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Colleen Swindoll
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J.K. My spirit was silenced as I read your words. The depth of your anguish, such grievous sorrow; I am so sorry.. How I wish I could wrap my arms around you and in silence, provide comfort for you to cry, to weep, to wail, to cry out what is inside. Instead of writing to all you mentioned, I'm choosing to send you God's words as He's given them-to you. J.K., "He gathers the lambs [you] in his arms and carries them [you] close to his heart; The Lord is gracious and compassionate, He heals the [your] broken heart and binds up their[your]wounds...Lord, you are my shepherd, you restore my soul, even as I walk through this valley-the shadow of death-you are with me, you comfort me." Our Great God, your son was silent as He endured the cross, he pleaded with you for an escape, yet in your will, it was allowed for our salvation. J.K. is enduring her own crosses, the crucibles which have no words to express. Please show yourself to her, make a way for her, as she feels the many deaths of her wishes and abilities...oh God, provide her with the power of your resurrection; so that your glory will be revealed in here and through her because you have restored her soul. J.K.-will you please continue to write? Please continue to put your words here as I will continue to lift up your life to the shepherds care.
Toggle Commented Apr 7, 2010 on Journal at Special Needs
Deanna, your journal reflects many tear-stained pages of those writing in anguish. Oh my friend, you have a broken heart. You feel shattered and without hope. Often, a deeply penetrating sting is present because this wasn't the picture of the Christian life. How often we believe the Christian life is full of joy, filled with answered prayer, and removed from sweeping anguish. It is utterly disillusioning to lose all hope, to be left alone, to be without strength. But Deanna, one must pass through the sweltering, ashen kiln which burns away our self strength, self abilities to go on. Thus, the fire prepares our souls for God's sovereign reign-filling us with everlasting hope, unshakable strength, a bold and steadfast confidence. We are restored because God has filled us with Himself. The engulfing fiery flames burn away many of our illusions, false beliefs, self-driving motivations; pieces of our human, fallen nature which always damages the soul. It is horribly painful, Deanna, but it is the making of you. Your Savior is forming your soul, establishing in you a deep, steadfast faith; bold and confident, free to love and live because the Lord is you’re everything. I will believe for you, the crushing is indeed bringing you to an intimacy with Him you cannot know otherwise. Your whole perspective will be eternal. Yes, there will be grief, anguish, times of horrible sorrow; but it will be met with Christ in you. You will see with different eyes, open to an eternal perspective. Deanna, I carry some deeply sorrowful anguish, but Jesus Christ my Lord fills me, brings me to peace and hope through it. Reflect on Jeremiah's journal, Lamentations-specifically chapter 3. Writing excerpts from the Message, Jeremiah writes...God locked me up in the deep darkness, I cried out and pleaded for help, He locked my prayers up and threw them out, I gave up on life altogether, I have forgotten the good life, I'm finished, God is a lost cause." Then, as if he turned a page drenched with tears, he states with bold confidence, "I will never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the feeling of hitting the bottom, yet God proves to be good to the man who waits, to the woman who seeks, when life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself and enter the silence, bow in prayer, don't ask questions...wait for hope to appear...I called out to God from the bottom of the pit, He listened and came close, You Master, brought me back to life...His loyal love doesn't run out, your merciful love never dries up, great is your faithfulness." My Heavenly Father, my prayer for Deanna right now is she will believe in what she cannot see, will trust in you despite how absent and alone she feels. Help her, restore her soul, deepen her faith, and love her back to life.
