Friday, January 29, 2010
We're looking forward to sharing this with you and we hope that you will join in the discussion as well. Our new study will begin on February 10th. See you then!
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
I can't believe that this is the last chapter of Never Give Up!, and that eighteen weeks have flown by. Each chapter has brought wonderful teachings and lessons and I am so grateful for each and every one.
In Chapter 18, Like A Sudden Wind, Joyce Meyer encourages us further to keep pressing on toward our goals and in our relationship with God. She reminds us that often what seems like an "overnight" success is usually many years in the making, and involves a great deal of hard work, dedication, faith and hope. With God, there are no "drive through breakthroughs"(p.238), and the rewards come after remaining diligent over the long haul. Joyce relates this to her own life, as she remained faithful and dedicated over several decades while God brought about personal change, growth and faithfulness that eventually led to her leading a worldwide ministry. She talks about how there were years where she felt that she was doing her very best and still not seeing her own progress. She further describes this on page 238, "Most of the time, you are really making progress when you do not think you are moving forward even one inch. God is working in you and moving you along, little by little, in such a way that you may not even notice you are no longer where you were last year. But God notices; and He wants you to keep going, even if you only advance one inch at a time."
It is so easy to envy people who seem to come by their blessings with relative ease or what appears to be a minimal amount of work or faithfulness. The truth is that there is always a much deeper story behind what we see on the surface. Joyce gives us a very detailed description of how these people arrived at their "blessed state": "They have gone through their share of challenges and adversities; they have gone through difficulties; they have been diligent to live by God's word; they have stayed faithful to Him; they have given to others when they had little to give; they have prayed when they do not feel like praying; and they have been patient, loving and kind to people when they did not want to be nice to anyone." (p. 239) This spoke to me very powerfully and pointed me right to Jesus. This is not only the way to behave when we are waiting on a special blessing or promise from God but every day. God wants this to become a part of our nature and he uses these times of trial to work these qualities into us.
Fitting through the Narrow Place: Jesus teaches about taking the narrow gate in Matthew 7: 13-14; "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it." (NIV). Joyce elaborates further on page 241, when she states: "Any time God leads you toward a broader place-a position of greater influence, greater enjoyment in life, or a fulfilled desire-you will have to squeeze through a narrow place." For me, there is a very narrow place that I need to squeeze through in this autism journey. In order for me to fit through the narrow gate that God intends, I have to add new responsibilities, do all that God requires of me and also let go of the things in my life that keep me from God. Joyce elaborates on page 242," When we decide to walk that narrow path, God begins requiring more of us. He starts taking away some of the fleshly baggage. He pulls the padding out of our nest. He asks us to let go of some of our old ways, to adjust some of our attitudes, to raise the standards in our relationships and conversations, and to make some changes in the way we spend our time and money." The first thing that jumped out at me when I read this was all of the extra work involved in preparing special foods, learning new ways to parent and teach, keeping up with numerous teachers, specialists and therapists, not to mention all of the adjustments to our family relationships and budget. However, I still won't be able to fit through that narrow gate if I don't also let go of the tendencies that are negative and learn to be disciplined. Learning not to complain, letting go of envy and being loving when people are unkind or ignorant are just as important and will help me to remain in a blessed state by making me more like God. God has also dealt with me in this area by challenging me to remain positive in spite of what is in front of me or when others don't share my optimism. God wants us to be consistent in our faith in Him. I was praying about this one day and it was literally as though God spoke on my heart, "Don't bless me in your prayers and cancel me with your words".
Time for Payday!: Joyce reminds us that God's promises are true and that we can count on our reward from Him if we never give up. This was a good reminder for me that as I'm making the conscious effort to be positive, loving and faithful, God is there taking care of the details and defending me in the battle. It is freeing to know that God is our vindicator and it is not up to us to "set people straight"-however tempting it may be. Joyce puts this well on pate 244; "If someone comes against us, if someone hurts us, if someone rejects us, if someone wounds us, we need to keep serving God and doing right, and he will make sure we get what we deserve in the end." Another comforting point to me was the reminder that He will be the one that restores what has been lost. When I get tempted to dwell on what was lost, what I wish I would have known or just need a reminder that God will be my vindicator, I can lean on Joel 2: 25-26 (NIV):
"I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten— the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm — my great army that I sent among you.
