Wednesday, May 3, 2017

New Adventures on the horizon - part 1

I write to capture this journey.
I write to reflect and never lose this moment.
I write because the ripple may reach someone somewhere and be helpful in some way.
Due to confidentiality and respect I cannot disclose many of the intimate details that brought me to this place but I will give a general overview because it is crucial to this testimony. Some time ago I met a child in my city and had the blessing to connect with this child. The child is from a place beyond my imagination in the very worst ways and to be very honest I really had to take some weeks bordering on months to wrap my head around the magnitude of damage that I saw. It took me a couple of months to confess to God that I felt mad at Him.
Why does humanity destroy children?!
Why did God let this happen?
Where was God? Where is God still while other children continue to "live" in agony?

I see the news, I see pictures and stories all over the world and I was content to pray for them and believe that God is with all of his children and somehow he protects them...
Except that here is this child in my arms and in my heart and from what I can see, there was no divine protection from the world.

At first I drew away from God and I tried to reconcile it in my mind. I didn't mean to draw away but I just felt so overwhelmed by compassion and heart break and I felt like God was deafeningly silent.
It wasn't until I confessed my anger and just let it flow openly and poured my heart out to God (yes in anger) that the silence was broken at last.

In true God style, the answer was beyond my wildest imagination.

God first brought to my mind the last time I questioned his goodness and his presence. Only one other time in my entire life have I ever asked God "why".
My sweet Drew was in the hospital 12 years ago and during a long stint in the ICU, I broke down during a procedure that Drew had to endure without sedation. This sweet innocent helpless soul endured so much pain and I questioned God. I challenged Him. I wanted to fight Him.... He laid upon my heart an answer that I had tucked away until now.
Instead of "why us?" I should be asking "why are we chosen to persevere through this and how will HE use it?"

God added one more tag to that answer for my most recent outcry, he also laid upon my heart Job 38:4 "Where were you when I created the foundations of the Earth..." and to expand upon that "Where are you in your faith that you think that I'm [God] not there?"

So I prayed and waited and was humbled and repentant. Until...
April 23, 2017 - I woke up on this cool Sunday morning with the unquenchable fire to seek God. To go to Africa specifically and to seek him outside of my own perspecitive on a short term mission. To see him in the rawest of faith and to find him in the most humble of places. To see my questions outside of the context in which I asked them and yet see some small portion of God in the midst of pain and chaos.

I don't know when. I don't know where. I don't know how. I don't know who.... I do know that the more I study in the word and the more I pray, the more I realize that  all of my trials and my victories - they were His trials and victories and this mission is one of the reasons for all of that.

Now, I'm not flying completely blind. I've spoken to my Pastor and I have made some connections in the mission field. I'm just waiting and praying and preparring for His timing and ultimate destination.

I ask for your prayers and I hope God willing that this journey can be used not only to seek him and find him, not only for the fruit of the mission itself, but to maybe be of some use to even one person who may be asking a lot of difficult questions and not realizing that those questions and those trials are actually a call to serve.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

God is answering my prayers with a.... DOG?!?!

For the duration of my entire life I have wanted more than anything to be good enough. I have an idea in my head  of what is good enough and I almost never reach this idealization. Once in a while I have a glimpse that I am what I should be... I have noticed in my adult life that this always occurs when I give up my ideals and focus on God and just doing the next right things one step at a time. I have learned with time and experience that many women feel this way. We tend to compare our worst inside feelings to the best of what we see on the outside of other people. I have learned through trial and error what it means to really live the spirit filled life and to lean into the Lord. But... I'm human and I'm I have some areas that really need to grow and I tend to fall away from this blessed path over time.... and time and again. Don't worry, I am repentant but I also understand that this is typical for being human and well documented through the Bible.
I have been praying for God to show me in a real and literal way what I need to do to keep growing. I know in my heart that I need to stay in the word and to keep living the truths I know in my heart but somehow in this recent spiritual winter I have been missing the real radical presence with life application that I crave with all my heart. I WANT A ROAD MAP!!!! Yes, I know that's now how it works. God is a radical presence but we don't get a road map.
As I reflect on these deep thoughts I looked back through my prayer journal and my "ah-ha" moments. I noticed a pattern and I saw that once again I have fallen away from what I need.
I have the answer I need.
How do I get back on track and really seek the Lord with a heart that is willing to follow and learn and submit?
The pattern I saw was that I have have countless moments where I realize that if God wanted me anywhere else he could have put me in those places. I have had several realizations that I just need to be present in the moment. I need to stop comparing my worst to others' best. I need to just be content and not even worry about the next right thing when this moment is not over. This seemingly small step could really go a long way toward some areas I really need to grow in; patience, peace, self-control, grace... just to name a few.
So I pray and and I seek and I wait and I keep going in circles.... until one day I realize that I have started a project that addresses all of those struggles I just described. I think God has facilitated something in my life that is so meaningful that I can't give up and forces me to live in the moment and to concentrate on what is presently going on.
As you know we have a cute Daniff (Great Dane/ Mastiff) puppy. He is a little over 3 months old and we are just a few days past our 2 month milestone into this journey. I haven't slept through the night in 2 months and 3 days. Our world revolves around him right now. We are training him as a service dog for Faith. It's a long journey and we have already had our speed bumps but we're committed and we really believe that this is the best for our child and so we won't stop and we will give everything we can to making this work.
Part of our process is puppy training. We have committed to 2+ years of regular training with high standards. As usual I have an idea in my head of what this should look like and where we should be and what we should be doing. Our dog trainer over the course of a few sessions has said some things that really resonate with me and force me to realize that once again I am missing in this present moment. She said that one of the reasons she loves dogs is because they only have this moment right now. They don't know or care that last week they could sit and walk through the mall perfectly. Today, right now, he can't walk through the mall perfectly. When we see others around us and it looks like they are doing so well and their dog sits even when you are hopping up and down with distractions while I am still using a food lure to encourage my dog to make a good choice.... it doesn't matter is I'm comparing our worst to their best. We have not made progress and will not make progress until I am present only in this moment with the dog and we work through what needs to be done together.
 My to-do lists don't matter. My check lists of training skills and my long-term plans are meaningless in this moment. The work lists and the IEPs to be written, the dishes, the laundry, the next appointment, the next sports activity, the homework that is due, the chaos... all of it... does not have meaning unless it is what I am doing right now. It's a skill I have never learned. to practice this feels like ice skating for the first time. That dog will not learn and we can not serve our child until I am forced to practice being present in the moment with this animal when we are working.
Could it be that God has taken this journey in such a place in my life that it not only benefits Faith but also teaches me a skill I never learned and impacts our world in a big way? It seems like a God thing to do and it is in keeping with how he works in our lives. Usually when we start a project or have a door open or close, it ends up teaching us so much more that just the face value of that phase. I also believe that life is what you make it. I could choose to walk away from this idea and chalk it up to being too tired. I could just have a great family pet or I could ask someone else to train the dog. I see the potential for greatness here. I see that if I take this opportunity to learn how to just focus and be present in the moment it will impact my parenting, my teaching, my attitude, and the chaos that sometimes rules my life.

