be in awe of the kindness that my impish toddlers are capable of bestowing without any coaxing. I didn't soak in the progress my children are already making this summer or the fun they are having and the skills they are practicing. I almost missed the ways God is working on my heart, softening me up for His work. And I almost missed the amazing thoughts and questions that my brood of little ones have about God. I almost missed the opportunity to share God’s love with each one of them because I was too full of the bad stuff to even think about the good.

God doesn’t call us to a successful, easy life. He calls us to an abundant life, a hard-working, enthusiastic, hospitable life. God calls us to share God’s love and to be His hands and feet. To hold tightly to what is good. To hold on to those happy memories you’re making in spite of the surfacing behaviors. Don’t let go of the spontaneous hugs, the high fives, the adoring glances from the littles just because you need a break for your tired arms and your weary heart. And never forget that enthusiasm for the things that God has given, the blessings big and small, the children who love you, and the hope they offer the future of this world.  The only way I’ll stop this feeling that I am failing at life, is to focus on the good stuff that is in it, the good family I’ve been given, and the Goodness of the Giver.

Dear God, I haven’t been focused enough on the good today. Help me to turn my thoughts from complaints to thanksgiving, from entitlement to graciousness. Help me to focus on the good gifts You have given me, the good people in my life that need to see Your love, and the goodness that You see in me, so that I can share it with others. Help me cling to what is good, especially, You. 

Amanda Furbeck

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Above and Beyond ~ #SacredSunday

As we revel in the delight of the summer skies, it becomes gloriously apparent how very small we are. Yet, we are infinitely loved! When life shakes us to the core, we can take comfort in knowing that God's knows so much better than we do. His thoughts are greater and his brain is bigger, above and beyond what we think is best. Even when our tiny minds disagree.

Follow us on

and  on

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Second Look Saturday - 3

Isn't it great how God gives you the same message over and over again?
Hmm...what do you think it means when He does that? *wink, wink*
Yes, I've been getting the same message that Jennifer A. Janes was getting a little over a year ago when she wrote: "Because You Say So" ...
Because God says so, I should do it.
It cut me to my core when I read her words:
In my quest for answers - and my demand that God supply them immediately - I have forgotten that God has already given me a lot of direction. It's direction that I haven't followed, so why would I expect Him to give me more information?
After you've gone back and read this quick post from Jennifer, I encourage you to grab some paper and a pencil or pen and take a few minutes to ask yourself these questions and try to put your ideas on paper.  No one else needs to know, this is just for you, but it may help you move beyond the rut in which you find yourself.

  • What direction do you continue to feel like God is pulling (or pushing) you in, but you're afraid to acknowledge?
  • What parts of God's Word have you decided to ignore, or change, or re-define in order for them to fit YOUR will?
  • What areas of your life are you BLAMING God for, and wondering why He hasn't been meeting your needs?

Friday, June 23, 2017

When You Are Tempted to Give Up

"But as for me, I am poor and needy;
    please hurry to my aid, O God.
You are my helper and my savior;
 O Lord, do not delay."

~ Psalm 70:5 ~
Today I am perplexed. My child who is high on the ASD spectrum is acting in a way that is "off." Usually, this is a warning to me that some sort of anxiety is brewing. But she cannot always express it so the "off" behaviors continue. One after another. Some being sinful behavior. I am becoming weary and I do not know how to respond.

Yet the only thing I can do is to cry out to God and He reminds me, "let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up" (Galatians 6:1, NLT). And the verse above promises that God is my helper and my Savior. I can trust Him as I cry out on behalf of my own heart and the heart of my child.

The Psalm above begins with a cry to put to shame those who try to kill us or delight in our troubles. The one who is actively trying to kill us is our enemy the devil. He would love to keep the heart of my child distracted away from God. He would love for me to stop crying out for her heart. He is who the battle is with, not our children.

In Ephesians, after Paul is talking about family order and roles he ends with the importance of the knowledge that our fight is not with flesh and blood but with the powers and principalities. He then gives us instruction on how to fight this spiritual battle. It is through prayer. And that is what I am doing as I pray back this Psalm for the sake of my child.

