Issue 54: Ways to Survive ASD Parenting and Stay Thankful
Issue 58: Winning Ways to Share the Love with All of Your Children
Issue 81: When Special Education Fails to Be Special
I have seen Priscilla Shirer live several times. She is an inspiring and encouraging speaker of the truth. For those of you who don't know, she is Tony Evans' daughter, which explains a lot! Anyway, it had to be five or more years ago that I saw her at an event in Orlando with a group of ladies from our church, and the message she shared on Ephesians 3:20-21 was so memorable and powerful that I have never forgotten it. With the popularity of YouTube in recent years, I have occasionally searched for the message using key words from her presentation in hopes of finding it to watch again. FINALLY, Going Beyond Ministries posted this video in 2017! I watched it again this past week and was reminded of how great a God we serve and how infinitely small we are and think when it comes to His ability and desire to do immeasurably above and beyond all we can ask or imagine in each of our individual circumstances. Carve out some quiet time (about an hour's worth), grab a cup of coffee, curl up in your favorite chair, and prepare to be changed by her message...God's message to us.
God really seems to be working on me in the area of prayer lately. It started over a year ago when I was involved in the Armor of God study by Priscilla Shirer. From there, I read her book called Fervent, which was ALL about serious, specific, and strategic prayers for each area of your life. Then John and I went to deliverance counseling with Jeremiah where we learned about the effectiveness of prayer against strongholds from our pasts, and ancestral bonds. Last summer we took a class on spiritual warfare and learned the importance of prayer in the spiritual realms and how to pray like a warrior on the battlefield, as if our very lives depended on it, which it does of course.
But my most treasured resource for learning how to become a woman on her knees comes from my long-time mentor, friend, and one of the most prayerful and godly women I have ever known. Her name is Lorraine. When I met Lorraine, I was an overwhelmed mom of one. LOL! Oh, had I only known back then what I know now! Anyway, I was interested in a homeschool conference about two hours from my home in the Orlando area and, though I had never met Lorraine, a mutual friend of ours asked her if I could spend the night at her home to attend the conference without the added expense of a hotel room. Lorraine said yes...to this complete stranger. Being more of an introvert, I was probably more apprehensive about staying in someone's home whom I had never met than she was in having me stay there. I tend to be awkwardly dorky in conversation and in general when I meet new people and am trying to find common ground and begin conversations that lead to familiarity and make me feel more at ease.
Lorraine however welcomed me into her home as though we'd been friends forever. There was nothing awkward about it. After a delicious home-cooked meal and showing me the room she'd prepared for my stay, Lorraine did something I will never forget as long as I live. She asked if she could pray for me. Well who in their right mind turns down prayer? "Sure," I said. And then she excused herself for a few minutes and came back with a basin of warm water and a washcloth.
Lorraine didn't just pray for me. She got down on her hands and knees in front of me, removed my socks and shoes, and washed my feet while she prayed the most heartfelt and intentional prayer over my being a wife, a young mother, a homeschooler, and a daughter of the King. I will never forget that moment of humility, Lorraine's heart of servitude, and the kindness with which she washed my feet and prayed for me.
So when God really began convicting my heart about my lackadaisical, ritualistic, and irregular prayer life (at best), I reached out to Lorraine. I am thankful that, over the years, God has allowed her to remain a part of my life, even after he moved her family to Alabama. Though I wish I saw her more frequently and got to spend more time gleaning from her, thanks to technology, she is never more than an e-mail or phone call away. She checks in on me often and asks for specific requests and how Jeremiah is doing so she can continue to pray for me in the most personal and intentional ways.
Lorraine was more than happy to share some of her resources and prayer habits with me. One of those is Face to Face by Kenneth Boa and focuses on praying the Scriptures, which is such a powerful, effective, and personal way to communicate with Jesus. It helps you memorize Scripture too!
Anyhow, God has been graciously working on and through me to become a more prayerful woman. And the blessings reaped from spending that time with Him daily have been worth being up before the roosters! Don't get me wrong, I still have a long way to go, and will probably never come close to where God wants me to be, but I am enjoying every step of the growing-closer-to-Him-daily process.
I found that I am prone to wander when I am praying unless I have written out my prayers by topic and am strategic to read them and meditate on them right there in front of me. I have prayers on my faith, my identity, my purpose, John, the kids, my past, gratitude, my pressures and passions, my relationships, peace, and many others. Obviously, I can't feasibly read through each of my prayers every single day and so I have a calendar and pray through a different one each day until I have prayed through them all...and then I start over.
Recently, I felt like I needed a specific prayer strategy for Jeremiah. He is included in my prayers for the kids of course, but I just felt like, with all of our challenges and circumstances with him lately, he needed his own prayer. I spent a few days jotting down notes of things to specifically pray about for him...as they would pop into my mind or we would actually experience them with him. Then I got out my Bible and researched a few Scriptures to go with my prayers for him and began writing.