Maybe when I picture my ideal scenario, I am not picturing material things or specific activities... Maybe what I seek is the peace that comes from surrendering everything else except for this moment.  Maybe this dog was meant for more than Faith; maybe he has as much to teach me as we have to teach him. Everyone eventually hopefully has a moment in a season of life that defines them... Maybe this is my moment in this season of my life.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

my two cents on a very controversial subject

I am the parent of 3 children.
My oldest is neurochemically atypical. I with my special ed degrees and 16 years of experience feel that he shares characteristics of a person with very high functioning Asperger's and ADHD. The neuropsych team felt that he has anxiety and sensory processing disorder with ADHD (like Asperger's?). Tomato, tomatoe... Either way I have a need for a highly structured environment in my home, I have to explain things in literal black & white terms, and state all of my expectations clearly in small steps right now in order to give my son the tools he needs to build the tools for adulthood.

My daughter is affected by hypotonic cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is a stroke that occurs before, during, or shortly after birth resulting in a muscular abnormality present since birth that doesn't get better and doesn't  get worse. The muscle function may get better or worse but the overall make up of the muscles is not degenerative and isn't going to magically get better.

These disorders are not related, I could not have landed with 2 disabilities that are further apart. the Autism spectrum may have genetic components but as far as I know there isn't a family history of this... not granted I don't know half of my husband's genetic history and I don't know half of my Nana's genetic history, and I really don't know about much of half of my own family medical history.
I get asked more often than you might realize, "what caused this?"

"did you get sick when you were pregnant?"
-----Yes, everyone gets sick when they're pregnant, I even took antibiotics (GASP!)

"did you vaccinate your kids?"
-----Yes, I vaccinated all of the children. Their behavior did not change after vaccination and if the chemicals had any sort of interaction in their brains then I genuinely feel that my son would have eventually presented with these characteristics even if I had chosen not to vaccinate.

"were you on meds when you were pregnant?"
-----Yes, all of my small fetuses were exposed to medicine approved by authorities of western medicine.

"were there birth complications?"
-----No, there weren't any valid birth complications. If the cause were birth complications then Cole would have had CP and Faith and Davin would have been typical. Cole was born via unplanned c-section.

"did you do anything that you haven't asked forgiveness for?"
-----No, I don't think any of my sinful behavior caused any of the disabilities present in my family.
We all sin, if this were how the world works there would be no typical people to compare my kids to. Jesus paid for my sins, my kids don't have to pay for my sins.

Here's my opinion on why my children were born with some different needs:

I'm lucky!!!

Seriously, we live in a broken freaking world with chemicals in our food that we as a species really haven't seen until this last century. We live in a world where people get cancer, they die too young, we have disease, famine, and loss all around us. Our world has this whole environmental thing going on and we haven't had the tools long enough to study how our actions will impact our world or if global warming is simply a natural cycle that we (people) haven't been around long enough to see. come full circle.

I'm sure there's a little bit of everything mixed into the truth that we haven't found.

So... I don't consider these disabilities a tragedy (that's another blog). I don't think there is any one cause for how my children are made up. I know that I believe in the truths in the Bible which says say God knew my kids before they were in my womb and I know that God knew every challenge they would face. Every child has a unique contribution to this world and if I didn't have a daughter with cerebral palsy who is going to be a princess when she grows up, or a son who sees everything very literally and will be a great leader when he's an adult, or another son who loves to dress in his Sunday best every day and wants to play bagpipes and be a chef then my world would be vastly different. My kids just like your kids add something to the world that would be missing if they were any different. They've taught me lessons about myself and how I look at things, they light the room with their smiles.  Each person adds something to life that no one else can fill.

I'm really ok to accept that there isn't a "cause" for a disability. I have never felt like a disability is a disability, it's simply a different way to contribute to life. I accept that these lives are perfectly and wonderfully made out of my control and I alone did not influence their abilities or disabilities. I'm writing this because I hope that someday this way of looking at abilities will be adopted by more people and maybe we can embrace disabilities and empower people to contribute to our world in any way they can.