Article on Bullying

15 04 2015

final.Cover.title

Recently, Lynda (Stoy) Stear, Founder and Editor of Living Seasons Ministry, invited me to contribute an article about bullying to her website. The article I shared tells the story about why I wrote the picture book Heart Eyes: Beth and the Bullies. Click on the link below to find my article. While you’re there, check out Lynda’s website.

http://www.livingseasonsministry.com/bullying-use-your-heart-eyes/





God can be real to your child.

30 10 2014
Clinging to God as a Toddler

Clinging to God as a Toddler

Reaching out to Him as an Adult

Reaching out to Him as an Adult

“What’s wrong, Al?” I asked. The fellow teacher always seemed joyful. Normally, his love for the Lord splashed across his face. God’s peace glistened in his eyes. But not that day.

He checked his mailbox with his shoulders slumped and his head down. As if to hide pain or frustration. Something happened to smother his joy.

Every teacher has one of those days from time to time. A day full of problems. When they’re barraged with a multitude of incomplete assignments, relentless unruly behavior, and unending interruptions.

“I’ll be okay once I get my eyes back on the Lord,” was all Al replied. And he went on his way.

That single sentence was the sermon I needed. His godly advice came in handy when I experienced those kinds of days. Those words helped me adjust my focus when difficult days knocked the joy right out of me.

I’ll be okay once I get my eyes back on the Lord.

Don’t we all experience those days? Days when life gets the better of us. When we can no longer cope. When it becomes impossible to hide the hurt under a painted-on smile.

God, are You there? I need You. I need Your help. Where are You?

No answer. That silent treatment form God is unbearable. What can we do when God seems to be elusive?

We desperately need to know how to find Him. Not just for us. But so we can offer wise advice when our children go through trials.

What’s the secret? It’s no secret, really. Al’s stated it in a way even a young child could understand it. Focus on God instead of the problem. Then the challenges will shrink in light of His greatness and power.

How can we teach children to maintain an eternal focus? There are subtle ways which would instill godly thinking.

When our boys were toddlers, adults would often ask the typical question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

I taught them to reply, “More like Jesus.” They learned that God had a purpose for their lives. One they’d discover. No matter what occupation God prepared for them, the goal would always be to become more like Jesus.

Many people ask students in high school and college a similar question. “What’s your major?” A different question could help young adults shift their focus heavenward. “How and where are you going to live out your faith?”

I’m blessed to still have the opportunity to teach education majors at a Christian university (Cairn University). We discuss many scenarios they might encounter out in the field. The students offer solutions to each problem.  Their responses reveal insight into each situation.

Rarely, however, do their answers include God. Seldom do they add, “I’d pray for wisdom to handle the situation,” or, “I’d trust God to provide the resources and guidance.” It’s not that they don’t know the Lord. They’re simply responding the way many of us react to challenges. By handling things first and turning to God as a last resort.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Forgive me for not seeking You when I need You most. Thank You for being so patient with me. And for being so accessible. Help me turn to You when I’m FIRST confronted with a trial. Teach me to rely on You before going in my own strength. Help me to lean not on my own understanding, but to acknowledge You in all things. How I want to see Your hand in every area of my life. Give me lessons I can pass on to my children. For Your glory and for Your kingdom. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Here’s a challenge:

Does a drama queen live in your house? It could be a toddler who throws temper tantrums. Or a teenager with raging hormones. What could you say or do (during calm times) to help her focus more on the Lord?





Creation reminds children of God’s love.

28 10 2014

IMG_5054 adj

Go on a love hunt with your young child. What’s a love hunt? It’s kinda like the games I Spy and Hide and Seek. Only you’re searching for God’s love.

Invite your youngster to join you by saying, “Let’s go outside for a love hunt. We’ll search for messages from God.”

Use the script below as you stroll outside hand-in-hand. On a rainy day, watch the video I created for an indoor adventure.

http://youtu.be/WS2hoyCxX7A

Note: All Bible verses are from the Easy-to-Read Version.


