John 11:21

Jesus and Grief: Thoughts on John 11

John 11 shows us that God understands our grief. Jesus knew Lazarus was going to die. He waited, and then he went to visit his friends, Mary and Martha.

Martha expresses her shock and anger, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (vs. 21)

Jesus does not rebuke her. Instead he answers her questions and reminds Martha who he is.

Martha responds in faith – “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” (vs. 27)

Martha leaves and tells Mary that Jesus is there.

Mary repeats what Martha said, but is much more emotional – she falls at Jesus’ feet.

When Jesus sees her weeping, and many of her friends weeping as well, “He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.” (vs. 33) He asks where Lazarus has been placed, and Jesus weeps (vs. 35).

I find it astonishing that Jesus weeps. He is the Almighty God who can do anything. He already knows that God the Father will raise Lazarus from the dead.

But still He weeps. And then He goes to the tomb where Lazarus is buried and calls him back from the dead.

I don’t know what you’re experiencing today, but God does. He not only sees your tears, but He also weeps with you. Tell him what’s on your heart, and trust Him to walk with you through your grief.

At times, Jesus gives us the desires of our hearts. At other times, there is silence. But no matter what, God is there.

If there is something you would like prayer for today, please share your request below. Remember:

“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:19,20 (NIV)

I shared a companion post today on A Beautiful Life, about how my daughter’s popped balloon reminded me of appropriate ways to deal with grief.

 


Tips for Supporting Aging Parents

Note: This is a companion post to Spending Time with My Dad, which is on the Beautiful Life blog today. 

The river of life presents all of us with a variety of challenges and celebrations. Maneuvering through the rapids of aging is demanding for most families. This is a time fraught with changes in health, living arrangements, and control over decision-making. Today I’d like to share some tips I’m learning and still trying to put into practice as I try to support my aging parents.

Listen

It’s all to easy for me to jump to conclusions, share unwanted opinions, and try to take over. Instead, I’m trying to learn to listen – not only to the words that are spoken, but to the reasons and feelings behind those words. If I want to support my parents, I need to know where they are coming from and what their wishes are. They have enough to deal with, without added stress from me.

Trust God

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Hebrews 13:8

God is still the same, no matter what else may change. I can find my security in Him, no matter what I’m dealing with. God loves my parents more than I ever could. I can trust God to take care of them.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5

Making decisions can be difficult, but God will guide and give wisdom if we ask.

Start discussing transitions early

The first time we as children discussed moving our parents out of their home, both parents were both adamant they were staying in their home until they died. Nobody argued with them. Instead we just presented information, stated we wanted to support them, and listened. A few years later, our parents told us they were moving – a decision they made on their own.

Start family meetings

If you don’t have family meetings already, start having them. These meetings may look different for families. Some may feel more comfortable playing a game or doing some type of activity while they talk. Others will work better if everyone is seated around the living room ready to talk. We decided not to have extraneous activity, but rather to sit and talk, with one person taking minutes. Any member of the family is able to add items to the agenda. At our family meetings we have discussed everything from a major move to just getting a health update.

Have an open mind

It’s easy to act out of emotions like fear. It’s also easy to see things only from our own perspective. As caregivers, we need to learn to approach things from different perspectives, or at least be open to hearing other perspectives BEFORE we make decisions. We should always try to put ourselves into other people’s shoes, including our parent’s. As children, we may have unresolved conflicts with our parents which affect our decision making. 

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18

Do you have other tips to share? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Fleeting Glimpses of Beauty

The other day I received a photography tip that suggested carrying a spray bottle around to enhance pictures of flowers etc. This morning as I walked my children to the bus, I was delighted to see that God decorated my yard with his own spritz bottle – a heavy dew, combined with brilliant sunshine. After my children were on their way to school, I enjoyed fleeting glimpses of beauty in my yard. Here are a few pictures for you to enjoy.

