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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Seasons

What’s your favorite season? Spring? Fall? Winter? Summer?

These last two weeks, loudly tweeting birds waken me every morning. It happens every year about this time: the birds really go stereo sound. The seasons are changing. The birds know it.

The daffodils are beginning to bloom. The grass is greener. There aren’t any leaves on trees yet, but they’ll be coming out soon. It’s spring!

The other day, while driving, I was enjoying the views, rejoicing in the change of season. Tiny yellow primroses grace the banks next to the river. Wild daffodils have sprung up. New lambs run and jump. Even the chickens look happy to be alive!

And, so am I.

In the Bible, we read some curious passages about the seasons.

The seasons were God’s idea and were set in place when the moon, sun, and stars were created, on the fourth day.
  • And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years (Genesis 1:14).
  • While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease (Genesis 8:22).
  • Thou hast set all the borders of the earth: thou hast made summer and winter (Psalm 74:17).
  • He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down (Psalm 104:19).

The Bible uses the seasons as an illustration for the absurdity of honoring a fool. As snow in summer, and as rain in harvest, so honor is not seemly for a fool (Proverbs 26:1).

The prophecy of judgment (Babylonian conquest) after the people had the opportunity to repent is expressed with language about the seasons. Sadly, they didn’t repent. Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the LORD. The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved (Jeremiah 8:7, 20).

The prophecy about Christ’s millennial kingdom uses the image of the seasons: And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be (Zechariah 14:8).

The prophecy about the Israel becoming its own nation and Christ’s return being near is couched in language about spring and summer. Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh (Matthew 24:32. Also in Mark 13:28; Luke 21:30).

God is sovereign. He rules the world. God sometimes uses the word seasons to refer to different time periods.
  • And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding (Daniel 2:21).
  • And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power (Acts 1:7).

God’s blessings are expressed as rain from heaven and fruitful seasons.
Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness (Acts 14:17).

Isn’t it wonderful that God promises the seasons will keep going until there is no more earth? Isn’t it great to know that He cares for us and meets our needs? Isn’t it encouraging that our God knows the future and holds it in His hands?

Truly, He fills our hearts with food and gladness (Acts 14:17).

Have a happy spring!

(Photos by anar)

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Defining "Christian"--Questions and Answers

We hear the term “Christian” all the time. It might refer to Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and all the evangelical denominations as well as a few sects labeled “Christian.” Many times, it’s used to describe a religion based on the teachings of Jesus as opposed to others, for example: Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, New Age etc.

From the Bible, we know that the name “Christian” was first used to describe the believers in the city of Antioch. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch (Acts 11:26). The word Christian simply means “follower of Christ.”

Let’s look at what Jesus Himself said about what’s required to be His follower. A Pharisee (religious Jew) named Nicodemus approached Jesus at night and said, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

Look carefully what Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Jesus said that people need to be born again. He elaborates: Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

Nicodemus didn’t understand what Jesus was talking about. How can these things be?

Jesus answers him with prophecy about His own death as a payment for the sins of the world. He cites a passage in the Old Testament, which is a figure of His death on the cross: And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived (Numbers 21:9). Jesus said, And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. Jesus drew the parallel between the saving of those bitten by the serpents—in judgment for their sin—when they looked at the lifted up brass serpent, to His own sacrifice on the cross.

Jesus makes it very clear in the next few verses: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

So biblically, what is a Christian? According to Jesus Himself, it’s someone who has believed on Him for salvation from sin.

Q—Can a person be a Christian by being good?
A—No one can be good enough. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God (Mark 10:18).

Q—Not even good works?
A—No. Salvation is only by grace through faith. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Q—So if a person believes in Jesus, that’s enough?
A—If he believes in his heart, yes. That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness (Romans 10:9-10a).

Q—What exactly does a person have to believe about Jesus?
A—That Jesus died for his sins on the cross, that Jesus was buried, and that He rose from the dead. It is placing one’s faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ to pay for his own personal sinfulness. The Bible says it like this: I declare unto you the gospel . . . which also ye have received . . . By which also ye are saved. . . . For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures (from 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

Q—So the difference is in believing? Salvation is a gift?
A—Absolutely. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life (1 John 5:11-12).

Q—Can you know?
A—Yes, God gives the Holy Spirit to every believer. That’s what the Bible is talking about when it says “witness” in this next verse: He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. . . . These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God (1 John 5:10, 13).

To sum it up quickly, a true Christian is a person who has been born again through faith in Jesus’ death for him on the cross, Jesus´ burial, and His resurrection. A person who has been born again knows it deep down in his soul.


(The quoted passages about the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus are from John 3:1-18. If you want to know more about Jesus, His life, and resurrection, why don’t you read the Gospel of John? It’s 21 chapters. Find out for yourself Who Jesus said He is.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Lives Cut Short

Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici,

The Germanwings Flight 9525 plane crash and ensuing news coverage bring to the forefront the brevity of life. Forty-five Spaniards, sixty-seven Germans, three Brits, and others passed away.

We really and truly never know when our last day will be or how we might die.

Of course, God knew about every one of the 150 souls on board. He knew each person by name and everything about them.

The truth is that air travel is much safer than getting in a car and driving. It’s much safer than any other mode of travel. Yet . . . sometimes people die. Sometimes, something goes wrong and a whole plane is lost.

You grieve with the families and friends. You grieve for the school that lost sixteen students and two teachers. You share in their shock and loss. You feel sorry for lives cut short.

And, inevitably, you think about your own life.

I know my husband and I have flown in similar planes from Spain to Germany and then to the U.S. quite a few times. It’s a frequently flown route. No one thinks twice about it. No one thinks these might be his last moments when he stows his carry-on, sits down, and buckles up. The Airbus A-320 has a wonderful safety record.

And yet . . .

150 souls went into eternity.

It’s too late to change anything. The accident happened, and the plane was lost.

I wonder if you’re ready.

Is your soul ready to meet God? Do you know—absolutely and positively—that if you were to die suddenly, you would meet the Lord in heaven? Are you born again? Jesus said, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3. If you have any doubts about whether or not you are born again, please read at least John, chapter 3. The whole book of John will reveal Jesus to you.) The Bible says in 1 John 5:13 that you can know you will go to heaven: These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

Is your house in order? These are the practical things—finances, a will, funeral plans, the right people’s names as beneficiaries on insurance, your bank account, etc. These things are very important for single people as well as married.

Are there things you need to say? Say them now. Do you need to tell someone you love him? Do you need to tell a mentor how much he has meant to you? Do you need to get right with a friend or a family member? The Bible says we don’t have a guarantee of tomorrow. Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away (James 4:14).

Do you have a relationship that needs mending? Do your part to fix it. Reach out, and be humble. You don’t know if you’ll have another day.

And as it is appointed unto men once to die,
but after this the judgment:
So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many;
and unto them that look for him
shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
(Hebrews 9:27-28)

May the Lord find us ready.

Monday, March 23, 2015

I Hate Pop-ups!

Photo courtesy of: Ambro at

I’m trying to read a blog post. It’s less than a thousand words. It should take me a minute or so. (I read fast.) But alas!

Pop up! An ad in Spanish—since they know I live in Spain—to buy a car. (As if we didn’t already have one.) I X that and start to read the blog again.

Pop up! An ad from the blog to buy a book on schooling toddlers. Um . . . I had my last toddler exactly twenty-six years ago. I X it, too. Back to the blog post I wanted to read.

Pop up! Subscribe to this blog so you get it in your in-box every single day. Don’t miss this opportunity!

I X that one, too. I mean, I only wanted to read this particular post one time and only because it interested me before I was so rudely interrupted.

I’ve now spent three minutes getting rid of the extras so I can read the last hundred words of the post I wanted to read in the first place.


Did I mention I hate pop-ups?

I’m not a fan of real-life pop-ups, either.

People pop-ups. They’re the ones that won’t listen at all because they want to be heard so badly that no one else can have an opportunity. You try and try to get a word in edgewise, but it’s of no use. You’re cut off in each attempt by the expert of all things, the “person pop-up.”

Circumstance pop-ups. I like things all planned out. I like to know what the day’s supposed to look like. I like knowing I have this many minutes or hours here and know what I want to do with that time. But, life happens. Someone might need to go to the hospital, or need counsel, or need a shoulder to cry on. Someone from out-of-town might be stopping in this afternoon, and I need to get a pie in the oven. (I hope they like apple pie!) My husband may need me to hold a ladder or to help him fold a tarp. Our daughter might call or our son’s wife is ready to Skype with us. (What joyful interruptions! Children and grandkids!)

Thought pop-ups. You start to pray, and before you’re finished “Our Father in heaven,” you start thinking about the roast you planned to make for Sunday dinner, and what you might make to go with it, and how you’re going to set the table. Or your mind goes to poor Miss Sadie who has so many needs at this moment. Your sincere prayer time just got stopped because your head went in other directions. Does this ever happen to you? Or is it just me? You have to discipline yourself—it takes effort—to forget about the roast and Miss Sadie and really communicate with the Lord again. (And yes, at the end of your prayer you remember Miss Sadie.)

Ugly thought pop-ups. These are the nasty little snide remarks and comebacks that pop into your head when your husband asks you to do something at a moment’s notice. They might also pop in when a child asks the same question for the thousandth time. Or they might happen—we hope not—when you’re out in public and someone makes a thoughtless comment. (I hope you never actually say what pops into your head!)

Dirty word pop-ups. I think it’s our exposure to the world around us, but sometimes, a curse word will pop into our mind when least we expect it. We don’t read those words, listen to TV programs with cursing, or watch movies with bad words. But all of a sudden, an awful word pops into your mind and surprises you.

Desire pop-ups. Did you ever see a drop-dead gorgeous man and your mind wandered for a second? Be honest. It happens. Some women even “fall in love” with movie stars or the men in novels!

Want-one-of-those pop-ups. You walk in a friend’s home, and her oak floors are perfect, her furniture is color-coordinated, and the pillows on the sofa are in the most awesome prints you ever saw. Everything is clean and modern and beautiful. Your head says to you, “I have to have . . . .” Or, you see a girlfriend while you’re shopping. She’s dressed in the very latest, and the color is just scrumptious. Her shoes are adorable. Green envy pops up as you look down at your worn jeans skirt and ballet flats.

What can you do about the pop-ups in your life?

Here’s some biblical help for the pop-ups I mentioned:
  • Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves (Philippians 2:3).
  • The steps of a good man (or woman) are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way (Psalm 37:23).
  • And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).
  • Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
  • Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things (Philippians 4:8).
  • Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee (Hebrews 13:5).
  • For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s (1 Corinthians 6:20).

God bless you!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Why Girls Date Losers and What Can Be Done

Photo courtesy of: David Castillo Dominici at

I watch it happen all the time: a lovely girl goes out with a guy who has all the red flags. I can see from the beginning it won’t be a happy outcome, but the girl's infatuated. She ignores the indications.

So, what can anyone do?

If I’m close to the woman, I warn her before it’s too late—before they’re serious or married. Over ten years after I talked to her, a friend said to me, “I knew what I was doing. You warned me.” But, she went ahead, married a non-Christian, divorced, and some years later, she’s in a similar relationship with another man who’s even worse for her. So very sad!

Why do girls (women of any age) date losers?
  • They don’t like themselves. Somewhere deep inside they believe they’re not worthy of a better man. They’re down on themselves, so they look for someone who’s below par.
  • They’re oblivious. They simply don’t see the red flags, the signals that this man will not be what he should be or treat them right. They are a little bit happy-ditzy.
  • They think one or two red flags don’t matter. They’re willing to overlook a few serious problems, thinking only of the good qualities in the man. They don’t try to work through the issues. They ignore them.
  • They pity the guy. Sympathetic girls may even begin the relationship trying to help the man overcome his issues. This is a bad sign always! Believe me, if a guy needs serious help, he will never be a strong leader and protector for you. Never.
  • Men can be smooth and slick. Some men know exactly how to soothe, sweet talk, and pull a few over on a girl who wants to believe in him. Girls should watch actions more than words.
  • The girl thinks the man will change, do better, and learn in the future. Wrong! If they change, it’s usually for the worse.

So, girls date men that aren’t good for them, men they shouldn’t trust. And, many times, they marry them.

How can you tell if a man is bad news or not?
  1. Analyze the man before your heart’s involved. Look for both good and bad. Ask his friends about him. Ask his pastor. (I can’t stress this enough. Ask his pastor!!!!) Watch him. Become the best detective in the world. (You might be interested in my post with a list about what to look for. You can access it here.)
  2. Never date a man you pity. Never!
  3. If you see a red flag—or a friend points one out—confront the man about it. Then, listen to see if it’s really an issue or not. Watch from that point on to see if it’s a genuine problem. Look at it coldly. Emotions should never be a part of this process.
  4. Look at the practical side. Does he have a job? Does he work hard? Does he treat you with respect? Can you trust him completely? What kind of baggage does he have? (Abuse? Has he been married? Does he have children? Did he leave his wife?)
  5. Find out about his home growing up. Was there abuse? Was there a kind atmosphere? How did his parents relate to each other and to their children? How did they express/not express love? Ask lots of questions about his home.
  6. Look at his actions rather than his words. How does he treat his mother, sisters, aunts, and grandmas? Is he respected? Is he kind? Does he spend his money wisely? Does he look at porn? Does he watch raunchy music videos and movies? Does he have any addictions (drugs, gambling, self-harm, video games, tobacco, alcohol, etc.)?
  7. If you’ve already been on a date with him, does he treat your body with respect and keep his hands to himself? 

The very most important consideration is whether or not he’s a godly man.
  • Is he a born-again Christian? If not, you have no reason to date him. Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14)
  • Does he attend church faithfully—and did he even before he met you? Is he active in his church?
  • Does he have personal devotions on a daily basis? Is his faith important to him? Does he talk about God with you? Does he pray with you—besides the blessing?
  • Does he have a ministry?
  • Does his pastor speak highly of him?
  • Would he be a spiritual leader for you?
  • If any of the questions above got a “no” answer, this man will not be good for you. I know this sounds harsh, but it’s true. (If he’s a new Christian, give him some years to grow in the Lord before you date him. By then, you will be able to judge if he evidences the fruit of the Spirit in his life. Galatians 5:22-23)

If you’re thinking about or are in a dating relationship with anyone, please take some time to analyze and scrutinize your man. Leave your emotions—and his good looks—out of it, and see if he’s someone that deserves your trust.

Nevertheless let every one of you in particular
so love his wife even as himself;
and the wife see that she reverence (respect) her husband.
(Ephesians 5:33)

Can you respect him? Or not?

May the Lord bless you!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Non-fiction Book Review: Kisses from Katie

Photo courtesy of: Apolonia at

Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis with Beth Clark is a book that inspires you to think. It challenges, and it moves you to tears. It also moves you to action.

Katie Davis went to Uganda straight out of high school, agreeing with her parents that she’d return and go to college. They were okay with the idea and let her go. When Katie got there, the needs faced her everywhere she looked. She ended up being a lot more than a kindergarten teacher. She became a mother.

Orphaned, abused, diseased, and neglected children were everywhere, and Katie began to adopt. By nineteen years of age, Katie had adopted six little girls. She shares, “Adoption is wonderful and beautiful and the greatest blessing I have ever experienced. Adoption is difficult and painful. Adoption is a beautiful picture of redemption. It is the Gospel in my living room.”

“If being a new mother taught me anything, it was just how inadequate I truly am and just how dependent I am on my Father to give me the strength and grace for each day.”

Katie found the need to begin a ministry that she named Amazima, which means “Truth” in the Luganda language. Her Amazima association provides sponsorship for needy children, providing them with schooling, medical treatment, and school supplies.

By age twenty, Katie had legally adopted fourteen girls and was managing over 300 sponsorships. She has a helper and lives with thirteen girls in her home in Uganda. She also ministers to a neighboring town where the people live in squalor. Many times, her family takes in children in order to nurse them back to health.

Katie has learned to trust God for all the needs of her family and the sponsored children. She says, “Serving God and my family with all of me, that is my treasure.”

I absolutely loved this book! I believe that anyone who has a heart for people will be challenged by it.

I can recommend it with a few caveats. There are a few times that Katie’s words don’t add up theologically, though we understand what she means. For example, she says when she is with those very poor people, “They allow me to see Jesus in their faces.” Well, not if they’re not Christians, but I think she is saying that ministering to the least of these is the same as ministering to Jesus (Matthew 25:40).

She also says, “I serve the God who used Moses, a murderer, to part the Red Sea, a God who let Peter, who would deny him, walk on water. A God who looks at me in all my fallen weakness and says, ‘You can do the impossible.’” Of course, we understand what Katie’s saying here, but Moses didn’t part the Red Sea; God did. Peter had no power at all to walk on water; Jesus enabled him to do that. And, of course, only God can do the impossible.

