Friday, May 29, 2015

Why I shouldn't go to church...

It's been a while since I've written.  Life has gotten much more fast paced, things are changing, life keeps going no matter how I tell myself that one day it will slow down, but I'll get into that another time.

This morning as I woke up, as I stood in my shower praying (I do my best praying in the bathroom for some reason), asking for help again, feeling completely undone again, knowing that change is hard and scary and completely out of my hands again....  God just said... Stop.  Just stop.  You know, just one of those Be still and know that I am God moments.  And though I really was in the mood for one of my all out pity party sessions instead I just stopped and put on my big girl face for the day.  And while hiding in the bathroom for just few minutes more than necessary, I opened this book.
I was drawn in immediately as this, THIS, has been a seed that was planted in my heart many years ago, but only through truly experiencing it and learning through my children has that seed taken root.  Deep root, the kind that digs into your soul, that's the good fruit you want to offer to the broken, that's the fruit that you longed to have offered to you.

This guy does not play around, he's real.  He says the stuff that nobody wants to say and that quite honestly, not many even think about.  And as he laid out the facts that have burdened me for years now, I was taken back at how much I still didn't realize.  Just reading the words caused a physical reaction of grief.. my heart needed to be broken for more than just myself.  And let me tell you, God knows just how to humble me.

Let me start by saying this.... I love God above ALL else!  God is PERFECT love.  I love His church and His people... I am one of them.  We are not perfect, but we are the body of Christ!  Each of us making up that body, each of us having a purpose, each of us needing the other.

I had to read this twice to really believe what I was seeing...90% of families with a special needs member (not just a child) are unchurched, that's right here in the US.  And by unchurched that means, does not visit, does not attend, is not a member of a church family.  I knew it was alot, but to see it written out like that was painful.  Why do you think that is?  Really?  Is it because they don't want to attend or because they feel like they can't attend?  Have they been rejected, ignored, asked not to come back?  That may sound crazy, but I know families who have told me that is their story.  In a mission minded church, when does this become our new mission field?  We see those willing to fly across the country and learn a different language to lead people to Christ which is AMAZING!  Without those people, how many of our oversees brothers and sisters would be lost and without Christ?  We see the fruits of that ministry as 100s and 1000s are becoming believers and planting churches.  Lives are being changed!  Yet my question is... how many people are willing to comfort a child during a meltdown or help a 12 year old who isn't yet able to be potty trained, or learn to feed through a tube so that those parents can be shown Christ's love in our own churches?  Is it because that doesn't look pretty on a t-shirt or make a great profile picture?  Is it because we are scared?  Is it because it makes us uncomfortable or because we don't recognize the need?  And how do we change it?  Seriously, I'm asking!

Every Sunday, I sit in a church where I am loved, where Eli is loved, where I am able to worship without worry, where I can feast on the word of God and learn, where my husband and I can serve.  And as I read that statistic this morning, I felt nauseated with myself and guilty.  Why should I be able to go to church and receive love and encouragement and quite honestly, a break from myself to just focus on God when my brothers and sisters who are fighting battles worse than mine can't?  I shouldn't.  Should any of us warm a seat, soaking in God's goodness, when we have the power to provide that seat to a mother or father who is hurting if only they had someone to care for their little one?  How am I more deserving than them?  I'm not.

Very few churches are equipped to minister to special needs children and their families, not because of finances, but because there just aren't enough people who are willing.  I won't lie to you... It's thankless, exhausting, frustrating, dirty, loud, sometimes just plain ugly ministry, but sometimes... sometimes even if just for a moment that child makes eye contact, or holds a crayon all by himself for the first time, or sits through an entire song, or drinks from a cup all by himself without spilling... and you get to witness a miracle.  You get to share hope with a family that feels hopeless.  And I promise that you will learn more than you will ever be able to teach.

