It Takes a Village TOO…

Image
Beating the odds….

When we moved to Missouri in 2002, my kids were little.  So our only requirement for a house?  A BIG backyard.  Growing up in the woods, I needed trees and I needed space in our suburban yard.  My husband found it for me.  A huge backyard on a cul-de-sac.  Five mature trees made the backyard somewhat secluded.  He knew I would love it and put a contract on it within minutes.  He was right.. it was perfect for us.

Well God was looking out for us that day.  We were looking at our children’s immediate need.. but God?  He was planning for their future.  So while I was looking for trees for tree swings, a wide open space to play baseball and a shaded place for a playset… God found us a perfect village.  He put us right by the perfect friends for my family.  Close to my husband’s Missouri family.  And he chose the perfect school for my children.

My son is a sweet, lovable boy with a face full of freckles, beautiful blue eyes and the most contagious smile.  When you take your first glance at this tall attractive boy?  You do NOT see Special Needs.  You see a teenage boy.  You do not see that he didn’t talk until he was 3.  You cannot see that he was diagnosed with Autism at 4.  And you cannot see that he was diagnosed with Bipolar at 6.  When we bought a house with a backyard full of trees?  I didn’t see it either.  But God knew our future.. and He planned for us.  He provided the perfect place for my boy to grow.

Why was a school so important a part of my kid’s future?

I wholeheartedly believe that the whole village impacts a child as they grow up and mature.  The village is a child’s family, their church, their friends .. AND their school.  When a child has Special Needs?  That school makes up the large part of their future.

You see.. No mother can do everything on her own.  But a mother with a special needs child.. she HAS to trust the school to provide the things she cannot.  I had to trust the school to take care of my child and provide him a safe environment.  I had to trust the Special Education director to get him the therapies my son needed.  I had to trust the IEP team to develop the best plan for my son’s school year.  And I had to TRUST the teachers to push my son toward success.  Yup, I said PUSH.  I don’t want my son to SURVIVE school… I really want him to excel at school.  You may think that is a lofty set of goals for Special Needs.. It MAY be.. I may aim too high.. But I would rather aim too high and settle slightly.. then to not aim high enough.  My son is amazing.  He is artistic.  He is smart.  He is a hard worker.. and my son wants to go to college.  But he is a child.. children will choose the easier path if you let them.  So I refuse to let him.

This school that God picked for my family?  They wanted everything that I wanted for my son.  The “village” we found at Henderson Elementary?  Principals, Assistant Principals, Special Education Director, Paraprofessionals, Teachers, Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists, and even the Librarian.  THAT village of amazing people?  They became our family for those 6 years.. and beyond.  When my son had successes, no matter how small.. they celebrated with me.  When I had fun stories to tell.. they were the ones who laughed with me.  When my son was being stubborn, they were the ones who planned WITH me on how to turn it around.  When my son was unstable, they helped develop a plan to keep himself and others safe.  When I had to cry?  They were the ones crying with me.  But the most amazing thing for me?  When the days were long.. and rough.. and there was NO hope shining from those beautiful blue eyes.. These amazing ladies were STILL there rooting for my son to succeed.  No matter how bad the days were..they were the ones who met my son each morning with a smile and forgiveness in their hearts.

Some of those days were really bad.

Bipolar doesn’t sound that terrible.  But it is a terrible disease.  It is also known as Manic Depression.  Basically with this mood disorder?  Your body doesn’t make the right amount of the hormones you use to control your emotions.  Not enough serotonin and you feel depressed.  Too much serotonin and you feel euphoric.  Too much adrenaline and you feel scared/aggressive.  I could go on.. but I think you can see the trend.  With Autism there are triggers.. too hot.. too cold.. too loud.. too frustrated.. too .. anything.  With Bipolar?  Other than the seasons, we can find no pattern.

When my amazing son starts to cry those big crocodile tears because his brain is telling him he is overwhelmingly sad?  My motherly instinct is to hold him and protect him.  When my son wants to laugh at the world because his brain is telling him he is elated?  My instinct is to laugh along.  When my son wants to hurt himself?  Stab himself with a pencil? Pull out his hair?  Punch his head because his brain is too confused for him to think clearly?  I want to step in and protect him… and then cry.  But Bipolar is there for Life.. So Life must go on.

This “village” that God provided for me? For us all?  They were there will us every step of the way.  Cheering for us.. handing out smiles.. encouraging… (keeping straight faces)..  Why did they?  I have no idea!! But I am so grateful.  Because without them?  We wouldn’t be where we are.  Because of their help and their determination?  My son has learned that Life has to go on no matter WHAT your brain is telling you.  They helped him with coping strategies.. and they never made my son feel like there was anything wrong with him.

Because of the acceptance of this amazing group of professionals?  My son was accepted as a valuable part of the “village” by everyone.  (I could write a book on how we all took part in this awesome feat.. and I probably will…)

This amazing accepting “village” was great for more than just the children with Special Needs.  My daughter who absolutely loves to learn and loves school.. this school that God picked for us, provided something for her as well.  Because the school valued her brother as a part of its village.. No matter what… She learned to accept her brother without question.  But more than that.. I think it gave all kids a strong feeling of security.  If a child with an obvious disability can be accepted for who he is .. and loved because of it?  How can a child with a small insecurity NOT feel safer?  The students at this school turned into a wonderful group of kids.

So imagine my distress, when God sent us home to Michigan?

I love Michigan.  It’s beautiful!  It has trees … and lakes.. and rivers.. and trees… did I mention trees?  I didn’t realize how much I loved this home state of mine until we moved away.  And Michigan also holds the majority of my family.  Oh.. we wanted to move home with a passion.

But I was worried.

If we moved schools.. how would my kids live without this amazing village that God had given us all?  How would we survive without it?  So I dove into research.  Websites, school review sites, anecdotal review sites, phone calls to school, joining online support groups to get advice… and yet nothing.  I finally knew the area we wanted to end up in.. but there were still 10 school to choose from.  So more phone calls and house tours.  We narrowed our search finally to 5 houses.. Each in a different school district.  I set up tours.. and I prepared for the whisper of the Still Small Voice of God to lead my way.

What I got was a roar.  I almost cried.. (okay I cry a lot).. This school that God led us to?  From the moment the Special Education director called me ahead of time.. to the secretary asking how she could help me.. to the amazing tour I received from the principal.. and every person I met along the way… Every thing was a roar from God that this was it!! This was the new village He had planned for us… And who was I to argue?

This week I dropped off my son to school.  He walked independently through the front doors and headed to the locker he independently opens.  He independently headed to a meeting he had with his teachers.