You will have plenty to eat, until you are full,
and you will praise the name of the LORD your God,
who has worked wonders for you;
never again will my people be shamed."
As we all continue on our way through this autism journey there will be times of hard work, waiting, trial and temptation to give up. If we refuse to give in to our fears and hold on to our hope and faith, we will reap a great reward. This study has helped me to hold on during some very difficult trials and also helped me to remain encouraged and positive when I didn't feel like it. I am so grateful to Nicole and Chrissy for their work on this site, feedback, posts and encouragement. Each week touched me so very much. Thank you so much to everyone who reads, comments and prays for this blog. I pray that you are all blessed and encouraged in your daily lives and triumph over all of your challenges. We will be posting shortly about our next study!
Thank you so much for this wonderful book by Joyce Meyer and for all of the incredible mothers who read this blog. May all of the scripture, teachings and examples that You have led us to take root deep within us. Let these truths that You have given us come to mind in the situations where we need to live them most fully. Keep us strong in faith and hope, always confident in Your love and perfect plan for our lives. Though we each have goals and dreams in our hearts, we know that You are the giver of every blessing and reward we seek after. We ask this in Your most holy name. Amen.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
(Below are Jessica's thoughts on Chapter 17 of Never Give Up! by . I've chosen to selectively address the points which impacted me the most. Please know that what we all learn from a study is usually different. Therefore we ask, if you feel like it please share in the comments section what you got out of the reading as well. We're sure you'll lift some one's spirit.)
Joyce begins Chapter 17, The Power of Hope with the story of Pat and her husband Gary. This family found faith and hope in the midst of a that left them stranded in the mountains in the cold of winter. Pat's back was broken and Gary set out to seek help for his family. This family endured six days in the freezing cold, even during a blizzard. They were forced to eat snow in order to survive. They read their Bible and the Lord gave them the strength they needed to endure. Unbeknownst to them, their emergency transponder was sending a signal which eventually alerted a commercial jet and led to their rescue. Tragically, Gary did not survive the ordeal and died of hypothermia and several of the boys had to have partial foot/leg amputations. The miracle is that they had the ability to hope, which gave them the strength while they waited to be rescued. Eventually Pat was also able to begin again and do God's work with a man that she remarried ten years later.
I have to admit, I've had some times where it was difficult to find hope but none quite like this. In relation to my journey as an autism mom, I have struggled to hold on to hope in a different way. Joyce reminds us that hope is such a powerful force that the enemy will do whatever he can to steal it. In my case, he tries to get my mind off what I need to be doing and on to myself, what I've suffered in the past and seeing my son the way the "world" sees him instead of how God sees him. Joyce tells us on page 229 that the opposite of hope is dread. Hope tells us we have a bright future, dread tells us the future is bleak. When I can focus in and see my son the way God sees him, I am amazed at how wonderful and resilient he is. I am filled with hope about the potential God has placed in him. When I let the devil get to me it is usually during a moment of weakness or exhaustion. Joyce identifies how he does this on page 230, stating "The devil puts thoughts in our minds to make us feel sorry for ourselves and resent the people who have what we are convinced we can never have." There have been too many times in the past that I have fallen for this one hook, line and sinker. One thing that has helped me is to identify that this is nothing more than jealousy and to ask God for help. I was watching Joyce Meyer's television program "Enjoying Everyday Life" and something she said put this in perspective for me very quickly. She said "Since it is God who puts the gifts in people, actually to be jealous of what other people have is to find fault with God." (Joyce Meyer, Enjoying Everyday Life, 1/19/10 broadcast, "Gifts and Fruit" Part 2). Ouch. She also elaborates on the self-pity part of this and why it is so dangerous on page 230, stating: "I finally realized self-pity is idolatry because it is self-focus carried to an extreme and it rejects God's love and ability to change things for us." This is the truth and the last thing I want to do in a time of trial is tie God's hands and hinder His ability to work in my life. This is why it is so crucial to hold on to hope.
Hope and faith work together. They allow us to be positive and see our blessings and hold on until we see God's promises come to pass. On page 232, Joyce states that "When things don't work out the way we wish they would, we can either be sad about what we did not get, or we can be creative and look to see what we can do about what's left". It is easy to stay hope-filled and positive when things are going well. We learn to put God's power at work in our lives when we relentlessly and consistently hope in the face of our difficulties. Joyce also reminds us in her closing thoughts on page 233, "Sadness, disappointment, and despair have to flee in the presence of hope. As long as you have hope, you will not be able to give up." That means the devil will have to flee and God will be able to do the amazing works that He has planned for us.
I thank you for the gift of hope. Let us remember that You are the one that has every last detail of our lives already worked out for our benefit. It is because of who You are and how You love us that we can be hopeful in any and all situations. Let your words take root deep in our hearts and resurface when we need reminders of all that we have to hope for. We ask this in your name, Jesus. Amen.
We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.
Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul; if you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.
The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the
We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1:13
Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
"Never giving up means marching into your future with boldness and confidence, seeing each new day as an opportunity to move forward in all the best God has for you and taking each new challenge as a mountain to be climbed instead of a boulder that will crush you." - Joyce Meyer Never Give Up!
I want you to read that last part again...."taking each new challenge as a mountain to be climbed instead of a boulder that will crush you." How often have we as human beings done this? We see a challenge as something that can destroy us instead of something that will make us stronger. Usually, we do this because of past experiences. We automatically feel we don't deserve something good to come out of the "challenge" therefore, empowering the bad to come out instead.
In Chapter 16, Never Give Up On Your Future, Joyce Meyer shows us how we need to let go of the past and concentrate on our future. On page 214, Joyce says "The past has the potential to keep you from experiencing the joy, freedom, and blessings of the present and the future-if you let it." She then moves forward by giving us the tools we need for a brighter future. The following are the important points that Joyce encourages us to remember while trying to turn our backs on the past and face our future....
1. Don't Look Back
"Sometimes when we focus on our past, we can't even see our future. We become discouraged, hopeless, and depressed." - page 215 Joyce Meyer
2. New Every Morning
"Every day can be a new beginning if we allow it. God's mercy is greater than yesterday's mistakes." - page 216 Joyce Meyer
3. Forget the Former Things
"God is doing a new thing, but to experience it, you have to turn your focus away from what God did in the past, and onto what He is doing now. Failing to do this will result in a life full of regret." -page 219 Joyce Meyer
4. God Forgets!
"God's forgiveness is ongoing for the duration of our lives; it is for every day. When Jesus died on the cross two thousand years ago, He not only forgave everything we had done in our pasts, but He also committed Himself to forgive every sin we would commit in the future." - page 220 Joyce Meyer
5. The Past is Paid For
"Do not allow yourself to believe you have made so many mistakes in the past that you have no hope for the future." page 222 Joyce Meyer
While reading this chapter, I had a flood of guilt come my way on how I keep looking at my past. Everyone's past is different. Some people have had a rough childhood. Others have had tough adolescent years. There are even some who have experienced a difficult past yesterday. But for me, when I say I keep looking at my past, I think of autism and how it has affected us over the past 4 years. My son is now 7. I was sure he'd be healed by 5. Satan knows what he's doing. He creeps inside my head and says "he'll never be healed now." Or "yesterday was a rough day. I bet today is just as bad. Just put the tv on for him and relax." Or my ultimate favorite "I must have have done something really wrong in my past for God to be doing this to my family." I have a huge pity-me-I-can't-believe-how-hard-this-is party and get in the funk. You know what funk I'm talking about....the kind it takes like weeks to get out of. The next thing I know I've buried myself in so many "negative" thoughts about things that happened yesterday, a year ago or even 4 years ago that I've totally forgotten all of the good things happening today. I'm missing out on my future and determining to make my future bad by holding on to the past. Instead, I need to focus on my future. My family's future. My son's future. It is my responsibility as Sean's mom to help make his future so incredibly bright that we can't even see what's in the past. The best way I can to do this is by following Joyce's advice above, stop looking at our past and concentrate on our future. We, as moms of children with autism, can do this by remembering the little steps they are taking now. Everything from their first words, first sentence, first time they ask a question, even the first time they "play" with a toy the way they should. These are the things we need to hold on to. Our God is an awesome God and has a wonderful future set aside for all of us. We just need to keep our eyes on the prize and not on how we get there.
One verse in the Bible says it all for me (Joyce also uses it in Chapter 16 as well).....
"For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome." Jeremiah 29:11
We have to trust in God. He knows us. Most importantly, He knows what is best for us. There will be times that we get knocked down, but we have to get up again and keep pressing forward. We expect this from our children. Now we need to be a shining example of it for them.
