Tag Archives: God

Unworthy

This morning as Jackson and I were pulling into school I pointed to a break in the clouds and told Jackson God was looking down on us and telling him to have a great day. He said, “Good morning, God! Keep your eye on me today!” I reassured him God keeps his eye on him at all times, watching over him, protecting him. Jackson then told me of playing tag at recess, and how he laughs with his friends. As I pictured this in my mind, my eyes filled with tears. Tears of joy. Tears of happiness. Tears of humility. Tears of unworthiness. Tears of the knowledge of God’s overwhelming grace.

I always tell people I’ve never met a happier child than Jackson. He is happy from the moment his eyes flutter open at the crack of dawn until they flutter closed at day’s end. The child does not know a bad mood. Something about this really struck a chord in me this morning. It was an unexplainable sense of how blessed–yet how unworthy—I am to parent these two children of ours. Every time I think about it, I’m overcome with emotion.

I have no idea what God sees in this wretched soul, but I am grateful for this precious gift of parenthood He has bestowed upon me. My undying prayer is that I bring glory to Him in this mess of life.

Children are not casual guests in our home. They have been loaned to us temporarily for the purpose of loving them and instilling a foundation of values on which their future lives will be built. ~James Dobson

I was out for a run yesterday morning when it started to rain.  My initial thought was:  Boogers!  I’m about to get wet.  And then I thought, is that such a bad thing?  It was hot and humid.  I was soaked with sweat.  As long as I protected my iPhone, a little rain should be nothing to fret over.  I continued on my run and as I approached a curve I looked up to see blue skies behind the clouds.

Look up!  Blue skies are ahead.

I thought, what a great metaphor for life.  Oftentimes we fear something we have no need to fear.  If we simply look ahead—past our current circumstances, we just might see a favorable outcome within our reach.  All we have to do is stay the course and keep plugging along.  Things will get better.

So whatever you’re facing today don’t turn back, my friend.  Forge ahead and know you are not alone.  You’re in good company.  Folks like me are running right alongside you.  Just remember to look ahead and keep your head up.

The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain. ~Dolly Parton  

FAIL

FAIL
I’m bummed.  Actually, I’m way more than bummed.  I’m greatly disappointed in myself.  I let my frustrations get the best of me this morning.  I’m 99% sure Jackson forgot the turn of events as soon as he walked through the school doors.  But my reaction to things left a bitter taste in my mouth.  I pulled into school with tears brimming.

My vexation almost always results from what I believe should, at this juncture, be routine.  I get flustered with things that Jackson and I (and his OT) have been working on for what seems like eternity.  To me, dressing (and undressing) should be almost second nature by now.  He’s five, for Pete’s sake.  Truth of the matter is, the act of getting dressed or undressed is simply not natural for Jackson.   When it comes to undressing, shoes are semi-doable, providing they’re Velcro and loose fitting.  He’s good with taking his socks off.  Pants?  If they have a fastener it’s a no-go.  Pull over shirts and tees?  Pretty good, but for the life of me I don’t understand how they become stuck on his head, which results in his spinning around in circles.  Getting dressed?  That’s very often, but not completely, a bust.  (Thank goodness we live in Florida where pull-on shorts, tees and bare feet are the norm.)  This morning’s debacle went something like this.  The jacket went on, yet again, without a shirt.  And the pants went on backward, replete with the zipper in back.  Really?  The zipper wasn’t a dead giveaway?  Doesn’t any of this seem strange or uncomfortable, Jackson?

All this happened after spending the first 40 minutes of my morning making futile attempts to literally physically extricate myself from the grasp of a whiny and whimpering munchkin.  He was bent on me not getting up this morning.  He was adamant I needed to come back to bed with him.  Unfortunately I needed to get to work today.  The end of the month is fast approaching and I have a lot to do between now and the 31st.  Plus, a shower was needed, as I hadn’t had one in a few days.  I know, TMI…

I lost it.  Not literally, but my jaw was set and my teeth were clenched as I set about undressing Jackson and getting him dressed and out the door.  He had to sense I was frustrated.  My touch wasn’t gentle.  It was hurried and silent.  I prayed aloud for the Holy Spirit’s calm to wash over me.  We made our way out the door and into the car and rode in silence for the nearly 25-minute commute to school.  Now here I sit.  My spirit is broken and I can’t think of anything I want to do more than race to school and scoop Jackson up and hug him.

I’m so grateful tomorrow will be a new day and I’ll get a do over.  And blessedly God’s grace and tender mercies will be new too.  Thank you, Lord, for not giving up on me.  I’m so unworthy, yet Your love is faithful day in and day out.   Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

 Lamentations 3:22-24

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

 


Sacrifice

This post isn’t about me, per se.  It’s a message for someone.  I don’t know who the person is (or people are), but I believe God has pressed it upon my heart to put the following encouragement out there, not necessarily as someone who has been-there-done-that, but as someone who daily IS there DOING it.  I’m talking about parenting a child with special needs—great or small, whatever those needs may be.  Whoever you are, God wants you to know you are not alone.  Not only am I in the trenches with you, but there are countless others out there who get it—and get you.  Of course everyone’s situation is unique, however, those of us battling it out in the parenting trenches know your internal, physical and spiritual struggles.

If my admittedly failing memory serves me correct, parenting a child with special needs is not something I neither signed up nor signed on for when I inked my parenting contract with God.  But then again, few people do.  (There is a very special place in heaven for those whose hearts God has set to seek out and parent children who have special needs.  Bless you.)  As the parent of a child with developmental challenges, pipedreams are no longer in my wheelhouse.  That’s not conjecture; it’s fact.  I’m not seeking sympathy, I’m simply telling you my reality.   I can’t see past today.  My son consumes me from the moment his eyes flutter open at the crack of dawn until he finally drifts off to sleep at night.  His days are fueled by a great deal of anxiety and nearly every second of my day is spent caring for or interacting with him in one way or another.  And the few hours I’m afforded during the school day are spent at my office doing full-time work on a very part-time schedule.

One of the many things I’ve learned firsthand over the years is this:  you cannot effectively parent a child without sacrificing yourself.  Every family’s situation is unique, however, parenting a child with developmental and/or physical challenges greatly magnifies the sacrifice required of parents and caregivers.

I’m less than happy and more than a little embarrassed to admit that oftentimes I look at friends and acquaintances (and even my husband/business partner) through green eyes of envy.  I had—and continue to have—so many dreams and aspirations I fear will never come to fruition.  But I’m learning to have peace with this possibility.  At times it’s been a tough pill to swallow, but our mighty Comforter is balm to my wounded ego.  When I get a case of the feel sorries, He reminds of this:  Jesus’ birth, life and death were foretold; His sole purpose was to be mankind’s Savior—our Redeemer.  He came to earth to be The Sacrificial Lamb.  Period. He didn’t juggle many roles in His short time on this earth.  Nor did he try to find a way to mitigate His purpose.  He had a singular objective.   Jesus never questioned that.  Never.  Ever.

Now, I am absolutely, positively NOT comparing my sacrifice or anyone else’s for that matter, to the ultimate price Jesus paid for you and me.  However, I firmly believe as mothers in general our lives must, to some degree or another, be a living sacrifice for our child(ren).  My experience tells me this is especially true for adoptive parents and parents of children with special needs.   Both bring so much to the parenting table.  We simply cannot have it all.   There are many folks who believe differently.  There’s a host of people out there who either try to convince us we can have/do it all or guilt us into believing we fall short if we don’t aspire to be supermom.  But as the mother of both a soon-to-be 32 year old and a five year old on the autism spectrum, I can tell you it’s an unreasonable goal and trying to do so can be a real spirit breaker.  In this instance I have most definitely been-there-done-that.

So, my dear friend—whoever you are, the only counsel I can offer is take it easy on yourself.  Please, please, please give yourself a break, and while you’re at it, a pat on the back.  You deserve it.  I guarantee it.

Overwhelming Grace

For the first time in weeks I took (as in forcefully snatched it out of the day) the time this morning to go for a run.  I took our two energetic pointers with me.   Since it’s been awhile since our last run, It took a bit for us to get into synch.  As we were plodding along (read: sucking wind) early in the run, i was struck with the following thought.

Through the precious blood of Jesus, my husband and I are God’s adopted children.  In turn, God birthed the desire to adopt a child and facilitated Jackson’s adoption.  Then the three of us adopted these two knuckleheads (thought with all the love in my heart) running along with me. Truth be told, all five of us are as broken as the day is long.  Seriously.  Our family is a whole bucket full of whacky dysfunction, but God’s amazing grace covers each and every one of us.  And that makes it not only okay, but it makes life doable.  Even on the worst days when I want nothing more than to pull the covers up over my head and pretend I have nowhere to be, HE has got this. HE carries me.  Everything is gonna be alright.  And for that I’ll praise Him and worship Him all the days he grants me on this earth.  Thank you, LORD! Thank you.

“Raw”

Munchkin had a seldom-seen stillness about him this morning that was especially apparent on the drive to school.  This stillness allowed for a palpable openness about him–something that I rarely get to see.  Typically, Jackson’s personalty is such that he must be in control at all times.  He is completely and unequivocally in command of his surroundings and the things he allows himself to be exposed to.  He’s a child on high alert.  Some folks tell me this is a good thing, but for me it can be disheartening to constantly be shut down at every turn. There are so many things I would love to do or experience with Jackson that he simply will not have any part of.  And while that’s completely okay, it doesn’t lessen the isolation I sometimes feel, stemming from living in a very thwarted and limited world.  But this morning was different.  Jackson talked.  I listened.  I talked.  He listened.  Did you get that?  WE talked!