There are wise methods I can implement to try to help her as well. Like pointing her back to the word of God and discerning how she is trusting Jesus today as she behaves. These practical steps are also helpful yet the often neglected battle is mostly won through prayer. The circumstances may never change yet I can trust and put my hope in Christ who is at work restoring all things.

How do you become weary with your children?
Do you ever feel like you cannot keep doing what you are doing?
How do you help your child if they seem to not want help?

Lord, thank you for this community. It is hard to know what is going on when our children have unique needs. Thank you for your wisdom. Help us to cling tight to you and your promises. We are needy and desperate for you.

~Angela Parsley

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Just Following God is Enough

“You shall be careful therefore to do as the Lord your God has commanded you. You shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.” 
Deuteronomy 5:32 (ESV)

I must confess that I am a naturally self-absorbed and stubborn individual. I like figuring things out on my own, blazing my own trail and standing my ground. Admittedly, this is rarely the best course of action, especially as a leader, and I am grateful that God has brought enough people into my life over the years to show me that following God just might be the better course of action.

As a prime example, when my wife and I were dating we attended a UCLA football game at the Rose Bowl. The parking there is primarily located on the golf course next door and after the game, I became disoriented regarding where the car was and we spent several hours walking in circles until we finally found the car. I wasn’t truly worried until we saw the flashing lights of tow trucks entering the golf course. While we were able to laugh and joke during our journey, my wife-to-be had stated at the outset where she believed the car was parked. I, of course, ignored her, set about on my merry way and eventually ended up right where she had first suggested.

How often do we treat God in a similar manner? He has blessed us with the Holy Spirit who is a daily guide to keep us on the path that God has designed for us. If only we would slow down, listen, and then respond appropriately. Unfortunately, we often find ourselves living more like Pinocchio who completely ignores Jiminy Cricket, winds up in a world of hurt, and must be swallowed by Monstro the whale before we finally decide that that still small voice just might know a thing or to.

In this passage in Deuteronomy, God reveals His heart’s desire that we would always fear Him, follow His commands and trust that He has great plans for each of us.

We are commanded to learn His commandments and expectations. We are encouraged to never turn from them and go our own way. As we remain in a worshipful place of awe concerning God, this becomes easier to attain.

Once I begin to lose sight of who God truly is, I begin to think I am king of my own world again.

Why does any of this matter? How is just following God enough? Because of the promises that are tied to our following. It will go well with us and our families. We will live long and have abundant life and experience the blessings that our Almighty God desires to pour out in our lives. Does this mean we will never have stress, or bills to pay, or other discomforts of life? Absolutely not! But in the midst of it, we know that we are following a loving and merciful God who will never leave us high and dry.

Be encouraged that regardless of what it might feel like in the midst of your circumstance, just following God is truly enough. He will guide your steps, overwhelm you with peace and provide the strength and grace for the day. Let’s prayerfully be a bit less like Pinocchio today and a bit more like Isaiah who simply said, “Here I am, Lord. Send me!”

Dear God, thank You for Your love and Your desire to have an abundant relationship with me. I confess that all too often I take my own path and end up somewhere I really don’t want to be. Help me to listen to Your Spirit, to know Your commandments, but most importantly, to follow You every day! Amen. 

~ Mike

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Oh Help, Not Again! that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience.
(Colossians 1:10-11, NIV)

I have just finished finding (again), folding (again) and putting away (again) my little one’s clothes. She has this habit when stressed and wanting different clothes, she opens each drawer in turn and wildly flings and throws the clothes behind her into the room until she finds something she can tolerate the thought of wearing… it’s wearing (what else would it be!).

There are a few things in family life that really try my patience. Other things that might drive someone else mad I can handle, but for me here are my (at the moment) absolute top 5 "Not again!" things:

- shoe scuffs on those bits of board at the bottom of the kitchen cupboards/skirting boards

- finding clothes that I have washed and folded in a tumbling heap rather than put away

- clothes pulled (or wildly flung) out of drawers to find things

- when I’ve done something to help a perfectly adequate way, and then have to do it all again the ‘right’ way for it to be acceptable

- when I’m talking to someone and one of my little ones is pulling (clawing) on my clothes and face and talking right through everything else to get my full attention

"Oh Help!" is so often simply an exasperated sigh or frustrated shout in the midst of those things that really try my patience. But I am challenged by this verse to turn "Oh Help!" moments into a conscious prayer for strength. It’s an amazing thought that we can be strengthened with God’s mighty power – not just for the remarkable moments when we exercise amazing faith, or when we feel prompted to some courageous action by the Holy Spirit, or for speaking a timely or wise prophetic word – we can be strengthened with God’s mighty power so we can be patient, and endure! Strengthened for the often unseen daily living out of faith in action, and speaking truth in love… the unseen daily ins and outs that we are quick to overlook as amazing, courageous, and wise godliness.
As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us. (Colossians 1:10-11, MSG)
We may feel at times that this everyday stuff isn’t valuable enough to warrant God’s attention let alone the full strength of his mighty power at work within us as we fold those clothes, again, and again. Yet it seems God delights in pouring that strength into us. He sees. He recognizes the value of these moments. He hears our cry – it’s time to turn my "Oh Help!" sighs and shouts into expectant prayer.

Powerful God, when I am facing situations that try my patience today give me strength to endure patiently and act wisely as your mighty strength fills me and encourages me to live today with amazing faith, courageous love, and wise godliness. Amen.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

We Can Not Help But Speak

Our daughter's broken and displaced thumb.
"As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard."
 Acts 4:20 NIV

Here is what I have seen and heard this week:

8,000 paint samples

"Cooper drank all the milk."

"You will need two gallons of paint." (I bought one, guess what...I needed two.)

The constant dinging of an emergency brake light that will not go off.

"We were in an accident. The ambulance took Wesley to the hospital"

"Her thumb is broken and she will need surgery."

Dog poop on the rug by the front door.

"Let's take the kids to Magic Springs today."

"Why are you not doing any laundry?"

"Junie peed in her crate."

My 11-year-old daughter holding on to her 17-year-old brother's hand as we navigated our way through the water park.

"Chicken, yes!"

"Cookies, yes!"

The smile on Coopers face while he rode a roller coaster.

"What's for dinner?"

Two little girls working hard to help paint their bedroom.

"Have you seen my...?"

An X-ray of a broken displaced thumb.

"What's for breakfast?"

Cute flip flops that my husband brought home for me.

"Can we go to Target?"

"Let's go get a milkshake."

The Bible verses my children highlighted on the Bible app that I didn't slow down long enough to read.

"I'm going to have to take your car to the shop, you don't need it today do you?"

Empty medicine bottles that need to be refilled.

A sink overflowing with dirty dishes.

and a lot of other stuff...

You have stuff too.

I have to not had one moment to myself. I know that sounds selfish and some of you may laugh that I feel frazzled from that list. I know many of you are dealing with far more and things that are far more serious.

I don't think this list is exactly what is meant by speaking of what we have seen and heard. But this was my week and I am tired. I don't feel like I hear God speaking to me through this mess. So when I sit down to try and share my thoughts with you on how we should "boldly speak"...

I just want to be quiet. 

I get tired and discouraged and I want to quit.

I like to pull myself inside my shell and hide.

But I don't think I was called to hide, and neither were you.

I was called to speak and to write, and that is not always easy or comfortable.

You were not called to easy or comfortable and neither was I.

Often I think, "God is this even doing any good to share, to speak."

Then I recall those words from Acts 4:20 and they remind me "we can not help but speak of what we have seen and heard."

This little line is tucked into many verses that tell a story about two apostles, Peter and John. These two had front row seats for Jesus and his ministry. They were followers, followers who were changed by the existence of Jesus.

They were bold.

I am changed by the existence of Jesus.

I am changed by the existence of my son, a child given to us with a uniqueness that inspires and ignites a kind of boldness I never knew existed.

Each one of us has a unique purpose, designed to glorify God through helping others and pointing them toward Him.

We were created with the same unifying purpose of glorifying God, yet each one of us is given a unique way of doing that.

I am worn, maybe you are too right now.

We are not alone.

So I will write, and speak.

I am bold, you are too.  

So I will pray this prayer for us:

The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name' sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil:
For thou art with me;
Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies;
Thou annointest my head with oil;
My cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.

Psalm 23 KJV

Monday, June 19, 2017

3 Tips for Dealing With The Fadeaway Friend

Photo image courtesy of Marcisim via
A friend loves you all the time,
and a brother ·helps in [L is born for a] time of trouble.
Proverbs 17:17, EXB

I ran into her when I was out shopping the other day. We had a pleasant exchange sharing the latest with our kids before each going our separate ways to finish shopping. It was great to see her.

If you have a child with a chronic illness or disability, you very well may have someone like her in your life as well -- the fadeaway friend.

She is the friend who I used to see all the time at the fun group parties we attended back when our lives were "normal." We collected hilarious memories of silly things like adult scavenger hunts or summer street dances. She even visited after our son was diagnosed... And then I stopped seeing her. 

The invitations to parties or dinner with friends just disappeared. Life became isolated and lonely. Everybody seemed like their lives were carrying on so well... except us. The contrast between their lives and ours became more pronounced over time. While we were in the emergency room, they were on Harley rides through the hills. While we were paying for therapies, they were on adventures. Have I mentioned how lonely we felt?

How are parents, are PEOPLE like us to deal with this sort of thing without becoming bitter?

Here's what I have learned over the years:

  1. Some friendships are only for a season of life. Cherish the good times and memories from each season. But know that when a void is left in your life from the loss of one friendship, God will fill that space in your heart with a new one. Although I can become sad and wistful recalling the friends that have moved on since our child's diagnosis, I truly cherish the new friends the Lord has brought into my life. I wouldn't trade either group of friends for the world, and I don't have to. What a grace! Through adversity, God expanded my experience and my friendships!
  2. People get compassion fatigue. When our child is first diagnosed, we do what I call "the information puke." We can't help it. This experience needs to be processed by discussing it out loud. But we often talk about it with everyone all the time. Not living through this sort of experience themselves, people are at a loss for what to say. And even if we don't do the information dump, many people are repelled because what we are living is their worst nightmare. Their fight-or-flight response kicks in and they take off running. Please know that they are not fleeing from you, but from the pain. This can also reveal who is a true friend and who is merely an acquaintance. A true friend will "love at all times" and press into the discomfort rather than fleeing.
  3. Don't give up. Persistence is key when you would find it easier to curl up in a corner and feel sorry for yourself. Yours may be the only family living with disability or chronic illness that others have a chance to really know. Keep inviting that fadeaway friend. Love them rather than respond with disdain. Get out and do other things that don't involve your child's diagnosis so you can continue to expand your horizons and your friendships. This gives you the opportunity to be a positive living example to the typical world. In doing so, you become a powerful testimony to the fallacy that life with exceptional needs is not a life worth living. You are God's tool to push back ignorance and increase acceptance. You are a light in the darkness, but you must be willing to shine brightly rather than fizzle out in frustration. As the adage goes, to have a friend, be a friend.
This is hard work. It can be much easier to retreat to our natural human response, and even at the best of times, we still will. But if we are willing to let the Holy Spirit work in and through us, we can ultimately have a much brighter family story. God will wipe away those tears of losing friendships and restore us with new purpose if we cooperate.

I would much rather have that be my experience than descending into a permanent state of bitterness. Wouldn't you?

Pray with me...

Lord, You tell us in Your word that a friend loves at all times. Help me to BE that friend to others when they fade out of my life or abandon me. Exchange my bitterness for brightness. Rather than expecting compassion from ignorant people, Holy Spirit, do Your work in me so that I am extending compassion to THEM. Make me a reflection of Your glory so that when others see me they want to draw closer to You.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Celebrating the Family Cornerstone

"Gather, children, to hear your father’s instruction.
    Pay close attention so you will understand..."
~ Proverbs 4:1, VOICE ~

What is it that makes a dad so remarkable? 

Good or bad, virtually everyone has a thought on their father. Some have fond, sweet sentiments towards their dad. Others have horrible emotions from abuse, alcoholism, or infidelity related to their fathers. Even if a dad has never been in the picture, his absence is felt. Men truly don't realize the emotional impact they have on a family.

And THAT is what makes a dad so very noteworthy.

Dad is the family cornerstone. As Dad goes, so goes the family.
One only needs to look to the Bible to see how essential fathers have been and continue to be since the dawn of humanity:
  • The self-revealing God gives us the image of "Father" to foster relationship with Him. He could pick any mind picture to establish His role in each of our lives, but He chose that image of Father. Not boss. Not oppressor. Loving Father. This image sets the standard for all human fathers in this world.
  • The word "father" is used over 1,000 times in the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible. It is safe to assume that the family patriarch plays a pretty critical role in the world if God speaks about him this frequently.
  • A father is a portrayed as a provider in the Bible. Perhaps this is why a man's self-worth seems hardwired to his role as a breadwinner. The weight of this responsibility is often so onerous for a dad that he loses sleep or becomes emotionally vacant over it. Insurance woes and relentless medical bills only add to the heaviness and concern. What a gift of stability a dad gives to his family when he reports for work each day!
  • Dads are the family protector. "Shelter," "refuge," "shield," and "strong tower" are all words used in Scripture to describe God's protection. Those same words are an apt description for our earthly fathers as well. No one scares away the Boogey Man, squashes a hairy spider, or comforts during life's most frightening moments quite like Dad. 
  • Discipline is another gift a father gives to the children he loves. Dad knows that this will shape the character of his offspring preparing them for competency in adulthood. Again, God models this parenting skill with setting boundaries, redirecting behavior, and imparting insights. This takes an extra measure of patience when a child is on the autism spectrum or has behavioral challenges.
  • A father's love is distinctive from a mother's. In addition to the other characteristics named above, a dad's love is expressed in pleading on behalf of his child and in a quiet, intimate pride. The Gospel of John beautifully illustrates this love between Jesus and God the Father. 
Strength, wisdom, and loving care are all hallmarks of our family cornerstone. And even if he falls short, Dad deserves our respect. 

Big applause, today, for the man who has big demands and high expectations placed on his life. Please know that you have a matchless role model in your Heavenly Father, and you are so very loved by the family who has been entrusted to your care.

Pray with me...

Heavenly Father, I give thanks for You and Your role in my life. I also ask you to bless these remarkable dads who are raising exceptional children today. Grant them an extra measure of rest and encouragement. And help each father to depend on You because we are depending on them!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Second Look Saturday - 2

It's Father's Day weekend! Do you have big plans with Dad? 

As my children scheme and work on ideas for their father up until the last minute, I can't help but think back on Bobby Lanyon's post from February 23, 2016: Your Spouse Is Not Your Enemy. It just never seems that we mother's feel the same devotion to our husbands on Father's Day as they do for us on Mother's Day. It is almost expected that we women will be treated like queens, showered with gifts, wined and dined. Yet, the guys are supposed to feel grateful to get yet another tie and, if they're lucky, a good steak to grill for themselves. 

I'll admit it. I have been guilty of it over the years. I have harbored this poor attitude that I carried so much more of the parental load, so I deserve to be celebrated while my husband merely deserved to be somewhat acknowledged.

Give his whole piece a re-read and answer the following questions in the comment section after this post...

  • When do you feel that it's most difficult to stop treating your spouse like the enemy?
  • What would you think of someone else if they responded toward their mate like you do towards yours?
  • How could you gain more of a team mindset, remembering you are fighting the same enemy?

Friday, June 16, 2017

Reading Your Bible Again!?

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1: 7-9 NIV

I have hundreds of memories from my childhood. Some of these memories stand out because they were highly emotional. The time I ran over my brother with our go-kart and our unsuccessful cover-up is one such memory. I have pleasant memories from vacations, playing in my room, and spending time with my grandmother.