My biggest theological issue was with Katie’s willing participation in serving communion in a Roman Catholic service in the U.S.A. She says it’s her “favorite part of the mass.” (I am not sure what church Katie attends in Uganda or in the States. It was her parents’ church.)

It is very clear in the book that Katie knows the Lord as her personal Savior and that she shares the gospel of Jesus death for our sins, His burial, and His resurrection with those to whom she ministers. She shares about adults and children trusting Christ as their Savior.

This is a wonderful book. I believe it will inspire anyone to do more for others. It’s well written and full of heart. I give it five stars.

Monday, March 16, 2015

On Simplifying My Stuff

Little by little, I’m going through thirty years of “stuff.” (Stuff is a good word for it, since my junk comes in many categories.) I’m going through, throwing away, giving away, and deciding what to keep. I’m amazed at all I’m finding: pictures of my nieces and nephews from twenty years ago, maps of everywhere we’ve traveled over the last three decades, papers (Ugh! So many papers!), extra this, extra that, old pillows (Why did I keep them?), enough ballpoint pens to start my own company, and my collections.

Oh, the collections! I had an egg collection. It was amazing—only to me. I like the shape of eggs. Their form is so clean and sculptural and pure. (I gave all but the ostrich egg away. Maybe someday the ostrich egg will go, too.)

I still have the pig collection. (I don’t to this day know what it says about my personality.) I think collecting pigs might have been an overreaction to everyone else’s black and white cows and white geese in the 1980s and ‘90s. But still, I look at them and they make me laugh. I mean, who can scowl at a cute little pig?

I love dishes! I really love dishes. It’s good we’ve always lived in small spaces, or I would have been seriously dish overloaded. Because of the lack of space, I have resisted many “buy me calls” from many a dish. As it is, I recently gave away a set of china that a friend had given me many years ago. I still have some cheap, white everyday dishes and a blue and white set of china.

So, I’m slowly going through my stuff. I ask myself the questions: What will make someone else’s day? What might be special to a friend? What should find its way to a trashcan? What can be recycled? What do I really need? What things make me feel at home?

Simplifying isn’t easy. But it’s necessary. Keep what’s beautiful and useful, and throw out—or bless someone else with—the rest.

It’s the same in the spiritual realm. We need to get rid of the extras, those things that clog our spirit in junk, that overload the senses and emotions so that we don’t see the important things. So that we don’t actually have a relationship with God.

What am I talking about?

It’s the “stuff” we collect, for example:
  • Traditions not based on Scripture—things we don’t do or do because they’ve always been done that way. They’re those lists of “what to do to be a good Christian,” the items that aren’t even in the Bible. Jesus said, For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition (Mark 7:8-9).
  • Condescending, Pharisaical attitudes—looking down on others, when the Bible says, Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves (Philippians 2:3).
  • Unconfessed sins—when it’s so easy to be right with God. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
  • Negative thinking—when God says, Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things (Philippians 4:8).
  • Unloving personal relationships—when the Lord commands love. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you (John 15:12).
  • Distractions that keep us from praying always, meditation on the Word, and communion with God—social media, TV, reading choices, work habits, entertainment choices, a crammed schedule, etc. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer (Psalm 19:14).
  • Loving the world (sinful pleasures) more than God—when the Bible says, Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world (1 John 2:15-16).
  • Being unthankful—when we should realize that everything is God’s. Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:20).

If we can trash the unspiritual “junk” in our lives, then we can really, truly enjoy the blessings we have in the Lord:
  • Salvation—Those who’ve received Jesus as their personal Savior from sin have eternal life. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name (John 1:12).
  • The sure hope of heavenThat by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast (Hebrews 6:18-19a).
  • JoyThou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance (Acts 2:28).
  • PeaceThou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee (Isaiah 26:3).
  • A wonderful life—Jesus said, I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly (John 10:10b). . . . And many more!

As I go through my material stuff, I want to trash any spiritual junk as well. I want to enjoy my uncluttered blessings in Christ.

How about you?

(Photos by yours truly.)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Disabilities You Can't See

Photo courtesy of: crisroll at

Parents of children with disabilities who don’t look different have a hard time. So do their children. I’m talking about children who have autism, brain damage, speech challenges, hearing loss, etc. They’re the issues you can’t see.

