Sorrow, Suffering, and God’s Severe Mercies

So much for assumptions. My daughter and I were attending a parent/transfer student weekend at a university she’s been planning to attend. We assumed things would be sweet and simple; however, things were not so sweet and simple.

baltic-sea
(Photo Courtesy of Pixabay.com)

Due to misguided direction, she was told she would have to reapply and would not be able to attend that fall semester. We were both devastated, and I wanted to ring a few necks! But wringing necks wouldn’t have been wise or kind. It’s hard to be wise and kind when life has just fallen apart.

After resting and readjusting our expectations, we headed out for dinner.

The restaurant was packed with starry-eyed students and stressed-out parents. We settled into a cozy corner booth just as the waiter came by with menus and water. He kindly asked how we were doing, and we replied honestly. Throughout dinner, he came by several times and seemed to genuinely care about our experiences of the day and our evening dinner. I thanked him several times for his kindness.

Then something happened that surprised us both: he bent down on one knee and said he understood difficult, unexpected life changes because he was fighting cancer. CANCER! Cancer was the last thing I would have assumed about this young man. He appeared upbeat, healthy, strong, together . . . but he was waging an invisible fight for survival in his body.

Assumptions

Once again, I was hit with two truths: we often assume so much about a person, and we are often so wrong in our assumptions . . . which we could also call judgments.

  • We see an expensive car and assume the person driving it is successful and perhaps powerful.
  • We see a large home and assume the family is wealthy and happy.
  • We assume higher virtues to the talented kids and disregard the courage and determination of the disabled ones.

If I may be so bold, some of our worst assumptions about others happen in the church.

  • We see a well-dressed, smiling person and assume he or she must have it together.
  • We assume that the ever-present volunteer has greater spiritual maturity, and we assume that the depressed-looking, disheveled person sitting to the side has little faith.
  • We assume that the single parent with the screaming kid must need parenting classes, the teen with tattoos must be a rebel, and those with mental struggles must need to pray more.

And let’s not even touch on admitting our own addictions or doubts.

God’s Gracious—and Severe—Mercy

I must confess I know much about this because I was that assuming, judgmental person for many years. Then it all fell apart: depression, a disabled child, divorce, and other losses swept across the landscape of my life.

I totally fell apart, which I look at now as God’s gracious and severe mercy. I had no choice but to walk through the suffering; it was humiliating, painful, dark, and anything but perfect. I became the one on the receiving end of harsh judgments and incorrect assumptions. The fullness of my hurting, handicapped, and human condition was laid out; however, slowly but surely, God grew me into being real. That doesn’t mean I’m perfect—it means I’m content to accept my brokenness and the brokenness of others.

Robert Browning Hamilton says it so well in this little poem:

I walked a mile with Pleasure,
She chatted all the way;
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.

I walked a mile with Sorrow,
And ne’er a word said she;
But, oh! The things I learned from her,
When Sorrow walked with me.1Robert Browning Hamilton, “Along the Road,” as quoted in The Best Loved Poems of the American People, ed. Hazel Felleman (New York: Doubleday, 1936), 537. (Accessed on Google Books, May 12, 2014.)

Finally, heed this reminder from the apostle Paul:

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. . . . Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. (Ephesians 4:31–32; 5:2 NLT)

Let Me Hear from You

In the days and weeks ahead, I have some questions for you to ponder. Pick a few, and let’s get real in our comments and conversation. I promise, you will never be judged here.

Ask yourself:

  1. Do I make assumptions or judgments of others? What are they, and why?
  2. Am I terrified to let others see my real self . . . my struggles, doubts, disarray, and difficulties?
  3. Am I walking into sorrow or running from it?
  4. Why am I so afraid to fail or to let go of control . . . what is the worst that could happen?
  5. Do I trust God to help me heal, to shape my character, to love me as I am?

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Recommended Resources by Charles R. Swindoll:

Special Needs Ministries Blog Articles:

Notes:   [ + ]

1. Robert Browning Hamilton, “Along the Road,” as quoted in The Best Loved Poems of the American People, ed. Hazel Felleman (New York: Doubleday, 1936), 537. (Accessed on Google Books, May 12, 2014.)
  • Electro Kitty

    I have a disabled husband who isn’t very healthy. He constantly has infections, sores etc. He has been in the hospital a couple of times in the past 6 months. He was in last week for an infection that should never have gone as far as it did. The lab work came back wrong, thus no antibiotics which in turn resulted in a 5 day hospital stay that will cost us $4000 thanks to him losing his health insurance and it being replaced with a piece of crap policy. Thanks Obama, I love you so much. I have a son who is a step above autism. We are trying to home school because he gets terrorized at school. I have 2 businesses that I run out of our home. I am the do everything person and I am tired. There are times that I don’t think I am going to make it. Lately most everything has gone wrong. I feel myself getting angrier and angrier with God because it really seems that He could do more to help things go a little smoother. We try to do the right things and still things get turned upside down. I keep saying of the Lord is trying to get through to us to do something we must be about the stupidest people around because we aren’t getting it.

