Monday, January 23, 2012

Focusing on the Positive in Our Children

+This month marks 11 years since my daughter's diagnosis of autism. She is now 13. I love my daughter dearly and believe, on most days, I have come to terms with her diagnosis. I have accepted who she is and have accepted that life for her (and us) will never be the "ideal." But, I have to be honest with you... that doesn't mean there aren't still days when I wish things could have been different.

One thing I have come to realize, however, is that many other parents have similar feelings regarding their own “typical” children from time to time. As parents, we ALL have hopes and dreams for our children. And, when those dreams don't become a reality, it is sometimes hard to accept.

For me, it is extremely difficult when I see other girls my daughter’s age doing the things a typical 13 year old would do. I wish she could relate to other girls in a way that would bring her invitations to participate in their social gatherings. For other parents, they may wish their child could be great in sports, just like “dad” was; or, be an excellent student; or, be the social butterfly that mom is. Maybe some are frustrated that their child is involved with something that is not the "norm" for their family. Or, maybe they are dealing with a disability that limits their involvement in the things their family loves to do. There are many scenarios of how us parents wish our children could be different. And, there are many times we feel guilty for thinking this way.

One thing to remember, when those feelings of sadness or disappointment show up, is the importance of not dwelling on them. Dwelling on the negative only brings discontent and depression. What I have been trying to do is acknowledge my feelings are real and that I don't have to pretend they aren't there. Then, pray and express my feelings to God, because He is always there to listen. But, don't dwell on them. After acknowledging your feelings and expressing them to God, give them up and begin thinking about the positive things - the blessings God has given you. You may be surprised at how many things you can think of! Above all else, TRUST in the Lord, and KNOW that He will never leave you or forsake you. 

If it wasn’t for the Lord holding my hand through every step of every day, I would not be as confident as I am in knowing that "God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28)

In spite of any difficulties my husband and I face, I love my children dearly. They mean so much to me and are truly blessings from the Lord.

LOVE your children today, truly love them... for who they are, not for who you wish they could be. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ways to Encourage #7: Send a “care package”

A "care package" is a box of various items that can be sent to just about anyone, and at any time. They are  meant to be sent specifically to show someone you are thinking of them, and that you care.

When I was a college student, my mother would send a care package every so often. She would include things I could use, such as peanut butter, pens and pencils, toothpaste and stamps. She would also throw in some items just for fun, like candy or cookies. No matter what she chose to put in them, these packages were ALWAYS welcome to receive. It was so fun to receive something in the mail, and it means the world to know someone was thinking of me. 

You can send a package on your own to someone you know who is serving our country, or you can give items to a local group who collects and sends packages to the soldiers on a regular basis. My brother is active duty in the Air Force, and I know he has always enjoyed receiving a package, especially while he was overseas in Qatar. One time, the church my husband pastored in Mendota, IL, lovingly helped me collect items to send to my brother. The package was full of cookies, candies, snacks, books, videos, and necessities.

Please don’t forget about the wives whose husbands are serving and are absent from them. They need some encouragement as well, and may even need more than just a care package! My friend, Donna, once expressed her feelings to me about how unsupported she felt when her military husband was deployed overseas. There are some wives who are blessed during that time because they have family nearby to help out with the kids and the yardwork, or they have a supportive unit on base or church family to rely on. But, for many like Donna, it is often assumed that someone is taking care of their needs, so no one bothers to get involved. During one round of deployment, Donna’s own Pastor never called her the entire 5 months her husband was gone. What a huge mistake this is!

No matter who you are or where you are, EVERYONE loves to receive a package. Christmas and birthdays are not unusual times to send a package. But, what about sending one “just because?” I already mentioned how my mom would send me a care package when I was in college, but her thoughtful care packages did not end there! Even as I moved out of the house, got married, and had children of my own, she has continually blessed me and my family (as well as my brother and sister and their families) with an unexpected surprise package filled with “just because” items. It is always a special treat that really helps to  brighten our day.
Bless someone today with a care package! It doesn't have to be large, as I know how expensive the postage is these days. Just package up some little things that won't cost too much to send, or work together with someone else to help share in the cost.
Have fun with encouragement!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Ways to Encourage #6 - Quality Time

One of the best ways to encourage family and friends is by spending quality time with them. Here are a few ideas to try out:

1.  Watch a good movie together, and discuss it at the end.

2.  Pray together.

3.  Turn off the TV and the computer and do one of the following:
  • Sit around the table at dinner time and talk and laugh together. 
  • Go out to eat, or just go out for dessert.
  • Go shopping together and pay for something your friend or family member desires.
  • Go to a coffee shop and have conversation over a cup of coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate. 
  • Go bowling, play miniature golf, or watch a ballgame together.
4.  You can also go check out a previous post I made about: INEXPENSIVE WAYS TO SPEND TIME WITH YOUR FAMILY

It is important to understand, what one person considers good quality time may differ from someone else. So, if you are wanting to encourage in this way, find out what others consider to be quality time. Bring up several ideas to the one(s) you are wanting to spend time with, and ASK THEM what they would like to do. Then, go do it!

Have fun with encouragement!


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Ways to Encourage #5 - Ten Ideas for Social Networking

If you have a Facebook account, Twitter, or are part of any other kind of social networking site, post something positive and encouraging for others to read.

I have seen many different kinds of encouraging posts. Here are a few ideas you can try:
1.  Post something you are thankful for (And, you don't have to do this only during the days prior to the Thanksgiving holiday!)

2.  Post a Bible verse that spoke to you.

3.  Post a favorite quote that is encouraging. (My brother posts quite often about the sweet or funny things his 4-year-old son says.)

4.  Share a clean, funny joke.

5.  Post a favorite You Tube video - something funny or something inspirational.

6.  Share a link from some other site that directs others to an encouraging article.
7.  Wish your friends a happy birthday, anniversary, or any other special occasion. 
8. If someone posts that they are having a hard day (or they ask for prayer), post under their comment that you are thinking of them and/or praying for them. 

9.  Share an answer to prayer that you have had. 

10.  Every day, choose one of your "friends" to pray for, then send them a note telling them you did.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Ways to Encourage #4 - Invite Someone Over

Happy New Year, everyone! I'm sure many of you are in the process of making new plans and new goals for this new year, or at least reminiscing of what the past year has entailed for you. Well,  here's an idea to add to your goals... make it a point to be an encouragement to others. There are many ways this can be done (I've already mentioned three of them in previous posts). This fourth suggestion is to invite someone over to your home.

Now, before you get your head shaking from left to right as you emphatically say, "No, not to MY house!" listen to what I have to say...

1.  Get the idea out of your head right now that makes you think you can't have anyone over unless your house is in perfect shape. My goodness, what is more important? The way your house looks, or fellowship with friends? Most people don't really care if you have unfolded laundry on the couch, unmade beds, or dishes in the sink. They just want to be thought of, and inviting them into your home is one big way you can show them you are thinking of them and want to get to know them better.

2.  There are different things you can do with the people you invite over. Most people love to eat, so you can ask them to come to lunch after church (slow cookers are wonderful for this type of thing), invite them over for an evening meal (prepared yourself, or ordered) or have a cookout where each family brings their own meat and a side dish. Another idea is to invite them over only for dessert but, by all means, don't think that inviting someone over means you must feed them! Fellowship and/or a board game is perfectly fine. Asking a friend over to chat over a cup of coffee (or even just a glass of water) is a great thing to do, too! Just be clear with them as to what they are being invited over for, so they will know what to expect. If you do invite them over for some sort of food, be sure to ask about allergies first.

  • Good friends
  • Family
  • People from church
  • Co-workers
  • Neighbors
  • Those who have recently moved to town
  • Other acquaintances you would like to know more about

There are people all around us needing love and encouragement. Just ask the Lord to show you who to reach out to, then open your eyes and look around.

Have fun with encouragement!