Thank you for showing us how to let go of the past. We release any hurt, anger and anxiety that we may be carrying from our past to You. We will now, with Your help, focus on our future so that Your Will will be done.
In Your Name we pray,
Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
“I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins."
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
(Below are Jessica's thoughts on Chapter 15 of Never Give Up! by Joyce Meyer. I've chosen to selectively address the points which impacted me the most. Please know that what we all learn from a study is usually different. Therefore we ask, if you feel like it please share in the comments section what you got out of the reading as well. We're sure you'll lift some one's spirit.)
Soaring like an eagle takes a tremendous amount of work, but also faith and determination. Joyce Meyer begins Chapter 15, The Strength to Soar with a very in-depth description of the intricate plans that mother and father eagles make in anticipation of their baby eaglets. There is a great deal of preparation to build the nest, furnish the nest and make it a comfortable and safe haven. Once the eaglets are a few weeks old, the mother begins to force them out of their security zone, first by removing items from the nest, then by pushing them to fly on their own. She is right there to swoop down and rescue them but continues to push until they are able to fly on their own. She does this because she loves them and also because she knows that they will not be able to survive if they cannot be independent at a young age. This analogy brought up alot of thoughts and feelings within me. First, I considered how similar parenting styles humans and eagles sometimes are. I need to be conscious that I am not holding my children back and encouraging their independence to the greatest extent possible. I can tend to want to "baby" my child with a bit more because of his but also because I am much more protective of him. It is important for me to remember that although this child needs extra love and care, he also needs the chance to fly on his own as much as he possibly can. Second, and probably more along the lines of where Joyce was headed is how I feel when God pushes me out of my comfort zone. Like the baby eaglets, my first instinct is to resist and want to stay where it is safe. I know it to be true that we do our most growing and become closer to God when we are faced with challenges but I just can't seem to want the more difficult path. It really helped me to see the reminder on page 204 from Deuteronomy 32:11: "As an eagle that stirs up her nest, that flutters over her young, He spread abroad His wings and He took them, He bore them on His pinions." That means that our God is not only nudging us toward challenges that will ultimately make us stronger, but that he is right there, ready and willing to swoop down and rescue us when it looks like we are going to crash.
Joyce identifies three important things that we need to do to be certain that we soar above our difficulties. Preparation is the first step toward soaring. As the eagle takes careful steps to preen its feathers, we have to take the time for mental, physical and spiritual preparation for the challenges we face. I think I do a good job with the mental/intellectual (researching, learning, etc.), a fair job with the spiritual (these difficulties have led me to seek God with much more persistence and passion), but physical-boy do I need to get that on track. I am the mom who takes care of everyone else but herself. This was another reminder for me about the need for balance and I am taking steps toward this. I know that God wants the best for me and my family. I'm learning to put Him first, then let Him convict me and lead me in the other areas. This also ties into her suggetion that we Build Our Spiritual Muscles by bearing with difficulties and being willing and obedient to what God wants us to do. Joyce also encourages us to Come Up Higher by being careful who and what influences us. She reminds us that eagles can take on the qualities of chickens if they spend too much time in their company. Likewise, we can become more negative or more positive in our outlook based on who we spend time with. Joyce reminds us of God's instructions on this on page 209 in Proverbs 4:23, " Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life."
Joyce ends chapter 15 with the story of . This was interesting because unlike the other examples of people who never gave up, she did not have to overcome poverty or social class. She did have to be willing to follow what God was leading her to do in spite of what other people thought. Her parents felt it was "beneath" her social status to be a nurse, but as a result of her work medical conditions improved and nurses were appreciated by doctors for their value in medicine. She was also remembered for her great kindness and compassion to those who were hurting, in addition to being a great nurse. As someone who can be a "people pleaser", that can become distressed when I'm called to go against the grain, I was greatly encouraged by her example. As long as I am in God's will and doing what He asks me to do, the approval or disapproval of others is irrelevant.
I pray that as each of this begin this New Year, we keep You as the one who directs all of our resolutions. We thank you for all of the abundant blessings that you have given us this past year and look to You for guidance in this coming year. Help us to remember always that you have our best interests at heart and are always there for us in every need. Give us a spirit of strength, determination and unshakable faith so that we can soar above all of the difficulties and challenges that come our way. We ask all of this in your most holy name.
" but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint."