A Place Called Special http://aplacecalledspecial.com a look inside a special life Fri, 07 Jul 2017 16:13:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.4.10 Who Decides!? http://aplacecalledspecial.com/2017/07/07/who-decides/ http://aplacecalledspecial.com/2017/07/07/who-decides/#respond Fri, 07 Jul 2017 15:55:06 +0000 http://aplacecalledspecial.com/?p=1564 A large number of free wallpaper download, including mobile wallpapers, desktop wallpaper, computer background, 360x640, 640x360, 240×320, 1280×720, 320×480, 480×272, 120×160, 1200×800, 800×480, 960×800, 960×854, PSP Backgrounds, Nokia, 5800, n97, 5230, 5530, n8, iPhone, Blackberry, Htc, Samsung, Motorola, Sony Ericsson ...There’s a battle raging in the UK right now over the life of a little boy. Eleven month old Charlie Gard was born with a rare genetic disorder which, up to this point, has not allowed him to go home. Charlie’s parents have raised over a million and a half dollars to bring him to the USA for an experimental treatment in a New York hospital .

The Pope has even offered to bring the child to a Vatican pediatric hospital in Rome, but the UK hospital took the parents to court and a judge ruled, along with the medical establishment, that Charlie will have no ‘quality of life’ and therefore deserves the right to ‘die with dignity’. He will not be allowed to leave the facility.

I’m trying to decide if this is the evil side of socialized medicine or the reprobate minds of medicine playing god. Maybe it’s both. Since when does a hospital get to tell parents doing everything possible to help their baby, “NO!”?

The term ‘quality of life’ is thrown around extensively in relation to disability. Somehow people in the mainstream, think they have the right to decide what quality of life looks like, acts like and is. It’s one thing if we want to decide this for ourselves and possibly our own loved ones but when we start forcing our definition on others, there’s a problem.

Those of us who love kids with special needs, quickly learn what quality of life really means. They bring quality to life in all the ways that matter most, helping us redefine life’s priorities. All the shiny, glittery attractions that spell success in the world begin to pale as we share life from their point of view.

My son, Jon is content living life his way, though it may not be conventional or understood. When those of us considered ‘normal’ start deciding those considered ‘not normal’ have no right to exist…well, if we know history, we also know where this thought process leads.

Charlie’s parents should be allowed to and applauded for doing everything they can to help their child. If he doesn’t survive that will be God’s decision, not man’s, which is exactly how it should be.

Please pray for the family of little Charlie Gard.

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Epilogue: 2 AM, Jon and Jesus http://aplacecalledspecial.com/2017/06/03/epilogue-2-am-jon-and-jesus/ http://aplacecalledspecial.com/2017/06/03/epilogue-2-am-jon-and-jesus/#comments Sat, 03 Jun 2017 18:55:03 +0000 http://aplacecalledspecial.com/?p=1549 IMG_0329I was at a fast food restaurant until 2 am this week and posted it on Facebook, partly for fun and partly out of sheer boredom because there’s nothing fast about fast food when you’re with Jon.

Someone commented on that post with this question:

“Wow, what does he do for so long? Just look around or walk around?”

So I thought I’d fill in the details for those who have never had the pleasure of taking Jon out on the town. Well…no…can’t say that. It’s not really going out on the town because we never make it to more than one place, even though we’re gone for hours!

Here’s how it went down on Wednesday:

4:45 pm – Jon comes out of his room with his shoes on. Oh, oh! A sign he wants to go someplace. He has a stuffed animal and a plastic grocery bag full of ?? (whatever’s) in his hand. He has a string tied around his ankle and shorts pockets bulging with items he has selected from his room. He walks very slowly toward the laundry room which leads to the garage, which leads to the driveway where our cars are parked. Walking slow  may or may not (or any variation thereof ) = taking five steps then stopping for three to five minutes, then five more, then stopping, then…OK, you get the picture.

5:10 pm – Jon is now in the laundry room where he changes his clothes. I keep most of his clean clothes in baskets on the counter in the laundry room because if they are put away in his room they end up piled on the floor with everything else and I can’t tell if they’re clean or dirty. This solved a huge problem of what’s clean and what’s not for us.

5:35 pm – He’s in the garage. The motion alarm we had installed out there a few years ago keeps beeping so I know he hasn’t gone outside yet.

5:45 pm – I open the door between the laundry room and garage and tell him, “Jon, Dad and I are going to church tonight so we can’t take you out. You’ll have to wait until MS (caregiver) comes and see if she doesn’t mind. She will be here soon. By now he’s added three cleaning cloths from the laundry room cabinet, another clean shirt and a clean pair of socks, to the items he’s bringing on this outing and is sifting through a pile of cardboard and paper in the recycle bin, collecting junk mail – brochures, magazines and flyers – we have thrown out. He scowls at my announcement and turns his back to me, which means, ‘What you just said does not make me happy’.

