Progress Report!

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things [are] noble, whatever things [are] just, whatever things [are] pure, whatever things [are] love, whatever things [are] of good report, if [there is] any virtue and if [there is] anything praiseworthymediate on these things,” Philippians 4:8 NKJV

Last week both boys brought home their mid-term progress reports from school. Lan called me while I was at work with a slight tremor in his voice. His report wasn’t awful but it wasn’t great either. His grade in two major classes dropped and he was well aware I would not be pleased.

He rattled off his grades tentatively and I succinctly told him I knew he could do better and would do better. He wasn’t grounded. I reminded him that as long as he did his very best I would always be pleased with his work.

Now, that is a huge change from the “old me” of just a couple of years ago. Both boys could definitely put a little more effort into their schoolwork but it isn’t a matter of life and death. Having received a bad report in matters of life and death has definitely put things in perspective.

It is two years ago now that my oldest son, the one without an ASD diagnosis, went to the doctor. He had a funky skin rash that began in October. It gradually spread. Nothing would cure it.

In November, my husband took him to the dermatologist, the earliest appointment he could get. The doctor very matter of fact admitted she didn’t know what it was. I appreciated her honesty, but I thought that was rather odd. I got a funny feeling in my gut, the kind you want to dismiss, but just won’t quite go away.

I was expecting them to leave the appointment with prescriptions for antibiotics and a topical cream. Instead, my oldest left with a small plug of skin taken out of his arm. The biopsy was sent off for analysis.

It wasn’t until two days after Christmas I found myself on the phone with the physician who sat with my son and husband in her office as she explained the diagnosis, a diagnosis that affects one in five million people. My husband was wise enough to have her call me as his head was reeling. After the dermatologist ran through the possible scenarios (including chemotherapy) I vividly remember standing dumbfounded in my kitchen trying to decipher the boatload of information that had been dumped on me. I remember crying and walking around in circles but I also remember very vividly screaming as loud as I could “I will not receive a bad report!”

I heard the dermatologist. I respected her opinion. But I wasn’t going to receive that finality in my spirit in regard to my son. And God heard me.

I prayed. I solicited the prayers of family and friends who had their entire churches and Sunday school classes praying for my child. I knew that whatever we had to endure, we would get through it.

Thankfully, we had only to endure a battery of tests. His skin was affected but not his internal organs. His brain was fine. We didn’t get the final “all clear” until February. It was a harrowing ordeal for any parent. I was forced to examine if I’d put so much energy into one child to the neglect and detriment of the other.

So many questions, but God is faithful. We learned some things through our experience. We endured. Matured.

That experience allows me to put my “bad reports” whatever they are in perspective. Two years later and that time is still so fresh in my mind. I don’t want to ever forget it. I learned things aren’t always as they seem. God doesn’t want us to have faith in what we see or hear but instead in His power.

During that trying time I thought about all the miracles God had done for my family. I thought about the positives, the joys and undeserved blessings. I meditated on God’s grace toward us every time a negative thought would try to break me. It wasn’t easy, but a very deliberate decision on my part. God is pleased when we look at Him instead of our obstacles.

Numbers 13-14 teaches of how eight of the ten spies Moses sent out brought back a “bad report.” They could not see the potential in the land promised to them by God, only the enemies who possessed it. Furthermore, they gave a bad report to the other Israelites causing them to long for Egypt, the very place they had been in bondage.

How often do we look back to the familiar, even when it is to our detriment, because our present obstacles look insurmountable?

Only Caleb and Joshua, the spies who gave the “good report,” made it into the Promised Land with the descendants of those who died. God was so displeased with the Israelites’ lack of faith; He caused them to die in the wilderness. These are the same people who witnessed miracles that freed them and walked through the Red Sea! These were the same people who ate manna from Heaven! These same people would not allow the miracles of their past to fuel the faith for their future.

I don’t want to make that same mistake.

So, we may have hit a bump in the road with grades but I’m by no means accepting it as the “end all” for either child. I have faith in what God can do with them and in them. I have witnessed miracles with both my children. I may not have all the answers but I am confident that I don’t have to.

I look at the neatly typed papers from the county office and see them for what they are…merely progress reports. Not a definition of my parenting skills or a proclamation of my children’s future. I once would have been infuriated with less than the best. I am now… patiently waiting. We are all progressing toward God’s plans for us.

I am not going to analyze, criticize, and run all of us ragged as I used to.  Instead, I think about the great gains Lan has made thus far this year, successes I didn’t anticipate so soon. I’m proud of how Cam has been able to handle his classes along with the rigors of marching band. I focus on the good.

God’s got it, whatever my “it” is at any given moment.  Only His report truly matters!

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