Dewdrop
Dewdrop
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Clover
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Sparkling early morning dew
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Fleeting beauty
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Enjoy it while it lasts!
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Beauty in small things

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time. Thomas A. Edison

Week of June 21 to 28, 2015 – Technology blips, Last week of school, and Editing

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time. Thomas A. Edison

This has been one of those weeks:
  • On Sunday night our internet suddenly died. A few phone calls and a couple days later the internet service came back to life. (The power pack for the radio system needed to be replaced.)

  • The last week of school is always hectic – exams, sorting, signing IPPs, report cards . . . I also participated on a hiring interview panel in my role as Glendon School Council Chair.

  • I’m in the middle of editing the next book in my Twitter series. Learn Twitter: 10 Intermediate Steps launches on July 15th. Keep your eyes open for some cover options I’m considering.
  • In my last posts I’ve mentioned aiming to be more consistent with my blog posts. Busyness held me back this week. However, so did technology. This is my 4th attempt to write this post. The first three times NOTHING saved. I’m not sure I would be as persistent as Thomas Edison, who tried 1,000 times before he figured out how to make a light bulb work. When a reporter asked him how it felt to fail that many times, Edison replied:

“I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.” (Click to Tweet) 

  • I thought these two graphics summed up my week well – encouragement to try one more time, and waiting for the Lord.

How did your week go?

Psalm 33

Save


Lessons in Trust and Technology

Lessons in trust and technology

 

Sometimes I just have to laugh. (I’d rather laugh than cry, wouldn’t you?!) After I posted last time, I ran into major technology issues. It all started quite innocently, with the addition of a new e-mail address. After the creation of the e-mail address, I wanted to add it to my e-mail program so that I don’t have to check e-mail on the web. Although I thought I had the address configured properly into my Apple Mail program, I soon discovered I made some errors, which not only resulted in me not being able to access my new e-mail address, but also resulted in me not being able to access my website, or the website of InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship, or the admin panel for either of these websites. Why? Because my IP address was singled out as the source of a possible virus . . .  and blocked. This happened on May 21st and today is the first day I’ve had access to all my services again!

At first I felt stressed, frantic. I’m in the middle of taking an excellent course from Shelley Hitz, called Author Audience Academy. I started the section of the course on building an e-mail list, only to find myself locked out of my website. I couldn’t change anything, I couldn’t apply what I was learning, I couldn’t even look at my website.

Instead of focusing on what I couldn’t do, I decided to focus on what I could do. I’m also in the middle of writing my second how-to book for Twitter (Learn Twitter: 10 Intermediate Steps). My original goal was to have the rough draft finished at the end of last week. That didn’t happen. I still have three chapters to write and edit. I’ve already told people I’m going to publish it the end of June and next week I’m going to Write Canada, which means no time for writing. More cause for panic . . .  Or not. As I thought about it, I remembered that I could upload a draft copy and put the book up for pre-sale. As long as that happens in June, people will be happy because they know the book is on its way. That gives me some breathing space and allows me to finish the book well. It also gives me time to get the book to beta readers for feedback. (If you’d like to be one of my beta readers, e-mail me!)

Although I wasn’t able to post on my own blog, I was still able to write two posts which were shared on other blogs:

 


Shadow (German Shepherd/Collie/Mongrel) joined our family when our oldest daughter was eighteen months old. He died peacefully in his sleep when she was fifteen, under the trampoline where he spent many hours “supervising” as our children played and jumped above him. He lived a full, long life, but it was hard to say “Goodbye” or think of replacing him. Nine months ago a beautiful white bundle of energy (Husky/Malamut) joined our family. Our children named him Olaf, after the snowman from the movie, Frozen. Olaf has reminded me of several important truths regarding parenting (Click here to read the rest of this post on A Beautiful Life.)

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” -William Wordsworth

It started at the breakfast table. After we read about what qualities God looks for in a person and how we should look beyond people’s actions and appearances.

“You’re dumb. I don’t like you.”

“I don’t like you either.”

“Mom, Levi’s bugging me.”

I sighed. My husband was already at work. “Are you guys being kind to one another?”

They gave me crooked grins and shook their heads. It was quiet for a few milliseconds before they were at each other,  again.