Toggle Commented Apr 7, 2010 on Journal at Special Needs
Colleen!!! Oh my goodness ... Charis Hills. I am so delighted to hear from you. Please connect with me at work about Charis Hills and the work you all are doing there. It looks incredible fantastic! (972) 473-5016. Thanks for all your encouragement and supportive notes. Yes, Bubbles and I sat behind the wall this weekend. Walls seem to protect; but they cannot provide what we need. You are not alone, Colleen, Bubbles remains to be a fantastic, reflective picture of life for us all at times. Great to hear from you. Again, please feel free to connect with me-I think of all you are doing; delighted to know you all are constantly living the life Christ calls us to live (Mark 8:36-39). Faithfully, Colleen Swindoll
Toggle Commented Mar 30, 2010 on Bubbles at Special Needs
Kelly, I linked to your family web carefully at each and every one. I felt delight and despair; hope and hopelessness, empowerment and exhaustion…those polar emotions we often have when pain continues its relentless pounding. Oh Kelly, I don’t know why your path is hard; why it remains that way, or why it’s been allowed. Kelly, I’ve clung to scripture when it’s been an undeniably stressful time. 1) How would anyone define faith if they were given all the answers? We walk by faith, not by sight. 2) You are not under judgment but under the grace and mercy of God. Fall into His arms-doubts, troubles, fears, anything…he promises to be near you in the midst of it all. Scripture doesn’t ever speak of God’s giving us answers, but it does tell us we are not in it all alone. God our Heavenly Father, Jesus our Savior will Never, ever, ever leave you, forsake you, give up on you, judge you for your doubts, reject you for your bitterness, turn His back on you when you turn your back on him…and on it goes. He promises to love you with condition-yes, He desires we get rid of anger, malice, resentment, and hatred; but desires that for our own good, not because your heart is stuck and He’s giving up. NEVER, NEVER does Christ give up on you. 3) Finally, caring for yourself is the biggest nutrient to caring for your children. It is a most difficult task but one that should be taken seriously. That may be in the form of counseling, medications, respite care, grieving, getting a message, and so on. Without small doses of relief, the anger, resentments, and hardships will pull you under. Keep connecting here so as to invite others to assist you on the road each and every day. Loving you today and always, Colleen
Nancy, I had another thought about your comment. I don't believe you will ever 'stop' advocating for your son. It may be defined as prayer, diets, your own examination of faith, doubts about it all, more testing, more searching, more of anything you pursue because you desperately love your son. Now, there is a very separate concern you mention as well. When we 'accept God's will', there is a constant dying to our self will. It's a choice we must grapple with every moment of every day. Doubt is one of the grandest steps because it reveals you are thinking about truth, you are becoming aware of what Christ did for you, and the layers surrounding your heart are being stripped away. It's a deep anguish; yet it's the door to freedom and intimacy with your heavenly father. Oh Nancy, you are on the right path-confusion and doubts are part of the steps towards intimacy; Christ is right there with you in this. "Giving up" is not something you need to worry about. When you reach the end, perhaps it's not giving up but a death to your strength; thus it is the birthing of God's overwhelming power and work in you. I learned giving up meant I was really 'giving up' Colleen's pursuits and trying to fix things; perhaps you are having to 'give up' your wishes and dreams...never does this mean you are 'giving up' on your faith, your feelings, or your inner fortitude. Stay the course, Nancy. I admire you, in his grace, Colleen
Margie, I loved hearing from you! To begin, I want to celebrate you! I want to focus on what you are doing. You mentioned being “forced” to endure, don’t cut yourself short…you have tons of options. You could ditch your marriage, dump your family, discard your child to someone or something else; alcohol and drugs do it for many, shopping’s real zinger, and public praise sooths many a broken heart. Let’s not forget the duplicitous deception; pasting a colossal smile across the face of a heart overflowing with anger, bitterness, resentment, sarcasm, intolerance…oh so much more. Margie, you are facing reality-I’m absolutely proud from you! For you who are reading along-please pass along some cheer for Margie!!!!! Come on gang, celebrate Margie’s continued perseverance. Next, life is not black and white. It’s tough to live in the gray; thus insecurity and fear tend to shove one into extreme thinking. You are not doing that either. Margie, YOU ARE stepping through the jagged terrain. You are to be honored!!! Your theological knowledge is also evident. Words like responsibility, grace, hardship, fire reveal your mind has gained much truth. However, between the lines, I’m hearing sadness; a yearning to believe what your mind has learned over the years. Of course, Biblical truth is essential…yet there is an overwhelming suffocation when our hearts are being crushed. Trying to keep things together during those crushing seasons is maddening. Margie, its okay to fall apart. It’s okay to shred the smile and authentically reveal your grief. It doesn’t help that much of modern Christian teaching publicizes “Great things ahead for YOU from God if and when…. I’m sickened to hear the “ears tickled”; that God will always relieve our pain and applaud one’s faithfulness. Scripture doesn’t speak of that AT ALL…it reveals over and over and over that the faithful may endure hardships unimaginable. But such is the condition of our world; as Paul said, should I stay here, I will; yet to be with Christ in heaven….the longing is unquenchable. Margie, consider these thoughts: 1) your circumstances may never change; and God remains good and faithful regardless. The fighting of this is rooted in your will at war with God’s plan. To be rested in peace, surrendering your will must happen. 2) When your finally allow your will to die, the eyes of your heart will open and a new perspective will sweep across the landscape of your life. Margie, letting go is an act of faith; choosing to believe in God’s mysterious ways by letting go of your own. Keep us all connected to you! Honoring your this very moment, Colleen
Oh my dear Nancy, how much I have felt what you express here. It's like trying to find a cotton ball in a snow storm...where oh where do we land? I really want to know more...asd=autism spectrum disorder or something else? Are you married, other children, any help...all those things connect to right where you are. Please, I hope you continue our conversation as there is so much to tell you about, so many of ther struggles ae similar...please send me a note back. You are loved and cherished by our Lord, even when it feels like he's gone. Colleen
Margie, I was just finishing my comments to you and my computer flipped out-all was lost. I will send you my response tomorrow. I've done a great deal of thinking about your words and am anxious to respond. Bless you. Colleen
Why thank you Paul. I suspect you have your hands; the care you give in and out of your home must be abundant! I loved your word "treasured"...such are the moments that fill our parents with profound delight. Extensive resources are available via Joni and Friends. Web site is www.joniandfriends.org. (specifically directed for support for the disabled worldwide. Also, if you are interested in more resources or have questions, please connect with me on this blog or by phone at 972-473-5000 (IFL's office). Hope this helps and thanks a bunch for sharing your treasured moment with all of us.! Colleen
Toggle Commented Feb 18, 2010 on Teenagers Can Be Terrific Teachers at Special Needs
Carrie, How are you doing? Today, Jon and I talked about our 'highs'...the best parts of today. It's been a rough go of things so we thanked the Lord for good, nourishing food, warm beds, loving siblings and extended family members, and how God continues to be faithful even when we cannot see it from our human eyes. Sometimes, we have to look deeply into the dark sky-then all of the sudden, one single, quiet star illuminates. I call that "finding hope". Comfort to you tonight and in the days ahead. Colleen
Toggle Commented Jan 10, 2010 on Here’s a Gift for You at Special Needs
Lisa, In the ebb and flow of our emotions...wouldn't it be great to wave depression good-by like bad memories. Yet, I have found in the darkest of times, Jesus becomes all the nearer...maybe not right away, but in time...your strength becomes a beacon of hope to others in there struggle. May the Lord bring His presence and peace to you tonight. Colleen
Toggle Commented Jan 10, 2010 on Depression: Part of the Journey at Special Needs
Oh Margie, Such great news. Whatever the future holds, it's so comforting to be reminded of the Lord's goodness and faithfulness. Please let me know what happens in the weeks ahead. Colleen
Toggle Commented Dec 6, 2009 on When Hope Returns at Special Needs
Liz, You must have a ton of funny stories. Hope your holidays are full of laughter!
THANKS! One more, I've learned to make quilts out of the dust fleece on my unvacuumed floors. Have a delightful Thanksgiving. Colleen
Penny, I found a great sense of humor helps everyday with kids! I would love to hear your stories, too. Have a blessed Thanksgiving. Colleen
Margie, wondering how you are doing tonight. I wanted to encourage you by recalling Ps. 23-when we read the word "downcast", its literal meaning is one of the sheep being totally incapable of recovery unless the sheep is rescued by the good shepherds. Even a few hours in hot weather, the sheep dies without the attention and gentle recovery provided by the shepherd. Sometimes on tough days, it is helpful to remember the shepherd is indeed with you, watching over you, and bringing a life source to you that would not come any other way. Have a blessed weekend, Margie. Thanks again for opening up with such great honesty.
Toggle Commented Nov 21, 2009 on When Hope Returns at Special Needs
Elizabeth-I cannot imagine what you have endured! So much seems unfair, where is there justice? While I have not experienced your circumstances, one of the hardest lessons in life is coming to terms what is fair and not fair. In God's word, I am reminded of the unfairness in life by reading about the Egyptian captivity-400 years of horrible unfairness-most died never experiencing God's promised freedom-but that did not mean God was unjust. He does not operate on our human time; faith is believing and trusting in His work, whether we see it on earth or not. I battle with this one often. Bitterness and envy take root when we are searching for justice. This is such a hard thing; please know I am with you in this. Yet, living by the truth of God's word, choosing to be steadfast in faith, you will see our Lord's life on earth...nothing fair, nothing just...is what we are given to live in peace eternally. Every day I repeat so many times this phrase, "Lord, renew my mind...renew my mind, show me your ways so I may rest." Please, let me know how you are doing. You are deeply loved.
Toggle Commented Nov 19, 2009 on The Source of Hope and Strength at Special Needs
Liz, You are not alone! I am here to listen. I desire to bring encouragement and mercy in the words that follow. When Jon was diagnosed with disabilities, I was determined to learn and try what seemed best for Jon. He made great advancements until…until unexpectedly, he regressed far beyond where we had started. No one knew why and there was nothing in me to continue. But, this transformed much of what I believe today. The truth is, God never expects me to have some strength so He can add His. He promises to fill us with His strength when ours is gone. That is the path of life. God give us Himself, not because we strive harder, or in addition to…our lives on earth are broken. The Lord longs for us to let go, to grieve, to share our sorrows with Him. In doing so, we get out of the way and God steps in-completely. Liz, the passage right now must happen for you to find the rest…you are being emptied out so He may fill you entirely with His power and presence. I am so, so sorry for the pain you are in. And I KNOW, God is ready to lift you up higher and mightier than you can imagine this moment.
Toggle Commented Nov 19, 2009 on God Chooses Those He Uses at Special Needs
Dearest Salam, your words drip with authentic surrender. After Jon was diagnosed with disorders, I blamed the diagnoses for my unhappiness. I felt, "if I did not have such burdens, I would have the strength to live victoriously (whatever that means). I battled with God, felt He was mean or unconcerned; when in fact the transformation of my character was occurring through the challenges I faced. Only then, did I recognize that our earthly lives are full of toil, unmanageable, without hope. Just as I cannot alter Jon's earthly diagnoses, my sinful condition is a terminal diagnosis as well. Once I viewed my son's diagnosis as debilitating as all human lives, the dependence, and weakness became the pathway to strength. Salam, you and I have a visual reminder each day of God's grace, His empowered strength as we depend on Him for life; just as our kids depend on us for life. It is an amazing gift. You are remaining true to the course, persevering in all things, accepting the cross, and walking into the arms of our faithful Lord. Blessing to you today. I appreciate your kindness in saying the ministry has meant a great deal to you. Remaining faithful in all things, Colleen
Toggle Commented Nov 17, 2009 on Severe Mercy, Sovereign Hope at Special Needs
Hi Carrie, Yep, many challenges are encountered in raising special kids. I really struggled with this one thinking "if you only knew what my life is like..." (a quiet pity party). As time passed, the Lord brought to my attention that I had no clue of any person's personal challenges on earth. No one! I did not live in their homes; know their history, emotions, scares, gifts...Nothing. Then, Christ opened the eyes of my heart to the truth of His own experiences on this earth. Though He was aware of all things, I never read His thoughts were... "well, if you only knew about my life...” Truly, if we lived only one day of his life, I bet ours would be preferred. So Carrie, here are our choices...to choose our response and be imprisoned to our bitter resentments; or, to seek Christ's model which always leads to freedom. I repeat to myself every day (and often many times a day): "Lord, may you forgive others as you have forgiven me with grace and truth". The higher road is one of ultimate freedom and delight. Go for it!!
Margie, The words of God to us...how amazing. Like you said, familiar verses but touch our soul's in different ways. I'm delighted to hear God's words are ministering to you. I encourage you to stay in the word, taking in each promise and truth. Tape them up in places you are...car dashboard, bathroom mirror, kitchen, and so on. Psalm 119 reminds us "How can a young man keep his a pure? By living according to his word". Ps 1 reminds us to meditate on His word day and night, and we will be like a tree, healthy, strong, and prosperous. When you find a few verses speaking, stay there. Look for the promises, the truths, the warnings, the verbs, and nouns, so on; these words lead us to cultivate a heart of thankfulness, even in the midst of tough times. Please stay connected, I would like to hear how you're doing. Much grace, Colleen
Toggle Commented Nov 10, 2009 on When Hope Returns at Special Needs
Margie, continue to stay in touch here. I dumped a lot of stuff on you...take it only in small pieces. Maybe one verse per day or week. You can't scale the side of a mountain in a single leap. Its one day at a time. In fact, the words of Ps. 40 are coming to mind right now..."Be still, and know that I am God". He is God, He is active in your life today, He calls you to be still and trust in His plan even though you cannot see any light today. He's doing a great work. "Lord, your daughter Margie is grieving tonight. She has no ability to pursue you; will you pursue her tonight in the darkness she's enduring. Oh God, you are the almighty, sovereign God; even though we may look in every way for you and cannot see you, you know the path she is on is a part of the refinement of her soul. Reveal your power and comfort to my friend Margie, this very day. Thank you God for the grace and peace I trust you to provide. Amen"
Toggle Commented Nov 5, 2009 on When Hope Returns at Special Needs
Jerod, I love your thought! I've learned through Jon's life that the conditions he is confined to in this life allow me to see the sinful condition I am confined to in this life. As the numbers grow, I believe the reminder of our human condition is revealed all the more. Thanks so much, Jarod, for your comments...please continue to check in...we all need to have our perspectives challenged.
Lisa, how are you doing?
Deanna, you are so great! Who gives a rip what anyone thinks...in fact, have you considered those who observe you may be impacted positively? After all, you may be the only neighbor empowered in ways they are longing for? One of my short escapes is pulling weeds in my lawn. As I pull out what damages my yard, I'm able to thank my Lord for the things He's yanked out of my life; knowing it would lead to such damage, it had to be pulled out. When I cannot see the big picture, I'm able to trust God's ways, despite what I can see or not see. Thanks so much for your words Deanna. Keep up the walking and praying!!!
Toggle Commented Nov 5, 2009 on A Weekly Gift for You at Special Needs