Here we go again.

15 09 2014

bus.keep.eyes.Lord.PS

Watch out! It’s coming.

What’s your it? Another school year which means a more hectic schedule, behavior issues, and assignment pressures? A reoccurring trial that brings chaos, stress, and tears? An illness that interrupts life, drains energy, and causes uncertainty?

Would it make a difference if the trial announced itself, “Look out. Here I come!”?

Probably not. When you’re in the path of a tornado, no umbrella will keep you from being swept away. When you’re headed for a car accident, bracing yourself won’t stop it from happening. Can anything be done when life’s warning system bellows, “Watch out!”

Remember, ducking won’t help. So, “Heads up!” Shift your focus to God.

I know what you’re thinking. “Yeah, right. That’s easy for you to say. You have no clue what I’m facing.”

I gotta admit, it’s not a typical reaction for me to turn my attention heavenward during a trial. That would require me taking my eyes off the problem. I usually assume full responsibility to solve or manage the situation. Shifting my focus to God would mean I’d have to relinquish MY control.

A fellow teacher helped me see just how simple it can be. When I taught in a public school, I discovered the third grade teacher was a Christian. Al’s eyes seemed to sparkle with the love of the Lord. He greeted everyone with a soft smile and a sweet, “Hello.”

We’d pass each other in the hall and whisper a quick prayer request.

“Pray for my after-school meeting.”

“Pray for one of my students who is failing math.”

“Pray for me to get my papers graded in time for me to get to my son’s game after school.”

One day Al and I stopped at the teachers’ mailboxes at the same time. Al didn’t look me in the eye. His head hung low and he mumbled a brief, “Hi.”

“What’s wrong, Al?”

“I’m having a bad day. Once I get my eyes back on the Lord I’ll be fine.”

His two-sentence response became a sermon. His message reverberates in my mind whenever things get tough.

Faced with the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS), Al’s advice helped me cope.

“What out! Here it comes. MS is headed your way.”

His godly advice taught me to have a right-focus during difficult times. It framed my thinking. I didn’t waste time dwelling on the diagnoses and details. I simply dealt with the pain, fatigue, and regular injections. All the while keeping my eyes on the Lord.

It’s getting easier to get my eyes back on the Lord. It’s no longer my last-resort strategy.

Faced with parental challenges, another friend provided much-needed Truth.

“Watch out! Here it comes. Your son has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).”

Decades ago, Chris, struggled with organizational and social skills (due to his ADHD). I shared my discouragement with a close friend at church. She told me a five-word sentence that restored my hope. During hard times, her father would reassure her by declaring, “God’s still on the throne.”

Since then, when things seem out of control or desperate I remind myself, “God’s still on the throne.”

The Creator of the universe, who spoke everything into existence, has my life under control. He’s working out His perfect plans.

What about unbearable pain or unspeakable loss?

“Watch out! Here it comes. Your son has drowned.”

That’s what Dave and Trish endured. Howie and I met them in college. The four of us shared a deep love of the Lord. So after graduation we kept in touch. The arrival of our first son came around the time of their first son, Ryan. When Ryan was two he drowned in their backyard pool.

What could make that more horrifying? Trish’s parents and Dave’s parents had both experienced the death of a toddler when they were young parents. So the grandparents were grieving the loss of their grandson while re-living their own nightmare.

In the hospital, minutes after Ryan died, Dave turned to his father for advice.

“Dad, you’ve been through this. What can you tell me?”

“You talk about your faith. Now you’re gonna live it,” was all he said.

So, if you’re hearing, “Watch out! Here it comes,” remember:

Keep your eyes on the Lord.

God’s still on the throne.

Live your faith.

Dave’s father’s advice helped him survive. Because God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. What He’s done for others, He’ll do for you.

