Monday, March 20, 2017

I AM NOT A SPECIAL NEEDS MOM – by Guest Author Sarah Frazer

The face of Adoption has changed a great deal over the past few decades. More and more adoptions are of special needs children. My hat goes off, and my heart goes out to these self-less adoptive parents of children who come to them "seemingly" broken. Welcome guest author Sarah Frazer . 

I'm not a special needs mom. Or I didn't think I was until therapy has become our normal routine.  I never thought much about her looking different until I began to notice the quick glances at the grocery store. Eyes darting away in embarrassment as they catch sight of the drool. Or her weak neck muscles. Or maybe its the tiny pink braces or lack of eye contact.  

She is considered different by our world's standards. Different sometimes means not good enough. When I realized she will not reach the milestones at the appropriate ages, I finally had to admit I was a mom to a special needs daughter. And a little part of me didn't like that label.

When I began my journey of special-needs parenting, I was scared. International adoption brings the possibility. But I honestly didnt expect to bring home a little girl who couldnt walk or talk. Guilt and loneliness settled in my heart. I had so many questions, mostly about myself. Would I be enough? Could I really do this? I didn't want to be a special needs mom. I didn't think I wanted to walk this road. I felt pushed into the deep end.

We've all seen the stories of special-needs students getting their moment to shine. The boy who was faithful on the football team all year, and the coach letting the student score a touchdown during the last game. Or the girl who was asked to prom by the popular student. The dress and smile shine as she gets to be beautiful, even by the world's standards, for one night.


The other players will not remember any game through their high school career, but they will remember their teammate's joy as he passes the end zone. The dress may not be remembered, but the smile will be.  Why do other children see these students as special and treasured? Why are those people remembered in our lives?

Because there is beauty found in the heart. There is worthiness found in the ordinary. The small milestones are celebrated with joyful enthusiasm. Laughter becomes contagious. Their joy is full, and so is ours. We see beauty in the simple.....all because of her.


“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:19-21



This year I've discovered heavenly treasure.  A girl has come alive before our very eyes. She giggles. Acts silly. Shows preferences. Communicates. Loves big, and with risk. Cries. Tantrums. Eats. Sleeps. Watches TinkerBell. Her worth to us goes beyond her ability.

If my daughter's ability to walk determines her worth, she is sadly lacking.

If my daughter's ability to talk is what gives her life merit, she is incomplete.

If my daughter's outward abilities are a reflection of her worth, she is not enough.

But…if value is placed on her ability to feel and give love, she measures up.

But…if worthiness is based on her soul, she is eternally cherished.

Even if she never walks or speaks a word....she is still worthy. Every child, even those with disabilities, will live forever. And they matter. They are the treasures that do not rust or fade away. My daughter matters. And she gives me hope, as a special-needs mom.  Hope in the eternal. Hope in a God who looks at the heart. The invisible things truly are more valuable than the visible.  I matter, too. My worth is not based on a character flaw or physical limitation I might see in the mirror. My worth is not even based on what I own or the failures or accomplishments of my life.

Even though I didn't want to be a special needs mom, and I still find it hard, I give praise to my Father everyday for giving me this child. I get to witness something I would have never witnessed otherwise: we all matter to God. We are all valuable. Every soul. We are valuable because we are precious to the Father. The Son. And the Spirit. Precious. Wanted. Worthy because of our Creator.


ABOUT AUTHOR SARAH FRAZER:

Guest Author Sarah Frazer

As a momma of four littles and wife to a busy husband, Sarah spends her days making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, reheating her coffee ten times a day, and sneaking quiet time with her earbuds to drown out the screaming. She invites you to join her as we study God's Word in our ordinary days!



PURCHASE LINK FOR Glorious-Ordinary-Invitation-Study-Everyday




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Monday, March 13, 2017

Five Ways to Pray When Your Child Goes Astray— by Guest Author Cindi McMenamin

  • How do you trust God and not worry when you see your child start spiraling downward?  
  • How can you know when to say something and when to let your child work it out? 
  • How can you trust that God ultimately has "good" in mind when it all looks so bad?
While writing my book, 10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom, I discovered that one of the most intense concerns a mother has for her children, apart from her concerns for their physical safety, is her concern for their spiritual condition. We fear our children will turn their backs on their faith and all they were taught and needlessly stumble through life.

That situation can be fearful, and can make us feel so helpless.

I asked hundreds of moms to share with me their secret to maintaining hope for a wayward child, even if the situation looks hopeless. Their answer is always the same. Their hope is in God, not their child, and God's ability to turn that child's heart back toward home.

Here is how you can maintain hope while praying for your child who has gone astray:

1. Pray Scripture over them
A friend of mine who witnessed her daughter self destruct into drugs and a dangerous lifestyle for several years, saw God turn her daughter’s heart around. But, she said, her only comfort during the season of her daughter's rebellion was praying Scripture over her daughter. Isaiah 49:16 was especially encouraging to her. 


"See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me."

While that verse prophetically refers to the nail prints in Jesus' hands, it symbolizes to us that Jesus knew each and every person by name, that He would die for and those nail prints were like an engraved name on His hand.

What a comfort to know He has our children on His mind and in His heart.

2. Pray by focusing on God’s character


From Psalm 139 alone, we can be encouraged knowing that God is One who: 

  • searches us and knows us from the inside out (verse 1)
  • knows our every action and thought (verses 2-3)
  • knows what we will say before we say it (verse 4)
  • follow us everywhere we go (verses 8-12)
  • formed us and watched over us while we were in the womb (verses 13-15)
  • wrote out our life story in His book before we even lived it (verse 16)
  • convicts us of our offense and leads us in the right direction (verse 24)

    That Psalm reminds us that God is more intimately acquainted with our child than we will ever be. And that He is tracking their whereabouts when we can't.
3. Pray for your child to discern God's voice 


A mom of six children told me “I always pray for God to be loud to my children.”

Children will hear our voices in their heads. And they may try to shut out that voice at times if their hearts are hardened. Children will also hear their friends' and peers' voices, and the voice of the enemy seeking to lead them astray. But we want God's voice – the voice of His Holy Spirit – to be louder than anyone else's voice.

Insert your child's name in this prayer and pray it often: "Lord, help ____________ to listen to what You say, and to treasure Your commands. Tune _______________'s ears to wisdom, and help _____________ concentrate on understanding (Proverbs 2:1-2, NLT). Instruct ______________in the way of wisdom and lead ________________ along straight paths (Proverbs 4:11).

4. Pray for wisdom to know when to speak and when to be silent 

There will come a time when your words will fall on deaf ears, but God's never will. Pray for wisdom so you know when to speak, and what to speak, and when to be silent so God can speak. Here's a way to pray for that right now:

“Lord, Your Word says "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him" (James 1:5). Lord, I need that kind of wisdom to know when to speak to ______________ and when to be silent. "Do not let any unwholesome talk (lecturing, judging, or accusing) come of (my) mouth, but only what is helpful for building (my children) up according to their needs… (Eph. 4:29). Let me also be "quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…” (James 1:19).
5. Praise God for what you don't yet see
We are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 to be joyful, to pray continually and to thank God for all circumstances, not just the ones we are comfortable with. Thank God often for something in your child’s life that you wouldn’t ordinarily be thankful for, as a way of trusting His work in your child's life and acknowledging that He’s in control.


Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and author of 15 books, including When Women Walk Alone, When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter, and 10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom. For more on her resources to strengthen your walk with God, your marriage, or your parenting, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Cindi McMenamin's Website for Ten Secrets to becoming a Worry-Free-Mom 

Friday, March 10, 2017

LOSING A CHILD TO MENTAL ILLNESS -- by Guest Author Susan Stewart

There are many ways to lose a child. While I lost mine to adoption, my guest today, Susan Stewart, talks about losing her son to mental illness.

Grief of any kind is horrible; so horrible we often deny the cause of the grief or the grief itself. When a family member is diagnosed with a mental illness, like a death, everything changes. The future we had planned, dies. As with any death, a grieving process is necessary to move forward.
We were thrilled, and worried, when our son impulsively enlisted in the Marine Corp. We wondered whether he could make it. His recent history didn’t bode well for success. For several years his behavior had been so out of control, we thought it was rebellion. My mother’s heart though, knew something else was wrong. I prayed this latest impulse would be the start of something new, a new future.

I remember vividly when I saw him marching toward us at boot camp graduation. He had made it! I thanked his drill sergeant for giving me my son back. At Marine Combat Training, he received commendations and a meritorious promotion. My prayers were being answered.

About a year later, my son was in jail and discharged from the Corp. What a let down. The future I thought he was going to have was gone. The son I thought had been restored, gone. All hopes and dreams, gone. What had made yet another drastic change? Mental illness.

I learned later, I needed to grieve not just the loss of the son I had had, but the future the entire family had hoped for him. This grieving, grieving the future, has the same steps as grieving a physical death: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance
  • Denial – When our son was originally diagnosed, I thought it could be fixed, he could be reinstated into the Corp, and the future restored. The first stage of grief had begun. For it to make sense to me, I needed to deny this life-altering diagnosis would change anything and try to reclaim his future.
Often the denial can be simply ignoring the diagnosis or it can be a lack of knowledge and misunderstanding of mental illnesses. It often is viewed as a character flaw rather than the biological illness it is.
  • Anger – It wasn’t long before my denial turned into anger. I was angry at the doctors for not doing more, the Marine Corp for discharging him instead of helping him, at my son for not getting well, even at myself for not seeing this coming. After attending Family-to-Family classes, sponsored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, I learned what my problems was and how to really help my son. That meant accepting the diagnosis. But I wasn’t ready to accept the new future.
  • Bargaining – Of course I bargained with God. Don’t we all at some time? I prayed not just for a complete healing of my son’s brain, but also for everyone, including the Marine Corp, to change their thinking. Father God, if you will do this one thing, I will ….
Eventually I tried to bargain with my son. I tried manipulation to get him to “be well” and start over in the Corp. All the while, he was spiraling further into the depths of paranoia and delusions, symptoms of his illness.
  • Depression – When denial, anger, and bargaining don’t change the situation, a sense of failure can set in, depression. I didn’t realize that it wasn’t the failure of others; it was my own failure to accept my son’s diagnosis. I gave up trying to fix the problem. Actually I just gave up.
  • Acceptance – With the help of our NAMI friends, I moved from trying to fix an unfixable problem and feeling like a failure to acceptance and action. Acceptance means understanding that the situation, the diagnosis, isn’t going to change. God is in control; I’m not. With acceptance, I began to take action to support and help others.
During the various phases, I cried out to God. God, tell me, show others, this isn’t true. God, how could you let this happen? God, if you will heal my son’s brain, I will … God, I can’t take this any longer. I’m a failure. Why did you leave me? God, you are not wrong; I am. Use me.

Today my son still has a serious mental illness. He has learned to manage it, has a good job, and is a successful person. He did it all without me manipulating him or the situation.
God provided a way through the grieving. He carried me through the steps to his good plan. I can now serve him by helping others through the grieving process, even when they don’t know they are grieving.

Do you have a friend or loved one suffering with a mental illness? Join Shattered Lives Facebook support group. Contact me at susan@practicalinspirations.com for an invitation.

If you wish to purchase the Kindle version of her book Preschool: AT WHAT COST?, look for the link on the left bar, and purchase through my site.


ABOUT AUTHOR SUSAN STEWART

When she’s not tending chickens and peacocks, Susan K. Stewart teaches, writes, and edits non-fiction. Susan’s passion is to inspire readers with practical, real-world solutions. Her books include Science in the Kitchen and Preschool: At What Cost? and the award-winning Formatting e-Books for Writers.
Look on left bar for to purchase Kindle version of Susan Stewarts's book, Preschool: At What Cost?

Author Susan Stewart Links

You can learn more at her website www.practicalinspirations.com.
Practical Inspirations http://www.practicalinspirations.com
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