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96 posts categorized "Family Life/Caregivers"

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

New Blog

Insight for Living’s Special Needs Ministries blog has a new address and a new look! Please change any bookmarks you may have to our new location: www.specialneedsblog.org.

Sn-blog

This archived blog and its pages/urls will be phased out soon.

96 posts categorized "Family Life/Caregivers"

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

7 Staples: Soul Food for Stressful Seasons

By Colleen Swindoll Thompson

Strained, stressed, and sweaty, I was standing on the August-hot sidewalk, trying to maintain a cell connection with the doctor. The call had already dropped twice . . . this was the straw that broke the camel's back. The events of that summer were not what we'd expected!

7 Staples
Photo by Bureau of Land Management [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Expectations vs. Reality

Sometimes our expectations and plans don't cooperate with life!

The first week of summer, my husband felt a recurring pain in his upper back. He didn't worry about it until his left arm and hand began to go numb—symptoms of a heart attack, which is usually a game changer. After several tests and appointments, my husband was diagnosed with a herniated disc, which, thankfully, was treatable. We tried all kinds of treatments. Our medicine cabinet looked like a pharmaceutical vending machine, the smell of natural oils rubbed on his back filled the house; we went global in an attempt to find healing relief.

Summer became intense, juggling my husband's crippling pain, doctor appointments, and hospital tests; my son Jon's summer schedule; our work; my daughter's new engagement and wedding plans; and our three older kids' work and travel schedules. Caught up in trying to control it all, I neglected to connect with the Lord, the one who controls it all anyway. I often forget that quiet stillness with my Savior calms my soul; thus it calms life too.

Driving home, I asked the Lord for His grace and help. I kid you not, before I arrived home, this text came through on my phone:

Continue reading "7 Staples: Soul Food for Stressful Seasons" »

96 posts categorized "Family Life/Caregivers"

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

The Spiritual Art of Raising Children with Disabilities [Video]

An Interview with Kathleen Bolduc

Not many of us would put together the words love and suffering. Suffering feels like anything but love. One of life’s greatest struggles is to resolve that our all-loving God allows us to suffer; in fact, Scripture repeatedly reminds us that God is love and we will suffer.

Kathleen Bolduc understands suffering, as she raised a son with disabilities. She has experienced bitter-cold sorrow and has been warmed by God’s loving embrace for more than thirty years. Her book The Spiritual Art of Raising Children with Disabilities helps us understand that God’s love breaks through most often when we are broken open.

If you are enduring pain and questioning God’s love, Kathy’s words will warm your soul.

Watch the interview.

(Can't see the video in email or RSS? Click here.)

Love is a word pregnant with warmth and hope, joy and happiness. If love were a season, it would probably be spring; and as a color, we think of red or pink. Suffering, on the other hand, feels void of warmth and life: cold, lonely, painful, and for some, hopeless. If suffering were a season, it would be winter—icy, bitter, bleak, and void of any color.

Falling in love is exciting, falling into pain is excruciating.

Continue reading "The Spiritual Art of Raising Children with Disabilities [Video]" »

96 posts categorized "Family Life/Caregivers"

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Words

By Colleen Swindoll Thompson

Sorting through a stack of stuff, I tried to pull a note from the bottom. When I did, the pile came apart. Short on time and shorter on patience, I attempted to bundle it all up until . . . until the photographs slipped out from an old scrapbook binder buried in the stack. Suddenly, I was 20 years younger with three small kids; a lifetime of memories came flooding in.

Words
Photo by Paul (Flickr: Happy Valentines Day) [CC-BY-2.0] via Wikimedia Commons

There was Ashley in her "Nala" costume, flat out on the couch after being at Disneyland for the day. Another of Ashley and Austin in their "101 Dalmatian" sweats I swore they would wear until death. Funny, kids don't wear their childhood costumes for life like so many young parents wish they would. Another picture was a snapshot of all three: Ashley at age 4 trying to read to a very disinterested Austin and Jonathan.