You see?  My son still hits sometimes.  This week he hit one of his BIGGEST fans.  His brain told him he was scared or frustrated or angry or something.. and it was so overwhelming he punched one of our favorite people in this new village.  Then he cried.  And so did I.. I am crying again as I type this.  This amazing person doesn’t just want my son to exist.. she wants him to be amazing.. she wants him to be the BEST he can be… so she pushes him to excel.  Unfortunately that puts her on the front lines of the battle.  She has encouraged him to be independent, successful.. and most importantly.. My son is so proud of who he has become.  Then when he snapped?  Since she was on the front lines, she got hurt.  That hurts my heart every time I think about it. But what makes me stop in absolute AWE.  This amazing lady who was hit by my adult sized boy?  She forgave him immediately. “Seven times seventy,” she says is their motto.  That is absolutely amazing .. and it is hard to do.  Even though she forgave him immediately, she is still hurt.

I would like to point out that forgiving is a lot different than accepting.  I do not accept that my son HAS to hit.. and neither do any of his teachers.  Forgiveness means you try harder next time to do it differently.  That is what I teach my son.  We always try again.  And the next time we try ..we WILL do it better.

Through her pain (both physically and mentally), the teacher my son hit is standing with the rest of the team to make a plan, so that we can try to prevent it from happening again.  This plan isn’t to not push him as hard to succeed.  It is a plan to help him deal with the confusing messages his disease sends him.  To help him move toward a successful (and non aggressive) high school career.. To help him move toward being an independent hard working adult.

So today?  Today I am thankful that God has brought this amazing lady into our lives.  Yet this amazing lady is only ONE of the amazing professionals at this small school in the country.  Every person my son has come into contact with has made a huge impact on his life.  So today I am ALSO extremely thankful God has provided another amazing village for my kids to grow up in.

When I watched my son walk through those doors, to head to that meeting on his own.  A meeting to talk about how to turn the next bad day around to make it better.. on his own?  YUP.. I was crying again.  Because he couldn’t be that independent, confident or determined young man without the “villages” that God has given us.  I could never have done it on my own… and to tell you the truth.. I wouldn’t want to try.

At the end of the school year, I always look for the perfect thank you gifts.  How do you tell someone thank you for going to the front lines of battle everyday .. just so your son can be the best that he can possibly be..  A gift card?  A coffee mug?  What I really wish was to give them a trip to Egypt .. or a day at the spa.  But I can’t afford that AND stay home to be available for those bad days.  So I settle for a heartfelt card and home made cookies.  Is it enough? NOPE.. But while I am praying that my son grows in control every day.. I also pray that God will Bless each and every person that has come to care for my children.  That He will keep each and everyone of them in His Glorious hands and protect them.

So in the End?  In the End all I can do is pray for a whole village.

Liebster Award

Liebster Award

The Liebster award is an informal award that is given to up-and-coming bloggers with less than 200 followers, who then nominate other up-and-coming bloggers with less than 200 followers. I was nominated by Jenn Lost in Chaos.  Thank you Jenn for the nomination! Please go and check out her blog, especially She Inspires Me.

These are the rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their site.
  • Answer the 10 questions provided.
  • Nominate 10 new up-and-coming bloggers with less than 200 followers.
  • Create your own 10 questions to be answered by the bloggers you nominated.

Here are the questions Jenn asked me:

  1. Why did you start blogging?  I love to tell stories and to write.  Recently a friend told me I should share these stories with others.  After a lot of prayer, I went out on a limb… and started blogging.  I started out just on Facebook.. then moved to WordPress. 
  2. What is your favorite time of day?  I LOVE the early morning hours.  Midnight to 3 am are my favorite.  There is no need to feel guilty to be Still .. To just read or write or watch movies.  Cleaning anything would wake up my family.. so it is guilt free time.  When I am not “one” with my insomnia.. I love the early hours of morning before my kids wake up.  A time when the day is fresh and new.. and full of hope.
  3. Who inspires you and why?  My kids inspire me.  In this imperfect world, my kids overcome their “weaknesses” and shine.  What do you see when you look at them?  All you see are their beautiful souls.  That is who I want to be.  Just a beautiful soul.
  4. What is your favorite animal and why?  My favorite animal is (and probably always will be) the elephant.  Why?  I am not sure.  Maybe because they are so graceful.  Maybe because of their understated strength.  Maybe because it is said that an elephant never forgets… or that elephants actually mourn their loved ones when they die.  But honestly?  Honestly I just think they are beautiful.
  5. How do you like to waste time? Reading.. or research.  Or maybe reading research.  I LOVE to read.  I can reread my favorite books, read new books.. or simply read a documentary on the use of vitamins in Autism treatment.  Reading is in my blood.
  6. Name one place you would like to visit and why.  I love to travel with my family.  Our goal is to see every state in the US before my daughter graduates.  But if I had to pick a place outside of the United States… then I would love to visit Scotland, Ireland, Wales and Western Europe.  My family immigrated from those countries over the last 300 years.. and I have a burning desire to see where I come from.  I would tour castles.. and walk through old forests.  Visit old farmhouses.  I just want to breathe the air.. and see what stories the air will tell me.  
  7. If you celebrated Halloween and dressed up as a kid what was your favorite costume and why?  I know I dressed up for Halloween as a kid.. but I don’t remember any of my costumes.  I remember some of my younger brothers’ costumes.. but none of my own.  What I do remember was that amazing feeling of being “safely” scared.  I remember the excitement as you knocked on each door, wondering what treat you would get.  And I remember knowing some of the neighbors so well, that we would all be ushered inside for hot cocoa and candied apples.  So I guess the costumes were really irrelevant.  Only the happiness mattered.
  8. Do you believe in miracles?  Absolutely.  As soon as my firstborn child was born.. all doubts disappeared.  I always knew that God could do all things according with His Plan…  But holding the child that had grown inside me… it erased any doubts.
  9. What is  your favorite book, tv show or movie? Pick one or all three.  (I am going to pause here.. like I am thinking about it.)  Without a doubt.. My favorite book is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.  The movie version that BBC produced of Pride and Prejudice is amazing as well.  I have read and re-read this book every year since I was 16.  It is a marvelous look at life and relationships of England so long ago.  The story itself is ultimately a romance.  But before the romance rears its head.. you have thoroughly learned the characters of everyone in the story.  To live so completely inside someone else’s life?  It is fascinating!!  
  10. What have you learned from blogging? I have learned a lot.  Blogging is like visiting a close friend.  Someone who lets you spill everything on your mind without interrupting ..before they reply.  That refreshing feeling you get when you talk yourself out.  I get that satisfied feeling every time I finish typing a post. That is what blogging has done for me.  But what I didn’t expect to learn from blogging?  I didn’t expect people to understand the way I think and feel.  I didn’t expect for people to feel the emotions that go behind my words.  That was an added Blessing.  

Here are your questions:

  1. Why did you start blogging?
  2. What is your favorite season?
  3. If you could have lunch with one person, past or present.. who would it be and why?
  4. What is your favorite animal and why?
  5. How do you like to waste time?
  6. Name one place you would like to visit and why.
  7. What is your favorite holiday to celebrate and why?
  8. What is the first memory you have?
  9. What is  your favorite book, tv show or movie? Pick one or all three.
  10. What have you learned from blogging?