Unthinking people might say things that hurt both the children and their mothers.
These kids, their parents, and siblings live with challenges every day. The autistic child doesn’t look different. The child who can’t hear doesn’t look different. So, people expect them to act and talk like everyone else, when they can’t.

Problems arise because we don’t know each individual child’s background.

That’s just the point.

When anyone, child or adult, doesn’t respond they way we expect him to, remember these three principles:
  1. There’s a reason.
  2. Be kind.
  3. Treat the person just as if he had reacted normally. (His actions are normal, for him.)

Don’t ask the parent in front of the child, “What’s wrong with him?” How awful is that! The mom or dad knows, of course, but it’s just plain rude for you to point it out in front of the child. The parent will tell you privately, if it’s your business to know (if you’re the child’s teacher, etc.). If it’s not your business—99% of the time—just be kind.

Can you imagine a child who struggles overhearing “What’s wrong with him?” It could be so very damaging! How terrible to do this to anyone, of any age, but especially to a child! His parents will spend hours and hours getting him over one unkind remark.

If you’re the parent of a special needs child, learn to forgive and forgive and forgive. Seventy times seven* and more. Realize that the people who make cruel remarks and ask unkind questions are ignorant. They haven’t thought before they opened their mouth. It’s sad but true. Be a good forgiver, and help your child to forgive, as well. Your gracious attitude is a witness for Christ. (It’s okay to cry. We know you still hurt. Hugs!)

When children (or adults) act up or act out, it’s always for a reason. If a person doesn’t behave as he should, here are several things you can do:
  • Pray for the person and his family. You can actually minister to them through prayer.
  • Give the individual the benefit of the doubt. You don’t know his story, but there’s a reason he does what he does.
  • If you’ll have repeated contact with the child, find out from his mother what his issues are and how you can help. She loves to talk about her children and is glad you want to help.
  • Smile and be kind.
  • How would Jesus treat this person? With love and compassion. So should we.

Do not:
  • Criticize a child you don’t understand. You have no idea! It’s not the child’s fault he has issues.
  • Criticize the parents. They need encouragement, not criticism. Look for and make positive statements.
  • Offer miracle cures. Believe me, every mother with a special needs child has worn out the Internet with her research. She's probably also tried every diet, every special vitamin, every stimulation, every system of schooling, and everything else touted to help her child. If you have a child with the same challenge, and you’ve found something that works for your child, you can, of course, feel free to share your own experience in a non-pushy, non-judgmental way.
  • Give unsought advice. Again, the mother has informed herself and is doing the very best she can to meet the needs of her family. A whole cadre of health professionals are familiar with her child.
Photo courtesy of: David Castillo Dominici at

If you’re the parent of a child with special needs, it’s helpful to advise your host or hostess about your child ahead of your visit. Let them know how they can help him (how to treat him, diet needs, etc.) This way, the hosts can prepare their family and have an idea what to expect.

If you’re friends with the family, volunteer to help out from time to time. Use good judgment, and don’t be pushy.

Here are a few ways you can help:
  • Befriend the child, not pressuring him. Give him loving attention. Get to know how he thinks and how he works. Enjoy him and accept him as he is.
  • Let the child join in with other children. (Listen to his parents about what age group will be most comfortable for him. Don’t be rigid, demanding that he be in a class or play group with peers his own physical age.)
  • Educate others in your circle of friends, so that the child and his parents will be easily accepted. When people understand special needs, they are more comfortable.
  • Help out the mother when you’re together in a public place. If one child needs his mother, volunteer to watch her other children for a few minutes.
  • Volunteer to babysit for a few hours, so that the parents can get away together, alone.
  • Take flowers or another pretty gift to the mother. She can use some beauty in her life.
  • Take a meal to them, so they can eat-in but not have to prepare anything.
  • Prepare a sensory gift for the child—one toy. (Sensory toys: scents, tactile, sounds, glowing lights, etc.)
  • Plan an outing to a park or playground—somewhere out in nature, where the children can run around. Help your children befriend the child with issues as well as his siblings. Everyone needs friends!
  • Above all, be understanding and trust the parents’ judgment.

The Apostle Paul said, I have shewed you all things,
how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak,
and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus,
how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
(Acts 20:35)

Now we exhort you, brethren . . . support the weak, be patient toward all men.
(from 1 Thessalonians 5:14)

Let’s be a blessing!


* Seventy times seven is from Matthew 18:22 where Jesus commands to forgive many times.