 

See that sky?

God created that sky. His power is amazing! You draw pretty pictures for people you love. God paints the sky for you! Each day He gives you a new beautiful picture.

“Long ago, you made the world. You made the sky with your own hands!” Psalm 102:25

You can’t see an end of the sky. That’s just like God’s love. His love to you will never end.

“Lord, your faithful love reaches to the sky. Your faithfulness is as high as the clouds.” Psalm 36:5

“Your faithful love is higher than the highest clouds in the sky!” Psalm 108:4

See that cloud?

God made the clouds. Every day we see clouds in different shapes and colors. That’s another amazing thing about God.

“Do you know how the clouds hang in the sky? This is just one of the amazing works of the one who knows everything.”  Job 37:16

That cloud reminds us of His love.

“Your faithful love is higher than the highest clouds in the sky!” Psalm 57:10

It reminds us that God provides what we need to eat and drink.

God sent food to drop from the clouds when His people were wandering around the desert and hungry.

“But then God opened the clouds above, and manna rained down on them for food.” Psalm 78:23

He sends rain so we can drink water and so plants will grow.

“He fills the sky with clouds. He sends rain to the earth. He makes the grass grow on the mountains.” Psalm 147:8

Christ went up into heaven on a cloud and will come again on a cloud. When that happens, it will be the end of all hurts and problems.

“After Jesus said this, he was lifted up into the sky. While they were watching, he went into a cloud, and they could not see him. They were staring into the sky where he had gone. Suddenly two men wearing white clothes were standing beside them. They said, “‘Men from Galilee, why are you standing here looking into the sky? You saw Jesus carried away from you into heaven. He will come back in the same way you saw him go.’” Acts 1:9-11

See that bird?

God loves you more than any bird in the sky.

“So don’t be afraid. You are worth more than a whole flock of birds.”  Matthew 10:31

Birds don’t worry. God takes care of them. So don’t worry about what you will eat. You’re even more important to God than the birds. He will take care of you and make sure you have food.

“Look at the birds. They don’t plant, harvest, or save food in barns, but your heavenly Father feeds them. Don’t you know you are worth much more than they are?”  Matthew 6:26

See this tree?

God made it to give us shade. He made other trees to give us fruit. We can hang swings on trees or climb small ones. Adults use trees to make things like furniture and paper.

A tree reminds us not to worry. The tree doesn’t worry. Its roots always find water. When we trust in the Lord, we’ll find blessings. God will always do what He says.

“But those who trust in the Lord will be blessed. They know that the Lord will do what he says. They will be strong like trees planted near a stream that send out roots to the water. They have nothing to fear when the days get hot. Their leaves are always green. They never worry, even in a year that has no rain. They always produce fruit.”  Jeremiah 17:7-8

See those flowers?

Don’t worry about what you will wear. God made the flowers look even more beautiful that the richest king. He can surely make sure you have clothes to wear.

“But I tell you that even Solomon, the great and rich king, was not dressed as beautifully as one of these flowers.”  Matthew 6:29

See the water?

God has power to open the sea. He has power to help you with any problem.

“Moses raised his hand over the Red Sea, and the Lord caused a strong wind to blow from the east. The wind blew all night long. The sea split, and the wind made the ground dry.”  Exodus 14:21

Christ walked on TOP of the water. He will do amazing things in your life.

“Between three and six o’clock in the morning, Jesus’ followers were still in the boat. Jesus came to them. He was walking on the water.”  Matthew 14:25

Christ’s followers were afraid of the storm. Jesus used His power to stop the waves. He can keep you from being afraid, just like He calmed the waves.

“The followers went to Jesus and woke him. They said, ‘Master! Master! We will drown!’ Jesus got up. He gave a command to the wind and the waves. The wind stopped, and the lake became calm.”  Luke 8:24

See that rock?

God is like that. He’s my sturdy Protector.

The Lord is my Rock, my fortress, my place of safety. He is my God, the Rock I run to for protection.”  Psalm 18:2

See the lamb?

