Monday, March 27, 2017

Questioning God


When my older son got his diagnosis, one of my initial responses was to get angry with God and ask Him “Why my child? Why me? Why not just heal him if you’re an all-powerful, loving, healing God?”

One day, after months and months of pleading these questions and God not giving me an answer, the bitterness growing stronger in my heart, I felt strongly that God was telling me I’d been asking the wrong question.

“What other question is there?” I asked.  And it hit me. The question to ask was not "Why?" but "What?" with a heart to learn God’s heart.

“What do you want me to learn from this journey? What good do you want to come from this? What testimony will we have from this? What do you want me to do to help my child? In what areas do I need to trust you more?” On and on, the questions went.

And He started answering those questions. Because He wanted me to grow stronger through this journey, to trust Him in ways I’ve never had to trust Him in before. Because He wanted me to encourage other moms going through the same journey. Because He would give me and my son an amazing testimony to share one day. Because He was growing in us a compassion for others, a strength to persevere we wouldn’t have had otherwise. Because we were growing closer to God than we would have without this journey we were going through.

By asking what, instead of why, it put God back on His throne. Asking “What?” questions suggests humility, trusting God. Asking “Why?” suggests a hostility toward God, a belief that we know better than the Creator Himself. Ouch.

It’s not wrong to ask God questions. We just need to make sure we’re asking them in humility, acknowledging that God is sovereign and in control.

Job asked God lots of questions after all the suffering he experienced. Did I mention lots of questions? Chapters of them throughout the book of Job. A lot of them demanding things of God and His character. Several which were those demanding why questions. “Why did I not perish at birth?” (Job 3:11) and “Why is life given to a man whose way is hidden, whom God has hedged in?” (Job 3:23). Job doubted God’s goodness, God’s wisdom in creating him. God’s answer, a whopping four chapters in the Bible (chapters 38-41), can be summarized in a nutshell as “I am Creator, and I am in control.” Job’s response was to repent in dust and ashes declaring to God “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know,” (Job 42:3).

I find it interesting that God never answers Job’s deepest questions. God doesn’t tell Job “Well, since you asked, I was just so proud of you and bragged about you to Satan, and then Satan said if we made you miserable you would turn away from me, so I had to prove to him that you really are a loyal follower and that you love me, no matter the circumstances in your life.” No, God never gives an explanation, but He does remind Job that He is God the Creator, and He is in control.

And that is the answer He always gives us.

Prayer: Oh God, help us to ask questions with a humble heart and a desire to learn about you and your ways. Help us to trust you, that though things may not be turning out the way we desire, you are still in control and you are good.

By Jenn Soehnlin

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Who are You Leaving Out in the Cold? ~ #SacredSunday

Photo image courtesy of Pezibear via Pixabay.com
Who are you leaving out in the cold that needs to be included? The Body of Christ is incomplete unless people of every ability are loved and welcomed.
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Friday, March 24, 2017

Do You Want Jesus to Live in Your Heart?

“For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”
Zephaniah 3:17 NLT

"Do you want Jesus to live in your heart?" I asked my son, who was just about kindergarten age. The fear and horror that crossed his little face was a dead giveaway that I had made a serious parental error. Although it sounds like a simple question from a Bible-believing parent, I should have known already that as a child on the autism spectrum, he was a very concrete learner. I've been told that children who are extreme concrete learners have trouble picturing God as real at all because they cannot see, feel, touch, or hold Him. While I was imagining a growing relationship with our Savior, my little boy was picturing a tiny man taking up residence in his little body. I guess we all imagine God a little bit differently, don't we?

How do you see God? And how do you think God sees you? I've been told that we see God and His views of us in the same way that we see our earthly parents and their views of us. So if our parents were very strict, reigning control tightly over us, we'll probably see God as foreboding, strict, filled with disapprobation for our earthly misdeeds. If our parents were distant, we might think God is out there, somewhere, doing something or other and not really paying attention to anything that is happening in our lives. If our parents were loving, we might see God as loving, benevolent, kind. And if our parents were mean-spirited, we might really feel that God doesn't like us one bit and there is absolutely nothing we can do to please Him or make Him happy.

I don't know if that line of thinking always holds true, but the truth, the reality is that God delights in us! He loves to be with us, to enjoy our company, and to calm our fears. And you can be absolutely assured that no matter what your parents thought of you, God absolutely delights in you. Hopefully, the more time you spend reading the Bible, praying, growing your relationship with Him, the more you will see and feel His unending love for you. We need to know this love, we need to let it penetrate to the core of our soul so that we can pass it on to our much-loved children.

As parents, how do we portray God's love to our children? Are we passing on the views of God we learned through the relationship we had or have with our parents? Are we working to spread His hope, love, and grace to our own little ones?  Are we comprehending that God delights in us, dwells with us, enjoys us, and are we passing that understanding of His delight in our littles ones on to those we love best?

As a mom, I soon figured out where my little one needed to meet Jesus. I loaded up his iPad with some apps that tell the story of Jesus in a way that little ears can hear and little eyes can see. And now, instead of picturing God as an invasive little man, He sees God as His friend, Creator, and someone who loves and is pleased with him, just as he is. He knows that God delights in him.

Dear God, Help me to see You as the amazing, loving, caring, Creator God that You are truly are. And help me to pass that image of You in a gentle and loving way to my own children.

Amen

Amanda Furbeck

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Waiting Well Takes Work

You can make many plans, but the LORD's purpose will prevail.” 
Proverbs 19:21 NLT

I am very good at making plans. I have a degree in strategic leadership and am convinced that it is simply the outflowing of my special gifting, particularly when my plans outnumber my hours. I make plans, come up with task lists, prioritize all that I need to do and actually get quite a bit of work done. The problem is not my ability to plan. The problem is my inability to wait upon the purpose of the Lord.
I don’t do patient well. I don’t do waiting well. I don’t do Sabbath well. Am I alone in this?
I believe that many of us struggle in this area, especially because America has become the land of overtime, overwork, over hurry and overstress. We pride ourselves on telling people that we are busy. Why? Well I know I feel important if I am busy. I feel productive and accomplished and valuable. While my heart knows that my value comes through relationship with Christ, my mind continues to believe that my value comes through what I do.


If I am busy doing and planning, it leaves very little space for waiting. It’s one thing to be reminded that we need to wait, but quite another to consider how to wait. And is it even possible to actually wait well?


I don’t know what your definition of “well” might be, but for me, especially in this area, it means that I am doing better with waiting than I was yesterday. I know that waiting well takes work. I might be more of a two-steps-forward-and-one-step-back type of guy (and often it’s more like one step forward and two steps back), but here is what works for me.

  •  I must actively and continuously pursue Christ as the source of my identity and value. I am nothing outside of Him, so no matter how much I might accomplish at the end of the day, it carries little weight if my relationship with Jesus didn’t grow. I do best with this idea when I consider my children. While their grades and accomplishments and sports achievements are fun and are worthy to be applauded, I do not love them more or less based upon these activities. They are my children no matter what they do. Now if only I could remember that God sees me in the same way.
  •  I must listen to and respond to my body. When my alarm clock no longer works, when afternoon fatigue becomes a regular occurrence or when I find myself distracted due to being tired, I need to slow down. I need to push pause and wait. I need to get back to the rhythms that I know allow me to connect with God, connect with my family and lead ministry well. Ignoring these signs will simply lead to greater fatigue physically, but also reveals that I am burning the candle at both ends and working hard on my plans. God’s plans involve health and rest and downtime.
  •  I must remember that it simply is not about me. I’m just not essential to the accomplishment of much. While it is true that I have value and purpose and that there are specific skills God has given to me, it is more true that He cares about me as a person more than as a producer. Saying no doesn’t mean that I am failing – it means that I am protecting my space in order to better connect with God. If my plans only involve my ideas and don’t involve the input of others and the vision of the Lord, then they will fail. The plans and purposes of God are more about relationship with Him than accomplishment for Him.
It might seem weird that we have to battle in order to wait well, but I am convinced that a ploy of the enemy is to keep us busy in whatever way possible. This keeps us from slowing down, from depending upon God and from connecting to His still small voice. Be encouraged that busyness does not come from the Lord and take a chance that being still and quiet will allow His purposes to prevail without your plans having to fail.


Lord God, You know me far too well. You know my tendency to rush and hurry and be impatient. You know my shortcomings in waiting for You and on You. Help me to slow down and enjoy times of peace and quiet, so that I am more in tune with Your purpose for my life. Amen.
~ Mike

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Mama - Wipe My Tears

photo credit - society6.com 

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.

Psalm 56:8 NLT


Bethany:  intense pain on her right side, tender to touch, temp 100, chills and nausea. But tears were the final clincher for me to call our doctor! Tears are rare for Bethany, and she has a high tolerance for pain so tears and complaints of pain set off alarm bells in my brain. 

Our doctor had no openings for 2 days! After listening to the symptoms she asked us to go to the ER to rule out appendicitis. (Bummer - that's what I'd been afraid of.)

We checked into the ER about 4:30. The entourage of nurses and doctors, and tests began. 

The tears began in earnest (her and me) as the nurse poked and dug the needle this way and that, trying unsuccessfully to find a vein.  

I finally said, "Please, just leave it for now. Can get somebody else to do it?"

As she left the room, Bethany asked, "Mama, will you wipe my tears now? I'm too tired."  

As I wiped her tears and stroked her hair, I murmured how much I loved her, how proud I was of her. I wished I could just take her place. But all I could do was to be fully present in her pain and pray my love would comfort her.

But how much more is the Father heart of God? He didn't just "wish" He could take our place -- Jesus took our place; our pain, our sorrows, our suffering.

Image result for Jesus holds us
Photo credit- Trinity Mount Ministries
We toss and turn. He not only notices -- He is instantly moved with compassion and takes action.


Our lives are full of sorrow. He knows sorrow -- He knows grief. He covers us with His wings and shelters us from destruction.

Our hearts are overwhelmed and afraid. His heart beats one with ours and He whispers His love.

We cry. He wipes our tears and stores them in a bottle! He actually collects every tear!!!

Why?

Because His love compelled Him to rescue us from our sin and sorrows.

To the point of death. 

His death swallowed up death, hell, and the grave, for you, for me.

His life infuses us with new life and a good future.

In the appointed time, He will deliver us from the life of dangers, disease, disability, disappointment, and death. 

He is a God moved with compassion. He even stores up our tears. Someday, when we look at our bottle, we may understand just how much He cares!

***Thankfully, it was not appendicitis. The CAT scan/Xray revealed pneumonia and inflammation of the pericardial sac around the heart. Thank God for antibiotics, ER rooms, and most of all Jesus- who is with us every step of the way! It's been a week and Bethany is gaining strength every day!
 
Pray: Father God! Thank you for wiping our tears, for holding our hands through tough times, for never leaving us alone. Your love is more than we can comprehend! Help us through this life! 
In Jesus Name! Amen

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Dimetapp, Robitussin, Church and Grace

"Is that all you have for me?"

20 plus years of parenting knowledge condensed down to two words; Dimetapp and Robitussin. My secret ingredients revealed. I suppose you were expecting church and grace? Sorry to disappoint you, it's Dimetapp and Robitussin.

You see, in my house, if you are sick, it doesn't matter what your symptoms are, I am going to give you Dimetapp and Robitussin. It's my "go-to", my "power suit", my traveling snake oil salesman's "cure-all elixir". Okay, maybe I am getting a little carried away, but you get my point. 

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Corinthians 1: 3-4 NIV)

Praise be to God, I have thanked Him for those two medicines on many occasions when they have helped my sick children. I have also passed the knowledge of their comfort on to others when I have found them searching for medicine, whether they fit the symptoms they were describing or not. I would often laugh and joke that it didn't matter what the symptoms were, just give them Dimetapp and Robitussin...they cover most things.

(Just to be perfectly clear...I am in no way giving you actual medical and/or pharmacological dispensing advice!)

Not too long ago, in the hopes of connecting with other special needs moms and families, I inquired at our church about a special needs Bible study or group of some sort. (It's a large church with multiple campuses. I was open to anything.) They referred me to someone, who referred me to someone, who eventually called me. This person was very nice and truly seemed to be concerned about my family and our need to attend church together. (Even though that wasn't what I asked about.) We spent a great deal of time discussing our church attendance, our son, and his needs. We talked about things that might work for my husband and I to attend church together and a couple of things that they have in the works for newly diagnosed families. (This last thing she was sure I could appreciate the need for and remember what those early days were like, or at least I think that's what she said, my son was screaming for chicken.) I managed to slide in my original Bible study question a couple of times in our conversation, but never quite got the answer I was looking for. (A "We don't but maybe we could see if there is interest" might have been a nice response.)

I have to tell you, I hung up the phone a little grumbly; I felt a little square peg hammered into a round hole. I called my husband, "Apparently we have to attend church together before we can move on to the hallowed ground of Bible studies, small groups and the next level of Godliness."

His response, "Are you surprised?"

I was.

I was surprised.

I was surprised and I was grumbling, murmuring, and complaining.

So my husband listened, I ranted about inclusion and not fitting anywhere and then he said something about grace and we're all sinners and he had to go.

So I sat there, in my grumbling, for a couple of days.

Philippians 2:14 says "Do everything without grumbling and arguing." Different Bible versions use different words; grumbling, murmuring, complaining. Those words are listed first, before the words arguing or disputing, and that's important. They deal with our internal response to situations.

My internal response has been shaped by years of battling for services and inclusion for our son. We have lived through years of insisting he fits and belongs; that he should be included, in school and in the community. I needed grace, and after talking to a good friend who felt sure their heart was in the right place, my heart began to soften a little and remember to extend that same grace to others. 

That is when I realized...I had been Dimetapp and Robitussin-ed.

They responded to my symptoms with what they had and most importantly with what they knew worked. My husband and I know what it means to be able to attend church together during those early days and years of diagnosis. We have experienced a church being The Church and standing in that gap for us when we could not stand for ourselves and our family. It's good medicine, some of the best, and I thank God that our current church is there to dispense it to those in need.

It's just not the only need, and attending church together is not the only medicine. Sometimes it's not the right medicine, and that's ok. It's hard to meet every need and have all the answers; actually, it's impossible. I know that.

I also know that we are many unique members of the same body with our own purpose and needs, and most importantly, we are all under the care of a Creator and Healer who has a far greater repertoire of healing than Dimetapp and Robitussin.


So I will pray:

God our Father and Healer fill us with Your peace, remind us of Your grace and help us to always remember that You will meet every need and every symptom with exactly what is needed. God open our eyes and our hearts to those around us who reach out with needs that can not be met with what we have, expand our healing power beyond what we are familiar with, equip us. I pray that we see and recognize You meeting our needs and bringing healing through frustrating circumstances that so often leave us grumbling. Father help me to replace that grumbling with grace and extend it to others. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Monday, March 20, 2017

If I Didn't Laugh...

Copyright: nd3000 / 123RF Stock Photo
How we laughed and sang for joy. And the other nations said, 
“What amazing things the Lord has done for them.”
~ Psalm 126.2, TLB ~

It was a hurried, cranky morning as our family prepared for school and work. My two teenagers began yelling and quarreling over God-knows-what.

"Quiet, you two! You're making my eardrums bleed," I shouted.

"Hey! I'm the only one bleeding around HERE," my son shot back.

And given the fact that he was having a serious bleeding episode that was requiring him to infuse every single day for a week, the entire household began laughing. That's just how we roll in Dittrich-land. 

I have learned over the years that if I didn't laugh, all I would do is cry. And apparently, many of the mamas I serve feel the same way. The "dark" or "gallows" humor seems to lighten the load, even if for only a second. Giggling about the outrageous parts of our lives together creates a common bond.



Sometimes that humor is MAGNIFIED as we watch the typical world react to it. I've seen people's eyes bulge out, mouths fall open, or even recoil in horror as we laugh at our circumstances. People almost seem shocked, sometimes even downright uncomfortable, that we would mock our own difficulties.



Here's the secret the rest of the world may not know...
When we can laugh at something, we shrink its power over us.

If I can smirk, giggle, chuckle, or even be in tears produced by hysterical humor, then I own the situation rather than it owning me. My difficult circumstances become more of an annoyance than a total stressful meltdown when I can laugh. In humor, I gain perspective. I seize the joy of each moment as I let out my well-known, "SNORT!"

Furthermore, when people see us laughing in a life that they think should evoke nothing but tears, they want to know how we do it. What is the cause of our joy when we have, in their minds, every reason to live in despair? If they see a redeemed life, they just may realize that there IS a Redeemer.

So go ahead, warrior parent, laugh on! Show the world that your God is bigger than your troubles. And He has a sense of humor.


