Reflections on Round Two

At the beginning…

every journey begins with first stepThat’s where I am… at the beginning of Round 2.  Looking at the big picture, some might say I’m in the middle.  Surgery was Round 1.  Radiation is Round 2.  Round 3 will be a medication taken for 5 years plus periodic scans.  However, I’m taking this day by day.  It’s a new challenge, and it’s just beginning.

I’m not sure why beginning 5 weeks of radiation treatments has been more difficult for me emotionally that going into surgery.  I’m trying to remember the positives (and there are quite a few!).
a.  The duration of treatment is only 5 weeks.
b.  No chemo was necessary.
c.  Surgery  is already over.  Round 1… check!
d.  No surprises were found during surgery (other than the fact that there was a greater area of pre-cancerous cells than expected).
e.  My family and I have had lots of support from our family, friends, and church family in the form of prayers, encouragement, cards and notes, meals, gifts, and offers of help.
f.  My husband and children have been a wonderful help and encouragement in so many ways.
g.  And, most importantly, I have had a lot of spiritual comfort and peace, knowing the Lord and enjoying His presence in my life and in every joy as well as in every difficulty, and knowing that I can trust in Him.

So, why am I struggling more emotionally with Round 2 than I did with Round 1?

That’s a good question.  I’m trying to figure out what is going on inside my head and my heart.  One of the best ways for me to sort things out is to write, so here I am.  As I’ve been considering everything, here are some of the possibilities of thoughts that are running through my unconscious mind, sometimes bubbling up into a greater level of awareness and nibbling away at my peace of mind.

  • I have found it impossible to dismiss my Dad and his almost 5 year cancer battle from my mind.  I know how badly he was burned during his radiation treatments and the internal damage that was done, resulting in a major surgery involving two surgeons and representing two areas of specialty.  Believe me, you don’t want to know any more than that.  To say that the side effects of radiation for him were awful would be a gross understatement.  Horrific would be more descriptive.  Poor Dad.
  • I am very fair skinned, like my Dad.  I also have very sensitive skin.  Plus, everyone I know who has had radiation and has actually shared any of the details about their experience was also quite burned.
  • Since the recovery from my surgery lasted longer and was more difficult that I’d thought it would be, the thought of another period of not being at my best physically and another period of recovery is not exactly attractive.
  • My family needs me to be healthy and functioning well, and I have just seen what results from several weeks of not being at my best.  (I’m still trying to catch up, too!)
  • I’d thought that taking a little break between surgery and radiation (because I’d be going into a new deductible year anyway and also wanted to continue to recover and to enjoy Christmas) was a good thing.  And, it was a nice break.  Now, however, it seems as though it’s given me more time to build up a mountain of dread.  Reading the radiology release form (that lists all of the potential side effects of my treatments) before I signed it didn’t help.  I knew about the common side effects like the burning and fatigue, but reading that rare side effects like heart damage are possible just increases the concern.
  • Finally, one of the most difficult things about my recovery from surgery was not being able to tolerate wearing normal items of clothing, making it difficult to go anywhere and to cover up (as the only female in a house with 7 guys) without being uncomfortable or causing damage to areas that were healing.  I am not looking forward to another experience like that.

In addition to the above concerns, today has been a disconcerting day.  When I woke this morning, my right eyelid was very swollen and tender, although there are no signs of infection, no crustiness, or anything like a sty.  It is still swollen and tender, and I am concerned because my vision in that eye is slightly affected and I have a genetic eye disease called Fuch’s Dystrophy that will likely require corneal transplants at some point in the future.  However,  I knew that my eye could not be the priority today.  I had an appointment to get my tattoo dots that guide placement of the radiation so that I can begin treatments tomorrow.

For this pre-treatment scanning procedure, I had to lie on a table in a large room while the techs monitored from outside and a large machine plotted my radiation plan.  I was told that parts of the machine would descend and come close to me but would not actually touch me.  One large robotic type arm held a pizza shaped techie flying saucer, and another held an oversized cookie sheet object that looked like an x-ray screen.  There was another arm with some other type of apparatus, but I didn’t get a good look at that one.  I was supposed to keep my head turned to the right and not to move any part of my body at all.  These machines and arms rotated around the table, clicking and whirring for quite some time.  The table itself also moved, sometimes jerking to the side or sliding forward or back.  I’m not sure how long I was on the table for this procedure, but I know that my appointment was at 1 p.m., and I didn’t leave the building until 2:30.  It was a feeling of total surrender to lie with my neck and shoulders immobilized on the table by a built in form (I would definitely not call it a cushion).  With my arms over my head, hands grasping two large pegs, legs supported by a “block” to help me keep them still, and head turned to the right, I was certainly not in control of the technology, the time, or the position.  I’m also not in control of the results.

Later, at home, I looked at the irregular line and dotted lines drawn by the technicians to mark placement of the tattoo dots and I’m not sure what else.  I have questions about these marks that I will ask tomorrow, just before my first treatment.  I don’t know these people (radiation techs) at all, although I am sure that will change.  And yet, I must trust them to know what they are doing.  It truly is a helpless feeling, although I know that I am never alone.   There is Someone who knows me well, and He will be with me through it all.

I am aware that sometimes I think about things too much, but that has not been the case this time.  I’ve kept squashing down my concerns over the holidays, trying to convince myself that the optimism and faith which marked Round 1 would return when needed.  However, deep inside, my overwhelming thought about radiation is, “I don’t want to do this!”  (as though anyone would!).   Failing to deal with my concerns has not made them disappear.  They were put away for a time but still very much alive.   However, now that all of my worries are not under the surface any more, I have recognized them.  I have acknowledged their destructiveness (nibbling away at my peace).  Most importantly, I have been honest with myself and with my God about how hard this is.

At the same time, I am constantly making perspective adjustments, remembering all of the positives that have already been mentioned concerning this situation.  I am also quite aware that many many people in this world have pressing difficulties that are far more grave.  I see my blessings in every area of life… spiritually, emotionally, physically, mentally… and in terms of relationships and of needs met and the provision of abundance far surpassing the basics.  I am very blessed!

So, if I continue to live in awareness of great blessing and in acknowledgement of God’s great faithfulness, why am I still struggling?

Simple.  I can’t do this on my own.  I’m human.  I can’t turn off my brain.  I’ve let those thoughts of all of the things that I cannot control build up over a period of time without dealing with them.  Today, I acknowledged them.  Now, it’s time to give them away.  It’s time to do what Jesus said.

28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.…

~  Matthew 11:28 – 29

Honestly, I didn’t realize until today that I’d been trying to carry these burdens and worries by myself.  I just knew that I was having difficulty entering into Round 2 with the kind of positive, fighting spirit that I had in Round 1 and that I need for every day of my life. Acknowledgement of God’s faithfulness and quoting scripture promises to myself are both good things… but that’s not what I needed the most.  I needed to see what I am fearful of and get honest about it.  Next, I needed to tell it to my Heavenly Father and to give all of those things to the Lord.  Then, I need to keep on giving them to Him anytime they bubble up in  my mind.  I don’t just need reminders of who He is and the truth of His word (although both are important).  My greatest spiritual need is that I also need to spend more time in His presence, confronted with my own weakness and confessing my need for His strength.   And here’s a beautiful promise for anyone who embraces thankfulness and lets go of fears (in His strength, made perfect in our weakness), giving both the blessings and the trials of our lives back to the Lord…

6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

~ Phillippians 4:6 – 7

The truth is that facing any major difficulty just feels like destruction and chaos.  It brings us face to face with the fact that control over life’s circumstances is an illusion.  However, in this circumstance and in everything that today brings and that the future holds, I am so thankful that I know the One whose power is greater that any destructive force.  He has promised to bring order out of the chaos of this world and to work everything together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).  There is purpose and there is an order to all of life that goes beyond what we can see right now.

In the story of the death of Lazarus and the miracle of the power of resurrection through Jesus Christ, Jesus said something very important.  Just before He raised Lazarus from the dead, Jesus responded to Mary’s concerns (found in the 11th chapter of John) with this statement,
“Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?”

The glory of God in death?  In cancer, or surgery, or radiation?  In loss, in illness, or in extreme difficulty?

Yes.

Yes to all of the above… and yes to every possible circumstance.

That doesn’t always mean that we will see the resolution of any problem in exactly the way we would desire.  It may be that I am indeed facing some physical difficulties that will be most unpleasant and be a challenging time for me and for my family.  However, if I knew, for example, that this time period would produce in our six sons a new appreciation for the fragility of life, a greater depth of compassion and reliance upon the Lord, and stepping up to a new level of maturity, would I think differently about this temporary trial?  Again… YES.

Right now, I don’t know what kind of fruit this journey will produce in my life or in anyone else’s life.  But, I do know that there is purpose and there are spiritual lessons and stepping stones that will have an impact far beyond anything that I could ever dream.  Because God is with me, He will cause this to work together for good… not just my good or my family’s good, but beyond… in ways that I can’t even imagine.  All this has nothing to do with me but rather is all about God’s continual work in this world and His great love for mankind.  And yet, again, there is a promise for those who endure trials (even though we are not doing so in our own strength).

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  ~  2nd Corinthians 4:17

Eternal glory.  Wow!  That’s amazing!  That’s the work of God.

Knowing these truths and knowing Him, being reminded that there is much more to everything in life than just our individual perspective or concerns, I feel so much better.  One step at a time, God has walked me through my valley of worry to the place of His peace.  The journey looked something like this:

The honest expression of internal turmoil
+ blessings appreciated
+ thankfulness expressed
+ truth applied
+ burdens shifted to the One who can really carry them
(and turn them into something beautiful… in His time)
_______________________________________________
= peace that surpasses understanding and goes beyond circumstances. *

* NOTE:  This precious peace is renewable daily (moment by moment) through repeating the journey of recognizing God’s sovereignty and turning it all over to Him.
(The author’s recent practice of trying to push down worries with human knowledge of divine truth does not transfer the burden of worry to the appropriate and supreme Lifter of Burdens and is not recommended.)