    • Dear Electro Kitty,
      My heart just broke when I read your note. I am so sorry for the fierce trials you are enduring. To begin, I want you to know I think you are absolutely amazing. Those who are “not getting it” would never be able to handle all that is on your plate; you are indeed exceptional and capable. Please take that in…You are one amazing person! That being said, here are a couple thoughts. Re: medical-Years ago, I received an enormous medical bill that was not possible to pay. I called the hospital and told them our situation and asked if there was any possible option. We examined some things and they did reduce the bill…it wasn’t totally gone but it was reduced. I don’t know what options are available now; but I would suggest it’s worth a try to speak with someone and look for any alternative options. Re: Your son-I am wondering about his challenges. You mentioned “one step above autism”…does that mean he does qualify for special education under the national mandates (FAPE, LRE, IDEA, Section 504, and/or NCLB)? Wrightslaw is an incredible site for legal help (www.wrightslaw.com), which may help. If you could let me know a little more about his needs, maybe we could come up with ways to meet his educational needs without you being fully responsible. I’ve also found some very helpful information on the Office of Special Education site; a link to the info/resources page is: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/osers/reports.html. There are other sites I could direct you towards if you could let me know a little more…age, qualifications thus far, diagnosis, behavior modification needs, and what has been done for his education. For a while, my son was unable to attend school and I advocated for his education to be done in our home; teachers came to our home as he wasn’t able to tolerate the school environment. If that burden could somehow be lifted from your plate, that would be exceptional! Re: Spiritual care- I understand feeling angry…so angry I questioned God and every part of my faith. There are still seasons when things are so hard I go to the Lord and pour out my bewilderment, anger, anxiety, bitterness, and questions…He remains strong and true. So first, run to Him and dump all this on His lap…nothing you say will surprise or shock Him. And keep doing that…He never goes away, is never weary of hearing us, always cares when our human condition cannot comprehend His ways. Many things, Kitty, we will never understand on this side of heaven. So we are called to trust. By running to Him, you are trusting Him in action…RUN to Him! I Peter is a book about suffering Christians. Repeatedly he refers to the purification of our faith (ch 1:6-7, 3:13-17, 4:12-19, and 5:9 for example). He directs us to respond to suffering in three ways: 1) by placing our confidence in Christ because only God is sovereign and able to get us through; 2) to persevere and not give in to bitterness as that only fractures our trust in God; and 3) to be of great courage as we endure. That is possible only by choosing to trust Him. It may appear for a while that He is absent; it did to Jesus when he called to His father on the cross… “why have you forsaken me?” While we may FEEL forsaken, forgotten, like giving up, we must mindfully choose to say “I will trust you Lord” and fall on Him. Study Heb 11…those who “were not worthy of this world”, remember David and his waiting of over 13 years in the desert, Hannah as she was without child for years, and many others who endured. This is a mindful choice; it won’t FEEL great at first, but it is the most sure way to live. I don’t know how He will work it out, I don’t know when, but I trust that He will in His time. Until then, we do the next right thing, choose to trust, and tumble our burdens on Him day after day after day. The greatest challenge in our lives is to trust when all appears void of God. The enemy would love to devour your soul; may that never be. You Kitty, YOU are able to say to the Lord, for this next moment, I trust…and take each day moment by moment. He will pull you through. That’s plenty for now…I sincerely hope to hear back from you! Thank you for your honesty; for reaching out in this great time of need. If I can help in any way, it would be an honor. Amazing things are ahead for you, Kitty; let’s get you through this as a team! Colleen

      • Electro Kitty

        HI Colleen, Thank you for your response. Some possibilities are in the works regarding that upcoming hospital bill. I guess I am proud and cringe at public assistance, which is where we are headed with it. My husband still has some kind of underlying infection that wasn’t responding to the antibiotic he was on. He is headed to the urologist Th for a talk with him about possibly removing the kidney that causes all of his problems. He needs a wound vac for a sore that has been hanging around for the last year.

        Regarding the kiddo. He is 9. He has been evaluated twice. Once we were told that he probably could be on the spectrum, yet there wasn’t a definitive autism diagnosis. They came up with ADHD and sensory integration. The second time they said no. His teachers, speech therapist and pediatrician say that he is Aspergery. He has just finished 3rd grade. The school informed us last year that he didn’t need any special services. They took his speech, OT and special ed. I just told them I would keep my eyes open to his situation and if I thought he needed more they would be hearing from me. He has been getting outside speech since he was 3. He was bullied at school and the teacher never seemed to see it. Amazing. He came home twice with broken glasses and once with a torn shirt. Nothing was ever done. I would go in and talk to the teacher and principal with no results. We decided that school away from home probably wasn’t his best bet. I was left scrambling to throw together some curriculum. My son can be a pretty good student, when he puts his mind to it. Yet we are dealing with common core which is as screwy as they come. How can he be getting A’s in math and not know how to add and subtract correctly? Anyway, I am trying to figure out how to handle 4th grade. I am leaning toward Alpha Omega Online Academy. Some how we need to get him some fellowship. He really is a peculiar kid and the other kids think he is weird.

        Just this morning Sheila Walsh’s book “Honestly” fell in my lap. I am really relating to it. I have to try and keep it together. I have the public to deal with and I feel like I am coming apart. I can’t do everything and do everything well. Right now my work is slipping and we can’t have that because we need the income. My idea of letting God do things is actually me not doing anything. I know He is there. Even after 30 years of being a Christian I have problems connecting with Him. Gotta go, I have people wanting dinner. 🙂

        • Kitty,
          GREAT to hear back from you!!! There is much hope!
          Yes, assistance is a humbling experience; yet take it if it’s possible! I happen to have had some Kidney, bladder, and quite serious gall bladder complications…are you familiar with Essential oils? Currently, when these complications flair up, I use Sandalwood oil (yes, suck the stuff down and it tastes like eating bark but it’s worth it) and it clears up the infections within a day. I know there are millions of non-traditional interventions from trying almost all of them. The oils have been miraculous for me and my family. If you want further info, I would be glad to guide as needed. Again, just a suggestion but it’s had a profound impact on my life and health. For a while there, we were examining everything from Lymphoma to auto immune diseases so I’ve check out many options for healing…medical and alternative. Let me know if you are interested and we can pursue this if needed. Next, I’m broken hearted over your son’s experiences…who wouldn’t be TERRIFIED about school!!!! My son experienced bullying so horrible I removed him from one school and the principal sent a scathing letter but I didn’t budge…anytime a child is not present in school, they are not funded for that child so they have a monetary investment in keeping ALL kids in school regardless of the treatment they encounter. Not all schools are like this; but it is RARE to find one that honestly operates according to what they “say” is important. That being said, let’s look at any possible diagnostic options. Have you done an IEE? I know they are expensive; if the school will not follow through on your request (full evaluations can be requested by the family and it is mandated they provide such); if the request is met with disagreement, then move up the ladder to the school superintendent, school district, state school education agency, and the attorney general. You must put all requests in writing and dated; include all such divisions of education in EVERY letter, and keep track of their timeline. They are to adhere to a mandated timeline; any differentiation is out of compliance. He may need a Paraprofessional…the schools RARELY offer such as they are mandated to be professionally trained in Special Ed and serve as a one-to-one support. Schools will often say the child will cultivate a dependence on this…forget it…if he needs it, he has a right at this stage in the game. Have you had an official psych eval? This would be extremely helpful as proof of his mistreatment. Any MEDICAL support you can provide is essential. We may need to set up a phone meeting and discuss options…you have many but the school will not tell you because they are underfunded and the “squeaky wheel gets the oil”…it’s your turn. I have some exceptional ideas. Since the DSM V came out, Aspy kids got the raw end of the deal but there are ways around that. I have some key contacts…one was on the DSM V team and is FOR kids like yours. I can take your questions to him if need be and we will get an appropriate placement that is secure and necessary for his development. ADHD is a MEDICAL diagnosis…mental health diagnosis…a medical diagnosis changes many things. If you can get that in writing from his physician, that will add power to your voice. Please consider setting up a phone meeting with me; there are many ways to handle this…good news! Finally, re-evaluate what “keeping it together” looks like and what rules you may have for such a belief. Reason being, sometimes things have to totally fall apart before they come together. This may be part of the Lord’s work in your life. I have and will often fall apart; not out of weakness but from being overwhelmed, grieved for my son’s needs and mistreatment, and sorrow over the condition of this world. Never apologize for “falling apart”…sometimes God has to totally break us down to begin building us with a new and robust foundation. It’s okay NOT to have all your ducks in a row! Nowhere in scripture do I read that Christ demanded that before he met with those in need, they had to meet a certain criteria…then and today. You are doing one heck of a job…you may need to fall apart on occasion. Call me if need be…I will listen; very few things offend me…except if one is treated without respect and dignity…then I go into blast mode. God is working on tempering this. Finally, I do understand the income issue…as I read in I Peter today, I was reminded again that what we need and what God sees as what we need are often very different. He may be at work in opening your hands and heart to what He plans to give you but emptying your hands has to come first. That is NEVER easy…so let’s walk through the process together. I am totally thrilled to hear from you again and believe there are tremendous things ahead. My office number is 972-473-5000 if you need to call. Colleen

    • Madeline

      Praying for you.

      • I am too, Kitty. Praying.

        • Electro Kitty

          Thank you. It sounds as though my husband needs to have his kidney removed, infections and stones over the years have destroyed it. He will have some testing done in the next week or so. If it is functioning below a certain level it needs to come out because it is causing more problems than it is worth. His other kidney has been doing the work for the last several years anyway. It is strong and healthy and it needs to stay that way.

          • Kitty,
            Fantastic to hear from you…oh I have been praying! I just learned that a kidney can be very sick for a long time before there are ever signs of disease or destruction…up to 70%. I couldn’t believe it! In fact, it was my daughter (the one from this post) that told me that. I then shared with her (without disclosing your name) what you were enduring and we both wanted to reach out and hug you! I will say, thanks be to our Heavenly Father who has kept the other one functioning!!!! That is such wonderful news. People can live great and full lives on one kidney…even partial at that so this is great to hear. I’m also glad they were able to locate the source of at least some of the problems and something can be done to help and heal. I will continue to pray and wait to hear how you are as time permits. To close, I read these scripture passages today…may they be of comfort and encouragement to you. “This is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. He always lives to make intercession for them…for we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” Amen. Colleen

    • Checking in with you this week, Electro, wondering how you are doing??? Thinking of you, Colleen

  • Biker Mom

    A well -timed read for me today. Thank you Colleen. It’s so easy to get angry with unexpected situations & uncooperative people (for us lately it’s insurance company related issues for our severely multiply disabled son). I have not been patient with God at all lately (or others for that matter) and have wanted to find my own little piece of happiness, whenever/wherever I can find it. I forget to wait patiently on God, even though I know that His timing is always perfect. It was a good reminder for me that everyone has struggles, not just me.

    • Biker Mom,
      First off…love your name here!!! You sound so fun! And, sometimes in the midst of it all we seem to lose our “fun”, don’t we. I was just on the phone with insurance this morning so you are NOT alone! And yes, the other day my daughter asked if I had to yell at the person helping…I tumbled once again…why do we forget so quickly? Life is such a process, isn’t it! How I love your honesty here, thank you! None of us have it all together, we are all works in progress. The best news is that God knows that, is never shocked by how human we are, and always sticks to us. What a good and faithful God we love and serve. So sorry to hear you have had some stormy days recently; they will pass and patience will grow. I hope you will connect again; we all get hit by the waves and sometimes another voice of kindness and truth helps us ride them in. Blessings, Colleen

  • Debbie Kay

    What an excellent message with so much truth and wisdom in it, Coleen! I so appreciate your transparency and how you let God use your hurts and pain to minister to others. I’m so sorry for Ashley’s disappointment with school. You and your family are always in my thoughts and prayers. Much love and big hugs to you, Deb

    • Deb,
      Can I just tell you how delightful it is to hear from you. I have such high respect for your life; any comment posted is taken in with honor. Thank you for your concern and care. We are waiting and watching God as He unfolds what is best for my Ashley. While there was huge disappointment, she was able to bounce back and seek some truths that made a profound impact on her perspective. I tell you, it’s all God’s handiwork! I sit back and am amazed. She’s still planning to attend in the Spring; the setback was tough but she said… “Mom, I am determined to find the positive in this experience…to see it as God’s hand of care for me…who knows if I would have gone in the fall and something would have happened and changed the course of my life…this way, I know God is leading and I am choosing to trust him.” I almost had an alter call! HA! Please continue to pray as she pursues admission in the spring; and that she will rely on Christ who is sovereign. It’s wonderful to hear from you my dear friend!
      Let’s catch up soon! Col

  • Gina Marie

    My youngest of 3 children who are blind (a teen though) was just recently left outside the building on a school camp, unable to find the door and not missed for 20 min. She was then made to feel it was her fault for not calling attention to herself. The teacher in question is known to not be very good at communication and fairly unpleasant. At the time I was so cross, but we are trying to consider that she must be quite miserable generally to be so unpleasant most of the time. Difficult to do in the heat of the moment though.