PRAY: Father, You tell us that "A cheerful heart is good medicine..." (Proverbs 17:22). Thank You for the balm of humor for our souls. Your Sovereignty frees us to laugh in the midst of our challenges, resting secure that You keep us and our children in Your constant care.

Friday, March 17, 2017

When Mom Guilt Tries to Take You Down

"In you, Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me; turn your ear to me and save me Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go;
give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress."
~Psalm 71:1-3, NIV

"Mom, there were only five kids left!" was what my son exasperated as I finally retrieved him from the car line.

Oh how I already knew this would most likely be the case. Yet, I was just glad he was not the last one. Mom Fail. Mom Guilt.

Earlier on, we had appointments with little time to fit in an emergency before the car line hour. However, I tried to fit it all in anyway, thinking I could do it all. Mom Fail. Mom Guilt.

I really made a fool of myself trying to rush and push all these things in a minimal amount of time.

Fear, worry, and anxiety won over again.

My emergency situation was for an extra anxious child who endured much shoulder pain for two days now. This was after I paid to take them to the trampoline park. Mom Fail. Mom Guilt.

My anxious child was in much pain (which she usually doesn't ever struggle with) and in tears over it on this day. If I didn't take her to get this shoulder injury checked out it would just escalate the anxiety. So I did what I had to do.

The-appointment-to-the-car-line-time-frame-window was so close that I walked out of the appointment without the sling she needed, because I could not wait any longer, at that action they rushed up to me to give it. And fit it. Which again, ate into the time I needed to get to my son on time. Mom fail. Mom guilt.

I raced to my son. Probably putting us in danger. I thought of a brilliant short cut which mocked me in the end, because I ended up in another school zone which made my trip even longer! Mom fail. Mom guilt.

I then shouted a curse word. Yes, shouted. Mom fail. Mom guilt.

I had to apologize for that curse word and the added anxiety I was putting them into as I tried to speed to get my son. Mom fail. Mom guilt.

Ultimately, we made it in time; barely. No harm was really done. Every trial we go through is to help us learn dependence on God. Yet, I was not looking to that shelter and rock that God was for me. I was looking to my own strength.


As I take refuge in Him, He will not let me be put to shame. He melts away all the mom guilt I feel as I rest in His rescue. I am NOT a failed mom because of His grace at work in me. He is my fortress and refuge and even in a crazy situation like above, moms, dads, grandparents, and guardians, remember you are perfectly loved. Rest in Him.

Prayer:
Lord, some days are ridiculous to us and sometimes we are ridiculous. Yet, this does not surprise you. You graciously wait for us to turn back to you and your shelter. Help us to always remember to keep our eyes on you so we might not sin. Thank you for receiving our confession and our pain and giving us hope. Parenting is hard but we can continue to learn from you, our perfect parent.

~Angela

Thursday, March 16, 2017

My Unveiled Eyes

Image Courtesy of Feelart/freedigitalphotos.net
But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.  
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, 
there is freedom.
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, 
and being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, 
which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.  
2 Corinthians 3:16-18 NIV

I think we often forget how ever-present God is. Especially when we see catastrophes and tragedies around us daily, and we get one diagnosis after another for our child...it's hard to see God working.
However, the other day, I saw God...
I was driving my daughter to speech therapy.  My husband was out of town for work, and we had a long week ahead of us with me substitute teaching at my daughter's middle school, plus one meeting or another going on every afternoon. I was utilizing the "peacefulness" of the ride to contemplate the assessment my daughter was about to have at speech therapy which would test her for Auditory Processing Disorder.
She's also legally blind, so, let's just say that my brain was kind of working in overdrive about what this all could mean for her future.
If any of you has a panic disorder, you'll understand how quickly PANIC sets in. For some reason I started to think to myself:
We are in a car, heading toward the highway. If we get in an accident, Jeff's not here in town to get to us quickly. What if I die in the accident and she has to wait for Jeff to get back here from Arizona?
Yes, these are the thoughts of panic that seize my brain on a routine basis. I call that voice my Green Goblin of Fear.

Anyway, the Green Goblin was having a good old time in my head, so I started to pray:
Heavenly Father, protect us. Protect our car. Protect the other drivers on the road. Get us through this day safely. Amen.
Very simple. Nothing fancy.

As we approached the on-ramp to the interstate, I noticed that traffic going the OTHER direction was at a stand still. Bummer. Glad we aren't going east.

