Tuesday, March 31, 2015

We've Got It All Backwards ...

In the last few months I've heard things like, "I could never do what you do.", "What makes him want to spend time with them?" and, "Why is she sacrificing that?".  All in reference to spending time with people with special needs and caring for those with disabilities.  Most were said with good intentions.  But when we elevate one person we lesson the other.  These statements lessen the lives of those with disabilities.

I'm going to let you in on a little known fact ...  WE'VE GOT IT ALL BACKWARDS!

They are the ones blessing us!  If you want to see the glory of God (John 9:3), spend time with someone who has a disability.  If you want to see joy in it's purest form, spend time with people who have special needs.  If you want to feel unconditional love, get out of a me-centered world and start caring for someone who depends on others to live.  There is where the true blessing awaits.

The people who are spending time with my son and others during school and their spring breaks, offering friendship because they want to, they make my heart burst with thankfulness for their love and kindness.  But you know what?  These people aren't kind to people with special needs because of their disabilities.  They are kind to everyone.  Those I know closely are just allowing Christ to work in their lives.  And if you are a parent and this was your child with needs, yes, you could do this.  Won't and can't are two different things.

Here's my second little known fact ... People with special needs are PEOPLE and they know what is being said about them.

Think about how it feels to hear someone say, "why would she sacrifice", "what makes him want to do that", "I couldn't do that"?  I'm here to tell you it hurts.  It hurts BIG TIME.  It's the kind of hurt that keeps a momma awake at night thinking about it.  What about the things I haven't heard? I have a son who can't tell me what hurtful things people have said to him.  I rely on kind people that surround my son and stand up for his rights.  The same rights you and I have. 

We've got it all backwards.  It isn't about what we are doing for those with special needs.  It's all about what they are doing for us.  Go spend time with someone with special needs.  Get to know the person behind what you initially see.  It takes time.  Sometimes there is pain and sleepless nights.  But isn't that true of any relationship?  Yes, you will be helping them.  But I guarantee you will be the one that comes away changed.

Bible Verse I'm Loving Today:

Song I'm Loving Today:
NeedToBreathe "Brother"

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Yes, I Remember ...

"Hey, Mom, remember that time you fell & grabbed that guy's butt to break your fall?!" my son said to me.  Ummm, yes.  Every second of every day.  It didn't help that the guy was wearing American flag pajama pants.  I practically see those pants in my sleep.  I've said it before, I have trouble letting go of some thoughts.  Also, I fall a lot.  So add my lack of grace to my over-thinking of things ... yes, I remember.

Evan thinks about things a lot.  He loves certain things like his bags, Apples to Apples cards and now plastic cups.  He thinks about them all of the time.  Even in the middle of the night he will call out asking where is his baseball bag.  Or lately I can hear him knocking cups together like he's just checking that they are still there.  After a knock or two he's okay and he goes back to sleep.  He doesn't leave the house without a favorite bag full of his favorite cards and favorite cups.  Leaving the house is one of the most difficult, lengthy processes.  Getting him to focus on just one bag and not every single one of his cards and cups can be overwhelming.  If you wonder why we are always late, this is usually it.  It has become a habit for us to get 'the bag' before we leave.  Evan doesn't often let us forget it but we have learned the hard way to think one step ahead.  Bring the bag now or go back and get the bag later.

I get after Evan sometimes about his obsessions.  I want him to stop obsessing so much and just once be able to forget about the bag, the cards, the cups.  What will he start thinking about next?  What will be the next obsession?  It can be so overwhelming to have to add these things to the day to day routine.  Life would be so much easier if I didn't have to remember to bring the bag full of stuff and could just leave it behind.  It's heavy.  Really heavy.  Sometimes everything spills out.  Sometimes it happens in private and sometimes it's in public.  Sometimes people look at us like we are crazy for carrying these cumbersome and useless things around. But try explaining that to Evan.

