Tag Archives: Christianity

Special Mothers for Special Kids

Last week over at Devotions by Chris,  Chris wrote about several mothers in the Bible who allowed their faith to push them to do extraordinary things.  I believe there is no mother more significant than Mary, the mother of our Savior Jesus Christ. First of all she was a regular girl who found herself in a situation she never imagined.

Just… like… us.

Can you imagine being an unmarried virgin receiving the news “you are going to conceive the Messiah?!” No pressure there!

I’m confident at some point Mary struggled with her responsibility. I’ve struggled with mine.  I thought there was no room for missteps.  

Mary and Joseph lost their twelve-year-old son and found him three days later! Three days! Can you imagine you are responsible for raising the Messiah and you lose Him!? God did not open up the heavens and rebuke Mary and Joseph for their carelessness. Likewise, we should cut ourselves some slack when we fail in things far less significant.

Another lesson is that Mary saw the potential within her child. It is up to us to do the same. John 2:9 describes one of the first miracles Jesus performed. He turned water into wine. In verse four Jesus says “my hour has not yet come.” However, Mary had other ideas. She told the servants, “Whatever he says to you, do it.” Upon His mother’s insistence, Jesus had the servants fill pots with water which He later turned into wine.

As parents it is our responsibility to speak to the potential in our kids. This may mean IEPs, tutors, therapy, doctor’s visits and whatever it takes to pull out the potential we know is there. Many doubted Mary and we will doubt us as well, however we must stand firm on what God says. Following her example, we must insist and persist.

We can also follow Mary’s example of receiving God’s grace for her assignment. Mary was forced to witness her child tortured and vilified for the sake of the world. The problems our children face are upsetting to us as well. But we are available for our children. Mary could not help her child; the crucifixion was something Jesus had to do alone. We are available and able through Christ to meet the needs of our kids.

Mary was there for her child until the end. A mother’s love will do that…follow through until the end. God allows us the same grace. Always remember, the third day. Mary endured witnessing her son’s death only to find joy in the Resurrection. Sometimes we may feel like our path is overwhelming, unbeatable or even insurmountable. Many people get stuck on the “first day” or the death of their dream when faced with the realities of parenting and the challenges their children face.

On the “second day,” grief for what could have been keeps some parents from looking forward to what could be. Things often look dark. There are often reports and diagnosis that confuse and condemn. Dreams for the future seem impossible.

Yet thank God, He makes the impossible, possible. If Mary’s story teaches us anything, it is to stick in there until the end. What looks like the end isn’t necessarily so. Hang in there with your child, hang on to what God has promised you.

Every child has some special need. Some needs are more obvious than others. Some are revealed early in life. Some won’t manifest for years later. God equips us to do what we have been called to do. Mary was chosen to be the mother of Jesus.

We were chosen by God to parent the children He has blessed us with as well.

“Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me.” Mark 9:37 NKJV

He is Faithful!

I planted the azalea pictured above nearly fourteen years ago. I was all excited as we had moved into a new home and my love for all things green made landscaping a priority. I planted three azaleas and looked forward to the beauty they would bring through the years.

Well the bounty of blooms promised twice yearly from the “encore” variety didn’t come to fruition. In fact, the plants did very little to expand beyond their original borders. No amount of water, fertilizer, sun or shade seemed enough to make these plants thrive. In fact, one actually died. My dreams for replicating the beauty of the azaleas that grace my mother’s yard quickly faded away. Out of options and ideas, I finally resolved to put my efforts elsewhere.

Well, last year, my azaleas bloomed. Nothing spectacular yet the surviving plants actually showed some signs of life. After a decade! I didn’t know what to think. These plants appeared lifeless for so long I’d forgotten what color blooms they originally promised. I’m sure I contemplated on more than one occasion to dig them up! Surprisingly, the deep magenta color is a perfect match for some phlox I’d planted nearby. The color scheme on that side of the yard looks very well orchestrated. Little do the neighbors know!

Well, a couple of days ago I walked outside to see the shrubs have tripled in width and doubled in height! What were once small dwarf sized shrubs are alive and thriving. At some point along the way, I’m pretty sure I’d prayed that these plants would live and bloom (yes, I even pray over my plants and grass). The funny thing is I’d made that petition to God so long ago, over a decade ago, that I’d completely forgotten all about it.  DSC_0043

However, God does not forget! His timing and our timing aren’t always the same, yet He is always faithful!