My Nominees are:

It takes a village…

ImageEven in a tight knit, loving family, it still takes a village to raise a child. Actually, I don’t really agree with that statement. A child doesn’t NEED a village to raise her, but rather the village (or community) a child is raised in, impacts her life in a small or big way as she grows.

My “village” growing up, was large. I had a large family, I had a couple really good friends, a loving church family… and the rest of a large community. Part of this community were some amazing Aunts. I grew up with a lot of aunts. A few of these aunts lived far away but still impacted my life with their personalities when I saw them. But I had a few aunts that lived very close to me and were part of my everyday life.

My Aunt Carla is a wonderful lady and loved to dote on me. Being blessed with 6 handsome boys, she loved to brush my hair and tell me how beautiful I was. She also has a great sense of humor. She helped me develop a good sense of self.. And while I do believe she is biased when it comes to me.. it always felt good to be fussed over.

My Aunt Gerry lives a few hours away, but she always made sure she kept in touch with us. And the fun part?  She would take a couple of us cousins home with her, for a couple weeks during the summer. Not only did her sweet personality and her strong faith in God have an impact on my life, but I also saw the simple joy she got out of doing something for someone else. This is very much a part of who I am.

My Aunt Ann was my example of a working mom.. Her schedule was always busy AND yet she still took time to invite me over to stay with my cousin Mandy. I have to admit that while I saw how she balanced work, home and marriage.. the thing I remember the most was that for a vertically challenged lady, she could hold her own against my tall uncle!! Loving, fun, smart and brave.. I couldn’t have asked for a better aunt.

But the Aunt that had the most impact on me, was my Aunt Dianne. My Aunt Dianne gave me my first job.. I helped her make crafts for her craft shows.. She put up with my slow but meticulous work. Praised me for a job well done.. And we were together for hours. While we worked we would talk.. And laugh. Man could my Aunt Dianne laugh. She laughed all the time. It was the most glorious sound. It made the world seem like such a secure place when someone could laugh like that. And when you are flying along on a scary roller coaster, hanging upside down with your feet danging.. into the sky (yikes!) … that laugh made you feel so much safer.  Because she wouldn’t laugh if you were ACTUALLY in danger (would she??).  My aunt Dianne forced me to face my fears (yes roller coasters), made me tell her what was bothering me (I was a teen.. a lot bothered me), asked me what I thought about everything, read the books I was reading and taught me to laugh at myself.

Now that I am all “grown up”, I find myself wondering if I will have that much of an impact on any one of my nieces or nephews.. But I also realize how much I owe to these wonderful ladies.  You may think that most of my upbringing comes from my parents and they should get the credit.  And you would be right.  My parents were amazing!!  They raised me to be confident, independent and loving.  Yet I owe a lot to my village of Aunts.   They helped me develop my “plan” on how much I wanted to impact this world we live in.

Three of these amazing ladies will possibly read this post and know that I appreciate each and every one of them. But my Aunt Dianne got sick and passed away a few years back..  I was so heart broken about how much I was going to miss her… that I never actually told her how much she meant to me. She probably knew.. but I so wish that I could be sure that she knew how much our long talks meant to me.

So this year I plan on telling every person who impacts my life how much I appreciate them. That way I will never have to wonder if they knew. And even though I still miss my Aunt Dianne every day, I have no fear that when I walk through the pearly gates of Heaven, that one of the first sounds I will hear is that Glorious laugh.

Cracks in the wall…

Image
If these walls could speak..

We moved back home to Michigan a little over a year ago.  But it feels like it just happened.  For weeks, my husband and I looked at house pictures online and took tours.  My FAVORITE houses were always the old farmhouses.  So much character.. I would wander from room to room almost “hearing” the stories the walls were telling me.  The layers of wallpaper telling the tales through the generations that lived there.  Each layer was probably picked with love and highly treasured.  I could have sat in each house for hours and let the tales spin around in my mind.

But, alas.. my husband is a builder.  While we often agreed that a house had (probably) been beautiful once, he does not always see the charm I still recognize.  He walked each house appalled at the amateur renovations we would find.  Holes cut through walls.. stairways cut through a solid oak stair rail.. Homemade cabinets.  The hours of work involved in pulling wallpaper down, re-drywall-ing, or refinishing wood floors.. honestly exhausted him just thinking about it.  And plumbing.. shudder.. we don’t even want to talk about that.  But the deciding factor for my husband has always been the basement.  The foundation NEEDS to be solid for him.  He would look for cracked or crumbling basement walls.  Looked for evidence of moisture or water damage.  Then he examined the floor joists for cracks or rot.  When my husband started to go through the mechanical room?  YUP.. I tune out.  I go back to imagining all the events that have happened among those walls in the last 100 years.  The wisdom it had seen.

Why is my husband so concerned with the basement?  He said that no matter how much time and money you put into the rooms that everyone sees.. If the basement is damaged? .. Then the house will NOT last.  Honestly, I have gotten teary-eyed on more than one occasion, insisting that we could fix the basement.. make it stable.  He always lovingly (and most patiently) explains that it is possible.  At a huge cost and huge time commitment.. but it could be done.  The upper floors could be jacked up and supported while the walls of the basement are reconstructed… and then re-poured.   To ME this cost would have been worth it.. I mean think of all the memories and stories the house holds.

Marriage is a lot like a house.  If the foundation the marriage is built on is sturdy and intact, then your marriage will last.  If you and your spouse discuss every decision and love each other.. then the floor joists will be solid.  After that, each room is built .. one memory or joyful life event at a time.  When sad or tragic life events happen?  Sometimes you have to patch a hole or add a layer of wall paper to cover it up.

At one time my marriage was like that old farmhouse.

You see.. I was raised with firm Faith in God.  I was very confident that I knew who I was.  And I had (and have) confidence in my love for my husband… We had a solid foundation for our marriage.  We talked about everything and laughed with each other.  So our floor joists were sturdy… We were ready to start building rooms…

So we started a family… We have 2 children.  Our firstborn daughter was very strong willed. (Ok.. she still is.)  She tested every level of patience… and then some.  A wonderful beautiful soul… but very independent.  Our second born is a son who has Special Needs.  Luckily my son, decided to wait until my daughter started to grow out of the daily fights for independence before he started asking for “help”.  Now at first glance, you can see my Blessing in this.  I only had one child at a time, that needed my patience, persistence.. and research.  But it was an exhausting existence for years.

The first crack that showed up in my basement wall was pride.  I knew I could raise my kids by MYSELF.. I didn’t need anyone’s help.  My husband and I could do it all alone.  My pride in not asking for help caused me to be over tired and irritable at times.  But all mothers are tired and irritable at times, right?!?  I would simply research how to improve myself because I knew I could do a good job. But this first crack?  My pride crack weakened our foundation..