A tiny lamb needs a shepherd to take care of it. Just like we all need Someone to take care of us. The Lord is our good Shepherd. He has power to take good care of us.

“Like a good shepherd, he takes care of his people. He gathers them like lambs in his arms. He holds them close, while their mothers walk beside him.”  Isaiah 40:11

“The Lord is my shepherd. I will always have everything I need. He gives me green pastures to lie in. He leads me by calm pools of water. He restores my strength. He leads me on right paths to show that he is good. Even if I walk through a valley as dark as the grave, I will not be afraid of any danger, because you are with me. Your rod and staff comfort me. You prepared a meal for me in front of my enemies. You welcomed me as an honored guest. My cup is full and spilling over. Your goodness and mercy will be with me all my life, and I will live in the Lord’s house a long, long time.”  Psalm 23

See the path?

God wants you to follow Him and do what He has planned for you. Find His path and stay on it.

“I have followed your way. My feet never left your path.”  Psalm 17:5

“God is the one who gives me strength. He clears the path I need to take.”  Psalm 18:32

“He restores my strength. He leads me on right paths to show that he is good.”  Psalm 23:3

“Make sure that I am not going the wrong way. Lead me on the path that has always been right.”  Psalm 139:24

Reading the Bible will help you follow His path.

“Your word is like a lamp that guides my steps, a light that shows the path I should take.”  Psalm 119:105

See that sand?

It reminds you that God is always thinking about you. It would be too hard to count each grain of sand. There are so many! That’s how many thoughts God has for you. He’s ALWAYS thinking about you. He knows all about you. It’s wonderful to think that the Creator of the whole world thinks about you all the time.

“Your thoughts are beyond my understanding. They cannot be measured! If I could count them, they would be more than all the grains of sand. But when I finished, I would have just begun.”  Psalm 139:17-18

See that shade?

God protects you all day and all night.

“The Lord is your Protector. The Lord stands by your side, shading and protecting you. The sun cannot harm you during the day, and the moon cannot harm you at night.”  Psalm 121:5-6

See that moon?

God made them.

“Look up to the skies. Who created all those stars? Who created all those ‘armies’ in the sky? Who knows every star by name? He is very strong and powerful, so not one of these stars is lost.” Isaiah 40:26

Even the moon praises God. The sun, moon, and stars praise God. Let’s join them.

“Sun and moon, praise him! Stars and lights in the sky, praise him!” Psalm 148:3

See the sunset?

God never sleeps. He watches over you when you’re sleeping.

“He will not let you fall. Your Protector will not fall asleep. Israel’s Protector does not get tired. He never sleeps.”  Psalm 121:3-4

 

 





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.

 





Hidden Pain

4 09 2014

Invisible.Illness.pic

September 8-14, 2014 will be the 12th annual Invisible Illness Awareness Week.

On their website you can read about the history of the Invisible Illness Awareness Week. Here’s a little peek:

“Invisible Illness Awareness Week was started in 2002 when Lisa Copen, founder of RestMinistries.com, saw so many people who felt misunderstood by everyone. Familiar with the book “Sick and Tired of Feeling Sick and Tired,”* Lisa understood what the authors of the book called an “invisible chronic illness” or ICI.”

Watch their YouTube video to get the feel of the campaign to raise awareness.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H18QKmYxaKA

The theme for this year is JUST ONE. For me the response to that theme is ‘Just one desire.’

I created an item as my gift to fellow individuals who have an invisible illness. Click on the link below to view photographs I took. Many have scripture I added. All pictures can be downloaded and saved.

http://secure.smilebox.com/ecom/openTheBox?sendevent=4e4445784e6a6b314d4442384d5467334e7a55774e44413d0d0a&sb=1

Below you find out how my item fits into the JUST ONE campaign.

 ♦♦♦♦♦♦

Just One Desire

It seems like a simple question to answer … until you’ve been diagnosed with an invisible illness.

You appear to be fine so others casually ask, “What do you do?”

Multiple sclerosis (MS) has chiseled away at my ability to work. But there’s one thing my disability can’t snatch from me: my desire—my desire to have a purpose. I’m guessing that’s true for most people. We want to fit in, contribute, and have a life with meaning. And we can.

When I was first diagnosed, I wanted to make Christmas gifts for family and friends. Limited stamina prevented me from continuing my decades-old tradition of baking cookies. So I switched to calendars made out of photographs I’d taken.

Invisible symptoms of pain and fatigue don’t interfere with photo shoots. I ride a scooter, shoot indoors, and even snap pics from a car. While taking pictures, I’m rarely aware of my pain.

Though my pain is constant, it’s minimal. When countless lesions on my brain made it increasingly more difficult to multitask or concentrate for long periods of time I wondered what would become of me.

Who am I if I can’t think?

God revealed His plan for my life with an invisible illness. He’s given me opportunities to teach part-time, write, and speak. My passion is to support others who have hidden pain. Like fellow moms raising children with mental illness (MI). Or victims of bullying and the bystanders who witness aggression.

Through my blog, I connect with mothers facing similar trials. Writing has also helped me equip bystanders of bullying. The central character in the picture book I wrote sees others differently. Beth has heart eyes.

Don’t you wish others could see you with heart eyes? God does. He knows your struggles and desires.

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).’”

 

 





America Before the Spec. Ed. Law

8 06 2014

Spec.ed.law.history

Ever wonder what it was like for multi-handicapped children before IDEA (the special education law) was passed? You’d be shocked to learn how some disabled individuals lived. Here’s my account of what I observed.

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In 1976 I headed to a new state to teach my first set of students. My teaching assignment was in a residential school for the blind. All the students had several handicapping conditions in addition to their blindness.

My supervisor stopped by my classroom.

“One of your students, Dan, lives in an institution where he receives minimal custodial care. He’s lived there all eighteen years of his life. He’s never attended school before. It’s uncertain whether or not he can hear. All we know is that he’s legally blind. I’d like you to assess whether or not Dan could be educated here. Your goal would be to determine if we should accept him for the three short years he’d be in our school. Let me know what supplies you’ll need for your classroom. Welcome to our team.”

He smiled and walked out.

I had just two weeks to evaluate Dan. With a brain as empty as my classroom, void of ideas, I turned to God.

Oh Father, I need Your direction.  Help me know how to determine what’s best for Dan.

As soon as I finished my quick SOS to God, I snapped out of my shock. God instantly helped me realize my need to gather more information. So, I went to the school office.

“Could I please see Dan’s records?”

“He’s in the custody of the state,” the secretary matter-of-factly replied. “Since he hasn’t been officially admitted to our school, we have no records in the office. Sorry.”

Undeterred, I drove to Dan’s institution to find out more about him. I was unprepared for what I saw.

“I’m here to see Dan’s records. I’ll be his teacher for our summer program.”

“We can’t show you his records,” the lady behind the desk informed me.

How can I begin to work with Dan without knowing anything about him?

Once again, my confidence was ripped out from under me.

Please Father, help me figure out how to get information. 

Again, God gave me an idea.

“Would it be possible for me to see Dan’s room?”

“Wait here. I’ll get someone to give you a tour,” she replied.

While being escorted to his room, I passed scenes which were difficult to comprehend. Each scene more shocking than the next. Room after room of blank walls containing barely any furniture. Rooms filled with children of varying ages lying around on cold floors, barely clothed. Every one severely handicapped. I could see it on their faces, in their distorted bodies. Eyes which weren’t blind had vacant looks. Blank stares. Like they had given up on life.

There was no evidence of any activities. No toys. No TV. Not even any adult interacting with the residents. No one there to guide them to interact with each other.

Could it be there is no structure to their day? 

No wonder many of them were occupied in self-stimulating activities such as rocking and masturbating. No one noticed. No one was there to care.

