Friday, October 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Day Food

What do you like to eat the most on Thanksgiving Day? My personal favorite (at this point) is stuffing....and Turkey....and mashed taters...and....

But what is your favorite? If you have a favorite recipe, could you leave it in the comment section? I am thinking about what to fix but I got nuthin'.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Special Needs: A Day in the Life

In my last post, I introduced you to my oldest son Jared, a special needs teenager. Not many people understand the needs and challenges, of the child and of the caretakers. So I decided to chronicle the past 24 hours of our life, of what I would call a "typical day."

12 Midnight Gave sleep medication

1:00 am Crying, Change a wet diaper

2:30 am Crying, Change a wet diaper

3:00 am Gave more sleep medication

5:00 am Crying, Change a wet diaper and turn on "Tom and Jerry" for 30 minutes so Jared can go back to sleep, gave Tylenol because he has an ear infection. I have to help him open his eyes to see the TV...he is restless and fussy for 45 minutes before falling back asleep.

6:00 am Hook up Jared's feeding pump (He is tube fed through a port into his stomach.)

8:00 am Change a wet diaper.

9:00 am Nurse Eva arrives and begins daily routine. Gives medications, does breathing treatment for Jared's asthma, does CPT with fluttervest (which vibrates his chest to loosen secretions in his lungs)

10:00 Bath

11:00 Peggy (his homebound teacher) arrives and reads to Jared, usually plays some games, stretches his muscles. She puts Jared in his wheelchair and sings to him, which he really likes. Plugs him into portable feeding pump and feeds him at 100ccs per hour.

12 noon Running fever...Tylenol

1:00 pm Breathing Treatment and Fluttervest...Sits in Eva's lap and she sings to him.

2:00 pm Lays down for a little while and listens to classical and bluegrass music.

2:30 pm Fussy so he watches Tom and Jerry...He really likes Tom and Jerry. Sarah the visual therapist from school arrives and works with Jared. Jared LOVES Sarah.

3:00 pm Back in wheelchair, watches Glenn Beck on TV.

4:00 pm Eva leaves and Lori arrives.

5:00 pm Breathing Treatment and Fluttervest. Watches HGTV for awhile until he wants Tom and Jerry again.

9:00 pm Medicines + Tylenol because he is running fever and is uncomfortable. Breathing Treatment and fluttervest. First dose of sleeping medication

10:00 pm To bed. CPT Lori leaves

11:00 pm Change wet diaper. Jared gets fussy so he gets his second dose of sleeping medication. Goes to sleep with Tom and Jerry playing on his TV.

So goes the typical day. Although Jared's care is somewhat intensive, his care "team" helps him through the day. God bless his nurses who help him so much with the daily routine. We all have a role in ministering to Jared's needs and helping him to have a full life. We could not do it alone, we have to have help with him. We are OK with asking for help because we know we can not do it alone.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Special Needs, Special Gifts

My oldest son is a miracle. When he was born in 1992, doctors diagnosed him with a chromosome disorder and gave him less than a week to live because of the severity of his disablities. Now, he is 17 years old. He is missing 75% of his brain which causes him to be profoundly mentally retarded. He is spastic quadraplegic and has a seizure disorder. His immune system is compromised, he has severe asthma, and has nearly died, more times than I want to recount, from pneumonia. He doesn't sleep without being heavily medicated, and wakes up several times a night crying. He is medically fragile.

More importantly, he is a blessing to anyone who is willing to get to know him. Special needs children are not useless or a waste of resources. Their lives are precious and add significantly to the joy and pleasure of life. They are not a mistake or a freak of nature. They, like the rest of us have a place at the the table of the Lord. Although Jared has never spoken a word, he shares a deep love with his family, nurses and friends. His eyes twinkle and his smile melts away tension.

My son is a spiritual being. When we have praise and worship times at our house on Sunday nights, Jared becomes animated and coos loudly. He watches everyone as they worship. He participates to the full amount that he can and I am sure God touches him during our worship time together. Of all the people in the room, he is the least affected by sin and I think, he is the closest to God. Sometimes his delight during worship cannot be contained and it is fun to watch him enjoy God's presence.

My life is blessed daily by him. The pain of having him has caused my wife and me to be more sensitive to other's pain and has deepened our search for God. We constantly have to ask God for the strength to make it through the day, especially when we have stayed awake all night ministering to him. My other two sons are sensitive to special needs children at their schools, befriending and helping them. My sons have a deeper sense of value than their peers and they aren't afraid of standing up for those who have no voice.

Jared has spiritual gifts; the gift of faith, love and comfort. People are drawn to him, drawn to touch him and talk to him. He gives people his full attention and most walk away knowing they are loved and valuable....all without him saying a word to them. The Spirit surrounds him. One of his nurses came to Christ after being around Jared and my family, experiencing our unconditional love for her.

My wife and I decided from the beginning he was going to live with us, despite the physical and emotional hardship it has been on our family. Why? He our son, pure and simple. God made this boy and we decided to raise him to see what his potential could be. Our lives have been forever changed and blessed by him, each difficulty bringing strength, each pain turning to joy, each trial bringing perserverence.