 

 

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The Secret Life of a Special Needs Parent

The Secret Life of a Special Needs Parent

A revelation of grace, grief, joy, love, blessings, and challenges

For parents of special needs children, family and friends who love them, and others who want to understand.

We're in this together.

We’re in this together.

 When it comes to the here and now and the practical issues of parenting,
there are certain facts that are true for every loving parent and child.

*  Every child is different, and their needs vary significantly throughout the constant changes of growth and development.

*  Every parent seeks to meet the needs of their child or children, no matter how challenging those needs may be.

*  Every loving parent tries to stay in tune with the heart of their child and to know and even anticipate their needs.

*  No matter what a parent experiences in caring for and loving a child, the love and the joy over-ride everything else.

*  The two most important goals of most parents are:
(1) to help their child go through all of the developmental stages in their emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and physical growth
and 
(2) to help their child learn how to become an independent and contributing adult with the skills, knowledge, wisdom, character, and faith they will need to live a life of meaning and purpose.

keep trying signSAME  GOALS, WITH INDIVIDUALIZATION
For parents of children who have special needs, these basic facts and primary goals are the same.  However, the methods of achieving these objectives can be vastly different, often with much different expectations and a highly individual timetable for development that is discovered only through continued effort and the constant need to adapt to the individual child’s own pace in learning and in reaching developmental milestones.

For some children, a developmental timetable can be relatively predictable.  However, many children with special needs seem to have their own internal pace.  Developmental experts can make predictions.  Teachers and therapists and parents can set goals, but the true timetable for learning and developmental progress cannot be set externally.  It is revealed by time.  Sometimes, the developmental milestones are met more quickly than anyone expected; and sometimes progress can seem to take place, only to be followed by regression.  Sometimes, progress happens but takes a long time.  Parents of special needs children come to know the unpredictability of progress all too well.  Special needs parents also learn to re-evaluate the very concept of progress.  If, for a special and wonderfully made child, the “norms” are not the norm, your hope for progress in every area possible must still be kept alive.  For some, progress can mean the absence of regression.
The Key Truth about goals:
Even if hopes for progress and positive change must be adapted somewhat for an individual child, those sparks of hope are kept alive (and fanned into a flame of persistent faith in the un-revealed potential within) by the deep love of parents for precious little hearts and souls.

Relying on God’s strength and seeing the child within
Every situation is different, and all parents of special needs children deal with ongoing needs and challenges that require all that we are and even more than our best.  God’s strength and His promise to work everything together for our good are crucial in my own life as far as mental and emotional well-being.  However, I certainly cannot speak or write for every special needs parent or for every kind of situation.  Special needs can be physical, emotional, mental, developmental, academic, sensory, social, behavioral, functional, ambulatory, or medical.  (Note:  I am not a special needs professional, so I may be leaving something out.)   The term “special needs” can also apply to any kind of combination of various types of needs.  However, … it is not the needs alone that special needs parents want others to seeIt is the child.  Certainly, an awareness of special needs can be crucial, but recognizing the uniquely precious child within is even more so.  Each child is unique not only in their needs and challenges but in the blessing of their precious life.

Dealing with the desire to “fix” things
Part of being the parent of a special needs child is knowing (and dealing with the knowing) that you cannot give to them everything that you would like for them to have.  Sometimes there are issues of health, mobility, understanding, communication, ability, independence, a “normal life”, and even length of days.  As parents, we can’t change everything, and we can’t fix everything as our hearts long to do.  Some things are out of our control and are in God’s hands.  Even the things that seem to be within our control are in God’s hands, and that really is the best place for them to be.  So, we hope… and we never stop striving to make things the best that they can be for our children.  We trust, and keep walking with God, knowing that our lives, our hurts, our hopes, our loves, and our deepest longings are in His hands, too.  Most of all, we love.  We keep loving, knowing that love is the best gift and that love is something we have in abundance only because God first loved us when we were sick and weak and lost and blind and unable to fully live.  He is our hope and the source of love.  He made our precious children, and He will someday give to them a life that is more than we could imagine, eternally whole and fully aware of how unique and special and loved they are.  We will surrender our need to make everything alright and trust that God will make everything right someday in ways that we never could.  Our job is not to “fix” or to “make everything better” but to love.  We will accept that some things will be different for our child, but we will never give up trying to make things the best that they can be.

Key truth about acceptance and surrender:
Hoping and striving, trusting that there is a purpose for your child’s struggles, and relying on God’s promises can allow us to focus on what is truly important.  God’s love for you and your child and your love for each other will always be the most important and eternal aspects of life.  Although the journey through life with your special needs child involves a lot of unknowns and griefs, love will carry you through them.

Look at me!   I may not be able to fly as high as some, but I am trying to fly my best. I am special.  I am unique.  I am beautiful!

Look at me!
I may not be able to fly as high as some, but I am trying to fly my best.
I am special. I am unique. I am beautiful!

difficult road aheadTHE MYSTERY OF THE JOURNEY

It’s as though a parent of a special needs child has begun a journey with an uncertain destination, incomplete road maps, and a set of broken tools.  The compass has no needle, so direction is unsure.  The spyglass has a broken lens, so you can’t see what’s ahead.  The GPS keeps chanting “Recalculating, recalculating…” inside your mind as you deal with an unfamiliar landscape.  Your watch has stopped working, so there is no accurate timetable or way to measure progress made against whatever progress might be possible.  Your cell phone has a low battery, so it’s difficult to communicate with your family and friends.  They are still there for you, and they also love and know your child; but it’s hard for them to invest enough time to truly know and understand what you are experiencing along the way.   Your pain comes through in spite of the dropped calls, but sometimes they don’t know what to do or say.  The rest of your immediate family is travelling with you and your special needs child, and hopefully your spouse is with you in every way as you face the journey together.  If you are a single parent, hopefully you will be able to build a support system of loving friends and family who will come alongside to help your child (or children) when needed and also be a help and support to you.

family journey in the fall

GRIEVING, HOPING, LIVING

Your other children each have their own journey, with their own issues and needs along the way.  They need you to travel with them as well, so you are simultaneously experiencing very real life journeys that are vastly different, depending upon the needs and special needs of each of your children.  In addition to all of the common struggles of growing up, your other children also face unseen hurdles and even their own griefs as they love and try to protect their special needs sibling.  There are a lot of things about having a special needs sibling that can be very difficult, but you try to teach your other children along the way that love and thankfulness are the keys to enjoying life moment by moment with their special needs sibling, while also grieving for them at times.  So, as parents, you are not only dealing with your own feelings and griefs and questions and challenges (in relation to the challenges faced by your special needs child), but you are also dealing with helping your other children to understand, cope, grieve with hope, love without condition, and handle their own feelings regarding everything related to their special needs brother or sister.

For parents, it’s incredibly hard to balance the unknown aspects of the journey with your special needs child (and each of your family members’ own struggle with the family’s journey on that road) while also experiencing the milestones and life changes of growing up with your other children.  These milestones and life changes have been revealed to the very core of your heart as something that cannot be taken for granted.  On the one hand, they are incredibly sweet since you recognize what a miracle each of them is for the child as you witness the wonders of growth and change.  On the other, you grieve inside for the fact that these same milestones and life changes are not all going to happen or are not going to happen in the same way for your special needs child.  The balancing act becomes one of grieving while rejoicing, often without revealing your heart in the moment (so that the internal struggle does not diminish the joys of very real accomplishments and life changes for the child who is moving forward).
Key Truth about living hopefully even while living with grief:
When the waves of grief wash over you, you eventually learn to immediately focus your thoughts on all of the blessings of life with your special needs child and all of the victories, from the most minute to the biggest of the big, that have happened in the life of your special needs child and in your heart as you have loved and cared for him or her.  Thankfulness is the only antidote to grieving that I know.  It is the lifeline that will pull you out of the crashing waves of grief and into the presence of Christ.

Gratitude is ...

LOOKING FOR THE BLESSINGS

One of the many blessings that is a part of life with the incredible gift of your special needs child is the fact that there is a sharpened and very keen level of awareness of the need to be more fully aware in all of life.  If I am more aware of the pain and challenge and difficulty and loneliness in my life, I must also become more aware of the joys and blessings and victories and wonderful moments and graces within the tough moments.  Here are some examples of the ways that this awareness of the need to become more aware manifests itself in my life as a special needs parent.

>  In my moments of the most acute need, when I am dealing with some aspect of now or of tomorrow, I can become so aware of the fact that the challenge is mine to face that I could miss the sweetness of possessing this need.  Here is part of the fuller awareness that I need to find and to remember:

I have this need because of an infinitely incredible gift.

*  I have this need because of life and because of love.

*  I have this need because somehow God saw something within me that could be made beautiful with the help of a precious little soul who has become my teacher.

every journey begins with first step

>  In moments when hopelessness begins to creep into my heart, I can become so aware of feeling overwhelmed that I miss the lessons of holding on to hope.  I can even miss the truth that hope is at its most powerful when the answer or solution or resolution or realization of that hope seems the most remote.

I have this hope, and I hold on to this hope, because I will never give up seeking to make life better and more full and loving for my child.

*  I have this hope because I know that there are people who have never given up on me, and I have seen how powerful this force of hope can be in my own experience.

*  I have this hope because all things are possible through Christ.

*  I have this hope because when desperation has caused me to lose my hold on hope, I fall into the hands of my Father, who surrounds me with His love and with the knowledge that all hope is found in Him.

*  I have this hope because life has infinite value and because I have been blessed.

My help comes from the Lord

REJOICING IN THE VICTORIES

>  In moments when a victory happens, I sometimes become acutely aware that there is almost no one that can really grasp the significance of this victory because so few see the entirety of the struggle.  I can become so aware of the loneliness of incomplete knowledge that I miss all of the blessings that should be my focus.  Here are some reminders of the blessings within each victory.

This victory has happened because of the will and the spirit of a little trooper who keeps on trying and is often so blissfully unaware of the fact that this moment was long in coming that nothing dims his joy.

*  I can rejoice in this victory because it means that all of the investment of time and love and care and therapy and intervention (which was valuable in itself, even without and before tangible results) has produced a positive change that has made life better in some way for my much-loved child… which, in turn, gives hope and motivation to keep going!

*  I can rejoice in this victory because it is a reminder that even though I may feel alone sometimes and even though there is no one (other than Travis and I) who has seen all of the parts of the story of our Logan from the beginning until now, I meditate on the fact that we have not been alone.  We (my husband, my family, and I) have had each other, and we have had the presence of God with us every step of the way, even in the hardest moments that no one else has ever seen.  I can also recall and rejoice in the fact that there are so many wonderful people who have loved our Logan (and still do) and who have been a part of his journey and ours in very significant ways, helping both him and us to reach the vantage point from which we can look back and see all that has taken place.  The feeling of loneliness and of recognition that few can fully grasp a victory is replaced with thankfulness for family and friends and teachers and therapists and specialists and doctors and volunteers in support organizations and respite volunteers and Sunday School teachers and workers, and child care givers, and special family friends who have cared for Logan, and Choir and Missions and Vacation Bible School teachers and helpers at church, and people who volunteer to serve as a “shadow” for Logan and focus on his needs, and every kind stranger who has ever spoken a word of encouragement.

uphill road

PERSPECTIVE ON THE ROLLER COASTER

It’s really difficult to explain this crazy roller coaster of parenting a special needs child.  There are moments of sheer terror or panic and moments of thrills and laughter.  There are many times when my heart and my life feels so full of love, and there are also many times when the uncertainty, the questions, and the challenges threaten to attack my peace and steal my joy.  There’s so much more involved in the experience than could possibly be contained in this article.  While it can be exhausting to experience the intensity of so many emotional highs and lows involved in the blessing of parenting all of our children (and particularly our son who has special needs), there is also a strength that is born out the the knowledge that for every awareness of difficulty and acknowledgement of pain, there are blessings and joys that come to light with the re-focus.

THE KEY:  It is this secondary focus on the awareness of the flip side (to every difficulty) that reveals burdens shared and lifted, victories gained, spiritual lessons, simple joys, and love… always love. 

And many, many times, that side (the blessing side, which we see by faith and also because it is very real) is what we’ve learned to see first.  We choose to see the positives There are a lot of blessings!  There is a lot of joy!

 

  Loving our special needs child has made us better people because he has helped us to see all of the joys and blessings.

Loving our special needs child has made us better people because he has helped us to see all of the joys and blessings that could have been overlooked.

Logan's most recent school picture

Logan’s most recent school picture

Many things are the same for us and for other special needs parents as for any parent and child.  Highs and lows are experienced in every family.  Challenges and heartbreaks come.  Victories and heart-warming moments come, too.  There are moments of recognition and realization that are so significant and memorable that they become part of the story of every parent and child.  Moments of realization with other children might be about discovering an ability or talent that can be nurtured.  A moment of realization with Logan might be a flash of recognition that we have been praying the same prayer (that this would be the year, the month, the day when he would finally learn to chew and be able to eat real food) for six years now.  A moment of victory with another child might be all A’s on a report card.  With Logan, a recent moment of victory took place when Logan finally did something that most children do as a pre-schooler.  Last year, there was a day when Logan took a paper out of his backpack when he got home from school and showed it to me.  It was the first time he’d ever done that (at age 7 rather than at 2 or 3.  A couple of weeks ago, Logan again brought me a paper; but this time, he spoke to me about it. It was the first time he’s ever brought me a paper and told me about it…at age 8 (almost 9).  He brought me this paper (I scanned it so that you could see it here), and he said, “Look, Mama!  It’s Logan’s beautiful heart!”  I could not have said it better myself.

"Logan's Beautiful Heart"  It's purple construction paper with a heart-shaped cut-out.  A dyed coffee filter is glued to the back of the construction paper so that it shows through the heart shape.

“Logan’s Beautiful Heart”
It’s purple construction paper with a heart-shaped cut-out. A dyed coffee filter is glued to the back of the construction paper so that it shows through the heart shape.

We certainly cannot deny the fact that our Logan is a child who has special needs.  More importantly, though, Logan a little boy.  He loves to have fun and be silly.  He loves to run and play.  He may not be able to experience everything in the same way as his brothers, but he experiences everything with his whole heart.  When he’s happy, he is whole-heartedly happy.  He makes others happy, too!  Logan does have a beautiful heart.

A beautiful life may be different from the lives of others, but it is still beautiful.

A beautiful life may be different from the lives of others, but it is still beautiful.

I believe that every loving, special needs parent, like us, experiences

a process of learning to  SEE   beyond …..

the needs,

the challenges,

the diagnosis,

and the uncertainty of the future

to the most important thing…

the precious and wonderful gift of their child.

There will always be many questions about tomorrow.

*  There are questions about how much progress Logan is going to be able to make.

*  There are questions about how independent he is going to be able to become.

*  There are questions about who will care for him when my husband and I no longer can.

In addition to those concerns about the future, there are many needs right here and now.  With our five other boys and all of their needs, it is hard to find enough time to do all that we need to do for Logan.  He is getting special therapy for his eating issues twice a week, but he also needs a lot of one on one time (as do all of our boys).  He needs us to read to and with him, to do math flash cards with him, to play board games with him, and to teach him to do household tasks.  There is so much that can be done and so much that will need to be done in and for his future.  However, we can’t let ourselves get so caught up in all of the tasks and all of the unknowns that we miss just simply loving and relating to Logan right now.  We need to enjoy him, and there is much to enjoy.  From his affectionate nature to his quirky sense of humor, to his fun personality and all of the things that he is learning, Logan is an awesome little boy.  Developmental targets and statistics and academic goals and plans for the future are all very important, but Logan’s beautiful heart and soul are the most important.

faith makes things possibleSo, while we don’t want to sugarcoat a life that has major challenges and many heartaches that no one else sees, we choose to look for the blessings.

While it’s true that we are always aware of our own human emotion and human reactions to life’s challenges, we are on a journey toward having a sharpening of vision.  We are learning to see the flip side of tough realities.  Our spiritual eyesight is responding to the lessons of the heart and soul and learning to see blessings first.

When we look at our Logan, we do see infinite blessings.  We know that many, many others see the blessing of Logan, too, and that’s really what we want as parents.

We want to know that when you look at our child, you see a little heart and soul that is a blessing of uncalculable and infinite worth.

–This post was written by Cynthia Boyd

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NOTE:  Even though this post is fairly long, it still feels as though I have published it in an incomplete state.  There is so much more to write and so much more to learn and experience.  There is so much in my heart, and I haven’t been able to put it all into words yet.  I can see the value in sharing the words that are already here, even though there is more to come and much more to understand.  So, here are the thoughts that have made their way into this revelation of life.  I hope they bring understanding and help someone.  If this post touches your heart, please share it with others, using this link:  https://familysong.wordpress.com/2013/03/07/the-secret-life-of-a-special-needs-parent/

For more on the story of our personal journey, read this post:  https://familysong.wordpress.com/2013/01/19/one-brave-little-boy/

Or, read some of the other posts in our  “Special needs, Special blessings”  category at:  https://familysong.wordpress.com/category/special-needs-special-blessings/

 

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Obstacles road signNote:  I love this little sign.  The figure is not stopped by the obstacle, he jumps right over it.  Parents of special needs children, this is you!  You are an overcomer of obstacles, a stubborn warrior who will not give up, and a tidal wave of love that cannot be stopped.  Sometimes, this is my sign, too.  And, sometimes, I need a sign that is a little bit different.  Sometimes I need the sign that shows the little figure being lifted over the obstacle or carried through the storm by the strong hand of Father God, and sometimes I need the sign that shows the little figure and his family camped out in front of the obstacle, working and hoping and praying for victory.  If you pan back a little farther on my camp out sign, you will see that the ground on which our campsite stands is not really earth.  It is the hands of God, where He is holding us as we wait and work and believe that this obstacle will be conquered.  If you don’t have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, I can assure you that nothing else would help you more with all of the challenges of life, and nothing else will make you more aware of your blessings and give you more hope for eternity.  If you have questions about life and eternity and God and purpose, please go to our page called, “Do You Know Jesus” at this link:

http://www.familysong.wordpress.com/do-you-know-jesus/

There, you will find links to many web pages that have been designed specifically to answer any question that you might have.  Some of these pages even have the capability to be translated into multiple languages.  Let us know if you find the anwers you are seeking.  We are praying for you!

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Here’s a music video with some precious photos of special needs children and Moms and Dad. It will bless you!

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Note:  Here’s a link to an article for parents whose child has been diagnosed with ASD (Austism Spectrum Disorder).

http://thestir.cafemom.com/toddler/135651/10_steps_to_take_if?utm_medium=sm&utm_source=facebook&utm_content=autism_fanpage

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Grace…it really is Amazing!

Teaching topic:  God’s amazing grace, the expression of His great love!

Photo of the interior of the Ida Cason Callaway Memorial Chapel at Callaway Gardens (by Dea Minter Carey)

* GRACE GIVES,… out of the overflow of LAVISH LOVE!

Glimpses of grace come to us in all kinds of ways. We see the grace of God through His word, through an encouragement when we need it most, through the reminders of His love and mercy, and through the majesty and beauty of His creation, which is constantly sustained by His grace. We also see grace extended through the lives of others. We have been given lavish grace, and we have opportunities every day to extend this grace to others. In our lives, we all have stories of grace extended, grace recognized, grace blossoming, and grace overcoming darkness with light.

Sometimes we just don’t think about all of the manifestations of grace and may even take it for granted. We should think about grace, because we need to seek to extend God’s grace into the lives of people with whom we come into contact and into the world around us. The only way for us to extend the grace that we have been given by God is to do so intentionally. Grace is love that goes beyond. It is lavish love. It is not a mere exchange, requiring something in return. Grace gives when there is no promise of recompense. Grace reaches out through alienation and hurt. Grace heals, encourages, surprises us, and takes our breath away at the beauty of its motivation. For grace is pure. It is love that gives because it overflows, not because it is deserved or earned.  The best gift ever given, God’s only Son, Jesus Christ is the embodiment of the lavish, loving grace of God.  Grace really IS amazing!