    • Gina,
      Let’s just say I about fell off my chair when I read what you and your daughter experienced. In my human nature, I am angry for you about how your daughter was treated! Then The Lord reminds me once again that this world had not room or time for His life as he lived among us. I am so gravely saddened that you had to go through this…I can’t imagine the vast emotions you and your daughter experienced then….and I’m guessing to this day. I would love to know more about how this was handled if you have the time. Was a report filed, did you put in writing what happened and send it to the school, school district, superintendent, and state education agency? I KNOW that is so much work; I have been there and had doors slam in my face so I get the feeling of futility in it all. However, to have change occur, voices need to be heard constantly and clearly. While the circumstances are different, the total lack of protection and careful follow up are similar. We too followed what the school outlined in reporting some things and were blindsided with the shocking push back, blame, and denial of follow up. I would be honored to help in any way; this is a familiar road to many of us. Since I have studied and advocated for my son, if there is anything I could offer that would help, you let me know. Please don’t hesitate to reach out and ask for help. Tragically, parents are so overwhelmed by this kind of treatment it is hard to keep bouncing back which is why I would love to offer any assistance that may provide change for your family. I am so honored that you reached out; we must work together for the job is too big for one person to handle. So please, connect again as there may be some things you could do that would keep her safe and address the poor, inadequate, and unacceptable responses you have encountered.

      • jean

        Colleen allow me to share a similar experience about my son, who is now in college that might be of help to gina.

        My son was given a failing grade in one of his subject not bec.he deserved but bec. the facilitator in that subject misplaced/lost my written consent that my son is permitted by me join an outbound activity (a requirement to pass).I wrote the head (as you advise gina)to air my complain,that my son shld. fail only bec. he did not accomplished a requirement and not bec. of the negligence of the facilitator misplaced/lost my written consent.

        Gina it will help you and your daughter if you let the authority know what the teacher did to your daughter as colleen advised,chances are they will not let it happen again if only they will know.

        Similar situation of mistreatment happened to my son many times when he was in 7,8,9,10 the worst was when he was 15.I come to a point that in defense of my son who was beaten blue black in his school,and refused medication not unless we pay the unreasonable amount that i need to lunged in anger,plus a written complain to the authority higher than the doctor (do not do this if you are not in the holy spirit’s control)who blame my son too for being beaten blue black.

        I get a result in favor of my son.

        Colleen is right,let the authority know by filing your complain. The school are not saints,they will mistreat our young and feast on their vulnerability, but if we their parents is equipped with the wisdom of God on how to incorporate into our side God’s favor and earthy law to defend and protect our young and confront the predator,our young can be protected.

        if i am the one bullied i ignore it,because bullies are not really strong but are weak inside.But they shld. not do it to my son (who is helpless ),for they will see a “HULK” (be angry but do not sin in our anger.I did it within what the law approved as God’s wisdom in prayer provides.)

        I come to a point that i was tired as it happens every time,and was wearied,if i allow my unfavorable and negative feelings that will not favor my son,who will do it for him?nobody .It is not ok that my son cannot find protection from the school but i cannot take it that he will not be defended by me his mother. God’s help is on every side of the parents who are for their children.We parents just need to be a david in front of these world’s Goliaths, God’s enemies, and our five stones will make them drop bec. the battle is not really ours but the Lord’s.

        The lord be with you gina do not be afraid and be intimidated,we are not given a spirit of intimidation but of soundness of mind to be in defense of our vulnerable young from predators .
        Colleen and i are with you in prayer for the victorious defense of your daughter’s mistreatment by the earthly law that shld.penalized your daughter’s teacher in violation of the school’s laws to teachers obligation to their students. ,and the Lord give you and your daughter heavenly protection too.

        • Jean, (and Gina)
          What profound words of wisdom! Oh Jean, I am so very sorry for the pain and anguish you and your son have endured. I have said so often, beat me up anytime…but lay a hand on my child and it’s a whole new ball game. One of the most difficult disciplines we must develop during such awful experiences is to go in the power and strength of the Holy Spirit…Jean, you put that very well. I have not always done that…I have been so angered and not taken time for the Spirit to calm me…and it has hurt us in the long run. So the fact that we have the Lord Jesus Christ on our side is all the power we need. Does it mean our kids will be ‘bully-free’???? NO, it doesn’t. It wasn’t that way for Christ who did no wrong, so we are to set our expectations accordingly. But when these things happen, one must be calmed by the Holy Spirit and then put into writing…ALWAYS put every communication in WRITING, copy and date as well…what has happened. Those with disabilities are direct targets for weak, insecure bully’s; but as our population is living longer, we are speaking up more, hopefully that statistic will change. If those in authority do not know, how can they act. If they do know and choose not to act, then they suffer the consequences…sometimes but not always. I have learned that there is very little complete justice on earth…it’s a fallen system just like everything/everyone else. But our hope is in Jesus who PROMISES to make all things right. As I said, this is one of the most difficult disciplines…to advocate with the power supplied by the Holy Spirit. That old mean, sin nature of mine gets in the way and that never helps. Jean, thank you for connecting with Gina! What wisdom! And Gina, you continue to be in my prayers. Please let me know if there is anything else you need or simply let me now if you just need a place to cry or vent or release…you will find support and care here. Thanks to both of you, Colleen

          • jean

            This is the secret I learned why i feel peace inside after a furious confrontation in mistreatment.
            I hope i am correct in what i observed.

            It seems to me that the Holy spirit in our prayer gives us the weak points of the bully and arm us with the right weapon to win the battle agiants the offender without sinning,because our purpose is to protect the weak againts a bully that Christ approve and not to humiliate the bully for bullies too are hurting souls.

            When the disciples shove the children away from Jesus,he defended the innocent and weak children by telling the disciple not to drive the children away to come near him.
            In a way parents who protect their children from offenders is acting like Christ,thus the backing of the Holy spirit to be bold and un intimidated.I must only put on a thick face,for to be angry all eyes are on me,in this instance i must not care about what others will say but what the lord is approving.I rather please the Lord at the expense of me hated for what to others is being mean but to the Lord is being zealous for Him.

            I love you gina ,thank you colleen for allowing me share.
            May our children be always under the protecting eyes of the Lord where we cannot be.

          • Jean,
            I love all you have shared; it’s obvious you have allowed the Lord to change you and transform your heart through some very difficult circumstances. I hope you will continue to connect here and share anytime. I also appreciate your support of Gina and others. It is so fantastic to see there are connections being made that would have not otherwise happened. Thanks for taking your time to share with us all. It’s wonderful to have you on board. Have a great day! Colleen (BTW, I keep forgetting to mention that the interview videos are available on podcast if that is ever an interest. I listen to podcasts all the time when I drive or run or work in the yard because they are uplifting and informing. Just an FYI). You are wonderful!

    • Madeline

      To Gina Marie: Praying that God will send loving and honest teachers and supporters to encourage you and your daughter. I have run into a few dishonest and unkind workers at my son’s school in the past and it is very stressful.

      • Madeline,
        You are so great!!! With all you have going on, what a gift to give Gina. Thank you for caring, for supporting, and for continuing to pray. May the Lord bring His peace to you today. So appreciate your comment. Colleen

    • Gina, has anything come from the issue your daughter went through? I am just sick over it!
      Do let me know if I can help! Colleen

      • Gina Marie

        Hi All. I want to thank you all so much for your comments, encouragement and suggestions. I especially want to thank those who have shared a little of their own stories. I have read every comment and have been much in prayer.

        I would like to clarify that I had posted my comment with a little description of that particular situation hoping by my last statement to say that we had considered the teacher as well; that she is found difficult by much of the student body and we are in prayer for her, thinking that she must be quite miserable most of the time to be so difficult to be in a class with.

        I perhaps should also clarify that I am in Australia, and am interested to discover over time how our different school systems work.

        There was a meeting about a week after the camp with the principal and deputy principal of the school (which I requested), including the ‘Visiting Teacher” (VT) specifically trained and employed to work with students with vision impairment. This meeting went well, but subsequent comments made to the VT suggest that all is not as it needs to be and an excursion that week with 2 different staff members was not that great for my 14 year old either. We are having a meeting on Tuesday morning (AEST), any prayer would be appreciated as surrender to God’s plan, ways, thoughts and purposes is the only way to move forward. He tells me that I do not think or do as He does, so surrender to Him is most necessary.

        I had made some suggestions at the previous meeting, as had the VT, so my only plan is to positively state that I am ‘keen to hear of the school’s implementations to try to prevent such a situation happening again, and to move the school community forward and away from current unhealthy social and teaching practice.’ If this is not satisfactory I plan to then write to the two school leaders I mentioned, the welfare teacher of the school and the school council president who is always a parent. My daughter is also considering speaking to the staff with the VT and the psychologist connected with the Visiting teacher service to express how she feels and perceives she is received at the school (though this would only occur if the school agrees to it).

        Thank you all again, especially Colleen for following me up. I feel quite supported though I have only just connected with you all. I have much other stress going on which is actually more painful to me than the school at present and is the reason I have been silent for this time. Thank goodness God’s plans are for good, turning around even our sin and that of other’s for His glory and our positive gain in the long run.

        Much prayer and thankfulness for this community,
        Gina

        • Gina,
          What a great update…meaning, thorough but not as happy as we hoped for. Sounds like you have bathed this in prayer and that is paying off. I do know Australia has some exceptional supports and services for special needs but do not know enough about the legal education mandates to comment. I will look up some of that if you would like the support. Perhaps you have combed through it all-probably so-but if I can help in any way, I would be honored. One thing that caught my attention is your mention of your daughter speaking with the VT and psychologist which is incredibly courageous. My concern is that any spoken word cannot be followed up….it’s a “he said/she said” deal. Perhaps she could write or dictate what she would like to say, have it in writing, and then read it to those involved. Then, they would have a copy, you would as well, and your file would. So there could be no dismissing what she says or her experiences. I don’t know if they allow video/audio taping there; in the States as long as they know you are recording, it’s allowed. In no way do I want to sound mean; I have just been through the ringer and then some on the educational and legal aspects; never did we have justice as is mandated so I’m particularly sticky on these issues. Too many kids and adults with additional needs are taken advantage of and I don’t want that to continue for your daughter or family. So keep us informed when possible and know you have lots of folks who care and love you. I would be glad to find some info if you would like from the Australian education mandates…just let me know. Have a great Monday. Colleen

  • Madeline

    I thought I was seeing a bit of light at the end of the tunnel (which happens every so often), until our water was shut off yesterday, and again today. I’ve had to take an unexpected detour and then have had to stop at another area due to road construction to get the kids to school. I am sick again and my husband is away etc. More challenges-small- but add to my workload in an already overloaded life. I ask God why more frustrations? Don’t I deserve a break? I don’t know why but I know my kids are watching. How am I doing? Well I hope that I am showing that I trust God and understand that life is not often easy but that I can ask God for His help every day. I think about the story of the Children of Israel in the wilderness as hope that God will give me enough ‘manna’ each day to get through. Most days are not huge victory days, but as I persevere, there have been huge victory days but it has required me to choose to think that there is hope, God will come through and that it is not all in vain. This is my constant discipline, to learn how to think God’s way and not mine. It is not easy for me but it is slowly coming. I pray for strength and encouragement in biker Mom’s life. I can relate. We receive some government funding based on income (I Iive in Canada). I left my professional job because there are too many needs for my son (there are always issues). I find myself feeling embarrassed when I go to pick up supplies at the drug store covered by the program. There were a few times when I ran into negative attitudes from just a few of the clerks but otherwise, they have been compassionate. But why do I feel embarrassed? That challenges my pride and my attitudes towards ‘others’ who need assistance. I find the thing that is changing the most in me is becoming more compassionate and insightful towards those who suffer and need help. I feel like I am on the ‘inside’ of suffering now –first hand experience is always the clearest.

    • Madeline, My heart broke again as I read your comment. Oh my gosh..I am so very sorry! Going through it again, the fact that you are RUNNING to God is the only place to go…you are running to Him. He is listening even though your situation is so very difficult. Your words of hoping your kids see God through you is profound; YES, they do and will as you continue to fall onto Him. They will see a mom who is out of strength, out of hope, out of a way to make it through which is the hardest part of life we have to accept; and they will see how you handled such experiences. You asked, reflected, trusted, prayed, cried, called out to the ONLY one who is able to help fully. Is there any better example than that? NO! You are living a disciplined life…constantly returning to scripture, prayer, and addressing your needs with wisdom. They will also see a mother who reaches out for support-as you have with the government supplies…who gives a rip what anyone thinks…you are doing what must be done to meet the needs in your life and GOD sees that…HE is the one who we are to honor. You are doing that Medeline! Our emotions will flip all over the place…is this easy, NO! Are there easy answers? NO! But God doesn’t say he will answer all our “why’s”, nor are we entitled to an answer; but HE promises to be with us through it. He is supplying ‘manna’…like the Children of Israel, we can get sick and tired of it all. But one day, my dear friend, you will be honored for your faithfulness. In Oz Guisness’s book “The Call”, there is a chapter titled “The Audience of One”…God is your audience and you are living before Him with trust and hope. Never forget that HE is your all and your children are seeing and learning that this is the way to handle life. I am so, so proud of you and for you. Please know I am praying and will continue to. Let’s stay connected…come for support and a place to vent…you are loved. Colleen

  • jean

    I just watch the movie frozen.i am more like elsa in fear to hurt my loved ones i tend to run away from them.Good anna wasn’t affected by her sister’s detachment.like Christ who i hurt more often than not still give me daily grace not to fear but love.fear makes elsa’s heart freeze in isolation but not anna,her love for her sister freed elsa from her fear and enjoyed her gifts instead, for all to enjoy too.

