Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Choice to Love

Titus 2:3-5
The age women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not give to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children...

In the past I read this verse and wondered why women need to be taught to love their husbands and children. So often in books, movies, and even from some women you may know, you might have the impression that this it is completely natural to love perfectly. Since God says here in His word that this might not always be the case, there is a reason for it. It means that we probably do not naturally do this as we should. It means we need to be taught to love. Love is often a decision before it becomes a feeling.

So many people have the mistaken idea of "love at first sight" both with their marriage and their children. So many divorces probably take place because women and men are not taught that love is a choice. Sometimes it seems you hear about marriages breaking up during the most difficult times in life. When trying times come, it is important to remember that God brought you together because He knew you needed each other for support during that time. When it comes to our children, we do love them in that first moment, and of course after, but so often the idea of a new baby has been romanticized, feelingized, etc until new moms feel like they are an awful person when they wake up for the third time in a night, already sleep deprived to hear their baby cry. It is not post-partum depression necessarily at that point that makes them not have wonderful feelings of love for their baby as much as that first time holding him or her, it is a lack of sleep and the fact that they are human. The reality is that none of us love right all of the time. We all need to make the choice to love. Of course deep down we love our husband and children, but it is that day-to-day love that can be so difficult to show whether or not we are surrounded by a trial.

When the verse says aged women, it simply means that if there is a mom who is younger than you, then you can probably encourage her to better love her husband and children. There are probably people who are stronger in this area than others. I was told a long time ago that love is a choice. Since that time, so many things in life have changed me and so often proven this to be true. We have the choice to love those in our lives no matter what the circumstances are. The aged women are to help with this, but we also have the perfect example. Christ chose to love us while we were yet sinners, and He proved His love by dying and coming to life again, so that we can someday live forever in His presence.

Whether you are married with five healthy children, married with no children and a husband who has been paralyzed in an accident, healthily married with no children, or you are married with three healthy children and one child who was born with debilitating issues, this message is for you. Love is a choice. We must take on Christ's example of love even when it is difficult.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Micah's Story

I am so thankful for the opportunity I have today to share my friend Amy's story of their son Micah. Every story is different, and each story that I hope to share will show you how God can be glorified even in the most difficult trials. I count it a privilege to be able to share this story today:

Once upon a time, Derek and Amy were expecting their first child. Their excitement grew with each month that passed, especially when quickening began and Derek could also feel the baby press against Amy's belly.

At last, the day arrived for the four-month ultrasound. They couldn't wait to find out the gender of their child! Like every new parent, they watched the ultrasound with eager minds, trying to learn everything about what they saw. However, the lab technician said she could not detect the gender due to the cord placement.

Thinking everything was fine, Derek returned to work. Amy stayed for another appointment to hear the results of the ultrasound.

The doctor entered Amy's room. She had tears in her eyes. "I don't think your baby will make it." Amy's heart all but stopped and tears came but did not fall yet.

The doctor described the baby's condition as a chromosomal anomaly. Upon further testing the next day, the doctors found that the baby's chromosomes were either missing of conjoined with each other in a way that would send misinformation to the baby's body as it formed.

At 27 weeks, Amy gave birth to Micah. Micah lived for 30 minutes. Instead of bringing home a baby, Derek and Amy took home a box.

And they lived happily ever after, right? After all, Micah went to heaven, didn't he?

I, Amy, can attest that we are grieving heavily for him and cry often, but that we will live happily ever after--not because we are assured he is in heaven. God would still be just to send Micah, our baby, to hell.

While you may gasp at what I write, our trust is and must be (whether we feel it or not) in the unshakable goodness and mercy of God who sits in the heavens and does whatever He pleases (Psalm 115). One day, God will make all things right with Himself. Surely there is a reward for the righteous (those who take refuge in Him); surely God is judge on the earth (Psalm 58). Derek and I are thankful for Micah and the lessons God has taught us through him.

However, our greatest hope comes in knowing that one day, we will see Jesus face to face and enjoy His presence forever. Why? Because, God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son--to die and rise again--that whoever believes in Him might not perish, but have eternal life. Who is like our God? There is no one like our God.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Being Graciously Misunderstood

It is difficult to be misunderstood. It can happen to anyone, anytime. I find one of the difficult things I have encountered as a parent is being misunderstood. There is something to be said for being a new mom and taking the advice of people who have been there. It is an act of humility to put yourself under others and learn from them. Sometimes, though, as a parent, you just need to do what you know is best for your child, no matter what someone outside of your home thinks.

I know I ran into this some with my first son, and at times I admit that it was pride that made me want to do something different than what was suggested. I still learned though even in the times when I might not have followed advice immediately. Parenting is one of those things that for the most part, you live and learn, and sometimes you learn the most by knowing your child. That is something that onlookers do not have, and that is why you cannot follow every piece of advice thrown at you through the media, Internet, and sometimes even friends and family.

Facebook is one of those mediums that can be negative in this way. It is sometimes humorous to see an unsuspecting mom place a comment online about her child. Within minutes there are thirty comments with suggestions that were not even asked for. I think we have all done it and have had it done to us. It is one of those areas that I have learned to be cautious about, because sometimes moms just want to talk and not be advised.

When it comes to having a child with special needs, it is easy to be misunderstood. I know I am new at it, and many of you reading this may be much more experienced. If you are, then you might know exactly what I mean. Just in general, people judge before knowing.

Perhaps your child is autistic and because of this might not be socially the same as others. There could be awkward moments where you and your child are misunderstood.

Your child might be hearing impaired or deaf. Because of this, he or she might speak extra loudly. People might turn and stare or even make comments.

Perhaps your child has a suppressed immune system or health issues that makes him or her very susceptible to illness that can cause critical illness. Maybe like me, you take every precaution, including a lot of hand sanitizer and keeping the baby carrier covered when around people. There might be talk about me doing this, but it is for a reason. It is one of those areas where I can be misunderstood, but it is just one of the many judgment calls that I have to make as a parent.

It is difficult to be misunderstood, and it could be easy to take offense, but what good does it do? The people judging are misinformed or uninformed. Being gracious may be difficult, but it must be done. Sometimes an answer is not necessary. Sometimes an explanation can help. It is hard not to take things having to do with your children personally, but as a child of God we must choose grace.

God showed grace to us. He graciously overlooks our sin every day because His Son, Jesus, covered it with His blood when He died on the cross. Christ was horribly misunderstood on earth, and unfortunately He still is today by so many. He still reaches out in grace to all.

Sometimes our initial feelings and reactions will not be one of grace. That is just normal. It is not easy to look like Christ when we feel judged and misunderstood. Practice makes better in this world. Perfection is only in the world to come.

Ephesians 2:1-10
Eph 2:1And you [hath he quickened], who were dead in trespasses and sins;
Eph 2:2Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
Eph 2:3Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
Eph 2:4But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
Eph 2:5Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
Eph 2:6And hath raised [us] up together, and made [us] sit together in heavenly [places] in Christ Jesus:
Eph 2:7That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
Eph 2:8For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God:
Eph 2:9Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Eph 2:10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

blueletterbible.org


Monday, February 18, 2013

Milestones

Milestones in our children can be a struggle. I even struggled with it with our first son. It seemed like someone else's child was talking first or walking first. You go to the doctor and they quiz you on the food you feed your child because he is lighter than the average. You are questioned about how many words your child says and whether he or she stacks blocks etc... We live in a milestone driven age. No one can be themself, everyone needs to be compared to the average.

Don't get me wrong, I understand where this is important. Many childhood problems are discovered because a child is not making those milestones. Sometimes it just seems, that all of this talk of being the same as everyone else ends up creeping into how we feel about our children.

We love our kids, but when we know what they should be doing, we might react in a few different ways. We might start pushing our children, we might get depressed, we might feel jealous of our friend's children, or we might say that we are just not going to worry about it. These responses are negative. The best response is to look our child, realize that every child is different, and encourage your child to grow. There is definitely a balance that needs to be kept here.

With my son Trenton, it has still been a struggle at times even though I know he is about 4 months behind. I still find myself looking at other people's children and seeing what he "should" be doing now. It is really futile to look at things this way. Every day is a milestone for him. A couple of days ago, it was laughing out loud. Today it was that he seemed to be hearing. for the last few days, he has been gaining strengh to sit in the tripod sitting position.

Sometimes I forget how old he is. Sometimes I forget what he "should" be doing. Sometimes that is a good thing, because it helps me to be thankful for the milestones when they come no matter how late they are.

Something that I have learned in all of these difficult situations in life is that I'm not alone. If I have experienced it, thought it, been anxious about it etc... someone else has too.

Here is the challenge. Whether or not your child has special needs is not the issue. Every child is different. Some are skinny and healthy. Some or chubby and healthy. Some are not able to walk yet, but that is just God's timing. Some cannot talk yet, and that is God's timing too. This is not to say that we should not be aware of some of these areas and check out warning signs. What this is to say is that we cannot be comparing ourselves with each other because this does not edify each other or ourselves, and it will lead to nothing good.