Thursday, June 30, 2011

Praying for Strong Family Bonds

Below are Nicole's thoughts on Chapter 7 of The Power Of A Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian. Please know that what we all learn from a study is usually different. We love to hear what you have learned as well. Please leave a comment in the comment section below this post.)
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. -Matthew 5:9

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! -Psalm 133:1

Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. -Romans 15:5-6

If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. -Romans 12:18

Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. -1 Corinthians 1:10

Chapter 7, Maintaining Good Family Relationships, really showed me where my prayers are lacking. I pray for my sons to make friends, I pray for others to be nice to my kids. However, I'm forgetting about their relationship and bond with each other. The one thing that Stormie says in Chapter 7 that meant the most to me is from page 63...

One of the things the enemy of our soul likes to do is get into the middle of God-ordained relationships and cause them to misfire, miscommunicate, short-circuit, fracture, or disconnect. The more a family can be splintered apart, the weaker and more ineffectual they become and the more the enemy has control of their lives. The way to avoid this is through prayer.

Both of my sons are very fortunate to have each other. My son with autism learns so much from his twin brother. My son without autism learns so much more from his brother. It's amazing to see their bond. However, as they grow older, and even on their rough days, that bond can start to diminish. If no one is really watching, it can even dwindle away. It's my responsibility as their mom to pray over their relationship. To pray that Hunter will be more patient and understanding of his brother. To pray that Sean will feel the "twin bond" from his brother and be able to show him. I even need to pray that they will continue to help each other in other relationships as well. If your child doesn't have a sibling, it's just as important to pray over their relationships with cousins, aunts, uncles, even ourselves..their parents. I believe kids in general are more self confident when they have those strong family bonds. People they can trust. The same goes for a child with autism. We need to help them create these bonds. They may look entirely differently than we expect these bonds to look but they can be created. Here's a quick husband works incredibly long hours. His time with our kids is very short. However, he has created special things to do with each of our boys to get that bonding time they need with their dad. With Hunter, he goes for a walk every morning. They find blueberries, watch the deer, walk our dog, and just go trekking through the woods. With Sean, they go outside and swing together on the swings. Just laughing and hanging out. It really doesn't matter what we do, it's just doing it and creating that bond. I've learned from this that my sons need these special moments with themselves as well. Things the two of them just do together. It's hard sometimes to keep Sean on track to do these things with Hunter. However, with lots of prayers and patience, their "twin bond" is getting stronger each day!

I lift up Sean and Hunter to you. I pray that you will help them find that special way to connect only like brothers do. I pray that Hunter will have the patience and understanding for Sean. I pray that Sean will feel at ease enough to block out all scripting and anxiety to really just be with his brother. I also pray that you will show my husband and I ways that we can increase our family bonds with each other. I pray that all of our family members will see how important is to not only connect with Sean but with Hunter as well. I pray a hedge of protection over these relationships in our family and ask that you give our family the strength we need to keep our bonds strong.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Praying For Honor

(Below are Nicole's thoughts on Chapter 6 of The Power of the Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian. Please know that what we all learn from a study is usually different. We encourage you to share your thoughts in the comment section below this post. We're sure you'll lift someone's spirit.)

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise: that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth. - Ephesians 6:1-3

Whoever curses his father or his mother, his lamp will be put out in the deep darkness. -Proverbs 20:20

Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord. -Colossians 3:20

Everyone rebels at some point in life. Especially if we are not taught to be obedient to our parents and to God. Even our children with autism will rebel one day. However, for me, my son with autism is easier to point in the right direction than his brother who doesn't have autism. Today, we're going to talk about the siblings of children with autism.

Let me back up a little....I have twin boys who are eight years old. One of my sons, Sean, has autism. His brother, Hunter, does not. Hunter, however, suffers from a case of rebellion. At school, he's the perfect student. An angel. At home, it's the opposite. He really pushes the limit to see what he can get away with. Hunter even says to me one day..."Mom, it's just not fair. Why do I have to listen to you and Dad? Why do you have to be in charge? It's just not fair!" Do you think he's ever said this to any of his teachers? No, of course not. That's when it dawned on me. His teachers have always taught him you have to be obedient at school. You listen to the teacher, sit at your desk, prowl the Panther hallway (school lingo), raise your hand in class, and do your work. Don't get me wrong, my husband and I have tried our hardest to make sure he is disciplined at home as well. However, in the back of our minds we're always saying..."he's going through something too with having a twin brother with autism." So we may let things slide a little more than we should.

Chapter 6, Honoring Parents and Resisting Rebellion, spoke volumes to me. Especially for Hunter. Here are the points that really touched home the most:

* Rebellion is actually pride put into action. Rebellious thoughts say "I'm going to do what I want, no matter what God or anyone else says about it." -p. 58
* The Bible promises that if we are obedient we will be blessed, but if we are not we will dwell in darkness and be destroyed. - p. 58
* One of the first steps of obedience for children is to obey and honor their parents. This is something a child must be taught, but teaching becomes easier when prayer paves the way. - p.58
* Rebellion will surface in your child at one time or another. Be ready to meet the challenge with prayer and the Word of God, along with correction, discipline, and teaching. Don't be intimidated by a rebellious spirit. - p. 60

Please don't get me Hunter is a good child. He helps around the house, does his homework, plays with his brother and is very respectful to us. However, he is my strong willed child. He is the one who will question authority in the our home and why he can't be in charge. He even told me one day after I told him to go clean his room that I treat him like a servant. After I opend his Bible and showed him where God says to honor your mother and father as well as some other wonderful parenting verses, he knew he needed to do what we asked, he just didn't like it. For Sean, my son with autism, we just have to explain to him why he has to do what we say and what the consequences are and he does it. He may need help following through but he will do it. For Hunter, he will question why he has to listen. He will still do what I ask him to do but it always entails a long battle beforehand.

The key to all of this is that we as the parents of our children are responsible for teaching our children how to be obedient. We are the ones who rebel when we do not do this. I'm very exciting to cover Hunter in this prayer against rebellion. I am also excited to cover Sean in it as well to help him stay on task. It gives my mind so much peace knowing that God has control over this situation because of prayer.

Dear Lord,
I give you Hunter and his rebellious ways. I pray that you will protect his mind and spirit from all rebellion. Thank you for his loving spirit, fun personality and big heart. Help him see how honoring his parents will give him many more blessings in life and that it's easier to do as we ask instead having a battle with us. I also pray for Sean that you will help him follow through with continuing to listen and to stay away from being rebellious.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Future for Eternity

(This week, we have the privilege of hearing from our guest writer, Crystal. Below are Crystal's thoughts on Chapter 5 of The Power of the Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian. Please know that what we all learn from a study is usually different. We would love to hear your thoughts on this chapter as well.)

Several years ago, I worked at a retirement home. The minimum age requirement for residents was 65. One of the residents in my assisted living unit was a man named Bill, who was 55 years old. Bill first moved to the community with his mother about 10 years before I started working there. Before her death, Bill's mother worked it out so that Bill could continue living there, after she died, even though he did not meet the age requirements. Bill was born with Epilepsy, Cerebral Palsy, and Mental Retardation. His mother knew he would be cared for at the retirement home by the loving staff until his death. She died having that peace about her son and his future.

We all want the best for our children. If we could personally pick ever detail of their future, I know lots of parents who would do it without blinking. We can't predict the future on this earth, but we can for their eternal life.

Having my children tell me they want to surrender their lives to Jesus are sweet words I hope to hear soon. To know they will walk with Jesus in Heaven is a scene so beautiful, I can only imagine. My hubby and I take the girls to church, have Bible study with them, and talk to them about God everyday. We want them to make that decision to accept Christ when they truly understand and asked to be baptized.