A couple other photos followed: some portraying life on "easy" street with just one very typical child (if there is one), several from Southern California beaches, and a few from the Texas State Fair where my husband and I were trying to carefully bond together our newly blended family.

As I viewed these photos, my spirit turned quiet, and I pondered the passageways of life that had been exacting and, at times, an unforgiving educator. Such is the education of life; it inevitably teaches us that good intentions don't always give back the desired results . . . the "best laid plans of mice and men."

What You Don't Say
Part of growing up means growing through tough seasons. Those who choose growth and wisdom are few, and, unfortunately, fewer know how to help others going through tough stuff. People will say some of the dumbest things to someone who is struggling. For example, here are things that no one should ever say to one who is hurting (and I've heard all of these):

"When are you going to get past that?"
"Don't you think you have talked enough about this?"
"Well, at least you have other 'normal' kids."
"God must have known you could handle something like this."
"God never gives us more than we can bear."

Those words do not help. They are like telling someone to whistle "Dixie" . . . while walking uphill, carrying a whopping 900-pound walrus on his or her back to a water fountain two miles up the road. Who cares about two miles up the road when life is totally falling apart where you are right now! Further, we don't know what is around the bend, so why do we assume to know what is around the corner for someone else?

What You Say
Wise words given and received during tough times can soften our souls. Proverbs 16:21–24 says:

The wise are known for their understanding, and pleasant words are persuasive. Discretion is a life-giving fountain to those who possess it, but discipline is wasted on fools. From a wise mind comes wise speech; the words of the wise are persuasive. Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body. (NLT)

If words are needed—and often they are not—and if you feel the need to say something, here are some simple ways to express concern as you come alongside someone in a tough spot:

"I am so sorry."
"I cannot imagine how hard it must be."
"How can I help?"
"What can I bring to your place . . . a meal, maybe some help with laundry or the yard?"
"What do you need?"
"That has to be so hard."

Today, do your words need some attention? Are you becoming a person of grace, and are others being comforted by a soul that has endured tough stuff?

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Try These Resources
I would like to suggest the following Insight for Living Ministries resources found in our Web store:

Getting Through the Tough Stuff: It's Always Something! by Charles R. Swindoll, CD series
Becoming a People of Grace: An Exposition of Ephesians by Charles R. Swindoll, CD series
Paul: A Man of Grit and Grace by Charles R. Swindoll, hardcover book
So, You Want to Be Like Christ? A Musical Companion, CD

96 posts categorized "Family Life/Caregivers"

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The One Thing You Cannot Live Without

This has not been the greatest week to start my “Gratefulness” journal. Seriously. With summer heating up, schedules out of sorts, and my attitude turning sour, keeping a gratefulness journal seemed like a good idea.

But that was before summer started.

One Thing You Cannot Live Without
By Infamous Hussy at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Day one went relatively well, and day two went better. Let’s say some self-sufficient satisfaction started to kick in. Day three started with a bang . . . my husband’s back was out of whack. Since I’ve heard him complain once in my life, I was concerned but remained committed to being grateful. A good doctor, an open appointment, ice packs, and an early bed time would do the trick.

Day four rolled around, and life rolled out of control. 

Continue reading "The One Thing You Cannot Live Without" »

96 posts categorized "Family Life/Caregivers"

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Getting Out the Door

by Colleen Swindoll Thompson

At my house, getting out the door, especially to church, is almost an Olympic event. There are wardrobe crises, tired teenager tensions, sibling struggles—at times it’s more a combat zone than a home. I’ve observed many families with the same struggles.

But isn’t it amazing how our attitudes change when we finally clamor into church and sit down? Those early-morning entanglements dissipate, and we worship. And no matter what went on before, God is delighted to have us there.

Getting-out-the-door-600
Photo by U.S. Navy by Paul Farley [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

When my son Jon was born with disabilities, the freedom to do things like get out the door with ease was removed. I’d never considered that a freedom until it was lost. But now I hold in high regard those without the freedom of ease . . . ease in movement, seeing, hearing, tying shoes, brushing hair.

In his book, Always Looking Up, Michael J. Fox describes his morning routine:

I blindly fumble a plastic vial from the nightstand, dry-swallow a couple of pills. . . . I swing my legs around to the side of the bed, and the instant my feet hit the floor, the two of them are in an argument. A condition called “dystonia,” a regular complement to Parkinson’s, cramps my feet severely and curls them inward, pressing my ankles toward the floor and the soles of my feet toward each other as though they were about to close together in prayer. . . . The aching will persist for the next twenty minutes or so. . . . 

Grasping the toothpaste is nothing compared to the effort it takes to coordinate the two-handed task of wrangling the toothbrush and strangling out the line of paste onto the bristles.¹

Fox explains how the disease overtakes the body, affecting his emotions, intellect, and physical, social, and spiritual well-being. Even as I type, I’m reminded to be thankful for the freedom of controlled movement, of small muscles working together.

As I raise Jon, I realize how many freedoms he will never have. Throughout life, he will regularly struggle to get out the door . . . yet, right now on Sundays, he is the one person in our house who doesn’t complain. He puts on his favorite suit and tie and finds no reason to fuss. In that, he is more free than most.

Job recorded these words right after a devastating loss:

The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
may the name of the LORD be praised. (Job 1:21 NIV)

This verse brings to mind a few things we all should remember as we get out the door and face the world.

1. To those with bodily ease—praise God for your freedom. It’s a gift, not a right. Call each part of your body to praise Him. Thank Him for your eyes, arms, legs, back, mind . . . every part. When someone else is slow, messy, shaky, or mentally unstable, resist judgment. You have no idea what that person went through just to get out the door.
2. To those without bodily ease—I deeply admire you and applaud you for your courage, determination, endurance, and humility. You’re a hero, a person of grand character. You long to be free and whole in heaven, but you’re changing lives right here without saying a word.
3. To all of us, with and without bodily ease—learn to love one another, serve one another, and live peacefully together.

Question: What helps you get out the door? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

1. Michael J. Fox, Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist (New York: Hyperion, 2009), 2.

96 posts categorized "Family Life/Caregivers"

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Three Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me!

(The following post is adapted from Bob West’s booklet, “Three Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me!)

Everything about life changed for Bob and his family with the birth of his son, diagnosed with disabilities. Your life may be free of disabling conditions, but your faith may be in question due to something that’s happened in your life that you cannot change or fix.

Perhaps you experience or have experienced chronic pain, profound loss, or unfulfilled expectations. Perhaps you are looking for a firm foothold to stand upon. The surest foundation is to place your faith in Jesus Christ.

three-things--Jimmie_Davis_State_Park
Photo by Frank Ezelle, CC-BY-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Good News in Hard Times

I have only three things to tell parents of children with special needs—three things I wish someone had told me years ago. It doesn’t matter what kind of man or woman you are; we all have a soft spot for our children. Finding out something is wrong with them, in our minds, just about tops the list of worst things that can happen. You can’t get through the trauma of your child’s disability on your own, and you need to know that other parents have survived the same battle you’re going through.

I want to help. I want to help you. I want to help your kids.

Continue reading "Three Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me!" »

96 posts categorized "Family Life/Caregivers"

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

3 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me: A Dad’s Story

An Interview with Bob West

In .22 seconds, more than 94,400,000 links to the word parenting came up in my search engine, revealing that we certainly don’t lack for material on the topic of parenting. However, the parenting process is far more complex than a list of links or a load of head knowledge, and parenting is profoundly more complicated when a difficult or disabling condition is involved.

Twenty-four years ago, Bob and Sue West were settling into life together—successful, well-educated newlyweds with typical dreams of home and family life. But life has a way of teaching us that dreams rarely unfold as planned; such was the Wests' experience with the birth of their oldest son, Kyle, diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

Over the course of 17 years, Kyle has endured 11 major surgeries—along with painful and persistent difficulties that have changed their lives in countless ways. In this very vulnerable interview, Bob talks about wrestling with his faith and forging a totally different path with his family.

Watch the interview:

(Can't see the video in email or RSS? Click here.)

Interview Questions

  1. The Lord changed your family life years ago; will you tell us about that?
  2. Tell us about “D” day . . . Diagnosis day. What was it like to hear the doctors say, “Your son has cerebral palsy"?
  3. How did your wife respond to the diagnosis?
  4. How were you able to identify your feelings, and how can we learn to identify our feelings in the midst of such trauma?
  5. How did you and your wife work through the stress of life at that time?
  6. How did you deal with the negative assumptions and judgments from those in the church?
  7. How have you discovered God as your Father?
  8. How did Dr. James Dobson answer your son’s question, “How can God use someone like me with cerebral palsy?”
  9. How did you not get stuck in resentment and bitterness? How did you avoid telling yourself, “This is unfair; I don’t deserve this!”?
  10. What is the third point in your booklet that you wish you would have known years ago?
  11. What are some general principles you have discovered that would be beneficial for men to hear?

Let Me Hear from You

Questioning God, wrestling with faith, belief, doubt, disappointment, and grief are not the most popular subjects people discuss, yet they are part of our lives.

Rare is the person who has an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ who hasn’t endured suffering or entered into seasons of spiritual bewilderment. We can’t walk through the valley alone, so whom do we trust with our deepest questions?

These questions have to be asked somewhere; why not here?

  • What part of Bob’s story did you connect with?
  • Do you feel lost or confused about how to move forward?
  • Isn’t it time to turn on the lights and talk about real stuff as Bob did in this interview?

I promise you will not be judged or rejected; instead, you will find comfort and care as you never have experienced before. So please, take time to examine and reflect, and let’s begin to reach toward each other. We need one another.

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

 Connect with Bob West

Bob and Sue West have three children: Kyle, Jonathan, and Monica. Due to God’s faithful work in their lives, Bob and Sue have developed a significant ministry to families around the world via their “Need Project” ministry and Web site.

You can connect with Bob on his Web site, where you can also find numerous resources, including Bob’s book.

Insight for Living Ministries Resources by Charles R. Swindoll

96 posts categorized "Family Life/Caregivers"

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

May It Be as You Have Said

by Colleen Swindoll Thompson

They are written in every baby book and shared with close friends. Those never-forgotten first words. In my children’s (unfinished) baby books, I too recorded their first words. Each child’s were distinct and, in reflection, true to their unique personalities.

  • Austin’s first word was mommy.
  • Jon’s first words, after waiting three years for him to speak, were I love you.
  • My oldest child, Ashley, made her distinct mark on the universe, and it all began with the word NO!
May it be as you have said-600
(Image: "Hand Holding Believe Stone" courtesy of thepathtraveler/FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

I heard no so often those first couple of years, I decided to write a poem about it. Clearly, her bent was to carve her own road and walk her own path—and she hasn’t diverted from it. No is part of her development.

Here’s what I wrote to Ashley when she was two.

NO!

NO! I refuse to . . .

NO! I don’t choose to . . .

And NO, NO, NO, you can’t change my mind.

 

You’ve been mistaken

Maybe are waiting

For a yes to come from my throat.

 

So please remember,

From January to December,

The first word will always be NO!

 

You could tease me,

You could eat me,

From my head right down to my toes.

But inside your belly, loudly and yelly,

And stinky and swelly,

NO! echoes from here to New Delhi.

 

You could sock me

Feed me some broccoli,

Tickle me ’til I turned blue;

Despite all the giggles and sniggles and wiggles and jiggles,

My NO! will be stated to you!

