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Archive for December, 2016

Problem with last blog

For some reason the video message I posted did not appear in today’s blog.   I am going to try and post it again here.  Sorry for any confusion!

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Warren’s Prayer For You

warrens-2017-prayer-for-you

2016 was a year of many changes and transitions for Brenda and me.  We are grateful for the many friends who have walked with us through both the good and the bad.  I’m closing out this year with a personal message and prayer for all of us.  May God bless you in 2017!

 

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Words of wisdom from Linus

fear-not

Sadly, fear is a part of being human.  It is always uninvited, unwanted, and limiting.  Ask twenty five people what they fear most and more than likely each one will have something different on their list.  I have a fear of falling, very different than the fear of heights.  I can stand on the observation deck of a sky scraper that is open to the air with no fear because I know I can’t fall over the barrier or break through the glass wall that stops you from going over the edge.  But if I am on a ladder trying to hang a Christmas wreath on the garage less than two stories off the ground I can hardly move.  The fear of falling makes it almost impossible to take my hands off the ladder.  Like Linus clinging to his blanket, I can’t let go for fear of falling.

Painfully, I can still remember the debilitating effects of the fear I experienced each year as a New Year approached.  Would this be David’s final year?  What new loss would David experience?  Would Brenda and I have the physical, emotional and spiritual bandwidth to care for him?  How were Chris and Dan going to react if David were to die?  Like my ladder or Linus’ blanket, I sought something to cling to  that offered some peace or security.  Sadly, I would hear myself clinging to phrases like, “Oh we are doing just fine!”, or  “No we don’t need anything.”  It was easier to cling to theses lies then admit my fear and brokenness.

Thankfully, I heeded Linus’ advice.  Over fifty years ago Charles Schulz created The Charlie Brown Christmas show where Charlie Brown asks the question, “Can anyone tell me what Christmas is all about?”  Linus steps out onto the stage and quotes Luke 2:8-14.  It says,

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”  13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Linus’ message?  Fear not!  At the moment he quotes the words “Do not be afraid,” Linus drops his blanket.  He stops clinging to something that could only bring him temporary peace and hope and symbolically acknowledges the extravagant love of God as seen in the birth of the little baby Jesus.  You see, that is “what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.”  God loves us.  He cares for us.  He doesn’t want us to live in fear.  And so every time we started to experience fear, we would remind ourselves that God loved us.  This is why I love Christmas so much.

My prayer for you this beautiful Christmas season is that you would be overwhelmed by God ‘s extravagant love and that you could heed the words of Linus, “Do not be afraid.”

PS: If you want to watch the clip of Linus mentioned above, click the following link: Linus: Do not be afraid!

 

 

 

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1st-day-of-christmas

Every year a few weeks before Christmas friends and family would begin to call and ask, “What can I get David for Christmas?”  Each year David would lose more of his sight, physical ability, and cognitive skills.  While his love and passion for the holiday never waivered, his ability to express what he wanted and our ability to find meaningful gifts grew more and more difficult.  People were creative.  My brother Wayne would always find the loudest and most obnoxious noise making toy possible.  Thank you Wayne!!  There was a never ending supply of Adventures in Odyssey CDs, soft and cuddly animals, NY Yankee paraphernalia, microphones, tape recorders, and country music.  David was always happy to open a gift, no matter what it was, and then give the giver one of his famous hugs.

But not only was it hard for our friends to find something to give to David, it was also a challenge to  know what they could give us, how they could support us.  I’m sure there were some of our friends who simply were afraid to ask us what we needed.  Others felt guilty that they hadn’t been in touch so never reached out.  I’m sure we seemed distant at times, overwhelmed, and when asked what we needed our knee jerk reaction was, “Oh nothing, we are doing just fine.”

So the next time someone asks you “What can we do for you?” give them the following 12 ideas.  There are people right now who want to love you, serve you, help you but they don’t know how.