So, I don't know how it happens... and I know it doesn't change over night, but we shouldn't wait for it to be our daughter, our grandchild, our brother, our friend...  before it starts to matter and I won't waste this life that God has given me by not shedding light on it because sometimes people simply don't know.   And if you are one of these families who feel like you can't come because who will take care of my child... You can have my seat, I will. And I'll even let you sit next to my tall drink of water ;)  I have to ask myself... How can I continue to feast when my brother and sister are hungry. 

And to those who give every week so that I can hands are wet with tears right now as I type just thinking of each of your faces and smiles and hands holding his...and being excited over nothing when its everything... thank you.  Without you, I would be part of that 90%... I'd have no other choice.

If you are looking for a way to serve and would like to learn more about how you can minister to special needs families within your church or community, please feel free to contact me any time.  You will never offend me, no question is stupid, and I promise you that God can and will equip you to love these families if you are willing
We are the Body....

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Give me your eyes...

I think sometimes how ironic it is that God gave me a child who struggles to speak when I speak so much, to give him so few words when I have them flowing out of me like water, sometimes a flood.  And then again how fitting.

This week was a hard one for me.  This week I had to open up my eyes and face some very real possibilities when it comes to Eli's future.  I had to look at alternatives that I didn't particularly like.  It's a scary thing to imagine a world where God doesn't answer your prayers in the way that you have prayed.  How do you hold onto hope, but also be very aware that His answer may still be no.  And if it is no, what then is your hope?  On top  of all of this, I am made of flesh and bone.  How quickly I am reminded of my weakness and just how quickly my focus can move when faced with the possibility that my plan isn't His.

Every Sunday, Phillip and I kneel before God at an alter and ask for Him to give this precious one words.  We ask God to open his eyes and his ears and his mind and his mouth. 

This morning, Alter call was made before I was able to make it down from the choir and as I walked through the doors and down the isle, I saw Phillip in our spot praying.  Normally, I would go and kneel beside him, but I felt for some reason that today he needed to be there alone.  So, slid into my seat and prayed silently.  I didn't think much of it after that.

I didn't think much of it, until Phillip shared in Sunday School.  He shared of how we pray for Eli.  He talked about how the Holy Spirit had impressed him to change his prayer today.  He told him to change his eyes, to see Eli the way that God sees Eli and to remember that Eli's testimony isn't just about being able to speak, but how God is speaking through him.  And I sobbed because I knew that message was for me as well. 

My mama eyes see everything he can't do.  God's eyes see what is being done.  My mama eyes see struggle.  God's eyes see that in our weakness He is made strong.  My mama eyes see my baby.  God's eyes see His child, created in His image, created for His purpose, teaching those of us who can't shut up to just be still and know that He is God.

Give me Your eyes for just one second
Give me Your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me Your love for humanity
Give me Your arms for the broken-hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me Your heart for the ones forgotten
Give me Your eyes so I can see - Brandon Heath "Give Me Your Eyes"

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.” John 15:16

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."  Matthew 6:33

Since the beginning of Eli's journey, I have asked this same questions over and over again.... "Why my baby?"  "Why again?"  "What didn't we learn the first time around?"

I am sure that each one of us has faced a situation where we have asked these kinds of questions. I hope today I can encourage you that you are not alone.  Maybe Autism, Cancer, Divorce, Addiction, Death, etc... For the month of November I am committing to praying that God would give me His eyes.  I am praying that he would remove my scales daily and to clearly see His hand at work even in the situations that I don't understand. 

I've always been that kid who just wanted to skip ahead and read the last page of the book... loosing the joy and magic of watching the story unfold....but this one, I want to see clearly, this one is worth waiting for....

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Super Mom.... not quite!

As I sat in the carpool line today... This popped up on my screen.  A friend has posted it to her instagram and as I read it my eyes filled with tears, my heart started beating fast, and I sobbed with gratefullness at how my my Savior continually lavishes me with encouragement and Love.  

Once a day, if not 100 times a day, I wonder... Am I enough?  Let's face it, if you know me, it is no secret that I am flawed!  As much as I love to dress up the outside and inside of my home, myself, and anything that will hold still long enough for me to put glitter on it... I am painfully aware of the mess that is me.  I have lots of broken places that have never quite healed, I am impatient and needy, I start things I can never finish, I never know when to stop talking, I wear my heart on my sleeve, I come on too strong or I totally drop the ball, I'm fearful, I'm exhausted... I'm 1,000 other things.

And in a world where mother's are measured by thier children and what they can accomplish... I am lacking.... I can't compete.  I will never be "that mother"... We will never be "that family".  I'm okay with that.  I used to not be.  However, as I have entered this new realm of Super Moms... "The Special Needs Mother"... I'm seeing that it's not like it used to be.  Before, if you had a child with special needs you almost got a "Free Pass"...  "God love her, she's so exhausted... You know her little one has Autism."  When my first child was small, I could literally walk out of the house with an entire waffle glued in my hair and get away with it!  People were kind enough just to avoid you or smile politely and talk about you behind your back.  Today, I find myself in a whole new world of hurt!  Now, not only are you the mother of a child with special needs, you are also expected to "cure" him!  And become a millionaire in order to provide your child with all of the latest therapies, diets, supplements, snake handlers... (I'm kidding, calm down)... Needless to say...the bar has been raised.

As a mother, you want to leave no stone unturned, you want to give your all! And I tried, believe me, to the point of forsaking every other member of my family and destroying my mental health in the process.  Thankfully, God has blessed me with a husband who pulls me back down when I begin to float away.  He's not afraid to say "Stop!".... Wait... the moto is "NEVER GIVE UP!"... No, "Stop being Nuts!"  And no, I'm not calling other mother's who can do it ALL, nuts.  I've just had to be totally honest with myself... I can do my best, but I can't do it all.  At some point, I had to trust God to fill in the empty spots.... the parts I fail at, the parts we can't afford, the parts that just aren't part of His plan.  It's a beautiful plan, I just don't always like it.

It's easy to see other kids with Autism, doing more, progressing faster, and feel like I am not enough for Eli.  Maybe if God had given him to a family with more money, more resources, more knowledge, more patience.. He would be further along.  I mean, I can't spell believe (thank God for Spell check) and Phillip pronounces Peptobismol "Peptobismo!"  Also please refer to the above list... I'm not really all that "together".

Yet, I open my Insta (when I probably should be reading another Autism book) and I see this... You are the Mama your kids need!  And I am.  God love them, I am.

They need to know that life isn't always perfect... but God is.
They need to know that it's okay to be broken... because God is our mender.
They need to know that we can only do so much.... because God is the finisher.
They need to know that sometimes prayers don't get answered... because God's plan is perfect.
They need to know that Mama and Daddy can't "cure" anything... because God is our Healer, Redeemer, Savior, Comfort, Everything...  He knows exactly what we need... and sorry Kids, but He said you need me <3

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

While I'm Waiting...

I haven't written in a while, like a long while.   The past few months have been difficult, lots of ups and downs.  I've struggled with depression and nobody wants to hear a blog about how you need medication some mornings just to get out of bed, but as real as my joyful and hopeful posts are, this one is real too so I thought it should be written.  For mama's like me, I am learning that this time of year gets harder and harder.  It's hard to watch other children grow up and know that yours isn't, although he is physically.  It's harder to watch children younger than yours refer to him or speak to him like he's a baby when he is twice their size.  It's a struggle to feel like you are in this endless waiting period.  "I'm waiting on You, Lord!"  Autism and I have a really dysfunctional relationship.  I scream for acceptance, I am appalled when you can't embrace it, and yet I find myself hating it some days.  And then on those days when I hate it, I am reminded that it is part of this beautiful creature whom I love so much I can barely breath... how's that for making you feel like the worst mother alive.  And then that all falls at the feet of my Savior.  How I know He is Sovereign and Loving and Good and Merciful and Mighty and how He tells me that if I would only Ask.... He will do exceedingly, abundantly more than I can imagine... and I ask everyday and yet I wait.  Always waiting, it feels like.  And yes, lately it's been pity party central up in here....

As I confided in a sweet friend, she reminded me that happiness isn't Joy.  "You may not be happy right now, but you have Joy!"  And though my body struggles under the stress, my eyes fill with tears unexpectedly, and I literally drive away people through my insecurities... I know I have Joy.  I don't really have a choice because no matter how angry I am or scared or hurt or confused, He won't leave me.  I've told Him that He isn't fair!  I've kicked and screamed in disappointment!  Yet, there is Joy!  He is Joy!

The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.
Pslam 28:7

So what do I do?  I wait.
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31

But they might get the Shingles because they are a spaz!  Yet, Fearfully and Wonderfully Made ;)

Tonight as I prayed, I reminded the Lord that I am still waiting and this song came to my mind....

I'm waiting, I'm waiting on You Lord
And I am hopeful, I'm waiting on You Lord
Though it is painful, but patiently I will wait
And I will move ahead bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I'm waiting I will serve You
While I'm waiting I will worship
While I'm waiting I will not faint
I'll be running the race even while I wait....
So to those who are unhappy... There is Joy.
To those who are hurting.... He is a balm for the soul.
And to those who are waiting... You aren't alone.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Hope is a little boy... Birmingham Fun and Family

I am so so excited to have the opportunity to share our story with Birmingham Fun and Family in honor of Autism Awareness Month... Check it out here

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Finishing Strong!

Phillip ran a race.  He ran like really far, 13.1 miles!  I didn't realize what a big deal that is, but after attending my first marathon.. I get it!  It was a huge event, tons of people were there and between the crowd a pumping music, I got into it.  And I am by no means a runner.  Most of all I was excited to see my hubby there and especially because of the cause he had worked so hard fundraising for!  He was running for the Bell Center, a special needs early intervention center where Eli attended school.  The best part was that he got to wear our beautiful boy front and center on his chest.  He had worked so hard, trained for months, got up before the sun, and never stopped even when it was painful and even when his body said stop.

As I saw them all lining up, hundreds of them, I stood on a bench searching him out... He's tall, but not that tall.  They sounded the horn and before long I saw his bright red shirt and black hat and infectious smile pass me... I was excited for him.  After keeping track of where he was in the race, I made my way up to the finish line.  My heart was beating so fast, he had worked so hard and I wanted to be there when he reached his goal.  Minutes later, I saw him round the corner, I screamed my head off!!!  I don't even know why, but my eyes were filling with tears just watching him.  I knew it wasn't the race, I knew it was so much more.  It was that man, that little boy, this life, our race that was flooding my mind.   I wondered how many times over the years he has wanted to turn back, give up, quit.  I wondered how often he wished he could be the dad teaching his son to hit a ball instead of the dad who practices high fives every single night because he's so scared that when he wakes up in the morning he will have forgotten how.  I wonder if the finish line ever looks as far away to him as it does to me?

Yet, he lives his life the way he trained for that race.  He's up before the sun to provide for our family.  He never stops... even when this life hurts us, even when it's painful.  He shows up at appointments 30 minutes early to do paperwork for me because he knows Eli will struggle with the wait.  When the doctors say it might not get better, he smiles at me and says "We got this!" And somehow, I believe him :)  After working all day, he never knows what he is walking into.  A destroyed house, a crying wife, another bill the insurance company wouldn't cover... but he tells me there is no place else he would rather be.  He finishes strong ever single day.  I admire him so much for that.  And though I am sure that there are days that he is sad, he would never let it show.  He holds us together.  He has always been willing to go the extra mile with me.