This openness allowed a rawness to surface inside me that shattered my soul–a rawness that is oftentimes stifled by the day-to-day tasks and responsibilities of parenting.  The utter rawness I felt while driving to school left me broken and humbled beyond description.  I get to be this child’s mom.  Me!  What an absolute privilege!  I am so underserving of this magnificent gift.  How easy it is in parenting a child with developmental challenges and special needs to mistake parenting solely as a serious responsibility (NOT burden, mind you), as opposed to the blessing it truly is.  

My prayer:  Thank you, God, for entrusting us with this precious child of yours. Guide our every breath word, action and reaction, O Lord, as we steward him through his life on earth. Give us your wisdom and knowledge as we raise this child up.  Let you Spirit direct our steps as we teach this precious little one to love you, to love Jesus, and to love all people.  Let us love him with the same love, grace, mercy and peace with which You love us.  Be glorified in all we do, Lord–especially as parents. In the name of your precious Son, Jesus. Amen.

Don’t miss this, folks.  We are blessed!  You and I are so very blessed.  

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward… ~Psalms 127:3

Breaking My Heart

“If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” ~ Woody Allen

Our son, Jackson, is adopted.  Early in the adoption process you are asked to state your criteria for a child.  Our request was pretty straightforward.  Male. Healthy. Birth to 12 months of age.  Now, we know you can’t mail order a child.  And of course there are no guarantees whatsoever in adoption.  But the agency asks and that’s what we told them.

When we finally received our referral it appeared all criteria were met.  Our son was seven weeks old and healthy.  Three months later we traveled to Ethiopia to bring Jackson home.  He was everything we dreamed he would be and a whole lot more.  However, shortly after our return home I recognized that caring for Jackson was far different than caring for my daughter had been when she was the same age.  I attributed it to the trauma Jackson had been through in his five short months of life on earth.  (Adoption is a blessing for both the parents and child, but it is without exception borne of great tragedy.)  Additionally, I thought we were most likely experiencing attachment-related issues, as we were Jackson’s fifth “home” in four months.  I desperately tried to love away his issues.  I utilized every bonding technique and suggestion known to man.  I followed every book, blog, article, report and mother’s instinct that came to light, but there was little change.

Jackson was restless.  He cried (loudly) if he wasn’t moving—constantly moving.  He didn’t sleep.  He wouldn’t smile.  He wouldn’t reach for me or touch me.  He wouldn’t look at me.  He didn’t coo.  He didn’t giggle.  No. Matter. How. Hard. I. Tried.  It was heart rendering.  It was obvious he was content to be cared for, but could not have given a hoot as to who changed his diaper or fed him a bottle.  My gut told me it was autism.  Turned out this mama’s instinct was correct.

I wrestled with the “why” question for quite awhile.  Our travel to Ethiopia was life changing.  There is so much need there.  Need for schools.  Need for clean water.  HIV-related need.  And the orphans.  There are so many orphans and orphanages in this world.  And I wanted to fix it all.  But God had a different plan for me and for our family.  I wrestled spiritually with God.  I never doubted His love for me.  What I struggled with was why I was wandering in the desert.  All I wanted to do was to be the change I want to see in the world, but my life was at a complete and total standstill.  Caring for Jackson required every ounce of strength and energy I had.

And then God spoke to me.  Not in so many words, of course, but the revelation was crystal clear.  Jackson is my mission and my mission.  He is my mission field, and he is my life’s mission.  That was why God brought him into our family.  HE knew exactly what HE was doing.  Bringing Jackson to Jupiter, Florida, to be our son was HIS plan all along.  I never lose sight of that, not for one minute.

A byproduct, so to speak, of God’s plan for me to be Jackson’s mom is how HE has opened my eyes and heart to children with developmental challenges.  I am so acutely aware of my surroundings, no matter where I am.  When I see a child whose behavior is outside the norm, my heart overflows with compassion for the child’s parent/family.  I go out of my way to share a smile, a kind word, a helping hand, a look of acceptance.  These small gestures are borne of an awareness God has gifted me with.  It’s an awareness I wouldn’t otherwise have, if it weren’t for Jackson.  He is my mission and my mission.  Autism awareness is part and parcel of that mission—one I take seriously.

Thank you, God, for breaking my heart for what breaks yours.  And by the way are you still laughing, God?  It’s okay if you are, because it’s all good, God.  It’s all good.