12-days-of-christmas

  1.  Help with my other children:   Sometimes all I need is an extra set of hands.  You could read them a book, help them with homework, or pick them up from an after school activity.  You might become someone they can feel safe to talk with about their brother or sister.
  2.  Babysit so we can go out on a date:  It goes without saying that having a child with special needs can be devastating to a marriage or any relationship.   I can’t even explain to you how a break improves our mood and energy level.  I know you are afraid you can’t do it, but we would never leave you unprepared.
  3. Cook us a meal:  At the end of the day I am often so exhausted that cooking a meal overwhelms me.  This then makes me feel guilty that I am not caring for my family.  If you really want to knock it out of the park, ask us what we like to eat. 
  4. Do my laundry:  I simply need help staying on top of the daily barrage of dirty clothes, diapers, and towels.  Yes, you will know if one of us wears boxers or tighty whities, but that is OK with me.  
  5. Clean my house:  My house is filled with wheel chairs, adaptive equipment, boxes of diapers, medical supplies, toys, bikes, and lifts.  I want and need order but at the same time know my first priority is to love and care for my children.  My pride has stopped me the past in asking for this type of help.
  6. Be my friend: I am lonely and often afraid.  While I am the parent of a child with special needs, I am very much like you.  I simply need someone who will listen to me.  I know I can be a “Debbie Downer” at times, but please don’t turn away from me.  I need and want to talk about something other than my child’s needs or my hurt.
  7. Pray for me: I long to believe that God loves me and that He is good and all powerful.  Honestly, I struggle believing this.  It is a real battle for me and I don’t want to lose my faith.  Ask me specifically what you can pray for.  If I don’t have anything specific, that is OK too.  Remind me that you are praying with a quick email.
  8. Be my Uber:  While I wished I could be in two places at one time, I have discovered it is impossible.  There are many days I simply can’t get to school to pick up my daughter, pick up the prescription at Rite Aid, send the package at the post office, and go shopping for lunch supplies.  While I know Uber is not legal in NY, this is different!
  9. Remind me that it is OK to care for myself:  I battle daily with guilt that I am not doing enough to care for my child.  Often I sacrifice my own wellbeing for their wellbeing.  Tell me to put the oxygen mask on me first and then onto my child.  Encourage me to sign up for a weekend at David’s Refuge or some other type of respite program.
  10. Include my family and child in your life:  My child rarely gets invited to a friend’s birthday party.  I try to convince myself he doesn’t realize it, but I know he does.  We are loud, we have lots of stuff, it is hard to communicate with my child, and often there are tantrums.  If you are willing to try, I can help you understand my child’s and our families special needs.  We would love to visit.
  11. Be my cheerleader:   Everyday I battle to make the best life for my children.  Insurance companies don’t want to pay for certain meds and treatments.  Neighbors complain that my child is too loud or disruptive.  Every IEP is a struggle.  I need you to encourage me to keep battling.  You might even want to write us a note and tell us you love us and are praying for us.
  12. Give me the gift of your grace: I can promise you there are going to be days I am going to snap at you, forget to call you back, cancel a meeting, and be grumpy.  Sometimes I don’t even know why I act the way I do.  Please give me the benefit of the doubt and extend to me some grace.

I hope you get a chance to share this list with all your friends and family.  Be brave and give them the opportunity to give you something you need.  Merry Christmas!

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Be Still!

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I want to give you a gift.  I know you need it and want it.  In fact, your health and your ability to be a good parent, husband, wife, or best friend depends on your willingness to unwrap this gift and apply it to your life.  It’s so allusive yet vital to our wellbeing that God commands us in Psalm 46 to find some way to integrate this gift into the rhythm of our daily lives.  On one hand, it is a very simply command.  Yet on the other, we all too often feel there is no way we can incorporate this life giving practice into our out of control busy lives.  But we still need it.  Do you want to know what this gift is?  My gift is a reminder that it is OK to unplug, to be still, and know that you are loved.

“Be still, and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10

Be still!  Breathe!  Stop running!  Rest!  Close your eyes!  Believe!  Know!  Trust there is someone bigger than you and the weight you carry!  Be still!

You may be asking, “How?”  If you have 2.48 minutes listen to the song Be Still by The Fray from their Scars and Stories album.  It is a hauntingly beautiful and simple song that encourages us to be still.  To rest.  To believe.  This could be one of the first steps you take in trying to integrate this practice into your life. You will be reminded that you are not alone and that it is OK to be still.

Be still and know that I’m with you
Be still and know that I am here
Be still and know that I’m with you
Be still, be still, and know

When darkness comes upon you
And covers you with fear and shame
Be still and know that I’m with you
And I will say your name

If terror falls upon your bed
And sleep no longer comes
Remember all the words I said
Be still, be still, and know

And when you go through the valley
And the shadow comes down from the hill
If morning never comes to be
Be still, be still, be still

If you forget the way to go
And lose where you came from
If no one is standing beside you
Be still and know I am

Be still and know that I’m with you
Be still and know I am

Do you know someone who needs to be reminded that it is OK to be still and that they are not alone?  Share this blog with them and tell them they are loved by you and by God.

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