* GRACE EMBRACES….out of a longing for relationship

As Jesus has loved us, so are we to love one another. We must remember that we have already been given that which we do not deserve…the love and mercy of God through our Savior, Jesus Christ. It is because of the lavish gift of salvation that we must choose to lay aside that which is temporary and embrace that which is eternal. When we embrace and value the lives of fellow human beings, we are most like Christ. Though He clearly saw the sin and sorrow in every life He encountered, Jesus healed, blessed, encouraged, helped, taught, fed, raised, challenged, transformed, forgave, and loved all who came across His path. The desire for a relationship with us because of His great love for us was more important to Jesus than any condemnation of our unrighteousness or exaltation of His own righteousness.

“For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” John 3:17

* GRACE SEES…what could be

Because grace is lavish love expressed through undeserved mercy, grace sees.
Grace sees what could be….in the hearts and lives of people.
Grace sees what could be….in our own hearts and lives….and our need for growth.
Grace sees what could be….in relationships.
Grace sees what could be….in attitudes.
Grace demonstrates love to us right where we are….and sees ahead to what God will do in our lives as we yield our will and our hearts to Him.

* GRACE KNOWS US…right where we are…and chooses to show us love and mercy.

Grace is a choice that God makes in every millisecond of time to continue to show mercy because of His great love for us. The world keeps on spinning because of Amazing Grace. Our hearts keep beating because of the amazing grace of God. He could choose immediate judgement, but instead He chooses grace. And, from the dawn of time, His plan was to meet our need for grace by taking our judgement upon Himself because of His great love. We didn’t have to deserve or earn the right to forgiveness and salvation. He loves, He provides, He forgives, He sanctifies, He heals, He makes all things new, He comforts, He blesses, He gives joy and life more abundant, and His mercies are new every morning…because He is love. His grace flows out of the overflow of His lavish love, and the flow is never-ending.

“And the Word became flesh and lived among us, full of grace and truth; and we have beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten Son of the Father. And from His fulness we have all received grace upon grace.” John 1:14 & 16

“And the Word became flesh and lived among us, full of grace and truth; and we have beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten Son of the Father. And from His fulness we have all received grace upon grace.” John 1:14 & 16

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Post written by C. Boyd

This post was first published as a page on our WorshipSound Music Blog at http://worshipsounds.wordpress.com/grace-notes/

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Do you know someone who is looking for answers?

Thank you for spending your valuable time reading the contents of this page. We hope that it has been helpful to you. If you or someone that you know is looking for answers about life, we hope that you will visit our page called “Do You Know Jesus?”. The links provided on this page will help to answer life’s deepest questions. Here is the link to “Do You Know Jesus?”: http://www.worshipsounds.wordpress.com/do-you-know-jesus/

Please feel free to share this URL with anyone who is looking for answers about life and eternity.

Hopefully…

hopefulIt’s just a little change in the word (and in thinking); but for me, this could be BIG!

Certain common phrases can pop into our minds regularly: “hopelessly lost, hopelessly behind, hopelessly chaotic, hopelessly delayed, etc.”

But what about hopefulness? No one is hopelessly lost as long as we continue to hope to find or be found.

HopeFULLY behind means I’ll never give up.

HopeFULLY chaotic means joyfully busy!

HopeFULLY delayed (or injured, or ill, or limited, or challenged) means the human spirit + God’s spirit can conquer obstacles that men name ‘impossible,’ ‘improbable’ or ‘highly unlikely.’ (Yes, Logan!)

Since we’ve been born again to a a living hope (I Peter 1:3), we are NEVER hopeless!

We may feel hopeless, but we have Christ in us, the hope of glory! (Col. 1:27)

Years ago, I bought a chapter book (about a pioneer girl facing challenges) for our daughter. The name of the book was “Be Ever Hopeful, Hannalee.”

We have every reason to be hopeful (Jeremiah 29:11). The Lord wants to give us a future and a hope!

It’s my new motto: “Be ever hopeful, Cindy B.”

See our page called “Hope” for Scriptures and quotes about hope @ https://familysong.wordpress.com/hope/

When a Loved One’s Health is Failing

(Note:  This post was first published on our primary blog.  We have added it here because families do deal with changes in the health status of loved ones and with the grief and loss that accompanies a health crisis.  Such a traumatic time can also hold some sweetness as families have an opportunity to share their love with one another and as parents teach their children the lessons of God’s love, human love, mortality, perseverance, heaven, and hope.)

Dear friend, this is a very hard subject to talk or write about. If you are reading this, I know that you are hurting. I am praying for you even as I am writing. I pray that you will be able to make the most of the time you have with your loved one. I pray that you will have close friends and/or family who will be there for you when you need the comfort of knowing that someone else in this world knows what you are going through and cares deeply for you. I pray that you will have a very profound awareness of the presence of God. He is the God of all comfort, and I pray that you will have His peace even in the moments of stark reality when possessing any peace truly will be something that is beyond human understanding.

I pray that God will grant you wisdom for those times when you don’t know what to say or do and wisdom in comforting others (such as your children or siblings) who are walking through this valley with you. I pray that you will know that you do not carry your burdens alone. When you have Jesus as your forever friend and Savior, you are never alone. He is God with us. The Holy Spirit is also called the Comforter, and I pray that you will experience the lightening of your load as you give it all to Him each day.

I pray that whatever the road ahead holds for you and your family, you will have some opportunities for sweet moments along the way, and that you will be comforted in the joy of your memories as time passes. I pray for the strength of your relationships and that the experience of walking through a deep valley together will bring you closer. I pray for times of refreshing and worship even in the midst of your valley. I pray that you will know how deeply you are loved.

The Bible tells us of two things that Jesus is doing right now in Heaven.

*  He is preparing a place for those who love Him, and He is praying for us.

As we face difficult times and even tragic loss, we must remember that the time we spend apart from our loved ones will be a millisecond in the forever song of eternal life with God in the wonderful place that He has prepared for us. When a loved one is very ill or may be nearing the end of their life on earth, such a painful ripping away of the fabric of your life is a heavy burden, but it is a burden that you do not bear alone. Jesus is praying for you, and He wants to take your burden and exchange it for God’s peace as you choose to trust that God is good and that He is working all things together for good. As much as you love, with the great depth of feeling and compassion that you have, longing for the best for your loved ones….you and your loved one are loved infinitely and eternally more than you can imagine!

My own father passed away in 2004. In the last months of his life, there were some things that my siblings and I did very intentionally to make the most of the time that we had and to communicate love and caring to both of our parents. Some of these things we were able to do seemed to bring a significant amount of comfort to my Dad or to be especially meaningful or comforting to my Mom, and I will share those ideas with you. There are other things that we failed to do and that we saw in hindsight as something left undone. I will share those as well. This is not a comprehensive guide, but I want to share with the reader some lessons that I learned with the hope that they will be helpful to you and your loved ones. Whether you are a primary caregiver, a relief caregiver, or part of a support system as a family member or friend, you can find some help with the information shared in this post. It’s full of lessons learned about the most important areas of concern and ideas for addressing the needs that arise when a loved one is ill.

A.  TAKE TIME!
Tips for making the most of the time you have together

Making the most of the time with your loved one can be very difficult to do. Many people feel very uncomfortable being around someone who is very ill or who has been given a tough diagnosis.  Remember that your loved one probably feels much more uncomfortable than you feel.  Physical discomfort can be very difficult, but even more difficult is the knowledge that your illness is a source of emotional grief for loved ones.  In addition, it is very difficult to have others doing things for you that you would much prefer to do for yourself if you were not ill or injured.  So, keeping in mind that this experience is very difficult for everyone, resolve to be there for you loved one as much as is possible and practical for you as well as encouraging and helpful for him or her and for other care-givers.

If you loved one is still ambulatory, take your cue from them about what they would like to do and feel well enough to do.  Keep in mind that the amount of time away from home or expending energy may differ significantly from before their illness or injury.  Some ideas for them might include:  a concert, picnic at a favorite place or in the back yard, going to church, visiting a friend or relative,  a shopping excursion,  a board game night, a movie theater or movies at home, etc.  Remember that if you are not the primary care-giver, you should ask (privately) whether the primary caregiver would want to come along or would want to take a break while your loved one has some special time with you and your family (assuring them that they are very welcome to come but that you will not be offended at all if they need some down time).  One big help is to provide transportation to medical appointments.  The primary care-giver may come with you but enjoy a break from the driving.  It can also be very helpful to have one care-giver get out of the car and go into the building with your loved one while another parks the car.  Make sure that if you are giving a break to a primary care-giver by taking your loved one on an outing or to an appointment, you must ask about any concerns for the trip or necessary equipment, medications, etc. to take along.  You will need to be equipped with the knowledge to care for your loved one while away from home.

If your loved one is not feeling well and is spending most of their time in a chair or a bed, what can you do?

Here are some suggestions for that scenario and for caring for your loved one at home regardless of their mobility level:

1. The very nearness of your presence can be a comfort to your loved one even if he or she is only able to interact in a very limited way.  Even if your loved one seems upset or grumpy, they still want to see you.  They are just dealing with a lot emotionally and physically.  Ask if they need rest and would like to continue a visit later.  If they want you to stay, do so.

* visiting with children
It is important to be sentitive to the need for rest, so if you bring your children, talk to the caregiver(s) for your loved one ahead of time. Find out the best times of day to be there in person. Then, when you visit, make those times of day your priority. Play a board game with your children or build with blocks or color pictures in the room with your ailing loved one. Let your loved one experience the giggles and fun of watching the little ones. Let your little ones help. If a drink needs to be taken to Grandpa, let your child do that. Your children need to know that they can help and have helped. (Hint: use a lidded and insulated drink cup with a straw to prevent spillage and keep the drink warm or cold for your loved one. This will help not only your child to carry it without spilling but also be good for your loved one who is weakened and could drop or knock over the cup.)

In order to give your loved one a break for rest, take your children to a park or a movie. Take photos with your camera or cell phone while you are there so that the children can come back and tell about what they did and the fun they had, with pictures! Your loved one wants his or her family to keep living and loving, and sharing times of joy with them is one of the best things that you can do. Give the caregivers a break and let them have the fun of taking your children somewhere while you care for your loved one. Go to the grocery store for needed items, and let your children help find the items on the list. If you can make it like a scavenger hunt, they can have the fun of discovery.

2. If you are not the primary caregiver, try to go to see your loved one at least once without your children.
You may have to go alone, without your spouse, in order to accomplish this. I did this once, and I am so glad that I did. It was the last anniversary that my parents were able to share, and both my sister and I were able to be there. I only wish I had stayed a little longer. You need to try to find times when you can talk with your loved one. They may have some memories to share. That can be a very sweet time. Don’t wait too long to do this and then have unanswered questions that you wish you had asked. Share your memories of times together with them. Let them know how much you treaaure and love them!

3. Be sure to ask your loved one in a private moment if there is anything that you can do for them.
They may want to talk about their illness or about death and dying. While it is difficult for you and for them, they may feel that this is too hard to do with another loved one, and they may need someone to talk to about this. Let them talk, cry if you can’t help it, ask questions if you feel that it is called for, and pray with them.

* prepare for something special
Something else that you can do is to think ahead to special occasions that are approaching and ask if your loved one wants you to help them prepare for such events. For example, my parents’ 49th anniversary was coming up in September, so I asked my Dad during the summer if he wanted me to help prepare for it. He said yes. I asked him if he had any ideas of something he’d like to do. He really didn’t have any, so I shared with him about the eternity necklaces that were being made at that time, with 3 diamonds. The meaning of these necklaces was a love that has lasted, that is still alive, and that will always be. I told Dad about the local jeweler in the town where I lived who was also a custom jewelry designer and maker. Dad asked me to get his checkbook, and he wrote a check for this gift to my Mom. I was able to get the necklace made in a style that I knew my Mother would love and purchase a card on Dad’s behalf. When I drove the 3 and a half hours across Oklahoma by myself, to be with them on the week-end of their anniversary, I brought Dad’s last gift to Mom. He was able to give it to her in person (after he’d signed the card when Mom wasn’t looking) and tell her in person the significance of the gift (we have both pictures and video of this). Dad passed away 13 days later.

4. If you don’t live nearby, get creative with keeping in touch.

*  Call often, skype, send your childrens’ art and home-made cards, look for special cards that you can send.
*  Send photos by email or a small photo album of recent pix through the mail. Send a video.
*  Talk not just to your ailing loved one but also to caregivers. Look for ways to brighten their days.
*  Once, I sent a fruit basket through a florist when my Dad was in the hospital. I called the florist directly and talked to the person who was going to shop for and make the basket, so I was able to specify what fruits to include. You could also ask that a small paring knife, some pretty napkins, and some small disposable plates or bowls be included to make the gift more practical in a hospital environment and give them what they need to eat the fruit. Dad and Mom really enjoyed that fruit basket, and it was more meaningful than flowers at that time.
*  Something that I wish I had thought of was to give or send my Dad books on tape (CD). He loved to read, but his eyesight failed as his health did. He also could no longer see what was going on in a television program. There might have been some recorded books that he and Mom could have enjoyed together.

5.  If you have a loved one who enjoyed staying in touch by e-mail, searching the internet, or working on the computer, go together with other family members to purchase a computer that your loved one can use even if confined to a chair or a bed. A regular computer desk and desk chair may not work anymore, but a tablet (I-pad) or lap top computer on a hospital type table that can be swung over the bed or chair surface and adjusted for optimum height might work really well. Your loved one might not even need a table in order to use a tablet if hand or arm weakness is not a problem in holding on to it. A Kindle, Nook, or other e-reader might work well also, especially if it has the option of conversion to audio books. Do keep your loved ones tech capabilities, interests, and eyesight in mind in deciding whether to make such a purchase and what to purchase. For some people, access to this type of technology could really help them to feel that they are still connected to the world, able to view the news when they feel up to it, etc.

6. If your loved one is physically and mentally well enough to participate, join them in doing things they enjoy.
*  Do a puzzle or play a board game together.
*  Rent a video of their favorite movie.
*  Listen to favorite music or sing together.
*  Read a book or the Bible aloud to them.
*  Look through photo albums, watch family videos, or whatever your loved one wants to do.

7. Finally, as you are spending time, take the time to ask if there are any legal or businees matters that you can help to resolve for your loved one. In the case of my parents, Dad had almost everything in good shape as far as personal affairs, and Mom knew where everything was kept. This helps so much, but it is not always the case that someone is this prepared. Especially if an illness has come about suddenly, your loved one may need help with this. It will be a comfort to them to know this is taken care of, so don’t feel bad asking if there is such a need. If you can do this in the same conversation where you’ve aske about other types of needs, it could lead quite naturally to asking about this type of concern. There was one detail that my father had not taken care of that caused my Mom a lot of problems later on, and I wished that I had taken time to ask him about any loose ends. Topics such as insurance, a will, his wishes, any outstanding loans (they need to be in the name of both parties), and any properties (also need to be jointly owned) need to be addressed. Again, my Dad had done very well, but he failed to add my mother’s name to the property deed for some land he’d been given by his mother (once part of the family farm in South Carolina, split up into four parcels for he and his 3 brothers). The land was being used as a tree farm, and it was earning some money every time trees were harvested. It turned into a big hassle for my Mom to jump through the legal hoops that it took to get the property into her name, so I wished that I’d sat down with my Dad and helped him to think through a list of things like this that needed attention.

B.  PRACTICAL HELPS:  LOOK FOR THINGS THAT NEED TO BE DONE

What are some practical things that you and / or other family members or friends can do (or have done by a professional contractor ar handyman) that will be helpful to both your ailing loved one and their caregiver(s)?

It is good to think all of this through and come up with some possible ideas. Then, run these ideas by the caregiver(s) to see if they agree that what you are proposing will really be practical and helpful. The caregiver(s) may have additional ideas that have not occured to you. Finally, have a family meeting or conference call with those who can help to do what needs to be done and pay for any expenses. Share the needs and the ideas for meeting them, and make an action plan about how best to accomplish doing what you have agreed upon.

Here are some suggestions for re-arranging and modifying the home environment :

1. Comfortable seating is a must for someone who is not feeling well and for those who will be caring for him or her. If your loved ones have always resisted the look of a recliner but such a chair would now be very helpful, consider such a purchase and a furniture re-arrangement for perhaps the family gathering room to accommodate the large chair. Or, if there is no place to sit in the room where your loved one’s bed is, you may want to move another piece of furniture out in order to place a chair for a caregiver or visitor. For example, your loved one may only be wearing pajamas and may not need as much clothing storage, so their chest of drawers might be able to be moved into a closet or into another room.

2. A hospital bed can make life so much easier and more comfortable for your loved one and even be helpful to caregivers. Caregivers have the best perspective on when this becomes a need. A formal dining room can be converted to a room for this if there is nowhere else. Curtains or even a temporary wall (with a wide door opening) can be put in place for privacy. Your table can be stored in the garage, with legs removed and leaning against a wall, with some kind of a small carpet underneath to prevent damage. Chairs can be stacked in front of the table in your storage space. A hutch or buffet could stay if there is room, perhaps packing up some dishes temporarily and using the space for medicines, clothing, or whatever.

3. Grab bars can be a safety essential. If your loved one is like my Dad, he wanted to take care of his own needs as long as possible. We did install a grab bar beside the toilet and another beside the tub/shower. This did make it easier for my Dad to continue to take care of his needs for a while longer. However, we should have done it sooner. The grab bars were installed after Dad had already had a fall. We were able to get very sturdy grab bars at a home improvement store. They were white and didn’t look terrible. Make sure these are installed properly and anchored into a stud.

4. Consider accessability needs. If a ramp is needed but a permanent structure would not be a good option, check out the rollout aluminum ramps that support 1,000 lbs. and work well in so many applications. Here’s a link to the Roll a Ramp website: http://www.rollaramp.com/ . In addition, some doorways may need to be modified to accomodate a wheelchair or walker. This should be done by someone who knows how to re-frame a door opening and install a wider door. In most situations, no electrical outlets or switches would have to be moved; however, it’s wise to proceed with caution and use an electrician for this if the need arises.

5. A nice meal tray that suits the situation can be a great help. My Dad ate a lot of meals sitting in his chair with a lap tray Mom had found in a catalog and ordered.  This particular meal tray was similar to many lap desks that are sold these days, with a fabric “pillow” on the underside, full of styrofoam beads, allowing the tray to nestle onto a lap and sit evenly and snugly.  The tray she found was generously sized, had a raised rim around the top surface, and also had a recessed well for a drink cup.

6. Some sort of table to keep needed items within arms reach can be very handy and allow the patient to reach some items without waiting for help. (Medicines, reading materials, water, etc.) If you need a hospital type table, get one.

7. Fight for whatever equipment your loved one needs. Medicare did not want to approve a wheelchair or oxygen for my Dad at first, even though he was in congestive heart failure and needed both desperately. We got the items anyway but kept fighting until they were covered. Try to make sure your loved one’s Doctor prescribes equipment like this when needed to make the process easier.  A lift may become a necessity if your loved one becomes unable to assist in moving himself or herself.

8. Control lighting. If your loved one needs more light and there’s no room for a regular table lamp, get a pole lamp. If light bothers your loved one, find a way to cover windows where necessary.

9. Make it possible for your loved one to spend some time outdoors for as long as is possible, given their health and mobility needs. You may need to purchase a different type of outdoor seating for a deck or patio that will accomodate your loved one’s need for cushion and comfort if they have lost weight. (Note:  a gel or foam cushion for a wheelchair or for a wooden diniing chair can also be helpul for your loved one and add to their comfort level.)  Add an awning or umbrella if there’s too much bright sunlight. Place a bird feeder or a hummingbird feeder by a window where your loved one can see it if they would like this for a touch of the outdoors from inside. However, it will be necessary for someone ot maintain feeders once they are up.  If that would be too much, added to what you are already doing, don’t do it. Perhaps you can give your loved one little outdoor breaks by choosing to leave a little early for appointments and then intentionally pausing in your front yard or as you are on your way in from the parking lot to the medical building (if there is a nicely landscaped area). Just breathing some fresh air and seeing growing things and even birds or squirrels could be a welcome moment of enjoyment for your loved one.

10. Remove obstructions and dangers. Get rid of any furniture in your loved one’s path that has sharp corners (place it somewhere else). Remove throw rugs that could be a tripping hazard. If a space is too narrow between furniture pieces, change your furniture arrangement to make it easier for your loved one to navigate with a portable oxygen set-up or a walker. Cover the hearth next to your loved one’s chair with a quilt. Look around the home for danger spots if your loved one were to fall. Remove things that would cause injury if someone fell on or against them.

11. Give them music if desired.  If your loved one loves music, Place a CD player or Ipod where they can reach it and listen to their favorite music whenever they wish. Make sure they know how to use it. Listen to music with them, and sing along with it if your loved one wishes. I still remember hearing my sister-in-law singing with her Dad as she was caring for him (when he had moved into their home and his health was failing).

12. Look for a project that needs to be done!  Remember that you are trying to make life easier for primary caregivers as well as for your ailing loved one.  This can bring joy to the caregivers who are also in that environment and give them something else to focus on. It can also re-assure your loved one that those left behind will be well cared for. In addition, your family can use and enjoy whatever is done. This does not need to be something that will cause a lot of indoor mess and hassle. It could be something as simple as bright, new towels for a bathroom, fresh paint in the kitchen, or a peaceful photo or painting. Large projects to be considered might be one of the step in bathtubs with an opening door, which are installed by the manufacturer, or changing out a bathtub for a step-in or roll-in shower.

What chose to do was an outdoor project. Here’s how it took place. As Mother’s Day and Father’s Day were approaching in the months before my Dad passed away, I realized that there was nothing that my parents really needed as personal gifts. They had all their needs met, and Dad could no longer enjoy the hobbies that had provided our family with gift ideas through the years. I was racking by brain for an idea when I thought of their large deck. Behind their condo, Mom and Dad had both a patio and a huge deck. The deck needed some work, and they needed some new outdoor furniture and accessories. My siblings and I took this on as a project. We let Mom and Dad know about it, and Mom was especially excited. Travis & I drove to their home several times that Spring and Summer to work, and my Sister was able to fly down from Washington State to help as well. My brother and his family were living in France then, so we did a lot of communication by e-mail. We ordered many things online so that everyone could have a say in what was purchased. When we were able to be there to work on the project, Travis and I hammered in nails that were popped out, did minor repairs, and power washed the deck. We put together deck furniture that had arrived in huge boxes (we’d arranged for the boxes to be brought down the alley and placed directly on the deck so that Mom wouldn’t have to get help bringing them through the condo). We purchased pots, plants, and accessories locally and fixed them up. We hung lanterns on pretty brackets on the pergola. Mom had always loved taking care of plants, so she did not mind the watering and getting outside some. Dad was able to come outside more often in his last few months because the furniture was comfortable for him. And, when family came from out of town for Dad’s memorial service, the deck and the new table (plus the old one that Travis had repainted) were wonderful to have. There wasn’t enough seating indoors, and we were able to seat everyone nicely on the deck, which looked beautiful. Later on, when my Mom sold the condo, the improvements we’d made helped her find a buyer more quickly. The deck project was one thing that we did right.

13. If your loved one still has some mobility, look for ways to shift some things around and make it easier for them to function. If they have always gotten ready for the day at the far sink, ask if they would like to swap sinks to the one nearer the door.  Make that happen if needed. Place things that are most used in drawers at just the right height. Shift some hanging items or shelved items in the closet so that what is needed most is very accessible to your loved one.

14. Begin exploring ways to get help before you need it. If you think you will need a home health care nurse part-time, check into that. There are various programs to help with the cost, and it would be good to investigate all of that. My Dad did have a home health care nurse that came in for brief visits to handle some of the medical procedures that Mom was uncomfortable doing. They were going to start sending someone to assist with bathing, but that never happened. He also got some physical therapy at home to keep his muscles going so he could remain ambulatory as long as possible.

C.  MAKE PRE-ARRANGEMENTS SO YOU CAN BE THERE WHEN NEEDED

1. If your ability to be there for your loved ones when needed depends on getting away from your job or your spouse getting away, talk to supervisors or bosses before the need is urgent. Talk to your spouse about what times you will feel that your really need to be there. Talk about priorities for making this happen. Make any arrangement that you can to handle what must be done in your absence before you need to be gone.

2. Check on transportation options for all kinds of scenarios.

3. Make sure your children have what they need (someone to take them to sports or piano lessons, to help with homework, to be there for a special event). Have gifts purchased early for birthdays and such that are coming up in case you need to be gone. Talk to your children and help them to have some level of understanding about what is going on. They need to know and feel that they are part of the family in dealing with all of this.

4. Consider the needs of other family members as well. Try to be there for each other. Remember that others may grieve differently.

5. Talk to the funeral home and church (Pastor, person in charge of facilities) ahead of time. Make any arrangements that you can before they are needed.

6. Keep extended family and long time friends in the loop. Have a private blog for updates or an e-mail list of people to dash off a quick update. Check into Caring Bridge at http://www.caringbridge.org/ This is a web-based support system for you that you can customize to be seen only by those you wish to inform. It is designed to allow a family member to set up a page for an ailing loved one quickly and easily. They provide a sort of page template to use. Information such as prayer requests, health updates, needs for someone to stay with your loved one (while a primary caregiver has their own Dr. appointment, goes to church, has an outing with friends, goes to the grocery store, or whatever), a care-giving schedule or meals schedule, requests for immediate help if there is a need to have a prescription picked up or a family member picked up at the airport…..or whatever it is that your family needs in your own unique situation.

7. Include your ailing family member in everything (including decisions) as much as possible and for as long as possible (unless you plan a surprise).

D.  TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF

Try to have some joyful and fun times with your children, siblings, spouse, other family members and friends even in the midst of all that is happening. You are still alive! They are still alive! Each day is a day that the Lord has made! Rejoice in everything that brings joy! It is not a betrayal of the one who is ill! They would want you to enjoy what you can!

Take care of physical needs. Try to rest when you need to. Don’t skip check-ups or dental cleanings. If you can’t make a specific appointment time, re-schedule rather than canceling. Take your vitamins.

Take care of emotional needs. There needs to be someone you can talk to in order to share your deepest thoughts and cares.

Take care of spiritual needs. Try to keep going to church or at least to watch or listen to worship services. Stay in touch with your Ministerial Staff and Sunday School class. Continue your time with the Lord, and pray about all of your needs and concerns. Read or listen to books that help you. There are lots of books at your local Christian bookstore or online for people who are dealing with illness or loss.

Tell people when you need something. Don’t become a patient yourself because you have neglected your own well-being. If you have a private blog that only people who really care about your loved one can see, post a request for help if you need someone to run to the grocery store or do a few loads of laundry or bring in a meal. People who love you will see this and will respond when they can.

E.  HOLD ON TO HOPE!

As long as there is life, there is hope! Hope with and for your loved one! Talk of tomorrow! Make plans! Don’t give up! Sometimes people respond well to treatments. Sometimes remission comes. Sometimes an acute health crisis can be resolved and the patient can get better. Miraculous healings do happen. For your loved one who knows the Lord, healing will come! Whether it is healing of the body in the earthly life or what some people call “the ultimate healing” of eternal life with no more sickness or pain, healing will come!

My Dad held on to hope. Just a month before he died, he had decided to give his car to Travis and I. It had been sitting idle in Mom and Dad’s garage for months. When they were talking about the decision, Dad asked Mom, “But what if I get better?” and Mom replied, “Then we’ll get you a new car!” (yea, Mom!) As sick as he was, Dad had not abandoned hope of getting better. He held on to hope! The hope that he had allowed him to live as long as he did and to avoid self-pity or depression. Hold on to hope!

Years ago, Travis and I went to a Christian concert, and one of the artists was talking about a friend who had what the Doctors called “terminal cancer.” This man had a joyful attitude because he believed that the two possible scenarios for his future were to either (a) be miraculously healed or (b) be with the Lord. He held onto the Lord and held on to hope!

Finally, TRUST GOD TO HAVE THE BEST INTERESTS OF YOU AND YOUR LOVED ONES WRITTEN ON HIS HEART!

Here are some scripture verses that offer comfort and hope.

