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Rules for the caregiver…

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Being a caregiver is not an easy job.  It means putting someone else’s needs before your own.  It means becoming selfless.

Paul wrote in Philippians 2:4, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

I was a caregiver for 15 1/2 years with my son, Clay.  I remember (far too many times) doing things robotically, failing to really see him.  Hurrying to finish one task so I could finish more.  Sigh….

So, I’ve come up with some guidelines to be sure we are ‘looking to the interests of others’ and not just checking off a box on our To Do List.

1.  SHOW UP – Really be there. Are you listening to your child?  Start your day fresh.  Begin with prayer and ask the Holy Spirit to show you their needs.  Are you rushing through your duties?  Pay attention to what you are doing and drop your phone, in fact, drop everything.  Put your needs aside and remember you are on their schedule, not yours.  Watch their body language.  You, as their mother and caretaker, know them better than anyone.  You could possibly be their only mode of communication with others so you need to be ready to voice their concerns.  If you are texting, or checking what someone had for lunch on Instagram, you are going to miss a special time with your child.

2.  CHECK YOUR MIRRORS – I’m sure you’ve noticed on your car door mirrors the sign that reads, “Objects are closer than they appear”.  Let’s go with that for a minute.  Have you checked your mirrors?  What about your face…what about your body language? What does your face say when your little one needs you in the middle of the night….again? Are you walking into their room with anger because you’re not sleeping?  Guess what?  They aren’t sleeping either.  Don’t you think that a quality night of sleep is something they want too?? For children with special needs the difficulty is compounded by their limited control over their bodies and problems with communication.  Try to empathize.  They are looking to you, their mother, their caregiver for help.  Does your face show anger?  Stop. Is that the look you would want to see when you are in pain or afraid?  Pray with your little one and remind him that Jesus loves him and will never, ever leave him.  Let him feel the sense of peace that has overtaken your mind and spirit.  The way you relate to him will influence how well he can cope with his own fears.  In Luke 12:6 Jesus says that God doesn’t forget even a single sparrow – How much more does He care for us?  Our circumstances – our child – our life has been ordained by God.  God does nothing…or allows nothing…without a purpose.

3.  CLEAN OUT YOUR CLOSET  – Get rid of anger, impatience, and other respectable or subtle sins.  Worry is a sin.  I know, it doesn’t seem like a very big sin….but sin is sin.  I also know that as a mother of a special needs child, it is very easy to worry about their future and what would happen to them if you were not around.  I get it.  But there are ways to insure your child can have the best care if you were, let’s say, unavailable… It is going to take a bit of work, but trust me.  THIS is important.

Begin with a daily schedule.  Write down every single thing you do starting with  walking into their bedroom in the morning (do you sing to him when you see him?  Are you the mom that says, “Wakey, wakey, eggs and bakey”??) Write it down!  That may be the little something that your child looks forward to each morning!  Do you open the blinds?  Write it down!  At bathtime, do you lay his clothes out on the bed or take them into the bathroom?  Does he help with his bath or brushing his teeth?  Does he like a little, tiny speck of toothpaste and  can he comb his own hair?  See?  These are little things that you do each day and probably do a bit robotically.  The point is that someone else needs to be able to walk into his room and do these things exactly as you do them.  These small things can be the difference between a good and bad day for your little one.  Keep his daily schedule in a folder to make it easy for someone to take your place in case you are sick or gone.  Yay!  One less worry!

4.  STORE UP SUPPLIES – Memorize scripture!  This is our ammunition against:

a) discouragementJohn 14:1, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in me.”

b) worry  – 1 Peter 5:7, “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

c) lonelinessPsalm 147:3, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

d) depression2 Corinthians 1:3-4, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

Play Christian music.  Let God’s peace rule in their hearts!  There are beautiful CD’s of Scripture Lullabies that can be played throughout the day.  Where loud, chaotic music can excite and frustrate little ones, peaceful scripture music can soothe.  And you are putting God’s Word in their hearts!

Read your Bible out loud to your child.  Children love stories and Bible stories have such truth about God and how much He loves little children.  When you are filling your cup (which is almost always empty) you are filling theirs too.  Enjoy the nearness of God.

5.  TURN ON THE LIGHTS – Reflect Jesus!  Be an encourager because everyone loves praise!  Tell your special child how he has the sweetest smile and tell him why you love him so very much! Remind him that as much as you love him, Jesus loves him even more!  Read Psalm 139 and let him know he is “fearfully and wonderfully made.”

How much time does your little one spend in his room?  Open the curtains, clean up the room and make it a relaxing place to be.  Place all the little stuffed animals and bright toys where he can reach them.  Use a laundry basket on the floor so they can also be picked up easily and placed back inside.  Does your child love flowers?  Don’t wait for a special occasion.  Place colorful, happy flowers in a vase where they can be easily seen.  If you don’t have access to fresh flowers, cut them out of magazines to paste in a book or on the wall where he can see them.  The important thing is to have a clean, joyful room; a room where he feels safe, loved and protected.

6.  LIFT WEIGHTS – Get rid of anger and get rid of guilt.  As mothers, we are very prone to those guilty feelings of “its my fault”, or “if only” thoughts.  Don’t be paralyzed by your past.  It’s over.  It’s done.  Let’s move on.  Give thanks in all circumstances.  Ephesians 5:20 says, “always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Guilt means you’ve done something wrong.  We all have some sort of guilt over something we did or didn’t do in our past.  That’s why we see so many people turn to alcohol, drugs or some other ‘numbing’ vice.  Our desire is to push it back and forget it somehow.

The effects of guilt are toxic.  The last thing we want to do, as mothers, is project any of our guilt onto our little ones.  Here are some examples of the effects:

  • feelings of rejection
  • projection of your feelings onto other people
  • inability to say no
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • blame shifting…etc.

Until we truly understand what Christ did for us 2000 years ago – we will never be set free!! Jesus paid the price for that sin and you don’t have to live under that condemnation!  (Read Romans 3:9-11, 24, and 27.)  Understand your wrongs and accept God’s forgiveness.  He is extending grace and mercy to you, and once you ask Him for forgiveness, in the spirit of Frozen, LET IT GO! When it comes back to mind, take it as an opportunity to thank God again for this gift of forgiveness.  Satan would love to keep throwing this back at you – but as Daughters of the King, we have His grace, His mercy and His forgiveness.  You don’t need to keep asking for forgiveness for the same sin over and over.  Have you ever been with someone that re-hashes the same old, tired story over and over?  Imagine what God is hearing when we keep bringing up our same old, tired story to Him!  One and done, people!!

When you realize the forgiveness that comes with being a Christian and accepting Him into your life, you can stand taller…..you can smile longer….and you will have a light about you that no one can put out!  THAT is what your child needs to see!!  THAT is what you want to see in your mirror each morning and that is something your family needs to see also.  When we pair our positive thoughts and ideas into our children about their importance and about God’s love and forgiveness, we will change.

Simple rules.  Undying love.

 

 

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Oh…mercy, mercy me…..

 

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Five thirty comes pretty early in the morning.  I barely opened my eyes to see the clock glaring at me with it’s big red numbers.  “It’s time to get up, sleepy-head” it screams…”I know, I know…”, I mumble.

It’s time to start the day.  No, I don’t have a paying job; however, I do have an important job!  This is the time that I have set up to read my Bible and have a quiet time with my Lord.  I would be lying if I said that I popped out of bed and ran to the office and began singing praises.

No, I shuffle to the kitchen and power up the Keurig for my morning jolt of coffee, splash in some milk and retreat to my little space where I meet with God.  And oh what a difference a day makes, when you meet with Him early.

There is a window in my office that looks out to my front porch (but not out onto the street…that would be too much of a distraction) and I raise the shade just enough to see the little birds playing in the grass and flowerbeds.  Here, I find Him.  Not that he wasn’t with me in the bedroom, or watching me in the kitchen…no, here is where I acknowledge His presence and thank Him again for all my blessings.

This morning I learned about mercy.  God extends His mercy and forgives sin even to someone as undeserving as myself.  And today…only a few hours after my devotion time, I was put to the test.

I got my feelings hurt.  I was made to feel unworthy and when this happened, as much as I wanted to lash out….I remembered my verse:

James 2:12-13   “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom,  because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. 

Mercy triumphs over judgment”

 

There it was.  Mercy triumphs over judgment.

And yes, I had come up with so many snazzy (polite word for sarcastic) responses to throw back at my accuser.  But (praise God) I met with Him early and His Word was in my heart and still fresh in my mind.

Mercy triumphs over judgment.

The dictionary defines mercy as, compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one’s power; compassion, pity, or benevolence’.

I had a choice to make in those few seconds, after the hurt.  I could keep my sarcastic words and facial expressions to myself, thereby extending mercy, which is what Christ did/does for me, or I could let my actions show that I don’t put into practice what I just read only hours earlier.

I chose mercy.  I kept my mouth closed.  I kept my posture from conveying anger.  I quietly talked to God and thanked Him for His Word, ‘mercy triumphs over judgment’

Knowing His grace and kindness and mercy makes me eager to obey.

Meet with Him early, friends.  Store His Word in your heart.  Don’t let your feelings justify your decisions.  He is ready to display His greatness through our own inadequacies.

 

 

 

 

 

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His Voice…

 

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What kind of heartache could make God cry?  What sort of wound so deep that His power would not, or could not, lessen?

Who in this world is so precious to Him that His longing heart would yearn to see?

Who is this sweet soul?

Is it you?

Does our sovereign God in heaven long to hear your voice?

Revelation 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock:  if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”

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One day, God will call forth your soul to see what you have done with the many gifts He has given you.  Just you and God…..looking into His eyes….no one nearby to blame or give an excuse.

Don’t waste another moment.  Don’t think you can wait until the last minute…there may not be a last minute.  He wants to bless you now…don’t let that ‘last moment’ find you unprepared.

 

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when death knocks on your door…

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When the responsibility of turning off life support for my young son was placed upon me, it was obviously the hardest decision I have ever had to make.  Questions like, “But what if….”.

I’m not even going to entertain all the questions here, because as parents, I’m sure you can only begin to imagine the pain.

During those 37 minutes of agony for us all, God was already scooping up my 15 1/2 year old angel and holding him, all the while comforting me, as we kissed him for the last time.  His older brother and I lay in the bed next to him, and his protective dad stood close by, watching for any sign of distress.  He had assured me that if Clay had shown any signs of suffering,  he would demand they intubate him again.  So, he stood with clenched fists and tears streaming down his face as we waited for the certain to happen.

We whispered to him, reminding him we how much we loved him, and then Jesus quietly took him home.

We were never alone.  The spirit of Jesus was everywhere in that small hospital room.  It wasn’t ugly, it wasn’t loud….it was actually sweet.  Yes, we were devastated and immediately wondered what to do next, but the spirit of God kept us moving……kept us breathing…….and never left our side.

In the next few hours, we drove to a funeral home we picked out and made all the necessary arrangements.  Jesus was with us.

Next we went to the cemetery and found the most perfect gravesite under a beautiful tree.  Jesus was with us.

He never left our side and He hasn’t left me since.  When I am hurting, he is there.  I can look to His Word and find comfort in the scriptures.  I am reminded of the pain that He suffered on the cross, and I know He understands.

Yes, I cry a lot.  Yes, I miss him dearly.  But knowing at this precise moment, his crippled little body is whole, helps me put my own selfish desires aside and leap for joy!  Hallelujah!  I WILL see him again!

