Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Encouraging Thoughts to Help You Carry On

Being a caregiver for a special needs person is not for the faint of heart.  It can be exhausting, emotionally draining, and often, it can seem repetitive and rewardless.  It's been twelve years since we started on our special needs journey with our first son and 10 years with our second son.  While we have seen remarkable changes over all of those years, when we are in the day in and day out toil, it often feels as if our efforts are in vain.  The day to day progress seems nonexistent and the step back for every two steps forward is disheartening.

Of late, I have become weary of the same conversations over and over again helping our son with Autism know how to appropriately act in various social situations and when given non-preferred directives.  I feel like a broken record on a daily basis, and it seems no matter what I say or do or how encouraged I am after a conversation, my time and energy spent in helping my son is in vain because either the same day or the next, he ends up doing exactly what we discussed he shouldn't do.  It can be infuriating to say the least.

It is times like these that I am so grateful that I am not on this journey alone but that I have my great God and Savior right there with me encouraging me forward, strengthening me to finish each day, and carrying me when I can no longer walk on my own.  Time spent in God's Word and in prayer  refreshes and nourishes me daily.  God-centered music daily ministers to my heart speaking God's truth into my mind.  Conversations with people who love and accept me and my family the way we are, who are willing to walk with us in our not-so-pretty daily lives, and treat us without judgment help my burdens to not be so unbearable and help me to not feel so alone.

If you know someone who cares for someone with special needs, I encourage you to reach out and be a blessing.  Don't judge.  Get involved in their messy, daily lives and love them with God's love.  Send an encouraging note with an encouraging Scripture verse or passage.  Don't ask "How can I help?" but instead ask "When can I come over and help with housework or care for the kids or bring over a meal?"

Sometimes, when struggles pile up, it's easy to get overwhelmed and discouraged.  Necessary daily tasks become repetitive and meaningless.  Sometimes we need a reminder that the mundane is not for nothing and that we are involved in Kingdom work.  After all, a large part of Jesus' ministry on this earth was ministering to those with special needs.

Some encouraging Scripture passages that help me keep going include:

"Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights" - Habakkuk 3:17-19.

"The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail" - Isaiah 58:11

"I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord." - Lamentations 3:19-26

Some songs that have really ministered to me in my hardest of days include:

"Blessings" by Laura Story

"He Will Hold Me Fast" by Keith & Kristyn Getty

"Grace" by Carolyn Hamlin

"Day by Day" a hymn written by Lina Sandell and translated by A. L. Skoog; music by: Oscar Ahnfeldt

No matter how hopeless a situation, our hope rests in God alone.  He is our strength and salvation.  He is our sovereign designer who is working all things together for our good and His glory!

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