We passed by something that loosely resembled a cafeteria. The furniture consisted of long tables lined with benches. Residents were eating with their hands. Off each other’s plates. Or not eating at all. Finally, I spotted some staff. They were serving food and cleaning up. Without talking to the residents. Not even making eye contact.

How can children be warehoused like objects? Aren’t there laws preventing such negligence?

Such a naive thought. I actually thought passing a law would change people’s hearts. As if compassion could be mandated.

We arrived at a room that looked like a hospital emergency ward. Rows of cribs lined two long walls. My escort stopped at one crib.

“This is where Dan sleeps,” she said.

“Why is the rope net over the bed?”

“Because he tries to climb out.”

“Where are his clothes?” I asked.

The escort walked me over to a wall of open shelves full of folded clothes.  “No one has their own clothes.  This is where we get clothes for the residents.”

I tried to make some sense of what I was seeing.

Is she saying that these children have no belongings of their own? These children with crippled bodies, limited intelligence, some without sight, actually live like this? Day in and day out with no structure, stimulation, or attention? No identity?

“What can you tell me about Dan?”

“He likes Coke,” was all she could tell me about a person who had lived there for eighteen years. “Someone once showed him these picture cards. You may have them.”

Still not quite understanding the situation I asked, “Won’t you need them here?”

“No one will use them here. Take them,” she replied with no hint of compassion in her voice.

How can a person, working with disabled individuals, have such a cold uncaring demeanor?

Although I wasn’t successful in getting Dan’s records, I learned more than I wanted to know about his living conditions. Before meeting him, all I knew about him was that he liked Coke and that someone once showed him some picture cards. Then came the day I met him.

On the first day of the summer program, I waited outside to greet Dan. A bus drove up. It had the name of the custodial institution on the side.

“This is Dan,” the driver stated as he helped the boy off the bus.

Dan’s appearance shocked me. He had the stature of a first grader. This eighteen-year-old boy stood approximately three feet tall. It appeared as if he weighed only about 50 pounds. His gaunt face had a sheet-white complexion – the picture of a failure-to-thrive child. Like someone who had lived in a closet all his life.  The vacant look in his eyes brought back visions of the blank stares I saw at the institution. Stares which said, “I’ve given up on life.”

Dan rocked constantly. His continual moaning sounded eerie. Like the sorrowful cry of his soul. He was nonverbal and wore diapers.

The reality of my situation hit me. This person’s future is in my hands…MY hands!

Why did my supervisor ask ME to make such an important decision? I have no idea where to begin. No clue what to do. This is scary.

Father, help me know what to do with this boy. He’s so involved. I feel so ill-equipped. None of my college courses prepared me for anything like this.

God removed my anxieties. He replaced those feelings of inadequacy with assurances of His faithfulness. Resting in Him melted all my fears. I could trust Him for guidance.

My first ‘lesson’ with Dan consisted of taking him to a Coke machine. I handed him a quarter and didn’t know if he knew what to do with it. Would he try to eat the coin? He inserted the quarter into the machine and pushed a button to get his Coke.

The, I showed him the pile of picture cards (each with a word on it). Not knowing if he could even hear me, I asked him to find the ‘apple’ card. He held the cards close to his eyes. And quickly flipped through the cards looking only at the words written on each corner. Then handed me the correct card. What horror!!! There was a mind that could learn locked in his body. And he could hear. I thought of him being aware of his surroundings while living in that awful institution. It was almost too much to bear.

My next objective was to find out if he could be toilet trained. Those lessons had to take place in the bathroom all day long. Dan’s days consisted of going to meals and toilet training. As he sat on the toilet I talked to him with respect, not knowing if he could understand what I was saying.

“Dan, you’re eighteen years old. You don’t need to wear these diapers any more. This is where you’re supposed to go instead of in that diaper. I’m so sorry you’ve had to live in that institution. I’m glad someone—”

Dan tried to get off the toilet.  I blocked him and gently placed him back on the seat.

“Sit here, Dan. Stay on the toilet.”

