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“She has Asperger’s Syndrome…”

We were at a splash pad. I was sitting in the shade on a bench next to another mom. My own mother had lovingly placed me there, insisting that I needed to cool off. Which I did. She handed me a chunk of ice to place under my wrist and a bottle of water to drink. The real mothers never stop being mothers, do they?

So I was sitting there, next to another mom, drinking water, ice on my wrist, watching our 6 kiddos play. I noticed a dad coming in with two beautiful little girls.

The younger girl quickly ran off to play after he took off her shoes. The older stood there awhile longer. I noticed she had her hand awkwardly, and what would usually be inappropriately, down in her shorts.

The dad knelt down and took off her sandals. He smiled and told her to go play. She then took two steps towards the water and suddenly it became very clear that something was very wrong.

She began screaming and thrashing and throwing herself on the concrete walkway, saying in a muffled voice, “I’m wet.” Over and over and over again.

He tried picking her up. Tried sitting down with her. Tried putting the shoes back on. Taking the shoes back off.

“It’s ok. It’s ok.”

He stood. She did not, but instead, hung her head down low, pressed hard against her father’s ankle.

“I’m wet! I wet!”

“It’s ok. It’s ok.”

And my heart was breaking- tears filled my eyes because I have seen, six times over, a child having a tantrum, but I had never seen a tantrum like this.

She had to be about eight years-old. And my mind tried to grasp what that would feel like. Eight years of tantrums from the same child.

Suddenly, all the tantrums I have survived felt like a drop in a pan. Once again perspective rushed in.

Her dad looked up. My teary eyes met his. “She has Asperger’s Syndrome…”

Truly he did not need to explain. And I told him that, “You don’t need to explain. God bless you for what you are doing…”

His daughter settled. We talked a little while. Another mom joined in. He and is daughters ended up leaving as did our crew.

Still, the sight of that child and her dad weigh heavy on my heart tonight.

May God bless the parents, caretakers and teachers of children with special needs. Bless them with strength. Bless them with patience. Bless them with love. Bless them with a support network that will uphold and encourage them. Bless them for what they are doing. When they feel like their prayers for a miracle go unanswered, may they look in the mirror and see what you see: A miracle.

 

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You are Beautiful

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So there is a new post trend starting that I wanted to reflect on a little bit. The trend? “Post 5 pictures that make you feel beautiful.” You post, you tag 5 people and they need to do the same.

And so my news feed is slowly filling up with “beautiful” pictures of my friends and family. And I don’t say that sarcastically. Truly, each and every one is beautiful… But here is the thing… I look at all those pictures and immediately some other pictures come to mind:

Pictures of Jesus.

For God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son so that whosoever believed in him shall not perish but have everlasting life…
– John 3:16

So loved…

So treasured…

So considered each and every person worthy and truly marvelous.

Oh, that we would truly believe:

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
– Psalm 139:13-14

And I wonder as I scroll through my news feed, seeing selfie after selfie…

Do we really know it?

Do we really know we are beautiful?

Or are we sitting and wait for comments? For validation? For someone to say, “Yes, you are beautiful!”

If you are…

Can I tell you something?

Somebody already said that.

We don’t need to hang our beauty on the words or lack of words in the comments of our “selfies.” We can hang our beauty on the One True Word.

May we remember that the fullness of our beauty isn’t found in our face, but in His.

And when we get tempted to base our beauty by our positions and our accomplishments,

We may remember:

We greatly underestimate our beauty if we base our beauty on our position and accomplishments.

For the fullness of our beauty isn’t found in our position here, but the fact that the Word of God tells us that through Christ we are seated there, in heavenly places with the very maker of the heavens.

But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved- and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
– Ephesians 2:4-7

We can know we are beautiful, so SO beautiful, not because of what we do or have done, but because of what HE did.

And here is thing about knowing how precious and beautiful you are to God.

When you know, truly know, just how beautiful you are to God, it opens your eyes to the outrageous and overwhelming truth that every single person you see is beautiful to God.

Every single person was and is worth reaching out for, drawing a line in the sand for…

Worth sitting with and laughing with, listening to and talking with…

Living for, dying for…

They were are all worth it.

And I pray you know that reader and friend.

I pray you know that YOU were worth it.

YOU ARE beautiful.

Not just five times over, but infinitely over.

YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL in the eyes of our most beautiful God.

Your beauty is found in HIS beauty and your worth is found in HIS.

Colossians 3:2-4
New Living Translation (NLT)

Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

 

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When All Hell Breaks Loose

So today another plane came down… I believe they said there were 295 passengers… 295 living, breathing, heart-beating and feeling people who had plans and purposes and loved ones on the ground… And they are gone, just like that. And it hit the news hard, hit the ground harder… And for this pilot’s wife… It hits just too close to home.

And fear starts to creep in. Where did it happen? Does he fly over there? And let’s go ahead and include the obvious fact that he is so often one of those living, breathing, heart-beating people that is flying over our heads in an airplane. It is his job after all…

And somewhere a wife’s husband just fell from the sky and the sobering thought once again impedes that it could have been mine and what exactly do I do with that?

I will tell you what I have made up my mind to do: Trust God and live this life He gives us to its fullest. Thank Him for every day, truly every moment because you just don’t know when it all is going to come to an end.

And I stop and pray, allow my heart to feel and cry for a loss that could have been mine, but I don’t allow it to stop me from living. I don’t allow it to steal my peace or promote my heart to any further fear, because fear has no place in the presence of perfect love.

And I know that there is a God who perfectly loves me, my family, and my husband. I know that his plans and purposes transcend what I can grasp. And I choose to trust in his promise that he will work all things for good- All things- for those who love him and trust him.

And I pray that each of you would know that too- that God loves you perfectly. That you can trust him. When all hell seems to be breaking loose in this world, you can still be filled with heaven’s peace. You can still smile. You can still enjoy and praise him for all that is wonderful and good here because there is SO SO much that is wonderful and good. Too much to report.

Say a prayer for comfort and strength for those who are hurting tonight and at the same time please stop and thank God for all in your life and all in this world that is good. Thank him for his plans for your life- for the things he has done and the things he will do. Allow that praise to usher in peace and sleep well in that perfect peace.

That is my plan for tonight. I pray you join me.

You will keep whoever’s mind is steadfast in perfect peace, because he trusts in you. – Isaiah 26:3

 

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Root Rot

Root Rot… Have you ever heard of it? It’s somewhat of a strange phenomena to amateur gardeners like myself. You get a hanging flower basket. You hang it. You water it. But still the plant starts dying. You think maybe I am not watering enough. So you water more. And now the plant looks worse. Practically the whole thing is shriveled. So you do a little researching and come to find out that a hanging plant won’t only die from lack of water, but it will develop “root rot” if the hanging pot doesn’t drain sufficiently. Essentially- a plant has to be poured into- and it has to pour out. If it doesn’t pour out its roots begin to rot and it dies. I had to bust bigger holes in the bottom of the planters, remove a plate that was blocking proper drainage… All so more of what was poured in could flow out.

And you know, You and I… We too need to be poured into and we also need to pour out if we are going to thrive. We risk rotting away if all we do is receive, receive, receive… And then sit.

What we have been so blessed to receive, we should in turn pour out.

We weren’t created to simply sit and receive.

So if your passion for life lately has been feeling shriveled; If your life feels more like surviving as opposed to thriving; I want to challenge you tonight to consider how you can start pouring out.

May we bust some holes in our jam packed schedules. May we remove the fear and excuses that have been holding us back. May we not be a rotting people, but a thriving people- A people who pour out our lives in the same way that Christ poured out his.

Titus 3:6
He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior.

 

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You are His

Our baby boy is going through another stage of separation anxiety. He was just crying and crying in his crib, but as soon as I entered the room and he saw me he immediately stopped. I helped him lie back down, pulled his covers over him. He is now fast asleep, snoring away.

And all of this reminds me of a line I heard in a song today by Jamie Grace. The line has been on repeat in my mind and on my heart today: “You are enough to change the atmosphere.”

When Jesus draws near to us, He changes the atmosphere. His presence makes everything ok. All is well when we know He is at our side.

I don’t know what you may going through tonight. Perhaps someone may even be in tears right now.

For anyone who may be crying out tonight, I pray right now you feel Jesus entering the room. I pray you feel his love covering you and comforting you. I pray you feel the change in the atmosphere as God draws near. Because truly He is enough. Nothing else needs to change. May you sleep so sound tonight knowing you are safe; you are loved; you are held, You are His.

 

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There is Hope

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So this? This is a plant in our yard- one that I haven’t really tended to in the two years we have lived in our home as it is kind of in a tucked away place along our side yard- somewhat out of view.

As I took on the task of tending the plant a few things became very obvious. First, the plant is beautiful. Perhaps even the most beautiful plant in our yard except for one major thing. It is wounded, horribly wounded.

As I took a close look it became obvious that a very large and long vine with sharp thorns had grown to cover the beautiful plant. As storms came and winds blew the beautiful leaves would be torn by the covering vine.

All I could do to try and restore the plant was to first remove the vine and then remove the damaged leaves. And there were many damaged leaves. So many that from a distance the entire plant looked damaged. But deep down new leaves were growing that can now grow fully in the place of what was so badly hurt.

What thorns are covering you? What torn areas in your heart need to be removed for new life and love to grow? Is there bitterness? Is there worry? Is there an ongoing offender in your life that continues to leave you damaged? Are you slowly becoming plagued by thoughts and attitudes that are hiding your true beauty?

There is hope. Because God sees you. You aren’t off and out of sight. You are in plain view and his hands are reaching.

I pray today for anyone who may need it: that the thorns be lifted and the damage miracously removed from your heart. I pray your heart finds comfort knowing that God can see past the damage. He sees the beautiful you hiding and trying to grow. You have been hurt. But there is healing, and no need to hold on to the hurt. May you shed all that is dead and begin to grow with new, beautiful life.

 

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Weary Parent of a Busy Toddler… You Can

I am sitting here tonight- Stomach churning and painfully piercing at times from what is most likely a stomach virus. It comes in waves. And so are my thoughts of this past weekend.

We had somewhat of a family reunion with family from my husband’s side. We spent days getting ready for it. Come to the final hours, everything was in place- except my heart.

I wasn’t prepared truly for the task. I had visions of long conversations with my sisters and older cousins. I had imagined just sitting and talking and precious heart to heart moments. I imagined our babies and children happily playing while we caught up.

I didn’t imagine our youngest son would be so overwhelmed by the amount of unfamiliar faces that he would cry anytime I tried to leave his side…

The amount of time I would be stuck sitting with him because he wouldn’t even eat unless I was at his side.

I somewhat imagined the energy that would be required to monitor the little ones that could not swim as they toddled around a dock and lake all weekend. But I figured our family was big and would gladly take turns on life guard duty. Didn’t imagine that the only person who would be able to life guard our youngest would be me.

So our youngest would want to toddle down to the dock at every chance he could. There he would test his limits as always. When I would bring him back inside, where I could take a bit of a break, he would cry.

I wanted to sit.

I wanted to relax and talk and fish, go out and ride the boat with everyone else without a baby on my lap.

And after a full day of this, I was visibly bothered.

And more than anything, I was bothered at my own heart. Still am.

Because even though I have gone through this toddler stage 6 times now, it still got the best of me.

Practice doesn’t always make perfect.

And our family was so great. They pitched in and did so much. They bought food. They helped cook and clean. I did not help prepare a single meal, but was blessed with the ability to have the weekend off from cooking. And there were no quarrels and truly no chaos. They tried to watch out youngest but he wouldn’t have it.

There truly was nothing wrong with the weekend – other than my heart.

I went into the weekend imagining me running around smiling and serving our family. I went in to the weekend excited truly at the opportunity to serve. But when where I truly needed to serve was back in the exact same place- I wasn’t smiling. I was irritated. Resentful.

And tonight my stomach and heart churns at the opportunity I missed. I had the chance to shine, but I didn’t.

I had the chance to embrace and enjoy the person right in front of me who needed me the most, but all I wanted was to push that person away and move on to bigger, better things.

What about you?

Where has God continued to call you to serve?

Who has he called you to serve?

Is it not what you envisioned?

Does your heart long for bigger, better things?

Can I challenge you tonight with a little question, one that The Lord whispered to my soul:

“What if this is the big thing?”

Can you embrace it?

Can you shine in it?

Can you serve with a genuine smile?

I regret that I failed to this past weekend.

I wasn’t smiling. I was struggling.

As I write that my mind goes back to my struggle in the grocery store this past weekend. I had to make a food run. Wanted to go with just my sister but couldn’t. I ended up taking along our two youngest. There I was, pushing my shopping cart down the grocery store aisle. Our youngest in the basket seat. Our three year-old hanging on each side of the cart. Trying to talk with my sister… The reality sinking in that this is what talks look like nowadays. And the cart began to feel heavy and wide. And for a moment all I could feel was the weight. Almost instantly, The Lord brought to my mind the image of an anchor.

An anchor, Lord?

Yes, an anchor… hanging on the side of my shopping cart.

And I began to consider: Could it be that what feels like such a heavy weight is indeed just an anchor, God’s way of keeping us exactly where we need to be?

And it dawned on me that children are truly God’s anchors.

They anchor us to service.

They anchor us to humbleness.

They anchor us to selflessness.

They anchor us to the very heart of Christ.

So, weary parent of a busy toddler… I pray tonight you consider how God is calling you to serve.

I pray your eyes be opened that is the “big thing.”

And I pray that that you pick up your child with a smile, convinced that your little anchor is keeping you exactly where you need to be.

Because I didn’t.

But praise God, I still can.

 

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