A Reflection from a Father with Special Needs Children

Written by Jeremy Davis, Director of Student Ministry

Psalm 139:13-16

13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

The Davis Family

My wife, Tara, and I were sitting in the ultrasound room awaiting the results of our weekly ultrasound for our little girl who has a rare chromosome disorder. My phone buzzes, and it is Pastor Dave asking Tara and I to share a brief reflection on having special needs children. He wanted us to examine Psalm 139:13-16 and share our experience with other special needs families. As we’re awaiting the results to be read by the Maternal Fetal Medicine Doctor I begin reading out loud Psalm 139. We’re in the same room where many of expecting parents have heard devastating news about their child(ren), potentially news that their child would only have a few life-breaths before passing into eternity, news that their child will have a very challenging life ahead of them, news that no parent wants to hear of their child(ren) on the way. Does Psalm 139 change in these cases? Not one bit, in fact, as I’ve always thought long before having special needs children of my own, special needs individuals teach us so much about God.

God’s Word does not change when our circumstances do; 1 Peter 1:25 tells us that the Word of the Lord endures forever. These children, from the world’s perspective, are a mistake, an error in genetic coding, a mutation, a whoopsie, but from God’s perspective, these are wonderfully and fearfully made image bearers of God. This means they have incredible value in the eyes of God.

Being a special needs parent is tough, and there are often difficult questions to process through. The most common question that has rattled through my mind has been “Why? Why is this happening? Why would God allow this? Why? Why? Why?” These are natural questions to ask, and I’m thankful the Scriptures help answer these difficult questions. In John 9:1-3, the disciples observe a young man (at least 12 years of age) who was born blind. The natural question of that time was, “Who sinned to cause this man’s blindness?” Jesus reveals an important truth for every special needs family; Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” The rest of the chapter unfolds with a beautiful narrative of how this man’s blindness displayed the works of God. Understanding this text changed everything for me. Instead of asking God, “Why have You done this?” I’m thanking God for the opportunity to see His works displayed in my children. I can share a multitude of ways that Elias’ life has made a lasting impression on others and how our unborn daughter has touched others; the works of God have already been displayed in their young lives.

We’ve established two truths thus far- special needs children are not a mistake, not a whoopsie. They are precious image bearers of God. We have also established that a child’s special needs give you a front row seat to watch the mighty works of God. With these two truths in mind, here’s an awesome encouragement for you all, which is one of the most profound things anyone has said to me. “Jeremy, you’ve been given an incredible gift. God has found you and Tara worthy to raise one of His precious children.” These words were from my previous youth pastor after sharing the news of Elias’ diagnosis. I praise the Lord for this truth. Instead of looking at this journey as a daunting, difficult task, I now have the freedom to see it as a precious gift, as I get to steward two of the most precious image bearers of God.

To my other brothers and sisters raising these blessings, God has found you worthy to raise His sweetest creations. What an awesome calling. What a weighty calling. These precious children are fearfully and wonderfully made; they are masterpieces created by God, knit together by His hand. You are not alone as you shepherd and disciple your children. You have your church family journeying alongside of you. More importantly, you have Christ. Always remember the promise Jesus made to His followers, “I am with you always, to the end of the Age” (Matthew 28:20b).

Your Brother In Christ,

Jeremy Davis

VBS 2020 Highlights!

Over the last three weeks, families have been enjoying FOCUS VBS – REFOCUSED with YOU in mind. Each week, families were provided with a gift box with activities, games, lessons and special items to guide them through VBS-at-Home. The gift boxes have served to encourage families in their faith and bring FUN into their homes in a new way.

We’ve heard that this unique approach to VBS has been extremely positive for families to learn together! We are grateful that we could serve our families in different and meaningful ways.

Here are a few things to celebrate and praise God for!

  • We had about 43 families participating representing about 84 children! 
  • We had 11 of those families were guests of Grace Point or new to our church. We welcome them and hope that VBS-at-Home has been a special first experience for them with us. 
  • Because of your generous donations, we have been able to bless families using half of our usual VBS budget and include more gifts than we could have previously. We praise God for your generosity making this possible. Thank you!

How you can continue to pray for VBS:

  • Pray that families would continue to be encouraged to have faith-centered conversations in their homes.
  • Pray that the seeds of faith that were planted would grow and that many kids would come to know and trust Jesus.
  • Pray that our guests might seek to know more about Grace Point so they can meet Jesus and be encouraged to grow in their faith!

Marriage Matters – Dads and Their Daughters

I have been working with families since the mid-seventies. Over this period, I have met with many women whose stories break my heart. They tell of an absent father either by physical absence or emotional absence.

In a recent publication on current statistics it is noted that 92% of the children in our inner cities do not have a father involved in their lives. We blame all the violence in our inner cities on many things but fail to address this very sad statistic.

Let’s look at the basics of the Father Daughter relationship.

  • The father relationship with his daughter is crucial for her health.
  • Not only is a father the most important man in her life, but to every girl her dad is her first love.

The unique dynamic:

  • There is a love and protectiveness that a dad feels towards his daughter that is different from what he feels toward his son.
  • There is tenderness in the father-daughter relationship.
  • There is a respect that a girl is meant to have from her father from the very beginning of her life.

Her Hero:

  • A daughter perceives her dad to be her hero.
  • What does your daughter look for in you that causes you to be her hero?

Time: Special moments with just the two of you. How about a date night with your daughter?

Eye Contact: Face to face when connecting.

Availability: Even when your busy, take time to be available. (They grow up fast!)

A Listening Ear: Women need to be heard and listened to. This starts at a very early age. If a little girl feels connected to her dad this helps her in her emotional and physical developmental journey.

Men: Being a hero to your daughter is about having strong character, paying attention to her, communicating with her, and letting her know she is your “Princess.”

Marriage Matters – Parenting the Strong-Willed Child

In August I wrote the following: “Children need strong attachment bonds in order to develop into healthy adults.

I often hear from parents who are frustrated because they don’t know how to handle their strong-willed child. They are concerned that the “battle of wills” will come against the need for a strong attachment bond.

It is not the authority that is the problem, but how authority is communicated.

Strong-willed children do not despise or have problems with authority, but they reflect a need for control and love. Strong-willed children are well versed with the letter of the law and are usually a couple of steps ahead of their parents. But, positive communications leads to gaining the respect of the strong-willed child.

Message to parents: It is not the authority that is the problem, but how authority is communicated. If you pull the authority trip and say, “You will be doing this. End of discussion” then you are doomed.

The relationship is the most important thing.

Strategies: Choose your battles, don’t make everything a big deal. Decide what you are going to go to the wall for. Back off on everything else. You are not going to get everything. Decide what you can’t live without.

Make sure that your strong-willed child knows that your love is unconditional.

If you don’t demonstrate an unconditional love for them as a parent, then they can’t possibly believe that there is a God in heaven that has unconditional love for them as a child.

You have an incredible advantage. You serve a heavenly Father, Creator, and Designer. God, Himself, fills the place you might have missed. His mercy, grace and strength give you the will to go on.

It is not mistake that God gave you a strong-willed child!

Do you have a strong-willed child? How have you been handling things? Comment below.

Conversations Through TV Shows and Movies

This month’s video is on prompting conversations through TV shows and movies!

Television shows and movies are just two media forms that kids watch. Beyond that, network and cable television, DVDs, and online streaming providers increase access to media for our kids. This is the world they live in, and it’s likely not going to magically disappear. Rather than fearing what they could be exposed to, commit to teaching and training your child in the why—why it’s important to learn what is okay to watch and what isn’t.

Bob Waliszewski, the author of the book Plugged-In Parenting, offers a few ideas for parents who wish to take a proactive approach to the media. Waliszewski suggests having an honest and ongoing discussion with your child about the importance of protecting their minds.

In that conversation, you can talk about how the Bible encourages people who follow Jesus to guard their minds and hearts. Proverbs 4:23 says, “More than anything you guard, protect your mind, for life flows from it” and Jesus taught in Matthew 15:19 that “out of the heart come evil thoughts . . .”

The goal is to raise children that will begin to sense that conviction in their souls when they aren’t with you—and make good and wise decisions on their own that carry into their teenage years and adulthood.

https://vimeo.com/parentministry/review/206402355/002158ccb9

I’m praying for you and your family. We are in this together!

Cassandra DeWitt

Fun Ways To Study Scripture With Your Child

Raising our children to pursue a personal relationship with God is something every Christian parent wants, but statistics show that only five percent of teens study the Bible on their own on a daily basis. And, just over half of teens say they read or study their Bible away from church.

That said, I’m happy to tell you that YOU can influence your children to be one of the five percent who study their Bible every day. How? By getting creative, that’s how!

