Tag Archives: prayer

Going for a ride…

  Yesterday I went for a ride.. It was beautiful and peaceful… The wind was blowing gently. The sun would disappear for a time behind fluffy clouds just to reappear a short while later.

Absolutely peaceful… but it wasn’t perfect.

I watched my special needs son.. frustrated with our slow pace… paddle far ahead. My sister in law had a tough time keeping her adventurous daughter in the boat. My nephew grew tired of paddling and we made mid-water “passenger change-overs”.

Not to mention, if you went too close to the shore the bugs would swarm you.. ghastly mosquitoes and biting flies….

But as I floated through the flooded path between the lakes .. the path we would have had to carry our boats along if the water level wasn’t quite so high… As I floated along I looked at all the little paths among the trees that I would love to explore… How fun it would be to weave in and out of the trees and under the low branches..

The writer in me?IMG_4309

Well I could feel a story lay somewhere in those trees…

But the water was murky.. and I didn’t really know what I would be getting into.. the last thing I wanted was to get in an iffy situation .. one where I would have to ask for help getting out of.

And I was fairly certain I would be swarmed with bugs. Am I afraid of bugs? No… they aren’t pleasant.. but I am not afraid. So why would I avoid them? If there were unpleasant, small buzzing sounds flying in your ears, mouth and in your eyes.. would you want to continue?

Reading the news lately has made me want to retreat more and more from the media. The more I listen to the News ridicule good people and cheer on confused ones? The more I want to get out my kayak and just go for a ride.

Honestly… if I did that?  I would always be in my kayak….

I am not perfect. I would never tell you I was.

In the middle of walking my son through an hour long dip of serotonin.. and rising of adrenaline… an hour of such paralyzing frustration … an hour of him yelling his phrases while clutching my arm.. an hour of him physically and mentally needing me to walk him through his coping mechanisms so that he won’t hurt himself… an hour that seems to stretch into eternity while his body re-balances itself…

… in the middle of this hour of intense “helping”? Yup… I sometimes wish I was somewhere else.. writing.. reading.. yeah, I’d even rather be doing the dishes…

.. I stick it out until I see my son resurface from under those confused emotions… and when I see his confidence return I know it was worth it… but as any parent of a child with special needs will tell you.. it is not easy..

No.. I am not perfect.. I struggle with my failing every day… and then I try to forgive myself for these failings.. but it is hard.

My family isn’t perfect either .. they are amazing and loving … but not even close to perfect. I love them ALL because of it.

2 parents, 5 brothers, 1 sister…

…Grandparents, aunts and uncles too large to really count…

1 husband, 2 biological children, 2 borrowed daughters…

2 parent in laws, 1 brother in law,  6 sister in laws..

… 7 nephews and 10 nieces…

… and soooooo many cousins….

… Ha.. I have even adopted a few  honorary sisters into my life..

Not one of them perfect… not one would say they are…

… when they mess up? I find it easy to forgive them..

Why?

Because this kayak trip through life isn’t perfect.. the wind is sometimes too strong for us (and we falter)… the current is at times to strong (and we long to turn around.. to give up)… the distance is often daunting .. just too far (we doubt we can succeed).. (so sometimes we chose short cuts)… there are hidden obstacles under the water.. sand bars, fallen trees, or even really thick weeds.. all are things that make us want to lash out in frustration…

… and then there is adventure and temptation… floating along a path that is usually blocked by land.. finding a hidden lake.. great adventures…

..life gets to be repetitive… and we humans are weak for our own temptations.. and we think? Why shouldn’t we be happy? Why shouldn’t we do what we want?

.. but if MY adventures could put OTHERS in harms way? Those are THEN temptations… When choosing a freedom.. or acting on a “dream”… hurts your children? Those are paths better left unexplored…

When I mess up … and I frequently do…Whether they are small in my mind or large… I have to ask for forgiveness from God.. and from others..

I want them to forgive me..

..so in return? It’s easy for me to forgive them… (Even if I need to walk away.. and go for a ride first…)

What about the bugs? I know that is what you are thinking… why mention the blood sucking and biting flies… if I wasn’t going to connect them to my story?

That horrid buzzing sound of flies is the sound of the Media… the gossiping… the false reports… the rumors… the people who are unable to forgive themselves for past sins (so they can’t forgive the sins of a young teenage boy who has paid for his crimes)…

… I try to stay away from the edge of the lake…

Why?

When this is my world and I should care what is going on in it? Why don’t I listen?