    • Jean…What a fantastic word picture. Fear is so haunting, it is one of the enemy’s grand tools to shut down believers. But may that not be so with you or any of us. Fear, as one woman wrote, is “an unharnessed imagination”…we don’t and can’t know what will come; but we can control how we use our mind in every moment. I struggle with tremendous fear at times as well…it is paralyzing! It has no value and gets nothing done…isn’t that the enemy’s purpose…to shut us up and shut us down. But GOD, who raised his son from the dead is more powerful so RUN to that power source. It’s been helpful for me to write down my fears, put them on paper, then at the end of the day, burn them away. They were of no help anyway. The visual is sometimes empowering. Also, Biblehub, Gateway, and Olive Tree are three Bible apps that I use to research and learn scripture. You can do a thematic search and I would encourage you to write down verses of promise and truth. Verses that speak strength into your life, one’s that you can put in your pocket and keep with you all day. I have them in my home-the kitchen, bathroom mirror, in my car, wherever-and say them out loud. God’s truth will be air to your lungs and provide hope to your heart. It’s so great to hear from you! Thank you for your honesty and humility. You are not alone in this. If you would like more support or just someone who understands, please continue to connect. We must pull together in this life; and God is with us in all things. May He show Himself perfectly faithful to you today. Colleen

      • jean

        You make me cry colleen,i can’t help but be teary eyed,with your counsel for it hit my heart.My cry isn’t bec. of sorrow but bec. of overwhelming joy for like a prisoner you gave me a way out of my prison.Thank you i found a friend in you,though you do not know me personally you make me a part of your circle to be pulled together and be kept in the body of Christ.You are just like your dad,he do not know us but keep on sending us his support in his teaching though we are not able to contribute financially.I can’t say nothing no more i am so heavily joyful.Thank you,thank you and the Lord bless you even more abundantly.

        • Oh Jean,
          What a treasure you are! This is the body of Christ in action…God using broken people to reach other hurting people and speaking hope into our lives…is there anything more comforting than that?! It’s one thing to know Christ has set us free, another thing altogether to live in that freedom. As John 8:32 and 36 mentions, believing in Jesus we are set free…FULLY! How wonderful is that! Because you have put your trust and faith in Jesus Christ who already paid for our sins, we are able to live and breathe in freedom; nothing we can do or bring to the table sets us free…it is Jesus who does the work. So, as you continue to renew your mind, rest on the promises of God’s true and timeless word, you will enjoy that freedom. Again, I loved the example you gave from the movie. I thought of so many things when I watched it…how our minds are so strong and what we believe changes the course of our lives. So KEEP believing, KEEP trusting, and live in the joy and freedom that Jesus has provided. Our circumstances on this side of heaven may limit us physically and in other ways; but our minds can rest assured that we are loved and we are free. It is so good to hear back from you, Jean. You have such a tender spirit and I love interacting with you. Thanks for making my day so sweet! Colleen

  • Kelly Morris

    Well….3,4,&5. They all kind of meld together, poking me in various degrees on a daily basis. In my low times, I liken the life I experience akin to that card matching game…where you lay out dozens of little square cards face down and try to find the matching sets. So many times I feel like “God” (though I know it’s Satan) commenting “Oh, you were SO CLOSE that time! Just one card away!” I feel like if I could just get one set of anything in my life to match up, then things will work out. I think as a parent of a young man with profound disabilities, it is second nature to be “accomplishing” things: Getting him bathed, changed, medicated, entertained…providing psychotherapy to hurting people, keeping my house squalor-free…errands and grocery shopping. My flesh assumes that I am falling short of ‘accomplishing’ tasks for God, and if I did just a little bit better, then peace and rest would follow. I think I’m pairing accomplishments with control. Control that would abate sorrow and fear of the unknown. The ‘card game’ continues. This week the air compressor in my car died (107 in Phoenix). Our little doggie got very sick, which equals a large vet bill. Our financial mortgage company inadvertently double withdrew house payments, which equals red numbers in our account. I feel like a headless chicken today. Then, guilt follows. Ashamed of feeling sorry for myself. And the cycle continues! Peace and perspective. Be still and know that HE IS GOD.

    • Kelly, what incredible wisdom you have shared in your comment here. While I know “wisdom” is not the word you would use, I do because of your candid, honest self examination, honesty, and acceptance of where you are at this time. Couple things hit me as I read your note. First, God’s character is ALL good, ALL loving, ALL faithful; when you mentioned the cards and feeling like “Oh, you were so close” is not in His character….He doesn’t hold out on us like that. I know you want things to match up; I so understand that. But scripture doesn’t say things will “match up” on this side of heaven. God helps us through those times when the cards don’t match up and in fact, they fly all over the place. WE hate it when the cards fly all over the place, God doesn’t…He carries us over them and helps us through the messes, cards and all. Next, much of my growth has come by evaluating what “accomplishment” means…to accomplish something means we have finished a task, completed a goal, finished or succeeded…yet in life, it is never finished until Christ comes or we enter eternity. It is SO hard to remember this. So many times I have wanted to get just one thing done…the laundry, cleaning, a note to a friend…but life interrupted and demanded my attention. So I would encourage you to evaluate what you are trying to fix on the inside by accomplishing something on the outside if that makes sense. I read all that you have to do as a caregiver and felt exhausted…just look at what is done…what you are doing every day. How honoring to the Lord it is that you follow through and care for the one He has placed in your care for an unknown amount of earthly time. I also think of how Christ lived on earth…not frantic or zipping about as I read scripture…he walked, sat, talked, listened, lunched, lived in the moment…and He was here to save the WORLD. He did so by listening and following his Father’s direction. THAT is accomplishment. In fact, some of his final words…”It is finished”. WOW. Until then, we are not. Just last week I was freaking out about my messy house…made us all miserable as I scurried about trying to gain control…and that is exactly what it was about…control. Things felt out of control (my issue); my husband finally said, ‘honey, all this will be here tomorrow, we are raising kids, not a house’…that was a puncher! = ) So Kelly, you too are God’s child. He is not measuring you or accepting you on the basis of what you can do but loves you regardless. Do nothing…YOU ARE LOVED; provide…YOU ARE LOVED; cry and grieve…YOU ARE LOVED. Nothing can separate you from His profound, boundless love. I hope that brings encouragement to you today, Kelly. How wonderful it is to read that someone else get is…I do, you do. So let’s stick together and help each other remember what is most important…loving and being loved. You are a fantastic mom! Thanks for writing. Colleen

      • Kelly Morris

        Colleen, thank you so much for your encouragement. I needed it. What you shared reminded of the joy that I get every single morning when I open my son’s bedroom door and hear his sweet giggle. I hear his precious voice saying ‘hi’. I am overwhelmed with love for a child who wants nothing more than to love and be loved. He accomplishes his calling from God every day by sharing his beautiful spirit. There’s nothing he could do to make me stop loving him. It’s hard for me to think that God loves me that way. He loves us that way! Blessings to you and your family. Consider yourself e-hugged. 🙂

        • Kelly,
          I’m sorry it’s taken me a bit of time to reply. I love what you said here because it’s so GOD in the midst of our lives… “It’s hard for me to think that God loves me that way”…in reference to how much you love your son. You are the first person I’ve heard say that which is what I’ve said for so long…I will never not love my son or my children regardless of their behaviors and abilities! I can’t imagine the thought. But in the same way, God loves us and that is a profound comfort and truth that sinks deeply into my soul when I feel so unlovable. One of the greatest gifts of having a son with disabilities is the ways in which God becomes so real in our lives. How I wish everyone could understand that kind of love…the kind God has for us. It’s His amazing grace! Thanks so much for connecting and I hope to hear more about your son who sounds so adorable! Have a great day! Colleen

          • Gina Marie

            Colleen, I love your comment, “I will never not love my son or my children regardless of their behaviours and abilities!” God loves us in this way, he grows and challenges and even rebukes us. He also encourages, blesses and is lovingly kind (merciful) toward us. I have read much about suffering here and many of us recognising our struggles, sin and scars, and God our Father is taking us from struggle and control and failure and frustration and confusion and loss etc. toward wholeness, and complete restoration to his plan, purpose and design for us in Christ. How marvellous! I am not stuck, I am being taken on my journey to ‘the other side’, as Jesus took the disciples to the other side of the lake after calming the storm that troubled them. Thank goodness!! For example, when I have reacted emotionally in a meeting, he is leading me to grow in self-control thereby his Spirit acts through me next time instead.

            Our scars are reminders of where God had brought us from and how we got here and that he loved us continually through everything. Just like Jesus’ scars remind us of how he brought us to our Heavenly Father and got us to where we are now and that he has loved us continually through everything.

            If you’re interested:

            Broken, Scarred, Loved, Free
            29/12/2013

            Oh, what is it that is precious to me,
            What draws me to my knees?
            Not in fear, but sweet surrender.
            The scars on You, for me.

            The scars left by the marks of pain;
            My sin, betrayal, rebellion.
            Your scars prove that Your love for me,
            Will o’er these have dominion.

            What also do I hold so dear,
            That which keeps me on my knees?
            Not downcast, but in adoration.
            Is it not the scars of mine I see.

            Do not my scars two truths proclaim;
            Show of defeat and victory?
            The path of brokenness I’ve walked,
            By Jesus’ blood, I’m healed and free.

            New life Christ walks, new flesh He has.
            And so too, soon, will I.
            But ever precious to us both,
            Our scars, just to remind.

            (Gina Marie)

          • Gina,
            This is absolutely beautiful. Yes, by His scars, we are comforted, encouraged, and healed. Do you have an author for that writing or did you pen that? It is wonderful!!! I pray the future will be filled with positive change this next school year. You are so precious. Colleen
            Colleen Swindoll-Thompson

          • Gina Marie

            Thank you again. Yes, I penned this. Here’s to positive change for all of our families to whatever degree God has determined. In Australia, we are mid-year at school so still travelling. I wrote two poems for the week of Mother’s Day to post on my blog to do with being the mother of special needs kids, if anyone’s interested let me know. Look forward to chatting again. Gina

          • Gina,
            I would love to read them…and there are many that may be inspired by them as well so post what you would like. Wonderful that you would be so thoughtful to share. You never know who it may touch at just the perfect moment. Thanks again for your friendship. Colleen

          • Gina Marie

            Thanks so much, great if what God leads one of us through, and to, can encourage another to persevere to his victory already secured on the cross for us.

          • Gina, you are right…that is what we hope this page and blog roll will become…a place for us to interact and support one another. I love your writing and so appreciate you sharing it with me…us! = ) Have a great day! Colleen

          • Gina,
            Hope you are having a great day, Gina. It’s wonderful to see your beautiful smile! Colleen

      • Madeline

        Great advice, I am going to think about this all week. I feel the same about all the ‘stuff’ I can never seem to get done–in particular house work!

        • Madeline…Oh my gosh…what a time to read your words. This week has been filled with stuff and just yesterday I lost it. My humanity showed up in so many ways, I had to apologize to my husband and son for being cranky, and I had to remind myself a bazillion times that I’m raising a family, not a clean house…or laundry…or meals…I’m to love first, then get to the duties. It’s so hard to remember when you feel like life is out of control. So please know, you are not alone in learning all these things. Letting the ‘stuff’ go is tough but you are so wise to reflect and desire change. I’m right there with ya! Have a great day! Colleen

        • Madeline, was wondering how the week has gone for you? Colleen

          • Madeline

            Colleen, I just listened to your interview with Bob West. I was in tears and laughed. It is wonderful to hear of another family further down the road than mine. I hope to follow up with Bob’s ministry websites. There are so many things I want to share but I have piles of laundry and dishes that I put on hold to watch the interview!!Again I feel so loved by God to be able to benefit from your Special Needs Ministry Colleen. I thank God for everyone who makes it possible. They can know that it is definitely making a difference in my life and therefore in my family’s!

          • Madeline,
            You are so very kind…and thank you for taking the time to watch and listen. Bob is an incredible father; there is so much more to his story than we had time to go into but I’m so delighted to know it meant a lot to you. And yes, when others are further down the road, it’s helps doesn’t it! How I wished there were things like this 10 years ago! I totally understand the laundry and dishes….do they every go away????? I’ve got a stack myself just waiting. You are so sweet to write; I will pass your message to Bob as well. They have redone their site so I hope you find it extra helpful. It’s a wonderful organization. I did a podcast for him several years ago. It was great to be on the question-asking side! = ) Have a great afternoon! Colleen

    • Madeline

      You are right about perspective Kelly. When I am complaining,thoughts come to mind of those in the world who are suffering so much more than me and my family. Things could always be worse. I need to be ‘strong and of good courage’. I can relate to feeling like the tasks I have been given are menial and of little worth. Now I am seeing the value of serving in very humble ways that I have learned are noticed by God but right now I realize my children are also noticing as well–who knows how and where God will bless others through my children–even after I am gone. I am seeing little glimpses of what it actually means to ‘wait on the Lord’ and to let Him accomplish what He wishes like the battle at Jericho. I will persist, continue in prayer and obey and He will do the rest.

      • Madeline,
        Here again, thank you. I think we are always in some sort of ‘waiting’ position. I know I am, you are, Gina is, Kelly too…all of us and our families live so time bound so the waiting part is another cultivated discipline. I have to remind myself often of the passage in Isaiah which says “His ways are not my ways and His thoughts are not my thoughts”…what a comfort to know that His ways and thoughts are so far greater and perfect in every way! I am confident that your kids are learning so much from what you say and DON’T say…sometimes silence is the very best teacher. Also, I love your words “little glimpses”…how great it is when we learn to celebrate those ‘little glimpses’ that I believe the Lord provides to help us along in the growing process. Learning to celebrate the smallest of things becomes a grand occasion for praise; it changes our hearts in so many ways. You are a delight and I thank you for caring to write and share some encouragement with Kelly. Keep pressing on my friend! Have a great weekend. Colleen

      • Kelly Morris

        Madeline, you are so right about how our children have and will impact our world more than we will ever see. We receive the gifts of their precious spirits daily. Even in the tediousness of life, God is accomplishing a work beyond our understanding. Blessings & thank you!!!

        • Kelly,
          And yes, I forgot to mention…thanks so much for connecting with Madeline. How cool is it that we have social media and ways to communicate that we didn’t have years ago. It has been a wonderful comfort at times when I’ve felt so isolated or lonely. Thank you for your kind spirit and encouraging words! Colleen

  • Jolene Philo

    Do I judge others? All the time! Though God has showed me over and over to look beyond appearances, I forget over and over. Then God has a way of putting me in relationship with those I judged harshly, of peeling back the outside and revealing the hurting heart inside. When my eyes no longer see the outer shell of the person, but gaze on the miracle inside, I finally stop judging that person and start loving. But I need so much practice!

    Thanks for sharing this post at the DifferentDream.com Tuesday link share. And best wishes and prayers as you get things straightened out for your daughter’s college career. What a disappointment for her!

  • Kelly, It’s Colleen here…just was wondering how you are doing?

  • Gina,
    In reading your story…profound and very articulate….my concern is that is will not be met with your expectation…an ‘ear to hear’. Tragically, schools most often ‘listen to’ ratings, public opinion, and financial support. I have three, five inch binders of scores, letters, reports, and more….none of which assisted in my son’s education. In fact, a recent report for the United States reported only 3 states qualify for “partial” compliance, most are out of compliance, and 3 are totally dismissive and defiant against the legal mandates. Our judicial system is broken…so much so that the ‘weak’ get the lowest portion allocated for assistance. While I don’t know your state’s laws, I do know they listen to two things…their funding and popular rating. Despite the plethora of endless agendas and promises to stand up for the disabled; I have found almost all disregard such agendas for the sake of money and reputation. The only way I have gained a voice in the system is to show a clear and convincing paper trail (your daughter can certainly speak for her experience now which is a plus plus!), and recognizable evidence of their pathetic errors. This is to be taken to the district, state education agency, and nationally recognized education statutes. Few words, simple facts will speak the loudest. I learned this the very hard way. I had clear and convincing evidence….beyond a shadow of a doubt; but the system bonded together to get funding and to appear as a unified front and so much damage was done to my son’s educational experience. I would go so far as to say you are willing to take this to the public…news media, social media, and communication networks….not as a threat but as a voice for so, so many who cannot speak for themselves. It’s a terribly tragic, broken trend these “typical adults and leaders” have; putting the disabled at such a disadvantage. Until we speak out-without anger but with full resolve-little change will happen. In all, I would hesitate sending your story because their focus is not on what happened to your child; it’s on defending their reputation. Prepare to be treated with distance and dislike….that’s okay, Jesus was treated that way as well. It’s a call for authentic temperance, not mishandled emotions. Include your daughter as much as possible without allowing her to be questioned because they can twist questions and confuse the student…her presence and simplicity will make a profound statement. Regardless of how things turn out, know that God is in charge. He is for you and your child…you are HIS creation and this could lead to some great changes. I am longing to hear what happens. Colleen
    Colleen Swindoll-Thompson

    • Gina Marie

      Thank you so much for your encouragement and advice. The ‘paper trail’ will be imperative, I know. It’s so sad that people, groups, organisations etc. want to protect the facade they have presented (even with lies) rather than turn to honesty with and about themselves and consequently those around them. Will keep you posted. Thanks again, Gina

      • Gina,
        Sounds great. Australia is supposed to offer some good services compared to the US…however, it’s as human and fallen as everywhere else. If there is anything I can find that may help, I’ll let you know. Thanks much, Colleen

        • Gina Marie

          🙂

          • Gina,
            It may be morning when you read this but I want you to know how much I’ve appreciated your connection and interaction. I pray the day is filled with touches of God’s peace and presence in your life. In His abundant grace, Colleen
            Colleen Swindoll-Thompson