“I’m glad someone showed you those cards. I know you can hear me.  You heard me tell you to find the ‘apple’ card—”

The bathroom door opened. I stopped talking. Dan kept moaning. An adult walked into the bathroom with a student. She acknowledged me with a smile. Acted as if nothing seemed odd. As if teachers conducted toilet training with students all the time. The moaning didn’t seem unusual to her at all.

She ushered the student into one of the stalls. It became apparent many of the students in that multi-handicapped unit needed assistance for very basic self-care.

When they left, I resumed my one-way conversation. With Dan’s perpetual melancholy accompaniment in the background. It sounded like a monotonous low pitched, two-tone droning. Slowly and sorrowfully repeated An endless song of torment.

“You’ll like it here. You could have Coke. You can meet other students. We will teach you how to communicate. There are really helpful and loving teachers here—”

“No, don’t get off; stay here so you can do what you need to do right in the toilet.”

I knew Dan could hear me, but had no idea  if he understood my words. Certain he could sense my feelings toward him, I continued.

“Can you tell how much I care about you?—”

Suddenly a victory. For the first time in his life, Dan used a toilet correctly.

“Good job, Dan! That’s the way. See, that wasn’t too hard. I know this is all new to you. Do you believe me when I say things will get better for you? Don’t give up. I’m not going to give up on you.”

I prayed for him and sang songs of God’s love. After two days, I told my aide how to do the toilet training (with love and respect).

Dan never wore a diaper again.

I prepared him for his hearing evaluation by using play audiology. He learned to respond to a sound by shaking a toy. The audiologist’s evaluation revealed his hearing was within normal limits. Providing a  formal confirmation of what God already helped me ascertain.

God graciously guided me to a decision. With His help, I had gathered important information. Which led me to the recommendation for the school to accept Dan.

Upon admission, a psychometric evaluation (similar to an IQ test) provided an assessment of Dan’s cognitive abilities. A speech teacher taught him how to use picture cards to communicate. After six months, a psychologist reassessed his cognitive abilities. Dan had progressed two years in that short time. His teacher wanted to adopt him.

The Creator of life knew the potential that was locked inside a handicapped body. He helped me discover more about that person.

♦♦♦♦♦

Nowadays children like Dan receive free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment (LRE). Augmentative and alternative communication devices enable them to communicate. Accommodations and support systems improve the quality of their lives.

In 2005 Robert J. Wedl reported on the changing face of education. His publication, entitled ‘RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION – An alternative to traditional eligibility criteria for students with disabilities’, included a summary of the history of special education in our country. Read ‘History of How Public Policy has

Defined Learning Disabilities’ in that report:

http://www.educationevolving.org/pdf/Response_to_Intervention.pdf

For more information on IDEA, check out the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs’ (OSEP’s) IDEA website:

http://idea.ed.gov/explore/home

 





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.





Banish Negative Thinking

20 02 2014

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I love ‘but.’  It’s a powerful word to declare moving day on worries and cares.

The Psalmist loved using it. It helped him focus on Someone bigger than his problems. He deliberately shifted his focus to God. No small accomplishment given his problems. I can’t begin to understand what it’s like to flee from approaching armies. I can, however, relate to the writer’s raw emotions. His difficulties: affliction, rejection, sorrow, loneliness…

Read the following list of verses from Psalms. It just might become your personal pep talk to shove out all anxieties. And fill your mind with thoughts of God’s greatness and love.

“Lord, how they have increased who trouble me! Many are they who rise up against me. Many are they who say of me, ‘There is no help for him in God.’ Selah But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head.”  Psalm 3:1-3

“How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? How long will my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and hear me, O Lord my God; enlighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; lest my enemy say, ‘I have prevailed against him’; lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved. But I have trusted in Your mercy; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me.”  Psalm 13

“They confronted me in the day of my calamity, But the Lord was my support.”  Psalm 18:18