 

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Different or Special

30 05 2014

myhearthisthrone

Perhaps your life has been touched by an individual with a disability. Since I began my career in special education over 36 yrs. ago, many children with disabilities have enriched my life. They taught me many lessons. By living their lives with joyful resilience. Some of them left this earth too soon. Like Shane.

I’m grateful Shane’s life intersected mine. I knew that young man as the worship leader in our Sunday school class for children with special needs. Shane’s learning disability didn’t inhibit his singing. With a heart full of praise, he sang with enthusiasm to God. His uninhibited, joyful, and loud singing lifted everyone’s heart to heaven.

Shane’s sister wrote the following tribute for his memorial service. Through her words, Shane’s testimony lives on. His example continues to lift hearts toward heaven. That’s my prayer for you.

♥♥♥♥♥

In Celebration of Shane McGonagle

A Testimony Written by His Sister, Michelle

As a child, I enjoyed hearing people say, ‘Shane is different’ and I can say he was.  As siblings, we would fight and of course I was older and bigger so I would win.  Shane was different.   He never would hold a grudge and he would always forgive me and love me always.

As a teenager, I would hear people say, ‘Shane is different’ and I can say he was.  Most teenagers can’t imagine living a life with epilepsy.  They would think life wasn’t fair to them and that everything was difficult.  Shane was different.  He could go to school each and every day with a smile – ready to face the day…never sorry for what his life was like.

As a young adult, I would hear people say, ‘Shane is different’ and I can say he was.  When other young adults were moving on in their careers and getting married, Shane was different.  Shane had surrendered his life to the Lord.  Shane realized that only God could provide him with peace and happiness.

As an adult, I would hear people say, ‘Shane is different’ and I can say he was.  When most adults went to family functions or picnics, they would sit around and chat about their aches and pains, jobs and children.  Not Shane.  He would gather all the children together and tell them about how much he loved Jesus.  He would teach them and sing every song that he had ever sung since he was a little boy.  The kids loved him unlike any other adult there.  Shane was different.

When most people would go to church, listen to the service, and sneak out the side door to get home as quickly as possible, not Shane…He would get excited about the opportunities to serve the Lord by singing with the special needs class each Sunday.  Shane was different.

When most people would try to get a few extra hours of sleep on Saturday, Shane would get up, get dressed, and grab his stack of sports tracts.   He would head for the street to tell people that Jesus loved them.

Why was Shane so different?  Shane was different because he understood exactly what God wanted all of us to understand.  Shane understood that God loved him and gave His only Son to die for him.  Shane realized that life was not about what was here on earth.  Shane realized what mattered the most – and that was eternity.  Shane was different.  He understood what life was all about.

He had a burden to see people come to know the Lord, and he wanted to be the one to tell them.  ‘Shane is different’ I would hear people say.  When he was a little boy, I think Shane would look at Phil and me and he wanted to be just like us.  That’s what little brothers do.  But the truth is…as I stand here today missing Shane so much already…I want to be more like him.  Like Shane, I want to be different too.





The Death of a Dog

6 02 2013

Allegro
Recently, our beloved 13 yr. old cocker spaniel died.

Sometimes the loss of a dog is so painful that grown men vow to never get another pet. Animal lovers of all ages grieve when their dogs die.

Our furry friends are such a big part of our lives. When they die, the sorrow we experience can match that of when a person passes away.

We’ve been receiving sympathy cards. Love and prayers from others comfort us and ease our pain.

Journaling gives me an outlet for my grief. Read “A Symbol of Unconditional Love” as my gift to fellow pet lovers.
A Symbol of Unconditional love

You’ll read more about how God is comforting me through this recent loss on my other blog for mothers of children with mental illness. Read the post “Help me, God.”

Find some of our fondest moments with our dog by clicking on this link:

http://secure.smilebox.com/ecom/openTheBox?sendevent=4d7a67324d4449314e3377334e6a45354e5451320d0a&sb=1





How do we explain it to children?

15 12 2012

worried eyes

The recent events that transpired in Newtown, Connecticut have captivated our attention. Among the many questions flooding our mind is, “What do we say to our children?”

Experts are offering wonderful advice. What to say. How many details to give.

One recommended saying, “You don’t need to worry. If anything like that happens in your school, the teachers and principal would surround you. Police officers would come to rescue you. Your father, and I would rush to get you.”

Few are emphasizing the importance of how to speak to children. If a parent speaks those reassuring words with an anxious tone, the child will mirror the adult’s stress.

Kids take their cue from parents. Throughout my 34+ yrs. as an educator, I’ve seen evidence of that fact. Kids can tell if a parent is worried. They can sense concern. It’s hard for them to believe things will be okay when the adult seems fearful.

When I told my second graders I had multiple sclerosis (MS), they read my expression. Studied my face. It was critical for me to convey the seriousness of my illness along with reassurances. My tone of voice, words, and facial expressions all had to match.

God had given me a peace about my illness. So I calmly conveyed the news. Here’s part of what I said:

“It’s not contagious. I have good doctors and I’m taking good medicine. There’s no cure. It’s no fun having MS. But, I have a choice. I can focus on the lousy parts of MS or I can think about the Truth. The Bible tells me God loves me and will help me. When I feel really sick, I get a love attack…God sends lots of people to help me. I’m thankful for my family and friends who do my chores at home when I can’t. You can help me by praying that I won’t have to absent. It makes me sad when I can’t be with you. I miss you. Sad things happen to everyone during their lives. When sad things happen, it helps to remember the promises in the Bible. Let’s all sing ‘Jesus Loves Me’ very slowly so we can think about the words in the song.”

Afterwards, I had the students write about MS. It was important to know what they understood and how they felt about my illness. I asked them to finish three sentences:

MS is…

I think God allowed Mrs. Chandler to get MS because…

I learned that when things are very sad or are very hard…

Their responses revealed they understood the illness. More importantly, they reacted very calmly to the news. Just like my demeanor.

Follow the advice of experts. Remember you’re the expert about your child. So, also follow your intuition.

First, prepare yourself. You may be in desperate need to feel God’s supernatural peace which passes understanding. With His calming assurance, you can approach your child. Ready to inform and remove fears.





Why?

21 07 2012

We watch the bloody bodies coming out of the Aurora theater and ask why. Why did this happen? Why did one man commit such evil against innocent people? Teens, parents, children simply watching a movie.

Rational minds can’t make sense of such an irrational act. Yet we struggle to comprehend it.

Our hearts ache for those who have lost loved ones. For those whose lives will be forever changed. How can this be prevented from ever happening again?

The Colorado massacre brings everything into perspective for those of us who live with physical pain. Our pain can’t come close to the loss of a loved one. There is pain and then there is pain. When no amount of tears seem to comfort. When time doesn’t seem to heal the hurt.

Finally, we ask the question that offers hope. Who can help?

When things seem horribly out of control, there is One who is in control. Our heavenly Father knows what it’s like for a Son to die. He gave His only Son for us. So that we could one day live with Him in heaven. A place without such carnage as we see on the news. A place where God will wipe away every tear. A place where there will be no more pain.

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4).

I’m comforted by that hope. That eases my pain and gives me peace.

You might say, “That’s easy for you to say. You don’t know what it’s like to face an insane man threatening your life.”

My answer: Actually, I do know what it’s like…years ago my son was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. For two months during a psychotic episode, he threatened my life. Out of touch with reality, with an empty darkness in his eyes. During those days, God provided peace. Peace that can’t be comprehended. How could I have such peace in the face of death? Because of Him.

Dear heavenly Father, You are able to comfort those who are in pain. Please bring comfort and peace to those who face physical or emotional pain. To those who struggle with fear and uncertainty. We pray for protection for the police officers who walk into danger on our behalf. In Jesus’ name, Amen

How are you praying for the people in Aurora, Colorado?