MY World.. is the world God placed around me… my family.. my extended family… my community.. They are the piece of the world that God entrusted to me..

What about those who don’t have a community who will surround them? Those with out people to love them and support them?

Well? Then I invite them to Michigan to be a part of my world.

As for gossiping and judging people?

Jesus told us himself…

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”

Matthew 7:1-3 NIV

I could write a whole book on what this verse means to the world TODAY.. because it isn’t up for interpretation… But God doesn’t intend for me to show the whole world.. He intends for me to show MY piece of the world! He asks me to show them by living it..

So.. while I CAN see when others sin… I can see how that sin hurts others.. but I will not judge them. I will not teach my children to judge them.. but I will teach them to pray for others. How? I will show them how I forgive and pray for those around me… I will show my kids by forgiving them when they disobey and praying for them everyday..

.. and I step in where God asks me to… in my part of the world…

.. but at the same time? I will not judge others for their weaknesses…

So when I am frustrated by social media and the gossiping… and mostly the unforgiveness in our country today… I will go for a ride.. Taking care to steer clear from the edge of the lake… away from the buzzing and the biting…

..but I do pray for forgiveness for the media… and possibly a change of heart for some… because I believe it possible in all those who want to change… and just like the smile my son gives when he comes through a rough spell…

… it will be worth it…

.. but mostly? Mostly I will just focus on the world God has assigned to me… which is extensive… and includes small communities in other countries…

.. and maybe?

Well maybe I will write a few stories about forgiveness too…

Be prepared..

IMG_6998Ever since the day my daughter was born, she has proven to be unfailingly … unpredictable. If I thought she would act a certain way, she would always pick the other. If I thought she would do great at something, she would refuse to try. She was SO unpredictable.. it was almost predictable..

As a young mother, I decided I was going to rock my infant daughter to sleep every night (because my wise mother had not allowed us to rock our baby brothers)… At 3 weeks old? At 3 weeks old, my daughter decided she had enough of that. She screamed until I laid her in her bed. She peacefully fell asleep on her own. This pattern continued with having to feed herself.. dress herself.. pick her own clothes. What ever I thought she would choose? She would suddenly chose something else.

I decided early on.. I was going to have to be prepared for anything.

My motto became… BE PREPARED!

I remember one camping trip fondly. My daughter was 2.. and fairer than any child I had ever seen. So I dressed her in a swimsuit.. in case she got wet in the wash tubs again.. or got too close to the water pumps… or “accidentally” spilled her juice on her clothes again. Then I slathered her from head to toe in a strong sunscreen.. that way I wouldn’t have to call out to her to stay in the shade.  Setting her down outside the tent, I then sprayed her with bug spray .. so the mosquitoes wouldn’t carry her away.

With a nod of satisfaction… satisfied that I had been as prepared as I possibly could be.. I turned back into the tent to prepare my second born.. my easy going son.

I had only JUST started dressing my son… when the laughter started. I am not talking about cute giggles. I don’t even mean a short laugh of amusement… This was full blown laughter.. and it was coming from the adults in our camping group. Trying to catch his breath, my husband called out, “Hey honey.. come here a minute… and… and bring the camera.”

Scrambling toward the door… I stepped outside to see my beautiful blond haired child.. covered in black dirt… from head to toe. While I was preparing to protect my daughter’s porcelain complexion, I happened to create the perfect glue. So perfect in fact, that when she laid down and rolled around in that dark sandy black soil? It stuck instantly to her.

And in the middle of that dirt caked face? A beautiful smile…

So I laughed with my family.. and reached for the camera. But I vowed.. I would be better prepared next time.

Then one night, I tucked my second grade daughter into bed.. and reached for the book on her night stand. Startled, I realized it wasn’t the same book that I had been reading to her.. It wasn’t the book I had been reading to her every night for the last week..one chapter at a time.

“Where is the book we were reading yesterday?” I asked her, confused.

“Oh I finished that one .. that is the next one in the series,” she replied nonchalantly.

“You finished it?” I repeated, still confused. “How? We only read chapter 10 last night..”

Taking a deep patient breath, my daughter replied.. “You left off where it was getting good.. I had to know how it would end. So I took it to school today,” she finished with a shrug.

“But we were reading it together,” I stated bewildered.

“You go ahead and finish it,” she encouraged. “But tonight you can start this one.” Pointing to the book I held in my hand.

In that moment? In that moment, I realized I was never going to be fully prepared. I was always going to be surprised by her.

So I decided…

I would go on being prepared.. but I needed to let the control go. Or at least the illusion of control. You see?!?  I never really had control. And I knew that I needed to just let the rest go.. I needed to let the NEED to feel prepared for ANYthing go.. and just lean on faith.

Now that my daughter is a teenager.. YUP.. she is still unpredictable.. But she no longer surprises me every time. We have come to expect her to be unpredictable. Always taking her two choices.. knowing that she will choose the only option we didn’t offer… We have just come to expect it.

So my new motto has become.. BE prepared and leave the rest to God..

This works for me.. most of the time. I still prepare myself for several scenarios… and occasionally I am still surprised by the unexpected. And occasionally? Occasionally, I am unprepared for it.

No matter how many times I talk myself through it? I am always surprised when someone lets me down. When someone that I look up to, behaves in a way I could not predict… in a way that disappoints me… it always takes me by surprise. I have to force myself to give that surprise back to God.. and to lean on faith. Faith that THAT person is dealing with unpredictable surprises of their own. The faith that everyone needs understanding.

It works well.. until the next time.

Recently, my family had something happen.. that none of us were expecting.. and we certainly weren’t prepared.

My youngest brother and his wife have a 3 year old son. Beautiful 3 year old boy.. with a beautiful soul.  As he progressed through his “terrible” 3’s? We, as a family, prepared to help guide the independence.. we prepared to keep a straight face when funny sassafras came out of his independent mouth… we prepared to pretend to be firm when needed. We all want this amazing boy to be the BEST that he can possibly be.. so we prepared to support his parents when needed.

But we prepared for the wrong thing…

My nephew was diagnosed with NF this spring. NF stands for Neurofibromatosis. A genetic disorder that we all believed to be characterized by large birthmarks .. and cyst growth on the skin. Again we prepared.. we prepared to make him feel comfortable in his skin. With these growths.

But again.. we prepared for the wrong thing…

Neurofibromatosis (NF) can cause tumors to grow on nerves… and cysts on bones… and anywhere.. on any organ system in the body.

My nephew? Well this beautiful  3 year old boy has cysts growing on his leg bones.. causing so much pain that he can’t sleep.

We weren’t prepared for that….

Then through a routine eye exam, they found what the specialists knew could happen. A non-cancerous tumor growing on his optic nerve.. behind his eye. Non-cancerous prepares our hearts to not be scared. But in fact, these tumors are too risky to operate on. When left unchecked, a growing tumor can damage his eye sight. The solution?

Chemotherapy.

Our beautiful, sweet, amazing nephew… needs chemotherapy..

We weren’t prepared for that either…

I don’t think anyone could be prepared for that…

“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; A time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; A time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; A time to mourn; and a time to dance;”  Ecclesiates 3:1-4

God has never promised us a perfect life… and it is not even close. But He has given us other promises. Promises to give us strength.. promises that we need not fear what He has planned for us.. promises that all things will make sense someday. And in these verses.. He tells us that after the tears.. there will again be laughter. Sometimes that laughter comes in the middle of the tears.. like a rainbow in the midst of a storm. Sometimes… it’s much later… after the storm is but a memory.

I don’t think we will be able to fully prepare this young boy …or ourselves… for the next 18 months.. But we can definitely try .. The rest? The rest we will have to take on faith. Faith that God will be there and get us through what we aren’t prepared for. That he will get this young boy and his parents through whatever they aren’t prepared for.

I have a feeling that my nephew will be more prepared for his chemotherapy treatments then us adults will be. After all.. he has 2 amazing parents with a deep faith in God. But it is always hard to see a child struggle through hard treatments.

So this week? This week was my time to weep.. and it was my time to break down.

But next week? I am praying that next week will begin the time of healing for my nephew.. and a time for laughter.. and a time to build up .. To build up in preparation for this road we will travel with this beautiful boy.. and his parents..

And in 18 months… I am praying it will be our time to dance…

Two hour delay…

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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?

Instruction Manual…

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Curves ahead… 2006

On a particularly taxing summer day, I remember laughing with a family member about how I have often wished God had sent an instruction manual along with my youngest child.  Almost from his first day, I had encountered dilemmas I had never heard of.  He never slept, never stopped crying, never let me put him down, NEVER slept, hated the car, was always hungry, hated the swing, hated sunshine, .. and did I mention that he NEVER slept?  I knew that there were stories of people having fussy babies, but that happened to OTHER people.. not my family.  We KNEW how to care for babies.  So I will admit that after the 47th night of no sleep, I decided that God was giving me a dose of humility.  So I humbly prayed, “Lord, please forgive me for always assuming that harassed and tired looking mothers just weren’t used to caring for children.  Please Bless ALL of the sleepless mothers in the world with a good nights sleep.  Including me.. if it’s in Your will.  Amen.”  I don’t know about all the other sleepless mothers in the world, but God woke my husband… who took my crying baby from me .. so I could sleep.

As I journeyed down the road of Special needs, I have prayed many midnight prayers like this one.  But the prayer I have prayed the most often could actually be classified as a PLEA.  My heartfelt begging of God for the Wisdom to choose the correct path.  I have always felt that there were ways to solve every dilemma.. an answer to every issue.. a happiness at the end of every teary-eyed day.  Unfortunately, I am a very slow learner.  I would trudge along on the path I chose.. knowing I would find the answer.  Then on the 47th day.. I would put my son on the bus with a smile forced past my quivering lip.. and as soon as the bus disappeared from site, I would sink (in surrender) down on the steps in front of my house and pray.  I can’t even count how many times I cried out to God that I couldn’t do it on my own anymore.  (Like He didn’t already know that..?)  And I would pray that familiar prayer.. “Lord.. forgive me for assuming that every harassed and tired looking Mother.. didn’t know what she was doing.  Please Bless every Mother of a Special Needs child with the knowledge she needs, the strength to carry it out.. and a good night’s sleep.  Including me.. if it is in Your Will.. Amen.”  I don’t know about all the other Mothers of children with Special Needs.. but at that moment I was filled to the brim with Peace. Then God would send someone with a sign for which path I needed to follow.  Whether it was a call from a teacher with a new intervention, a dear “sister” stopping by for a cup of tea reminding me that my child WAS IN FACT just a child, or a call reminding me I needed to set up an appointment.. or my favorite, a phone call from a friend telling me she was taking my kids for the night.  After way too many years of trying it on my own?  I finally learned to start my day with, “Lord please lend me the wisdom, the strength, and the love I will need for this day.  If it is in Your Will. Amen.”

I have spent the majority of my life caring for children.  My own children, plus the ones that people have shared with me.  My preschool classes, my nursery class at church, and my daycare kiddos.  There really is no way to count the number of children that have touched my heart and effected my life.  But during those years of care, I have come to realize that every child has Special Needs.  I had students with high IQ’s, who would melt down with every transition.  I had highly organized and efficient students, who had speech delays.  Artist students who don’t like to be touched.  Students with the best personalities, who could not learn personal space boundaries.  I began to see that every student had a special ability or “super power”, and that every one of them struggled with something.  Some of those struggles are huge neon signs, but some of them aren’t.  Some of the struggles are actually a small “handle with care” tag tucked in their shirt collar.  God Blessed me with one of each of these children.  My son carries his Special Needs around with a blinking Neon sign.. My daughter tucks hers in her collar on a tiny tag, hidden from the rest of the world.  On a particular taxing day, watching my daughter struggle with her “special needs” hidden from the world, I prayed a new prayer.  “Lord, I can see that every child struggles with their own needs.  Forgive me for assuming that us Mothers of children with Diagnoses deserve more of your time and understanding than any other Mother.  Please Bless EVERY Mother in the world with the wisdom of how to help her children, the strength to follow through with that wisdom and a good night’s sleep… including me, if it is in Your Will, Lord. Amen.”  I can’t speak for all the Mothers in the world, but I was filled with a peace in that moment.

I still have days that I try things my own way.  When I have beat my head against the wall for the 47th time, I remember to take a step back and look for what God is trying to show me.  There are days that I yell down the hall for my daughter to come see me immediately.  There are days that I can’t handle my son’s behavior and send him to his room.  And there are days that I drop my kids off at school, forcing a smile past my quivering lips, then cry all the way home.  But for as many sad, stressful moments I have had in my life as a mother of children with Special Needs, I have had so many more filled with joy.  That moment when your child laughs with real joy.  The smile that is filled with contentment.  The pride you feel in their EVERY success.  Those moments out weigh the moments of stress.  And I have realized that if you LOOK for them.. the moments of joy greatly outnumber the moments of tears.

But the moment I most felt like a good mother?  It was the moment that my daughter burst into tears while slamming soapy dirty dishes around, yelling of injustice.. and in that moment I recognized it NOT as a moment of insolence or rebellion.. but as a moment of need.  Laughing, as my eyes filled with tears, I wrapped that beautiful, struggling child in my arms (dirty soap suds and all) and gave her a hug until she laughed with me.  That is my best Mom moment.