6:05 pm – I go in to change for church. The motion alarm is still continuously beeping. He’s still in the garage.

6:10 pm – I don’t hear the motion alarm now so I go out in the garage to check. My car was left unlocked and Jon has the back door open, his feet on the driveway and his body is bent inside the car, and he’s arranging all of his items on the floor and backseat. He has added a bottle of water and juice from the garage fridge to the mix. I walk out and lean over the open door, “Jon, don’t bother putting all your stuff in my car. I can’t take you out. I’m leaving for church soon. Please wait for MS (caregiver) to come and we’ll ask her if she minds taking you someplace tonight.” I see him scowl and he stops fussing with his stuff. I go back in the house.

6:30 pm – MS arrives. Mike and I have now checked on him multiple times. He has since removed his stuff from my car and is trying to get into Mike’s. MS comes in and says, “It looks like Jon wants to go somewhere” (she knows him by now). “Do you mind taking him out tonight?” I ask. She doesn’t. So it is agreed she will text me and let me know where they land and I will come to where they are after church so she can leave.

6:40 pm – We go back outside. Jon is standing by Mike’s car with all his stuff piled on top of the trunk. “MS says she will take you out,” I tell him. “Go put your stuff in her car.” He slowly starts to gather his things. I go back inside to get some money for MS so she can pay for whatever Jon decides to do. I go back outside and give it to her and remind her to put the garage door down when they leave.

6:50 pm – Mike and I come out to leave for church. MS is in the driveway waiting for Jon to align all of his stuff in her hatchback. We say “Bye, have fun.” Jon doesn’t look up.

8:15 pm – I check my phone. MS text says they are at McDonald’s. Jon has just ordered and has finally sat down. I text back and tell her I’ll be there in 45 minutes or so.

8:45 pm – We arrive home. I go inside, grab my iPad and a library book, say goodnight to Mike who goes to bed at 9:30 on work nights, and leave for McDs.

8:55 pm – I arrive at the restaurant. MS and Jon are sitting at a booth right in front of where I park. She is looking through a book and he is sitting quietly in front of a tray full of food which he has not touched yet. I go inside. MS fills me in on how long it took him to get out of the car and how much Jon loves the new self-order kiosks (he always loves a picture menu). He ordered his own food and she showed him how to pay for it. She also tells me how patient and kind the manager has been to him. I order a snack wrap and a cup of tea for myself (see previous blog post about the drunk guy who pays for my food). She stays and we talk several hours. Jon sits across from us, but does not join our conversation even when we try to draw him in.

11:00 pm – MS leaves. At this point, Jon has only downed his French fries and half of his chocolate shake.

11:10 pm – Jon grabs his extra shirt and one of the cleaning towels he brought and walks slowly to the bathroom. I get up from the booth and sit on the windowsill where I can see all the way to the back end of the building. He checks both doors and almost goes in the women’s but after glancing at me and seeing me shake my head, ‘No’ he enters the men’s. I sit back down and continue reading my book.

11:30 pm – Four teenagers come in, three girls and one guy and sit in the booth in front of me. The youngest of the four, who couldn’t be anymore than 16, is so drunk she falls over in the seat. Her ‘friends’ try to get her to sit up and she vomits everywhere. One of the girls pulls her up and takes her in the bathroom. I ask the young man if she’s been drinking and he says yes. “You’re all to young to be drinking.” I say. “Who’s driving?” The girl who looks the oldest shakes her keys at me. “I am. They called me to come pick them up at a party. I had no idea she was so drunk.” I reply, “And you brought her here? Like that? You need to take her home, Now!” And to the young man, “Go tell the manager there’s a mess to clean up here.”

11:45 pm – I realize Jon’s been in the men’s room a long time, which isn’t unusual, but feel I need to check on him. There seems to be a lot of drunk people out this night. I knock on the men’s room door and crack it open. “Anyone in here?” I ask. No response so I go in, knowing Jon won’t answer. He’s in the handicap stall standing in front of the mirror, the shirt and towel draped over the grab bar. He scowl’s when I open the stall door which isn’t locked. “Jon, you’ve been in here a long time. I just wanted to make sure you’re OK. Someone else might need to use this so please finish up and come out. And don’t forget to bring your things with you.” I leave the men’s room. About ten minutes later he appears with the other shirt on and the towel tied around his waist (Don’t ask. I don’t know either 🤔).

12:00 pm – We’re seated again. The teenagers are gone and the manager is mopping up the mess (poor thing). I chat with her as she cleans and she informs me there’s been more than normal, drunk underage kids in lately. Lots of graduation parties going on. I ask her if she gets paid more for cleaning up their mess. She laughs and says, “I wish.”

12:20 am – I have finished my book. Jon still has a half eaten hamburger and a small glass of orange juice on his tray. He gets up and goes to the kiosk to order more food then takes the receipt to the counter. I hear the girl tell him, “That will be $16 and 38 cents.” They stand there and stare at each other then he turns around and looks at me. I grab my iPad and purse (don’t dare leave those sitting around) and go to the counter. “Jon you haven’t finished what you got yet. Go sit back down and eat the rest of your first order please. We are not spending $16 on more food.” He moves over and pouts. I tell the cashier to cancel the order and to cancel any other order he might create at the kiosk. “He really likes playing with that and it gives him a sense of independence to be able to order his own stuff but he doesn’t think about the cost and who’s paying.” She smiles. “No problem.” I go sit down and leave Jon pouting at the counter.

12:45 am – Jon is sitting again. He finishes his burger and drink. I’m streaming the latest episode of, “Born This Way,” on my iPad. I tell him. “OK Jon, it’s time to go home. I’m getting really sleepy.” Throw away your trash and I’ll go get you some fries to take home.” I get the fries and come back to the table. He is slowly collecting wrappers and empty ketchup packets to throw away and organizing all the things he brought with him on the seat. I sit down and he gets up. He picks up the tray and goes to the bin, dumps his trash and takes all the trays on top to the counter and waits for an employee to come get them. The manager thanks him then he walks to the drink machine to fill up his cup. He goes back to the counter and stands there watching everyone work. To hurry our leaving process up a bit, I start carrying some of his stuff to the car. I know if I bring it all he’ll be upset so I leave a few things behind. It takes me two trips and my backseat looks like a yard sale.

1:15 am – I’m back inside sitting on the windowsill. Waiting. He is walking around the dining room looking for stray trays to bring to the front, then goes to the condiment station and puts a few napkins, straws and ketchup packets in his pockets. He walks back to the booth to get his remaining items. “Come on Jon, we really need to get home. Let’s go.” He walks toward the door opposite of where the car is parked, that exits to outdoor seating. I wait for him to go outside then go out the front door, start the car and move it over to a parking space that puts him in my line of sight. He tries to go back inside but the side door is locked (Hallelujah!). A woman is sitting outside drinking a coke, talking on the phone and smoking. He watches her for a while then leans against the side of the building, puts a straw in his mouth and pretends he’s smoking.

1:30 am – I’m sitting in the car streaming the rest of the episode I was watching and keeping an eye on Jon. He heads around the building in front of me and down the sidewalk toward the front door and I say out loud to myself and Jesus, “Please don’t go back in. Oh please!” He doesn’t. He walks past the door, picks up a paper off the sidewalk and shoves it in his pocket and FINALLY comes to the car. He opens the back door and spends the next ten or more minutes arranging all his stuff on the floor and back seat, then gets all the way in and sits down but doesn’t close the door. He sits perfectly still for at least five minutes with the door open. Mosquitoes start buzzing around my ears. “Close the door Jon, mosquitoes are coming in.” Nothing. Now I feel myself getting annoyed and raise my voice a few decibels. “Please close the door now so we can go!”

1:45 am – He closes the door. “Thank you. Put your seat belt on.” Nothing. “Jon, put your seat belt on so I don’t get a ticket from the police on the way home. If I have to pay a ticket because you won’t wear your seat belt we can’t afford to come back to McDonalds.” I hear the belt click into place. “Thank you,” I say again.

1:55 am – We pull out of the parking lot and drive home. It’s pitch dark out. No moon and very few streetlights in this place where we live (I’ve never lived in a city without streetlights until we moved here. Weird).

2:10 am – Pull into the driveway, shut off the car and put the garage door up. Jon sits still. “Come on Jon. Please don’t take forever to get out of the car tonight. I want to go to bed. It’s late.” He sits. I start taking stuff in the house. The motion alarm is going off constantly and I’m thinking it’s going to wake Mike up. I shut it off. The cat comes out and sits in front of the garage screen. Jon doesn’t like the cat and won’t come in if she’s there so on one of my trips from the car to the house I pick her up and put her out the back door onto the pool deck. I go back in the garage and Jon is out of the car, leaning against it. Most of the items he brought are piled on the roof. I go back inside, put my purse away, hang up my coat, brush my teeth, turn the light off in the kitchen and the light on in Jon’s room.

2:25 am – I go back to the garage to see where Jon is and he’s in it! Praise Jesus! I put the garage door down, tell him I’m going to bed and to turn the laundry room light off when he comes through. I decide to leave the cat on the pool deck for the night, lock the sliding door and turn the nightlight on in the hallway so Jon can see.

2:40 am – I turn the motion alarm back on and finally crawl in bed. The alarm isn’t going off so I assume Jon is inside the house. Whatever happens after that, I don’t really care. God’s in charge now and I tell Him so before falling asleep.