I struggled with sharing this prayer. It is very personal and displays a level of vulnerability for me in allowing others to see what lies in the depths of my heart as a mom of a special needs child. But then I thought there may be other people out there who also struggle with not knowing exactly what to pray and how for their children in similar circumstances. And I also know that many of my friends and family reading this will read this prayer, hide a few of my requests away in their hearts, and use them to better lift our family to the Father in the future. So here it is. Thank you for being a prayer partner with us as we continue to navigate our way through all God has called us to in raising and teaching and loving Jeremiah.
Lord Jesus, you are the ultimate Creator of all, including my son with special needs. He was not a mistake, a creation gone wrong, or an accident. Jeremiah David Bertic was created by You and for You. You formed his inward parts, knit him together in my womb, and I praise You that he is fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-14). For this, I thank You Lord.
Because of sin, none of us is a perfect creation. We all have our weaknesses, our thorns in the flesh. Jeremiah is not autistic or schizophrenic. He is Your beloved child who suffers from autism and schizophrenia. They do not define who he is. They are merely his struggles, his thorns.
Father I pray that, while my mom’s heart desire for him is to grow and develop and learn things like reading and writing and arithmetic and self-care skills, more than that, my deepest desire is that Jeremiah would know who You are in the very depths of his soul. In whatever way he is capable of learning and understanding, I pray that You would reveal Yourself to him, make Yourself a very real presence in his daily life. Fill him with Your Spirit. Give him the ability to understand what You have done for him, how you have saved him and redeemed him by Your blood shed on the cross for his sins. Then Father, when he grasps that truth, teach him how to glorify You in thought, by mouth, and with his deeds. Grow in him a grateful and worshipful heart towards his Savior. Let all who see it be blessed and witnessed to because of the testimony that is his life…his triumphs, his struggles, his weaknesses, his ability to overcome through Your great power.
Jesus, cultivate in Jeremiah the fruits of Your Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). Fill him with joy, regardless of his circumstances. Show him how to love unconditionally and selflessly. Give him Your peace Lord that surpasses all understanding. Use it to guard his heart and mind in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:7). Give Jeremiah an ability to exhibit patience, both with himself and with others. Give him a kind and gentle spirit Lord. Root goodness and a desire to both ‘be and do’ kind and good in his heart. Let faithfulness to You be foremost on his mind and in his heart and in all he thinks and speaks and does. And while self-control does not come naturally or easily to Jeremiah Father, I pray You will give him the supernatural ability to control his emotions, his physical urges and temptations, and his tongue.
Lord, with Jeremiah’s lack of understanding comes the risk of this world taking advantage of him, exploiting him, hurting him. I pray Your protection and mighty warring angels around him, both in and out of our immediate supervision as he grows and seeks more independence. Expose those who have impure motives towards him and weed them from the garden of his life. Break every ungodly soul tie connected to him and bring people into his life that You want there and move out those that You do not.
Instead Father, bring into Jeremiah’s life people who will encourage him, guide him, teach him, be patient with him, love him unconditionally, and extend your grace and mercy towards him. Bring him friends Father.
Lord, I pray for a heart of obedience and submission for Jeremiah towards all of those You have placed in authority over him. Weed any rebellion, hidden or otherwise, out of his heart God.
God, I know You have a purpose for Jeremiah, a plan. Since before the foundation of the world, You predestined him for that purpose. You plan to prosper him, not to harm him, to give him a hope and a future (Jer. 29:11). Use my son Lord. Use him for Your glory. Use his struggles to build perseverance, develop character, and bring hope (Romans 5:1-5). Use those struggles in him, in the lives of those closest to him, and even in those observing his struggles from afar.
Lord, when Jeremiah hears voices that only he can hear, sees entities that only he can see, I ask that you would bind them with your blood and render them inactive in his life. Expose the spirits of theft trying to rob him of his mind, his soul, his physical well-being. I command every spirit associated with these voices and entities to be bound and dispatched to dry, uninhabited places. Restore to Jeremiah instead spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental well-being Jesus. Remind Jeremiah that no weapon of the enemy formed against him will prosper for greater are You who is in him than he who is of this world (1 John 4:4). Teach Jeremiah how to suit up, wearing the whole armor of God: the helmet of salvation, the shield of faith, the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth, his feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace and taking up the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.
I plead Your blood Jesus around the property line of our home and Jeremiah’s school, above the roof and below the foundation, over every doorframe, window, floor, door and wall. I pray your blood over the pillow where Jerry lays his head to sleep at night.
I plead the blood of Jesus over the streets adjacent to my home and his school, and over all of our vehicles, in which we spend so much of our time. I ask that You dispatch mighty warring angels to stand guard around our home and his school. Fill our home with Your Holy Spirit and hold back every demonic force from entering. Where we have inadvertently brought things into our home that are harmful for him spiritually and not in line with Your Spirit Lord, reveal them to us. Help us to cleanse our home of any ungodly objects or possessions that could carry with them demonic strongholds or ties.
I pray Lord for Your mercies to be new each and every morning, regardless of the circumstances of today (Lam. 3:22-23). I blow it often as his parent Lord. Remind me that every second is an opportunity for a fresh start, a repentant heart. Help me to learn from the past, but not dwell on it (Isaiah 43:18). I want to strain toward what is ahead and press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:13-14).
Lord I pray for wisdom for the doctors and specialists who are treating Jeremiah. Give them clear direction and Your insight into how best to help him. Use the medications as tools in Your hand, instruments to restore him to a state of wellness and wholeness, a state in which the medications are no longer needed. Ultimately, You are his greatest physician Jesus. Never let us lose sight of that truth.
Give us as his parents the ability to discern fact from fiction, truth from lies when speaking to doctors, specialists, teachers, therapists, etc… You made us his parents. You chose us for him. Therefore, You have equipped us with the insight and wisdom to know what is best for him, right from wrong for him. Remind us to tap into You first and foremost, not books, friends, so-called professionals, or other well-meaning but flawed resources.
And Lord, when the guilt and shame wash over me in waves and the doubts and fears concerning Jeremiah’s future come crashing down resulting in sleepless nights, remind me that You are sovereign, omnipotent, and omniscient and that fear and guilt are not from you, but from the enemy of my soul. Remind me that for those who love You all things work together for good, for those who are called according to Your purpose (Romans 8:28). Remind me of the futility in worrying about tomorrow because of Your sovereignty (Matt. 6:25-34). Help me to focus and train my mind on things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8). And while I am Jeremiah’s mother Father, never let that soul tie become an ungodly one, wherein I am finding my joy or peace only in times when he is joyful or peaceful. My identity is found in You and You alone Lord. My emotional and mental well-being cannot be reliant upon his, ever.
Remind us that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to me (Romans 8:18). And this life and all of its trials are but a vapor (James 4:14). Your grace is sufficient for us. Your power is made perfect in weakness and so let us boast all the more gladly about our weaknesses, so that Your power may rest on us (2 Cor. 12:9). Keep grumbling and complaining about our circumstances and wallowing in the self-pity that results far from us Father. Give us Your peace, even in the midst of our tribulations because You have overcome the world (John 16:33).
Put others in our lives, sojourners who understand our struggles Lord. Give us a unity, an ability and desire to pray for and encourage one another. Do not let isolation and loneliness in our circumstances separate us from the herd Lord, where we can be easy targets of prey for the enemy himself. The enemy is the author of the de’s and dis’s: despair, discouragement, discontentment, despondency, disagreements, disappointments, disbelief, disheartened, destruction, destitute, deteriorate, demonic, deception. Instead, keep us grounded daily in Your Word and put a new song in our mouths, a song of praise to You (Psalm 40:3). Help us to hold firmly to the word of life (Phil. 2:16).
Let us never become so inwardly focused on our own circumstances and trials that we forget that You left us here to disciple and minister to others. It’s not all about us! Give us the ability and heart’s desire to look for opportunities and ways to comfort others in the same way You Yourself have comforted us (2 Cor. 1:3-4). This is our mission field, like it or not! Let us embrace it joyfully and be good stewards of the fields whose seeds You have left us to plant, watch grow, tend, cultivate, and even harvest (Matt. 9:37).
Protect mine and John’s marriage Lord. Marriage is hard enough sometimes without the added stress of special needs. We can become so engrossed in Jeremiah’s needs and focus so much of our time and attention on him that we forget to cultivate our own love. We forsake our time together as a couple, growing together in our love for You and each other Lord. Make our marriage a priority, a strong foundation built on Your truths and able to sustain the harshest of winds and floods (Matt. 7:24-27).
Likewise, remind us that we have other children besides Jeremiah. Give us meaningful, intentional quality time with each of them individually. Give us the strength to love on and pour into them daily because they too are our children given to us by You as arrows to fill our quiver (Psalm 127:4).
As a family Lord, let us never allow circumstantial roots of anger, bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness, or jealousy towards either Jeremiah or a ‘typical’ family find fertile soil in our hearts in which to grow. Again, Your will, Your way, Your timing…all perfect for our family, both as a unit and as individual members of that unit.
Remind us Father that we are more than conquerors through You who loves us. Neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from Your love in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:37-39).
We will not fear, for You are with us. We will not be anxious, for You are our God and will strengthen us. You will help us and uphold us with Your righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10).
Lord, I pray all these things for Jeremiah, myself, and my family in Jesus’ precious name, amen.
Just thought I would share this great YouTube I was shown. It is Anderson Cooper wearing a listening device that mimics the voices someone with schizophrenia hears. It is very interesting and educational in and of itself and really opens my eyes to Jerry's struggles with Jack. It makes it easier to understand why he is so unresponsive at times too...too many "people" trying to speak to him and gain his attention all at once. I love Anderson's honesty towards the end of the video when he is describing how he feels after this experiment. Sad, yet informative on so many levels.
I am a Christian. I am a wife. I am a mom. I am an author. In that order.