Then, there are very mundane memories that my brain has held on to because I saw the same images over and over. My father reading his Bible falls into that category. Every morning at home, I would wake up to find my father sitting in his chair reading his Bible. He could be sick or have a full day of work on the farm and yet, there he would be in the morning reading. 

If there's one thing my father taught me about God and faith, it was the importance of the Bible in our daily lives. There was not a daily demand of me to read my Bible. There was a moment in my upper-grade school years when my father told me it was time for me to start reading daily even if for a small amount of time. There were no follow up chats, Bible reading charts, or any further discussions. He knew I had to take ownership of my faith. He really didn't have to speak it to me, because he modeled it to me. It was clear that he believed the Bible was true and was important.

If there was one thing I have taken from my father, it was that God is real and the Bible is the key to understand our faith. It is also critical to have an understanding of the word for times that arise when we truly understand nothing.

Having a baby with an extra chromosome who needed two open-heart surgeries stretched my faith. Yet, I had a model and a background in which I knew I had to press into God and the Bible during those tough times.

As an adult, I have tried to keep my father's model alive. I do not read my Bible in a "closet" where no one sees. I read it in the living room each morning.

One day my son asked me, "Do you have to read your Bible every day? Haven't you read it already?"

In that moment, I realized that my son was growing up seeing me as I saw my dad.

I hope I am teaching my son the power of the Bible. I hope when his sister is sick, he'll remember seeing me continue to read and pray to God. I hope he notices the scriptures we hang up in her hospital rooms. I hope he'll have memories of me modeling the faith when he looks back at his childhood. That way, the demonstration of our faith will continue on for another generation.

As Father's Day approaches, I have to give my dad a shout out for not just telling me to be a Christian but showing me how to be one. What about you? What are you showing your children about God, especially in times of sickness and chaos?

Thank you for sending your word to us. Let us never forget the power of it and take it for granted. Help us as parents teach and show our children the importance of your word. Let them understand that the answers to our problems and the hope we need for our lives are found in your word. Help us to do better keeping your word on our lips and minds so we can have generations that follow you. Amen!


Thursday, June 15, 2017

My Beautiful Feet

Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid/
And how are they to preach unless they are sent? 
As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those 
who preach the good news!"
 Romans 10:15 ESV

Paul is quoting from Isaiah when he writes to the Romans about the beautiful feet of those who bring good news.  I had never really been "caught up" in this verse before, but a pastor at our church referenced it a couple of weekends ago, and I was on worship team that weekend, so I heard it four different times and it snuck deep inside my heart.
  • I want to be beautiful.  
  • I want to have an impact.
  • I want to change the world. 
But, how can I do that as and still be a wife, daughter, mother (of a child with special needs) and substitute teacher?  I'm a sister, cousin, and friend.  

How can I do it all?

Well, let's look closer at the original verse that Paul referenced here.  The Prophet Isaiah said:  

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who 
bring good news, 
who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, 
who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, 
"Your God reigns!"
Isaiah 52:7 NIV

What is Isaiah saying here?  What do we need to do in order to have these "beautiful feet?"
  • Bring Good News
  • Proclaim Peace
  • Proclaim Salvation
  • Remind people that OUR GOD REIGNS
Have we allowed ourselves to become swept up in the fear of the political turmoil in our world? Have we allowed ourselves to become persuaded by the fear propaganda which is so prevalent in our society and on social media?  Have we allowed ourselves to become OF the world and not just IN the world?  

We are supposed to be spreading PEACE, and proclaiming there is a way to SALVATION, and declaring IT'LL BE OKAY BECAUSE GOD IS IN CONTROL!

THIS is the person that I want to be.  

So, when I choose the activities in which I will be involved, when I select the way I'll spend my time on social media, or when I decide which programs to watch after my daughter is in bed, I'll ask myself these questions:

Does it proclaim peace?
Does it proclaim salvation?  
Does it remind me and others that God IS in Control?  (Because, no matter what we see on the surface...HE IS.)

Pray:  Heavenly Father, help me.  This world loves to rile me up inside and get me all worried about the future.  I pray that I don't do that to others.  I pray that I can let your peace wash over me and speak through me.  Help me to be the beautiful feet which proclaim your Good News.  Amen

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

To the Mom Who Feels Trapped

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
~ Ephesians 4:1-3, NIV ~

I felt so sad when I read the title of the article, "What it’s like being trapped in a special needs marriage." My immediate thought was that this would only perpetuate people's worst fears about raising a child with medical or cognitive issues. Isn't this why people are so pressured to abort if they suspect something is not-quite-typical during pregnancy?

Fortunately, Whitney Barthel did a lovely job of candidly showing the wax and wane of marriage while raising a challenged child. Rather than playing the blame game, as we humans are so inclined to do, Barthel exposes the mutual adaptation that needs to take place in our marriages. She admits that the husband may feel as equally trapped as the wife in this unexpected parenting journey.

It caused me to ponder what I might say to a younger me in the early days of raising a child with intense needs. Lord knows, there were plenty of times my frustration made me dream of giving up on my marriage. Despite my best efforts to share the load with my husband, the vast majority of medical strategy, insurance challenges, and school difficulties fell to me. I was glad to be the primary caregiver as I lived out my dream of motherhood, but I certainly would have loved to use a bathroom by myself or even feel taken care of myself in some sense. It was without a doubt sacrificial, and I continually had to wage a war against resentment.

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
    and his ears are attentive to their cry;
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
    to blot out their name from the earth.
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
    he delivers them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
~ Psalm 34:15-18, NIV ~

Even so, I would encourage the mom who feels trapped to HANG IN THERE! God sees you even when you feel invisible to everyone else. He sees your selfless service to your family. He has so many promises to never abandon you in your circumstances. Not only does He count your humble love to your family as a jewel in your crown for eternity, He also sends you love and support for today. There are so many of us who have gone before you. We are here to support you and cheer you to the finish line. It is our privilege to recycle our trials and pain to share with you the wisdom we have gained over our years of motherhood. Offering that mutual support helps us find value in our own difficulties.

In addition, I would encourage you that while these days feel long, hard, and ugly, they do not last forever. I can remember seasons where our son seemed to have nothing but continual bleeding episodes where I couldn't leave the house, even to go to the grocery shopping. I can recall relentless years where it seemed like the battles and "on edge" feeling with our youngest daughter would never improve because of her sensory and behavioral difficulties. Those times in life seem like they will never, ever end. The long darkness of it can be absolutely overwhelming. And then one day, the suddenly improve. You may try a new medication as we did, or find a different therapy, or be blessed with a wonderful teacher that changes the trajectory of things. With our youngest daughter, one summer it just suddenly seemed that her brain matured, producing positive forward movement. 

Given the facts that God sees, support is there for you from those of us who have gone ahead of you on this journey, and that this awful trapped feeling will not last forever, I want to encourage you to adjust the way you treat your marriage. June 12th of 2017 marked 25 years of marriage for my husband and I. We have to hang on by our very fingernails to keep it together over these years. It is NOT what either of us expected when we said, "I do." Still, it is us against the world. We close ranks when the going gets tough. We are "Team Dittrich" in the ugliest of seasons. And in the most humble of ways, we have both come to realize that marriage wasn't meant to make us happy, but rather to make us holy. 

As always I say to my hubby, "We're lucky we have each other because no one would put up with either of us." 

"Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up."
~ James 4:10, KJV ~

Keep your eyes fixed on the ultimate prize, Mama! Humble yourself and know that God has many an oasis of refreshment for you along the way. This is the toughest, most rewarding job with which you could ever be blessed. 

Pray with me...
Holy Spirit, I can only persevere with YOUR help! Fill me with the strength and joy to get through long, tough days. Remind me of the good things in my husband and my marriage. He is not perfect, but neither am I. Grow us together as we keep our eyes fixed on You.

~ Barb Dittrich