  • The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. – Psalm 34:18
  • Jesus said, “Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” – John 16:22
  • I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow. – Jeremiah 31:13
  • …weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. – Psalm 30:5
  • He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. – Psalm 147:3
  • “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you,” says the Lord. – Isaiah 66:13
  • I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” – Genesis 28:15
  • I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. – Isaiah 42:16
  • But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless. – Psalm 10:14
  • And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. – 1 Peter 5:10
  • The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. – Isaiah 58:11
  • For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. – Psalm 72:12
  • This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. – 1 John 5:14
  • The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The LORD protects the simple-hearted; when I was in great need, he saved me. – Psalm 116:5-6
  • For the LORD comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones. – Isaiah 49:13
  • Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. – Hebrews 4:16
  • In my alarm I said, “I am cut off from your sight!” Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help. – Psalm 31:22
  • In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. – Psalm 18:6, 16
  • Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. – 2 Corinthians 1:3-5
  • The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. – Psalm 18:2
  • For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help. – Psalm 22:24
  • Be merciful to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief…But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” – Psalm 31:9, 14
  • A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all; – Psalm 34:19
  • In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed. – Psalm 22:4-5
  • For your Father knows what you need before you ask him. – Matthew 6:8
  • You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, – Psalm 10:17
  • For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver…we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance. – Psalm 66:10, 12
  • The LORD is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made. The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. – Psalm 145:17-19
  • Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you. – Isaiah 54:10
  • My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. – Psalm 62:1
  • He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. – Psalm 91:1
  • Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. – John 14:27
  • Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. – I Peter 5:7
  • May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:13
  • He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. – Isaiah 40:11
  • You understand, O LORD; remember me and care for me. – Jeremiah 15:15

  • Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him. – Psalm 126:5-6
  • I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. – John 16:33
  • Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall. – Psalm 55:22
  • Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. – Romans 5:1-2
  • My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life. – Psalm 119:50
  • Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. – Isaiah 58:9
  • He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. – Psalm 18:19
  • Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7
  • Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings. – Psalm 17:8

We do not want you to be uninformed about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words. – I Thessalonians 4:13-18

  • Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. – Psalm 46:10
  • The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. – Zephaniah 3:17
  • Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. – Psalm 51:12
  • Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. – Psalm 73:23-24
  • Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. – Lamentations 3:21-23
  • For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39
  • Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills {his purpose} for me. – Psalm 57:1-2
  • I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust. – Psalm 91:2
  • I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:16-19
  • Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. – Matthew 5:4
  • But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. – Psalm 59:16
  • He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. – Psalm 91:4
  • The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him. – Nahum 1:7
  • I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. – Psalm 27:13-14
  • The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. – Proverbs 18:10
  • The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. – Psalm 23:1-4
  • I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. – Psalm 34:4-5
  • May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant. Let your compassion come to me that I may live, for your law is my delight. – Psalm 119:76-77
  • I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” – Revelation 21:2-4
  • O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. – Psalm 63:1-3
  • And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.- Philippians 4:19
  • Answer me, O LORD, out of the goodness of your love; in your great mercy turn to me. Do not hide your face from your servant; answer me quickly, for I am in trouble. – Psalm 69:16-17
  • …because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” – Hebrews 13:5-6
  • But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds. – Psalm 73:28

Scripture verses copied and edited from http;//www.joeagoglia.com/resources/scriptures.asp

© Copyright 2003-2012 Justin Agoglia. All Rights Reserved.

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This post was written by Cynthia A. Boyd.
For those who love through valleys of sorrow…love and prayers to you.

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Do you know someone who is looking for answers?

Thank you for spending your valuable time reading the contents of this page. We hope that it has been helpful to you. If you or someone that you know is looking for answers about life, we hope that you will visit our page called “Do You Know Jesus?”. The links provided on this page will help to answer life’s deepest questions. Here is the link to “Do You Know Jesus?”: http://www.familysong.wordpress.com/do-you-know-jesus/

Please feel free to share this URL with anyone who is looking for answers about life and eternity.

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Disappointment…and Grace

All of us experience disappointments in life. These can be relatively minor circumstances, disappointments that turn out to be merely a misunderstanding, devastating choices that lead to major life upheavals, or even heart-breaking betrayals of trust. I believe that every disappointment has the potential to change us in some way. If we can learn to respond with grace to the disappointments that come our way, they can lead to growth and perhaps to eventual reconciliation where there is a need for that. Many times, situations have consequences that reach far into the future, but that just makes it even more important to respond in a way that prevents bitterness from taking root and leaves an open door for God’s grace to bring good out of the pain of disappointment.

There are several types of disappointment that we need to consider. First, there is what I’ll call a Circumstantial Disappointment. Secondly, there are Relational Disappointments. Third, we will deal with Regretful Disappointments. Finally, we can sometimes feel disappointment with God when the answers to prayer are long in coming or seem not to be coming at all. We’ll call that Spiritual Disappointment. There are some general truths for dealing with all kinds of disappointment and some specific considerations for different types of disappointment.

Some people feel that the best way to avoid disappointment is by choosing not to expect too much. I remember not long ago hearing some dialogue in which an individual took issue with the phrase, “Don’t get your hopes up.” I don’t recall the source of the dialogue in question, but it may have been in a movie. The response to being told, “Don’t get your hopes up!” went something like this: “Why not? Why wouldn’t I want my hopes to be up? That’s a very good place for hopes to be. Why would I want to hope for less?” There’s a lot of truth in that. While our expectations in life should be a lot broader than hopes for more of everything good in our own lives (and should include hopefulness for our loved ones, our friends and neighbors, our community, our state, our country, and even the world as a whole, hoping for much more than just material blessings and ‘happiness’), it’s certainly much better to be hopeful than hopeless. Yes, we will sometimes be disappointed; but it’s still worthwhile to live hopefully. Hopes can bond the hearts of people, give individuals something to look forward to, give us a reason to keep working and trying and overcoming, and speak to the world around us with a message that the life of Christ within brings us “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow…blessings all mine with ten thousand beside.” (lyrics from the hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”)

The first key to dealing with disappointment is to hold on to hope. Our hopefulness is an indication of trust in God. When we know in the very depths of our souls that God is good and has our best interests on His heart, we can trust that whatever circumstance comes our way, God will use it to bring about good in our lives and in His Kingdom. So, the first and most important key to dealing with disappointment is a choice. We must choose to live hopefully. We must choose to reject the negative thoughts that enter our mind when we have been disappointed. Thoughts like “No one really cares about me” and “nothing ever works out in my life” are counter productive and depressing. To counter these kinds of thoughts, you may have to sit down and make some lists. Make a list of everyone who has been kind to you and demonstrated caring. Make a list of the blessings in your life. Make a list of the times when things have worked out well for you, and include times when something that seemed negative at first eventually turned into a positive. Seeing these truths written in black and white can do a lot to help you choose hope.

Precious promises for you!

Secondly, it is essential for us as Christians to look to scripture for help when we are dealing with disappointment. Study the ways that Biblical characters such as Joseph dealt with disappointment and even betrayal. Read the Psalms. Here, you will find a desperate longing for God, and sometimes the broken-hearted pleas for God’s deliverance from trials. No matter what the circumstance, the writers of the Psalms turned to God as their source of help and hope. Another helpful thing to do is to fill your mind with the promises of God. If you don’t have a little book of God’s promises from scripture, buy one and keep it on your nightstand.

Or, go to websites such as these:

God’s promises arranged by topic: http://www.smilegodlovesyou.org/promises.html
Daily scripture promise blog: http://www.365promises.com/
God’s promises in every book of the Bible: http://bible.org/article/selected-promises-god-each-book-bible
John Piper’s sermon on the promises of God: http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/all-the-promises-of-god-are-yes-in-christ

New International Version (©1984) “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through Him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.”
II Corinthians 1:20

Romans, Chapter 5, NIV
1Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, wea have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And web rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3Not only so, but wec also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

(Scripture references above are copied from the Online Parallel Bible) http://bible.cc/

SPECIFIC TYPES OF DISAPPOINTMENT

Circumstantial disappointment

All of us face times in life when circumstances change in a way that we did not expect or that seems less desirable than what we had hoped. These kind of circumstantial disappointments may involve something that didn’t happen as you had hoped. Or, they may involve something that happened which seems contrary to everything you had hoped. Sometimes these disappointments lead to eventually letting go of one dream for your life and grabbing hold of God’s promises and His new dream for you. Circumstances will happen to disappoint us all, and each time we must choose to look at the positives in the situation. The reactions we have to the disappointment of our hopes can range from mild irritation (having to re-arrange your schedule because a flight was cancelled, for example) to feeling absolutely devastated (the sale of your home fell through, or you were laid off, or you didn’t get admitted to the University of your choice). No matter how strong our reaction may be, each disappointment results in the following choices:

1. Choosing to continue to dwell on what has been lost even though nothing can be done about it OR eventually choosing to let it go and move on.

2. Choosing to give up on a hope or dream OR seeking God’s direction about whether to allow Him to give you a new dream or to persevere in seeking this hope but perhaps through another avenue.

3. Choosing to become bitter about what has been denied OR allowing God to use disappointment to refine our character.

4. Choosing to become stuck in the past and our unfulfilled hope OR moving forward with trust and faith in God, knowing that He will work all things (even this disappointment) for our good.

5. Feeling hopeless OR allowing God to restore our hope as time passes and the mental and spiritual adjustment is made not only to the reality that the disappointment has occurred, but to the possiblities of the future!

There is a grieving process with any disappointment, and it is necessary. After all, it takes time to re-adjust your thinking to a new reality. However, we must always be seeking God as the Source of our comfort, our transformation to the likeness of Christ, and ultimately, our hope. God wants us to be honest with Him in prayer. He knows we are devastated and disappointed, but He wants us to talk to Him about it. His Spirit can only minister peace in a situation that has been turned over to Him. A new dream can only be given when we choose to allow Him to turn our disappointment into possibilities that we’d never imagined. Give yourself the grace of seeing each day as a new beginning, full of possibilities and promise as you release the disappointments of the past and surrender each moment to the Lord. The reality of your disappointment can become a stepping stone to newness in your life and even to a reality more joyful or profound than anything you could have dreamed. Hold on to your relationship with God through the grieving and adjustment period, and hold on to hope!

Relational Disappointment

Relational disappointment can be the most devastating type of disappointment. Someone has let us down or even intentionally hurt us…often in a BIG way. Broken hearts result from relational disappointment. Here, we are not only dealing with our feelings about what has happened. We are also dealing with the ongoing relationship. When we have been badly hurt, anger is often our response. However, the expression of anger can cause even more relational difficulty. It’s good to keep in mind some considerations of the other person and the relationship you have to them. As you work through the process of dealing with the disappointment and hurt that you feel, you can choose to show grace by valuing the person and the relationship more than your right to be angry and hurt. Although the grieving and adjustment process for relational disappointment is the same as for any other type, the feelings and the potential relational consequences involved require careful consideration of a few additional factors.

First, remember that you, too, have at times disappointed someone. None of us can perfectly meet the needs of another person. We will all make mistakes, forget something important, or fail to handle a situation appropriately from time to time. We all will have times when we need to apologize for disappointing someone else (as well as times when we need to forgive someone for disappointing us).

Secondly, we need to realize that what seems a big failure or disappointment may have been out of someone’s control or may have resulted from a miscommunication of some type. Here, I will give an example of something that occurred at one of the churches where Travis had served. There was a person who was a part-time employee in Music Ministry at the church, and this individual had been serving for a number of years. Travis was new at the church and was still learning how things were done. Procedures and policies very widely from church to church, and that fact would be brought home in this situation. At the church Travis had left prior to coming to this new church, the Personnel Committee had always taken care of farewells and thank yous to those who were leaving a paid position in the church. However, when this person was no longer employed by the church, nothing was done by that committee. By the time that Travis realized that things were handled differently at the new church, the former employee was already very upset and feeling unappreciated. Though he tried to correct the mistake he’d made by assuming procedures were similar, the attempts were rejected by the former employee. Travis would have liked to have had the opportunity to show appreciation properly; but because of a misunderstanding and the resulting disappointment, that never happened as it should have.

Many times, relational disappointments do result from some sort of misunderstanding. When there seems to have been a mess up or a large oversight that affects you, try not to automatically assume the worst and get all upset without knowing the facts. There may be reasons why things happened as they did of which you are unaware. Sometimes, knowing what happened can help and can even save a relationship. Therefore, we all need to give each other the grace of refusing to jump to conclusions. If you can talk to the person or persons who were involved in whatever led to your disappointment and tell them, “I really felt… (disappointed, betrayed, unappreciated…fill in the blank) because….” (Keep it short and mention only one or two main factors, without detail. Hopefully, this can come across without condemnation or anger.) Then, ask for clarification, “I didn’t want to assume anything without giving you the opportunity to explain, so can you tell me what happened?” Give the person some time to think and consider a response. Just sit and wait without saying anything further. It could be that there are real reasons for the way things happened that you never knew about. The problem could even have resulted from something that you did or said that the other person did not know how to handle. The truth could immediately make you feel better. If so, you may have prevented permanent damage to a relationship by seeking understanding. Or, the truthful answer could hurt at first. It may be that the truth is a mirror, reflecting an area in your own life where some change needs to take place or just an outright failure or oversight by the other party. Either way, these kinds of hurtful truths can be stepping stones to growth and to better understanding eventually if we keep the door of relationship open and work to have better understanding and resolve problems. Regardless of the steps that need to be taken, forgiveness is always appropriate. Even if something happened that was totally wrong, forgiveness will ultimately set you free from bitterness and from living in the past. Ask God to give you an open heart to any changes that you need to make and grace for the other person, just as you have been shown grace and mercy.

When you think that you have someone figured out and that you are disappointed in who they are, remember that there may be many things that you do not know about this person or about their life. Some of your asumptions may be totally wrong. Give others the grace of forgiveness and a second chance. You may be making yourself totally miserable by harboring negative feelings that are not even based upon fact. Pray for this person, and allow God to work in them and in you. You may be surprised at what He will do!

If a relationship proves to be totally unhealthy, seek counsel about what to do. No one has to stay in an abusive situation. You cannot change another person. Change can only come when the other person desires to change, and a lot of changes require God’s help.

Regretful disappointment

Sometimes, our lives can become filled with regret if we dwell on past mistakes or on what we wish we had done in a situation. These things are truly beyond our control. They are in the past. What matters is how we live NOW and what we do to make things better NOW. Give yourself the grace of letting go. Learn from past mistakes, fix what you can, and then remember Paul’s testimony and advice:

“It’s not that I have already reached this goal or have already become perfect. But I keep pursuing it, hoping somehow to embrace it just as I have been embraced by the Messiah Jesus. Brothers, I do not consider myself to have embraced it yet. But this one thing I do: Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I keep pursuing the goal to win the prize of God’s heavenly call in the Messiah Jesus.” – Phillippians 3;12 – 14 (International Standard Version)

The Serenity Prayer can also be helpful.

Spiritual disappointment

Spiritual disappointment can be extremely difficult. As Christians, we know that God is good and that He is able to do anything and to meet our needs. We feel that we should be content to trust His wisdom about the when and the how. We often don’t feel that we can even talk to other Christians about our disappointment. This kind of scenario can lead to feeling totally alone, as though one is abandoned by God but can’t talk about it because to do so would only lead to rejection from other believers who may want to comfort you but who actually fear the pain and loss you have experienced and want you to repeat phrases like “God is so good!’ or “His timing is perfect” for your good and for their comfort. The Book of Job is about just such a struggle. It’s a battle for Job between what he knows he should feel and what other believers are telling him to feel versus how he actually does feel. At the beginning of the time of trial for Job, God expresses confidence in the faith of Job. And yet, even for a mature believer, there is a process of sorting through thoughts, grieving loss, and finding that your faith still holds true. Job wants to know why. He knows that he has done nothing wrong to provoke God’s judgement in the form of the calamity that has come upon his household, and yet He acknowledges that God is sovereign over all. God Himself speaks with Job, and the truths that come out of this conversation are that God does not have to reveal His reasons to us and yet, He wants us to come to Him with our questions. There is no way that we could fully understand the interactions of every human heart and every circumstance as God does. We don’t have the infinite understanding to fathom God’s reasoning, but God gives us the mercy and grace to allow us to question Him, to ask why, and to express our pain, our deep grief, our disappointment, and even our anger. After we have asked out questions and cried out our pain, peace comes only when we finally choose to trust. It is a process, and that process is part of the healing and growth. So, the ultimate message about spiritual disappointment is that it will come to everyone, that we must take it to Him, and that He will teach and comfort us through the pain.

Turning to God in our disappointment and being honest with Him in prayer is the third key for dealing with disappointment. In earlier paragraphs, I had stated that the other two keys are choosing to live hopefully, based upon your knowledge of God’s goodness and your desire to have a positive outlook, and then turning to scripture for help in coping with disappointment. So, my friends, choose hope! Seek answers in God’s word, and turn to Him with all of your questions and hurts as you work through the process of moving forward in your life after you have been disappointed. These three keys to coming through a disappointment and moving forward without bitterness are not a ‘quick fix’. There is no easy answer and no quick solution. Allow yourself the grace of processing all that has happened and thinking through what this means for the future. God wants to bring possibility and promise out of this situation for you. He wants to heal your heart and give you new hope. He wants to communicate His love for you and renew your confidence in His goodness. Blessings to you in the journey!

* A SONG FOR YOU * Here’s a link to a song that may be helpful to you: http://soundcloud.com/travis-l-boyd/god-is-faithful-satb-choral

* HERE’S A BONUS *
Check out this excellent teaching about disappointment by TV host, author, and speaker Michelle McKinney Hammond on the 700 Club’s “Voices of Hope” series (segment #2) about facing life issues.  Here’s the link to the series.  (You will have to select and click on the Segment #2 link to see the video with the teaching about disappointment.): http://www.cbn.com/700club/features/voiceofhope/

Interestingly, in the 700 club interview that allows her to explain her teaching on disappointment, Ms. Hammond also speaks of the need for demonstrating grace when facing disappointment, saying, “Don’t expect divinity from humanity.  Have grace for people, and place your expectations on God.”  Additionally, she also speaks of trusting God through the disappointment (as in our blog article), but she does state some of her teaching in some unique ways that will be helpful to anyone who is seeking additional insights to learn the lessons of disappointment while holding on to faith, preserving relationships, and dealing with pain.  Listen near the end of the interview for your assignment, when Ms. Hammond speaks of God’s plan in the disappointment and our corresponding job as the steward of the experience.

Here is a link to information about her book called How to Get Past Disappointment;
(
Note: I have not read the book, but I am recommending it based upon hearing the teaching in the above link, which is a portion of what is contained in the book. – C. A. Boyd)
Book info: http://www.amazon.com/How-Get-Past-Disappointment-Finding/dp/0736937862

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>This post was written by C. A. Boyd
<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>><><><>Do you know Jesus?The decision to ask Jesus to come into your heart and life as your Lord and Savior is the best decision you could ever make! The one true God is ready to give you forgiveness and eternal life as soon as you understand your need for Him and believe on the name of His only Son, Jesus, for your salvation.Here’s a blog page link to help you find the answers to your questions about Jesus.

http://www.boydbrainmusic.wordpress.com/do-you-know-jesus

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A Little Boydie told me…

Just a reg’lar Mom in a house full of boys

praise4ever

praise4ever

I'm a busy wife and mother of 7, with 6 incredible boys still at home and a beautiful married daughter. Our boys range in age from our 10 year old twins to our 22 year old. We have 2 in Elementary School, 2 in Middle School, one in High School, and one High School grad. They are all incredible and special. One of our boys has special needs. I'm a musician, singer, writer, composer, blogger, and teacher. I'm thankful for our home and family, for Travis, my amazing husband of 39 years, and for family and friends near and far. Most of all, I'm thankful for God's grace and mercy and that He has given the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.

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Giving a Song to say “Thank You”

Travis L. Boyd / WorshipSounds Music

Travis L. Boyd / WorshipSounds Music

As a follower of Jesus Christ, a husband and a father of 7, and a Minister of Music and Worship, I am very blessed. For a total of 32 years, I have served as a Minister of Worship for some wonderful congregations in the states of Oklahoma, Texas, and Georgia. It is a joy to lead God's people in worshipping Him through music, and I am very blessed to serve at First Baptist Church of Duluth, Georgia. I'm also a composer, lyricist, arranger, and orchestrator, with choral anthems, songs, and orchestrations published by Shawnee Press (now with Hal Leonard), Lorenz, Choristers Guild, and Lifeway. My web-based music publishing site, WorshipSounds Music (formerly Boydbrain Music), offers Choral Anthems, Orchestrations, Congregational Praise, and Vocal Solo music. Our worship blog has become an extension of worship ministry, and it is a privelege to share information and inspiration with other worshippers. My desire is to glorify God through my life, ministry, and composition work. I believe that music is a wonderful way to communicate the truths of God's love and mercy and to glorify Him. My wife, Cindy, and I have been married for 36 years. We have 7 children. Daughter Meredith lives in Texas. Sons Jared, Zachary, Braden, Logan, Austin, and Camden range in age from 7 to 19 and are still living at home.

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