Back to School

Back to SchoolIt’s back-to-school time! I’m guessing some parents (including me) are delighted, and most kids are disappointed. Kids tend to ask lots of questions before school begins: “Will I be riding the bus?” “Who is my teacher?” “Are the kids nice?” “Do I wear regular clothes or a uniform?” But kids don’t ask questions just about school. I recently came across some very funny questions and comments from kids about God.
Here are a few:

  • Dear God: In Sunday school they told us what You do. Who does it when You are on vacation? —Jane
  • Dear God: Thank you for the baby brother, but what I prayed for was a puppy. —Joyce
  • Dear God: My brother is a rat. You should give him a tail. Ha ha. —Danny
  • Dear God: I bet it is very hard for You to love all of everybody in the whole world. There are only four people in our family, and I can never do it. —Nan
  • Dear God: We read that Thomas Edison made light. But in Sunday school they said You did it. So I bet he stole your idea. —Donna

Today, going to school is more complicated than it used to be—more bullying, disrespectfulness, anger, emotional problems, blame, and excuses. For the students with disabilities, school is often an unprotected and painful place.

Because my son is a student with noticeable disabilities, I ask the Lord many questions. My questions include:

  • Lord, I’m terrified he will be bullied again. Will you calm my spirit and protect my son?
  • Lord, will you bring aid to help him when he cannot do things on his own?
  • Lord, will you please give him strength when he is exhausted?
  • Lord, he doesn’t have friends; I grieve when I see him alone on the playground. Will you bring him a friend?

Maybe you have questions too. You can call on our Savior for help. He has not forgotten you. He is leading you, so walk by faith no matter how difficult it is. When your faith falters, He understands. We ask Him to guide us through our unbelief. I promise you, He answers every time. Meditate on the following verses of Scripture:

“The steadfast mind You will keep in perfect peace,
Because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress,
My God, in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91:1–2)

If I should say, “My foot has slipped,”
Your lovingkindness, O LORD, will hold me up.
When my anxious thoughts multiply within me,
Your consolations delight my soul. (94:18–19)

Other Resources:

  1. Special Words for Special People: Offering Grace to the Weary by Charles R. Swindoll (CD or MP3)
  2. Hope for the Hurting by Insight for Living (LifeMaps book)
  3. “Hope Beyond Our Trials: ‘When Through Fiery Trials . . .’” from the series Insights on 1 Peter: Hope Again: When Life Hurts and Dreams Fade by Charles R. Swindoll (CD or MP3)
  4. Same Lake, Different Boat: Coming alongside People Touched by Disability by Stephanie O. Hubach

The Little Troll

Troll ToyI have found that most of the stuff necessary for raising kids has an astonishing ability to hide in the smallest cracks and crevices of the home. There is an assortment of sticky, spiky, smelly, and squishy things I’ve found under my sofa cushions and car seats, in dryer filters and clothing pockets. Once, I laughed aloud when I stumbled over an ugly, squeezable troll doll with fuzzy hair sticking straight up. When I squeezed his tummy, his eyes bugged out, his ears popped out, and his face flared out.  The kids and I found it funny to watch his fingers and toes inflate like those tiny link sausages when we packed on the pressure.

We laugh when the pressure implodes a kid’s toy; but the humor fades when our circumstances apply direct, unending pressure to our hearts. The suffocating squeeze constricts my neck muscles, resulting in throbbing migraines. Grief or sorrow squeezes my heart, drawing tears from my eyes. Anxiety tightens my stomach, distracting my mental focus from truth. The worst pain takes me captive with an arresting, unyielding hold.  In extreme moments, even breathing feels impossible.

However, I know I have hope in the midst of these pressures. Second Timothy 3:16–17 reminds me,

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

The pressure dissipates when I turn to God’s Word. God’s truth brings refreshment and relief, reminding me that rest is promised in the midst of life’s problems.

Feeling like a little troll? The book of Psalms offers comfort to weary hearts. Today, you may find that Psalms 1, 23, 37, 40, and 121 offer a needed dose of encouragement.

Your circumstances may not change immediately, but your spirit will soar and your bindings will be released as you focus on God’s truth.

Honoring Men of Character

Man with GlassesAs a more serious complement to our previous post, which shed light on the humorous side of being a man, I’ve created my own list, honoring men of character. Men who are called on to provide loving care to individuals who cannot function on their own face sobering realities and unique demands. As you carry out these honorable roles, I hope you find the following list fulfilling to your soul. Your service is invaluable, and we are grateful for you.

Great Things about Being a Male Caregiver

  1. A 30-second conversation with your autistic child may be considered real progress.
  2. You are thankful any time (moment?) your home is clean.
  3. You are thankful to wear underwear every time you change the diapers of your aging, ill parent.
  4. Preferred hair color means nothing because your loved one doesn’t have hair due to chemotherapy treatments.
  5. Slowly shopping for Christmas is treasured because this is the last Christmas you will have together.
  6. Any car ride is appreciated because you can see, and hear, and feel, and speak.
  7. Though your wedding plans took care of themselves, you lead your home with far more tenderness.
  8. Problems in public are meaningless.
  9. You wash the hands and feet of another, seeing the nails Jesus bore for us all.
  10. Your tears reveal humility and honor, grace, and mercy—the calling of Christ for us all.

It’s a Guy’s Life!

Illustration of Businessman WalkingIn a sermon about the family called “Looking Back on Things That Matter,” which aired last February as part of the Family Matters series, Chuck read a list of great reasons for being a man. Here is a sample of that list. And speaking as a woman, I think you guys are fantastic. Enjoy.

Great Things about Being a Man

  1. You don’t have to go to the bathroom with a support group.
  2. Whole conversations are over in 30 seconds flat.
  3. You know stuff about tanks.
  4. You can kill your own food.
  5. Wedding plans take care of themselves.
  6. You can quietly enjoy a car ride from the passenger seat.
  7. You don’t have to clean up your apartment just because the meter reader is coming.
  8. You can watch TV for hours with your buddy and never wonder if he’s mad at you.
  9. Your underwear is $10.00 for a three-pack.
  10. Gray hair and wrinkles only add character.
  11. You can stop by your buddy’s house without having to bring a little gift.
  12. If another guy shows up at the party wearing the same suit, you might become lifelong friends.
  13. You seldom have strap problems in public.
  14. Your belly usually covers your hips.
  15. One outfit, one wallet, one pair of shoes, one color for all seasons
  16. A few belches are expected and tolerated.
  17. You can do your nails with a pocket knife.
  18. You have freedom of choice concerning growing a mustache.
  19. Christmas shopping for 25 relatives can be accomplished at the same store in 45 minutes.

Things My Mother Taught Me

Things My Mother Taught Me

This month is dedicated to celebrating women. I realize not everyone who reads this is a woman, but you probably have at least one woman in your life—a mother, your spouse or girlfriend, or a daughter. But whether or not you’re a woman, this fun little piece made me chuckle, and I thought you would get a kick out of it too.

Things My Mother Taught Me . . .

To Value a Job Well Done
“If you’re going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning.”

All about Time Travel
“If you don’t straighten up, I’m going to knock you into the middle of next week!”

Logic
“Because I said so, that’s why.”

Foresight
“Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you’re in an accident.”

Irony
“Keep crying and I’ll give you something to cry about.”

Osmosis
“Shut your mouth and eat your supper.”

Stamina
“You’ll sit there until all that spinach is gone.”

Weather
“This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it.”

Hypocrisy
“If I told you once, I’ve told you a million times. Don’t exaggerate!”

Circle of Life
“I brought you into this world, and I can take you out.”

Behavior Modification
“Stop acting like your father!”

Thankfulness
“There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don’t have wonderful parents like you do.”

Anticipation
“Just wait until we get home.”

Receiving
“You are going to get it when you get home!”

Medical Science
“If you don’t stop crossing your eyes, they are going to freeze that way.”

How to Become an Adult
“If you don’t eat your vegetables, you’ll never grow up.”

Wisdom
“When you get to be my age, you’ll understand.”

Justice
“One day you’ll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you.”

—Author Unknown

Bubbles

Day One: I heard something scratching in the boys’ bathroom wall . . . not good.

Day Two: I heard more scratching and named the source “Godzilla.”

Day Three: Godzilla was hungry. I knew this because the scratching intensified.

HamsterDay Four: I mentioned Godzilla to the kids, asking if they had heard any roaring. I was then informed that Godzilla was actually Bubbles, my son’s adorable, fuzzy, teddy bear hamster. It seemed that cute, little Bubbles had once again escaped his hamster mansion, squeezed his plump body through a hole the size of a penny, and plopped into the dusty confines of the wall. The rescue operation then commenced.

We cut a dollar-bill-sized hole in the wall and put an itsy-bitsy bit of food and water a smidgen outside the hole, expecting Bubbles to smell it and launch himself out of the wall through the hole. Then, we waited . . . and waited and waited and waited. We could hear him scratch a little, and we could see his twitching whiskers scarcely moving just inside the hole. We knew at any second he would come flying out, launching himself into the water dish. But he didn’t. Bubbles seemed to believe his plan was best and scampered further into his black hole.

Now, pause for just a moment and imagine you are lost in the Sahara in midsummer without food or water. You are doomed to die if someone doesn’t come to your rescue very soon. Would you or would you not hurl yourself toward the rescuer and guzzle a gallon of water? Of course you would, if your survival depended on it! Why, then, when it comes to our spiritual and emotional survival, do we act like Bubbles and try to escape the loving hands of God? Why do we fear walking out of the darkness and into His glorious light? Dependence on God requires us to trust and believe that He will keep His promises. And candidly, that terrifies most of us, including me.

But we shouldn’t be terrified; God loves us and knows what’s best for us.

What happened to Bubbles? Well, it took the little guy three more days to stop running inside the walls. Slowly, he began to take teensy-weensy steps toward the food in our open hands, finally trusting we were there to save his helpless little life. If only we would stop running and be more like Bubbles and return to the arms of our loving Father after we’ve run away and hidden ourselves inside the dark “walls” of life away from Him.

Have you run away from God? He knows where you are, and He knows you need Him. Return to Him today.

Ponder these verses of Scripture:

Humble yourselves . . . under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety upon him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6–7 NIV)

I pray . . . that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. (Ephesians 1:18–19 NIV)

Teenagers Can Be Terrific Teachers

Teen Friends in Jumping in SnowTeenagers are a unique group of people. They can text 4,000 words a second but can’t speak in complete sentences. They remember 8,000 e-mail addresses but claim memory loss on trash day. They sustain electric energy during all-night social events but become comatose at two-hour family functions.

I have four teenagers. Four teenagers whose hormones regularly enable each to give birth to another person—their evil twin—who shows up when asked to do something . . . such as making eye contact. Sometimes I refer to each of my teenagers as “Thing One” and “Thing Two,” in reference to Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat. If we count the “evil twins,” our home includes a total of eight teenagers. And my son Jon, according to his neurologist, counts as eight teenagers all on his own. So, by my calculations, we have the equivalent of 18 people, two big dogs, and a bird fluttering at any given moment through our home.

All kidding aside, my teenagers are incredibly resilient, courageous, and accepting of life on life’s terms. They live with pain, persevere through grief, treasure their disabled sibling Jon, and share their souls with me. My teenagers teach me a lot through their example, actually. They help me see how I relate to God sometimes. And God’s example stirs gratefulness in me and teaches me how I should respond to my teenagers.

God accepts me when I am acting like “Thing One” and “Thing Two.” He doesn’t seem bothered when I forget His faithful mercy. He is ever-alert and ever-present when I fall asleep in our shared time. He hears all my pleas and petitions, worries, whispers, and woes, despite my deafness to His command that I surrender to His will. And finally, He has pardoned my sins and forgiven my debts. When this life is over, He will completely take away the diseases in my soul and will welcome me into His eternal kingdom.

I am so thankful for all that He teaches me, especially for what He teaches me through my teenagers.

Things I’ve Learned from Raising Kids

Messy Toddler in Dress

A good sense of humor is essential in life. And taking some time each day to laugh can lighten any load. Here’s some funnies for today.

Things I’ve Learned from Raising Kids

  • A king-size waterbed holds enough water to fill a 2,000-square-foot home four inches deep.
  • If you spray hairspray on dust bunnies and run over them with Rollerblades, they can ignite.
  • If you hook a dog leash over a ceiling fan, the motor is not strong enough to rotate a 42-pound boy wearing Batman underwear and a Superman cape. It is strong enough, however, to spread paint on all four walls of a 20 x 20-foot room.
  • You should not throw baseballs up when the ceiling fan is on.
  • When using the ceiling fan as a bat, you have to throw the ball up a few times before you get a hit. A ceiling fan can hit a baseball a long way.
  • Glass windows, even double-paned, don’t stop a baseball hit by a ceiling fan.
  • When you hear the toilet flush and the word “uh-oh,” it’s already too late.
  • Brake fluid mixed with Clorox makes smoke—and lots of it.
  • The first swimming pool for many children is the toilet.
  • A 6-year-old can start a fire with a flint, even though a 36-year-old man says it can’t be done except in the movies.
  • Certain Legos will pass through the entire digestive tract.
  • No matter how much Jell-O you put in a swimming pool, you still cannot walk on water.
  • VCRs do not eject peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, even though the TV commercials show that they do.
  • Garbage bags do not make good parachutes.
  • The spin cycle on the washing machine does not make earthworms dizzy. However, cats throw up twice their bodyweight when dizzy.

Welcome

colleenWhen life falls apart, confusion sets in. Personal questions are unanswerable, emotions are uncontrollable, and strength seems unattainable; such are the realities of shattering circumstances. Special Needs Ministries represents a source of hope for people by offering sound teaching, resources, and personal counseling.