I like to think that if His faithfulness can apply to something as “minimal” as my landscaping, what more can God have in store for larger matters? And what prayers I have dared to pray in regard to my children!

So, if you are feeling that God hasn’t heard your prayers, He has. He hears them all large and small.

God is larger than my doubts and fears. God is greater than ASD. Through once forgotten magenta blooms, He cares and shows His love for me.

“Let us hold fast the confession of [our] hope without wavering, for He who promised [is] faithful,” Hebrews 10:23 NKJV

Camp Sunshine!

Last summer after depositing my oldest son on a college campus for a week-long camp, my youngest child who inspired this blog asked me, “When will I go away to camp?”
My reply was “we’ll see,” all the while on the inside I’m thinking to myself ain’t now waaaayy that’s happening.

Well, it happened.

That’s what I get for thinking in absolutes. God always has other plans.

Lan spent this weekend on his favorite college campus. Camp Sunshine is open for kids who may not be able to attend other camps. I had my reservations, or rather fears, that kept trying to creep into my mind. However, we are trying to foster more independence in Lan and he was more than eager to head off on his own!

For once, he wasn’t going somewhere under the shadow of and watchful eyes of his big brother. When they were younger the boys did most things as a pair. It was usually Cam and Lan. Now as they are older Cam often experiences things that Lan can not.

Lan is always asking when is it his turn?  

Lan’s turn came by the way of a beautiful campus with Lake Hartwell as a magnificent backdrop. He was free this weekend to laugh as loud as he wanted; there was no one around to temper his excitement. This kid was delightfully happy for the time to just be. He was free to be him, idiosyncrasies and all, under the warmth of the sun.

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There was no pressure to conform to the norm, no reason to curtail his excitement. There were no standards to measure him against others. If only he could have this luxury all the time?

But our society isn’t as forgiving as camp. It confines us to standards, norms and expectations. It pushes us ever toward goals and what it thinks we should be and how to behave.

I’m not advocating anarchy by any means but I wonder how much more the light inside my child could shine if he weren’t always under pressure to confine himself into someone else’s “box.” How much brilliance and creativity are snuffed out because society doesn’t always embrace creativity in others when it is packaged differently?

We should all be able to shine under the warmth of the sun free from expectations, scrutiny and the wayward glances of others. If only.

But with God we can shine and just be. He created us. There is no defect or deficiency under Him, only love. Love and acceptance of us just as we are.

There is an old hymn, Just As I Am, we used to sing in church when I was a child. I think my favorite stanza is as follows:

Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt;
Fightings within, and fears without,
O Lamb of God, I come I come!

This weekend provided not only an opportunity for Lan to shine at Camp Sunshine but it was also a reminder that we all can “just be” in God’s presence if only we would dare step out of our confines and into His warmth.

Many of us, especially us Christians, are so preoccupied about what we do (or don’t do, or what others are doing!) we fail to simply “be.”

We fail to be content. We fail to be at peace. We fail to be still be in His presence and allow God to simply and amazingly love us.

We should be joyful. We should be grateful. We should be peaceful.

The Son shines on whosoever will dare to step into the light. His light can transform us into the people we want to become if we would pause long enough and simply be with Him!

In His presence, are the answers we seek, faith and hope that renew, and the peace that passes understanding.

Lan knows how to just be and receive love. He knows how to enjoy the present without worry about the future! Lan trusted that his father would provide the overnight camp he wanted. 

I’m going to trust that my Father provides as generously for me as well!

 

My Brother’s Keeper?

 While I was away this weekend, my oldest son had an epiphany of sorts. I’m not sure exactly what sparked his revelation, but according to my husband he was very suddenly and emotionally distraught about his little brother’s future. 

Now, my oldest has always been mature for his age. I tell you he has more sense than most adults. The only common denominator between both boys academically is their band instructor. The band room is where students often hang out or practice no matter their grade level or academic rank. Music is a great equalizer. Lan, the youngest, does very well in this area despite other academic challenges.

Nevertheless, something occurred to upset my oldest. Both boys were heavily involved in a band festival held at the school last week. I suspect something was said to Cam about his younger brother. Lan could have easily wandered away from an assigned task, said something not quite age appropriate or any number of things. I’ll probably never know. All Lan knows is that he had a great time participating in the music festival. However, per Cam’s suggestion, Lan won’t be hanging out in the band room without his supervision.

I have always told the boys to love one another and be kind to each other because mom and dad won’t always be around. I suspect the oldest has now grasped the reality that his brother may not become as self-sufficient as he is. Cam has readily embraced the role of “third parent” when neither my husband or I are around.   My hunch is Cam’s worry for little brother won’t necessarily end when he leaves home for college.

It has been quite the balancing act juggling the demands of two children who have totally opposite needs. Cam has often been in the background when Lan’s diagnosis has forced us to spend more time and attention addressing it. Lan has often been in the shadow of big brother’s achievements and academic accolades which he has never matched.

My husband and I made a deliberate choice to become parents. My oldest son did not. He shouldn’t be preoccupied with what the future holds for his sibling. Instead, Cam should have the liberty to focus on pursuing his own dreams and aspirations. Cam is a very loving child and through he get’s annoyed with little brother from time to time, he has always shown a love and concern for Lan that I pray will continue long after I’m gone.

We have no way of knowing what the future brings. I am hopeful and trusting that God will just “work it out” as He has done so many things in my life. Still, I am grateful that my oldest son is mature enough and concerned that Lan is well cared for now and hopefully into the future. It is my hope that Cam can spread his wings without the worry of looking back.

I don’t know if Lan will gain the maturity and skills to live independently. I don’t know if I will have the resources to provide for his care years after I’m gone. I don’t know how God is going to resolve this issue. I…just…don’t…know.

So I must trust.  

Such a simple sentence but so often very hard to do. Yet, I will manage by focusing on the present and allow God to order my steps for the future. I don’t have to see the solution, though I admit it pains me greatly. However, we will continue along prayerfully, grateful for miracles yet to come. 

I expect great things for both my boys. Maybe Cam’s experiences with his brother will mold him into the man God intends him to be. Maybe, just maybe, Lan in his own way is looking after him.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV

Perfect Pitch!

About two years ago, we discovered that my youngest son has something called “perfect pitch.” He can essentially hear any note played on any instrument and tell you exactly what that note is.

Now this may not be the most “practical” gift a person could have but it is one nonetheless. In fact, my concentration on what he didn’t have nearly blinded me to what he does have.

We were in a music store looking into trombone lessons a couple of years ago when Lan began talking with one of the salespeople which was a rarity in itself. Somehow or another, an instrument was played and Lan stated the correct note in response. The salesman began playing different instruments to see if Lan could continuously give the correct answer. He explained that Lan has “perfect pitch.”

Lan’s “talent” is now somewhat of a novelty with his fellow students in band class. The kids take turns playing various instruments and notes to see if they can stump him. So far no one has. It is something he is good at and it gives him pride and confidence I hadn’t seen before.

I admit I pushed Lan toward his musical inclinations. Not that he doesn’t love music, but my motives were deeper than that. I started him in piano lessons to strengthen his hands. This was my answer to out-of-pocket occupational therapy expenses. Lan was unable to grasp a pencil firmly and write legibly like his classmates. I figured piano lessons would not only strengthen his fingers and develop dexterity but stimulate his brain as well. Coordinating the notes he read on paper to the activity of his fingers would be a great mental exercise.

It would take the music teacher and me roughly two years before we realized Lan was rarely reading the notes! He can read music however we learned (slowly) that Lan has to only hear a simple melody once before he can play it on the piano. The joke was on us!

Sometimes in life we pay so much attention to what we don’t have, we miss out on what we do have. In my case, I was trying to develop certain skills in my child and focused so intently on that goal I was nearly oblivious to his emerging musical talents. I now encourage his musical pursuits not to facilitate a goal but because music is something in which he can succeed and enjoy.

Lately Lan has mentioned a desire to play the trumpet. I suspect the piano and trombone have become boring.  I will indulge his musical pursuits with the appreciation that for him, music is more than a pastime but rather a way that he can express himself and do it well.

I’m glad my eyes are now open to what he can do instead of fixated on what he cannot do. Now, if only I had this revelation all the time.

 I will encourage Lan to nurture his gifts, not based on practicality but rather instead because God blessed him with those things. 

Each of us lacks certain talents for sure, yet we probably possess so many more if only we would have eyes to see…

“And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability,” Matthew 25:15 NKJV