Sunday, February 17, 2013

What being a special needs Mum has taught me about God

I have been blessed with two amazing children with Asperger's syndrome. They are bright, smart, funny little people that keep me on my toes. Last year was an incredibly hard year on our family as we journeyed the early intervention path with my son. This involved a LOT of appointments and therapy for him while we tried our hardest to help him overcome some of the debilitating sides to ASD. But as I look back, I can see where God revealed himself to me through my experiences, failings and weaknesses. I want to share two of these things with you today.

1. God is our biggest advocate.
{Psalm 46:1} God is our refuge and strength,always ready to help in times of trouble.

There have been times, and will be more times that I have to go into battle for my kids. I have learned that a diagnosis does not get you everything you need. You have to go in and ask/insist/fight for what they need and are entitled to. My kids cannot do that for themselves yet, so it's my job as their Mum to go and advocate on their behalf so their path is smoother and easier to walk. God paves the way for us to make our paths clear. He helps us obtain what we need to succeed in life {Philippians 4:19} And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. 

A few months ago my boy was riding his bike down the street (I was watching him from a secluded spot so he could have his space and independence, but in safety). The neighborhood kids were out too and spotted him. They circled him like a pack of wolves, laughing at him and trying to teach him inappropriate things. I stepped out from my spot so I was in full vision and gave those kids "a look". One kid saw me and said "Stop! His Mum...." all eyes were on me. Three kids bolted and hid in their yard, the other kids backed right off him and left him alone. And my son, not even aware that I had intervened, kept riding around the street happily.

God stands in his spot giving "the look" to those who may harm us or want to hurt us. He has the same attitude this Mama Lioness has - and that is "Don't you DARE touch my kid!" God fights for us and defends us! {Exodus 14:13-14}  “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today.......  The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”

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2. God is never sick of "Daaaaad"
{Ephesians 3:12} ....in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him

A really hard part of being a parent is listening to the constant needs of my children "Muuuuum, I need... Muuuuuum I want... Muuuuuuuum can you.... Muuuuuuuuuuuummmm I can't find..... Muuuuuummmmmm" Then throw in ASD where these kids are so egocentric (no fault of their own) and are only interested in themselves and what they are interested in. So I have to listen to their chatter about their interests, their day, their dreams etc - and there is rarely any "What did you do today Mum?" It's a very lopsided relationship. So sometimes when I have heard "Muuuuuuuuummm" for the millionth time that day, I snap "WHAT????!!!!!!" My ASD kids look at me a bit warily and confused at my reaction - but proceed to tell me all about the Sonic Hedgehog X-box game that they are both really into. And they don't see my body language or lack of interest. All part and parcel of ASD.

We can be like that with God to...
"GOOOOOOOODDDDDD? I need.... GOOOOOOODDDD I want..... GOOOOOOOOODDDD... can you...... GOOOOOOOOOOOODDDD I need a carpark....... GOOOOOOOOODDDD help me find my keys...... GOOOOOOODDD..." But do you know what? Even though we can be quite egocentric in our prayer life and do more asking and telling rather than listening, God never ever answers our calls of "GOOOOOOOODDDDD" with "WHAT???!!!!!!"

{Hebrews 4:16} So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

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Be blessed!!

MY PRAYER 
Dear Lord, although my road is rough, I am thankful that you are teaching me cool stuff along the way. Help me to remain open and alert to what you have to show me. Thank you that you are patient with me and always approachable at any time of day or night. Thank you that I don't have to go at life alone, and you are with me every step of the way, ready to issue "the look" at anyone or anything that threatens me. Lord keep revealing yourself to me and showing me who you are and how I am made in your likeness. Keep teaching me through your Word about you. I love you. Amen

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Committed and teachable

{Psalm 25:1-10}O Lord, I give my life to you. I trust in you, my God! Do not let me be disgraced, or let my enemies rejoice in my defeat. No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced,but disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others. Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you. Remember, O Lord, your compassion and unfailing love, which you have shown from long ages past. Do not remember the rebellious sins of my youth. Remember me in the light of your unfailing love, for you are merciful, O Lord.
The Lord is good and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those who go astray. He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them his way. The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all who keep his covenant and obey his demands.

I love this Psalm. It is one of dedication, submission and a desire to learn and follow. 