So there’s the answer to your question Sarah. And FYI- it’s like this everytime we go anywhere. Hope that clears things up for you. 🙂

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2 AM, Jon and Jesus http://aplacecalledspecial.com/2017/06/01/2-am-jon-and-jesus/ http://aplacecalledspecial.com/2017/06/01/2-am-jon-and-jesus/#comments Thu, 01 Jun 2017 17:13:44 +0000 http://aplacecalledspecial.com/?p=1544 When I’m out with Jon until 2AM (or whatever time he decides to party ’til), I see a lot of IMG_0326humanity. It’s true, the dark of night often brings out what is most broken in people.

Last night I stood in line behind a man who’d obviously had too much to drink. He was loud and flirting with all the girls behind the counter. He seemed to be a ‘happy drunk’ at least. He turned around and started spilling words on me. I stood quietly looking at him; silently praying for him.

Then a conversation started that went like this:

Him: “Why are you looking at me like that?”

Me: “Because you’re talking to me and I’m listening?”

Him: “Tell you what I’m going to do, I’m going to pay for your order.”

Me: “Thank you. That’s thoughtful, but not necessary.”

Him: “No, I insist. You know why? Cause I’m a kind hearted guy and my mom always told me what goes around comes around.”

Me: “Well, Amen to that. Your mom is right. Mom’s usually are (I smiled). But those are actually the words of Jesus. He said, ‘What you sow, you reap.’ Same thing.”

Him: Don’t Amen me now. I ain’t going to church on Sunday.

Me: “You should. It would be a great place for you to be. Sit your butt in church instead of on a bar stool.” (I smiled again. So did he.)

Him: “OK, so order. I’m paying.” (He let me move ahead of him in line)

Me: Alright then, I’ll let you. The money you spend on me will be one less beer you buy and you’ll be blessed besides.”

I ordered. He paid. I thanked him. He stayed a few more minutes talking to everyone who came in and waved to me when he left. As I ate my sandwich wrap and drank my tea, I prayed He would be overwhelmed by the love of Father God and his life changed forever.

Jesus told us to go into all the world and spread the Good News and the good news is, we don’t need a platform, audience or microphone to do it. We just need to listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit as we encounter people out in our world, the places we move through as we do life. We are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

So what is truth?

One man, Pontus Pilot, asked Jesus this question. The answer was standing right in front of him and like most of us, he didn’t ‘get it.’

Jesus said to him, “I AM the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

And what is love? “God is love” 1 John 4:8.

He doesn’t just give love, His entire being, nature and character consists of love. Love is who and what He IS.

Share The Truth and The Love with someone today? And ask the Spirit to help you do it, not with an attitude or an ‘I-know-better-than-you’ self righteousness, but in the truth and love of Jesus Christ. It’s fun! And you never know what a planted seed might later produce in someone’s life.

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Always On My Mind http://aplacecalledspecial.com/2017/05/24/always-on-my-mind/ http://aplacecalledspecial.com/2017/05/24/always-on-my-mind/#comments Wed, 24 May 2017 19:20:17 +0000 http://aplacecalledspecial.com/?p=1539 IMG_0127Jon’s been to the sedation dentist five times in the past eight months. We still have two to three more appointments to finish all the repair needed and then there’s the question of whether there’ll be more in the future.

There’s always this thing about Jon’s future (and not just his teeth). It wants to hang over me like a dark cloud, more than I care to admit.

I don’t worry about our son, David. I think about him everyday, but never worry about him. But Jon? Oh yes! I worry about him plenty and have for many years. The older he and I get, the more it weighs on me. Maybe this is normal for parents of kids who need care and supervision their entire lives. Is it? Or am I alone here?

I can be having a conversation with you and in the far recesses of my mind I’m thinking about Jon. I can be at the grocery store, in a church service, on a cruise, visiting my grandson; I can be anywhere doing anything and Jon is present in my thoughts. He’s always on my mind.

Other’s tell me, “Well you shouldn’t worry so much. It’s in God’s hands.”
I smile and reply, “Thank you, that’s true. You’re right. Pray for me.”
But honestly, what I sometimes want to shout is, “That’s easy for you to say!”

So how do we trust God in situations that continue day after day, year after year? It’s real. It’s in our face every morning when we rise and every night when we lay down. How do we find peace and contentment in this place? Can I ever reach a place of total surrender here? Can I ever mature enough in God to never feel this anxiety again, even when nothing has changed? Can I get through a day without having to lay it down at  Jesus’ feet again and again? Today. Tomorrow. And the next day. Or the one after that.

I don’t know. I want to. Worry wears me out. It’s exhausting.

Jesus said not to worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34) but in context, He was talking about material goods needed for life: food, drink and clothes. He wasn’t talking about my son. Apostle Paul also wrote in Philippians 4:12 that he had “learned the secret of being content in every situation” but also related this to material needs; hunger, abundance and lack. He wasn’t talking about Jon either.

So I look at these:

“Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you..” Psalm 55:22.

“Don’t worry about anything, instead pray about everything.” (Apostle Paul) Philippians 4:6.

“..Cast all your anxiety on Him (Jesus) because He cares for you” 1 Peter 5:6-8.

“Come to Me (Jesus) all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28.

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (Jesus) John 14:27.

I read these promises and realize this worry free existence we hope for, may NOT be a ‘I’ve finally arrived’ deal. I wonder if we ever reach the pinnacle of ability to sail through a trouble filled earth life without angst. As believers in an all powerful and involved-in-life God, maybe we do ourselves and others a disservice when we expect to reach a super spiritual level of never worrying about anything, ever again, this side of Heaven.

We read our Bibles and cliché these scriptures into meaninglessness, beating ourselves up for failing and feeling sub-standard for not measuring up.

Could it be these promises aren’t about removing worry from life permanently, but instructions for surrendering it daily? If “faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not yet seen,” (Hebrews 11:1) then everyday I need to lay what I hope for at His feet. Everyday while I wait ‘for what I have not yet seen’ I need His strength to battle the enemies of worry, doubt and fear.

Everyday I pray.
Everyday I cast my anxiety on Him.
Everyday I come to Him for peace and rest.
Everyday I run to Him with my problems.
Everyday I choose to trust Him.
Everyday I believe He loves me.
Everyday I lay my questions, concerns, fears and worries before Him.
Everyday I surrender Jon, his future and mine, back to Him.

Today. Tomorrow. And the next day. And the one after that.

The better question to ask is this: “Can trouble or problems or persecution separate us from His love?” Romans 8:35

When I remember I’m loved, it’s easier to let go.
When I remember I’m loved, I worry less.
When I remember I’m loved, I breathe deeper.
When I remember I’m loved, I surrender completely.

“But in all these troubles we have complete victory through God, who has shown His love for us. Yes, I am sure that nothing can separate us from God’s love..” Romans 8:38.

In my daily surrender, God’s love overtakes my worry. When His love is always on my mind, His love always wins.

“..nothing in the whole created world—will ever be able to separate us from the love God has shown us in Christ Jesus our Lord” Romans 8:39.

Nothing. Will ever!

Not Today. Tomorrow. And the next day. Or the one after that. Hallelujah!

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A Mother’s Legacy http://aplacecalledspecial.com/2017/05/14/a-mothers-legacy/ http://aplacecalledspecial.com/2017/05/14/a-mothers-legacy/#comments Mon, 15 May 2017 01:42:59 +0000 http://aplacecalledspecial.com/?p=1533 My mother passed on to her eternal home in 1994. She’s been gone twenty three years now and in many ways I’m happy for her. A strange thing to say? Maybe? But most of what I remember about my mother was the difficulties she endured.Mom

Shortly after I was born, she had a complete and devastating nervous breakdown and was committed to Willard State Psychiatric Hospital in upstate New York for several years. Over my lifetime, I’ve heard bits and pieces of family speculation and attempted to piece ambiguous information together, but I still don’t really know why. These things were not discussed openly by previous generations as they are now.

My older brother went into foster care and I was shuffled around between grandparents and a few aunts and uncles before finally landing with a family down the street who had five kids of their own. They took me in and it was because of them and out of desperation to see his family reunited, that my Dad had his come to Jesus experience. Though our family life was imperfect, and at times dysfunctional, I was raised with a foundation of Bible, church and a solid belief in God that later became an anchor for my own life storms.

When Mom finally came home from Willard, she wasn’t the same, at least that’s what I was told. I don’t remember her to be anything other. She was just Mom. She was somewhat timid, emotionally fragile and often fearful, yet I knew she loved me, though I have no memory of her ever saying so.

She was a cigarette addict (wasn’t everyone in the 50’s?), married to a hard-working, sometimes overbearing and exacting man, she never learned to drive and developed rheumatoid arthritis sometime in her thirties. I would come home from school to find her sobbing on the sofa, a knee or wrist so painfully red and swollen she couldn’t function. Mom never went to a doctor and never took anything for the pain but aspirin, which does nothing to alleviate any of RA’s symptoms, as I would later discover for myself.

I remember her walking me to kindergarten and later, on days I walked home from elementary school for lunch, there was usually a grilled cheese sandwich and hot Campbells soup waiting on the small table in the corner of the kitchen. On days she felt better, she’d be in the kitchen cooking meals or doing endless loads of wash and hanging heavy, wet clothes on the rope stretched between the shed and the sour cherry tree in our backyard.

Because she didn’t drive, I’d sometimes ride my pink, banana-seat bike two miles to the corner store, with a note giving me permission to purchase a pack of cigarettes. An extra nickel or dime would buy me some penny candy, then I’d happily pedal back home. On hot summer days, she’d occasionally hand me a dime, and I’d dash to the curb for a cherry snow cone from Mr. Frosty’s truck.

Somewhere toward the close of her fiftieth decade, RA got the best of her. She couldn’t walk anymore. With the cushioning cartilage and synovial fluid in her knees gone, the joints fused and locked in place. She finally had wheels of her own – a wheelchair – and Dad became her caregiver. Several years passed before he couldn’t lift her anymore. At age sixty she went to live in a nursing home and at sixty-two she died of cancer. Unfortunate for us, but fortunately for Mom, only in that her wheelchair, pain and emotional suffering stayed behind when she left this earth.

What I remember most about my mom? She was always there for her family and rarely complained. She didn’t whine, claim entitlement or victim-hood. With no social media on which to unveil every detail of her life and in the oblivion of my youth, I gave little thought to the difficulties she faced. It wasn’t until I developed rheumatoid arthritis in my mid-twenties and had a family of my own that I came to appreciate my mother’s perseverance.

I wonder what dreams she had as a young girl and if she ever felt slighted because her life didn’t go as planned. Like so many mothers, she did the best she could under difficult circumstances and well into my adult years, I realized a simple truth; parents are human too and perfected people are non-existent. A sure mark of maturity is realizing this and forgiving ours for being flawed and possibly less than we hoped for.

Maybe ingrained deep within my DNA, is a measure of my mother’s endurance; an assistant in carrying me through life, as it did her. Someday I will tell her how grateful I am for the legacy she left me.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7

 

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The God Who Sees http://aplacecalledspecial.com/2017/02/16/the-god-who-sees/ http://aplacecalledspecial.com/2017/02/16/the-god-who-sees/#comments Thu, 16 Feb 2017 19:29:26 +0000 http://aplacecalledspecial.com/?p=1524 tile-floorsI was on my hands and knees scrubbing the tile floor around the toilet for the fourth time in a week. Those of you who live with boys know they sometimes miss. Jon is not a boy. He’s a man. And he still misses, way too often for my liking.

As I applied bleach to the grout again, I sighed and breathed out loud, “I hope I can still get down here and do this when I’m 80,” and felt a sudden hopelessness roll over me.

Then I heard a still small voice in the depths of my soul.

“I see you.”

My Bible reading that morning had brought me to the story of Hagar. Hagar was the slave of Sarai, Abram’s wife, obtained in one of their detour trips to Egypt. Hagar came from a culture that worshiped multiple gods. The Egyptians had a god for everything, so Abraham’s god, on her list of imaginative deities, was probably added only to appease the old folks.

Hagar had no rights. She was a nobody. Her duty in life was to fulfill the wishes of another, and when barren Sarai grew tired of waiting for the son God had promised Abram, she did what was a common practice of their culture. Sarai sent Abram to sleep with her slave to claim a son through Hagar. Hagar was forced to become a surrogate mom.

Genesis 16:1-3 “Sarai, Abram’s wife, had no children, but she had a slave girl from Egypt named Hagar. Sarai said to Abram, “Look, the Lord has not allowed me to have children, so have sexual relations with my slave girl. If she has a child, maybe I can have my own family through her.” Abram did what Sarai said.”

When Hagar became pregnant she realized she now had an advantage over Sarai. Hagar got herself an attitude and who could blame her, really? What’s Sarai going to do to her now that she’s carrying Abram’s child? Someone who’s had no control over her own destiny finally had an edge. Eventually the relationship between the two women became so intolerable, Hagar ran away.

Genesis 6:7-12 finds Hagar beside a spring of water in the desert having a conversation with an angel of God. She was told to go back home and continue to serve Sarai. But God promised Hagar her son, would become a great nation also. He gave her hope.

Not one of Egypt’s gods had ever spoken to her. Not one of them cared enough to show up and reassure a despairing slave girl. But Abram’s God did. And she was amazed.

This God knew who she was. Where she was. And what she needed. This God had eyes to see her and ears to hear her. This God cared!

Then, “the slave girl gave a name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are ‘God who sees me,’” because she said to herself, “Have I really seen God who sees me?” Genesis 6:13

I realized that day on the floor that God sees me. He said as much.  And every time I get on the floor to scrub again, I am reassured He is pleased. What we determine to be small, insignificant, unseen and even annoying, matters greatly to God.

God sees you driving to work again, that counter you wiped, the laundry washed and folded, the dishwasher you load, the toilet scrubbed, another diaper changed, the gas tank you just filled and each time you help lift that person in and out of his wheelchair.

He sees the smile you brought to someone, the hug you gave, the ride you offered, the meal you cooked.

He sees how tired, desperate and broken you are.

It matters to Him. The unseen is important to Him. That thing done when no one watches. The mundane. The exhausting. The unappreciated. The irritating.

He sees it all and He knows.

Because my God is the God Who Sees!

And He’s your God too.

 

 

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It’s Not All About You! http://aplacecalledspecial.com/2017/02/03/its-not-all-about-you/ http://aplacecalledspecial.com/2017/02/03/its-not-all-about-you/#comments Fri, 03 Feb 2017 18:15:35 +0000 http://aplacecalledspecial.com/?p=1515 reality checkOur story inspires people. At least, that’s what I hear. That’s what some tell me. I find that fascinating because it usually doesn’t feel the least bit inspiring while living it. It often feels frustrating, lonely, difficult, challenging, frightening and exhausting.

But there’s one thing I’ve figured out about my wise, loving and mysterious God. He enjoys showing up in the middle of our mess! He loves to partner with us to make Himself known.

If releasing the Hebrews from bondage was God’s only objective, He could have swooped into Egypt all by Himself and in any number of ways, set the Israelite nation free.

So what was the long, drawn out process all about? The negotiating, petitioning, plagues and frustration. Moses was only doing what God had instructed. Why wasn’t it easier? Scholars estimate the duration of all the plagues, until Israel’s release, was at least two months and possibly up to a year.

The ancient Egyptians worshiped over 2000 deities. They had a god associated with every aspect of life; agriculture, fertility, water, rain, animals, death, insects, earth, sky, sun and moon. Even Pharaoh was thought to be a god.

While delivering Israel, Jehovah was also trying to reveal Himself to the nation of Egypt as the One True God. The only way to do so was to prove His power greater over all the gods they imagined. Each plague addressed, at least one and maybe more, of their gods.

In His mercy, God orchestrated this series of events to access the heart of Pharaoh and give him opportunity to change. But Pharaoh continually hardened his heart. The ‘ahh-hah’ moment never came. Pharaoh never accepted the revelation of a real God who cared enough about him to speak loudly and clearly, “I AM THE LORD!” not all these other things you worship.

God will go out of His way to make Himself known. If only one Egyptian came to know the One True God in the middle of Israel’s mess, it was worth the struggle. Apparently some believed, because Exodus 12:37&38 tells us, “That night the people of Israel left Rameses and started for Succoth..a rabble of non-Israelites went with them..”

not about meThis thing you’re going through right now might not be only for or about you. It might be so others see God’s power at work in you while He is simultaneously orchestrating your solution.

Don’t be discouraged because your rescue, problem or promise is taking so long. Be patient. Trust the process. Remember others are watching.

Someone else could be changed because of your faith and trust in a time of trouble. Someone else could see God’s power at work in your struggle and have that ‘ahh-hah’ moment.

“When I raise my powerful hand and bring out the Israelites, the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord” Exodus 7:5.

Someone else could come to know He Is Lord, because of what He is doing for YOU!

Exodus 9:29 “All right,” Moses replied. “As soon as I leave the city, I will lift my hands and pray to the Lord. Then the thunder and hail will stop, and you will know that the earth belongs to the Lord.”

Exodus 14:4 “I have planned this in order to display my glory through Pharaoh and his whole army. After this the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord!”

Exodus 14:17&18 “My great glory will be displayed through Pharaoh and his troops, his chariots, and his charioteers. When my glory is displayed through them, all Egypt will see my glory and know that I am the Lord!”

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Resolutions or Revelations? http://aplacecalledspecial.com/2016/12/31/resolutions-or-revelations/ http://aplacecalledspecial.com/2016/12/31/resolutions-or-revelations/#comments Sat, 31 Dec 2016 21:42:14 +0000 http://aplacecalledspecial.com/?p=1502 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I have a revelation about resolutions. I’m not good at keeping them. And after watching sixty-some New Years come and go, I don’t make them anymore.

I also have a resolution about revelations. IF I spend time listening to the still, small voice of my Heavenly Father, He lovingly reveals areas in my life where I need to change. I can tackle problem areas with greater ease when He enlightens. I move forward in divine grace, instead of by the sheer determination of my limited human effort.

The Creator God of Heaven and Earth and Me, knows what I need better than anyone so I can move forward into the New Year with confidence.

For the One..“who was seated on the throne said,Behold, I am making all things new.” Also He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:5

No one is more interested and invested in our progress and improvement than God. As we walk in His enabling power, we are continually becoming new and renewed.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

God specializes in New! He specializes in You!

Start a personal revolution. Let His Revelation become your Resolution.

Spend some time listening and surrendering and have a Happy, new and improved you, in 2017!

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Merry Messy Christmas! http://aplacecalledspecial.com/2016/12/24/merry-messy-christmas/ http://aplacecalledspecial.com/2016/12/24/merry-messy-christmas/#comments Sat, 24 Dec 2016 19:25:42 +0000 http://aplacecalledspecial.com/?p=1488 img_0047Chestnuts roasting on an open fire? Not at our house. Jack Frost rarely nips at our nose (nor do we ever dream of a white Christmas), since we live in Florida. A few Yuletide carols may be sung by a choir at our Christmas service, but since Trinity is a non-traditional, contemporary church, even that’s debatable.

We will have a turkey this year, but no mistletoe and no tiny tots hanging around with their eyes all aglow. Just a Jon who gets up when he feels like it and takes five hours to open ten gifts.

According to this picture perfect Christmas song, our chances for a Merry Christmas are poor indeed. We score about one and a half out of five.

Are you feeling it right now because your Christmas isn’t Hollywood perfect? Cheer up, the first one wasn’t any better:

An unwed, teenage mother.
No baby shower, but plenty of rumors.
A disgraced marriage.
An annoying, inconvenient, tax-registering trip.
A baby born in a barn (with no nurse, diapers or cradle).
Scruffy shepherds as newborn visitors.
A jealous king sending out spies and assassins.
An emergency escape by night to another country.

The truth of Christmas is that God willingly jumped over-His-head-deep into the chaos of earth’s struggles. The First Christmas was so…human. It was scandalous. It was messy. It was so earthly, many passed right on by. And because His arrival seemed nondescript to most, people missed its significance. And still do.img_0048

If it’s not “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” for you and a Norman Rockwell or Thomas Kinkade Christmas depiction is not happening where you are; happiness disregards you, money is tight, relationships stressed, someone deeply loved is gone and greatly missed, or possibly your only Christmas wish this year is for yourself or a sick loved one to heal, there’s no need to collapse in despair. No need to feel alone. No need to be paralyzed with fear.

Real life doesn’t stop for Christmas.

BUT!

Christmas came to invade every detail of our messy human existence and inundate whatever is occurring in our personal universe at the moment.

God came to us as one of us and He understands. He will walk with us through it all if we let Him. Stop, surrender and make room for Him this Season.

And have yourself a Very Merry Messy Christmas now!

“Christ, by highest heaven adored;
Christ, the everlasting Lord;
Late in time behold him come,
Offspring of the Virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail the incarnate Deity,
Pleased as man with man to dwell;
Jesus, our Emmanuel!
Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn King!”

 
Home For the Holidays – painting by Norman Rockwell, 1950
Christmas Cottage – painting by Thomas Kinkade, 1990                                                                         “Hark The Herald Angels Sing,” Charles Wesley, 1739

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The WOW Walk http://aplacecalledspecial.com/2016/11/30/the-wow-walk/ Wed, 30 Nov 2016 22:31:43 +0000 http://aplacecalledspecial.com/?p=1475 When our boys were crawling babies and old enough to start noticing and exploring the world around them, Mike would often pick them up and carry them, through the house, outside, in malls or restaurants, just about anywhere at any random moment, and show them things up above their vision. Since they spent their entire day on the floor it was almost impossible to see or know what was up above.wow-walk-1He let them touch clocks, pictures, candles and other things hanging on walls. He showed them flowers, plants, leaves, trees. He let them look out windows, took them into closets and pointed out items on shelves and walked them in restaurant lobbies to let them see whatever was at eye level.

Every item seen or touched was prefaced with, “Wow!  What is that?” Then he would name it and add a simple explanation, “That’s a clock. It’s round. Watch that second hand go. That’s pretty awesome isn’t it?”

Watching their precious faces light up at the discovery of some new wonder was priceless as they absorbed the novelties of their world and every tiny discovery in amazement.

These ‘Wow Walks’, as we came to call them, resulted in Jon’s first word, not being DaDa or MaMa, but “Wow!”

Our nine month old crawling and exploring grandson was with us last week. The first thing Mike did when Asa was comfortable with us holding him, was take him on a “Wow Walk.” He had quite a few of them while he was here, to the point where if he was fussy, his mom or dad would ask him, “Asa, do you want Grampy to take you on a Wow tour?”

The answer was a big smile and outstretched arms. His way of saying, “Yes Grampy, take me, take me.”wow-walk-2As we age and mature, we often lose this childlike sense of wonder. The responsibilities, problems and heaviness of our existence on this planet can easily mire us down, into negativity and despair; things once new and exciting as a child become commonplace. We can see a beautiful sunset, without celebrating it, walk past a rose without smelling it or look at a rainbow without contemplating its mystery. We begin evaluating others through eyes of cynicism or mistrust and miss moments of joy and beauty in everyday life.

Why are we reminded by Jesus to remain, not childish in behavior, but childlike in faith?

“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3). I believe He knew how quickly the belief and wonder could fade; after all, He was here, walking as one of us, when He said this.

He also came to return that sense of amazement to life. Not just a, plodding along, trying to keep our head up and survive, sort of reality, but abundance (John 10:10).

Is the wonder and joy of life far from your grasp? Do the problems and struggles you face keep you down? God can lift you up.

Let Him lift you from the floor of limitation. Trust him as a small child trusts a loving grandfather. Reach for Him with outstretched arms. Allow Him to carry you higher and show you great and marvelous things. Lift up your eyes, believing there is much more above and beyond where you are right now.

Don’t settle for a ‘Woe Is Me’ walk through life.

Make it a ‘WOW’ walk!

But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14

“Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” Luke 18:17

“The thief comes but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10

“But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.” Psalm 3:3 

“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2     

“But as it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things which you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3

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