I get onto our stretch of highway and proceed to move to the far left lane as I'll be staying on this road for a while and it will get me there faster. I'm driving in my far left lane and see that traffic ahead of me has stopped.

I break.
I stop in plenty of time, and without even throwing my purse from the passenger seat to the floor. Yay, me!
I look in my rearview mirror to see how the guy behind me is doing.

A black Jeep is pulling to a stop behind me. He's doing fine too. Excellent!
But, the next thing I know, the black Jeep is suddenly stopped directly to my left in the shoulder. Our driver's seats are lined up right across from each other.
My heart never skipped a beat. I never broke a sweat. I never thought, "Oh my goodness...what do I do?"
God had veiled my eyes with a very specific purpose~to show ME what I needed to see in my rearview mirror in order to KEEP ME SAFE.
Then He unveiled them. To show me how He had answered the prayer I had only uttered moments before. Because, had I SEEN the jeep behind me struggling to slow down, I would have gone left, into the shoulder to give him more room to stop. Had I NOTICED his inability to stop before hitting us, I would driven us directly into that same spot where his vehicle came to a stop.

How many times do we miss it? How many times do we NOT see His glory all around us? How many times does He save us and our family DAILY without our noticing?

Let's remember that God has a plan for our lives and for the lives of our children. Often times our prayers seem to go unanswered or feel like they take FOREVER; but, wow, when God unveils our eyes and we are able to SEE the answers and how He works; THAT is the glory of God we can cling to even on our most troublesome days.

Pray:  Father God, you save us DAILY from tragedies we may never know about. Thank you for your love, mercy and sovereignty. God, please help me to SEE you working in our lives. Help me to give You the glory and never take it for granted.

~Tammie Hefty

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Heroin and the Life I Never Imagined



"And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’" 
Matthew 25:40, ESV

I’m staring at the face of a gorgeous young man with bright eyes and a toddler at his side. His smile is ear to ear. Who doesn’t love a selfie of a father and his son? I don’t know who he is, he could be anyone really. One of his buddies posted this photo on a group page on Facebook called “The Cross Out Heroin Campaign.” This sweet little toddler just lost his father to a heroin addiction. I suppose it will become some kind of treasured photo for this little boy…one of the last happy memories before this drug stole the life of his smiling daddy.

The biological grandmother of our youngest daughter that we adopted shared an article with me that was posted on the page titled, “The Children of the Opioid Crisis.” That’s our baby girl. It’s her biological grandmother’s too…both of us have daughters tied to this drug, we are both mothers praying every night that this drug hasn’t ruined our daughter’s life forever. We are tied by soul as we raise the children of her daughter, we are tied by law as one of her grandchildren has taken my last name, and we are tied by grief as heroin has broken the bodies and minds of our daughters. Only God can save them now.

My husband and I had prayed about adoption several years ago and pursued an international adoption of a child with special needs. When things didn’t work out, we just decided that the Lord had closed this door for a reason. I just gave the reason a bath and my husband is cuddling her to sleep. She’s beautiful. She is a FIGHTER, a living miracle. But in a perfect world, she wouldn’t even be ours. She is ours because drug addiction has changed the landscape of her life, and God chose us to minister to her little body and soul. I feel extremely humbled by that…but if you asked me if I ever thought I’d be raising a disabled child who was born addicted I would have been very surprised.

It takes very little effort to find staggering and mind blowing statistics on the national crisis of heroin addiction. Here is a link to an article on NBC news about a mobile morgue in Ohio. A mobile morgue. How is it possible that I even have to type those words? The article states that, “the number of heroin-involved deaths nearly quadrupled nationwide between 2002 and 2013, federal health officials have reported.”

You’re probably thinking the same thing I am right now, “Kimberly, where is the hope and what does this have to do with me!?” Well, it has everything to do with us because we are the body of Christ. When one part is suffering, we all feel it. Everyone knows someone affected by drug addiction. I want you to consider what you can do to fight this epidemic. Send a card, be a listening ear, volunteer, offer time, educate yourself, write your congressman, donate clothes or money, open your home to a child in need, do something, do anything.

