Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Faithful Obedience

You and your fighting men should march around the town once a day for six days.
Joshua 6:3 (NLT)

            The walls were some of the strongest they’d ever laid eyes on. Tall, wide enough to incorporate houses, guarded by soldiers on duty day and night, and sealed with strong gates, Jericho’s walls were a veritable challenge. Surely the Israelites took one look at the daunting obstacle before them and wondered how they would ever conquer such a fortified city.
            On top of it, Joshua instructed the fighting men to march around the town once a day for six days, then walk around Jericho seven times on the seventh day. That’s a bit like asking a professional basketball player to be a chauffeur or expect a successful surgeon to man the phones in his own clinic. Joshua’s soldiers had been trained for hand to hand combat. Their hands must have been itching to yield their swords. Yet, instead of fighting, they were instructed to march around the city walls every day. Surely, they must have questioned the wisdom of God’s plan.
            Trudging around a wall for six days isn’t all that glamorous. It’s dusty, undignified for skilled warriors and quite humbling. But God did have a purpose for the plodding. He was teaching the Israelites the value of faithful obedience. Trust and obey; such a difficult task at times, especially when we’re down in the dirt and the grime.
            God asks the same of us. Caring for a special-needs child can often be a challenge to our sense of purpose and our pride; changing a grown child’s diapers, bathing them after they’ve soiled themselves, feeding them when they can’t feed themselves, or picking up spilled Cheerios day after day, leaves us wondering if this is all there is to this life. Surely, God didn’t put us on this earth solely for this? Doesn’t he have a greater purpose, a bigger plan for our lives?
            Yet God calls us to trust and obey. For some reason, He chose me, He chose you, to raise this special child and He’s entrusted to us the task of caring for them. Far from glamorous, our role is not necessarily to wield a sword but to trudge around those daunting walls day after day in faithful obedience until, one day, they crumble into mere pebbles at our feet.
            There is no greater love, no greater service, than to love even though our child may not be able to love in return. Our victories may not be witnessed by a throng of onlookers, but God sees every little act of loving service we perform in His name. Some of our greatest achievements may not be those seen by the eyes of men, but those seen only by our Heavenly Father. One day, we will behold our Savior face to face, and He will hand us a crown sparkling with the jewels of faithful obedience. He will look into our eyes and say for all of heaven to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Thursday, March 1, 2018


People judge by outward appearance,
but the LORD looks at the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7 (NLT)

               One of my favorite pastimes is walking our dogs through the woods on our property, here in Southwest Missouri. There is a section along our walk where small caves have formed. After a heavy rain, it's not unusual to spot geodes popping through the soil.
               Geodes begin as plain rocks with hollow cavities that, over time, form crystals such as opal, quartz, or agate. The geodes I've found are quite unattractive on the outside, with a dull, lumpy surface that resembles a floret of cauliflower. Yet when they are cut hopen, these geodes reveal beautiful crystals that sparkle like moonlight on a quiet lake. Such extraordinary beauty hidden within a simple rock!
             Thankfully, God doesn't judge us by our outward appearance. Instead, He looks at our hearts. God isn't looking for degrees, wealth, status, or power. He wants us just as we are, plain and simple. If He'd loved only those who are physically appealing, He wouldn't have reached out to the lepers. If He'd wanted wealth, He wouldn't have told the rich, young ruler to give his money to the poor. If He'd desired status, He wouldn't have walked among the outcast. If He'd sought power, He would have chosen political supporters, not fishermen.
            God does not qualify or quantify His love but loves each one of us fully and unconditionally. Even those of us with warts, tics, stims, handicaps, and birth defects. Instead of the body, God looks at the soul of every man and treasures those whose hearts and minds are devoted to Him.
            If God were to crack us open for all the world to see, I wonder what our hearts would reveal. As for me, I hope my heart would shine with God's love.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

When Tragedy Strikes

           Another school shooting. Another tragedy. Lives lost so senselessly.

          I'll admit, it's very hard for me to watch the news lately. So many unconscionable acts of violence because of hatred and bigotry. When it comes to my own family, I can't help but pray for their safety. Who wouldn't, in a world like ours?

          Even though I know that worrying can't change a thing, I still feel a certain amount of anxiety every time I drop them off at school. I realize that worrying about my kids is part of being a caring parent. Yet, for so long, I struggled with my emotions. After all, doesn't God urge us not to worry?

          As I studied the Scriptures, I gradually came to understand that worrisome thoughts are not a sin, for I am human, and the devil will continually try to trip me up by whispering, "What if...?" But it's what I do with those thoughts that matters. I can choose to ignore Satan's whispers, or allow them to take root in my mind. I can take them to the cross and leave them there, or I can keep them close and nurse them into a heavy, wearisome burden I was never intended to carry.

          Psalm 139:16 says, "All the days ordained for me were written in your book, before one of them came to be" (NIV). God has ordained the number of days each one of us will live, before we are even born. In other words, we are immortal until the day God has predestined for us to enter into eternity.

          Worrying about my family's safety won't add a single day to their earthly lives. No matter what I do or what I think, I cannot keep them here on earth one day longer than God has already ordained. So, rather than becoming a slave to my worries, I give those cares over to God -- even if I have to do so every time those negative thoughts flitter through my brain -- trusting Him with each one of those I love.

          After all, the safest place we can be is in God's care.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Our Advocate

I will ask the Father and He will give you another Advocate,
who will never leave you.
John 15:16 (NLT)

          One of the most important roles an autism or special-needs parent will have is that of advocate. We advocate for the physical, emotional, legal, educational, social, and financial assistance their diagnosis requires. While most special-needs individuals are assigned case workers and service providers to ensure they receive these essential services, the fact remains that parent are the ones who know their child's needs better than anyone else. Therefore, it is crucial for parents to be actively involved. An advocate can be the difference between thriving or perpetual struggle.
          In her book, Different Dream Parenting, author Jolene Philo says, "We advocate for our children in health care, governmental, and educational agencies on earth. We should advocate in the spiritual realm as well. Through prayer, we can advocate before God on behalf of our children." (1)
          Much like our children, we also need an advocate, someone who understands our limitations, our failures, and our daily struggles. So God sent His Spirit, knowing we often struggle to verbalize our requests, whether for ourselves or on behalf of our children. Furthermore, He knows we don't always recognize what we truly need.
          I find it incredibly heartening that God has given us an advocate who will never leave us. Because He knows each one of us better than anyone else does, we can rest assured He is on our side, pleading our case before the Father. He knows our longings, our weaknesses, our concerns, our limitations, and He brings them all before the throne of grace.
          If it matters to us, it matters to Him.

[1] Jolene Philo, Different Dream Parenting (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 2016), Pg. 52.

Monday, January 29, 2018


For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory
 that far outweighs them all.
2 Corinthians 4:17 (NIV)
Maria Aristidou was working on a commission one day, using watercolors, when she spilled her coffee onto the canvas. A terrible accident and a waste of time and product, you might think. But as Maria stared at the soiled picture, an idea began to germinate in her mind. Rather than tossing out the canvas, she used the coffee and coffee grounds to create a different sort of painting. Her work is now entirely made from coffee and coffee grounds and has become famous in the art world. A spill turned into a piece of art. [i]
Isn’t that what God has been doing since the dawn of time? He takes hopeless situations and transforms them into something much more beautiful than we could have imagined. As humans, it’s tempting to look at the bad rather than try to find the good in less than ideal situations. Yet God’s perspective is so different from our own.
My son Benjamin attended a Christian camp for children with autism. One of his favorite takeaways, besides the wonderful memories of fishing and swimming, is a purple T-shirt. If you look at it with the collar up and the waistline down, it reads, “For the wages of sin is death.” When you turn the shirt upside down, the lettering says, “But the gift of God is eternal life” (Romans 6:23).
Perspective; it’s the difference between what our eyes perceive as human beings and what God sees from His eternal viewpoint. All we see is the bad news; the wages of sin is death. Yet from God’s view, there is a wonderful promise that wipes the bad news clean off the slate; the gift of God is eternal life.
Likewise, our seemingly great trials are, from God’s perspective, merely light and momentary stepping stones towards an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. It’s all in how you look at it.

Takeaway: God’s perspective wipes the bad news clean off the slate.
For further reading:
·         1 Samuel 16:7
·         Ecclesiastes 3:11
·         2 Corinthians 4:18
·         2 Corinthians 12:9

Monday, January 22, 2018


Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Romans 5:5 (NASB)

            Winter signaled its arrival some time during the night, adorning everything it touched with a thin coat of frost. Denuded tree branches, once so stark and gnarly, shimmer like jewels under the soft, winter sun. The meadow, so arid after this summer’s drought, now glistens like a coffer full of jewels. The large bales of hay in the field remind me of cinnamon rolls topped with a thin layer of white icing.
            However beautiful the world looks this morning, Benjamin is still disappointed. He’d hoped for a white Christmas. Thankfully, this letdown is short-lived as he turns his attention towards the pile of brightly-wrapped presents stacked under the Christmas tree. A smile comes to my lips as I watch him tear off the wrapping paper. Such excitement and joy, despite the lack of snow. If only I could set aside my own disappointments so swiftly, and find joy in the loving gifts my Heavenly Father sprinkles throughout each day.
            Hope; such a delicate balance between joyful anticipation and heartfelt disappointment. For human hope is merely wishful thinking, the desire to see an outcome which may or may not be fulfilled. And when hope disappoints, its consequences can be devastating.
Spiritual hope, on the other hand, is not based on a possibility but on a person; Jesus-Christ. It is founded on the unchanging character and promises of God. Spiritual hope doesn’t leave us wanting. It doesn’t disappoint because our God is faithful and He keeps His promises. Spiritual hope is the expectant anticipation of God’s love and succor as He works and moves within us, strengthening our hearts for whatever lays ahead.
            Hope is the motivating force that gets us out of bed each morning and carries us through each day. Hope is the strength that keeps us going, in spite of a heart-wrenching diagnosis, despite the meltdowns, the frustrations and the challenges of raising a special-needs child.
Hope dares to look for the rainbow before the storm has ended. Hope dares to sing songs of victory, even while the battle still rages on. Hope dares to say, “It is well,” even when it seems all is lost. Hope waits patiently through the darkest night, confident dawn will eventually come.
Hope understands there is so much more to life than the physical eye can perceive and that God has a deeper purpose than we can ever understand. It hangs on amid trials, knowing one day all will be revealed and we will experience that ultimate “aha!"

Monday, January 15, 2018

Meet Me in the Morning

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.
Psalm 5:3 (NIV)

            The alarm rings, a new day begins. As the fogginess of sleep slowly lifts, my mind inevitably turns to the day ahead. Like a clan of hungry hyenas, all the day’s worries and concerns come charging at me, tempting me to scurry back under the covers and shut out the world.
            Obligations, concerns, appointments, therapies, meetings, due dates and a hundred other worries demand my immediate attention, gnawing persistently at my brain. Raising a special-needs child is so much more challenging than I’d ever thought. Add to that, the rest of my family’s wants along with my own needs and I often wonder how I make it through the day.
            Know the feeling? If you’re raising a special-needs child, you understand that early-morning clamor of worries and burdens that sets in before you’ve even stepped out of bed. That to-do list which never seems to dwindle, the endless consultations and therapies that are supposed to help improve your child’s lifestyle, the nagging questions that never seem to find answers.
            Unfortunately, those first few minutes of the day can determine the rest of it; how we approach it, how we feel about it, how we deal with it. That’s why God bids us come before Him each morning, casting upon Him all of our cares and concerns. Our heavenly Father wants to share our heavy load, to have us lay before Him all that troubles us so he can equip us with His strength, His patience, His peace, His joy and His grace. When we commit our day to God, He empowers us to handle whatever it may bring.
            Think of it like this; if our husbands came to us and expressed a wish to help us share some of the day’s workload, wouldn’t we jump at the offer? Here’s a list, honey, go for it! Then why are we so slow to do the same with our heavenly Father? He’s waiting for us, ready to take on the day, prepared to help us face whatever comes our way.
            Life with a special-needs child is often more than any of us can handle. That’s why we need our heavenly Father to help us carry the load. When we bring our requests before him and leave them at his feet, then we rid ourselves of all those worries, freeing our minds to enjoy the little pleasures God sprinkles throughout each day.