Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I Love You Mommy

I could hear the happy squeals of laughter coming from outside on the trampoline, 4 young voices having so much fun….making the most of a cloudy, cool spring day. Inside was nice and warm and it was time to make dinner. Often while in the kitchen I stop working just to watch the kids. Today it was Hannah (10) and 3 of the neighbor kids. Being all about the same age things were working out just fine. As I stood looking out the window along came the youngest little neighbor girl. In her tiny hands were candy…one for each of them. I watched as they scrambled to the edge of the trampoline with their hands ready for a candy. One by one they took a candy and eagerly put it in their mouth. Then it was Hannah’s turn…she put out her hand...took her candy…looked at it….held it for a moment longer…shook her head no and slowly gave it back to the little giver trying to coax her to take it back and eat it herself. As I watched this little scene a lump came up in my throat. This, I thought, is the life that Hannah lives every day but how often does this happen and I’m not there to witness it. I went to the cabinet and got out a piece of ‘safe’ candy and then knocked on the window for her to come to the door. As she came to the door I opened it and without saying a word, gave her the piece of candy and kissed her on the lips. She looked up at me and said, “I love you Mommy” as she took the candy and bounded back to the trampoline. Further words didn’t need to be said we both knew each other’s thoughts…me thankful I could fill the gap so often left open and her thankful to not have been left out. I went back to making what used to be an easy meal but now much more complicated….spaghetti.

When we have a child with a disability often as parents we hurt as well. We are so thankful that Hannah is still with us and even though she has severe food allergies she has now been properly diagnosed and is doing well. And yet it’s not easy being a 10 year old with severe food allergies. Food affects our very core of existence and it’s virtually impossible for her to go to anyone’s house without bringing her own food along. Hot lunch at school….birthday treats at school….birthday parties…school or church functions that involve eating…sleeping at a friend’s house….all requires either the sacrifice of not eating or the bringing of her own food.
Often I think about the role we play in dealing with a child with a disability. Sometimes I wonder what I did with all my time when I didn’t have to make 2 of every meal…make 2 of every baked treat….read EVERY label of every food I buy…spend $20 for 5 pounds of gluten free flour, and the latest….make homemade ice cream (which otherwise costs $6 a pint…yes per pint). And yet I do not stand alone. Our struggle is with allergies but many a family struggles with a child with a disability…whether it be physical, mental, or otherwise.
I truly believe that we should try our utmost not to allow our child to feel sorry for themself. In my own heart do I often feel sorry for her?? Absolutely, but it doesn’t do any good to walk around having a pity party. Here are the ways I use myself to avoid the pit.
First we must realize it could be so much worse. No matter what the issue is there are many children in this world who have it far worse than our child. This is not only good for us to realize but to gently remind our child of, not that we throw it in their face but it’s a mental attitude we need to have. So for example the following conversation, “Mom, it is soooo hard not to be able to eat like ‘normal’ kids do.” Me, “I know Hannah you are normal and I feel bad for you too but we have to think about so many other kids who have it worse…you could have cancer or no legs or a different disease to deal with. This is teaching you to become a stronger person.” This conversation doesn’t often happen but there are the times. I then ask her if there is something I could make or do to cheer her up. It’s so important to come down beside our child during their down times as this is very real to them but not to let them stay there.
The other thing I do is to try to make her life seem as normal as other kids. If she is going to a birthday party and they are having pizza and cupcakes then I will make her some of her pizza and gluten free cupcakes. If there is a church pancake breakfast I will make her as much as possible the same menu at home. But as parents there are times that it just doesn’t work to accommodate them, especially for parents with a child with a physical disability, these are the times that we have to encourage them to be strong. We need to teach our children that there are disappointments in life…how we deal with them is what makes us the person we are.
We must watch that their disability does not make them angry towards God but teach them that there is a reason God made them this way. Just because they are not ‘like the rest of the kids’ does not mean they are not “fearfully and wonderfully made.” God has a purpose for each one of us. I often see that Hannah’s struggles make her a more caring person towards others who have problems and I hope we can nurture this more and more in her.
In all our struggles we must ultimately remember to encourage our child to think of Christ who suffered much….much more than we could ever suffer and He never complained but willingly suffered, patiently endured the mockers, shrunk not from temptation, but endured to the end to pay for the sins of sinful, rebellious people.

Friday, April 15, 2011

There is a Man…

There is a man on this earth whom I love more than words could express.
This man is never too proud to stoop down and help another who is in need. It doesn’t matter what they look like, smell like, or their status in life.
This man is not too high to open a door for another to go in before him. He doesn’t need to be seen or heard to ‘feel’ accepted.
This man is never ‘too tired' to get up at night if the children call for him.
This man is not afraid to help with the dishes or take out the garbage.
This man is not stopped by anything that breaks but usually can fix it….in fact wherever he goes he looks for things that need to be fixed.
This man will not brag about all the things he did when he was young….for it is a grief to him.
This man made a covenant with his eyes never to look at a woman with lust and I’m so grateful to never have seen his eyes linger on another woman.
This man is a peacemaker, and a quiet leader.
This man weeps when he thinks of the many souls going lost, who count the pleasures of this world of more worth than the riches of God’s grace.
This man longs to have more holiness in his own life.
This man is my best friend and today even though he is far away we celebrate his birthday. Happy Birthday, honey….we love you!!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

When God Says No

A few weeks ago my husband spoke to our youth group about David’s desire to build the temple. David’s heart was right in wanting to build the Lord’s house. David consulted the prophet Nathan and Nathan also thought this was a good thing to do. And yet we all know that the Lord spoke to Nathan and told him to tell King David the answer was “no.” For various reasons God did not want David to build the temple but told him his son would be the one to do this.
I began thinking and reflecting back on times that God also has said “no” in my life. During my teenage years I dated a boy whom I thought would be ‘the one’. And yet he was caught cheating and the relationship ended….God said “no.” At the time of course this was devastating to me.
I remember at the close of my high school years having a scholarship available for me towards an accounting degree and yet my Dad didn’t think I should pursue further schooling. This was difficult for me to understand but God through my Dad said “no.”
I remember after our first child was born I became pregnant once again. We were very happy and yet one sad day 16 weeks into pregnancy God said “no.” After this child was born I held it in my hands…so tiny and yet so perfectly formed…it was so hard to understand. The next day after as we mourned the loss of this child I called the hospital to ask if it was a boy or girl and was told that they ‘just throw them in the dumpster’ and so it would be impossible to find that information out for me. This almost drove me crazy thinking about it all but again for reasons beyond my understanding God said “no”…we were not to have this child or know the sex of our child.
I remember after years of being able to ‘handle’ everything that crossed my path and being a workaholic trying to run from the realities of pain in my life I had a breakdown. God said “no”….no more will you depend on your own strength…now you must lean on Me for all your strength, for without Me you can do nothing. I have asked the Lord to make me as strong as I was and able the handle the things I used to and have the strength to put in a full day’s work without rest but the answer remains, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).
I remember going through temptations like I have never experienced before. Things would ‘pop’ into my mind that actually frightened me. I asked God to remove them but He said “no”…and instead gave me the strength to go through them. I would literally call out to God begging Him help to me until peace and quiet came again and at times would look back to see sin uncovered in my life.
These are some of the major points in my life when God said “no.” And yet in reality God often says “no” in many ways to each one of us every day. And how do you and I respond to these “nos.” Why does God say “no?” Is it because He just wants to make our life seemingly miserable? Is this how David viewed God’s answer? As I reflect back on these and many other times where God has said no I stand amazed at the foolishness of my own wisdom and the profundity of God’s wisdom. Where would I be if I had married the boy “I” thought I should marry? And what about going on to school? One month after that decision was made I met my husband and we were married 1 ½ years later. What would have happened if I disobeyed my father’s wishes and had been bound to 4 years of college? Does that make it wrong for a girl to go on for a degree? No, but in my case I would have been disobeying my father which is wrong.
What would my life be like now if I had not experienced the great weakness that I did? Would I go on thinking that I could handle everything on my own and expect everyone else around me to do the same? Would I go on not having compassion for those in need? I look back with amazement at the Lord’s leading. I never would be the person I am now had I not experienced those trials. I would never have the compassion towards others that I have now. I never would be able to help others in dealing with temptations had I not experienced great temptations myself. Does this mean the path has been or is easy? Much to the contrary, but are we not called to suffer in this life and carry the cross our Master carried? At times it is almost frightening for me to pray that I would be conformed more and more to the image of Christ because the refining pot is not a nice place to be in and yet to look back and see the dross being removed is a blessed thing.
I don’t know the next time that God will say “no” in my life and yet I pray that I would bow down and trust His wisdom and not think that my foolish desires know best and I pray that I may humbly say “yes” to God’s “no’s.”