God already knew that David was His, and David knew that he belonged to God - but yet he makes a fresh dedication of his life. This may not have been for God's benefit, but rather David's. "Lord I give my life to you" - a reminder to David that his life isn't his own. Think about it in today's terms - imagine if every time we got on our knees before God, we said the sinner's prayer? We are already a child of God, we don't need to do that! But we do need to be in complete surrender to God and remind ourselves that our life is nor ours - but God's. "I trust in you, my God!" - In order to completely be in submission to someone, we have to completely trust them. If there is no trust, we are not going to be pliable, teachable and lead-able.  For example, my children relax in my arms as I hold them, the trust that I will not drop them or hurt them. If I was swinging them about or they feel unsafe in my arms, they are not relaxed, they stiffen and it's difficult to move them about. Trust in God is vital if we want to live a life of surrender.

David shows his desire for God to lead him when he says "Show me the right path... point out the road for me to follow.. lead me... teach me" We are incredibly blessed that we don't have to wander around life aimlessly. We have a purpose, we have a place in this world and we also have a designated journey to travel. We have our own paths to walk along and experience. Our paths are different from the next persons path. {Hebrews 12:1} .... and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. It's set. So there is no point trying to walk another person's journey. It's hard to main focused on your own path when our eyes see the people around us doing different things. We can become confused and sometimes scared to make the big decisions in life. What if this isn't God's will? We can pray that God will show and direct us in the correct way. 

The most important thing that we can be is teachable. Have you ever met an unteachable person? They are stubborn and WANT to remain ignorant. They frustrate the people around us and in the end it doesn't get them anywhere. I learned early on in life that ever single person has something to teach me, and I can learn from them - something - whether it be a positive or negative lesson. Some people can be lessons on what NOT to do! :) God wants us to be this open with him - because when we are willing to learn and be guided, God can show and do amazing things. If we remain stubborn - we are not doing ourselves any favors. I have found that being stubborn with what God wants to teach me - I will either miss out all together - or I learn the hard way. 

Where is your heart right now? Are you running away from where God wants to lead you? Are you willing to allow God to lead you? Are you living your life in full submission to God and trusting in his goodness and his ways?

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MY PRAYER
Lord I want my life to be yours. I want my heart to always remember that my life is not my own. Make clear the path before me and show me where I am to go and what I am to do. I trust in your goodness and your wisdom. When things get tough and the paths are not so clear, help me to remember that! 
Amen

Friday, February 8, 2013

Open my eyes!

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MY PRAYER
Lord I want to see more than I ever have before. I want to look in your Word and have your truths jump out at me and smack me in the face. I want to see things and understand things that I haven't before. Take the crusty old scales off that cause me to say "Seen that, read that, get that" - I want a deeper understanding, a fresh revelation of the things you want me to learn. Help me to be receptive to your word and to find ways to apply it in my life. I want to have a deeper understanding and revelation of YOU.
Amen

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Choosing the right outfit.

Every single day we are going to come up against something that is going to bother us. A rude customer, callow teens who think they own the world, being judged by another, grumpy old people etc. These things in the grand scheme of things are relatively minor. Some people come up against so much more - mental/physical/sexual/spiritual abuse and rejection by someone that they love. 

Whether you are having a minor or major struggle in life, we must dress appropriately for the occasion!

{Colossians 3:12-15} Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts.

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First of all I would like to point out that this outfit has to be a deliberate choice and action. "YOU must clothe YOURSELVES.....". It is our responsibility to get dressed in this outfit that God has laid out for us. It's not God's responsibility to dress you. Be intentional about the outfit. And like all good outfits, don't hide it under a big bulky jacket. Show it off baby! The outfit needs to be seen. It needs to be obvious you are wearing it. You can't say "I'm wearing my kindness shoes today..." but yet it's not obvious that you are being kind to that boss who is yelling at you and trying to humiliate you. 

Second of all I would like to point out that the outfit is for when you are dealing with people. It's a relational outfit. Each item deals with how we treat others and our own attitude towards others. Mercy  kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and love are all for the people in your life that irritate you and hurt you. It goes on to say "Make allowances for each other's faults". We all have faults, every single one of us. We have to make allowances for each other. We have to forgive one another when we mess up and hurt each other. Again I reiterate - making allowances is not allowing someone to treat you like a doormat. Love and boundaries go hand in hand. Making allowances and forgiveness does not mean you have to be abused or hurt repeatedly by someone. Make allowances AND "Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life" {Proverbs 4:23}
Making allowances would look something like this: Your boss is uncharacteristically yelling at you and your instinct is to yell back and tell him what you think of him. Making an allowance would be "He must be having a bad day. Maybe he is under a lot of stress and is taking it out on me. He is upsetting me with his yelling, but I choose to respond with grace and kindness." 

Thirdly I would like to point out that this suggestion of appropriate attire is for our own good. If we don't wear the outfit, it effects us in more ways than one. We can become hard, bitter and rash with others. We can become intolerant of one another and unforgiving. Our hearts are influenced by our clothes, or lack of them! Future behaviors and attitudes are determined by our choices. If we deliberately put on the outfit, it becomes our focus. We are annoyed by someone, so we choose to show them kindness and patience. If it's not our focus we choose other ways of responding which can become habit and destroy us and our relationships.

What areas in your relationships do you need to be intentional about wearing this outfit?

MY PRAYER
Dear Lord, Thanks for the instructions! Thank you for not letting us wander about aimlessly, experimenting on one another as we try and get things right. Thank you for showing us what we should do that is not only for our own good, but it will develop and nurture the relationships we have with others. I want to be intentional in dressing, every day. Help me change the bad attitudes into these awesome traits. Help me to keep my heart soft and sweet. Amen




Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Learning obedience is tough!

{Hebrews 5: 7-9} While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God. Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest....


We all suffer. We all go through rough times. We all wish that  we didn't have to, but we do. Our focus when we are going through these tough times should not be "I need to get through this unscathed" but rather "What lesson can I learn from this experience?". How we act and react to these times is important, because it determines whether or not we learn obedience.

In Hebrews it said that Jesus went through tough times. He didn't want to go through with the crucifixion (who could blame him!!?) and he pleaded with God, "Please, take this cup of suffering from me" {Luke 22:42} This isn't a sign of weakness in Jesus, it just proved that he was a man, and was facing incredible physical, mental and spiritual suffering. But his heart's attitude was "Yet I want your will to be done, not mine" and THAT was his determination. We see here in {John 12:27-28} “Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came!28 Father, bring glory to your name'. He didn't want to face death - but his heart's cry was to bring glory to God. He was put to the test - and he was obedient to the Father. Jesus is a perfect example when we are tempted to resign from the will of God in times of difficulty. He persevered. 

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The test of true obedience is not found in doing all those fun little jobs, but of the dreaded assignments - the ones that you just want to escape from. {Hebrew 5:8} Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. He didn't learn obedience through playing with the kids, and doing all the awesome miracles that he did. He learned obedience in his death.

There are benefits in our troubles! But we just have to see it that way. God is not punishing us or trying to torture us - he is allowing us to live life and we have the opportunity learn something - or not. It's completely up to us. 

MY PRAYER
Lord give me the strength to endure with grace, hope and purpose all the trials and troubles that I face. I don't want to waste any part of the agony and struggle. I don't want to come out on the other side empty handed. Help me make the most of my troubles and help me keep my heart and attitude in check. Amen

Monday, February 4, 2013

True Love

Wuuuuv Twoooo Wuuuuuuv

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I NEVER thought I would get a Princess Bride quote in!! :) But I did!!

You know, as Christians, we all talk about love. Love one another, love your wives, love, love love....We talk about it, but do we really do it? Do we really know what it is and what it means?  Where does the love come from? Does that means we have to hug and kiss everyone? What kind of love? Brotherly love?? Well my brother and I fight a lot... does that mean I tussle people's heads and get them in a headlock?

The world has skewed our idea of love. Love comes across as an emotion felt for someone else. But love is not an emotion. So let's look at what the Bible has to say about love - twwwwoooo luuuv. :)


God = true love
{1 John 4:7-8} Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

To truly love another human being, you have to have a revelation of what it is to BE truly loved. To truly love you must be loved by the one who expressed his love so greatly and so completely. God is the ultimate source of true love. Anyone who loves is a child of God - because (hopefully!) they have had a revelation of God's life-giving love and so are able to love that way themselves. Those who don't know God have a poor imitation of love.  

{1 John 4:9 - 10} God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

I love this passage - it spoke volumes to me. God's love is given, regardless of whether we deserve it or not. He just gives it to us. And he loved us FIRST. Which means that that we didn't have to do or be anything to receive it. We just got given it - end of story. God sent his son 2000+ years before I even thought about committing my first sin - but He knew that I needed a Savior and that I needed redemption, waaaay before this. And he expressed his love and desire for me to be his kid waaay back then.  How's that for forward thinking? 

{1 John 4:16} God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.
Love characterizes God because of his ultimate expression of love to us. Because God is love then love comes from God. God is the ultimate source of true love. Love comes from God to us, and when we love others, this love flows through us to others around us. If God is love - then love must characterize those who claim to be a child of God or knows God. 

True love received = true love given
{1 John 4:11-12} Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us

God's love was shown in action and this was by sending his Son, so for us to demonstrate love to others it will be love in action. This doesn't mean you have to go kiss and hug and be best friends with everyone. This sort of love will be kind, generous and serving to one another.

{1 John 4:19} We love each other because he loved us first.
Those who truly know God and have had a revelation of this love and receive this great love, can receive the commandment to love with joy! If you have received the love, you know exactly what it looks like and you are not commanded to do anything that is far too hard for you to do. If you know God's love for you - you will know how to love.

{1 John 4:7} Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. 
Continue...means keep going! Don't stop! Love and love and love some more. Remember God's love for you and what kind of love it is and then love others around you that way. Sometimes we humans complicate love. We make it all performance based "If you behave this way, I will love you.", "If you don't do that, I will love you." Peformance based love is manipulative and not true love at all. We love others regardless of what they do, what they say etc. I'm glad God's love isn't performance based, otherwise I would never have received it. Although let me reiterate that love does not mean you are doormat and have to allow people to hurt you. You can still love someone but guard your heart from hurt and from bad influences by putting appropriate boundaries in place.


{1 John 4:17} And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect.
Is this not a great reason to continue on in the ways of the Lord? Is this not a great reason to seek out God's will and purpose for us on this earth? Is this not a great reason to have a close relationship with the Father?


MY PRAYER
Dear Father, thank you so much for the model you have set so that we can truly love one another in a true and meaningful way. Thank you for giving us that love in the first place regardless of whether we accept it or not or deserve it. Lord, help us to remember that you are love, and all you do is based on your love for us. Help us to remember this as we express love to others.
I pray that anyone reading this today, and not having a revelation of you love will seek it out and receive it for themselves. I pray that when I love others, they will see you in me.
Amen





Sunday, February 3, 2013

Revive the Vision

You may have noticed that I haven't been posting very much. That is because I was on a journey and God was leading me places I thought I would never go!
In the last 12 months I have been living this crazy life and I haven't even had time to scratch, let alone blog. My Bible studies fell to the wayside. My prayerlife was intermittent. And that's ok. God doesn't hold that against me, because he gave me the life I lead and knew that when I got to this part, all hell would break loose, and I would struggle. He held my hand and was with me every step of the way. This I am certain of. You know that saying "Too busy NOT to pray"? Well..honestly - I was! By the time I sat down after everything else I was doing, I was so tired and my brain couldn't function. What I could cut back on, I did - but still found that 2012 was insanity plus some!

In the last 12 months, two of my children were diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. My son was diagnosed first, and because of his age, we were eligible for government help and an early intervention package. This meant very intense therapy. This meant up to 3 appointments a week, researching, learning, reading, doing a few hours of therapy in the evenings with him, liaising with the school, advocating for him and helping him. My days were very full. I had to put aside everything in my life and just focus on him. Then a few months ago, my eldest daughter got a diagnosis of ASD. Thankfully she manages hers quite well and so only needs a bit of help from two therapists. Also because we have two kids on the spectrum, we get more help and support. This means I don't have so much running around to do.

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Last week, my baby girl started school - so with all three of them out of the house, I find myself with lots of time to use. I have plans, lots and lots of plans. Yesterday, while in the middle of planning some things to do over the next few weeks, God whispered in my ear "It's time to revive the vision." The vision? I had practically given up on it. I thought maybe I would never see if fulfilled - or maybe it would be fulfilled when my kids don't need me so much.

It's time to start preparing myself for my calling. God has laid some groundwork - and I have come out of this time - faith unshakeable, trusting in God and his purposes, and with character. Yeah it was hard. It was hell at times. But God has not forgotten me, nor has he lead me down this path and given me this life for the sake of it. I must say God's preparation methods are not that great sometimes - but I have to have faith in what he is doing.

I am reminded of the verses in Jeremiah: {Jeremiah 29:11-14} For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”

This encourages me so much, because it shows that our character and faith building journeys do not last forever!! I had reached breaking point in my journey. Then God pulled me out. He ended that crazy period in my life and replaced it with a new time. THIS time. A time to pray, to seek God wholeheartedly. To replenish my spirit with the Word of God. To prepare my heart and spirit to serve him in however he chooses to use me. This time is the time to enjoy being in the presence of God and savoring the time. This time is the time to get to know ME again - who is this person who has come out of this crazy time?

MY PRAYER
Thank you Father for being with me while I went down the ASD road. Thank you for the life lessons it taught me, the faith lessons that were instilled in me and for loving me even though you didn't get much of a look in. Thank you that you are not a God of guilt-trips and manipulation. You allowed me to live the life I was given in the best way I knew how.
Lord as I turn the corner and onto a new road, I want to pick up my vision and dreams. I want to develop my calling and skills to be used for your glory and in extending your kingdom. Show me how to do that. Be my teacher. Be my mentor.
Amen

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