Once they make that decision, our work isn't over. We must continue to help them. Satan will throw a lot of temping offers at them. As their parents, it's our job to continue to pray for they and help them not to catch those throws. I love John 15 :1-5. If Jesus is the vine we are the fruit. If a branch falls off the tree, the fruit will eventually spoil and rotten. . You can water and fertilize the branch, but it won't bear more fruit. It has to stay connected. Jesus is our Vine. We, and our children, are the branch, the fruit. We have to stay connected to Jesus to survive. We have to pray our children stay connected and do what we can to keep them connected.

With so much chaos in the world today, I have no idea what the future holds. And that's o.k. God said He will never leave or forsake me, so I know we will be fine. It's not "this" life that concerns me the most. It's the one after this. To know my children will one day run in the beautiful gardens in Heaven, what more can a mother want.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

-Post written by Crystal. Join us again on Monday as Nicole shares her thoughts on Chapter 6. Thanks Crystal for sharing your thoughts and time with us all!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Feeling Loved and Accepted

(This week, we have the privilege of hearing from our guest writer, Crystal. Below are Crystal's thoughts on Chapter 4 of The Power of the Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian. Please know that what we all learn from a study is usually different. We would love to hear your thoughts on this chapter as well.)

When I first read the title, I immediately thought about the Fruits of the Spirit. Is it a coincidence the first trait Paul mentioned is love? I don't think so. Love is what motivated God to create us, sustain us, and send Jesus to us. 1 John 4:16 tells us, "God is love". Making our children feel love and accepted, at least for me, helps to motivate and sustain me. As Stormie said, a parent's love is the first love our children experience and understand. I pray everyday for God to help me show my girls love and to feel it.

About a month ago (at my hubby's request) I read "The 5 Love Languages". Basically, the book said there are 5 different ways to feel loved. And each of us has our own love language. Example, if a Person A's LL is words of affirmation, and their partner shows them love by spending time together, that's fine and dandy. But Person A will not feel loved because it is not what he needs. I have been secretly quizzing and monitoring my girls to figure out their individual LL. I want to make sure I am giving her the type of love she requires.

Unfortunately, the word 'love' is overly used today. I try very hard not to say I love things like a song or food. I want my girls to know that when I say 'I love", it is serious. Maybe I'm going to the extreme, but I want them to know I don't feel the same about them as I do coffee. (However, coffee is very special to me).

Children want to feel special. Part of that is being accepted. Again, I think this is one of the reasons God warns us not to be of the world. I do not want my girls to feel that in order to be accepted, they have to be a certain size, have a certain eye color, or excel in a certain sport. I want them to know I accept them as a precious gift from God. I want them to know God accepts them whether they are short, tall, clumsy, athletic, or have an IEP. I want to teach them God's standards are what should matter. After all, we were made in His image.

Our children need us to show them love and acceptance more than ever. I tell them all the time, if God is for us, who can be against us? NO ONE! They must always put God first. And I think the Beatles got it right when they said, "All we need is love," because remember...God IS love.

Dear God,
Thank you so much for all of your blessings. Thank you so much for giving me (us) these beautiful, wonderful children. Please guide me (us) everyday so I (we) can show them and give them the love and acceptance they need. Help me (us) to teach them to love and honor You. Help me (us) to teach them they are made in Your image and you make everything glorious.

-Post written by Crystal. Join Crystal again on Thursday as she shares her thoughts on Chapter 5. Thanks Crystal for sharing your thoughts and time with us all!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Our Best Protection

(Below are Jessica's thoughts on Chapter 3, Securing Protection from Harm of The Power of A Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian. Please feel free to leave a comment, suggestion, question and/or scripture at the end of this post.)

There are so many things that we want to protect our special children from. So many things weigh on our minds; bullying, physical injuries, bad teachers, adverse side effects from treatments and the thing I think we all fear the most raising children with autism-that we will be unable to meet their needs as they get older. It is so easy to play the "what if" game and get caught in a tailspin of fear and anxiety.

I think our children remind us of the need to be dedicated prayer warriors all the more because of the special challenges they (and we) face. At these times, when they seem like they are the most vulnerable, we need to remind ourselves of how strong and resilient they are. My son can seem so fragile because he struggles with severe social anxiety and painful sound sensitivity. But when you think of all he has had to deal with and face, most people stand in awe. It never ceases to amaze me when I see what a good sport he is when he has to endure another medical procedure or how hard he works to make progress. This is truly a gift from God. By remaining committed to praying for their specific needs, we are opening them up to God's protection and for His supernatural power and grace to flow through them (and us!).

I also need to take these moments as an opportunity to take inventory of the ways that God has protected him already. Before I gave birth, I lost consciousness when my blood pressure drastically dropped in response to anesthesia. When he was a year old, he had an unexpected and life-threatening allergic reaction. I have often looked at these events as parts of a great loss, eventually leading to an autism diagnosis. But looking at them through the eyes of a "Praying Parent", I am blessed to have his life still intact after these events. I can be thankful for the progress, healing and guidance I have received. I can pray about all of my fears for the future, and know that God's protection is on him. I can trust that God already has his future mapped out, and, unlike me, His plans are always perfect.

Bible Verses from Chapter 3:

For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
-Psalm 91: 11-12

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
-Isaiah 43:2

No weapon forged against you will prevail,
and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
and this is their vindication from me,”
declares the Lord.
-Isaiah 54:17

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
-Psalm 91:9-10

Monday, June 13, 2011

Just Released!: The Burden of Doing It All Yourself

(Below are Jessica's thoughts on Chapter 2, Releasing My Child Into God's Hands, of The Power of A Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian. Please feel free to leave a comment, suggestion, question and/or scripture at the end of this post.)

"Lord, my son is my biggest 'care' I have, and I release him into Your hands. Only You can raise him right and truly keep him safe. I will no longer strive to do it all by myself but will enter into full partnership with you" -(Stormie Omartian, Power of a Praying Parent p. 33)

I greatly relate to Stormie's journey in raising her first child. I think I was possibly the most neurotic first time parent ever. This caused me a great deal of stress and kept me from true peace. Unlike Stormie, I didn't fully surrender my children to the Lord until my second son was diagnosed with autism. At first, I tried to solve all of their issues on my own strength and understanding. I prayed a great deal, but like Stormie shares, often out of desperation and sheer exhaustion. I felt like I had faith in God, but it wasn't until I learned to partner with Him and trust Him to lead me that the pressure lifted and peace could return.

I'm going to be honest. My peace is attacked quite often. There are many days that I feel like I need to be in constant prayer in order to have any measure of patience in light of the demands of raising my children. The difference is, I know it is not all on me, and that our Heavenly Father is the only one who really knows all the answers. I was so caught up in having the right plan, teachers, schools, therapists, treatments and doctors that I, of course, was the only one who could find. Only when I took a step back and gave God control over my son's present needs and future did the right doors begin to open for us. On my own strength, homeschooling seemed like the most impossible task. I am only able to do it because I know that God is doing it with me. I would never attempt something like this on my own or without God's leading.

Whatever decisions you are facing for your child, know that you are not alone. Let your soul rest in the assurance that your Heavenly Father knows best and loves your child more than you could imagine. He is waiting for you to take the next step, to invite him into this very important aspect of your life and to give your cares, fears and questions to him. He will lead you in the direction you need to go and will never leave you without the help you need most.

Bible Verses from Chapter 2:

I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” -1 Samuel 1: 27-29

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. -1 Peter 5:7

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! -Matthew 7:11

They will not labor in vain,
nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune;
for they will be a people blessed by the Lord,
they and their descendants with them.
-Isaiah 65:23

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Become A Praying Parent

(Below are Nicole's thoughts on Chapter 1 of The Power of A Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian. Please feel free to leave a comment, suggestion, question and/or scripture at the end of this post.)

Weapons of Warfare: Chapter 1

You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. -John 15:16

The righteous man walks in his integrity; his children are blessed after him. -Proverbs 20:7

Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. -John 14:13-14

Do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. -Ephesians 6:4

Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints. -Ephesians 6:17-18

I have been super excited about doing this study. I mean, there is no greater way for us to protect our children than prayer. Praying does wonders for everyone. I can't wait to see how we've all grown over the next couple months. I look forward to becoming a Prayer Warrior Parent with you all.

This week we're looking at Chapter 1, Becoming A Praying Parent. In this chapter, we learn why it's not only important to pray but to pray over our children. I love how Stormie introduces us to a personalized prayer list. This is when we make a list of things to consistently pray over our children. However there are two things that Stormie discussed that really touched me the most.

"...As I covered Christopher in prayer and released him into God's hands, God released my mind from a particular concern. This doesn't mean that once I prayed for something I never prayed about it again, but at least for a time I was relieved of the burden. When it surfaced again, I prayed about it again. God didn't promise that nothing bad would ever happen to my child, but praying released the power of God to work in his life, and I could enjoy more peace in the process. I also learned not to force my own will on my child in prayer." - p 16 Stormie Omartian

When I read this, I think of us. Mothers who have children with autism. I remember how much stress, how much worry, how much heaviness was on my shoulders, in my mind, in my heart on a daily basis before I prayed and released autism into God's hands. It was very difficult for me to do. I honestly thought that no one, including God, could handle and help my son like I could. How wrong I was. When I finally realized how foolish I was being, my load got a whole lot lighter. Like Stormie, the fear and the unknown continue to creep into my mind. I feel this horrible feeling in my heart that it just causes me to worry. Then I stop and pray. Sometimes I have to do this on a daily basis and other times an hourly basis. The most important thing to remember is that when we do give God the control over this, we stop stressing. We have that peace that Stormie mentioned. The peace that will give us the strength to help our children. Do I think it's still important to research? Yes. I will continue to research how to help my son and every other child with autism until they find a cure. If we continue to pray for God's Will to be done in our children's' lives, it will be done. As Stormie mentions above, just be careful you're not praying for your will to be done in your child's life. We have to trust that God loves our children even more than we do. He knows what has to be done in their lives. Let's just keep them covered in prayer that whatever happens in their lives is part of God's will. We may not understand or see the reasoning behind it but we will trust in God because we've prayed His will over their lives.

"Possibly the hardest part of praying for our children is waiting for our prayers to be answered. Sometimes the answers come quickly, but many times they do not. When they don't, we can become discouraged, despairing, or angry at God." page 25

In the times where we see that our prayers are not being answered how we want them to or when we want them to be answered, we need to do what Stormie suggests on page 26..."Instead of giving up, resolve to be even more committed to prayer. Pray with other believers. Stand strong and say "I've only begun to fight.", keeping in mind that your part of the fight is to pray. God actually fights the battle."

I am very excited to study this prayer book with all of you. For now, I'm off to make my list. I've decided that today I'm going to take Stormie up on her suggestion of making a list. My list is going to be things I want to pray over my children for the week. Then, every time I'm anxious or my peace is dwindling, I know to read over my list and pray over my children. I invite you to do the same!

I pray that you will help each one of us as we start this journey of praying over every part of our children's' lives. Help us remember that You have the answers to all of our questions and the solutions to all of our problems. Help us be the parents that you designed us to be and to accept your will in our children's' lives. Lord, we look forward to the time of praying over our children but as you know our lives are demanding so help us remember to stop and cover them in prayers.
In Jesus name we pray,
* Exciting news about the remaining posts...We know you have all been our faithful Wednesday readers. However, with this particular study, we will be doing two posts each week. Please join us on Monday as we look at Chapter 2 and again on Thursday as we look at Chapter 3. We encourage you all to join in the conversations. Any suggestions you may have to help us all in our prayer walk over our children will be much appreciated!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Our Next Study...

We are so excited to announce our next study beginning on Wednesday June 8th. We will study The Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian. We look forward to learning how to pray over our children in every aspect of life. We are also excited to have a new guest writer who will contribute to this study.

Please join us on Wednesday June 8th as we discuss chapter 1 of The Power of a Praying Parent.