 

So let me be me, and soon you’ll see,

Despite my fighting attempts

God is stronger,

And knows what is honorable,

My first words may become

A memory.

 

Why do I share this with you? Because we all have NOs! in our vocabulary. Often, there is much wisdom in learning to say no. We have to establish who we are, what we choose, and how we live our lives. And when our no is really no then everyone knows that our yes is really yes.

God . . . Yes or No?

NOs are important and good. We teach our children to say no to harmful things—to drinking, to drugs, and to premarital sex. But saying no to God when we should say yes is not wise.

For a moment, consider Mary, Jesus’s mother. When the angel told her that her virgin womb would carry the Messiah, she could have fought with God and yelled: “No, no, no . . . I don’t want this. I don’t like this.” But what did she say? Luke 1:38 tells us:

“I am the Lord’s servant. . . . May your word to me be fulfilled” (NIV).

I am in awe of Mary’s response. She could have chosen to argue, to doubt, and to be angry with God because the path was going to be filled with pain. Instead, she surrendered her heart to God, and she accepted with humility His direction for her life.

Maybe you’re fighting God because you want Him to agree with your plans. Maybe He has allowed pain so deep, a path so hard, and an end so mysterious you’ve chosen to have it out with Him. I’ve been there. I understand the fighter’s stance. But it leads to a hardened heart and a distracted mind.

Allow Mary’s words to God to be your words to Him, too, revealing a heart that is humbled, surrendered, and trusting in what God has planned. Mary didn’t escape pain, but she was God’s servant. This is the Christian’s calling as well. After all, Jesus came from her womb.

I wonder what will come from your life if you simply say to God, “I am Your servant. May it be as You have said”?

Let Me Hear from You

Acceptance of life’s circumstances is really the first step to opening our hearts and minds about living the Christian life. Christ promises abundance but requires our acceptance of what He has allowed. We all struggle with NO! responses, yet it’s what we do with those responses that makes all the difference.  Let’s talk about that in our comments section below.

 You can leave a comment by clicking here.

INSIGHT FOR LIVING MINISTRIES RESOURCES

A Life Well Lived: Discover the Rewards of an Obedient Heart by Charles R. Swindoll, DVD and Bible Companion set

Absolute Essentials by Charles R. Swindoll, CD series of 4 CDs

Living on the Ragged Edge: Coming to Terms with Reality by Charles R. Swindoll and Insight for Living Ministries, CD series of 24 CDs plus bonus audio CD and 288-page Bible Companion

 

96 posts categorized "Family Life/Caregivers"

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Playground: Five Truths to Remember

by Colleen Swindoll Thompson

The brightly colored church playground equipment stood stable and strong against the backdrop of the setting sun. I had just dropped off my son Jon at “Fun Zone,” our church’s monthly respite program for families with special needs. It’s four enormous hours of fun for the kids—four extraordinary hours of renewal for caregivers.

I slowly passed the playground and was greeted by a swell of emotions; yellow swings, red ladders, climbing bars, and tiny tunnels—usually smothered with Sunday school kids—were empty, still, and silent. I stopped and wondered once again what the language of tears was trying to say.

the playground
Photo: by Alan Fryer CC-BY-SA-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Jon has never played on that playground because it’s built for “typical” kids. However, he’s had plenty of play time elsewhere. Jon hasn’t gone to summer and winter camp with the typical kids, but he’s had adventures with his family. Then I realized the tears weren’t about playgrounds or campgrounds; they were about continuing to release what I had expected, what I had planned, and how I envisioned life for my son.

How Life Is “Supposed” to Be

Expectations are those hopes, beliefs, dreams, plans, and desires we have about life . . . the way life is supposed to work. But as life unfolds and as God allows, the unexpected happens and things fall apart.

Continue reading "The Playground: Five Truths to Remember" »