A Different Perspective

I try so hard not to get stressed around the holidays.  I’m really a low key person at heart, and I like simple things.  I like to be with family, eat some good food, and make a few memories.  That’s it, I’m good.  And we do a lot of that around this time of year.  In the last six weeks of each calendar year, our family celebrates five birthdays, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  Then of course we have special events at church, a few holiday parties here and there with friends, and mid-December I’m left breathless, wondering what happened.

This year, I had Thanksgiving all figured out.  I had two days to get everything planned and ready for my family’s arrival for Thanksgiving dinner, but of course, we spent one of those days tending to Gabriel’s head injury at Urgent Care.  I spent Wednesday worrying among other things about the fact that my family switched all of the food plans for Thursday (I get worked up about that stuff because of Michael’s food sensitivities).  It was like my brain couldn’t cope with all the changes going on, and for all my stressing, I just gave myself a head cold.

It was all for nothing as usual.  We had everything set up early enough that we were able to take the kids out to a diner for breakfast Thanksgiving morning (where they loudly reminded us every 30 seconds that they wanted french fries).  I hate it when I get like this, and I can feel that somewhere, God is determined to teach me this loving patience lesson.  What better time than in the pressure cooker of a crazy holiday schedule?

As I was praying for God to work change in my heart and in my character like I mentioned before, He showed me a verse in 2 Thessalonians.

2 Thessalonians 3:5 “Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ.”

Doesn’t that bring peace just by reading it?  I’d never thought about it that way before.  That the love of God and the patience of Christ could be a state, place, or mindset that my heart could be ushered into.  It was sort of a different concept than when I usually think of these virtues being something that comes out of the heart.  It seems that God keeps reshaping my prayer in this department, and I’m OK with that.  I did ask Him to teach me what to pray for, and He’s answering.

May all our hearts be in peace, thankfulness, and joy as we celebrate so many wonderful things this time of year.

Here are some cute and calm pictures of the boys looking at the fish tank at the diner.  Michael loves it, and he really wanted William to have a good look.  Nate took the pictures and wanted to make sure I gave him photo credit. 🙂

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Now I must dash, because it’s Michael’s birthday today, and he has a party tomorrow!

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God Is Good

All the time.

I know it’s something we say in church a lot, but it’s really true.  We had a busier day yesterday than I bargained for, but in hindsight, God was prepared and took care of things for us.

After a nice morning walk with a friend, we were settling in at home for a day of cleaning and preparation for Thanksgiving.  Michael and I were trying to do some schoolwork, and Gabriel was finishing up his snack.  He shoved his chair away from the table like he usually does when he’s done, but this time the chair tipped over backwards with him in it.  This has happened plenty of times before, so I just picked him up and held him till he finished crying.  As I was cuddling him, I started to see blood in more and more places, and I realized he had really hurt himself.  I started checking him all over and found a gaping, bloody hole in the back of his head.  I panicked and called my mother-in-law who is my go to for all medical emergencies.  She came right over and helped me out.  My father came too, and they watched the children for me while I drove Gabriel to the Urgent Care.

He was perfectly fine, talking and playing like nothing had happened except for the gruesome wound he was sporting.  He got checked out by the doctor, and we muscled through seven staples (that was an absolutely terrible experience).  After a box of french fries as a reward, he has been back to his old self again.  My hardest job right now is keeping him from prying his head wrap off (I think it’s itchy) and making sure Michael doesn’t play too rough and knock him down (this happens at least three times a day).  He’s on close watch for seven to ten days until the staples are removed, and then hopefully he should be as good as new.

God really took care of everything for us.  He knew what was going to happened and arranged things just right.  I had put dinner in the crockpot that morning and already done my laundry for the day.  My mother-in-law and father both just happened to have some free hours in their afternoon schedules so they could watch my other kids so I could be with Gabriel.  The Urgent Care was empty except for one other patient, so we only had to wait a few minutes to be seen.  Even the smallest detail that he had just had a bath the night before as he’s not allowed to get his head wet till the staples come out was taken care of.  God truly took care of every little thing, and I’m grateful.  He does really love us and is interested in all the minutia of our lives.

Now we just need to stick a feather in his headband so he can be an Indian for Thanksgiving, and we’re all set!

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May you have a safe, happy, and blessed Thanksgiving!

A Thoroughly Answered Prayer

I think God had a good chuckle at me yesterday.  I was praying for patience and endurance according to 2 Thessalonians 1:4, and He gave me a day to show me a few things about myself.

The kids were awful.  Michael was hyper and sensory, rubbing his face on everything including me, grinding and hitting, Gabriel cried all day (and at night too) and could not communicate what was bothering him, and William was teething and decided he wanted to be held and not sleep.  A client called to remind me that a project was due, and my house was full of toddlers in the afternoon since it was my turn to host our homeschoolers’ preschool gathering.  Talk about praying for patience!!  Why would I do that to myself??

I tried.  I really really tried.  I managed to keep control and not crack too many times, but it was all contrived.  My attitude was strained and less than loving.  My prayers of “God give me patience right now” that I tossed up to the ceiling from morning till night didn’t seem to help.

Now, in the quiet of the morning, I’ve had a chance to reflect, and I can see that I was trying to be patient, and that’s never enough.  It wasn’t the fruit of the Spirit flowing out of me naturally, but me relying on my own strength instead.  I had to repent because that’s not how God wants me to do this.  He wants His own patience and divine strength to flow through me effortlessly, the result of my changed character and the work of the Spirit.

So that is my prayer today.  That God would work on my heart so that I would not have to try to DO patience and love, but that it I would just BE patient and loving as a reflection of what He has done in my life.

God is so good.  After I prayed, He showed me this:

2 Thessalonians 2:13 “…because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth” and verses 16-17 “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.”

I’m so overwhelmed by how forgiving He is, and how much He loves me.  His promises are amazing, and I’m thanking Him already for my new character because He has promised to give it.  I almost have no words.

I’m looking forward to what adventures He has for me today!  May your day be one of growing closer to Jesus.

Doctor’s Visit Update

I want to thank everyone for their prayers.  Our visit to the doctor was informative and successful, and Michael is definitely responding to his remedy.  Unfortunately things usually have to get a little worse before they get better, so his sensory needs are ridiculously annoying right now as his nervous system adjusts, but it’s comforting to know the treatment is working.  I hope to start seeing improvement soon.

I read 2 Thessalonians 1 this morning, and it was a reminder to stay the faith, even when things get rough.  God wants me to pray for grace and His power so I can live a life worthy of Him and bring glory to His name.  I’ve realized if my life is easy, with no hardships, there really aren’t any opportunities for God to show up and do something amazing.  If I want Him to be glorified in my life, I’m really praying for some trials, but He’s always going to give me what I need, even if I don’t know what that is, and that makes all the difference.

In other news, the kids all seem to have gotten over their colds and croup, for which I am extremely grateful.  Gabriel is saying new words every day and seems pretty excited about it.  He’s yelling/talking just as loud as ever, so that’s usually indicative of a good mood.  William’s practicing his new commando crawl, and he’s getting pretty good at it.  The poor child’s still fussing, I think I see about three teeth coming in right now, but thanks to the wonderful convenience of baby wearing, life goes on.

My camera’s broken (gotta get that fixed before Thanksgiving!) but our amazing friend Elissa took a family picture that I will share.  It’s very rare that all of us show up in one picture.  In fact, I think the last time we had a picture of all of us that wasn’t a pregnancy shot was when Gabriel was about William’s current age.

Me and all my blessings!

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Have a happy Monday and a great week!

P.S.  You can see more of Elissa’s stuff here: https://www.facebook.com/ElissaIDavidsonPhotography

Running About

It’s been a different kind of week.  Usually I get up early to have some me time.  I can read my Bible, pray, think, and write.  The last couple of days however I’ve had to leave the house immediately to do shopping and various errands before the children wake up.  Thank God for 24 hour establishments!

I will ask for your prayers today.  Michael and I are going back to our doctor for followups, me for my hormones and Michael for his sensory issues.  His body’s still a loose cannon from getting over his illness, and I’m hoping we can find out what the problem is and correct it.  I’ve learned that while our doctor is amazing, it all comes down to divine wisdom and inspiration.  I hope we shall return with good news!

My Number Two

Gabriel is my number two.  My monkey see, monkey do.

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I love this kid so much.  He was very healing to some places that had been left raw by Michael.  He’s my little comedian and mama’s love (I practice saying mama’s love instead of mama’s boy now for when he’s older!), and I think if any of my kids is likely to buy the house down the street, it’s gonna be this guy.

We started to learn that Michael was going to be a special needs child when I was about two months pregnant with Gabriel.  I got all the fears you could imagine.  How could I take care of Michael the way he needed with another baby?  Would this second baby also be on the spectrum?  How could I possibly raise two special needs kids?  I tried so hard not to worry, but I couldn’t help myself.  I was in uncharted territory.

When Gabriel was born, he was a balm.  Michael was in a very rough place.  His OCD was full blown and he had shut me out of his life.  I couldn’t read to him, hug him, or play with him.  I had a new baby to snuggle, and it was wonderful to feel affection from a child.  I really hadn’t had much from Michael yet.

Gabriel just lit up my life again.

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He craved affection.  His favorite spot was my lap.  He would just sit there indefinitely, sucking his thumb and fingering my shirt.  He loved hugs and cuddles.  He jabbered baby talk non-stop (while Michael has been silent), and he was a busy little fellow.  We had him tested for all the allergies, PANDAS, and conditions that Michael had, and he tested clean.  I felt like we had dodged a bullet, and I started to relax.

The conversation I had with my mom was like deja vu.  We’d had it about a year ago concerning Michael.  “He’s not talking,” she kept telling me.  “He’s a boy, he’ll talk late,” I kept saying, but the longer time went on, the more I knew she was right.  It wasn’t so much that he wasn’t talking, but he wasn’t communicating.  He never mimicked anything.  When you spoke to him, there was no sign of understanding.  He would stare at me blankly.  The only way he could tell me he wanted something was to scream hysterically.  At least with Michael we could teach him sign language and he could point to things he wanted, but Gabriel seemed to be an impenetrable wall.  Nothing worked.  I kept hoping he was just moving at his own pace and that everything was fine, but I finally had to give in and go get him screened.

The screener told me something was wrong and that he needed help.  He wasn’t even remotely where he should be.  She was very kind and gave me some suggestions and encouragement.  I had done this with Michael, and I knew what it meant.  I cried the whole way home.  I was already two months pregnant with William.

I remember being so upset I couldn’t even call my husband at work yet.  I called my mother-in-law and cried and cried.  Here we thought he would be OK, that he would be a resting place from all we were going through with Michael.  Now we had to start all over again.  And what about the third baby?  Would we have three special needs children on our hands?  I felt devastated and exhausted.

We made the moves to get him therapy.  The paperwork and evaluations (again) were depressing, but God sent the right people to us, and they were very discerning.  They didn’t set him up for a speech therapy but with a special instructor instead.  They recognized something was wrong cognitively.  I heard later that this is atypical and nonverbal kids receive speech therapy right away and that special instruction is rare in these cases.

Our special instructor was a Godsend.  She taught Gabriel a whole form of non-verbal communication, and I was seeing a twinkle in his eye for the first time in a long time.  He was very bright and eager to learn, but he even though he tried so hard, he seemed stuck.  It was time to take him to the doctor.  

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The doctor found scar tissue in his brain, and it had been stunting his development in speech, motor skills, and sensory processing from day one.  It explained so much.  She was able to treat it, and it was like we saw a wall fall down.  Suddenly, he was doing ALL the stuff we had been teaching him for months.  It had all been in there, but his brain just couldn’t act on it.

He has a lot of catching up to do.  We didn’t find and treat the scar tissue till he was 18 months old, and that’s a lot of critical development time there.  I take comfort in the fact that he can catch up and he will catch up, but he’s still a tough nut to deal with sometimes.  It’s not like Michael.  Asperger’s has rules.  They’re crazy rules, but they’re rules you can follow, that bring understanding to behavior.  Gabriel’s all over the map.  Some portions of his brain have developed faster than others.  In some ways he’s like a normal two and a half year old, but in others, he’s like a one year old.  It’s hard for me to know how to approach him sometimes, on what level or age he’s being.  Teaching and disciplining him have been mentally exhausting, but God has been good and answered our prayers for wisdom.

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He’s a beautiful boy, and he will always be my sweetheart.  I’m so happy and so proud of him to see the progress he’s making (even if he still can’t sit still for a picture!).  His name means “God’s champion” and I fully expect to see him live that out.  God has truly blessed us with him.

 

Learning to Pray

God has been working in me, and I’ve been praying more.  It’s been a rough week with all the kids being sick and then Michael’s behavioral fallout from that.  It’s good to know I can turn to Him first, and my attitude is slowly starting to change.

I’ve noticed though that while I’m praying more and it’s a good start, the prayers are for my own comfort, requests to make my life easier.  And while I don’t think God wants to make my life difficult just for the sake of it being hard, I’m not convinced my heart is in the right place yet.  I feel like the disciples all over again, asking Jesus to teach me how to pray!  I want to know what God’s will is for my life so I can effectively pray it into existence.

I was reading Colossians this week.  There are a lot of gentle reminders in there to serve the Lord and others with humility and love (something I needed when I just didn’t want to care for sick children anymore).  But hidden in chapter 1 was this nugget:

Colossians 1:9-10 “For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God”

This is my prayer now.  I want my heart to be aligned with God’s so well that I will pray what He wants me to pray.  I want to see Him move miraculously so that there is no doubt in anyone’s mind who the credit goes to.  I want to live a life that glorifies the Lord.