So I started thinking about Evan's obsessions and realized they aren't so different from my obsessions.  My obsessions are just more socially acceptable.  I am better at hiding my obsessions.  But like Evan I keep adding to my obsessions.  There is always the next thing I'm thinking about, worrying about.  It's heavy.  Sometimes my worries and obsessions spill out.  Sometimes in private.  Sometimes in public.  Sometimes others look at me like I'm crazy for carrying these worries on my heart.  But try explaining that to me when I'm in the middle of it all.  Life would be so much easier if I left my bag full of worries behind.

Jesus tells us in Luke 12 not to worry.  He's got this.  We don't need to worry about our life, food, body, or clothes.  He's got it all covered.  I can stop the worry and remembering already!  Now when Evan needs his bag of goodies I'm trying to remember I am not much different.  I'm carrying my own heavy bag along too.  We both have something we should be leaving in God's hands.  

Bible Verse I'm Loving Today:
Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Happy Birthdays ...

We say with so many things, "I wish I knew then what I know now".  But this ... the love, the joy, the change in our lives that our Evan has brought us through disability ... I wish I would have known that on the days after his birth like I know it now.

Birthdays often bring reflection.  So as his birthday approached this year I was reflecting on those first days after Evan's birth.  I was remembering all of the things a doctor told us he would never do.  Some, yes, he won't be able to achieve.  Others, she had no basis on the day after he was born, to make those assumptions.  She had no need to place those burdens on our hearts. It's a common story from many special needs parents in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit).  We were in a hospital known as a baby factory, not one known for special needs deliveries. Those memories of listening to her words while sitting on the sleeper sofa that I would later spend the night on are ingrained deeply into my soul all these years later.  

I would love to meet with this doctor and hospital staff now and give them some insight into the heart of the newly hurting parents.  It wasn't the birth I was expecting and I know my hormones were off the charts to say the least.  Believe me, I would first love to apologize to those lovely, patient nurses who bore my wrath.  But I would also love to tell the NICU staff, yes, facts are important.  Heck, I am a the Google, WebMD, NIH Queen!  I want every single detail of those facts.  If you don't give it to me I WILL find it!  But what I really don't need someone else's opinion on what my child may or may not be able to do decades from that point.  The enormity of those words may weigh on us for a lifetime so it's okay to tell us "I don't know".  

What I needed to hear was our child would still bring us immense joy and pride.  It may be different than we expected.  But it could actually be even better than we expected.  I wish I had known then that each of Evan's birthdays would bring me more and more gut-busting pride and thankfulness that God has allowed me on the inside to see Him doing big things in Evan's life and the lives of the people Evan challenges and changes.

This year Evan has told everyone, EVERYONE, "It's my birthday!"  But he has no idea that I am happier than he is that it's his birthday ...

Bible Verse I'm Loving Today:
Psalm 92:4
For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord
I sing for joy at what your hands have done.
Song I'm Loving Today:
Natalie Merchant: Wonder

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Two are better than one ...

I have this handful of friends from back in the day.  Okay, they are from waaaay back in the day.  Girls that go back to my high school, even grade school, days.  They know most everything about me.  The good, the bad, the ugly.  They have all the dirt on me.  Not that it's any big secret or that anyone really cares, but I would bet big bucks that if they were asked to spill the beans about all of my ugly past doings they would choose to walk the other way.  They would take the high road.  That's just the kind of women they are.   I know, I'm pretty lucky to have friends like them.

This past year I've come to know a few of Evan's friends a little better.  They are people that have been around him but I didn't really know them until recently.  I'm learning he has friends like my old girlfriends.  People that love him just for who he is.  No expectations.  No standards to reach.  Nothing in return.  They just want to hang out with him.  So awesome!

These are the kind of friends I want to surround my boy.  I want him to have friends that aren't speaking badly of him behind his back.  (Because we all know that kind of thing gets around eventually.)    He needs friends that aren't 'talking out of both sides of their mouth'.  I want him to have solid friends that aren't acting one way with him but then we find they are a complete different person elsewhere.  The Bible also says in James 3:10 "Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.  My brothers and sisters, this should not be."  I've been guilty of just this.  But I want to aim be the kind of person like these friends of my son and my old girlfriends.  Not only do they speak well of others but others have only kind things to say of them.  They are a joy to be around.  My son and others can't wait to see them again.  (Proverbs 22:24-25)  My son can't wait to get to school lately.  That's how much some of these people bring him joy.  He usually hates school.  Now that's the kind of joy I need to be aiming for!  It hurts to find out your your friendship has all along been based on being someone's charity.  I never want my boy to experience this falseness.  It is such a comfort to know these genuine hearts are surrounding my son.

It's exciting to see the people God is placing around my son without any of my doing.  As a mother I work so hard to make things 'right' for my children.  And yet, there are so many circumstances that I have no control over.  I recently read in A Praying Life, by Paul E Miller, that some of the best parenting we can do is in prayer.  It is an amazing sight to see our prayers come to life in our children's lives when God starts to do his thing.  I am so thankful for these young people that are allowing God to doing great things in their lives and seeing my son be a part of that also.

Bible Verse I'm Loving Today:
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor: 
If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A Closer Walk With Thee ...

"My own personal Hell."  "I wouldn't wish this on anyone."  "You have no idea what I'm living." 


How many times lately have I heard someone else say these things?  I've said at the very least every day "I'm done!", if not something similar to the others.  It seems like a lot of people lately are going through things that they wouldn't wish on their own worst enemy.

I don't like strife.  I don't like living it.  I don't like being involved in it and I don't want any part of it.  I will run from it at the first warning sign.  I want the good life.  Easy Street.  Fame and fortune.  I would bet most of us prefer things this way. 

Too bad that usually isn't what brings us closer to Christ.

If given the choice I would be alternating swimming laps in the pool on a warm, sunny day with reading a good book while frying my fragile skin in the sun's rays.  All.  By.  My.  Self.  

Thanking God for my incredible husband and family didn't make that list.  Tending to my family's needs didn't make that list.  Asking the Holy Spirit to be involved in my family's day didn't make that list.  Crying out to Jesus didn't make that list.  Even thanking God for my comfort and joy didn't make that list.  Prayer of any kind whatsoever didn't make that list.  

So is it any wonder that God keeps me close to him through trials?  I know I can be pretty adept at creating my own imperfect circumstances.  But I also believe sometimes God allows things to happen in our lives to better us or bring us closer to him.  No, they aren't our definition of "the good life".  They are difficult.  They are the hard stuff in life.  They mess up everything about our routine, our work, our families.  But they bring us closer to Christ.

This can be a bitter pill to swallow.  Going through trials are never easy.  And it can be even worse sitting by while a loved one goes through a painful trial without any way to make it easier for them.  Understanding that whole "my ways are not your ways" can be truly difficult.  But for lack of a better word, I have this "peace" that there are bigger things going on than my trials.  

So I'm learning to get more comfortable with the tough stuff.  That doesn't mean I like it.  That doesn't mean I don't react irrationally first.  But I'm learning to roll with it.  I'm learning to look for what God has planned in it.  When the unexpected shows up.  When I just don't see any change.  How is he drawing me closer to him?  How quickly can I get back to where I feel his comfort?

It's just a closer walk with Thee ...

Bible Verse I'm Loving Today:
2 Chronicles 6:19
"Yet, Lord my God, give attention to your servant's prayer and his plea for mercy.  
Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence."

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Gift of Receiving ...

I am fairly terrible at receiving most gifts.   I just don't how to say thank you graciously.  Receiving compliments is the same way.  Whatever it is in my psyche, go on, analyze, no matter how sincere,my response comes out stuttering and BLAAAAH.  And the bigger the gift the worse it gets.  If I'm given a significant gift that I could never equally return, AAAHHH!  How does one say thank you to something like that?!  I can hear myself before it even comes out of my mouth.  I know it's going to come off like I don't really care.  But that's not it at all!!  I just don't know how to thank someone for giving so unselfishly of themselves. I so badly want to return their generosity in some way.  I am a terrible gift giver anyway.  I want to be a good gift giver.  I spend hours scouring stores and websites trying to find the perfect something to no avail.  So how do I repay someone for giving me an awesome gift when I am so lame at it?  But what if there isn't any way?  What if I could never repay the gift?  Then what?  How do I rest in just accepting a gift without feeling like I MUST repay this?

Everyone has a different version of what they could or couldn't repay.  Often I don't want to tell others about a gift I received because I can never tell how it will be understood.  Some may be jealous of the gift and I immediately feel this overwhelming guilt that I was lucky enough to have received it.  Another may have the good fortune to have bought themselves three of what I was given.  They will never understand the gratitude I feel and how humbling it is to be in the position of never being able to repay someone else.  So once again, I keep my mouth shut.  I can't tell anyone about the giver's generosity.

Evan is so great at receiving gifts.  He makes everyone feel great about the gifts they give.
 As soon as he even hears about a gift coming his way he can hardly contain his excitement.  It's all he can talk about.  Gifts are what motivate bribe him.  No matter how big or small he loves every one of them.  It is the first thing he talks about when he gets out of bed. The first thing he asks about when I pick him up after school.  The first thing he tells EVERYONE about friend or stranger.  If you gave him a gift he will thank you for that gift FOREVER.  Every time we see you he will thank you for that gift FOREVER.  He will hug you, thank you, tell everyone about that gift.  He has absolutely no problem receiving gifts.

As Christians, we are told to be generous when someone is in need & to 'rejoice with those who rejoice'.  There are so many verses in the Bible about giving to others.  But there just aren't as many on HOW ON EARTH DO I PAY THEM BACK?!!! (Except not repaying with evil, but that's not what I had in mind, of course. I was thinking more like a nice spaghetti dinner.  Which maybe would be evil considering my cooking skills.)

It's the Christmas season that reminds me of the only gift that none of us could ever be jealous of or buy three of for ourselves.  I suppose that's one reason why God chose to give it to us the in way he did.  I especially want to tell others about this gift the way Evan tells others about his.  I want to wake in the morning speaking of this gift.  This gift should be what I am telling all of my friends or strangers about.  I will be forever thankful for this gift.  It is the gift we can only receive and none of us could ever repay.  

The gift of Jesus. 

Bible Verse I'm Loving Today:
Luke 2:10-11 
"But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you.  
He is the Messiah, the Lord."

Monday, December 1, 2014

I'm Thankful For ... Jerry Seinfeld!

Yep, you read it right.  This Thanksgiving I was a little thankful for Jerry Seinfeld.  And not because I love a good Seinfeld show.  Which I do.  Recently Jerry has taken some heat because he said he thought he was 'on the spectrum' during an interview with Brian Williams of NBC NightlyNews.   Meaning, the Autism Spectrum.  Then because of that heat he retracted what he said and then said he wasn't actually medically diagnosed as having Autism. He said he meant he thought he understood what it was like to be on the upper end of the Autism Spectrum.  He gets it.  And honestly, I'm thankful for someone who says, "I get it."  There aren't many people who get my boy.

Recently, my husband and I both separately complimented a young woman because she "gets" Evan.  She didn't feel the need to ask 500 questions about why Evan is the way he is.  She didn't act scared of his different behavior.  She didn't have a problem just glancing to one of us when she didn't understand something he said.  Every moment wasn't a teaching moment or therapy of some kind.  She had fun with playful teasing just like she would any other of the kids that were there.  She let Evan be who Evan was meant to be.  And it is obvious Evan responds to this woman and the way she treats him.  He seeks her out.  He wants to spend time with her.  She makes no demands of him to be something he isn't.  She loves him for who he is.  And because of this, he wants to be around her.  Don't we all want this?

Times like that are rare for us.  Those people are rare. 

So if Jerry Seinfeld says he relates to Autism.  More power to him.  I do keep in mind he is a celebrity.  So unless he comes over for dinner I may never know his true reason for saying what he said.  (I hope he doesn't come over for dinner.  I think his wife is a way better cook than I am.  I know, most people cook better than I do.)  I'm thankful Jerry says he understands the way those that act a little different are behaving.  

I'm even more thankful for those people in my life that love my Evan and love my family for who we are ~ the quirks, super loud 'WooHoo's', occasional hair pulling and not so nice screaming.  All of it.  Those people that make no demands.  Those that love us for who we are.  I'm thankful for you.

Bible Verse I'm Loving Today:
1 Corinthians 13:5
"It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, 
it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs."