I have been posting a few thoughts on social media and emailing our therapist each week with a few reflections about the weeks journey. The response on social media has moved my heart in so many ways. I know there are so many families out there struggling with similar issues at varying degrees. Over the past 3 years I have had a hard time finding resources that seemed to apply to our situation. Since Alex has no other developmental or neurological diagnosis at times I felt like maybe we were alone in this. I have since discovered this is not the case. When our therapist suggested I blog about our journey as a resource for other parents and as a place for me to document our journey, I was not sure. I love writing and I have a blog already, but I am never consistent in posting. The Lord reminded me how much I enjoy reading my past blogs about different topics even if there are huge gaps in my posting timeline. So I have decided to post about our journey overcoming extreme picky eating here. No promises as to the frequency but it is my hope post 2 times a month.
I catch myself muttering under my breath, "yeah I have no something that will help if he'll drink it." Old ways of thinking die hard.Read More
I have spent lots of time in prayer over this, asking the Lord to show me where I need to step up my game and where I may need to release some of the things I am clinging to for control in every area of my life. We are settling into most of the changes now so I am hopeful that this week will be a bit more consistent on the homework front.
Reflections from our first week on our food therapy journey
I am amazed that 1 appointment with our therapist and a book- (let's face it I've read 100's of articles/books) have changed our world in so many wonderful ways. We no longer feel alone. We see our precious boy is willing to try things! He is just as exhausted from this as we are. We are so glad the Lord put us on this journey with the support system we have now found.Read More
As believers and followers of Christ we are commanded to love one another. (John 13:4) Yet we are also told to guard our hearts. (Proverbs 4:23) So we guard our hearts from that which would cause us to stumble and we love one another where we are at in the journey.
Our physical bodies are no different. The Lord designed our bodies to heal, protect, experience and process information about the world around us. In our modern day culture we spend a lot of time slumped over a desk or computer. This causes our shoulders to round. This is the posture that so many of us assume when we want to not be noticed or are in self-protection mode. The Lord gave our heart some natural protection in our physical bodies. The sternum and ribs create a protective cage around our vital organs. Our scapula/shoulder blades protect the backside of the heart.
Sit up tall and roll your shoulders up and back away from the ears. Feel that? The chest opens wide creating space for what is to come. Breathe- take a deep inhale and fill your lungs with life giving oxygen then exhale slowly all that the body does not need. Check your shoulders, maybe roll them again and breathe into the space that is created. Focused breathing is scientifically proven to halt the chemical fight or flight response in the body. When practiced regularly the benefits are greater and last longer.
As you take time to create space in your body for breath and meditate on the word of God notice the peace that washes over you and thank Jesus that he made that peace accessible to each of us.
Blessings & Grace
Charlotte Gambill brought it tonight! The entire message was one big word for me! Here is what I know, I went tonight my body fatigued by a week-long migraine, questions on my heart and in need of clear direction from the Lord. In worship I prayed the Lord would cut thru the confusion and fear and give me the confidence to step out in faith where He is calling me. I couldn't decipher if I was fearful of my schedule for the fall and grasping for control or if the Lord was asking me to step it up and get back in the game. I just wanted to be in His perfect plan for me, to stay in step with Him. I heard Charlotte repeatedly command confusion gone and clarity in. If you haven't heard the message, go and watch it right now at the following link as I couldn't begin to share the entire message, this is just my experience as she was speaking if you read further without listening first... Spoiler Alert!.
Her message was out of 2 Kings 4:8-37; 8:1-6 she spoke of 3 places we tend to find ourselves in our walk with the Lord. Doorways, Hallways and Gateways. She spoke of life circumstances and disappointments that occur that we sometimes respond to by placing a God given dream and promise in a box and storing it in the attic of our hearts. That it is possible we hide that dream or promise away long before God was finished with it. What if God is asking me to go retrieve that thing both He and I know about but I'm not wanting to talk about and place it back into His hands to do with it what He planned from the start? Powerfully she stated, "The biggest breakthrough in our lives happen when we make space for the voice of God, the source of our answer.
In 2 Kings 4:11 Elisha is asking the woman what she would like for herself from God and she replies she is fine with what she has. While contentment is a great place she was not "fine" out of contentment. She was "fine" without having to hope at the risk of disappointment. While this exchange was taking place she was standing in a both literal and figurative doorway. The story goes on to explain she had no children and she had given up that dream. When Elisha prophetically declared that in a years’ time she would have a child her response sums it up. She cries out for him to not get her hopes up, not to toy with her emotions! As Charlotte put it tonight, the Lord isn't trying to get our hopes up! He is trying to get our hopes DOWN into His word and promises. God was saying to my heart, "You must have the courage to bring that box you have packed away back out and hand it to me.
In freedom ministry we often do an exercise where we take our junk/guilt/shame/unforgiveness/disappointment/etc. box it up and hand it to Jesus in exchange for whatever it is He would like to replace that emptiness with. It is always one of my favorite moments on either side of the ministry partnership. As a facilitator it is amazing to see the release, peace, love, hope and pure joy that washes over the recipient. As the one receiving ministry I can't think a single countless of the moments where I have exchanged something without smiling. The funny thing, it is rarely the receiving of the good things in return that I recall. It is vividly the moment I stretch out my hands to give my unworthy dirty worthless box and it vanishes from my hands. THAT is the moment I feel my countenance change. That is the moment I see the contents of the box for what it really is and I don't notice till it's gone, just how heavy it was. Charlotte says, "Go get that box and give it to God in the Doorway of His possibilities for your future." And just like that I am wreaked, reduced to a puddle of tears because I have a box stored in the deepest darkest places of my hearts attic and I know at this moment it isn't allowed to stay there any longer.
Doorways Lead to Hallways. Hallways are short, long or Looooooooonngger! Hallways are always challenging. They can be busy, slow, tranquil or hectic. Hallways are not where you were and certainly not the destination you are headed. They are full of distraction and it is impossible to avoid the hallway. In 2 Kings 4 the woman does have a son just as God had promised. One day her son is working in the field with his dad and complains of a headache. He is taken to his mother where he dies in her arms. She has now found herself in the hallway. Of course the chatter in the hallway is loud, people asking her if everything was o.k. She simply remains calm and tells everyone she encounters, everything is fine. EVERYTHING WAS NOT FINE! But she had a plan and nothing was going to distract her from her plan. She lays her son's body on the bed Elisha slept in shut the door and set off to find the man of God. Charlotte says in school there were a few rules of the hallway. First is that no baggage was allowed in the hall. Everything had to be put away in their lockers so that the hallway was safe and easier to navigate when congested with all the people trying to get from one place to the next. The woman in this story didn't carry her past disappointments with her in this moment. She simply laid the problem back at the place where the promise was made. She took it back to the place she heard God speak the promise. God seals his promises to us with his Word. Every prophetic word spoken over my life that resonated with my spirit was confirmed in the Word of God.
The 2nd rule of the hallway Charlotte recalls was, "There was no talking in the hallway because it was understood you had someplace to be, in class!" She reminded us that when we are in a season of transition or walking through a hallway we must be careful who we allow to speak into those seasons. There are always people who want to linger and have conversations in the hallway. Yet conversations had in hallways somehow find a way of showing up in the future. See the same people who enjoy chatting it up about every dirty sticky messy place of this hallway, also enjoy talking with others in their hallways. Rarely are these conversations fruitful and lengthen our time spent in the hall. She says and the Holy Spirit presses this truth deep in to my being, “No more conversations until you go to God!" I lose all composure once again. I had known going into church tonight that God was the only one who could give me the direction I needed and yet in my human nature I was still making a list of possible wise counsel. I am all for wise counsel and so is Charlotte but in wise counsel happens in an intimate setting not in the hallway chatter.
2 Kings 4:24 says that she didn't want them to slow down on her account on the way to find Elisha. She kept moving at all costs even as others asked her what the hurry was and if everything was ok. She simply said all is well and kept moving. In the words of Charlotte, No redecorating and hanging out in the hallway. It is a place to pass through not live in. It is at this point in the story the Lord requires the woman to find the words to what she wanted from God that she could not the day Elisha asked her what God could do for her. God was asking her to speak her deepest desires and she does. She gives Elisha and in turn the Lord a good "I told you not to get my hopes up! It would've been better to never hoped for been given and then... TAKEN from me!" conversation. The point being, God isn't afraid of what we feel He just wants us to get real with him. I have a blog post titled Getting Real with God. So her phrase rang deep in my spirit. A simple and loving confirmation if I needed one that the Lord was speaking directly to me.
She ends with Hallways lead to Gateways. God doesn't waste anything. Seeds planted in sorrow become fruit of tomorrow. Though the woman’s son does get healed the story doesn't end with that. God had a bigger picture in mind. In 2 Kings 8:5 she shows up again right as her story is being told to the king in response to him inquiring about the great things Elisha had done. See the Lord had Elisha tell the woman and her family to leave their land and live in a foreign country for 7 years because he was bringing famine on the Land. When the 7 years was up, the woman went to the King seeking her land which she had no rights to, back. The king after hearing her story ends up restoring the land and he takes it a step further by saying she would also get the profits from the farm for all the time she was gone. He redeemed it all plus some because that is what our God does and that is who our God IS!
The closing remark was Hallways lead to Gateways. At the Gateways God make the enemy pay for what he did in the hallway. On the journey we travel with Christ in this life we will stand in many doorways, walk through many hallways and by the grace of God meet him at the ultimate Gateway! Tonight as I sit and marvel at the deep mystery that is my Heavenly Father I am filled with anticipation of this next season. I have taken at least 1 box in the attic of my heart that was filled till it was almost bursting at the seams, It had been taped up tight and I had tossed it around to the furthest place I possible could. When I found myself picturing this box it I noticed it was covered with words of encouragement from a season of abundance in my life. I saw handwriting of those I hold dear and some of my own. I noticed hearts, smiley faces and flowers doodled in childlike innocence, a sign of happier almost care free times. I saw handle with care stamped on the box in red. Interestingly I noticed a rather hastily written black x over that stamp with the words fragile, broken, hopeless, crossed out. I was aware that this box I was holding represented good things the Lord had promised to me and I was overwhelmed with the sense of sadness I felt as I held the beaten kicked around box that looked like Ace Ventura had been the delivery guy. I could only weep. I had come to a place where I trusted God with the new promises of the future. But I had not dealt with the disappointment of the past. Let alone those promises He was asking me to allow Him to resurrect. But when God asks you, "What is it that I can do for you?" You shouldn't take it lightly and no thanks I'm just fine here in this cold sterile lonely hall Lord, No really I'm making do here, repainting, redecorating, and working out fine me and this hall space." No you dig deep and ask for Him to supply the courage you need to rip open that box, and take each promise and dream one by one and walk down memory lane. Remember with Him all the good times and hopeful moments, all the victory dances on the mountain tops and the laughter and love. Then take the plunge into the depths where disappointments and death await. Let him show you the precious tears He has collected as they rolled down your face. Then place them all carefully back in the box. This time no tape will be required. Extend your arms box in hand and tell Him with your words what it is you are wanting from Him. "Lord THIS all of THIS for what? Yet here we are, WHY? What I want Lord? What I thought it was. What I had." Then when I've run out of breath, tears, anger, fear, when I've come to the bottom of sadness and I feel this is it. That maybe that was just a sweet moment in time that I was blessed to even behold. He takes the box from my hands, and relief washes over me as the burden lifts and I realize just how heavy that box was. I mutter the phrase I've used so often in freedom sessions, "Lord, is there anything you would like to give me in return?" Flashes of all the wonders He has planted in my heart over the years flash before me, the memories of the very real places I was when each promise was planted like a superfast time-lapse video. I hear somewhere in the part of my brain Charlotte saying, “Take the promise back to the place where you heard the Lord speak it. The place where you heard the Lord clearly." Then deep in my spirit I hear the Lord whisper I have already told you what I want to share with you. I am asking you what it is you want." We both know he is talking about a vision he gave me while I was in Guatemala. He and I on an adventure and He had shown me a vision there at the base of that fiery mountain. He had ask me then if I would take His hand and go where ever He would lead. I had said yes. Now I asked Him if He still wanted to partner with me. His simple answer was yes. Then He reminded me the places where He first awakened and watered the seeds that hold the fruit of tomorrow. In community with other women on this journey of discovering the freedom and unique plans and purposes he has for us all as his daughters. Oh how I don't know if I can go back to that place. He reminds me it will not be the same. He is going to walk with me and we are going to the gateway. When we get there, the enemy will pay dearly. I need not worry about that now. I need only focus my eyes on Jesus and trust that my God, the Great I Am is the ultimate redeemer and I just gave him free reign in my journey to resurrect, redeem, and even burry that which He so knows needs done. So look out friends, I don't know what this road is going to look like, and I still have so much healing and growing to do. He is faithful to finish the good work which He began. In Him, held by His mercy and grace may I find the courage to step in unison with Him.
Mountain High, Valley Low
“Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill brought low;
the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough ways smooth” Luke 3:5 NKJ
For those who have walked out 2013 with us there is no mistaking that this has been a challenging year. We have seen our share of joyful moments, blessings beyond measure, victory and above all GRACE. I set out to put our “perfect family photo” which was far from perfect itself, on our Christmas card this year. As I was uploading images from our “hand a camera to the nearest family member at Thanksgiving” photo session, all I saw were imperfect images. Don’t get me wrong. There is never a perfect family photo unless you enlist the help of every professional photographer’s best friend Photoshop! But even these were beyond my skill set. Or were they? I have edited countless photos for clients, family, friends and myself. I am not a Photoshop expert but I have some tricks up my sleeves. No, this was more than a set of skills. These images though not intended to do so, captured our family as we had been all year.
There was photo number one. My two sweet boys leaning into one another in a fleeing moment of connection, shared experience in this case it was cold air and mom saying “one more, this is the last picture, last one, promise!” It’s never the last one and as children of a photographer they are well aware of this. So they lean in and endure.
Photo number two. My boys, all of them, ready to battle at a moment’s notice. So we have. Battled that is, at a moment’s notice. We fought with one another, for one another, for others, against the enemy of our souls and yes, if we are honest even with God himself.
Photo number three. Real tears. In this photo Alex is shedding a very real tear that was the fruit of his mother’s frustration with the imperfection of the moment. A very real tear that I was completely unaware of at the very moment this image was captured. My heart ached when I first zoomed in to discover it. I wanted to delete it off the hard drive and pretend it didn’t happen. But it did. In real life pain comes and real tears fall. So many times everyone else in the wide shot of the photo is smiling away without noticing a silent single tear rolling down a precious little cheek. The Lord whispered to my heart the moment I reached for the delete button, “I have seen every tear you have cried. They never fall unnoticed to me. Never.” With that simple kiss from heaven I decided not only not to delete it, but to cherish it! This is real life.
Photo number four. A reminder that some of the most pain filled moments are followed by pure joy. It is that way when we are birthed into this world. It is that way when we leave this world. Sometimes it happens faster than we could hope for and sometimes it seems as if it will never come. But the Joy of the Lord IS OUR STRENGTH! Our God is faithful and yes joy does come.
Photo number five. Oh how he has grown. Drew is growing up so fast. This photo is a blessed reminder that even when we want the world to stop! Or at the very least slow down, it does not answer to us.
Time and all that is, was and ever will be is held only in the hands of the one who created it. SOAK UP THIS MOMENT. Soak up that 7 year old grin I will only see from him this year except of course when I look back at these freeze framed moments in time. Soak…. It….. Up…..
Photo number six. A moment of praise and surrender, Michael asked Drew to hold his hands up to the sky as if praising the Lord, Drew didn’t pretend to praise the Lord, He did! In a childlike heart there is room to pretend about adventures and play, but not about praise. Drew threw back his head and lifted his arms as high as he could! We’ve all had moments of praise and surrender like this in the past year. It is what keeps us going. It is what wakes us up and propels us forward. PRAISE and SURRENDER there is no way to do one without the other.
Photo number seven. Seven is used in the bible to represent perfection. No this is not the perfect photo. I will spare you why I think it isn’t. What IS perfect about it is that we are still standing; hand in hand, walking out this life together. Without the Holy Spirit’s comfort, God the Father’s plan and Jesus being so willing to die for us, for me the “photographer mom who spanks her kid while trying to get him to smile for our PERFECT FAMILY PHOTO CARD!” Without the Great I AM, friends, we this family of four, Michael, Jamie, Drew & Alex Cuffia would not be standing hand in hand. We have our moments. We are all people who were born into this fallen world of sin. BUT GOD. He created, he came, he cleansed, and carried us every step of the way.
The numberless photo… You know the one I would’ve put on the card because it was the best of the worst. This is not what we looked like most days this year. But this was the BEST we looked all year! While I will dress us up in coordinating outfits and pay a photographer to capture THE image for generations to come, the airbrushed family photo is not our legacy. We pray every day that our legacy would be that of Christ’s, that we would be known by our love, that we would love our God and one another and that is our prayer for you also. We thank every single one of you who lifted prayers on our behalf. Who watched our boys at a moment’s notice, brought Starbucks, and left notes, cards, voicemails, emails, and text messages that so often went without our response. Those who dried tears, gave money for the Guatemala trip and blessed us in countless other ways. We will never be able to tell you how much each and every one of you impacted our little world this year. Above all we are thankful for the GRACE you gave us as we were sailing uncharted waters. While we may not have known where the storm was taking us, we know the one who calms the storm with a still small voice and these simple words, “Peace, be still.” We hope this holiday season is full of Peace from the Prince of Peace who’s birth we celebrate and time to be still with your loved ones and The Lord.
The Cuffia Family
Michael, Jamie, Drew & Alex
First things first... I need to ask your forgiveness for how LONG this one is. My goal is 20min. or LESS! Part of the problem is I recorded this in it's entirety instead of segments. I don't have a good way to edit my audio right now soooooo, you guys get all the long pauses and a few things I might have otherwise cut :) Note to self: Next time record in segments! O.k. Glad we got that out of the way. I am also thankful I can't hear the peanut gallery of family and friends who know just how long I can talk... My boys have said, "Mom your using too many words, Mom you being a chatter box!" LOL! I know! I am new at this speaking with purpose and time constraints. :) So glad GRACE covers it all!
Will you take a moment to worship our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ with me?
If you want to by pass my "hearing God" chat... Start the video around 6 minutes in. :)
This list is meant to be a starting point for those who may not know where to start or who are wanting to know more about subject or materials I may have mentioned. These are some of what I have personally found helpful on my journey. I am not paid by anyone to list these ministries, they have just truly changed my life. There are tons of awesome resources out there so if these aren't helpful for you, don't give up. I believe if we read God's word and sit still and ask God, "What do you want to say to me about...." He is faithful to answer and we will hear him. It really is that simple.
Gateway is my home church. I can't say enough about how some of these classes and pastors have changed my relationship with the Lord and in turn my life. This is a link to the free online audio/videos of the Freedom Ministry classes Gateway offers. Pastor Bob Hamp (who also has a very thought provoking blog and a book that really did make me "Think Differently") does the first 5 foundational classes and I say it is worth the time to watch/listen to all 5 in order. BUT one of the 5 is titled, "Hearing God"
He has a great blog with an awesome series on hearing God. He also wrote a book, "Unveiled" so if your looking for more information on this topic he is a great resource!
Books I mentioned:
and you can pick it up at most Christian book stores.