For ways to make studying scripture with your kids more fun, check out this months online parenting class. It will give you a good start towards making positive changes in your home in this area.

I hope you find this lesson helpful. You are always welcome to email me with any prayer requests your family may have. I truly enjoy serving your family.

https://vimeo.com/parentministry/review/141593132/13f9137123

Sincerely,  Cassandra

Helping Your Child Overcome Separation Anxiety

Parents, either you’ve already experienced separation anxiety, you’re in the middle of it, or it’s on the horizon. To be honest, I’m in the middle of it with our two-year old. Can I hear an amen, Lord help us?!

What is Separation Anxiety? Pediatricians help us understand that separation anxiety is so tough on kids because they don’t understand object permanence. A child realizes Mom is gone, and what they think is, “Oh my gosh, MY MOM IS GONE,” like…forever gone.

https://contentpathway.s3.amazonaws.com/separation-anxiety-full.jpg

It’s why we play hide and seek or peekaboo with little ones. We want to reinforce the idea that even though you can’t see an object, it doesn’t mean it’s gone. The fear produced over this misunderstanding is what we call separation anxiety. It creates anxiety in our children, and much of the time, an anxiety in us as parents.

Take some time to check out this month’s video to see how we can deal with anxiety. Later in the month we’ll look at some practical tools for how to help your child conquer separation anxiety.

https://vimeo.com/parentministry/review/95865874/650be0e74c

GP Kids Parenting: The Comparison Game

Being a parent is hard work and sometimes we wonder if we are doing a good job?  We hear about other families, other people’s kids and it can be easy for doubt to creep in.  Comparing ourselves to others is natural and depending on the situation can either make you feel like parent of the year or a total failure.

The last thing you want to hear about when you were up all night with your ten month old is how someone else’s two month old is sleeping through the night! Or how about running into that mom who is always perfectly put together when you can’t remember the last time you got a shower?

Comparisons can be harmful to our self esteem and our outlook on how we are managing.  It’s easy to fall into this trap. We have to realize that we all have good and bad days.  No one has completely mastered being a parent!

Take some time and check out this month’s video to see how we can deal with those moments we feel like we don’t measure up.  Later this month, you will receive some tools to help you when you are playing the comparison game through our email list here.

Here is the link to the video: https://vimeo.com/parentministry/review/90162336/2b9dba9f43

Thanks,

Cassandra DeWitt

 

Marriage Matters: Welcome to Baseball Season

The last few days of 70-degree weather have been a blessing and also a reminder ]that not only is spring on the way but baseball season is upon us.

I have been following the game since 1950 when my Yankees beat the Phillies in the World Series. To me baseball is more than a game. It’s a life time of memories; my grandfather introduced me to the game he loved. He was a Brooklyn Dodger fan and taught me all about the game. He died in February 1955 before he saw his Dodgers win the 55-world series. Today, I have the opportunity to build memories with my grandchildren as we attend the Trenton Thunder games. It’s so much more than baseball. It’s about spending time with them and letting them know how special they are.

Too many children today do not have these special moments of building life time memories.

During the month of March Grace Point will be offering three classes on exploring the world of the developing adolescent. These classes will take place on March 12, 19, and 26 at 9AM in Rooms A1-2.

Some of the topics that we will explore are:

  • An Inside Look at the American Teenager
  • Adolescent Developmental Influences
  • The Impact of Trauma on Adolescent Development
  • Factors that Contribute to Good Psychological Health
  • Parenting Adolescents

These classes are recommended for the parents of children aged nine and above, teachers, counselors, and anyone else who lives with or works with the adolescent.

You can contact Chuck Arnold (carnold@gracepointpa.org) for additional information.

GP Kids Parenting: Technology

Maybe it was a Super Nintendo, Oregon Trail on the school computer, or immersing yourself in episodes of Full House, but our exposure to technology was vastly different from what our children experience today. They’re inundated with technology EVERYWHERE they turn.

Does that mean we just hand them an iPod, unlimited Netflix and YouTube access, and an unmonitored TV and allow them to handle technology however they deem fit? This month, in our video below, we want to help you as a parent understand the pros and cons of technology and how to manage it in a way that sets your child up for success through a Biblical worldview.

The follow-up to this blog will be an email through our GP Kids list titled “GP Kids Parenting – My Child’s Mobile Device.” Sign up for those emails here.

Check out this 5 minute video!

https://vimeo.com/parentministry/review/86560654/63bc8c27e1