In the Darkest of Times, God is at Work

Nose picking will limit job opportunities.”

No truer words spoken my friends!

I can see it now on a t-shirt or a bumper sticker…

As I met with Sarah’s teacher and specialists, we were sharing our frustration of Sarah’s nose picking and how that limits her work. Can she work in food prep? Nope. Gross! Stock shelves in the school store? Bag groceries? She can’t if she picks her nose and then touches things. Wash dishes? Laundry service? She can’t touch clean dishes or clothes if her fingers have been in her nose.

We were brainstorming ideas and we determined that she could vacuum a room (custodial) if they sterilize the vacuum handle afterwards. It was something, but the fact remained that we needed to stop this behavior to give her more work opportunities.

Her Autism program is amazing! This past year I have seen firsthand since I was with her for her online learning for most of the school year. All day I saw these amazing teachers pour into these students to help them learn skills to obtain jobs and live as independently as they can when the student turns 26. These teachers are taking these years from age 18 to age 26 to prepare them for the rest of their lives.

God does the same thing with us.

This past spring, I was studying the book of Genesis in my Bible study. I saw with fresh eyes how God was at work and preparing Joseph during his darkest of days. Joseph was sold into slavery at age 17 and taken to Egypt. He was working at a home of a government official and soon was promoted as the head of the household. Later, though he was innocent, his owner threw him into prison. Yet again, God was with him, and he rose to position of leadership inside the jail. Then at age 30, 13 years after coming to Egypt, he was released from prison and made second in command of the entire nation, second only to Pharoah. Wow!

There were moments, though, in Joseph’s story that were very dark and depressing. There was a chance for him to get out of prison, but he was soon forgotten and left there. I can only imagine how he must of have felt in that awful place, wondering what God was doing…but God was at work!

I realized that God used these dark times of waiting for Joseph:

  • To become fluent in a foreign language. He learned and was so fluent in it that when he saw his brothers 20 years later, they had no idea who he was (Genesis 42:8). He needed to be fluent to lead a nation. God prepared him in those 20 years.
  • To learn how to manage businesses and people. His time of running a household, then a prison, God used to prepare him to lead a nation (and the area nations) through the worst famine ever known.
  • To learn the culture. His time of waiting taught him the nuances of Egyptian culture, so he knew how to look before Pharaoh and their eating customs (Genesis 41:14, Genesis 43:32). This is the one that I never realized before….When the Israelites came to Egypt to live, Joseph protected them by telling his brothers to say they were shepherds. Joseph knew the Egyptian culture detested shepherds, so they could be left alone and could live in peace in Goshen (Genesis 46:34).

The Israelites’ faith, identity, and culture remained intact while living in a foreign polytheistic country because of Joseph and what he learned during his darkest times. There was no intermarriage, no becoming absorbed into Egyptian culture while they were there. God was with and prepared Joseph in all those years of waiting to protect Israel from the famine and allow them to grow as a nation in safety.

To be honest, we are tired of dealing with the nose picking (and other OCD issues-see Prayer Requests). It’s a daily battle and we lose, but I’m encouraged by Joseph’s example. While we can get discouraged and frustrated, we know and walk in faith that God is preparing Sarah (and us) for what lies ahead. Even in the darkest of times, we know He is at work! God wastes nothing and can use all things for His glory!

I look forward to the day of seeing what God has planned for Sarah!

Bless and thank you for your ongoing prayers for her! We are so deeply grateful!!

But Joseph said to them…you (his brothers) intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Perspective

One of Sarah’s classmates put this note in her school bag today:

As I pulled out her papers from the day, I found it.

I didn’t have a very mature reaction.

‘Jerky kid.” I muttered under my breath.

Then tears came as I looked up to the Lord in frustration. “Oh Lord, please!”

We have been trying so hard to stop this behavior!

I took a picture of the note and sent it to the teacher. I found myself pacing around the house as I tried to gather my thoughts. Sarah saw the note, but I don’t think she understood it.

I looked at the note again and again. As I began to cool down, I tried to find humor in it.

First, this student has great handwriting. Impressive! The student also said ‘please’…

‘Points off for misspelling ‘nose’….’ I thought chuckling to myself.

I reminded myself this is a special needs student fighting their own issues with Autism.

Perspective, Jill, perspective.

The teacher wrote an extremely sweet and supportive email back. She will handle it. She said Sarah is overall improving. She struggles the most in the mornings, but afternoons are better. She said to please tell Sarah she can’t wait to see her tomorrow.

I am so thankful for her teacher and aides!

Sarah’s doctor told us that one of her OCD meds had a side effect of nose picking so we have been slowly weaning her off it. It is just going to take time and hopefully we can break this behavior.

Here is the thing: This is something I can’t control. I have an almost 21-year-old adult autistic child who is taller than me by over 3 inches. (I live amongst giants.) We have tried various things and if she wants to pick her nose, she will. I am out of my league.

I can’t control.

Isn’t that a thought we have all felt this year in some way or fashion?

It is a frustrating and helpless feeling.

*******

David and I just came back from a trip to Texas. We had the airline and hotel points to cover the entire trip and we were looking for a warm place. It is such a blessing for my parents to watch Sarah for us. It is such a gift!

We spent a few days in Corpus Christi and watched the waves come crashing in on the evening tide off Mustang Island. The Gulf of Mexico is massive and the waves became more and more powerful as we stood on the bank of the beach.

I was in awe. I looked at David and said, “Isn’t it amazing that God holds this body of water (and all water) in the hollow of His hand?” (Isaiah 40:12) Wow.

I felt small. I can’t stop the waves from crashing in. I can barely hold a cup of the sea water in my hand. I am out of my league. Yet, He holds all of it in His hand!

Instead of frustration and helplessness of my lack of control, I had an overwhelming peace and gratitude of His power and sovereignty.

The same God that holds all the water in His hand is the same God who knows our struggles with our nose picking girl. I might not be in control, but He is! And that is a much better thing.

Perspective, Jill, perspective.

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?” Isaiah 40:12 (ESV)

Resistance Training

Yesterday Sarah wanted to end 2020 with pizzazz.

It started with her not sleeping AT ALL the night of the 30th/morning of the 31st. For several hours she cried and wailed. Trying to console her did nothing, in fact, it made her mad and she screamed louder. I gave up trying. Then about 3am she changed to giggling and shouting out words that sounded like gibberish. Needless to say, we also did not sleep at all the night of the 30th/morning of the 31st!

Later that morning she found a box of Mike & Ike candy that one of the kids brought home. I am unsure how much she ate, but it was enough to make her sick. Sadly, she threw up the Mike & Ike candies on the floor in front of the toilet (so close and yet so very far!) in the downstairs bathroom. Kendall, bless her, took her upstairs to wash her and I cleaned/disinfected the floor and wall and washed the bathroom mat that was hit hard. So gross!

In the afternoon Sarah was in the kitchen and I heard her in the cabinet. When I looked at what she had grabbed, she had pulled out the NyQuil and had poured some in the cup provided and drank it. YIKES! I locked up the NyQuil in the fishing tackle box that we keep our other meds locked up in. I was worried that she would sleep during the day (and be up the entire night again), but it had no effect on her. She never slowed down for the entire day.

I, on the other hand, was on fumes. Already exhausted from the lack of sleep, dealing with throw up and this med scare, I was ready for the day (and year!) to end.

Yet, while it has been a day and year for the books, David and I spend time reminding each other of all the good things that God has done this past year last night. Over and over again, we saw the Lord’s protection and provision. In regards with Sarah, I am grateful that I was able to stay home with her this past year helping her with on-line school. I have gotten to know her teachers and I have such a deep appreciation and admiration for them!!

This morning I was reading about the importance of resistance training when it comes to our spiritual walk. Jonathan Cahn says, “God calls each of us to grow … to grow in faith, in righteousness, in love, in joy, in hope, patience, peace, perseverance … in godliness … When you exercise the qualities of God against resistance, it causes you to grow stronger … When it’s hardest to love, and you love regardless, your love grows stronger. When your circumstances are not conducive to joy, but you rejoice anyway, your joy increases … so don’t despise the resistance, but give thanks for it.” (The Book of Mysteries, Day 212)

I chuckled to myself that God keeps giving me opportunities for resistance training in patience! Yet, it is not my patience, but Christ’s patience in me. It is not my joy, but Christ’s. Resistance training, the hard and challenging days that make me question my existence, allows me to experience His presence in me and let it grow; to become more like Him!

What an interesting thought! These tough days, these days that I feel might break me, are really opportunities to stretch my spiritual muscles to grow stronger and more like Him!

With Christ, I think I am ready to face 2021!

“…we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Romans 5:3-5

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” James 1:2-3

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

Obedience School

“Obedience is the compass that guides you in the path God has ordained for you.”  – Abundant Living

I have never seen Sarah jump out of the bed so fast before!

Usually getting Sarah out of bed on school days is a multi-step process that can take several minutes of gentle wake-up calls to finally pulling back the covers and helping her get up. Sarah struggles to fall and stay asleep, but she equally struggles getting up in the morning. If I walk out of the room, she will climb back in bed.

But this morning it was different.

Kendall a few months ago bought temporary burgundy hair color to do with Sarah but they never had a chance to do it. Sarah found the box earlier this week and kept trying to use it on herself. I would grab it and say, “Oh! I think Kendall wants to do this with you.” I would then put it away, but only to have Sarah find it again. Later, I found Sarah watching Youtube videos of ladies dyeing their hair. YIKES!!

I said to David, “We can’t wait for the next time Kendall is home from school. Sarah really wants to do this. I’ll dye her hair tomorrow morning.”

The next morning I opened Sarah’s door and said, “Hey! Do you want to dye your hair this morning?”

I went back to my bedroom to find a pair of scissors I hide from Sarah (as you know, she has had issues of cutting her hair off so we hide all the scissors.) I thought when I dyed her hair, I could trim up her bangs. I walked only a few steps into my room and Sarah was right behind me. I have never seen her get up so fast!! I distracted her so I could pull out the scissors from my dresser drawer without her noticing it.

Sarah was so obedient. I read the hair dye instructions and it said she needed freshly washed towel dried hair. Sarah climbed in the shower and I washed her. When she got out she grabbed her towel and began rubbing her hair with it to dry it. She has never done that before!  I put an old paint shirt of mine on her and she sat on the floor as I stood over her and dyed her hair. She then sat on the bedroom floor for the next 30 minutes as it processed. I have never seen her just sit there for that long for anything! She really wanted this!!

Here is the final product (I opened the front door to get some natural light on it.):

She is BEYOND pleased!

I was so impressed with her obedience! I know it is because she really wanted it, but I think it stood out to me so much because I am struggling with obedience right now.

As you know, many schools are meeting on-line due to COVID-19, including Sarah’s school. We have done on-line school since March and it has been rough at times. Sarah struggles with the video calls and making eye contact with the class. During summer school, we would get through the morning video call with the teacher and she would then go and cry in her room for the next 15 to 20 minutes. Later, she would come down and we could get chunks of work done in between times of crying and meltdowns. I made the call that no matter what we would be done with her summer school schoolwork by 2pm. It wasn’t worth the fight! Summer school is supposed to be a bridge to help her maintain her learning, not to make her miserable.

On Wednesday, the teacher wrote that it looks like we will have up to six video calls every day (basically on the hour) followed by homework based on the call from 8:15am-3:15pm, Monday through Friday.

My heart sank. Six video calls a day, every weekday? I am speechless about this. From March – June, they had video calls a few days a week, Summer school was three days a week and she struggled with both. Now we will have 30 video calls a week! I must be there with Sarah as she doesn’t want to sit and listen. It is not easy.

I feel so selfish about this because I am dreading this. It is going to be exceptionally long days of meltdowns with no break. We will be trying to get the homework done during the hour, so we are ready for the next video call the next hour. For the time being, this will be my life.

Yet, God has called me to do this. How come obedience can be such a struggle sometimes? Pricilla Shirer says that obedience is God’s love language and we can show our love to God by obeying Him.

I want to be like Sarah who jumped out of bed and quickly obeyed all she had to do because she was excited to obey. Or like Samuel in I Samuel 3. Three times (three times!) Samuel thought the priest Eli was calling him and he jumped up to go to him. The first time, I can see me jumping up. Second time, maybe. But the third time?? I would be laying in my bed debating, truly deep-down debating, about getting up. Or, maybe waiting to hear being called a fourth time before I got up. Not Samuel! Each time, he jumped up to obey.

I want to be like that!

I began this blog with this quote:

“Obedience is the compass that guides you in the path God has ordained for you.”  – Abundant Living

God is directing my steps. (Proverbs 20:24 and Jeremiah 10:23) I want my obedience to be the compass to guide me to whatever and wherever the Lord is leading me to do. For now, the Lord is leading me to start off this school year learning obedience by helping Sarah with school. Hi, I’m Jill and I am in Obedience school. 😊

Looks like Sarah and I will both be learning from home. ❤

“Be obedient (to God), even if you don’t know where obedience might take you.”- Sinclair Ferguson

In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands.” 2 John 6a

Change My Plans

“OH NO! You pottied in your bed!, Sarah yelled loudly from her room.

It was almost midnight and we were just finishing watching a movie as a family.

I looked at Kendall and said, “Would you mind?”

With that, Kendall ran upstairs to check on Sarah.

Silence.

I waited a few seconds and called up, “Did she potty?”

No response, so I got up from the couch to check and there was Kendall at the top of the stairs throwing a comforter, sheets, and mattress protector rolled into a ball over the railing. I caught them and by that time David had jumped up and took them from my hands and headed downstairs to put them in the wash.

Kendall showered Sarah and I made a fresh bed only to discover her pillows were soaked with urine, so I race downstairs to the basement searching for old pillows for her to use.

This is not how I planned to spend my time before bed.

Sarah just has a way of having me change my plans.

This morning David was on a call but texted me that he could hear that the washer was unbalanced. As soon as I walked into the laundry area, I was hit with a terrible smell.

Wow, she really had strong urine last night, I thought as I fixed the wash load. (We had to do a couple of loads due to her comforter, sheets, pillows, etc.)

David later put the wash in the dryer.

Tonight, Kendall and I went for a walk and when I came back inside David called me downstairs. His tone didn’t sound good. As I headed downstairs, David called me into the laundry area and pointed to the dryer. The dryer door was open, and it was covered…. COVERED in poop.  Inside the drum was worse.

“Sarah must have pooped in her bed, too.”

After pulling out the sheets from the dryer and finding balls of poop, yes, I concur that is exactly what happened! So gross!!

Needless to say, bleach and disinfectant were heavily used as I scrubbed and wiped. I disinfected seams and ridges and every little hole of the dryer vents. I can honestly say I have never stuck my head into my dryer drum before tonight.

This is not how I planned to spend my evening.

Sarah just has a way of having me change my plans.

**********************************

At Christmas time as we drove to Florida, David and I discussed the upcoming year with Sarah. Jack would be leaving for college out of state in August, Kendall will be back at college, Jim recently got an electrician’s job and was working full time…what are we going to do with Sarah? Who would be home to get her off her bus? What do we do on the days she has no school or half days? David is working or traveling and is not always available. Also, as you know from my last blog, Sarah’s behaviors have been only getting worse. This past school year has been so challenging. We are not sure if it is the new adult program, new responsibilities, new teacher, etc., but she has been really struggling. This past school year is in the ‘Top 3’ of the worst years behaviorally (Not a list you want to experience!). She is demanding more attention for her care. (We are looking at group homes but that is still another 8-10 years out.) I spoke to my bosses about my situation with Sarah a few times and asked them to join me in prayer. Then the COVID-19 quarantine happened, and I am handling her on-line education (The teacher emails work each day for her to complete). We continued to pray, and it came down to the fact that right now in this point of our Sarah journey, she needs more of me. Balancing work, Sarah’s care, and Sarah’s schooling was getting too much. I was struggling as I didn’t have the margin or energy to give her what she needs, so I decided to step back from work and focus on her.

Not what I had planned.

Sarah just has a way of having me change my plans.

I have heard the illustration/poem before that our lives are like a tapestry and God is the Master Weaver. From the underside of the fabric things just do not make sense. Splashes of color and changing of threads make for a muddled abstract design, but once you see the other side, you see the beautiful pattern that was created. There is purpose and a point. There is beauty, dimension, and depth created from disappointments, sorrows, and changes of plans when mixed with joy, laughter, and happiness.

Yes, Sarah just has a way of having me change my plans, but I am grateful and trust the One who holds the threads of my life.

 

Isaiah 55:8, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

 

Thank you for your continued prayers! What a journey!!

Dealing with the Long Chapters of Life

“There will be many chapters in your life. Don’t get lost in the one you’re in now.” -TobyMac #SpeakLife

I saw this quote my dear friend posted on Facebook and it was as if the words I have been searching for months finally materialized and were staring right back at me. I feel so lost right now when it comes to Sarah.

Since the fall we have hit a rough patch. Very rough. Sarah’s behavior has been defiant and, at times, aggressive. Her occasional nose picking has become constant. This would cause her nose to bleed all over her face and clothes. She would then blow her bloody nose without a tissue on the table or bathroom vanity. When we try to redirect or stop her, she becomes angry. In her frustration and anger she threw everything off the table and/or kitchen island and sent things crashing (and breaking) to the floor. She was slamming her bedroom door so hard that the decorative wood trim on the door fell off. She would then pound on the door (it wasn’t locked) so hard we thought she was breaking it. Moreover, the screaming was non-stop and the nose picking continued. We were at our wits end.

Late November, the doctor adjusted her OCD meds and we have seen improvement in the aggression, but we are still dealing with the nose picking. We are faithfully spraying saline drops in her nose and that seems to help. Her school has a behavioral plan in place and having her earn rewards if she can go a half hour without nose picking.

If there is a limit of what I can handle, I am reaching it.

Sarah’s behaviors seem to be a very long chapter in my life, and I have felt lost in it.

Isaiah 41:13, For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you.

I have been thinking about this verse. I image that I am trying to follow the Lord, but I am lagging behind and I have fallen. The Lord immediately stops and turns around and comes back for me. He smiles at me as I am sitting on the ground. I laugh as I shake my head with tears in my eyes; frustrated that I find myself once again on the ground. He offers His hand and with my right hand I grab His and He lifts me up. He looks me in the eye, with no condemnation, no disappointment in me, only love. He reminds me not to fear, that He is here, He will help me and He goes before me on this journey. With that, it gives me the push I need to keep going.

One of the ways the Lord has helped me was through my parents. We were planning on going away over Christmas break but with Sarah’s behaviors, we knew we couldn’t. All the kids said they did not want to go if Sarah was going to come. Her screaming would be too much for the car ride. My parents offered to watch Sarah and we jumped at the offer. I think my mom barely hit ‘send’ on her text to me that I responded back with a ‘YES!’

It was a break we desperately needed. I came home refreshed and renewed to care for Sarah. It was just the help we needed. I am so grateful for my parents!! It was the helping hand I needed to get back up on this journey.

**********

This year our family is reading through the Bible together. This past week I read Genesis 15 when Abram questions the Lord of His promise when Abram has no heir. In fact, all the wealth he had acquired was to go to Eliezer of Damascus, his servant.

At this point, Abram just couldn’t see the next chapter. Abram thought, how can I be the father of many nations when I have no heir? The Lord gave a covenant and promise to Abram that he would have a son. While Abram didn’t know what came next, God does.

I find peace and comfort that my Lord knows, not only knows the chapter I am in right now, but also knows the next chapter, and the chapters after that. And while I would love to peek ahead (like I did with books when I was little and I wanted to know how the book ends), I am thankful He is with me, picks me up when I fall, gives me the help I need to face each day and reminds me not to fear.

This book is not over yet…and while this is a long chapter of my life, I don’t need to peek ahead. My God is already there and promised me it has a great ending.

1 Corinthians 13:12, ‘For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.’ (ESV)

Good Sign

Have you ever had one of those days?

The dog threw up at 11:30pm tonight and after all that happened today… why not? I was running downstairs because not only did Sarah clog the toilet upstairs, but she also used up all the toilet paper. Of course, I discovered this when I had an emergent need to use bathroom. Sigh! So, I raced downstairs to only discover in the darkness a pile of throw up by the foot of the stairs and a very pathetic looking dog.

It just wasn’t a good day and it certainly was not a good day with Sarah and toilets!

Early this morning, I was helping at a wedding at church and I was busy setting up when Jack called. I knew from the moment he spoke things were not good.

‘Mom, don’t panic…’ (never a good sign) ‘and don’t worry about rushing home because I know you have the wedding, but Sarah overflowed the upstairs toilet and it is raining in the dining room and kitchen.’

Raining?! Oh no!!

He continued, “The dining room light fixture is filled with water and water is coming down from the archway into the kitchen. It is also dripping into the basement. I stopped it upstairs and I used every towel in the house to clean it up, but it is still dripping.

I told him to make to sure Sarah didn’t turn on the dining room lights and to put tape over the light switch just to make sure. I confirmed with him that the toilet upstairs had stopped overflowing. I then said to call his Dad (who is away on a trip with Jim this weekend) to make sure I didn’t forget anything.

When I came home after cleaning up after the wedding, another clean-up was waiting for me with loads of wash and disinfecting floors. You would think that would be a full day of events. Nope. Later tonight I went into the downstairs bathroom after Sarah left it and it, too, was acting weird. It had no water in bowl, but the toilet was running. After taking off the lid and fixing the mechanics inside, it was working again.

What does this girl do to toilets?

I thought we were done with toilet issues, until she clogged the toilet upstairs again before bed.

So when I discovered the dog threw up, I put my head down and sighed.

I’m done.

I just stood at the base of the stairs for a moment. I just couldn’t believe it. I said to the Lord, “Is there a lesson that I need to learn today, Lord?? In my weakness You are strong? Because I feel so weak and worn out right now.”

I feel like I am operating on my own power (again, never a good sign). I have been living on fumes lately, and I feel it. (David was gone on a business trip this week, so I have been flying solo.) I confessed to the Lord that I need His strength because I am so weary.

My mind went to a Bible story that I have been thinking a lot about lately. It is found in 2 Kings 6. Elisha and his servant were surrounded by the Aramean army and the king was after Elisha. The servant woke up one morning to find the city was surrounded and he panicked. On their own power, they were no match to this army.

Elisha prayed, “’O Lord, open his eyes so he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” (2 Kings 6:17)

Today is a day that I need to remind myself that the God who surrounded Elisha’s problems, is the same God who surrounds me and my problems. I need to open my eyes to see these bad days, these frustrations of life that wear me down, may at times be too much for me, but not to the God of armies who fights on my behalf.

God surrounding me? Now that is a good sign!

Stone to Flesh

My job as a mom is to protect my children and I was failing. I have shared that Sarah had terrible meltdowns when she was little. (Blog: An Autism Meltdown) When Sarah became angry, sometimes for no apparent reason, she would take out her frustration on Jack. She would hit him, pull his hair or scratch him. There were times I think she did it to see his reaction. He would scream or cry and she thought it was funny. She would clap her hands in delight. This did not happen all the time, but enough times that if I saw her screaming and running towards Jack, I would swoop in and protect Jack and remove her from the room.

This normally worked unless we were in the car. If for some reason she decided she was going to hit Jack, no matter where I put her (before we discovered Angel Guard she would unbuckle herself), she would pinch him or throw things like her shoes at him. I could not protect him if I was driving.

Here is a photo of the kids before we left on vacation.

Sarah is all smiles (she is directly behind Jack, back row left), but looks can be deceiving. I remember this trip well because she scratched him on the trip and we had Jim sit in between the girls to prevent her from unbuckling and moved Jack to Jim’s old spot.

What could I do? I had a child that directed all her anger and frustration towards her sibling. It seemed like she hated him. Out of all the kids, she picked on him. It was probably because he was the smallest/youngest, but what could I do?

I prayed for God to help me. I begged Him to soften her heart towards Jack. I thought of the verse in Ezekiel, “I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them a heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 11:19) How I wanted Him to remove her heart of stone and give her a heart of flesh!

Here is the thing and God’s infinite mercy towards us, God has given a heart of flesh twice the size of anyone I know in Jack. Jack has always loved his sister. In fact, he adores her. He has followed her to doctor and specialist appointments with no complaints and is truly proud of all she has accomplished. He and my nephew Seth were “Peer Pals” at her Autism preschool to help her and the other students socialize. He loved it! I would see him trying to get her to interact and play with the other kids.

Slowly Sarah’s heart towards Jack has softened. Now, she loves to be hugged by him. When she comes home from school, one of the first things she does is find Jack for her hug.

Jack’s love for her has only deepened. For Jack’s final in his Multi-Cultural class this year he had to share about his life and culture. He spoke about Sarah in his talk. I saw his notes on the computer and it said: ‘Sarah, my princess; I am undeserving of her and her fun; my life is so wild because her…

My princess? Undeserving?

Last week we drove to my brother’s church in Ohio to hear him preach. We had to leave pretty early from Michigan to get there in time for the service and Jack fell asleep in the truck. When I looked back I saw this:

The look on Sarah’s face shows a heart of flesh! She is so happy to sit next to him; holding his hand as he sleeps on her shoulder! When I took the photo, God reminded me of my prayer to Him so very long ago. How humbled and unbelievably grateful I am how He has answered my prayer! He can take a situation that seems hopeless and work a miracle!

It is such a great reminder to me, especially as this week she has been clogging toilets several times a day, wetting her bed, dumping her clothes out of her dresser and other things that make for very long days. If He can take a heart of stone and make it one of flesh, anything I face is nothing to the One who holds it all in His hand!

It is I who is so undeserving….

He Knows What We Need

Sarah’s daily chores consist of feeding the dog and empty the dishwasher. Regarding the latter, while she can unload the dishwasher, we never know exactly where she decides to put the dishes! It is more of “Tidying Up by Sarah”.  There are times I stand in front of my kitchen cabinets and think, “Where would Sarah put this item?” It is fascinating and sometimes hilarious where she put things!

A few weeks ago, I was making pasta salad as side dish for dinner and I asked Sarah to unload the dishwasher. She did it, but left two items on the kitchen island. I asked her to put them away but she gave me a blank stare. I repeated myself to put the items away and she looked at me and walked away.

Why is she not doing it?”

Then it hit me. She left out the colander and a bowl for the pasta salad. She knew I would need them and left them out for me!

It reminds of the most amazing miracle I had recently…

Jack and I went to look at colleges in the Nashville area. On the way home my GPS told me to get off the expressway due to heavy traffic/accident. While we were on this stretch of road on the outskirts of town, Jack rolled down his window to enjoy the warm weather. Then we heard it.

Bang, bang, bang, bang!

It sounded like something was under my car. Did I run over a plastic bag and it was flapping underneath?

As we looked at each other trying to determine what was causing the noise, my car dashboard flashed ‘battery system check’ as the dashboard lights dimmed.

Uh oh.

I called David and he said to find an auto parts store to see if they can test my battery. Jack did a search on his phone and thankfully there was an auto parts store on this same stretch of road only a mile away!

When I pulled in, I knew my car was in trouble. The store employee came out to test my battery, it showed that the battery was fine.

Then why the noise and the message on my dashboard?

Upon closer inspection, the employee made a sad discovery; my serpentine belt which runs my alternator and is a necessary part of the engine was gone. Totally gone!! The last of the belt must have been the flapping we heard.

“We are on our way home to Detroit. I have 8 hours of driving ahead.”

The store employee said that I would need a mechanic and no mechanics are open on Saturdays.

“And I am assuming no mechanics are open on Sundays, as well?”

She shook her head.

My heart sank as I thought about what I was going to do. Even if David hopped in a car that very second to come get us, it would be 8 hours until he reached us. Then what would I do with my car?  I used up all our hotel points already on this trip, so we would have to pay for two hotel nights. I would have to pay for an Uber ride to the hotel (wherever that could be in this remote area…). My mind was racing at the thought of how much this car repair was going to cost us.  I felt helpless and I prayed. No. It was more like a plea. As tears filled my eyes I cried out to my Heavenly Father.

“Lord, I need You! You are my Dad and your girl needs you! I don’t know what I am going to do and I really need You to help me!! I don’t know what to do!”

A few minutes later as I stood looking at my car engine, a man came up to see what was the problem. He quickly knew what to do. As he started to work on my car he looked at me with a wink and said, “I’m a mechanic.”

Within an hour, Jack and I were on the road. I tried to pay him but he refused and said he was paying it forward.

The Lord knew what I needed, much like Sarah leaving out the bowls, and sent help. It was a very clear and humbling reminder that my Dad knows my needs and cares.

“…how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him.” ~ Matthew 7:9b

Night to Shine 2019

Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain

(and the autistic can understand…..)

My heart is very full by the love and kindness that was shown tonight at the Tim Tebow Night to Shine Event hosted by Life Bridge Church and Northline Church in Taylor. When I think of all the people who were there tonight, who donated their gifts and talents to give my daughter a wonderful prom, I am humbled.

Sarah was so excited for tonight! We went to the Salvation Army last week to find a dress. When we walked in the store it was very busy and my heart sank.

Please, Lord, I don’t want a repeat of last year! I thought.

(If you missed that fiasco, here is that blog: Defender of the Defenseless)

Actually, Sarah did great in the store and we found a dress that was the perfect size for her.

Here she is with her brother Jack. She is ready to go to prom!

When we arrived at Life Bridge Church, Sarah knew the drill. She walked back to the hair and make-up station and waited her turn. I found out that it was two local salons that shut down their businesses early to come and volunteer their services. These ladies made each girl feel special. Her stylist Sarah curled her hair and pinned it back. She then finished it off with glitter hairspray. The look of pride on Sarah’s face was undeniable.

Then Sarah went to the make-up table. Bless Emily, the make-up artist, for trying to put make-up on Sarah! Sarah put her head down or squinted her eyes tightly. Emily was so patient with her. At the end, Sarah was very pleased with the final product! It was so cute!

Sarah was then given a corsage and had her picture professionally taken. She went down the red carpet with the “paparazzi” (church volunteers) cheering for her. To think these people spent their Friday night so that the 80+ special needs people each felt special is amazing! Each person was introduced as a queen or king and received the cheers and applause as if they were the only ones that came to the event.

We were so blessed to have the same volunteer aide we had last year. What a comfort for us to have her again! She knows Sarah and knows what she likes. I found out that Emily hired a babysitter for her own kids so she could spend the evening giving Sarah a special prom. I am floored that someone would do this for us! What a gift!

Emily certainly does know Sarah. They danced, took photos in the photo booth, took a ride in the limo, ate lots of food and Sarah’s favorite, sang karaoke.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For us parents, once again, Life Bridge and Northline gave us the royal treatment. We had a goodie bag (soooo excited to see they did the Tim Horton’s gift card again! Woohoo for Momma!), catered dinner, chocolate fountain and new this year….a massage therapist giving chair massages. (We never got to do it…it was very popular with the parents!) They also had raffles for gift card to restaurants. AMAZING!

The note on the goodie bag reads: “Whether you were strong to begin with or had strength thrust upon you by necessity. You’re one strong parent. One strong person.”  ❤

At the end of the prom, Tim Tebow spoke via video about how God has a purpose and a plan for each one and they are Kings and Queens of the prom because that is how God sees them.

The crowd erupted in cheers! Each one was given a crown. Tears flowed from my eyes as I saw their faces; such pride, such excitement!

Sarah was given her own goodie bag of the professional picture and frame:

Here is the picture, frame, photo booth photos, a key chain and photo, and a glow in the dark stick. Sarah took all of her items to her room right away. There is a nice blue glow in her room from the glow stick, but she is fast asleep. I was worried she would have trouble going down tonight because she was so happy but I think all the dancing wore her out!

We are so thankful for the Tim Tebow Foundation and Life Bridge Church and Northline Church for giving our Sarah a night that she and her parents cherish. Sarah was not different tonight; the one people stare at when we walk into a store or restaurant. No, tonight she was celebrated and loved as the person God created her to be. Thank you Life Bridge and Northline churches, and especially Sarah’s aide Emily, for being the hands and feet of Christ as a response for the love you have received from Christ. You shined Christ tonight and we are so deeply, deeply grateful!

For Christ’s love compels us..We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors.”  (II Corinthians 5:14, 20)