Worship Pastor / Composer Travis L. Boyd and his wife, Cynthia, provide inspiration and resources for the worship community and all believers through sharing the blessings of worship, faith, family, ministry, music, love, & life. We also share information about Worship Sounds Music, which can be found on our Worship Sounds website at worshipsounds.com ~ Downloadable Choral Anthems * Solos * Orchestrations * Worship Songs * Accompaniment Trax

Archive for the ‘* FAMILY LIFE’ Category

*** Celebrating and Sharing *** Our Top 10 Reasons for Celebrating a Birthday

Happy Birthday banner colorful

Birthdays are for celebrating!

Here are our top ten reasons for celebrating a birthday:

10

Beginning the next year of possibility and promise with a party!

9

Another year of being here!
* 365 sunrises and sunsets *

8

We love surprises, especially when they are presented in colorful wrappings.

7

Birthdays are a good time to remember the blessings of the past year
and of life in general.

6

Being with friends and family is the best gift of all.

5

Making an effort to have special times is part of the joy of life!

4

Celebrating a birthday communicates a message of thankfulness

for life

and joy

and hope

and time invested in each other.

3

CAKE!
Something yummy for your tummy!

2

The rituals and celebrations of life are like treasures for the heart.

1

And…. the number one reason we celebrate birthdays is…

Uniqueness

We recognize the infinite value of each unique person
and what they bring into the world

    and into our hearts

Hearts  red with white border

And that is something to celebrate!

Dr Seuss Motivational Quotes Youer than you

Fearfully and wonderfully made scripture

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Happy Birthday with number 3 candle  Our Worship Sounds Music blog is celebrating a birthday today! 

  We’ve been here for 3 years now, and in that time we have learned so much.

  We’ve published 106 posts and 17 pages.

  We’ve shared our hearts and God’s love.

  We’ve heard from you as you have shared your thoughts or a word of encouragement.

  We’ve been blessed to have blog visitors from 183 countries.

  You have re-shared our posts and helped them reach more people than we ever could have on our own.

  Our posts have also been shared on ChurchMag, The Worship Community, Cued In, and Worship Links, plus several other websites and blogs.

  We have found expression for our faith and our love for the Lord.

  And finally, unbelievably, we’ve had very close to 100,000 page and post views in only 3 years.  Right now, the number stands at 99,000 +, and we don’t know when we’ll reach that milestone.  The wonderful truth is that it really doesn’t matter whether that happens today or a few days from now.  The important thing is that our purpose remains the same.   We are here to bring glory to God and to encourage and inspire the body of Christ.  We will continue to do our best to share inspiration, encouragement, hope, faith, and worship with anyone who is seeking the Lord.  We are very aware that all of the numbers only have meaning because they represent the opportunity to minister to people like you.  We pray for you, and we are thankful for your prayers as well.

We are so thankful to God and to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for His love and His life in us.  He is our Sustainer and the Joy of our hearts.  We thank Him for this ministry and for everthing that He has done with it, far beyond anything that we could have thought or asked.

We are also thankful for YOU and for your life and ministry.  Thank you so much for spending some of your valuable time with us and for sharing our posts and pages with others.  God Bless YOU!

Blog Birthday thank you

Blessed by amazing grace of God

 

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Do you know someone who is looking for answers?

Thank you for spending your valuable time reading the contents of this page. We hope that it has been helpful to you. If you or someone that you know is looking for answers about life, we hope that you will visit our page called “Do You Know Jesus?”. The links provided on this page will help to answer life’s deepest questions. Here is the link to “Do You Know Jesus?”: http://www.worshipsounds.wordpress.com/do-you-know-jesus/

Please feel free to share this URL with anyone who is looking for answers about life and eternity.

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Write a Family Praise Psalm

Praise  sing praises speak of His wondersHave you ever considered that your family could write your own praise Psalm? This would be a great thing for your family to do at Thanksgiving or at any time of year. After all, a psalm is simply a heartfelt prayer song to the Lord. Psalms are always honest. The Psalmists speak of times of difficulty in some songs, but they always come back to the fact that God is Supreme over all and that He is good and is worthy of our trust and our worship and praise. Psalms can be very personal, but at the same time they are universal in that the heart cries of the Psalmists of old still resonate with people today.

Living a life of trust and walking by faith are not always easy, so one thing that the Psalmists did was to declare their intention to honor their covenant relationship with God by choosing to be guided by God’s word or to praise the Lord every day. In addition, the Psalmists often spoke of who God is as far as His character. In the Psalms, we read of God’s holiness, righteousness, goodness, kindness, long suffering, His mercies, His everlasting love, His power and might, and His glory. The Psalmists were guided by their knowledge of who God is and their relationship with Him. In Psalms that were written in times of trial, the Psalmists call out to God because of the fact that they know He is good and loving and merciful. In good times. the Psalmists exalt the Lord because of His kindness and long suffering that has been revealed through both trials and blessings.

Psalm 100 scripture memory photo

We all have life stories and faith journeys, just like the Psalmists. Every individual story is unique, and every family has their own journey as well. In order to focus on the element of praise in your family’s Psalm, it is helpful to look at two of the most well known praise Psalms in the Bible. Both are very short (only 5 – 6 verses), and they are a good model for your family’s prayer of praise. So, here are two scripture memory photos for Psalm 100 and Psalm 150. These can be printed in whatever size works best for you and used for your family times of devotion. Perhaps your family can memorize the five verses of Psalm 100 one month and the six verses of Psalm 150 the next. Or, spend some time reading and talking about these two Psalms during a couple of your family worship times. Look at the times that are mentioned when the Psalmist praised the Lord. Look at the attributes and actions of God that the Psalmist praised. Look at the commitments to the Lord that the Psalmist mentions in the verses. What actions or attitudes have the Psalmists chosen for themselves in order to demonstrate their praise to God? How can your family demonstrate your praise and thanksgiving? At what times of day and in what places can your family express their praise? Read through the two brief praise Psalms above and below this paragraph, and then think about what your family’s praise Psalm would say.

Psalm 150 memory help photo

WRITING YOUR FAMILY PRAISE PSALM

Make your family’s praise Psalm as unique and personal as you desire. You can frame a copy for each child’s room or for your family room if desired. Just make sure that it reflects your family’s desire to praise and thank the Lord for who He is, what He has done, and what He is doing in your lives. Your praise Psalm should state your family’s intention to be faithful to God in praise as He has been faithful to you in everything. Most importantly, your praise Psalm should be true to scripture. Have fun working together with your family to figure out what your praise Psalm should say. Below, you will find a set of suggestions for writing your praise Psalm that would be easily understood by most children. This can be printed and used to guide that process of writing if you feel that it would be helpful.

Print this guideline to help your family write a Praise Psalm, or write the suggestions on sentence strips and give each family member one suggestion to work on as their contribution to your family’s Praise Psalm.

How to write a Praise Psalm 2

MY FAMILY’S PRAISE PSALM

Praise   Lets just praise the Lord“Praise the Lord! Praise Him wherever you are.

Praise God when you get up in the morning to get ready for the day.

Praise Him when you go to school or when you run to play.

Praise God when you are with your brothers and when you are alone.

Praise God at church; Praise God at home.

Think of God and praise him all day long.

Praise Him with a thank you song.

Praise God when it is time for slumber;

Count your blessings…what a number!

Praise the Lord! Praise Him everywhere you go,

Praise Him for all of the love that you know.

For our God is so good.

His promises are true.

His love lasts forever. His mercies are new.

Praise Him with your family.

Praise Him with your friends.

His love lasts forever. His grace never ends.

Praise the Lord!”

 

(Your Praise Psalm doesn’t have to be poetic. Ours just came out that way. Just make sure that your Praise Psalm reflects your family’s personal opportunities to praise the Lord, some reasons to praise Him, and your intention to do just that.)

Blessings to you and your family as you walk with the Lord day by day and choose to praise and worship the Lord together!

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This post was written by Cynthia A. Boyd

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Do you know Jesus?

The decision to ask Jesus to come into your heart and life as your Lord and Savior is the best decision you could ever make! The one true God is ready to give you forgiveness and eternal life as soon as you understand your need for Him and believe on the name of His only Son, Jesus, for your salvation. Here’s a blog page link to help you find the answers to your questions about Jesus.
http://www.worshipsounds.wordpress.com/do-you-know-jesus/

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Callings and Miracles, A testimony of God’s faithfulness

The five year anniversary of Travis’ service at our current church is this month, on the 17th.  In light of this milestone, it seems appropriate to share how the Lord called and led Travis and our family to leave the church where Travis had served for almost 12 years and come to a new place of ministry.  We saw God’s hand in so many ways during the process.  It is not an easy thing to make a cross country move with a family of 8, and a lot of obstacles were in our way.  The Lord moved them or helped us overcome them, one at a time.  To write this story as a narrative would result in a book; so here is the story of our calling and move, told as a series of mountains moved.

1.  God worked in our hearts and in the hearts of others.

The first time that Travis got a call from the Chairperson of the Music and Worship Minister Search Committee from our current church, he told her that he was not interested.  Somehow, that was not the end of the story.  God worked in our hearts and in the hearts of the Committee, and He prompted them to try again.  In spite of the fact that we had 6 boys, then ages 2, 2 (twins), 4, 5, 8. and 15 and were in the middle of the process of adopting the younger 5 boys, a second phone call resulted in an ongoing dialogue that eventually led to recognizing God’s call to a new place of service.  I can’t speak to the committee thought processes except to say that calling a Minister of Worship who was in his 50s certainly wasn’t the trend.  Whatever other barriers to consideration may have been discussed, the age factor was certainly one that had to be overcome.

2.  God worked through DHS workers, lawyers, unbelieveable piles of paperwork, and the judicial process. 

With god, nothing is impossibleAt a time when meetings were being held, court dates were being met, and snags to progress were common in our journey to adopt our 5 younger boys, we were also dealing with the probability and then the certainty of a major cross-country move.  As we made two trips to Georgia that Fall, the adoption process was moving very slowly and sometimes seemed to be stalled.  There was nothing we could do to speed up the judical process other than handling everything we were asked to do (which was a lot!) in a timely manner and praying that God would intervene.  At one point, we encountered an obstacle that made a delay seem very likely.  A delay beyond our moving date would have meant that only my husband and our oldest son would have been able to make the move initially.  I would have had to stay behind in Oklahoma with the younger 5 boys, and Travis would have had to fly back in several times for court proceedings, or we would have had to just delay moving altogether.   Even as we interviewed movers and got quotes (which involved taking the representatives for the potential movers through our home, our garage, our storage building, and two rental storage units, as well as our backyard and allowing them to estimate the volume and tonnage of all of our stuff), we had no idea when the adoption process would be finalized.  We chose a moving company, had a garage sale, and gave a lot of things away, emptying the two rented storage units… and the adoption process still dragged on.  A date was set for the movers to come and begin packing, and yet the adoption was still not final.  Finally, we reached the end of the process, and the adoption was finalized… two days before the movers were to come and begin packing our belongings.

3.  God worked in the midst of the economic crash of 2008 and the housing values crash that followed.

As many readers will recall, the Fall of 2008 was a turbulent time.  it was an election year, and the economic crash loomed large as we were in the midst of the process of planning to move.  What that meant for us was that we were going to have to purchase or rent before the dust settled, at a time before the housing values were really affected very much.  Values were no longer at peak prices but were still close to that level.  It is not easy to find a house that is a good choice for a family of 8 with a broad age range even in the best of circumstances.  We had a specific school district in mind, based upon a recommendation, so that narrowed our search somewhat.  Our other main criteria were price, overall size (living space), and number of bedrooms and baths.  We felt that we needed at least a 4 bedroom home, preferably with at least 2 and a half baths.  However, we were really looking for a home that had the potential to meet our future needs as the boys grew; so we hoped to find a home with 5 bedrooms.  We also desired 2 living areas because the wide age range would result in a great variety of activities taking place at any one time.  We felt that everyone would need “a place to be”.  In addition, a safe location was very important, and we hoped to find a yard suitable for playing outside.  We also hoped to find a home with a small office or with a room large enough to accomodate an office area.

for I know

We had flown to Georgia in mid-October for several days with several purposes: going in view of a call to the church, having several meetings and get-togethers that week-end, and  finding a home (if Travis was indeed called as the new Minister of Music and Worship that Sunday).  With the combined efforts of our own internet searches and our realtor’s expertise, we had a total of 12 houses that met all of our criteria, so we looked at some on Friday and Saturday and again on Monday.  To anyone who knows this area, only 12 houses to view seems like a small number.  However, we were being very financially conservative in setting our price limit because we had no idea how long it was going to take to sell our Oklahoma home in view of the financial collapse.  The price factor ruled out a lot of the larger homes that would have provided the space our family needed.  Some of the homes were unsuitable because of factors like a cliff for a back yard.  Others simply had an unworkable lay-out or condition issues that would have made them a poor choice.

After seeing all of the homes, we had 3 that were possibilities.  One had a wonderful kitchen and good layout.  The drawbacks to that home were the fact that there was no office space and the fact that the home was on the main entrace street into the neighborhood, which would have made it less safe for our boys, especially considering the fact that one of our boys has special needs and doesn’t always understand safety issues.  The second home was large enough and had enough bedrooms and baths.  It had a great yard and great first floor lay-out.  However, the second floor lay-out was weird.  The area that would have become an upstairs family room (2nd living area or play room) was separated from the other bedrooms by the Master Bedroom, which meant that the children would have to go through the Master bedroom to get to it.  This room also had the washer/dryer hook-ups in a closet.  In other words, the only 2nd living space would also be the utility room, and the Master Bedroom would have functioned as a hallway.  Our third contender was head and shoulders above all of the other houses.  It had 3 bedrooms upstairs plus a loft space that had a half wall, open to the two story family room below.  It had another bedroom in the basement, which would work for our teen-aged son.  It had 3 living areas:  a small formal living room, a larger family room next to the kitchen, and a downstairs den in the basement.   It was located on a cul-de-sac and had front and back yards that were both fairly flat (a rare thing in this area) because the slope occurs on the sides of the house.  It also had a small room off the Master Bedroom that could be used as an office, and it had 3 and a half baths.  in addition, there was an unfinished room in the basement which was large enough to be a bedroom, playroom, or music studio.  When we were walking up the slope on one side of the house after viewing the back yard, I picked up a small pinecone and took it home as a tangible reminder of the place that I hoped would become our new home.   Home #3 seemed like the best choice.  With safe outdoor play areas and all of the rooms previously mentioned, the home had the most potential to eventually meet the needs for our family of 8.  We did not have the time to negotiate a contract before flying home, but at least we thought we had found our new home and had a couple of other possiblities if that one didn’t work out.

The house we hoped to buy in Georgia

The house we hoped to buy in Georgia

We were not going to be able to buy a home right away since we still had to sell our home in Oklahoma, but we hoped to be able to do a lease/purchase agreement.  However, the day after arriving back in Oklahoma, our realtor told us that there was already another offer on the home, and it looked as though the sellers might take that one.  The economic crash worked in our favor in this situation.  The other buyers were offering less that selling price because property values were beginning to fall.  However. the other buyers would be buying the home outright.  Normally, a lease/purchase would not be as attractive an option as a sale; but we were able to get the home by signing a contract to purchase the home at full price after leasing for up to one year.

The economic crash did not work in our favor when we were trying to sell our home in Oklahoma.  We had to take almost $40.000 less for it than it would have been worth if we had sold it before the crash.  In addition, it actually took almost 14 months before we were able to close on the home.  We had to get a brief extension of our lease agreement.  The fact that we did not come out well on the home after living there for 12 years and making numerous improvements was very difficult.  It meant that our payments would be higher than optimum on our Georgia home and would make it difficult for us to make ends meet.  However, after a couple of years, the economic crash again worked in our favor. Since interest rates had continued to fall, we were able to refinance and get a much better rate as well as a 15 year mortgage.  The payments still make it difficult for us, but at least we are building equity faster.  That’s important because of our age and because of all of the equity we lost due to the crash.

God is Faithful sunrise photoAlthough we have had to do a LOT of work on this home, it comes closer to meeting our many needs (for the price that we were able to pay) than any other home.  God worked through the timing of so many things to make it possible for us to live here.  We have been able to finish the unfinished room, do a lot of land-scaping work, re-build the deck, turn an under-the-eaves space into an additional closet, put in a door to the backyard, extend our patio by 6 feet to the location of the new door, and add extra shelving and cabinets all over the house and in the garage to maximize our storage space.  So, in spite of the fact that our pantry is too small for a family this size and that we have to turn our table for 8 at a crazy angle to fit it in the room, we are grateful.  Even though our boys’ bedrooms are small and our 3 youngest share a room, they have had a safe place to learn to ride their bikes in our cul-de-sac.  And even though the circumstances of this move and other moves have meant that we don’t have as much equity in a home as we should by this time in our lives, we are thankful for mountains moved and obstacles overcome that have allowed us to have a home that comes close to meeting our needs and still has potential for improvements.

4.  God continues to work to meet the needs of our family.

Romans 8 28With six boys of varying ages still at home, we are constantly surrounded by needs of various kinds.  Our 9 year old has special needs, and God has been at work through countless circumstances to meet the needs that he has.  We have had wonderful teachers and therapists, special helpers at church, and lots of people who love him and have been important in his life.  Our oldest son has graduated from high school and is moving into a new phase of life.  We can also see God’s hand at work for him.  Each of our boys have known people that have become very important in their lives, both in our previous church, schools, and community and now in our current church, schools, and communities in Georgia.  Our family has also been blessed as others have helped us in very tanglible ways, with everything from physical labor to child care to gifts of clothing outgrown by their children.  We see God’s hand at work constantly.  For every need that remains, there have been countless needs met and innumerable blessings along the way.

5.  God continues to work through the Worship Ministry at our church.

praise and give thanks to the LordWe have met and come to know so many wonderful people at our church in Georgia (and every place where Travis has served).  Since our curent church has worship ministry programs for every age group, we’ve known so many awesome and talented folks who have a great love for the Lord and a passion for Worship Ministry.  Some of them have since made moves of their own, but there remains a committed and faithful group of people who just love to praise the Lord and are willing to commit themselves to serve.  There is plenty of work to do to keep up with all that is going on in Worship Ministry here, and Travis stays more than busy.  As a couple and as individuals, we have learned and grown through evey circumstance that the Lord has used in our lives, all of the places of service, and all of the lives that have touched our own.  We have a greater passion for Worship Ministry than ever, and God has even opened some new doors that have allowed us to serve the body of Christ in new ways (such as this blog).

6.  God will continue to demonstrate His love throughout all of our lives… and beyond. 

Faith hope loveWe have seen the heart of God revealed through circumstances, through people, through the Word, and through our own relationship with Him.  God is so good.  He continues to give us a new song of praise.  It’s a blessing to look back and see all that He has done in our lives and in ministry in the past 5 years, and it is a blessing to know that His work in our lives continues, no matter what the future holds.  We are so blessed to know the One who holds our present, our future, and our eternity.

7.  God is at work in the hearts and lives of each of our children.

Our adult daughter, who still lives in Oklahoma, has been able to move forward with some very important life choices.  We also see God at work in lives of each of our boys, and we are so thankful for all of the people who have invested in their lives.  Thank you!

We are grateful.

Thank you, God, for your goodness to us in so many ways.  Thank you for loving us, for salvation in Christ, for your mercy, your strength, your provision, and for the blessings you have sent our way.  We love you, Lord.

Thank-you-signWe are thankful for you!

To all of you that we have had the privelege to know, we love you all.  Every church family is still very special to us, and every individual has a place in our hearts.  We pray for you all to be blessed and fruitful in your lives and ministries.  We also pray God’s blessing on our church family here.  Obviously, God wanted to us to join you in ministry for this time period.  Five years ago, He moved many mountains in order to make that possible.  So often, in over 30 years of Worship Ministry, we have seen God confirm His calling to a new place of service through miraculous events that He has caused to work for our good.  He is always at work in other ways as well… ways that we may not see or understand right now.  Through it all, we have learned (and are continuing to learn) that life can be challenging and even overwhelming, but God is good!  As the song says, “How can we keep from singing His praise?”

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This post was written by C. A. Boyd

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When illness gets you down…

sick guy cartoonAt some point in our lives, all of us will deal with significant or ongoing illness for ourselves and/or in the lives of those we love. Many individuals have the blessing of general good health for most of their lives. Sometimes we take that for granted. For others, dealing with injury or with a medical condition of some kind is a life-long challenge. There is a refining of the soul that seems to happen sometimes when one faces constant physical illness or challenges. I have known many such individuals who had at some point made the choice to live lives of extraordinary grace and strength, with God’s help. Choosing to see the blessings of life and even the blessings of illness or of injury or other medical and physical issues is not easy. Our natural instinct seems to be a very keen awareness of our own suffering and a desire for that suffering to be removed. After all, who doesn’t love to feel wonderful? And yet, we must remember that we have only one life, and the “sick days” or even the on-going health issues are a part of it.

Sorry u r under the weather woodstockHow, then, can we deal with illness? How can we cope with our own suffering or the suffering of someone that we love? How can we make the most of life when illness or injury or a medical condition seems to limit our time, our energy, and our enjoyment of life? In a way, I feel unqualified to answer this question. After all, I have enjoyed general good health for much of my life. And yet, I have had experience with both illness and injury, and I’ve definitely known the heartache of experiencing sorrow and pain with loved ones who were suffering. There are many wonderful books about the theology of suffering or the spiritual, emotional, and practical considerations of dealing with physical challenges. There are many stories of amazing people who have refused to let physical challenges or illness define them. I’ve read many such books, which cover these issues much more comprehensively than I will attempt to do here. All that I can offer is a simple observation, born out of my own recent experience.

Snoopys mind wanderingI have been dealing with a health situation for some time that has greatly affected my ability to function as a wife and mother and to plan ahead. I never know when I am going to have a bad day. I have recently been very frustrated by the frequency and duration of my health problems and how they affect my family. Last week, I was up very late one night. I didn’t want to try to sleep because I felt so nauseous. This was on a Wednesday night (actually early Thursday morning). Because I was feeling so sick and could not sleep, I had a lot of time to think about how my illness was impacting those I loved. I had missed church due to my illness the previous Sunday, and then I’d been forced to miss church again on that Wednesday night. I had felt okay for most of the morning but started having symptoms around before lunchtime. Often, when that happens, symptoms progress so quickly that I am not able to meet the bus carrying our little boy who has special needs when it comes at 3:00 p.m.; so I have sometimes been forced to call my husband and have him come home from work to meet Logan’s bus. (His bus must be met by an adult). On that Wednesday, symptoms were progressing a little more slowly, so I was able to meet Logan’s bus myself and be downstairs when 3 of Logan’s brothers arrived 30 minutes later.

On that day, I thought that if my symptoms would hold off for a couple of hours, I could get our 5 school-age boys to church for the Wednesday night meal so that they would not miss Children’s Choir or Missions, but I knew that I was in no shape to stay. In addition to feeling awful and knowing it was going to get worse, I didn’t want to be around food since I hadn’t had anything since breakfast and the thought of eating made me sick. So, I made sure the boys got their homework done and then took them to church at around 5 p.m., with my husband, Travis, planning to meet us in the parking lot. I pulled our Suburban around to the back of the building, near the fellowship hall where the meal is served, and then I pulled to the right beside a row of cars in the parking lot to let my boys get out and meet their Dad.

Be careful signI didn’t expect any difficulty with safely dropping off the boys since I’d called my husband as soon as we arrived. He was on this way out of the building to meet us. In addition, due to homework and needing to wait for our Middle School age son, who arrives home from school much later than his younger brothers, we were almost 30 minutes later arriving for the meal than most people who eat at church on Wednesday night. I thought everyone else would already be in the building. However, as it turned out, I almost got one or more of my boys run over that day, just because of being sick. I had gotten out of the Suburban myself and was supervising the boys as they were getting out of the car on both sides when a sweet lady who had come up behind our car decided she would drive around us. I had five boys ages 7 & 7 (twins), 8 (special needs), 10, & 12 around the car on both sides, was pulled over to the right obviously unloading, and was out of the car trying to get all of the boys safely across the parking lot to the sidewalk, and yet I could not see where all of my boys were right at that moment. If she had waited for one more minute, I would have had all of the boys safely on the sidewalk and Travis would have been there to get them inside, but she must have felt she couldn’t wait. I had pulled really far to the right, but she came around us on the right, with hardly any room between vehicles. Even though I was out of the car trying to make sure all of the boys got safely to Travis and trying to watch the boys on both sides, I was unable to keep my boys safe. If one or more of the boys had come running around the front of our vehicle right into her path, they would have been toast. From the moment that the woman began to pull around my car until the moment when she could have hit one or more of my boys if they had happened to run around the Suburban was just a couple of seconds. It had happened so quickly that I could not get in front of her and was powerless to stop this upsetting and potentially lethal incident, and it was all because of me being sick. The thought of what could have happened completely undid me.

Charlie Brown sighLater that same night, after Travis got home with the boys and they had all gone to bed, at one point my hubby wanted to talk about Spring Break and what our plans would be. He wanted to do a short trip, and I had to tell him that I am not in any shape to do it. After all of these incidents had taken place in just a few days, I was feeling very frustrated. My illness has not just affected me. It affects my family in many ways. It’s even more frustrating since I have already had lots of tests and scans but still don’t have a firm diagnosis. In fact, my Doctor referred to me at last week’s appointment as “a mystery”. So, I had gotten pretty down and had no problem at all thinking about all of the things I dislike about being sick. I had quite a mental list going. I might not have been outwardly griping around my family, but I certainly was feeling frustrated and upset inside.

cartoon checklist photoIn this state of mind, a thought occured to me. I should make a list of all of the good things about being sick. I honestly did not expect to get very far. I thought that I would be doing well to come up with 3 or 4 things and that even those reasons might be a bit of a stretch of the imagination. I decided to call this exercise my “Top Ten List of Good Things About Being Sick,” and I began to think things through. My original thinking was that after I’d named 3 or 4 lame reasons that being sick can be good, then I would put down the same phrase for all of the other slots to round out my top ten list, “Sorry. That’s all I’ve got.” At least I was thinking about the subject with a little bit of humor, but I certainly can’t say that I was optimistic. Perhaps what I was really looking for was an excuse to stay in my frustrated mindset and proof that there really was nothing good about being sick. However, a strange thing happened. When I began to think about things that I could be thankful for about being sick (even though my effort was half-hearted at best), suddenly all sorts of reasons began to occur to me. Before I knew it, I had a list of 8 things that can be good about being sick. (Although, honestly, I’ll take wellness any day). I thought for a little while more and could not come up with any additional good things, so I did end my list the way I had planned, with “Sorry. That’s all I’ve got.” I put my list on my facebook status, with my little attempt at humor as my closing statement. Just a few minutes after I posted my list of 8 good things, two more reasons really did come to me. I added them to my status as a comment, surprised that I really had come up with a list of 10 good things about being sick.

For me, the whole exercise was a lesson. Here’s what I learned:

Snoopy lights a candle1. It’s okay to acknowledge feelings of frustration and spend a little time analyzing yourself and figuring out what was most upsetting to you and why. (For me, the root of the greatest frustration was definitely not feeling that progress was being made toward getting better and, primarily, the negative impact on my family.)

2. After taking some time to think about what you are feeling, there is one thing that seems to begin to turn things around and change an attitude of frustration, fear, or doubt (that there could be anything good in the situation). The simple cure is very effective. It is thankfulness. Even though I didn’t feel thankful yet when I began making my list of good things, I soon began to see my own illness and even sickness in general through a new lens.

3. When I began to make even the slightest effort to see things differently, it was as though God met me right where I was and opened a window so that I could briefly see the (sometimes) hidden value of things that are hard to experience in the here and now.

4. I surprised myself, but it really was God surprising me all along. He promises to work everything for good in the lives of those who love Him. (Romans 8:28) Could that possibly mean even nasty germs or cancer cells? Could it include tragic injuries or even lifelong medical conditions?

Yes.

The answer is … yes.

It’s not that those things are good in themselves. After all, when we reach Heaven, illness, injury, pain, and physical limitations will not be there. The truth that we hold on to is He will take even these things and cause them to work together for good. What a promise that is!

Snoopy doctors woodstockAm I a completely reformed grouch? Well, perhaps I am semi-reformed. I can’t say that I will never wish something hard or painful or yucky would just go away. I know that many times in my life, the removal of a trial will be my fervent prayer. But what I do hope to remember is that if I look for reasons to be thankful, I will find them. If I look for the good, it will be revealed. I still won’t understand everything, because God’s ways are higher than my ways. Now, I know I see through a glass darkly; but someday, I will have full understanding. Right now, one of my main questions might be, “Isn’t there some other way I could learn this?’ Then, in Heaven, when I suddenly know even as I am known, I believe that all of my questions will be answered before I can even ask them.

So, here is my list of the top ten good things about being sick. (What was written on that sleepless night is in italics below.) This really is so much more than just a list. For me, it was really an exercise… in thankfulness and trust.

Cindy’s List of the Top Ten Good Things About Being Sick
Snoopy thank you dance1. Being sick makes you really thankful for the times when you are feeling good so that you don’t take health for granted.
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2. It is really something to be thankful for that most illnesses don’t last very long. (With all of the germs around us, how miraculous it is that we are so often well!)
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3. Being sick helps one to appreciate the amazing complexity of the human body and the capacity for healing.
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4. Beling sick can slow one down long enough to re-focus priorities.
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5. I’ve heard people say that they would not choose to have missed what they have learned and experienced through an illness or injury. (not sure I’m there at this point, but I’m thinking about it)
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6. When you are sick, the people who love you are always there with a prayer or some other kind of caring. You love and appreciate them already, but the experience of ministering to one another bonds hearts like nothing else.
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7. When you are sick, you realize again how amazing it is to never be alone and to have God’s presence with you through everything. It is a comfort to know the hope of healing, the hope of Heaven, and the hope of tomorrow (and to have peace when nothing makes sense because you know that your life is held in loving Hands).
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8. When you are sick and you look in the mirror, you realize that your normal look is not so bad after all (compared to the bleary-eyed stranger staring back at you).
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9. ?….? I’ve got nothing.
(Note: this is the way I originally wrote the list. I had nothing here, but God was not finished teaching me yet.)
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10. Hey, I was doing well to come up with 8 good things, don’t ya think?
Just a little humor. Gotta keep smiling, right? 🙂
🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
At this point, I thought that my list was finished. I certainly did not think that I could not come up with anthing else to add. I was ready to give myself and “E” for Effort. However, it wasn’t even five minutes before I had added the following:
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Okay, I thought of 2 more, so here are my amendments to the list:
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9. Going through any kind of struggle (including being sick) can make one more compassionate.
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10. Going through trials helps me grow as a Christian. “…the trying of your faith worketh patience…”
The bad part is that now everyone knows for sure that my patience needs work (as if anyone was fooled in the 1st place).
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The funny thing is that when I started typing the list I had only thought of 3 or 4 good things, so it was going to be more of a joke to only go that far and then say, “I’ve got nothing” for the rest. But, when I started out with thankfulness, the other good things just kept coming to me. This thankfulness thing really works! 🙂
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Pollyanna glad game quoteIt may seem simple, and some people may label me a Pollyanna; but I have discovered again and again that being thankful is the way to go. What’s the alternative? Being miserable. Sometimes I may spend a little time in misery land, but I don’t want to stay there. If I’m going to be dealing with something difficult, at least I can recognize that there is still beauty in life, there is still good in life, and that I am never alone through any of it. Choosing to see the good and to be thankful is not rocket science. We all know that keeping a good attitude and staying optimistic is important. Sometimes, illness just squeezes the life out of our optimism, and we need a reminder to take back our mental, emotional, and spiritual power over frustration and despair by choosing to look for the good and be grateful. So, when illness gets you down, take a step of faith by choosing thankfulness (even if you don’t feel like it), and then wait on the Lord. He will lift you up!
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there is always something to be thankful for“Blessed be the Lord! for He has heard the voice of my supplications. The Lord is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts; so I am helped and my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to Him.”
– Psalm 28:6 & 7
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“Do not be over-anxious about anything, but by prayer and earnest pleading, together with thanksgiving, let your request be unreservedly made known in the presence of God.” Phil. 4:6
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This post was written by Cynthia Boyd
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Thank you for spending your valuable time reading the contents of this page. We hope that it has been helpful to you. If you or someone that you know is looking for answers about life, we hope that you will visit our page called “Do You Know Jesus?”. The links provided on this page will help to answer life’s deepest questions. Here is the link to “Do You Know Jesus?”: http://www.worshipsounds.wordpress.com/do-you-know-jesus/

Please feel free to share this URL with anyone who is looking for answers about life and eternity.

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The Secret Life of a Special Needs Parent

The Secret Life of a Special Needs Parent

A revelation of grace, grief, joy, love, blessings, and challenges

We're in this together.

We’re in this together.

There are certain facts that are true for every loving parent and child.

*  Every child is different, and their needs vary significantly throughout the constant changes of growth and development.
*  Every parent seeks to meet the needs of their child or children, no matter how challenging those needs may be.
*  Every loving parent tries to stay in tune with the heart of their child, to know and even anticipate their needs.
*  No matter what a parent experiences in caring for and loving a child, the love and the joy over-ride everything else.
*  The two most important goals of most parents are to help their child go through all of the developmental stages in their emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and physical growth and to help their child learn how to become an independent and contributing adult with the skills, knowledge, wisdom, character, and faith they will need to live a life of meaning and purpose.

keep trying signFor parents of children who have special needs, these basic facts and primary goals are the same. However, the methods of achieving these objectives can be vastly different, often with much different expectations and a highly individual timetable for development that is discovered only through continued effort and the constant need to adapt to the individual child’s own pace in learning and in reaching developmental milestones. For some children, a developmental timetable can be relatively predictable. However, many children with special needs seem to have their own internal pace. Developmental experts can make predictions. Teachers and therapists and parents can set goals, but the true timetable for learning and developmental progress cannot be set externally. It is revealed by time. Sometimes, the developmental milestones are met more quickly than anyone expected, and sometimes progress can seem to take place, only to be followed by regression. Sometimes, progress happens but takes a long time. Parents of special needs children come to know the unpredictability of progress all too well. Special needs parents also learn to re-evaluate the very concept of progress. If, for a special and wonderfully made child, the “norms” are not the norm, hope for progress in every area possible must still be kept alive.  For some, progress can mean the absence of regression.  Even if hopes from progress and positive change must be adapted somewhat for the individual situation, those sparks of hope are fanned by the deep love of parents for precious little hearts and souls.

difficult road aheadI certainly cannot speak or write for every special needs parent or for every kind of situation. Special needs can be physical, emotional, mental, developmental, academic, sensory, social, behavioral, functional, or medical. (I am not a special needs professional, so I may be leaving something out.) The term “special needs” can also apply to any kind of combination of various types of needs. However, it’s not the needs that special needs parents want others to see. It’s the child. Certainly, an awareness of special needs can be crucial, but recognizing the child within is even moreso. It’s as though a parent of a special needs child has begun a journey with an uncertain destination, incomplete road maps, and a set of broken tools. The compass has no needle, so direction is unsure. The spyglass has a broken lens, so you can’t see what’s ahead. The GPS keeps chanting “Recalculating, recalculating…” inside your mind as you deal with an unfamiliar landscape. Your watch has stopped working, so there is no accurate timetable or way to measure progress made against whatever progress might be possible. Your cell phone has a low battery, so it’s difficult to communicate with your family and friends. They are still there for you, and they also love and know your child; but it’s hard for them to invest enough time to truly know and understand what you are experiencing along the way. Your pain comes through in spite of the dropped calls, but sometimes they don’t know what to do or say. The rest of your immediate family is travelling with you and your special needs child, and hopefully your spouse is with you in every way as you face the journey together.

family journey in the fall

Your other children each have their own journey, with their own issues and needs along the way. They need you to travel with them as well, so you are simultaneously experiencing very real life journeys that are vastly different, depending upon the needs and special needs of each of your children.  In addition to all of the common struggles of growing up, your other children also face unseen hurdles and even their own griefs as they love and try to protect their special needs sibling. There are a lot of things about having a special needs sibling that can be very difficult, but you try to teach your other children along the way that love and thankfulness are the keys to enjoying life moment by moment with their special needs sibling, while also grieving for them at times. So, as parents, you are not only dealing with your own feelings and griefs and questions and challenges (in relation to the challenges faced by your special needs child), but you are also dealing with helping your other children to understand, cope, grieve with hope, love without condition, and handle their own feelings regarding everything related to their special needs brother or sister.

For parents, it’s incredibly hard to balance the unknown aspects of the journey with your special needs child (and each of your family members’ own struggle with the family’s journey on that road) while also experiencing the milestones and life changes of growing up with your other children. These milestones and life changes have been revealed to the very core of your heart as something that cannot be taken for granted. On the one hand, they are incredibly sweet since you recognize what a miracle each of them is for the child as you witness the wonders of growth and change. On the other, you grieve inside for the fact that these same milestones and life changes are not all going to happen or are not going to happen in the same way for your special needs child. The balancing act becomes one of grieving while rejoicing, often without revealing your heart in the moment (so that the internal struggle does not diminish the joys of very real accomplishments and life changes for the child who is moving forward). When the waves of grief wash over you, you eventually learn to immediately focus your thoughts on all of the blessings of life with your special needs child and all of the victories, from the most minute to the biggest of the big, that have happened in the life of your special needs child and in your heart as you have loved and cared for him or her. Thankfulness is the only antidote to grieving that I know. It is the lifeline that will pull you out of the crashing waves of grief and into the presence of Christ.

Gratitude is ...

One of the many blessings that is a part of life with the incredible gift of your special needs child is the fact that there is a sharpened and very keen level of awareness of the need to be more fully aware in all of life. If I am more aware of the pain and challenge and difficulty and loneliness in my life, I must also become more aware of the joys and blessings and victories and wonderful moments and graces within the tough moments. Here are some examples of the ways that this awareness of the need to become more aware  manifests itself in my life as a special needs parent.

> In my moments of the most acute need, when I am dealing with some aspect of now or of tomorrow, I can become so aware of the fact that the challenge is mine to face that I could miss the sweetness of possessing this need. Here is part of the fuller awareness that I need to find and to remember:
I have this need because of an infinitely incredible gift.
*  I have this need because of life and because of love.
*  I have this need because somehow God saw something within me that could be made beautiful with the help of a precious little soul who has become my teacher.

every journey begins with first step

> In moments when hopelessness begins to creep into my heart, I can become so aware of feeling overwhelmed that I miss the lessons of holding on to hope. I can even miss the truth that hope is at its most powerful when the answer or solution or resolution or realization of that hope seems the most remote.
I have this hope, and I hold on to this hope, because I will never give up seeking to make life better and more full and loving for my child.
*  I have this hope because I know that there are people who have never given up on me, and I have seen how powerful this force of hope can be in my own experience.
*  I have this hope because all things are possible through Christ.
*  I have this hope because when desperation has caused me to lose my hold on hope, I fall into the hands of my Father, who surrounds me with His love and with the knowledge that all hope is found in Him.
*  I have this hope because life has infinite value and because I have been blessed.

My help comes from the Lord

> In moments when a victory happens, I sometimes become acutely aware that there is almost no one that can really grasp the significance of this victory because so few see the entirety of the struggle. I can become so aware of the loneliness of incomplete knowledge that I miss all of the blessings that should be my focus.
This victory has happened because of the will and the spirit of a little trooper who keeps on trying and is often so blissfully unaware of the fact that this moment was long in coming that nothing dims his joy.
*  I can rejoice in this victory because it means that all of the investment of time and love and care and therapy and intervention (which was valuable in itself, even without and before tangible results) has produced a positive change that has made life better in some way for my much-loved child… which, in turn, gives hope and motivation to keep going!
*  I can rejoice in this victory because it is a reminder that even though I may feel alone sometimes and even though there is no one (other than Travis and I) who has seen all of the parts of the story of our Logan from the beginning until now, I meditate on the fact that we have not been alone. We (my husband, my family, and I) have had each other, and we have had the presence of God with us every step of the way, even in the hardest moments that no one else has ever seen. I can also recall and rejoice in the fact that there are so many wonderful people who have loved our Logan (and still do) and who have been a part of his journey and ours in very significant ways, helping both him and us to reach the vantage point from which we can look back and see all that has taken place. The feeling of loneliness and of recognition that few can fully grasp a victory is replaced with thankfulness for family and friends and teachers and therapists and specialists and doctors and volunteers in support organizations and respite volunteers and Sunday School teachers and workers, and child care givers, and special family friends who have cared for Logan, and Choir and Missions and Vacation Bible School teachers and helpers at church, and people who volunteer to serve as a “shadow” for Logan and focus on his needs, and every kind stranger who has ever spoken a word of encouragement.

uphill road

It’s really difficult to explain this crazy roller coaster of parenting a special needs child. There are moments of sheer terror or panic and moments of thrills and laughter. There are many times when my heart and my life feels so full of love, and many times when the uncertainty, the questions, and the challenges threaten to attack my peace and steal my joy. There’s so much more involved in the experience than could possibly be contained in this article. While it can be exhausting to experience so many emotional highs and lows involved in the blessing of parenting all of our children and particularly our son who has special needs, there is also a strength that is born out the the knowledge that for every awareness of difficulty and acknowledgement of pain, there are blessings and joys that come to light with the re-focus.

It’s the secondary focus on the awareness of the flip side (to every difficulty) that reveals burdens shared and lifted, victories gained, spiritual lessons, simple joys, and love… always love.

And many, many times, that side (the blessing side, which we see by faith and also because it is very real) is what we’ve learned to see first. We choose to see the positives. There are a lot of blessings! There is a lot of joy!

Many things are the same for us and for other special needs parents as for any parent and child. Highs and lows are experienced in every family. Challenges and heartbreaks come. Victories and heart-warming moments come, too. There are moments of recognition and realization that are so significant and memorable that they become part of the story of every parent and child. Moments of realization with other children might be about discovering an ability or talent that can be nurtured. A moment of realization with Logan might be a flash of recognition that we have been praying the same prayer (that this would be the year, the month, the day when he would finally learn to chew and be able to eat real food) for six years now. A moment of victory with another child might be all A’s on the report card. With Logan, a recent moment of victory involved Logan finally doing something that most children do as a pre-schooler. Last year, there was a day when Logan took a paper out of his backpack when he got home from school and showed it to me. It was the first time he’d ever done that (at age 7 rather than at 2 or 3). A couple of weeks ago, Logan again brought me a paper; but this time, he spoke to me about it.  It was the first time he’s ever brought me a paper and told me about it…at age 8 (almost 9). He brought me this paper (I scanned it so that you could see it here), and he said, “Look, Mama! It’s Logan’s beautiful heart!” I could not have said it better myself.

"Logan's Beautiful Heart"  It's purple construction paper with a heart-shaped cut-out.  A dyed coffee filter is glued to the back of the construction paper so that it shows through the heart shape.

“Logan’s Beautiful Heart”
It’s purple construction paper with a heart-shaped cut-out. A dyed coffee filter is glued to the back of the construction paper so that it shows through the heart shape.

We certainly cannot deny the fact that our Logan is a child who has special needs. More importantly, though, Logan a little boy. He loves to have fun and be silly. He loves to run and play. He may not be able to experience everything in the same way as his brothers, but he experiences everything with his whole heart. When he’s happy, he is whole-heartedly happy. He makes others happy, too! Logan does have a beautiful heart.

A beautiful life may be different from the lives of others, but it is still beautiful.

A beautiful life may be different from the lives of others, but it is still beautiful.

Every special needs parent, like us, learns to see beyond the needs, the challenges, the diagnosis, and the uncertainty of the the future to the precious and wonderful gift of their child. There will always be many questions about tomorrow. There are questions about how much progress Logan is going to be able to make. There are questions about how independent he is going to be able to become. There are questions about who will care for him when my husband and I no longer can. In addition to those concerns about the future, there are many needs right here and now. With our five other boys and all of their needs, it is hard to find enough time to do all that we need to do for Logan. He is getting special therapy for his eating issues twice a week, but he also needs a lot of one on one time (as do all of our boys). He needs us to read to and with him, to do math flash cards with him, to play board games with him, and to teach him to do household tasks. There is so much that can be done and so much that will need to be done in and for his future. However, we can’t let ourselves get so caught up in all of the tasks and all of the unknowns that we miss just simply loving and relating to Logan right now. We need to enjoy him, and there is much to enjoy. From his affectionate nature to his quirky sense of humor, to his fun personality and all of the things that he is learning, Logan is an awesome little boy. Developmental targets and statistics and academic goals and plans for the future are all very important, but Logan’s beautiful heart and soul are the most important.

faith makes things possibleSo, while we don’t want to sugarcoat a life that has major challenges and many heartaches that no one else sees, we choose to look for the blessings.

While it’s true that we are always aware of human emotion and human reactions to life’s challenges, we are on a journey toward having a sharpening of vision. Our spiritual eyesight is responding to the lessons of the heart and soul and learning to see blessings first. When we look at our Logan, we do see infinite blessings. We know that many, many others see the blessing of Logan, too, and that’s really what we want as parents.

We want to know that when you look at our child, you see a little heart and soul that is a blessing of uncalculable and infinite worth.

–This post was written by Cynthia Boyd

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NOTE: Even though this post is fairly long, it still feels as though I have published it in an incomplete state. There is so much more to write and so much more to learn and experience. There is so much in my heart, and I haven’t been able to put it all into words yet. I can see the value in sharing the words that are already here, even though there is more to come and much more to understand. So, here are the thoughts that have made their way into this revelation of life. I hope they bring understanding and help someone. If this post touches your heart, please share it with others, using this link: http://familysong.wordpress.com/2013/03/07/the-secret-life-of-a-special-needs-parent/

For more on the story of our personal journey, read this post: http://familysong.wordpress.com/2013/01/19/one-brave-little-boy/

Or, read some of the other posts in our “Special needs, Special blessings” category at: http://familysong.wordpress.com/category/special-needs-special-blessings/

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Obstacles road signNote: I love this little sign. The figure is not stopped by the obstacle, he jumps right over it. Parents of special needs children, this is you! You are an overcomer of obstacles, a stubborn warrior who will not give up, and a tidal wave of love that cannot be stopped. Sometimes, this is my sign, too. And, sometimes, I need a sign that is a little bit different. Sometimes I need the sign that shows the little figure being lifted over the obstacle or carried through the storm by the strong hand of Father God, and sometimes I need the sign that shows the little figure and his family camped out in front of the obstacle, working and hoping and praying for victory. If you pan back a little farther on my camp out sign, you will see that the ground on which our campsite stands is not really earth. It is the hands of God, where He is holding us as we wait and work and believe that this obstacle will be conquered. If you don’t have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, I can assure you that nothing else would help you more with all of the challenges of life, and nothing else will make you more aware of your blessings and give you more hope for eternity. If you have questions about life and eternity and God and purpose, please go to our page called, “Do You Know Jesus” at this link:
http://www.worshipsounds.wordpress.com/do-you-know-jesus/

There, you will find links to many web pages that have been designed specifically to answer any question that you might have. Some of these pages even have the capability to be translated into multiple languages. Let us know if you find the anwers you are seeking. We are praying for you!

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Here’s a music video with some precious photos of special needs children and Moms and Dad. It will bless you!

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Encouragement

For people of all ages, encouragement is a welcome and affirming blessing. Any time that someone makes an effort to say something positive, it can uplift the spirit. A compliment or an observation of a valued charactar trait can change the direction of someone’s life. Be an encourager to those around you! You will never regret speaking a kind word or letting someone know of your appreciation or admiration. Children need loving and specific words of encouragement to nourish their spirits and to guide them. Your words of encouragement will be remembered and cherished by your children.

Below, you will find some suggestions for encouragement, some scriptures about encouraging others, and a link to a post about finding personal encouragement in God’s Word.

Here are some compliment and encouragement categories and some suggested specifics to look for in encouraging others:

Character and Christlikeness

Kindness
Compassion
Gentleness
Discipline
Self-Control
Calmness
Serenity
Faithfulness
Trustworthiness
Loving actions and attitudes
Joyfulness
Unselfishness
Patience
Wisdom
Humor
Cheerfulnes
Dependability
Perseverance

Gifts and Abilities

Whether gifts and abilities are athletic, artistic, journalistic, mechanical, musical, intellectual, practical, useful or aethetic, there are some common positives to encourage as others develop and use what God has given.

* Time invested in practice, rehearsal, or otherwise developing and refining one’s gifts and abilities
* Perseverance during times when it is difficult to continue using one’s gifts and abilities
* An attitude of generosity and acknowledgement concerning the gifts and abilities of others
* Using gifts and abilities to benefit others and to bring glory to God

Personal Appearance and Grooming

There are many areas of appearance and grooming over which people have no control, so it is often good to consider the effort that someone puts into trying to look their best with what they have. This is the trickiest category for complimenting and encouraging, but an appropriate compliment is always welcome.

* Color: “That color looks great on you” or “… brings out the color of eyes/hair”, pleasing eye or hair color, color of clothing or accessories, even nail polish
* Cut / fit: “That outfit looks so good on you.” (probably one of the safest)
* Style: remarks about liking specifics such as a buckle or the cut of a collar or sleeve, the shape of a handbag, or the length and shaping of a haircut
* Hair: nice haircut or style, color, the healthy or shiny look of hair
* Complexion/Face: Complimenting a smile is always good! Also, healthy complexion, beautiful eyes, well-applied make-up
* Body/weight: a generic compliment saying that someone is looking healthy or looking trim and fit can be appropriate in some circumstances. Telling someone they “look great today” when they have obviously taken pains to look their best is a validation of their efforts. NOTE: This is one area of appearance that warrants caution regarding what to compliment. Always think through what you wish to say and make sure that it is appropriate.

Here is what the Bible has to say about encouragement:

1 Thessalonians 5:11

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

Hebrews 10:23-25

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

1 Peter 4:8-10

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:

Hebrews 10:24

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,

Hebrews 10:24-25

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Hebrews 10:25

Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Galatians 6:2

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Ephesians 4:29

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

1 Thessalonians 5:14

And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Acts 15:32

And Judas and Silas, who were themselves prophets, encouraged and strengthened the brothers with many words.

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.

Ephesians 4:12

To equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you.

* Note: All of the above scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Holy Bible. They were copied from the following web page: http://www.openbible.info/topics/encouraging_each_other (and then edited by the author of this post).

Are you looking for personal encouragement?

Here is a blog post with scriptures to encourage your own heart: http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/bible-verses-for-encouragement-20-great-scripture-quotes/

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This post was written and compiled by C. Boyd

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The End of an Era (almost)

“We tried child-proofing, but….”

I considered several different titles for this post…

“Adventures in Child-Proofing”  was one possibility.

“To Insanity…and Beyond”  had a certain ring.

Another option involved the simplicity of sticking to the facts, with

“We Survived Three Junior Houdinis!”

(I want the t-hirt!)

Sticky boo bear Camden

All of the possibilities listed above have the “hanging on by your toenails” chaotic edge that captures a bit of the reality of our life at the Boyd house for the last few years.  But, alas, none of those catchy titles had the other element that all parents recognize as one childhood phase is ending and another begins:  an odd combination of giddy relief and totally dramatic nostalgia.  The symptoms are common.  As you regain your sanity after realizing that the pre-school years have truly passed, you may find yourself looking at photos of sticky little boo bears sitting in a high chair and wishing you could go through half a tub of wet wipes cleaning up a squirmy little cutie pie’s face and hands just one more time.  You watch a video of the holidays and realize how joyful it is to see wonder and delight through the eyes of a precious little one.  Or, you see something that your child would have just loved as a pre-schooler… and realize that you don’t have anyone to share those kinds of things with any more.   The feeling of treasuring all of the short-lived sweetness of the baby and toddler years lingers long after the outgrown clothes and toys have found a new home.  Ah, sweet memories!

Let’s not forget the flip side of forgetful nostalgia, though.  I don’t have to view many sticky boo bear photos before remembering all of the milestones that moving forward represents.  There are no more diapers, no more potty chairs, no more sippy cups, and no more baby gates.  Ah, yes.  It’s all coming back to me now in a flood of the aforementioned giddy relief.

No more diapers means:  no more changing diapers, no more buying diapers, no more waiting for the stall with the nasty changing table to become vacant, and no more wet spots in your lap.

No more potty chairs means:  no more cleaning potty chairs, no more 50 yard dash through a crowded restaurant to a potty that your suddenly persnickety toddler refuses to use, and no more wet spots on your couch (even worse than on a lap).

No more baby gates means: no more parent wipe-outs after the “I think I’ll just step over it this time” syndrome claims one more victim.

And, finally, no more sippy cups means:  no more frantic treasure hunts for the elusive favorite cup that fell out of the stroller somewhere on the ten block walk from your car to the arts festival (and then finding the missing cup two weeks later under the seat of the car after searching for the source of noxious fumes in your vehicle).

Are you giddy yet?

Our four pre-schoolers enjoy a moment of stillness during the sippy cup phase.  Believe me, it was only a moment.

Braden is the oldest of our four who were all in the pre-school phase at once. Here’s just what he looked like back then. Isn’t he a cutie?

If you are still overtaken with parental nostalgia, allow me to refresh your memory with a tale of aging parents totally outnumbered by four adorable and clever pre-schoolers plus two older boys.  Travis and I were experienced parents before we had pre-schoolers times four.  We had a daughter who was married, a son in junior high, and another son in elementary school.   We’d dealt with all the issues of child-rearing previously, but the years between our oldest three meant that we were dealing with the baby or pre-school stage one child at a time.  At least, that was so until the four youngest Boyd boys came along.  Braden, the oldest of the four, was three years old (almost four) when his twin brothers, Austin and Camden, were born.  In the middle of the pre-school pack was Logan, who was born about half-way between Braden and the twins.  So, by the time that twins Camden and Austin were fully ambulatory at age one, Logan was two and a half and Braden was four (almost five).  At that stage, we were child-proofing like crazy.  We had all of the usual outlet plugs and cabinet latches, but we quickly discovered that we needed to go much further.   Though Braden was past the age of getting into everything, he was fascinated by the toys belonging to older brother Zachary (then age 6) and by oldest brother Jared’s Star Wars lego structures.  If Jared forgot to lock the door to his room, Braden discovered it and was inside in a heart beat, destroying the complicated Lego builds.   The force was with him.  In the room that Braden and Zach shared, Braden left most things alone.  However, he loved to dump out the baskets and bins of sorted toys (like hot wheels, super hero figures, monster trucks, construction vehicles, and duplo blocks) that were stored in the closet.  To prevent all of the small toys from being out at once, we did place locks on the closet doors.  Even with the force, Braden could not defeat us.  We were undaunted.  It was a hassle getting into the closet when we needed something, though.

Precious little snoozers Camden, Logan, and Austin needed a red flashing warning light on their foreheads that said, “Recharging” !

Co-conspirators Austin and Camden

The three youngest pre-schoolers shared a bedroom out of necessity, so at first we had two cribs and a toddler bed in the room.  Later on, we had three toddler beds.  Yes, we used all of the conventional child-proofing stuff with these three, but we were forced to go far beyond the norm time and time again.  Our three sweet-faced toddlers might have looked totally innocent, but these little guys were amazingly resourceful.  What one didn’t think of, another one would.  Then, they would work together to accomplish their dastardly plan.  Logan was our fearless climber.   There was no such thing as “out of reach” where he was concerned.  Have you ever seen a pre-schooler totally dismantle a lamp, leaving the shade totally torn apart down to the framework and the base of the lamp dismantled (miraculously, without breaking the light bulb)?   Logan did.  We gave up on having a lamp on top of their chest of drawers.  As with Braden, we had to use locks on the closet for Austin, Camden, and Logan’s room.  They would even pull clothing off of hangers and drag out all of the linens stored inside if we accidentally left the closet door open.  In addition, Travis had to drill holes in every drawer front and install key locks on their chest of drawers.  Otherwise, they would pull the drawers out and use them as a ladder to climb to the top of the chest.  They would also pull out all of the folded clothing and have a good ol’ time throwing it everywhere in their room.  If Mom was in the utility room trying to start a load of laundry, it was amazing how much destruction they could create in just a few minutes.   Twins Austin and Camden also had their own twin language.  This is not uncommon for twins, and it was quite fascinating.  We never figured out what they were saying, but they understood each other perfectly.  I think they were conspiring to pull off their next daring feat of destruction.

Logan, our most skillful escape artist and climber, enjoys a moment of pure toddler joy.

One thing that our three little Houdinis did was to repeatedly figure out ways to escape their room.  They had plenty of play space and toys, and their room was right next to the kitchen, so we often had them playing in their room with the baby gate to keep them confined to one area and safe.  After a while, they figured out how to climb the gate.   We got a taller gate.  It worked for a few days.  It was like watching a military obstacle course in basic training.  They were over the top in no time.  In response, Travis built a smooth, half door to take the place of the gate.  It was rather tall. with nothing that could be used as a foot-hold.  That worked for a long time, but Logan eventually learned to scale the sheer cliff face of the half door.   What would appear to a little fellow as a rather imposing structure, significantly taller than their full height even on tiptoe, was no match for our little escape artists.

With three toddler beds and three pre-schoolers all in one room, the only time their room looked like this was when Mom picked up while they were all at pre-school.

Then, there was one thing these three did that I have never heard any other pre-school Mom mention.  They would not leave their beds intact, no matter what we did.  That drove me crazy.  Every single day, the three of them took off their sheets and mattress pads.   Camden and Austin started doing this when they were still in their cribs.  Logan thought they had a great idea, so he was soon dismantling his bed as well.  Then, they started taking the mattresses off.  We finally wound up purchasing a bunch of luggage straps and strapping the mattresses to the bed frames, with the latch for the strap down below the slats inside the enclosed frame.  One luggage strap was not enough.  Each bed had to have one strap in the middle and one at each end.   Have you ever heard of such a thing?  I’m telling you, when those three little boys worked together, they were very strong.  We tried everything to get them to stop doing this.  We tried praising them when their beds stayed together for any length of time.  We did time outs, we removed some of their toys and their favorite blankies, and even tried a little diapered bottom swat to discourage our miniature slumber demolition crew.  Then, they figured out that if they all pushed, they could move furniture!  Unbelievable!   We literally had to fasten furniture to the wall with anchors and “L” brackets and whatever else worked.  This kind of determined and systematic dismantling of their beds and their room continued for almost 3 years!  Even when they could go anywhere in the house, they still were a wrecking crew in their own room.   We finally abandoned using sheets for a while.  It was pointless to keep trying since the sheets never stayed on.  They all slept on their plastic covered mattresses in their toddler beds for a few weeks.   Finally, one day, they asked for sheets.  We put them on, and they have never gone back to the daily bedding battles.  Whew!   Finally!

Room decor genius or toddler graffiti?

Sometimes I wondered if they older brothers were supplying contraband.  No matter how we tried to make sure that all coloring was done at the kitchen table or on their high chair trays, a marker or crayon would sometimes wind up in the little guys’ room.  You may have seen what one toddler can do with a writing implement.  Multiply that times three, and we’re talking graffiti on an epic scale.  Walls were not the only target.  They also ‘decorated’ furniture, the windowsill, and the window itself.  Thank goodness for Mr. Clean magic erasers!

It was such a blessing to have a handyman husband during those childproofing battleground years.  Travis was constantly having to come up with new strategies to keep them safe, reconstruct things they broke, and maintain some remnant of sanity for the rest of the family.   They actually pulled the door knobs off of their closet doors four times, stripping out the screw holes each time.  To replace them, Travis would turn the knob a new direction so that the screws would be in a different place.  The knobs are on the doors now only because Travis found a super strength filler that allowed him to re-use the stripped out holes.  One day not long after we moved to our new home in Georgia, I looked up to see Camden (who had been sitting on the couch watching a pre-school program just moments before) climbing over the stair rail and catapulting himself onto a table below.  It was one of those hide-a-tables (with a plywood top and three spindly legs) that you cover with a floor-length tablecloth.  The table was no match for Camden.  As soon as his little bottom and the force of his toddler exuberance hit the table top, the whole thing collapsed, with Camden on top of the heap.  That incident may have been life-saving.  It scared Camden (and his brothers) so much that no one has ever climbed over the stair rail again.  To fix the table after this incident, Travis built a rectangular box with a shelf, adding a base for stability; and it became the new support for the table top, with the bonus of some hidden storage.  Who else do you know who has an industrial strength hide-a-table?   What a man!

A couple of weeks ago, a significant rite of passage occured.  The final piece of toddler furniture in the Boyd house has now been donated to Good Will.  We had been talking about purchasing a bunk bed for the room shared by Austin, Camden and Logan so that they could finally all have a ‘big boy’ bed.  When I found a great deal on a used bunk bed with the sturdiest metal frame I’ve sever seen, we bought it.  Austin and Camden now share the imposing structure, and Logan has his own twin bed.   The last remaining toddler bed is finally gone.  I must admit that I did feel a little wave of nostalgia when we were removing the toddler bed from the room.  After all, this toddler bed frame is the one that Travis made after the boys tore up Logan’s two previous toddler beds.  The white, metal framed toddler bed that had served us well for Jared, Zachary, and Braden bit the dust when the welds connecting the bed platform to the headboard began to fail.  We tried to get it re-welded, but none of the local welders we tried wanted to mess with it.  So, we purchased a new toddler bed with a metal frame and molded plastic legs, headboard, and footboard.  They destroyed the molded plastic parts of that bed within less than a year.  Our final toddler bed was a super sturdy wooden one that Travis made, with rounded corners for safety and total overkill on the strength of the frame and the bed platform.   It lasted for as long as it was needed, and we closed the door on nostalgia when it was carried out to the pick-up for transportation to Good Will.

Travis and all six of our boys pose after a visit to the Georgia Auarium in late December, 2011.

Through the years, Travis and I have shared so much joy with our bunch, even during all of the craziness of the pre-school years and constant child-proofing.  Each of our six boys is incredibly awesome.  We are so proud of them and so blessed to be their parents!  If we had been blessed with more than our six sons and one daughter, we would have loved them all and found a way to make it through.  Our little guys were not the only ones who knew how to be resourceful.  We are just thankful to have survived and to see our boys well on their way to growing up strong and living a life that honors God.  We still have locks on the closet doors in Austin, Camden, and Logan’s room, but we don’t have to worry about them climbing on  the chest of drawers anymore.  Logan has special needs; and he still can be destructive, but we are working on that.  He and his twin brothers all keep their sheets on now, and they are growing up.  So, goodbye to baby gates, strollers, sippy cups, high chairs, potty chairs, diapers, child-proofing devices of every description, and pull-ups.  All of the baby and toddler gear served us as well as possible, but we don’t need it anymore.  We’ve loved our little guys through every stage and laughed at all of their antics; but now the three littlest Boydinis are moving on, and so are we!

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This post was written by C. Boyd

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Do you have any unusual child-proofing tales to tell?  We’d love to hear about your experience, so feel free to comment.

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