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Post  Admin on Wed 26 May 2010, 12:26 pm

Welcome to the Nugget

Today's Devotional:
LESSONS FROM HANDICAPS, Part 7:
My Struggle With Epilepsy

Hi. I'm Heidi and I have epilepsy. My seizures began to get bad when I was in my thirties. I had been having a headache for a week and began feeling like I was going to fall out of bed. I began sleeping on the floor. I had been working full time and my position had been reduced to part time and then eventually eliminated. I went to look for a new job when my doctor advised me to file for disability. I did so and found out that I have been having seizures all my life. I didn't even know it. My roommate told me that she was going to move and I was faced with living on the street. I was afraid I would die there. I asked the state for help and there was none available so I called the White House.
The hardest thing about epilepsy is that I am unable to do the things I used to do so easily. I don't like asking for help and I take pride in being able to accomplish things. When I can't do something that I used to do readily, I feel like a failure. I had been trying to get a card business off the ground for years and it never went anywhere. I felt like I (capitalize I) was the one who had to make it happen. And without help from anyone else. Looking back, I realized how lonely I was and how lonely such an attitude made me.
Last week, I realized that I took too much pride in my own strengths and maybe God allowed me to be epileptic to humble me and make me ask for help. I had lost the use of my arm eighteen years ago, had three knee surgeries and almost had ovarian surgeries.
Last week, I spent time in prayer confessing to God how prideful I had been. I had felt like I was the one who would make myself succeed. I had the contacts and connections and I didn't want to need anyone to help me. I was afraid I would get hurt. Currently, I'm in a situation where I need to find a home that is safe to live in and I have had to ask for help. It's been extremely humbling but it has also been freeing. I have a friend Andy, who has been there every step of the way and I have not felt so alone. And it's all because I have realized that I was wrong to be so independent and harden my heart.
Heidi Dietrich
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Post  Admin on Wed 19 May 2010, 4:14 pm

Today's Devotional:
LESSONS FROM HANDICAPS, Part 6:
My Sons

"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matt 22:37-40 NIV)
Raising two sons with Autism has been the most difficult challenge that I have ever faced in life. Watching them deal daily with their handicaps and trying to help them in every way I can has at times been painful, frustrating, and even heart-breaking. Through it all, though, I have gained more wisdom about living than I could have ever imagined. My two sons have been my teachers as well as my students on how to live and how to love. They have taught me more than I could ever have learned on my own and they continue to show me more each day.
I have learned from them that I am no better than anyone else in this world. I may be able to do some things that they can’t, but their lives are just as precious and just as valuable as mine. As I watch my oldest son be a friend to everyone in his school and share his simple kindness with everyone he meets I am warmed to the depths of my being. I know too that he has touched hearts and brightened souls everyday of his life here with his gentle spirit and smiling face.
I have learned too from them that we are all Children of God. We were all created by the same loving hand. We are all souls in bodies sent here to choose love, to share love, and to learn about love. When I look into my youngest son’s shining eyes I can see that loving soul within. He may not be able to say more than a few words, but his laughter, smiles, and hugs speak volumes. He may face a lifetime of challenges, but he will still be teaching the world about love and joy everyday of it.
Having these two sons has shown me just how much God loves us and just how much God wants us to love each other. I try then to share my love and my joy everyday with them, with my beautiful daughter, with my loving family, with my wonderful friends, and with all of you special souls who read my simple words. I hope that you all do the same.
Joseph J. Mazzella
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Post  Admin on Wed 12 May 2010, 11:41 am

Today's Devotional:
LESSONS FROM HANDICAPS, Part 5:
God's Special Child

"Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him." (Psalm 127:3 NIV)

For some parents, the worst fear is having a child who is handicapped. I have often asked the question, how does today's Scripture apply to raising a child with a severe disability? As a mother of a son with autism, I understand the unique struggles of families with an individual who is disabled. Yet the Psalm describes children as an inheritance and a reward. It also illustrates the need for total dependence upon God to build a successful home. Clearly, without the Lord's help, our efforts are in vain.
My son, now an adult, has helped me to understand and appreciate how God can work through many circumstances despite my son's handicap. The apostle Paul reminds us that God uses some of our situations to bless others, bringing glory to Himself:
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows." (2 Corinthians 1:3-5 NIV)
How does Psalm 127:3 apply to those who are faced with the tremendous task of caring for their children with special needs? Some parents at a support group I once attended were asked about the contributions their children have made in their lives. Some of their thoughts included learning how to depend on God; being able to love unconditionally; appreciation for what comes from the heart, not just the mind; compassion; and perseverance. Our children have taught us many things, but most importantly, they have taught us to submit our wills to God and to trust in His wisdom and unfailing love.
Scripture reveals that my son is a heritage of the Lord -- God's special child. It is an honour that He has entrusted him to my care, a reward that will be treasured in my heart forever.
Prayer: Lord, we pray as Jeremiah bids us in Lamentations 2:19: "Pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord. Lift up your hands to him for the lives of your children." Amen.
Lori Ciccanti
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Post  Admin on Wed 05 May 2010, 1:30 pm

Today's Devotional:
LESSONS FROM HANDICAPS, Part 4:

Children and Angels

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:34-35 NIV)
I have often felt that children are far closer to God than we adults are. They seem far more ready to share joy freely and to give love unconditionally to others. They seem to easily know how to celebrate life, laugh, smile, and embrace delight just as God meant for all of us to do. Nothing brought this point home to my heart more clearly than a story a friend of mine recently shared with me about her daughter.
Her daughter while mentally handicapped has a soul that shines brighter than a thousand suns. She loves everyone and is never afraid to express her affection to others. Once when she was at Church with her Mom it came time to give others the sign of peace. Now most people do this with a handshake or a gentle touch. This little Angel Child , however, wasn’t one to hold back on her love. She turned around and gave a sweet, elderly lady next to her a huge hug full of both energy and love. Later after Church that same lady with tears in her eyes approached the girl’s Mom and spoke to her. "My husband just died a week ago", she said. "I felt so alone that I was going to go home and take some pills to end my life today, but now thanks to your little girl I believe that there still is love in this world."
Our children can teach us so much about love. Our children can teach us so much about joy. Our children can teach us so much about life. Let us not ignore the lessons they give us every day. Let us instead learn from them and share more love and joy with others in our own lives.
God loves us and put us here to love each other. Sometimes we forget this, but thankfully God is patient and forgiving with us. He never fails to send us joyous angels and happy children to guide us back to love again.
Joseph J. Mazzella
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Post  Admin on Thu 29 Apr 2010, 11:12 am

Today's Devotional:
LESSONS FROM HANDICAPS, PART 3:

Seeing Through Autism's Walls

"May you always be doing those good, kind things that show you are a child of God, for this will bring much praise and glory to the Lord." (Phil 1:11 TLB)
I pulled an old photo album from its shelf yesterday and wiped the dust off of it. It is one that I rarely open, but something moved me to open it then. Inside of it were baby pictures of my youngest son from the day of his birth until he was 18 months old. Looking at them made my heart ache, not with nostalgia but with loss. You see, the reason I hardly ever look at these pictures is that I can see in them the normal child my son could of been. When I look at those happy, intelligent, and shining eyes in the photos I can see all the years of learning, growing, and becoming that my son could have had before the autism came.
The severe autism that came upon my son in his second year stole his language, changed his personality, and forever clouded his mind. It left him with a life of frustration, mood swings, compulsive behavior, and mental pain. Each day now is a struggle for him and although I try to make his life easier and give him as much love and joy as I can, in the end the autism is always there keeping him from being the person he could have been.
One thing, however, that brings me joy is that everyday I can see his gentle spirit break through those autistic walls around him. Sometimes it is in a laugh, sometimes it is in a smile, sometimes it is in a hug, but it always lets me know that a loving soul still lives within him. One day in the life after this one I hope to get to talk to that sweet spirit and thank him for all the love he gave me and all that he taught me about patience, compassion, and life.
I am going to try and look at those old pictures more often now. I want them to remind me of who my son truly is: a Child of God, a being of light, and a spirit full of love. The next time then that you see a person trapped in a handicapped body or mind don’t look away, look within. If you do you will see a brother or sister who wants and needs your love.
Joseph J. Mazzella
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Post  Admin on Wed 21 Apr 2010, 12:36 pm

Welcome to the Nugget

Today's Devotional:
LESSONS FROM HANDICAPS, Part 2:

The Eyes that See

I have a blind friend who lives in New York City. Although we have never met face to face, we still write each other frequently. She is a remarkable lady and has become like a sister to me. Her optimistic and enthusiastic letters always lift my spirits and the inspiring poems she shares with the world always bring a smile to my face. She is all the more amazing due to the fact that she lost her sight halfway through her life. She had to give up her career and relearn to do everything that most of us take for granted. Many would have given up after such a loss but not her. Instead she embarked on a glorious new life full of award winning volunteer work. Her days are full of teaching English to new immigrants, counseling hurting hearts, writing, serving her religious community, and helping others in every way she can.
The light of my friend’s example is a beacon that I try to follow as well. Whenever I feel too challenged in my own life I look at the challenges that she has overcome in hers. She may have lost her sight but she never lost her soul. She knows that the eyes that really see are the eyes of the heart, and she does her best everyday to follow the loving vision that they give to her. I am sure too that the eyes of the angels watching over her are always filled with tears of joy and that their faces are always full of shining smiles.
I hope then that when you go through your own life you are not distracted by the murky view that this world so often gives you. I hope that you see it for the illusion it is and instead look at life with the clear vision of your heart’s eyes. God wants us to see this world and our lives through the eyes of love. It is only then that our sight will be pure It is only then that our path will shine brightly before us. It is only then that we will see how we were meant to live and how we can best bring Heaven to Earth.

Joseph J. Mazzella

Joe Mazzella is a writer and mental Health worker who lives in the mountains of West Virginia with his 3 children, 6 dogs, and 4 cats.
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Post  Admin on Wed 14 Apr 2010, 9:45 pm

Welcome to the Nugget

Today's Devotional:
LESSONS FROM HANDICAPS, Part 1:

A Table of Honour

"Ziba answered the king, 'There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in both feet.'" (2 Samuel 9:3b NIV)
"So Mephibosheth ate at David's table like one of the king's sons." (2 Samuel 9:11b NIV)
As the mother of a child with a severe disability, I am always inspired by Scriptures that have a message regarding the handicapped. 2 Samuel 9:1-13 tells a story that reveals the tender heart and generous spirit of King David towards a disabled man who was the son of his friend Jonathan and the grandson of his bitter enemy, Saul.
This passage of Scripture particularly touched my heart as I observed that David and his servants paid no special attention to Mephibosheth's handicap when welcoming him as a member of the family. Mephibosheth must have been understandably uneasy when he was brought before the king without knowing what kind of treatment he was going to receive. Out of compassion and loyalty, though, David restored Mephibosheth's inheritance, giving him a permanent place of honour at the king's table. Mephibosheth was treated no differently than one of David's own royal sons!
In reading a poem entitled "Inside My Heart", written by a disabled person who suffers from cerebral palsy, I realized that many people must feel awkward and uncomfortable around the handicapped. It then occurred to me, reminiscing about the years of raising my son who has autism, that there was seldom a time in public when I didn't feel that he was being noticed because of his handicap. There have also been times when even church and family members were unable to see beyond my son's disability. In contemplating this, I realized that some of his struggles are really not very different from yours or mine. Spiritually speaking, we are all disabled and in need of God's healing power and grace.
Jesus commissions us, "When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed." (Luke 14:13-14a) Therefore, as Christians, let us be accepting of one another, recognizing the God-given value in each of us. Let us also take advantage of the opportunities God gives us to minister to others and to reach out to those in need, including those with disabilities. David, truly a man after God's own heart, provides a beautiful model for us of God's mercy and love. This is the heart of the gospel. This is our calling in Christ Jesus.
Prayer: Lord, help us to follow David's example in treating all people with respect, and in reaching out to those in need with compassion and love. Amen.

Lori Ciccanti
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