Friday, December 12, 2014

It Takes Patience to be Perfect

"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers (various) temptations (trials or testings); knowing this that the trying of your faith worketh (achieves) patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting (lacking) nothing." James 1:2-4 KJV

Patience. It comes to mind when I'm going through a difficult time. When Trenton goes through a round of sickness or migraines as he has been recently, patience is probably my weakest trait during these times. I get tired and grumpy. I just want the period of illness to end quickly. So how does a trial bring patience to our lives, when all we want is to get through it?

Albert Einstein said, "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

That is not how God feels about trials. He says that going through trials over and over will ultimately achieve steadfastness or patience. The irony here is that it takes steadfastness to make it through a trial. It takes steadfastness in trusting that God is in control and that He is creating an ultimate outcome that is little by little forming into us being patient or steadfast first, and after this, perfect, entire, and lacking in nothing in our spiritual life. Maybe that is how it produces patience  - by our constant practice at becoming more patient. Unfortunately, here on earth we will never reach that perfect and entire state of lacking nothing spiritually. We will always have things that we need to work on.

Does this mean that our life will be filled with constant trials? I suppose that is really up to how quickly we learn patience to the degree He wants us to learn it, so that we can learn everything else. In this passage, it seems that patience is the beginning. Without patience, we will always lack something spiritually. Without trials we will never gain the patience to grow to be like Christ.

So what about the people who seem to have it all together? What about the ones who have the perfect job, family, and home? Have they reached this ultimate level of patience so that they need never encounter a trial? Obviously that is probably not the case.

Something to remember is that the definition of trials in James can vary. Some people have trials of sinful temptation rather than a trial of health. Some trials are personal and cannot be shared. We have no idea what the people who seemingly have it all together might be going through. If you are a Christian, then it seems to imply that falling into various trials or temptations is a given.

It seems to me that the passage is telling us that it takes patience to be patient, and it takes patience to ultimately be perfect.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

He Gives us Grace

As parents of those with special needs, it is easy to think we are an exception to some of the Bible's commands.

Parents of kids with special needs probably struggle more with fear and anxiety because there are more things to fear and be anxious about. There are more everyday worries about medical tests and the future. It is harder for us, but since it is God's Word, we still need to obey the command that says to not be anxious about anything.

When you have had two children spend 24-46 days in the NICU and one has a genetic condition, you might find yourself thinking you are an exception to the command that says to be fruitful and multiply. This is such a difficult one. Many people cannot have more children or it would be life threatening. I believe God understands these situations. I believe He also understands when someone has a child that takes up so much of their time, that it would be unfair to another child, or it would be unhealthy for you. I was reminded though by a godly individual that if we as Christians do not have children and raise them in a godly way, then there will not be godly people in the world. The fear of having another child with problems is really an unfounded fear. A child can be born perfectly happy and die of some unknown cause a few days later. The reality is that God is in control.

I'm not sure if I use my situation as an excuse for being in a bad mood, but I know there have been times when I use whatever situation I am in as an excuse for moodiness. It's not easy, but I know I need to not be "crabby," as we call it. It's especially convicting when your son requests prayer at school for mommy not to be crabby.

Another struggle might be in caring for our bodies. Fatigue gives way to overeating, and for some without the conviction against it, drinking alcohol in order to feel better. I tend to be one that enjoys snacking. I also have probably used my life situation as an excuse for not being in shape. I want to exercise, but I really do feel tired. The reality is that if I exercised, I would probably feel better. God wants us to take care of our body and not give in to what feels good to help us through our situations. Once you get into the habit of it, treating your body right does feel good.

I know we all have really difficult times. God gives us grace every day so that we can continue to follow Him. May we each use that grace that He offers.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Caregiving I

So when does taking care of your child become known as care giving? I suppose it is care giving from the beginning, but the type of care giving does not change like it does in a normal individual's life.

Care giving for those with special needs is like caring for a baby when they are up to adult sized. Sometimes they might act like an independent adult, and other times they might be more like a baby. Most likely you assist them with the necessities of life such as changing clothes, bathing, feeding, etc.

Some of those you care for may have serious medical needs in addition to perhaps having a feeding tube or a trach. Some may have lost their mental capacities, others may not know you from one day to the next due to Alzheimer's disease.

The life of a care giver truly does differ from one situation to another. I recently ran across a post that said something to the affect of, "I'm a care giver, what's your superpower?" I personally am not a fan of posts like this. I don't think we should take pride in being a caregiver or make it seem like we live a much more difficult life. I know many of us do have hard times. I know many of my friends who are care givers live lives of loneliness and fatigue much more than I do.

I know sometimes I am guilty of thinking this way and having my own pity parties. Our lives are different. We don't get to go out anytime we want and get a regular babysitter. We have to schedule things based on tube feedings etc. There are hard things, but God is the one who put us here in this care giver place.

I call myself a care giver now to my almost three year old son. I was also a caregiver to a thirteen year old girl who had cerebral palsy. She was a special part of my life during some of my college time. She had the mentality of a three year old, but she could say "I love you." And she said it to me. There is really no comparison between caring for my own son with special needs and caring for this girl. Every situation is different.

What I know about care giving is that it takes sacrifice and it takes love. Care giving without love can be a miserable thing. You grow to love what is different about the person for whom you care. The crooked smile and crazy hair is what you love the most. It's who they are. The differences are who they become, because they do not know the normalcy of life.

Someday, my son might have more of a normal life than he has now. I hope that he will. Sometimes I look at a man in our church who has special needs. I believe he just turned 60 or 65. He is similar in mentality to my almost five year old son. It's hard, because it's not cute anymore, but as I look at him, I think about Trenton. I think about how I would want him loved in a church when I'm gone. We can all be care givers - even in our churches. I loved that he was showered with cards and gifts for his last birthday.

This is the first of many posts I will share on care giving.