Matthew 25: 31-40 warns, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”

I’m broken for this cause. I wish I could do more, but even though we are all championing the care of our children with special needs, and struggling to stay in the fight, we can’t ignore the world around us. It might take five minutes of your day but it will be worth it. Find a way to minister…the “least of these” need us too. For my husband and I, staring at the face of our helpless and innocent baby, our child of the opioid crisis, is uncharted territory but it is also our great reward. She is already holding our hearts in her hands. Her smile has won over an entire community. She’s changing the world as you read this.

Father, give me your heart for the hopeless.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

6 Prayers to Pray When CPS Shows Up At Your Door

Photo image courtesy of Cathy Yeulet via 123rf.com
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
~ Deuteronomy 31:6, NIV ~

I can remember it like it was yesterday. The appliance guy asked me to sign the slip confirming delivery of our brand new refrigerator as my pudgy toddler waddled around us. In only a diaper and sporting more than one hard, angry, bruise in odd places, he was quite the sight. The delivery man looked at him, looked at me, and just shook his head in disgust. He didn't have to tell me what he was thinking.
Courtesy of National Hemophilia Foundation
In those days we had been trained by our nurse coordinator to expect Child Protective Services to show up on our doorstep at any time. We kept the brochure pictured above handy just in case. It was my very worst fear.

While the dreaded visit from CPS never came for us, it has for dozens of others I have served over the years. It is never easy. Mothers are particularly crushed when it happens. And in recent years, certain medical professionals have started using this difficult intervention when parents don't follow their recommended course of treatment with a child. Traumatizing is an understatement.

Legal experts are always best to consult when it comes to knowing your rights.

However, there are prayers you can pray in such a situation to the Ultimate Authority. When CPS shows up at your door...

  1. Pray for God to calm your heart. -- No other prayers will have any amount of worth if you are unable to remain calm. Ask the Peacegiver to grant you steady emotions so you can manage the remainder of this encounter.
  2. Pray for self-control. -- The initial instinct to vindicate oneself right then and there must be resisted to remain effective. Reacting impulsively, even if you believe it to be in a positive way, can be to your detriment. Holding your tongue and saying as little as possible is the wisest choice at a time such as this.
  3. Pray for discernment. -- Unfortunately, most of us are not equipped to deal wisely with a government agent at our door responding to accusations of mistreatment or neglect. We need to be aware of who the person is through identification. Do they have a warrant to enter your home? By law, they must also give a detailed explanation as to why they are visiting you. Ask for that if it is not offered. Pray for the wisdom to recognize that, even if this person at your door seems extremely nice, they are more often than not arriving with the expectation that they may have to remove your child from your home. 
  4. Pray for kindness. -- It is difficult not to be nasty and defensive when met with an adversarial confrontation. Yet, courtesy will win the day. You can be polite but firm with the help of the Holy Spirit. Treat that social worker the same way you would want to be treated in the same situation. That kindness can't help but leave a positive impression.
  5. Pray for the Truth to be revealed. -- There is nothing that is hidden from God. He knows if you are innocent. He also knows if something unknown to you has happened to your child. Pray that this unexpected confrontation would be used for your good, your child's good, and for the glory of God. Pray that the truth would be exposed in this situation.
  6. Pray for forgiveness. -- I have not met a single parent going through the angst of dealing with CPS who has not wanted to wring the neck of the person who turned them in. Whether it be a nosy neighbor, a judgmental relative, or a misguided professional, this type of visit shakes your world to the core. You will likely never know who turned you in, but despite the burning anger inside you, you should pray for whoever it was. Pray for their good intentions or pray for their critical spirit. Thank God that you live in a culture that cares about your child's safety. Then pray to release the bitterness from the situation. You will most certainly have to repeat this prayer more than a few times.
If you have never had Child Protective Services show up at your door, pray these prayers for those who do. This system, albeit an imperfect one, was put in place for a reason. I have also served parents who rightly had their children removed from the home. Regardless, this is the type of encounter where our souls are ripped open enough to allow more of Christ in. Pray that through the sorrow, a fresh, healing encounter with Jesus will spring forth.

PRAY: Jesus, you are THE Way, THE Truth, and THE Life. Thank You that nothing happens apart from Your watchful eye and constant care. You know what it is like to be falsely accused. Protect us and keep us strong when we are in a similar position. Let Your truth be revealed in contentious situations. And give us the moral character to walk uprightly, no matter what we may face.


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