“For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away. I am a reproach among all my enemies, but especially among my neighbors, and am repulsive to my acquaintances; those who see me outside flee from me, I am forgotten like a dead man, out of mind; I am like a broken vessel. For I hear the slander of many; fear is on every side; while they take counsel together against me, they scheme to take away my life. But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God’”  Psalm 31:10-14

“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers him out of them all.”  Psalm 34:19

“A11 who hate me whisper together against me; against me they devise my hurt. ‘An evil disease,’ they say, ‘clings to him. And now that he lies down, he will rise up no more.’ Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me. But You, O Lord, be merciful to me, and raise me up, that I may repay them.”  Psalm 41:7-10

“Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; defend me from those who rise up against me. Deliver me from the workers of iniquity, and save me from bloodthirsty men. For look, they lie in wait for my life; the mighty gather against me, not for my transgression nor for my sin, O Lord. They run and prepare themselves through no fault of mine. But I will sing of Your power; yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning; for You have been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble. To You, O my Strength, I will sing praises; for God is my defense, the God of my mercy.”  Psalm 59:1-4, 16

“Save me, O God!  For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing; I have come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me. I am weary with my crying; my throat is dry; my eyes fail while I wait for my God. Those who hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of my head; they are mighty who would destroy me, being my enemies wrongfully; though I have stolen nothing, I still must restore it. O God, You know my foolishness; and my sins are not hidden from You. Let not those who wait for You, O Lord God of hosts be ashamed because of me; let not those who seek You be confounded because of me. O God of Israel. Because for Your sake I have borne reproach: shame has covered my face. I have become a stranger to my brothers, and an alien to my mother’s children; because zeal for Your house has eaten me up, and the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me.  When I wept and chastened my soul with fasting, that became my reproach. I also made sackcloth my garment; I became a byword to them.   Those who sit in the gate speak against me, and I am the song of the drunkards. But as for me, my prayer is to You, O Lord, in the acceptable time; O God, in the multitude of Your mercy, hear me in the truth of Your salvation.”  Psalm 69:1-13

“Let them be confounded and consumed who are adversaries of my life; let them be covered with reproach and dishonor who seek my hurt. But I will hope continually, and will praise You yet more and more. My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness and Your salvation all the day, for I do not know their limits. I will go in the strength of the Lord God; I will make mention of Your righteousness, of Yours only.”  Psalm 71:13-16

“My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”  Psalm 73:26

“I cried out to God with my voice – To God with my voice; and He gave ear to me. In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; my hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing; my soul refused to be comforted. I remembered God, and was troubled; I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah. You hold my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak. I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times. I call to remembrance my song in the night; I meditate within my heart, and my spirit makes diligent search. Will the Lord cast off forever? And will He be favorable no more? Has His mercy ceased forever? Has His promise failed forevermore? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies? Selah. And I said, ‘This is my anguish; But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.’  I will remember the works of the Lord; surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will also meditate on all Your work, and talk of Your deeds. Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary; who is so great a God as our God? You are the God who does wonders; You have declared Your strength among the peoples.”   Psalm 77:1-14

“O God, the proud have risen against me, and a mob of violent men have sought my life, and have not set You before them. But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth. Oh, turn to me, and have mercy on me! Give Your strength to Your servant, and save the son of Your maidservant.”  Psalm 86:14-16

“For my soul is full of trouble, and my life draws near to the grave. I am counted with those who go down to the pit; I am like a man who has no strength, But to You I have cried out, O Lord, and in the morning my prayer comes before You.”  Psalm 88:3-4, 13

“My heart is stricken and withered like grass, so that I forget to eat my bread. Because of the sound of my groaning my bones cling to my skin. My enemies reproach me all day long, and those who deride me swear an oath against me. My days are like a shadow that lengthens, and I wither away like grass. But You, O Lord, shall endure forever, and the remembrance of Your name to all generations.”  Psalm 102:4-5, 8, 11-12

“They have also surrounded me with words of hatred, and fought against me without a cause. In return for my love they are my accusers, But I give myself to prayer.”  Psalm 109:3-4