The Bible says the kingdom belongs to "the least of these." I have been given the rare privilege of being the father to a special needs child. I don't know what I did to deserve such a blessing...I guess it is just grace. But if you are given the opportunity to be around one of these special children, rejoice and enjoy being near someone who is constantly near to the heart of God. Give them an opportunity to use their gifts and serve in whatever small way they can. Peace.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Heifer International

I want to encourage you to look into HEIFER INTERNATIONAL.

What a great organization! For a relatively modest amount, they provide a family in the third world with a cow (goat, lllama, chickens, rabbits, pig, sheep, bees, water buffalo, ducks or camels) and training on how to care for the animal. Your gift provides a family with a way of making a living. You can stretch out your hand to people in developing countries and touch lives.

Think about it as a birthday or Christmas gift to someone who "has everything." Take the amount of money you would've spent on Halloween candy, give it to HI then hand out notes about what you did (i.e., "A gift of one dollar was given to Heifer International to help a family in a developing country. Check it out at").

You will feel good about giving hope and promise to someone in need.

Monday, October 19, 2009

My Home Church

My home church is made up of four families, two singles and my oldest son's nurse who cares for him on Sunday. We always eat together as family, everyone bringing food to share with each other. If we have too many kids, we have a youth minister who comes over and helps them to participate in worship then keeps them from burning down the neighborhood when they go out to play. We support and love each other through good times and bad, we go to each other's kids sports and yell for them like they are our own and we worship together, uninhibited. How much better does it get.

We use recorded praise and worship music (see the list we use in one of my first posts) and we have shakers, tambourines and other assorted noise makers to play with during the music. We turn the lights down low so we can focus on the one reason we are there together, to love God with all our hearts. The kids participate by making noise and sometimes dancing like no one is watching. They are fun to watch and are rarely a distraction during the praise and worship time.

After worship, we pray for each other's concerns and talk about what is going on in our lives. We hug each other, laugh together, ask about last week's concerns and catch up on what our kids did this past week. It's easy. It's like being a part of a big family of people you like and care about. The kids play together with the other kids in the neighborhood with whatever ballgame (or chase game) they can think of.

We eat together. We each bring a part of the meal. One brings homemade chocolate chip cookies that are usually gone before everyone leaves. We hug each other in the end and we go home, knowing the Lord is a part of our lives.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Forgiveness...Losing "The List"

A friend of mine was talking to me about his marriage. He was saying that when he messes up, his wife can remember everything, big and small, that he has done wrong. When arguing with her, he says it is like he has a single shot 22 with a cartridge hung in the chamber and she has an UZI and all the ammo she can fire. Ouch.

This got me thinking about "The List." "The List" is an accounting of everything another person has done to hurt you. Even though you have "forgiven" them, you keep "The List" handy, to pulll out and recite the 13, 094 things the other person has done to hurt, betray, and dissappoint you. "The List" takes hurt and morphs it into bitterness. Holding onto the memory of that stuff undermines trust, hope and love and makes one miserable and lonely. It causes tension and frustration in relationships. It makes victims and offenders, good guys and bad guys, right and wrong. We need to lose "The List."

Do you want others to do that to you....keep track of every infraction and throw it out there during a 'discussion?' Wouldn't that be horrible? Is that what you want God to do with you, keep track of all the things you have done to sin against Him? God says you will be forgiven as you have forgiven others....that includes "The List."

Do you have a "List?" If you do, I think you should actually create "The List." Don't just make a mental exercise but write "The List" out. Look at it. Remind yourself of it until you get sick of it. Then really forgive what is on "The List" and move on. It's is the loving thing to do.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I Am Nothing

I am reading a book right now about a small-town lawyer that has it all but is accused of murder and is losing everything. His marriage is in shambles, financially he's ruined, his father was murdered and he is being accused of doing it, lost his car, friends look at him like he is guilty, and he lost his girlfriend, too (one of the reasons his marriage is in shambles). I love fiction because it so parallels my life in many ways. When you think you're invincible, think about Job, David, Paul, or many of the characters in the Bible. They are better men than me, more righteous in many ways yet God saw fit that they face painful realities in their lives.

More so, this fictional character has lost his pride, the stability of a predictable life, the shallow friendships he had, and the ability to hide behind a budding alcohol problem. I hate it when one's addictions no longer work, whether it is crack, alcohol, computer games, porn or whatever we use to hide our vulnerabilities. When life caves in, those things are like hiding in a straw house and the big, bad wolf is walking up the path.

The character in my book has finally stopped lying to himself that everything is going to be "all right" and is finally facing the traumas and failures in his life. He is talking about it and finding people don't place as much emphasis on his life as he does (a real bummer to find we are NOT the center of the universe). He realizes that everything he has done is him creating an illusion that everything is OK, that he is OK. He has finished hiding.

Could you be the same? Is there something you need to face? Here's some advice: Ask God to help. Don't fight the flesh with your flesh. You can't outsmart Satan. You can't do it alone without God's touching your life, guiding you, and giving you strength that you can't muster by will alone. Whether it is conflict with a neighbor, unforgiveness from past hurts or a pesky addiction problem: ask God to save you. Keeping asking, begging and crying out to the Lord: He will answer. You are not alone.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


What should the motive be for giving money to God be? Guilt? Obedience? Joy?

I was talking to a friend this morning who is going to talk about giving before the church. The speech was good (as contribution speeches go), pointing out the need to support the local body of Christ and the need to be obedient to God in our stewardship. But I came away with guilt...I'm not giving enough, you should appreciate what the Lord has done for you by giving back...So I challenged the speech.

We already know that 10% of the membership gives 90% of the contribution and the speech isn't for those who are already giving. But how do we motivate the 90% non-givers to actually give? Will guilt help? Doubtful. So what will?

Vivien Hibbert once said to me that any church with strong praise and worship rarely has difficulty with finances. That got me to thinking: Why not pass the plate with strong praise music? Could the presence of God motivate them to give more? I think so.

So I rewrote the speech. Here is what I would do:
"Jesus is Lord. I would like for you to ask repeat after me...Jesus is Lord....Jesus is Lord...Now I want you to do this: Ask God what he wants you to give, then listen and obey...Jesus is Lord...Father, what do you want me to give right now, today.... Now listen for an answer..." Then sit down. Next, start a strong praise song (like Revelation Song by Kari Jobe) and halfway through the song, hand out the collection plates.

The idea is to get into the presence of God before giving to Him...Get God Himself to motivate the non-givers. No guilt, no shame, no begging or cajoling. Allow the Holy Spirit to begin His work in people's hearts, allow Him to admonish and encourage people to give. Do this for a month and see if people's attitude changes about giving so they can finally experience the joy of giving generously.

How would you get the 90% to give more and give generously?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Flesh

In reading scripture, one comes across the word "flesh" quite a bit. I am not going to list all the Scriptures with the word 'flesh' in it here; if you are interested in that sort of thing, look it up in your's there. But what exactly is it? Quite simply, the 'flesh' encompasses everything in our earthly existence. Our senses, emotions, what it takes physically for us to live, our bodily functions, our desires and motives, our needs for entertainment, achievement, affection, comfort, and love; all these are examples of the 'flesh.'

Not all fleshly things are evil....for example, eating. Eating food is required for for us to live and exist. Another example, Christ came to the earth in the 'flesh' and Christ was sinless. Being happy or sad is not a sin. Many things in the flesh has the potential for becoming a sin, for example, if I take my need for food to the extreme and become a glutton, then I am sinning.

The fruits of the sinful nature are the flesh acting out. Anger, frustration, control, and gossip are the flesh's way of dealing with people. It is pleasure seeking or it can be pain seeking as well. The flesh isn't satisfied with 'just' sex, it wants more, kinkier, variety and set impossible standards for 'good-looking' and attractiveness. The flesh can be greedy, amassing great wealth and surrounding itself with more and more stuff. It loves to shop often, play computer games to 'wind down' and will set impossible moral standards for self and others. It wallows is guilt and shame, avoids what it is afraid of and easily gets 'set in its ways' in complacency and thrives on routine.

The flesh also shows up to church. The flesh doesn't want to be embarrassed during worship. It wants to be entertained during a church service, wanting everything to move along at a good pace with no silent patches. My flesh wants the powerpoint to be seamless and needs the sermon to be articulate and relevant. The flesh is uncomfortable and embarrassed when the Spirit shows up because the flesh wants to stay in control and really doesn't have time for tongue-speaking or prophetic words being spoken. The flesh also wants to be challenged but doesn't do much about that once it leaves the church building. The flesh can disguise itself as a servant but quietly demands that people notice. It tries to be righteous by its own strength, will and determination, independent of asking God for help. And for heaven's sake, the flesh wants church to be over in 90 minutes or at least before the Cowboy game begins.

The flesh can beat the drum of religious adherence and demands moral standards that they themselves cannot keep. It disguises itself as righteous so it doesn't have to depend on the blood to Jesus for grace and mercy. The flesh hides its sins instead of being open and honest, and it certainly doesn't humbly confess or repent of its sins (it usually blames its sins on someone else). It puts on pride every morning and sometimes sleeps in it at night, dreaming fittfully about winning battles and building strongholds.

Do any of these fit for you? What is your understanding of 'the flesh?'

Monday, October 5, 2009

Loving God

What is your motive for praise and worship? Do you have one? Is it to be in God's presence? Is it to receive a blessing from God? Is it just to give God His due, giving Him what is rightfully His? Is it because you are supposed to and you are just being obedient?

There are so many motives, underlying reasons why people praise and worship God. In my experience, when I give God what is due Him, then all the others fall into place. If my praise is to honor God (like what the creatures and angels and cloud of witnesses are doing in heaven) then God shows up. Then I get to enjoy being in His presence and He blesses me.

When I sense the presence of God, I keep focusing on what got me there instead of focusing on the feelings I am experiencing. If I focus on my feelings, then I have taken my focus off of God and His presence begins to ebb. When I place my focus back on praising God instead of my feelings, I can again enjoy His closeness and presence in worship.

What is your experience of being in the presence of God? Any insights you can share?