Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Sweet Milestones

Although we home school, Jackson has also been enrolled in an arts school one day a week.  The students spent yesterday sharing their work and creations in a showcase of sorts.  As I sat there with tears in my eyes (trying to hold in the sobs as to not become a spectacle),  I wondered if I would ever grow accustomed to seeing Jackson accomplish "normal" tasks.  It doesn't matter what it is . . . riding a bike, fixing his own drink, bathing himself, hitting a baseball, reading a book . . . I sit in awe of this child that God has made.  Made so smart and able.  Made so coordinated and quick.

It.  Is.  A.  Miracle.  I refer to the miracle of Clayton's life so often, but how wonderful is the miracle of my typical child's life?!  God's handiwork right before my eyes!  And it is sweet.  Such a precious gift that I hope I never get used to.

So yes.  The absence of so many milestones in Shawn and Clayton's life may have made me the nutty behind the scenes mom.  The nutty baseball mom.  The mom who just knows that her kid is the star of the show (isn't he?!)  But I don't apologize.  I've waited too long for these moments.  From the moment I saw twin boys on the ultrasound screen, I visualized all of these moments.  Twelve years I've waited, and I'm eating up every minute of watching Jackson blossom into a "typical" little boy.  

I am a tiger.
A big wild animal.
Orange, black, and white.
I am mean, and I ROAR!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Lessons From Jonah

As I prepared for and taught the last two lessons in my middle school Bible study class, I found that I was probably the one in the room learning the most profound lessons.  This came as a surprise considering I've heard the story of Jonah countless times over the years. And to be honest maybe I found myself feeling a little bored with the same old story of Jonah who didn't do what God told him to do the first time.  

Maybe it's not as simple as following God's instructions.  Maybe there are some other lessons we can learn from Jonah.  

When the Storm Comes, Your Location Matters

God's direct instructions to Jonah were to travel to Niniveh to cry out against the wickedness in that city. (Jonah1:1)  Jonah didn't just not go to Niniveh.  He went in the complete opposite direction.  He took off across the sea to Tarshish.  When the massive storm hit, Jonah found himself on a boat in the middle of horribly rough seas, subject to any wind that would blow him.  He probably would have still encountered the storm if he had been traveling to Niniveh, but it would have been incredibly easier to weather on land than on sea.  We will all face periods of uncertainty and unrest in our life.  When the storm begins to rage, we must make sure it finds us anchored on solid ground--right in the middle of God's chosen path for us--instead of floating aimlessly in the sea of life.  

Sometimes Our Shelter is in the Belly of a Whale

"Why me, Lord?"  

We've all been there at least once.  Heck, I spend half my time there!  But do you ever find out after the fact that what you were going through was actually far less than what it could have been?  We all read the story of Jonah and feel downright sorry for him, getting swallowed by a mighty fish and all.  However, the Bible says Jonah was at sea in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights.  Three days and three nights!  Would it have even been possible for Jonah to survive treading water/swimming in the sea for 72 hours?!  Yes, God could have blessed him with supernatural strength to swim that long, but the Bible says that instead, the Lord PROVIDED a large fish to swallow Jonah. (Jonah 1:17)  The belly of that fish was probably terrifying. . . lonely.  dark.  stinky!  But given his choices, it was also a place of solace.  A haven of rest, if you will.  Only there was he able to put his focus back on what mattered--only there was he able to ask for forgiveness and move forward in the direction God would have him to go.  And only there was he protected from a much worse reality--surviving for three days in a tumultuous and restless sea, all on his own strength.  

God chooses to protect us in any number of ways.  Sometimes that protection comes in dark and lonely places.  But those dark and lonely places just might be God's way of insulating us from the chaos of a situation we wouldn't be capable of handling on our own.  

Our Decisions Affect the Future of Those Around Us

Jonah avoided Niniveh for some very good reasons.  The city was the capital of the enemy country (Assyria) of Israel.  It was extremely likely Jonah would not be welcomed with open arms, and even more likely that they wouldn't appreciate a message from God calling them wicked people.  Jonah was sure he would be rejected.  Despite his misgivings, when Jonah finally did make it to Niniveh, he didn't even have to walk but a third of the city before the king declared a fast in the hopes that the Lord would be persuaded to change his mind.  Jonah's actions and eventual obedience had a direct effect on the people of Niniveh.  Because he chose to obey God and venture into the city with God's message, they were able to change the Lord's mind with their own actions.  Jonah's right decision directly affected the Ninivites ability to make the right decision as well.  

We are in this position every single day.  Our decisions as Christians directly impact those in our circles of influence.  Our decisions must empower those around us to in turn make the right choices. 


I'm praying I remember these lessons when I'm tempted to escape God's plans, or when I find myself isolated and lonely.  And I'm definitely praying that I make the kinds of choices that will be a positive influence on my peers, friends, and loved ones.  

Friday, March 27, 2015

In Which He Sees Himself

Since Clayton has become independent in movement, I've noticed a trend when he finds a full length mirror or reflection of himself in a window.  




It's another one of those developmental things I suppose he never got to fully explore.  We definitely had all the little baby toys with mirrors, and his therapists have used them as motivational and teaching tools, but he's never really been able to totally soak in his own reflection.  

But I wonder if it's more than that?  I wonder what he thinks as he sits in front of a hotel mirror for over thirty minutes (and only moving because we had to leave).  I wonder if he has the same questions we all have . . . the "whys?" and "why nots?"  If so, I hope he doesn't dwell on it.  I hope he looks in the mirror and sees potential in front of him.  I pray he sees the odds stacked against him and declares silently that he will continue to overcome them all.  

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Fish Out of Water

During the week of Christmas we had a slightly larger than small plumbing leak that lead to pulling up the carpet in Clayton's room.  And so the dominos began to fall.  New carpet in Clayton's room lead to new carpet in the whole house, which of course in turn lead to new paint on all ceilings and walls. And while it all was definitely overdue, the whole process was a bit (and is still) overwhelming.  We've always had a comfortable home with relatively nice things surrounding us, but I wouldn't say decorating is my forte'.  Mainly because I'm over the top practical.  If something is still working, then why do I need to update to the latest style or trend?   (Don't tell anyone that the shower curtain we were using was the same one we had had since 1999.  Because if I think about it, it's just slightly embarrassing that I haven't updated it before now).  O_o  

So here we sit in our freshly painted house with plush new carpet with virtually no accessories around us.  All of our old stuff isn't right anymore and I go to the stores with specific things in mind and walk around like a lost puppy.  I know some women would be right at home shopping for their home and finding the latest things they've seen on Pinterest, but I just wander around hoping something will magically show up in my hands that will look fabulous in my home.  

Scrapbook layouts?  I can rock them out.

Photography?  I got this.

Singing?  Holding my own.

But this house thing has got me stumped!  Blank walls and empty shelves/tables are begging me to fill them and it's just not happening yet.  I hope to find inspiration soon because I definitely don't like the "just moved in" look we've got going on.  

I guess it's back to Pinterest I go . . .  :)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

What if the Lord Sees Good?

I don't think I've kept it any secret that I struggle with the "whys?" of Clayton's condition.  As parents, we feel like we've done what we are supposed to do to bring about healing.  We've been proactive with traditional medicine, we've added the ancient medicine of essential oils, and we've prayed over him and had him prayed over more times than it's possible to count.  We've done the whole reasoning with God thing----"Lord, if our unbelief is in the way, then what about those around us who are full to the brim with the faith that you will heal Clayton???"  Oh, we have faith that Clayton will be healed; but to be honest, when you're in the trenches of day to day life with disability, you lose hope that the healing will be on this earth.  

So when during his sermon the other day, my pastor said "If it's not good then God's not done!!!", I pretty much zoned in on that statement and didn't hear much of what else he said.  


At first, the hope welled up inside of me.  Wow!  God would not leave us hanging!  The healing of Clayton's physical issues is just around the corner!  

And then. 

And then. 

And then this thought occurred to me:  What if God sees Clayton's condition as perfection?  What if God looks at Clayton and sees nothing but good?  

He sees a child who garners attention like no typical child can.  

He sees a child who has blessed countless people with his smile and spirit.

He sees a child who is full of JOY despite his circumstances.

He sees a child who is exposing non-believers to the love of the Father and the promise of eternal life in Heaven.

He sees a child so in tune to the Holy Spirit that it's as if he has a sixth sense about the struggles of others.  

He sees a child doing more work for the Kingdom in his little red chair than some of us adults all combined together will ever do.  

He sees good.  

He sees good.
He. Sees. Good.  

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Finding Motivation

One of the new "systems" we've implemented is simply a remix of an old one.  A couple of years ago, this little chart was my key to keeping Clayton on task during school time and it was literally the only reason he would even pay attention to "school" things.  Last spring, I was incredibly lax on keeping up with his "stickers" and our then system fell by the wayside.  

I hadn't given it much thought until the other morning when I found myself saying to Jackson the same things I say to him every. single. morning.  At that moment, I thought to myself, "self, I'm pretty much tired of repeating myself!!"  So that afternoon, our new reward system was born.

Since Jackson would play the WiiU 24-7 if we would let him, I decided to use that as his reward.  If he does the first four things on the list without being told then he earns the corresponding amount of minutes on the WiiU.  If I have to remind him constantly, then he doesn't earn the minutes.  If he participates in lessons and is a good helper with a great attitude throughout the day, then he also earns more time to play.  We're only two weeks in, but he is already figuring out what he can do to maximize his earnings and has even started saving his time instead of using it on each day.  My main hope is it works as a motivator long enough for some of these things to become habits instead of "chores."
Clayton's list isn't near as long, but he was in desperate need of some positive motivation as well.  Mornings with him had become nightmares.  The transition from being in the bed to dressed and in his chair was a battle.  But the promise of a check mark that counts towards driving Daddy's truck has turned his attitude completely around and he's been almost helpful when I'm getting him dressed and up out of the bed.  Avoiding the tears from both of us has been a welcome change!

So far so good . . . I'm praying this keeps them on the straight and narrow for a long time to come!

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Unlikely Assignment

Ms. Beth.  Every church has one.  An elderly saint who is the ultimate prayer warrior.  Her days of rushing around in heavily scheduled life have been replaced by slow days of close communion with the Father.  I remember hearing her story once of how she awoke in the middle of the night and knew that it meant she was to pray for a certain person.  Wow.  How extraordinary to be pulled out of deep sleep to intercede for someone!  

The importance of personal prayer has become more and more evident to me over the past few years, but it still doesn't come easy for me.  I'm not eloquent . . . my words are usually closer to beggar's words. And the act of personal prayer time is usually hard labor for me.  That's why it has come as a complete surprise that the Father has literally been pulling a "Ms. Beth" on me!  These last few months have been hard ones for several that I love, and for some, their lives have literally been on the line.  I've woken up night after night, wide awake with those people's names clear in my mind.

Must.  Pray.  Now.

I suppose the Lord is teaching me that there will be no rest until some of their situations are resolved.  And if that means I wake up night after night and know I'm supposed to be praying for a certain person, then that is what I do!  

I doubt prayer intercession will ever be one of my "spiritual gifts," but I'm learning that God can use even the most unseasoned pray-er . . . one who stumbles over her words, gets distracted, and begs and pleads as a means of communication.  And if the Lord can hear and use my meager prayers, then he can use anyone's.