“Princes also sit and speak against me, But Your servant meditates on Your statutes. Your testimonies also are my delight and my counselors.”  Psalm 119:23-24

“The cords of the wicked have bound me, But I have not forgotten Your law. At midnight I will rise to give thanks to You,because of Your righteous judgments. I am a companion of all those who fear You, and of those who keep Your precepts. The earth, O Lord, is full of Your mercy; teach me Your statutes.”  Psalm 119:61-64

“The proud have forged a lie against me, But I will keep Your precepts with my whole heart.”  Psalm 119:69

“Their heart is as fat as grease, But I delight in Your law.”  Psalm 119:70

“Let the proud be ashamed, for they treated me wrongfully with falsehood; But I will meditate on Your precepts.”  Psalm 119:78

“My soul faints for Your salvation, But I hope in Your word.”  Psalm 119:81

“They almost made an end of me on earth, But I did not forsake Your precepts.”  Psalm 119:87

“The wicked wait for me to destroy me, But I will consider Your testimonies.”  Psalm 119:95

“I hate the double-minded, But I love Your law. You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word.”  Psalm 119:113-114

“Princes persecute me without a cause, But my heart stands in awe of Your word. I rejoice at Your word as one who finds great treasure.”  Psalm 119:161-162

“I hate and abhor lying, But I love Your law, seven times a day I praise You, because of Your righteous judgments. Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble.”  Psalm 119:163-165

“Our bones are scattered at the mouth of the grave, as when one plows and breaks up the earth. But my eyes are upon You, O God the Lord; in You I take refuge; do not leave my soul destitute.”  Psalm 141:7-8





Enough is enough!!!

7 02 2014

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What are most people saying this winter? Enough!!! Count me in that chorus. We just had another storm here in the Northeast. A whopper. Heavy, wet snow weighed down branches. Countless trees toppled, taking down wires as they fell. Leading to massive outages.

During literal storms or the storms of life we know how to pray. We ask for protection, provision, and peace. The recent storm revealed to me additional types of prayers—those we may not consider praying during a trial. In the midst of a trial we may not offer prayers:

  • Of thanks: We were grateful we didn’t lose power. No matter how bad the storm, there’s always reason to be grateful.
  • For others: The ice storm left over half a million customers in Pennsylvania without power. Thousands of linemen in our area worked to restore power. Wires, coated with ice, presented a risk. Water and electricity created a deadly combination. Those men and women risked their lives to reconnect wires. When turbulence sweeps through our lives, we’re consumed with our needs. Praying for others helps us realize we’re not alone in suffering.
  • Of praise for His sovereignty: His ways are not like ours. Storms He allows into our lives have a way of stopping us in our tracks. Only then do we notice things around us. With the rush of life halted, our eyes are opened to the beauty of God’s creation. The storms of life cause us reorganize priorities. We suddenly realize who and what’s important.
  • Of praise for spiritual growth: Our evergreens, bent under the weight of snow, revealed a picture of burdens. Drooping limbs resembled depressed individuals with despair and discouragement. When the weight was brushed away, the branches floated heavenward. Just like our praises, once we cast off our worries. Similarly, God uses the storms of life to teach us spiritual lessons. If He allows it, He’ll use it for His glory.
  • Of adoration: Everything was shut down. Roads were impassable. There was more time to read the Bible. More time to worship Him in prayer.

Enjoy this slideshow I created using photographs taken after the storm.

What a winter!!!

http://secure.smilebox.com/ecom/openTheBox?sendevent=4d7a6b324e7a67324e5442384d5467334e7a55774e44413d0d0a&sb=1





2014 Winter Olympics

5 02 2014

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Looking forward to watching the Olympics? So am I. Click on the link below for your 14 pg. printable version of NBC’s TV coverage (I used the info. provided by Sports Media Watch and created a pdf document). Share it with your friends!

Winter Olympics 2014 TV schedule

Other helpful links:

NBC’s TV coverage

Schedule of all the Events

I’m looking forward to watching the figure skating. What’s your favorite event?