So as we continue down this course God has laid before us, I am thankful for my relay partner.  When I am tired and overwhelmed, he grabs the baton and takes off, not stopping until I chase him down.  We aren't quite sure where the finish line is, but as long as he is with me... I know we will get there.  And the best part of this race is that we have already won the prize... We have a God who adores us... He calls us beautiful, holy, righteous and worthy!  We have children who we love more than mere words can describe!  And we have each other, hot messes who never say die, who fight hard and love harder, and who are working hard to finish strong!  Ps, It's your turn to get up on Saturday ;)

Monday, February 3, 2014

Proverbs 17:17

Friendship is hard.  Like, really hard.  Throw in a child with autism, or two, and it can become a whole new adventure.

I haven't always been a good friend.  At times, I have been an awful friend.  There were times during Isaac's diagnosis that I could barely keep my own sanity, could hardly maintain my marriage, much less invest in another person, but I tried and most of the time, I failed.  There were birthday parties that I left in tears because the activities were to much for him.  There were Girls Nights Out where I sat holding them in as I heard stories of how my friends children were growing and doing funny things, while I didn't know how to make it through the next day because I saw no future in sight.

But God Loves me and he has put people throughout my life who have been my friends when I had absolutely nothing to offer.  Some of them were only for a season and some have proven to stick it out with me for the long haul...

I have a friend who would run a marathon for me, literally... and has and will be doing it again in a few weeks.

I have a friend who literally writes lists because she knows that I'm not always able to talk on the phone and she doesn't want to forget what she wants to share with me.

I have a friend who is an absolute Eli fanatic and never misses an opportunity to find something he loves in hopes that it will earn her a hug.

I have a friend who I only get to see a few times a year and talk to on the phone every few months, but she knows me... distance has never changed that.  For every moment, every tear, every victory... she is there on the other end listening....

And I have the one who has been around since the beginning...

Proverbs 17:17  A Friend Loves At ALL Times.  This is a Bible verse that my best friend and I have sketched in every birthday and Christmas card since we were 15 years old and it stands true today.  She has loved me at my lowest and encouraged me every step of the way.  Our friendship has not come without hard times, moments that tested us, and moments that bound us together.  Although my struggles aren't the same as her, she has had her fair share and she has taught me so much about faith and never giving up!

Today her sweet miracle babies turned 3.  I am always a little hesitant to take Eli on play dates, especially in public, but when she called to ask us to join them today.. I couldn't resist.  I'm always on guard when we are out, people stare, don't understand, and it's just hard.  There is about a years difference between "the boys" and Eli, but developmentally it is quite obvious that they have begun to pass him.  To see this sometimes is hard, but she loves me at ALL times.  She has never let that stop her from encouraging her boys to play with Eli, to hug him, to run with him, to just be his friend.  When they don't understand when he is upset or crying, she explains it and doesn't just ignore the question.  She talks about him and has pictures of him around their room.  She is helping them to build a friendship when right now, he doesn't know how to be a friend <3

And today as I watched them, I was overcome with the Peace that God had given me, to not compare, to enjoy our boys together like we had always dreamed of doing and not let the difference become more important than the things they share... like super heroes and playing on slides and icecream.... The stuff that really matters.

And though we ran a few other mothers out of the McDonalds play area, and I set off the emergency alarm rushing out the wrong door, and our annual birthday picture wasn't perfect, our time together always is.   I drove home and I cried... happy tears, thinking of how far we have come, thinking of how her eyes lit up when Eli gave a high five today (she hadn't seen it yet), thinking of how long we prayed and dreamed of days like today, and thankful for a friend that loves at ALL times.  She laughs at my jokes, she lets me be silly, she is there for all the good stuff and the bad stuff... she's my BFF!  I love you girl, At ALL times and I can't wait to watch our boys grow together :)  Happy Birthday to the best buddies in the world!!!  Cannon and Deacon!!!