1 Corinthians 15:55  “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”

Are you feeling alone?  Have you placed your trust in our gracious Lord?  He wants to stand with you.  He wants to comfort you and He will uphold you with his righteous right hand.

Here are some steps to inviting Jesus into your life.  His grace is free and He is faithful and true!

First, realize you are a sinner (Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”)

Second, recognize Jesus died on the cross for all our sins (John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”)

Third, repent.  Confess you are a sinner and need His grace. (“Acts 17:30 “God commands all people everywhere to repent)

Fourth, receive Jesus into your life!  (Rev. 3:20, “Behold I stand at the door and kock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in.”)

Pray this prayer with me, “God, I know I am a sinner and need Your forgiveness.  I believe that You died for my sins.  I want to turn from my sins and invite you into my heart and into my life.  I want to trust You as Savior and follow you as Lord.  In Christ’s name, Amen.”

If you have prayed this prayer and truly asked God into your heart, then God has forgiven you and adopted you into His family!  Death has no power over you anymore! “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” You have a place reserved in heaven to live for eternity!

A quote from Billy Graham’s book, Death and the Life After, “I’m not afraid to die, for I know the joys of heaven are waiting.  My greatest desire is to live today in anticipation of tomorrow and be ready to be welcomed into His home for all eternity.  Will you be making the journey with me?”

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where was your mind this morning?

untitled Every day our families are in a battle.  As mothers of special needs children, we need more than ever to be immersed in the Word of God.

Not only did I have a handicapped son, but I also had four other children, a husband and three dogs to tend!   I know it can be done and it should be done early in the day before the crazy starts to happen.  We, as mothers, need that spiritual closeness with our Savior and we need to make time early before the daily rush begins when the world wakes up.

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Because I have such a passion for you to read God’s Word, I have chosen some scripture for you to feed on.  What helped me to memorize scripture was to write the verse on post-it notes and place them everywhere!  I had scripture on the mirror, the refrigerator, the car visor…wherever I knew that I would be during the day.  This way I could read the verse and plant His Word in my heart.

Need a tip?  Say the verse out loud! Let your children hear you recite the verse and get them involved in memorizing also.  You certainly wouldn’t place your child in your car without a seatbelt, would you?  How can we expect to send our kids out into the world without being equipped and protected by His Word?  Make it a daily practice and you will find you will be able to face your day with a peace that surpasses all understanding.  Don’t we all want that?

Here are a few of my favorite scriptures that have been dear to my heart…

“Finally brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of a good report – if there be any virtue and if there is any praise – think on these things.”  Philippians 4:8 NKJV

“Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your graciousness be known to everyone.  The Lord is near.  Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving; let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:4-7 NIV

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV

imagesCASBV8NE (excerpts from upcoming e-book, Special Kid’s, Chosen Mom’s)

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21 questions about THE Christmas story, care to take the quiz?

untitled Do you know the Christmas story?  Are you sure?

We think we know since we’ve been told the story since we were little.  However, we might be surprised at some of the answers!

Take the quiz and see how YOU do!  Click HERE for the answers.  Feel free to print this out to stump your Sunday School class, Bible Study group or family!

1. Joseph was originally from… (Luke 2:3)
A. Bethlehem
B. Nazareth
C. Hebron
D. Jerusalem
E. None of the above

2. What does the Bible say that the Innkeeper said to Mary and Joseph? (Luke 2:7)
A. “There is no room in the inn.”
B. “I have a stable you can use.”
C. “Come back later and I should have some vacancies.”
D. Both A and B
E. None of the above

3. A manger is a…
A. Stable for domestic animals
B. Wooden hay storage bin
C. Feeding trough
D. Barn

4. Which animals does the Bible say were present at Jesus’ birth?
A. Cows, sheep, goats
B. Cows, Donkeys, goats
C. Sheep and goats only
D. Miscellaneous barnyard animals
E. None of the above

5. Who saw the star in the east?
A. Shepherds
B. Mary and Joseph
C. Three Kings
D. Both A and C
E. None of the above

6. According to the Bible, how did Mary and Joseph get to Bethlehem?
A. Camel
B. Donkey
C. Walked
D. Joseph walked, Mary rode a donkey
E. Horse-drawn chariot
F. Who knows?

7. How many angels spoke to the shepherds? (Luke 2:10)
A. One
B. Three
C. Multitude
D. None of the above

8. What did the angels say/sing? (Luke 2:14)
A. “Glory to God in the highest, etc.”
B. “Alleluia”
C. “Unto us a child is born, Unto us a son is given”
D. “Joy the world, the Lord is come”
E. “Glory to the newborn King”

9. What is a heavenly host?
A. The angel at the gate of heaven
B. The angel who serves refreshments in heaven
C. An angel choir
D. An angel army
E. None of the above

10. There was snow that first Christmas…
A. Only in Bethlehem
B. All over Israel
C. Nowhere in Israel
D. Somewhere in Israel

11. What is Frankincense?
A. A precious metal
B. A precious fabric
C. A precious perfume
D. None of the above

12. In Matthew, what does “wise men” or “Magi” refer to?
A. Men of the educated class
B. Eastern Kings
C. Men who studied the stars
D. Sages

13. What is Myrrh?
A. Middle Eastern Money
B. A drink
C. An easily shaped metal
D. A spice used for burying people
E. None of the above

14. How many wise men came to see Jesus?
A. 3
B. 6
C. 9
D. 12
E. We don’t know.

15. Where did the wise men find Jesus? (Matthew 2:11)
A. In a manger
B. In a stable
C. In Nazareth
D. In Saudi Arabia
E. In a house
F. None of the above

16. When the wise men found Jesus he was… (Matthew 2:11)
A. A babe wrapped in swaddling clothes
B. A young child
C. A boy in the temple
D. A grown man

17. The “star in the east” that the wise men followed… (Matthew 2:9)
A. Stayed in the same place their entire journey
B. Disappeared and reappeared
C. Moved ahead of them and stopped over the place where Jesus was
D. Was just a mirage
E. None of the above

18. The wise men stopped in Jerusalem… (Matthew 2:2)
A. To inform Herod about Jesus
B. To find out where Jesus was
C. To ask about the star
D. To buy presents
E. None of the above

19. Where do we find the Christmas story?
A. Matthew
B. Mark
C. Luke
D. John
E. All of the above
F. Only A and B
G. Only A and C
H. Only A, B, and C

20. When Joseph found Mary was pregnant, what happened?
A. They got married
B. Joseph wanted to break the engagement
C. Mary left town for three months
D. A and B
E. B and C

21. Who told (made) Mary and Joseph go to Bethlehem? (Luke 2:1-5)
A. The angel chorus
B. Mary’s mother
C. Herod
D. The shepherds
E. Caesar Augustus

DON’T FORGET TO CLICK HERE FOR THE ANSWERS AND ADDITIONAL COMMENTS FROM RAY PRITCHARD

Reprinted from Keep Believing Ministries and David Langerfeld, Associate Pastor of Harrisburg Baptist Church in Tupelo. 

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how do you know?

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SO HOW DO YOU KNOW GOD LOVES YOU?

God says He loves you…

Psalm 145:9 “God is all mercy and grace–not quick to anger, is rich in love.”

You’re never out of His sight…

Psalm 139:3 “You see me when I travel and when I rest at home.  You know everything I do.”

He cares about every detail of your life…

Matthew 10:30 “And the very hairs on your head are all numbered.”

He gave you the capacity to enjoy all kinds of pleasure…

1 Timothy 6:17 “Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable.  Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment.”

He has good plans for your life…

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

He forgives you…

Psalm 86:5 “For You, O Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.”

He is lovingly patient with you…

Psalm 145:8 “The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy.”

And this is just the beginning…

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