My second crack was irritation.  I research everything.. why strong willed children argue.. what causes Autism.. what causes bipolar.. why anxiety is genetic.. I wanted to talk through with it all with my husband when he got home from work.  Sounds reasonable right?  I could read a 300 page book and then try to explain it to my exhausted husband.  And then get irritated because he didn’t understand it enough to discuss it with me.  It seemed that he didn’t care.  What I didn’t see was that he DIDN’T understand all of it.  But he knew that I did ..so he trusted me.   I also didn’t see that my husband was often still in that “mechanical room”.  What is the mechanical room of a marriage, you may wonder?  It’s the job that provides for us.. keeping a roof over his family.. insurance to keep us healthy.. working cars to take us where we need to go.. and also the financial stability that allowed me to stay home with my kids while they grew.  He worried.  He worried a lot more than I ever realized.  Why?  How could I not know?  Well.. when he was in the mechanical room.. YUP.. I tuned out.  How boring.. I have Faith in God.  I have faith that He will provide for us.. End of story for the mechanical room.  I would rather talk about the challenges God was giving us.. the set backs my son was having.. the new interventions that the special education staff was putting into place.. God’s plan for our family and the best way to follow the path He has set before us.  As you can imagine.. I was irritated a lot.

Which is why the 3rd crack, rudeness, was so wide.  I was tired and stressed.. and too prideful to ask for help.  I prayed for strength.  I prayed for peace.  I prayed for my kids.  I prayed for my husband.  But I never prayed for help.  I started to demand it from my husband though.  Not everyday but on occasion.  But often enough that it started to make him hesitate to want to come home at night. Come home he did though.  Every night.

My 4th crack is pretty common with stay at home moms.  I wonder how much more true it is for Moms of children with special needs.  Moms of kids with strong wills, with disabilities, language delays, diagnoses, anxiety, attention disorders .. or any label at all.  Jealousy.  Such an ugly word.  Envy sounds a little better.. but it still sounds like a disease.  I began to envy the fact that my husband got to leave the house by himself.  Envy that he was able to have full intelligent conversations with other adults.  Envy the fact that my husband was a successful and respected part of his company.  Small children do not show respect to their mothers.  Moms at play groups are tired and worn out.  Intelligent conversations aren’t even hoped for.. all we hoped for was to be not interrupted.  That and to hope our kid didn’t bite/hit/kick/pinch anyone else’s child.  And I just wished my son would play along side all the other children.  I never begrudged another child’s successes.  I always rejoiced in each one.  But I would wish that my son could have easy successes too.  Those wishes started to look a lot like envy for awhile.

One day, my husband came home.  He helped me with out asking what I needed help with.  Then he told me that he knew my job was a hard one and told me how proud he was of me.  My heart soared for a full 10 seconds… and then.. I snapped.  Why couldn’t he see that everyday.. not just once every 6 months.  And SURE he helped out tonight.. but what about the week I couldn’t do laundry because it was upstairs and my toddler couldn’t be trusted downstairs.. did he help then? NO .. and what about the day he needed to work late.. and what about.. what about..  What I didn’t see was that my husband was trying .. he was trying to come out of the mechanical room.. he was trying to see the character in the rooms upstairs.. and he was trying to help me patch some holes in our home.

I didn’t see this for quite awhile actually.  I simply added things to my “list”..  The list that my pride was constructing.

Then one day, I came across the “Love is patient..” verse in my devotions.  I skipped it because I knew it by heart, right?!? The next day, a friend of mine complimented me on how my Love shines through to everyone around me.. how patient and kind I was. She couldn’t see my discontent because my pride kept it buried.. in the basement.  But her comment made me pause.  I thanked her .. and then shook it off.  Then the next day, I found another reference to this verse in the Bible.  I laughed.. because I believe that God uses our surrounding to whisper to us. Listening to that Still Small Voice whisper to me.. I pulled out my Bible… and read…

“Love is patient and kind.  Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.  Love does not demand its own way.  Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged.”  1 Corinthians 13: 4-5

The whole world could have walked through my house.. and by all appearances it would have thought my family (and marriage) looked stable.. happy even.  But in that moment, I knew… I knew that the Basement of my house.. the foundation to my marriage had some pretty huge cracks in it.

You may say that the cracks weren’t really my fault.  That I had a lot of stresses.. a lot of storms that rocked that foundation. Parenting, health concerns, special needs, IEP’s, surgeries, mood disorders, medications… The storms we lived through were extensive.  But I could see that I didn’t have as much true Faith as I could have.  That all my tears of frustration with my husband, all the tears of heartache at watching my kids suffer and struggle, all the tears of resentment at changing all my life plans to accommodate my family’s needs (EVEN though those accommodations were what I wanted).. All those tears?  Without true blind Faith in God’s plan for us?  I was causing those cracks to grow bigger everyday.  And soon a wall was going to collapse.

As I walked through the rooms of my Marriage.. I saw all the memories.. all the good times.. and even some bad times.. But just like that old Farmhouse that I wanted to fix up so bad.. I wanted to save my marriage.  Sure it would take a lot of time and hard work.. and a lot prayer.  But I knew it would be worth it.

You might imagine that I called my husband right away and told him of my discovery?  You’d imagine wrong.  I had apologized to him time and time again for snapping at him in frustration.  I had apologized over and over through the years.  What I needed was to prove to him that I had Faith.

Now I would like to say that I was an overnight sensation.  I was not.  There was more than one day, that constant prayer and faith was needed to keep me going.  There were days that I took my good friend’s advice that sometimes we “Fake it to make it.”  And there were days I crashed… and cried at my weakness.  Why do it then?  If I had to fake my happiness why not simply get divorced?  Well I know that divorce is anything but simple…  and..  I didn’t have to fake happiness.  I had to fake patience on irritable days.  I didn’t have to fake love.  I had to fake kindness on a rude day.  NOW.. I do know that sometimes divorce is the only option.  So please don’t think me critical or that I am judging anyone who has chosen to divorce.  But my marriage.. it had a STRONG foundation.  We just needed to fix the cracks before they broke our marriage beyond repair.

Fix them we did.  It took a lot of work.  And I still apologize for my irritable days.  But when I pray for forgiveness.. I pray that I also forgive myself for my weakness.  When I forgive my husband for his bad day, I pray that God wipes it from my heart and my mind.. so I no longer have a list to fall back on.  The result?  The love and faith that painted the rooms in our marriage? It also paints our foundation now.  All that work was so worth it.

We did not buy that old farmhouse.  I saw my husband’s wisdom that we needed to have a home with a sound foundation.  And the character?  Well we are adding our own charm to our home one day at a time.  And these days my husband and I.. well we do a better job “listening” to our marriage.  I explain how I think the hole in the hallway (that we are patching) adds character to our lives, I expand on how the struggles our children go through, in the long run.. well it may be a good story to tell.  And my husband listens to me.. laughs a lot.. but he listens.  And when my husband wants to show me something in our mechanical room.. job, insurance, or car worries.. I follow him all the way to the basement and try to give him my full attention.

How did I know it was going to work you ask?  1 Corinthians 13:13.. There are three things that will ENDURE — faith, hope, and love — and the greatest of these is love.  I knew that the marriage we built on love would endure if I had faith and hope.  And I had plenty of both.

Stay on the Path…

Image
I’m right behind you….

There is a path from my back door to my chicken coop.  It is snow covered this morning, and if I didn’t KNOW for sure that it was there.. I would doubt its existence.  This path was formed over the last 2 months and is made up of packed down snow and ice.  Today, I was very frustrated with slipping and sliding along this narrow path.  And when my foot caught the 3rd chunk of ice, causing me to trip .. yet again?? I stepped off the path..

My leg sunk down into the snow.. up to my knee.  After a couple steps (lugging a bucket of water and one of food)?  I realized that the path was the much better option.. even with its icy patches.  So with a little effort, I climbed back up onto the path and carried on.

In my chicken coop, I have 11 chickens and 2 ducks. When we bought our birds, we researched the best kinds for our area.  We wanted birds that would be comfortable and survive our harsh cold winters.  We picked Isa Browns.  It is said that Isa Brown chickens are hearty down to temps of -20.  But to be honest?  I haven’t tested that theory.  I have a heat lamp that comes on when the temperatures get down to 0.  When the windchill was -40, I closed their doors and shoved towels into every crack.  My husband laughed and said that I was babying them.  That chickens and ducks are tougher than I am giving them credit for.  But to me?  If I can make them a LITTLE more comfortable in this extreme cold.. with very little effort?  Why shouldn’t I?

But it makes me think of a time 11 years ago.

When I was pregnant for my daughter, I bought a book.  What to Expect when you are expecting!  And I read it! And then I followed it. I followed it for both my pregnancies.  I stayed away from foods that were bad for my baby.  When I was so sick and I didn’t want to eat anything? I forced myself to eat protein.  I drank so much water ..that I should have floated away.  And I didn’t take any prescription medicine without double checking with 2 doctors.  I did everything “right”..

And yet, 11 years ago,  my son was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 4.

After the initial shock?  My first thought was.. “Why ME?”  I mean .. I didn’t smoke, I didn’t drink, I didn’t even eat chocolate and definitely didn’t drink coffee… So what did I do wrong?  Why did something have to happen to MY baby?  Even though I tried to hide my tears.. my very in-tuned son.. the one who is labelled by the world as “Special Needs”?  He crawled into my lap, wiped my tears with his little fingers and gave me a beautiful smile.  And I knew.  God gave me this Blessed little soul on purpose.  His Blessed personality is not a punishment to my son or to me.  God gave him especially to me to safe guard and protect.  Why Me?  I like to think that God researched me and observed me.. and He knew I was hearty enough to weather the storms.  He knew that with a little extra love and protection, I could get up each morning and smile at the new day.  God thought I would be perfect for this job.

SO.. God hand picked me to be the mother of my beautiful souled son.. (and daughters)…  It wasn’t an accident.  He picked me.  Makes me feel a little like Mary…

So because God thought I was the perfect choice for my son.. does that make me perfect?  No!!  In fact, last night I stepped off the path God set before me, yet again.  “Why me?” I asked.  Sometimes the events of my life aren’t pretty.. and they can get a little slippery.  But honestly, I would choose to stay on this path God has given me..then to head out on my own.  As I struggled to climb back up onto my chosen path… God rewarded me .. with a smile from a beautiful face.  That’s all I needed.  That is all I needed to know that God trusts me with his most precious gifts.  And I know that not only CAN I do this.. but with God’s help?.. I can do this REALLY WELL.

When I opened the chicken coop to feed my birds this morning, the ducks were being very vocal.  No doubt explaining that the heat lamps didn’t come on in their coop last night.. and that it was really cold.  And I laughed.  I explained to them both that I had hand picked them to live here.. because I know that together we can handle the storms.  Then I gave them some sunflower seeds.. just to make it easier…

Inquiring minds….

Image
Hmm.. I wonder why?!?…

“Why?”

How many times have our kids asked us this one word question?  In my case.. too many. “Why?” and “How?” were a regular part of my daughter’s vocabulary for years.  But I also knew that my daughter had came by these words honestly.. and it was only fair.  YUP.. I was (and probably always will be) a curious child.  I ALWAYS wanted to know “Why?” or “How?” or “Where?” or “Who?” or “How much?” and even “What?!?”.  I eventually learned to look these questions up myself (I LOVE google searches)… but I am sure it wasn’t before I had exasperated the patience of every adult around me.

I wanted to know EVERYTHING.  Sometimes the answers were easy.. “Read the directions.” or “The encyclopedias are in the living room.”  But just as often they weren’t easy to answer.  I remember when I was young.. we had learned about dinosaurs at school.  The teacher had said the dinosaurs had been extinct for THOUSANDS of years before humans “evolved”.  Now.. I had been raised in a Christian home and I KNEW beyond a shadow of doubt that God was the Creator of all things.. and if the Bible said God made everything in creation in 6 days then I believed It.  BUT.. how could they have proof?  Scientific proof to PROVE something that wasn’t true.  This was something that troubled me.. and it kept me up at night.  So I asked my brothers.. They told me to ask my Mom… My Mom told me to ask my Dad.. and my Dad suggested we ask our Pastor.

Our Pastor Cash.. he was a wonderful man.  He always had a smile or a laugh for us kids.  And when he gave a sermon you could tell he believed every word he said.  So.. I decided I would be brave and asked him… (AFTER ALL, I needed to know to survive).  So on Sunday morning, after the sermon (a sermon I guarantee you that I didn’t hear one word of), I patiently stood in line to greet Pastor Cash, with a carefully rehearsed question on my lips.  Now anyone who goes to church can easily envision this next scene.  Each person in their turn, shook Pastor Cash’s hand, smiled and gave a short phrase of encouragement.  These phrases were always short.  Then they passed into the lobby and into their day of Rest.  I knew my question would have to be short as well (yup.. this is what I was carefully preparing while the good Pastor was sharing the Word of God).  The poor man had no idea what was in store for him.  “Great sermon, Pastor Cash.” Hand shake. “Wonderful sermon today.”  Hand shake.  “God is so good,” Hand shake.  “Beautiful day today, Pastor.”  Hand shake.  “Beautiful sermon, thank you.” Hand shake. “Pastor, If God made all creatures PLUS Adam and Eve on the 6th day, how can scientists have scientific proof that Dinosaurs had died 1000’s of years before the first man was created?” Silence…………… and then laughter.  I know my cheeks burned.  But before I could run and hide .. Pastor Cash took my nervous little hand between his two warm ones and smiled down at me.  “The Bible says that a day and a thousand years are the same in God’s eyes.” (…or something similar.. hey.. that was 30 years ago..) I was so happy with that answer that I BARELY heard my Dad apologize to Pastor Cash for the unexpected attack of my question.  And I barely heard the hearty laughter in reply or the assurance that it made his day.  I was just so happy to have that mystery solved.

Now I have, since then, learned what the meaning of “waters from above”, the long life spans of man and beast alike, and the true impact of what the great flood meant in relation to dinosaurs.  AND I have seen where scientists have found much more scientific proof as to the time frame of dinosaurs (or great lizards).  Why? you may ask?? Because I still want to know.  I want to know the answers to so many questions that I will spend hours researching things (not just dinosaurs I assure you).. unless I set timers for myself.

Who do I blame for this horrible, consuming curiosity that both my daughter and I inherited? My mother? My father?  Nope.. I blame Eve.  It was Eve that was curious enough to try the forbidden Fruit.. The fruit from the forbidden tree of knowledge.  When I first heard this story of Eve and the serpent.. I wanted to know (shocking.. i know) why God would choose to shield us from knowledge.  To keep knowledge from us?  Now after years and years of struggling with this life of curiosity.. I realize something.  Curiosity.. man made facts… they get in the way of blind heartfelt faith.  I once asked someone a question of how they knew something.. and they answered me, “I just feel it in my heart.. that is how I know.”  I sometimes wish I had that faith.  That I could just accept the truth of God’s creation being perfect and not looking for more ways to prove it is real.  Because I believe the fact that God created all things with all my heart.  I believe that God has the perfect plan in the way He created all things.  And I believe that it needs NO proof!  I just wish I had a better connection between my heart and my mind.  .. maybe if I try an HDMI cable….?

My daughter asked a lot of questions too.. Why does that sign say that?  What does it mean? etc… Now sometimes, she would ask me hard questions.  Questions that I have no hope of ever knowing the answers to.  Questions like, “If God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are really the same person.. do they share the same body in Heaven?  Like you will only see one person?  or is it more like telepathy?  Like they can hear each other’s thoughts and finish each other’s sentences?”  You may be wondering if I TOO directed her to seek the advice of our Pastor?  The answer is a resounding NO!! My daughter has embarrassed me enough in our lifetimes.  Instead, I reply, “You know what?  Why don’t you ask God when you get to Heaven?”  Which of course she frequently wants to know, “Why wait? Why can’t I know now?”  I assure her (while trying not to laugh at her impatience), “Because God is really the only one who knows the answers to YOUR questions.”

My daughter asked me once, if I could ask God any question when I get to Heaven, what question would it be?  Immediately, my mind wants to know why God would have even given Eve the chance to eat from the Tree of Knowledge… but in truth??? In truth, I think that when I stand before My Heavenly Father.. all that curiosity will leave me and I will finally have that Blind Faith.. I think I will be filled with such peaceful blind faith that I will just stand there in awe.. (or kneel)… Either way, I don’t think I will be asking him any questions.

Sweet Nothings…

Image
young dreams…

I have never been a fan of Romance.. Oh don’t get me wrong, I can watch the 5 hour version of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy falling in love over and over again. I re-read Love Comes Softly at least twice a year. I yell at the screen right along with my daughter when the heroine of a movie makes the dumbest assumptions and re-routes her life most inconveniently. But in real life.. In MY Life? I really have no place for it.. 

Now I did have crushes and I went on more than a few dates in my teenage years.  But when I was dating, I almost treated the first date like it was an interview.  And I was good.  I could tell by the end of that date if I could ever see myself marrying the guy.. if not.. we didn’t go out again.  I never wanted the long courtships or the long phone calls or the flowery words.. and definitely didn’t want the flowers.

And then I met Chad. Oh my sweet romantic husband was SOOO wasted on me. Jewelry.. flowers… sweet cards… romantic dates.. Ha.. In fact, I sat next to him in class for close to a month before I even noticed that he sat NEXT to me EVERY day. It was another couple weeks of talking in class before met outside of class… and then a month of “hanging out” before we went out on our first date. Our first romantic date. I knew I was going to marry him after a month of dating. Yet, my sweet husband still planned the most romantic proposal.. on the pier of Lake Michigan right at sunset.. and he was all dressed up too. He planned every detail.. It would have been so perfect and so Romantic…. But…. I made us run so late that by the time we were on our way, he was SO frustrated at me.. So frustrated in fact that he ended up throwing (gently) my engagement ring at me in his truck.  After he forgave me, he took me to the Pier the next day instead.  And I cried… Great big tears of Joy and LAUGHTER.. because my romantic man kneeled down on a beach FULL of dead fish to proposal.. And he would NOT stand up until I accepted.. which (of course) I did. 

So you are probably wondering… if I didn’t find his romantic side irresistible, what drew me to him? Well he had something else I always melted for.. Laughing and long talks. And Chad had plenty of both. He has the best laugh.. So if you asked me what I liked the most about my husband?  It would be his laugh.. Even when I am really mad and he starts laughing at me?? (Apparently he thinks I am adorable when angry). Yeah… it still melts my heart.

I asked Chad once what was the FIRST thing that he liked about me.. The ONE thing that made him switch his schedule so it matched mine.  The one thing that made him want to sit next to me every day .. The one thing that had him waiting patiently for a month for me to finally notice him?  Then I waited patiently for my romantic-hearted husband to decide on which romantic thing it would be.. And he said, “I guess that you were so sturdy.” Sturdy???  Sturdy to me means like Elephant trunk legs.. like nothing short of gale force winds could knock you over. Now I know that I am not a small boned girl.. I never hoped to be called petite.. but Sturdy?? So as I laugh and say, “Gee thanks..”, he calmly corrected me, “Not sturdy in frame but sturdy in spirit.. That you were so sure of who you were and confident..”. So I guess he thought my personality could survive gale force winds.. I’ll take that.. And I suppose it could be called Romantic. But next time I tell this story to a group of friends? You bet! I will still say “Sturdy? Gee thanks honey, I love you too..” You know why? Because it always makes him laugh! And you know how much I love his laugh.

Contagious…

Image
Happiness..

When I was younger, my Dad always gave me the best things to think about. As a parent (now), I realize this was one of his greatest gift to me. One of the first memories I have of this, was him telling me, “Don’t judge someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” Now I don’t remember what I said, or the act that I had “judged” to earn the advice from my Dad.. but I DO remember looking at the lady’s shoes and thinking, “OOOOOHHHH, she’s wearing spiky high heels.. no wonder she is crabby. If I had to walk a mile in THOSE shoes, I would be crabby too.” As I grew up, my Dad changed his advice to be more specific. He would say, “Judge not, lest ye be judged,” and then later in plain English, “God forgives you, in the same way you forgive others.” So, I trained myself to forgive EVERYONE.. because I am no where near being sin free.

Now it’s one thing to forgive others over the course of a day or so.. Immediate forgiveness was still sometimes elusive to me. Then one day, someone was very rude to me and my Dad. I was immediately angry, because my Dad is the nicest person you will ever meet and didn’t deserve it. My Dad? He smiled, said something extremely nice and wished them a good day. When I asked him why? He said that sometimes the meanest, grouchiest people are the ones who NEED a smile from us the most.. because it may be the only smile or nice thing they receive all day. And if we choose not to be kind? Who knows when that person will feel kindness again.

As an adult.. I realize that ALL of those advice’s are just 1 big lesson. One that took me 37 years to make “easy”.. Now, there are still days that I get frustrated or short with strangers. I spend the rest of the day praying that God would help that person forgive my negativeness, and asking God to Bless that person’s day so that my crabbiness was not contagious, passing from person to person.

But most days, when someone cuts me off on the highway? I assume they did not see me. When a Bully teases my kids? I assume they are bullied at home (and pray for them). When someone runs to get in the check out lane in front of me? I assume that they are running late. If someone puts me on hold for 15 minutes? I assume they are really busy. And when someone scowls in my direction? Yup, I picture my Dad and his gentle wisdom, put on my brightest smile and wish them a good day. Then I pray that God will find other ways to Bless that person throughout their day.

Recently, I watched my son (whom the world classifies as having special needs) smile sweetly and apologize for something he had no need to apologize for. And I see my daughter’s beautiful smile light up the world where ever she goes. And I know for sure that my Dad’s legacy, one that he learned from Our Heavenly Father, will be passed on from generation to generation.

Please Leave a Message..

Image
Family fun….

There was a time when you could have eaten off my floors.  They were THAT clean!  Now.. they HAD to be that clean for awhile because my son.. well… he would eat anything he found .  So what started out as necessity became an obsession for me.  For an hour after every meal, I would clean my kitchen area.  Wash the table, wash the chairs, wash the dishes, wash the sinks, sweep the floors, and then mop them.  Where were my kids you ask?  I would put in an educational VHS and speed clean.

What began in the kitchen, quickly spread to the rest of the rooms.  It got to the point where we couldn’t leave the house unless all the toys were put away.   Every game had to be put away with ALL the pieces listed on the box.  Every toy had a place on a shelf.  Every item in the doll house was accounted for.  Our walk might have been postponed for an hour while we cleaned up, because I needed it to be meticulous.  And cleaning with young children is not an easy task.  While one of my children would be helping me pick up, the other child would be pulling things off the shelves.  It was sometimes exhausting.. but I was determined.

Then every night after my family went to bed?  I would organize what small hands hastily put away.  I would straighten, dust and sweep.  Then reorganize and move things around.  In my mind, if your house was perfect than the rest of the world would see it.. and well?  They would think you were the perfect family.

Yup.. you guessed it.. I was very insecure.  Why was I so insecure you ask?  Well to be honest, being a parent to toddlers and infants is stressful.  And I was stressed.  I didn’t show my stress to the rest of the world but it was there.  I was a mother to a very strong willed daughter and a cranky infant son.  I was the mother with the crying infant in her arms and the screaming, kicking toddler in aisle 7 at the grocery store.  I was the mother of the independent minded 4 year old that got kicked out of your child’s preschool ballet class.  I was the mother who pulled into the rest area (10 miles from home) to calm down her infant.  I was the mother who took the nursery teacher job at church because her son wouldn’t stay with anyone else.  We WERE the family that asked for To-Go boxes.. before our food arrived at our table.  Always I tried to smile.  Always I looked for the good in every situation.. And then I cleaned and polished my house until it would shine.

Now I don’t want you to think that we never made messes.  I have always believed that kids learn the best and the most completely when a mess is involved.  We would do large scale painting projects.  Sheets of paper spread on the floor, painting feet for footprints, mixing colors and constant laughter.  My daughter loved to do experiments.  One day I went to put a bottle of conditioner back in its place only to realize it was empty.  A brand new bottle of expensive curly hair conditioner .. empty.. after one bath.  When I questioned my daughter, she explained that she was pretending she was a mad scientist and had to test the perfect combination of shampoo, conditioner and bath paint .. to save the world (naturally).  So, after I mentally remind myself to check the contents of the shampoo bottle (which had found its way home), I explained that her curly hair products were expensive and that I would have to buy special (and cheap) mad scientist supplies for her experiments.  I ALWAYS wanted my kids to be creative.  Through creativity comes problem solving skills.. and I have always wanted the best for my kids.  But when they had lost interest in their messes? They would help me clean up.. and I would polish it clean when they went to bed.

Then.. (there always seems to be a “then”).. Then the daycare I had, went full time.  Instead of a couple days a week, I had extra kids in my house 5 days a week, often 12 hours a day.  At the end of a 12 hour work day, followed by 5 hours of parenting and errands? You guessed it.  I was too tired to do after hours organizing and polishing.  So those chores got moved to the weekend.  Yet, I would still spend energy during the day to make sure every piece of every toy was returned to its place before we went on to the next activity.  Until one crazy day.. On this particular crazy day (perhaps a full moon), when the kids were climbing the walls, I realized that we had been trying to clean up for 45 minutes.  Frustrated, I shooed the kids out the door.  We left behind a few stray toys on the floor (GASP) and went outside to run off our extra energy.  The rest of the day was the same way, we hurried through cleaning to get to the next activity.. ALWAYS leaving behind a few things.  When every child had been picked up that night, I realized something.  The kids had all been pretty successful in their day.. considering the high energy level.  AND.. at the end of the day.. I still picked up the same number of stray toys that I would have if I had enforced immaculate cleaning all day.

Slowly over the next year, I learned to let go of the need to keep my house highly organized.  It was still clean.. but if you looked under my sofa you would definitely find stray blocks.  I replaced the baby to the dollhouse family a number of times, over the years, because they “ran away”. And.. it’s true.. the Hungry Hungry Hippo game is down to 20 marbles.. shocking isn’t it?

Slowly over those same years, I also discovered something else.  When I sat WITH my kids, while they watched their educational television .. instead of using that time to sterilize my kitchen.. they learned so much more.  We would laugh at bad jokes, come up with plans for good experiments, sing catchy (and sometimes annoying) songs together and then laugh some more.  Most importantly, I got to know my children so much better when I relaxed into my surroundings.. and accepted the chaos that comes with raising my kids.

A couple times a year, I still do deep cleaning.  When my kids spill juice on the floor, I decide its a good time to thoroughly scrub the floor.  Once a week, I sweep every surface in my house.  And every night I make sure the sink is free of dirty dishes.  In fact everything in my house is cleaned weekly, even bed sheets.  But rarely will you walk into my house and see it completely clean… unless you are there for a party.  Because it no longer matters to me.  Years ago, I would greet people at the door with, “Excuse my mess.. kids you know,” when I had secretly madly scrambled to make sure nothing was out of place.   Now, I tell people.. “My house was spotless last week.. sorry you missed it.”

If you stop by my house today, you will see cups on my counter and art supplies on my table.  There are freshly scrubbed eggs drying on a towel by the sink.  The shoes are not neatly lined up on the rug.  And PLEASE do not eat anything you drop on the floor.  But my house is always filled with laughter, good food, confident children.. and if you like to paint, we may do that later.  Or we may leave our house exactly like this, and run off on an adventure today.  Sledding or walks in the snow are always fun.  Trying to freeze bubbles and throw boiling water into the freezing wind.  In the warmer months, our family is always off outdoors, perhaps camping or kayaking.  And anyone is welcome at one of our son’s super campfires.  Hours of staring at the flickering flames, doing nothing but roasting good food, talking, and laughing.  If you are lucky, we will start recounting all the crazy things our kids put us through.  To me knowing my kids, and spending time with them, is more important than the arsenal of empty cups you can find on my counter.

So… if you would like to complain about my house.. or EVEN just give me advice on how to keep it clean? Be my guest and call my house phone.  You will probably get the answering machine though.  Because my family and I?  We will most likely be off on an adventure. But PLEASE.. just leave us a message.

Two hour delay…

Image
A face worth fighting for…

When I was a young girl, I was prone to the most ridiculous and often selfish prayers.  My Dad’s favorite actor has always been John Wayne.  Watching those movies year after year? YUP you guessed it.. I wished with all my heart that I had been born in the Wild West.  Of course I KNEW that was a ridiculous thing to pray for, so I prayed for something much more “practical”.  “Dear Father in Heaven, please send someone to give me a horse.  It can be ANY horse.. old, young, fast or slow.  Any horse will do,” and I always added, “Your will be done,” at the end just like my Dad always did.

Now in a family with 7 children and 2 adults? YUP.. not really all that practical.  In fact, it was a really selfish prayer.  Children’s prayers often are.  I never intended to be selfish.  I simply wanted to hold out hope that for some reason it WOULD be part of God’s Will for us.  Over the years, I prayed many such prayers.  “Lord, please let there be a Cabbage Patch Kid under the tree tomorrow morning.” OR “Please let this teacher move to New Mexico.” OR “PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE… Can I have a horse?”  Many years passed before I realized that God is much smarter than we are.  A horse would have strapped our family in a way to make our simple life style miserable.  So God said, “No”.  A Cabbage Patch Kid was an overpriced doll.  So God said, “No, but your Mom and Grandma made you a similar doll with love and care.. accept this instead.”  And as for the teacher?  Well God knew that sometimes having unpleasant people in my life was the best way to keep me from ever becoming unpleasant myself.. So instead God said, “I want you to have this unpleasant teacher, but next year I will send an especially wonderful one.”

As I grew older, I sometimes slipped back into ridiculous prayers.  “Lord, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE let my awesome friend ask me to the school dance.”  Now that I am a happily married adult, I realize that God was so loving by telling me “NO”.  You see God knew that He had someone special in mind for me all along.  By not giving into my requests (ok.. begging), God steered me in the direction He intended me to go.

Some of my prayers, God did grant.  Some were practical.  I prayed for a WHOLE day (that’s pretty long for a teenager) before I went to the principal and asked if we could keep the yearbook committee if we held it after school.  It was granted immediately.  I always had enough babysitting jobs to afford dresses for dances.  I always had enough strength to do the hard things in life.  Every presentation, every performance, every apology.. I could feel God’s presence just as I had asked for.

Throughout my life, I became more and more aware that God doesn’t just answer “Yes” or “No”.  Quite often God answered me with a “Not Yet”.   “Dear Father in Heaven, I would really like a new car, if it’s in Your Will..”, Not Yet … “Dear Father in Heaven, I would really like to move closer home to family.. if it’s in Your Will..,” Not Yet.. be patient.  “Dear Father in Heaven, I would LOVE to have my daughter grow out of this phase.. quickly.. OH, if it’s in Your Will, of course??”  (I think I heard Him chuckle on that one) Not yet.. your daughter needs to learn something first.

I have come to think of these “Not Yet” answers as a kind of Two Hour Delay.  When schools have a Two Hour Delay, they aren’t saying they aren’t going to take your kids.  They are simply saying “Not Yet!  We want to make sure it is the perfect time.”  In the same way, God wasn’t telling me No.. just that the timing was not quite right.. not just yet.

Recently, I felt the full impact of one such Two Hour Delays.. or in this case it was a 14 Year Delay.  Almost from birth, my son has had tummy and digestive issues.. He would scream in pain, he would projectile vomit.. and he was never comfortable.  I would rock him, sing to him… my husband even tried his miracle football hold (that had saved us with our daughter).  Nothing helped.  I started praying that God would show me what was wrong and how to help.  We did test after test.. Nothing.  Still we prayed for a solution.  We found home remedies and over the counter meds that helped some.  Still we prayed.  Eventually, the doctors gave us medicine for him.  But for every solution that medicine seemed to give our son, more symptoms would pop up.  So STILL we prayed for wisdom on what was wrong.  Eventually we received a diagnoses of Autism.  With a diagnosis, my son received therapies.  But we noticed his behavior kept slipping.  I was told by other mothers of children with Autism that I needed to accept his limitations.  The doctors said I needed to accept his medical issues and just make him comfortable.  After MANY tears, I prayed, “Lord, if THIS is your answer.  If this is the life you intended for my son, please give me the peace to accept this answer.  But IF it is in Your Will, I would like to keep fighting for a solution.  I would like to find a way for my son to do ALL of the things that he WANTS to do.  So IF it’s in Your Will.. please help me find a way.”

I did have peace for years.. He was growing and seemed less uncomfortable.  His behavior equalized and he seemed to be maturing.  And then one day all that progress.. it stopped.  He seemed to grow “worse” by the day.  He would focus less, quote more, listen less, yell more.  Our peace was gone.  So once again, I prayed for answers.  I researched for hours for solutions.  And Still I prayed for guidance.

Then one day, God decided it was the perfect time.  He sent someone to tell me about food sensitivities and related behaviors.  I immediately went home and researched.. and it was all there.  EVERY answer to EVERY issue.  I found links between digestive health and vitamin deficiencies.  I found links between vitamin deficiencies and learning disorders.  I found links between learning disorders and diagnoses.. And I found links that showed me the link between Autism and digestive health.. and that digestive health can lead to the worsening of Autism.  And I cried… I cried because it was all there!  I cried because God hadn’t said “Accept this!”.. He had actually said, “Not just Yet.. Our timing needs to be perfect.”

I do not know why God thought THIS time was the perfect time.  But I do know that after I scheduled an appointment with a Diet and Nutrition doctor, it was a short time until we had a few simple tests done.  And a short time until all the results gave us the rest of the answers we needed.  I don’t really need to know why this is God’s perfect time.  But you can bet that I am Accepting that THIS is God’s plan.  I am accepting that my son is improving everyday.  He smiles more, yells less, he works more, quotes less, draws more and cries less.

So as I battled the roads this morning to take my kids to school after a Two Hour Delay,  I couldn’t find it in my heart to be frustrated with the school.  Because some of the most Glorious things happen when it is on God’s schedule and who am I to question that schedule?

Everything sounds better with the echo of a still small voice.