(Click here to read the rest of this post on InScribe Writers Online)

I believe God’s timing is perfect. I know that He is trustworthy. But sometimes in the hustle and bustle of life, it’s easy to lose sight of HIM.

What have you been learning about technology and/or trust lately?


Favourite Quotes from The Art of Work by Jeff Goins

Art of Work

In January I received an invitation to join the launch team for The Art of Work by Jeff Goins. Although the official launch date of the book is tomorrow, March 24, 2015, everyone on the launch team received a copy of the book a couple of months ago. In this book, Jeff shares from his personal experience as well as from the experiences of others about how to discover what you are meant to do with your life.

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I found myself nodding my head and sighing with relief while I read the book. Jeff tells it like it is: finding our calling is often a confusing and messy path. Many times we have to work for a living while we pursue our passion on the side. If we’re not careful, we can become so obsessed with our passion that we shut out our family and friends – the very people we need to keep us grounded:

Every story of success is, in fact, a story of community.”

“As you strive to achieve your life’s work, be careful of at what costs you chase it. It will be easy to resent those closest to you, to make your biggest supporters into your worst enemies. To hoard your work away from the rest of life. You may be tempted to see every relationship not as a lifeline, but as a competing force, something to be mistrusted. And in doing this, you may destroy the very things that could save you.”

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Jeff addresses many issues, like commitment, apprenticeship, and learning to embrace failure as a friend:

The risk of not committing is greater than the cost of making the wrong choice. Because when you fail, you learn.”

“Failure is a friend dressed up like an enemy.”

“Will you wallow in regret, wondering why such a thing has befallen you, or will you choose to act, making the most of your obstacle, and allow it to evolve into an opportunity?”

“Successful people and organizations don’t succeed in spite of failure; they succeed because of it.”

 

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I especially appreciate Jeff’s reminders to those of us who are passionate about the arts:

 This is an important distinction when considering your life’s work. Most people won’t continue doing something they aren’t passionate about, especially when it gets hard. Putting an activity through painful practice is a great way to determine your direction in life. If you can do something when it’s not fun, even when you’re exhausted and bored and want to give up, then it just might be your calling.”

“Humility is a prerequisite for epiphany. Without it, your dream will be short-lived and self-centered.”

“Answering a call will sometimes feel that way. It won’t make sense and may even open you up to rejection and criticism, but in your heart you will know it’s right.”

“We are caretakers of our vocations, stewards entrusted with a vision that is bigger than us. Our responsibility is not to hoard our gifts but to use them in challenging ways so that others can benefit.”

The Art of Work is a book everyone could benefit from, because we all want to know that our lives will count for something:

Success isn’t so much what you do with your life; it’s what you leave behind. Which may be what a calling is all about: leaving a legacy that matters.”

Get your Free Audio Book + Bonuses by purchasing the book from any retailer!

 

 


Redefining Disability Week 8: Family life and disability

Disability and Family Life

In our experience, raising children who have special needs affects every facet of family life: family activities and recreational choices, schedule, discipline, holidays, even the type of work and ministry parents have. I don’t see living with a disability as a disadvantage, but it is different.

The “disabilities” of our children include difficulty with balance, cognitive limitations, fine motor challenges, behavioural challenges, hearing loss, and extreme near-sightedness (myopia). This means that although our children are able to participate in most activities, the activities will look different. For example, even though our twins are fourteen, they do not have the motor control necessary to participate in bowling without some help. They love the activity, but it has to be adapted for them. This means that family activities take more planning and preparation for our family than for some other families. The end result is that we don’t participate in as many activities because of time and energy limitations.

Our family schedule is also different from many families because our children seem to require more sleep. On school nights we aim to have our four younger children in bed between 8 and 9 p.m. We have discovered by trial and error that less sleep for our children affects everyone negatively. (I’ll leave the specifics to your imagination 🙂 ) Our schedule also has to allow more time for most every day activities that most people don’t even think about – dressing, eating, bathing, etc.

Discipline (teaching and training children) is a challenge for all families. In our family we have to make sure we consider our children’s abilities. I’m thankful our children have the ability to learn. Sometimes they learn quickly; other times it takes hundreds of repetitions to teach them. Some skills will never be attainable due to physical and cognitive limitations. For some of our children, we can assign extra chores. For other children assigning extra chores means that one of us adults will be working right beside the child, sometimes hand-over-hand. We’ve had to assess consequences to make sure one child’s consequences do not severely impact other members of the family.

Our family has had the opportunity and pleasure of going on some holidays many people don’t experience. We have made multiple trips to the United States and a couple trips across Canada. Our children love to travel. Probably our most memorable trip was traveling through 28 states in 30 days. A feat in itself, but more of a challenge when you have a family member without bowel control. Again, pre-planning is important, and generous amounts of time and energy.

One fact I’ve had to come to grips with is that I will not be able to work away from home full time, at least not in the foreseeable future. The special needs of our children require that my schedule is flexible. I’m thankful that I’ve been able to find ways to contribute to our community and broader world through writing and other work on my computer, and also through prayer.

It’s time for me to put breakfast on the table and start a new day. Thanks for stopping by. Does your family live with disabilities? How does it affect you? If your family is not affected by disabilities, did you find this post surprising in any way? Leave a comment and let me know.


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Last year Rose Fischer started a Redefining Disability Challenge. This year she is continuing to invite people to join the challenge by blogging about a set of questions she developed. I’ve decided to join this challenge and most Mondays (or Tuesdays!) will be answering one of her questions.

 


Redefining Disability Week 7: Challenges with School Life

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My husband and I believe that education works best when parents and the school work hand in hand. Over the thirteen years we have had our children in school, we have worked hard at establishing relationships with teachers, communicating, asking questions, and solving problems. We have had the privilege of working with many dedicated teachers, but school life continues to be a challenge for our specially-abled children.

Our first major challenge was accessing funding. When our twins were in kindergarten, the consultants we worked with told us our boys needed one-on-one assistance because their needs were so different. I dutifully filled out the required paperwork and handed it in mid-December. The principal told me funding should be approved and appropriate staff hired by the end of January. Every two weeks I checked in with the principal. He told me the paperwork was in and we needed to wait. I asked in January, then in February, and March, and April. Every time I was given the same answer. Finally in May I phoned the Minister of Education’s office. A couple hours later I discovered funding had been approved in December, but somehow communication fell through the cracks. I’m not typically an angry person, but that day I had to calm myself down for a few hours before I went to see the principal.

In Alberta there is funding for early childhood education (PUF) and then different funding when a child starts grade 1. After the initial funding issue was resolved, the principal told me our boys would probably go back to only one teacher assistant when they moved on to grade 1. After talking to some other parents who have children with special needs, I requested a meeting with the school division’s special education coordinator. In the meeting I outlined our boys needs and requested that two assistants continue to be provided, one for each boy. We took a break from our meeting and the coordinator went outside to observe our boys at recess time. It wasn’t until years later that he told me the story:

The boys played in a sandbox. When the bell rang, twin one stopped what he was doing and stood up. Twin two kept playing as if there had been no bell. Twin one spoke to twin two, but twin two kept playing. Twin one grabbed twin two’s hand, but twin two resisted. This continued for a while. By this time most of the other students were already back inside the school building. Twin one came to the coordinator, grabbed his hand and pulled him over to twin two. No words were exchanged, but the coordinator received the message loud and clear that he was being asked to help get twin two back into the building.

Since that time our twins have had one-on-one help half the school day and two-on-one help the other half. We were fortunate to have the same caring individuals work with our boys for seven years. We have faced other challenges since then – funding was available, but no therapists to fill the need; challenges with speech; communication gaps; challenges with social skills; changes in staff; misunderstandings (including having teachers phone Children’s Services instead of communicating with us).

I’m thankful for the progress our boys have made. Our task as advocates is challenging, but also rewarding. When I see our children laughing and playing it gives me the strength to go on.