Tag Archives: grace

New Year, New You?

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So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! (2 Corinthians 5:17 NRS)

Resolutions are great, except for when they aren’t.  Sure, they serve a good purpose for setting priorities, opening new horizons and creating positive change.  Yet, if we feel we fall short they also come with a side-dish of guilt, something that parents of children with special needs cope with constantly anyway. So what’s the solution to keeping a New Year’s resolution?

Bing Crosby had some good advice “accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative.” In accentuating the positive, I started choosing a variety of goals for the New Year. I choose one thing I’d like to learn, one habit I’d like to change, and one challenge goal that is my personal moon shot for the year.  One year my “learning” and “challenging” resolution were one in the same. I learned to scuba dive despite being claustrophobic and uncomfortable in the water.  Plus, the movie Jaws left an indelible mark on my psyche as a child. Approaching it this way, accentuating the positive, resolutions have become fun, plus I have a whole year to achieve them. I’ve learned how to do things that had lingered on my list of, “someday I would like to…,” I’ve eliminated some bad habits and created healthier ones, and I’ve tested limits and been surprised by what I can do.

It’s the “eliminating the negative” that is the real challenge when it comes to resolutions.  We all fight that voice of doubt that says, “No, you can’t.” Some days we miss the mark, and guilt sets in. We can eliminate the negative by offering ourselves a measure of grace. It takes forty days to make a new habit, or break an old one for good. It’s okay to have a bit of trial and error along the way.  The main thing is that we can trust in Paul’s words to the Corinthians.  “If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation.” That is the true and ultimate new you. The best resolution we’ve all made is to become followers of Christ.  That is the most important “new you” any of us will ever be.  How we celebrate that new creation is important, but when we fall short of perfection in resolutions we can trust that grace abounds.

So how did I do on my 2016 resolutions? I nailed two out of three, and grace abounds.

It is not too late to start a resolution on the second week of January. The year has not been “ruined” by missing a week already. There is still plenty of time to learn, explore, and succeed.

Renewing God,  remind us again of how you make all things new.  Open our eyes to new possibilities and shape us to be who you call us to be. Amen

Happy New Year, and happy new you!

Lorna Bradley

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Blessed Beyond Measure

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I really stirred the pot with my Tuesday morning special needs parent support group, but I was not at all surprised. I brought up that awkward conversation we’ve all had with complete strangers.  You know the one.  They notice something different in our child’s behavior or abilities or appearance. They look for something to say and it generally starts with, “You must be a really special parent because…”

After the laughter and nodding heads subsided came the resounding cry, “We need a list of one-liners!” The humor soon gave way to transparency.

  • No, I’m not. I’m just holding it together one day after another and, by the way, I have no idea what I’m doing.
  • If you think I have the super hero power of patience, you are wrong!
  • Neither my child nor I are angels from heaven. We are real human beings with all the faults and challenges that come with that, and then some.

Looking for an energizing topic? Nailed it!   What is it about that statement that opens Pandora’s Box and lets it all tumble out?

Maybe it’s because that statement highlights a difference. Maybe it shines a spotlight on us at our hardest moment. Maybe it pokes us where we are most vulnerable, in that tender place between grief and acceptance.

Then came the reasonable voice from that mom who is so quiet and insightful, “You know, maybe we shouldn’t react that way.  They are just trying to connect. They are trying to be helpful. Maybe what we need instead of good comebacks is a good measure of grace.”

“Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” (Luke 6:37-38 NRS)

Jesus taught in an agrarian culture that lacked standardized weights. When buying in the market place sometimes the measure you got was generous, other times the buyer left feeling cheated. A good measure is overly generous, abundant, and indulgent even. That is the grace that God offers to us.  It is so much more than we deserve, filled with understanding for when we fall short. With God’s grace we are blessed beyond measure.

How generous is my measure?  Truth be told, some days it’s more generous than others. We all have growing edges when it comes to grace.

Gracious God,  We thank you for the grace that you offer to us so freely. Help us to see the world through your eyes. Thank you for fresh opportunities to try again. Amen

Rev Doc Lorna

Photo “Corn-Grain” courtesy of stock.tookapic.com via Pexels

Special Needs Parent Appreciation!

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For the month August, Sandra Peoples and Carol Flory at Not Alone Ministry launched Special Needs Parent Appreciation Month. Plain moms and dads get a mere day to celebrate their talents as parents.  Special needs parents deserve an entire month!  It’s fitting that they chose “back-to-school” month, undoubtedly the most stressful month of the year for most special needs families.  If there is ever a time when we need a bit of extra appreciation, August is it! For all of those therapy appointments, for juggling a tight budget, for giving tirelessly to those who need it most, for the million ways in which you give and care – Well done!

Earlier this year a parent said to me, “I wish there were a devotion just for special needs parents. I read other devotions. I like them alright. I just wish I could find one that really resonates my experience.”  As a gift to special needs parents, Not Alone Ministry created a 30-day devotional eBook. They tackle hard topics like anger, guilt and fear, as well as the lighter fare of parenting, such as hope, friendship and grace. They invited a variety of disability writers to contribute, including me.  You can read more about the project here: http://bit.ly/1ECJEiU and you can download your copy of the devotion here: http://bit.ly/1My3eTT

On a personal note, many folks have been asking about an eBook version of Special Needs Parenting: From Coping to Thriving.  The eBook was released on Amazon on my son’s birthday, which feels perfectly fitting! You can find both the print and electronic versions here: http://amzn.to/1h0kSEy

Renewing God, for the parent who gives constantly and takes little for themselves, provide an opportunity for self-care.  For the parent who yearns to hear their child say thank you, help them feel that appreciation in ways that transcend words.  For the parent who worries maybe they are not enough, remind them we are all more than conquerors through Christ Jesus who strengthens us all. Let all that we do as parents be to your glory. Amen

Blessings!

Rev Doc Lorna

Magnolia Leaves and Good Neighbors

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For your name’s sake O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great. (Psalm 25:11 NRSV)

If I knew magnolias were so messy I probably would not have planted them.  We moved to Texas twenty years ago into a new construction neighborhood.  The front yard was put in by the builder, the barren back yard was a constant mud pit with the pounding thunderstorms virtually every afternoon.  Add a four year-old who saw no issue with red Texas clay and new carpet… we needed some landscaping, stat!

Living in the south for the first time I made a snap decision that we needed magnolias. I loved the movie Steel Magnolias, the strength of the women, the way they kept going in the worst of times, the way they could rely on each other. Magnolias are the trees of the south! Magnolias on the fence line would be perfect!  Right after we got the yard put in a neighbor down the street commented that her husband wouldn’t let her have magnolias, “They are so messy.”

Messy?

Thus began the guilt.

The leaves fall year round.  Really?  When they get stressed in the heat they REALLY fall.  Drought? They throw a pouty, hissy-fit of leaves all over the place paying no attention to which side of the fence whatsoever. On our lawn or in the neighbor’s pool, those trees don’t care.

But I sure did.

I could clean up after messy trees in my own back yard, but it’s not like I could hop the fence and toss our leaves back over to our side.  Well, not unless it was the dead of night with a waning moon. Don’t ask me how I know this.

After twenty years those trees are really big now, dropping trashcans full of leaves at a time. Guilt by the bagful. I sometimes contemplate baking cookies for the neighbors as a sign of repentance. Then I’d get busy and the cookies never quite make it to the oven. I have even felt guilty about that!

New neighbors moved in two years ago.  We met over the back fence one afternoon. I apologized profusely about our trees.  “Let me know if they are a problem or if you need branches trimmed back. I’m so sorry they’re so messy…”

A gracious smile stopped by tumble of word. “We love your trees.  They are beautiful. We wouldn’t have a bit of shade in the evening without them. Just look at all the blooms about to come.”

Blooms? What blooms?  The guilt for messing up their yard took away the beauty of the blooms.

Funny how guilt is so insidious, yet serves no purpose. We beat ourselves up for things that matter little to others. We withhold forgiveness for ourselves when others offer it freely.

Special needs parenting can come with a heaping plate of guilt for so many things. Guilt for birth differences, lack of access to therapy and medications, lack of time for family and friends, short-changing siblings who get a smaller share of everything, to name a few. Does any of that guilt serve a purpose? Does it help in anyway?  Or does it just make the load heavier?  Do you work through it to a place of forgiveness just to find a few days later that you’ve picked it back up again?

Our lives are messy, like those trees.  So what? We grow stronger through the years, blessing others in ways we do not even see. We too have beautiful blooms. Do we take the time to recognize them for ourselves?

Whatever guilt it is that you carry, God is bigger. God forgives, wiping clean the slate for a fresh start. Allow yourself to live into that gift by giving over to God your guilt and taking back a life free of self-condemnation.

My prayer for you today, enjoy the blooms!

 

Image: Magnolia Grandiflora Flower by Andrew Butko [GFDL 1.3 (www.gnu.org/licenses/fdl-1.3.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons