From Throwing Chairs to Shining Star

Yesterday we received a phone call that Sarah was to receive the ‘Shining Star’ award for her school. She would receive the award at the School Board meeting that night. When David called me at work to tell me the news, I got choked up. In the past, phone calls during the day were not a good thing. They were telling me she wet her pants or was screaming non-stop. Or worse, she became aggressive and was throwing chairs across the room. Tears would stream down my face as I drove to her school in weariness and frustration of her behavior. Yesterday, I cried, even snorted when I cried (which is so lovely!!) in pure joy and disbelief.

At the ceremony a school board member read from a paper of why Sarah won the award. In my excitement, I barely heard what she said. Later that evening I discovered that they gave me a copy of the paper.

It read:

“Sarah came to (her school) at a difficult time in her young life. She has worked very hard and is growing into a young lady with a strong positive attitude toward her future. Sarah’s determination is amazing as she achieves each skill in her classes. Sarah has become a part of the (school) student body and this is a credit to her individuality-her own way of looking at life and its challenges. A big thank you to her family for all their support.

Sarah strives each and every day, and we could all learn from her example. Though the support from her family and the (school) staff, her growth has been tremendous. She is becoming a role model to her fellow classmates.

We are very proud to award the Shining Star to Sarah Gregory.”

A very big thank you to you who have faithfully prayed for Sarah! You have been with us during the dark times when chairs were being flown across the room or when she would hit and scream and you continue to support us on this journey. I am praising the Lord for answered prayer in her life! Thank you for your involvement!

This photo just shows our family (minus Jim who is away at school), my parents and Sarah’s principal. I wish it could show the many people that pray for her. That photo would be a sea of faces that have cheered us on and would truly show how we are making it. Thank you for your loving and faithful prayers for our girl!

She is our Shining Star!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses…let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1

Do everything without complaining or arguing…in which you shine like stars in the universe.” Phil 2:15

When There Are No Words

“Nooooooooo!” The cry of anguish from my youngest filled the room. His face and body slumped over in complete heartbreak.  The smell of melted plastic filled the air as a black lump of molten mess dripped from the oven racks.

“Oh, Jill, I feel just awful. What a pitiful sight!” my mom said over the phone.

Several years ago David had a conference in Florida and my parents (bless them!!) encouraged me to go with him. At this point, Sarah was crying non-stop for six months straight. Little did we know at the time we would have two more years of her constant crying before she stopped. Looking back, this period of time was the hardest we have faced on this Autism journey and why we started this blog asking for prayer. We were raw and exhausted.

While I needed this time away, I missed my kids and looked forward to the nightly phone call.

“Jill, Sarah keeps eating all the Halloween candy!” My mom said to me one night. “I put it on top of the refrigerator; she pulled a chair up and climbed up there. I put it on top of the kitchen cabinets and she was pulling herself up onto the counter to reach up. I thought I found the perfect spot, though, the oven. I didn’t think she would look there!”

I agreed! I wish I thought of that spot for other things that she got into.

“Unfortunately, I forgot about it.” My mom continued, “I preheated the oven for dinner and soon the kitchen was filled with black smoke and the smell of plastic. The melted candy oozed all over the racks and unto the oven floor. What a mess! Jack was right behind me and was so distraught. I felt so bad that I sent Pop-Pop out and he bought them more candy. The look on your son’s face was awful. He was so crushed.”

Now we joke about that awful Halloween candy fiasco, but have you ever had a hard blow in your life that left you feeling crushed and heartbroken? One moment life is going along and the next instant you feel like your life is like my kids’ candy, a molten blob of toxic mess?

I think that is why I relate to Hannah in the Bible. We read in I Samuel 1 that Hannah was heartbroken from being barren. Her story begins during the time that the Israelites were most likely celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles. This Feast celebrated God’s care for His people, as a remembrance of care in the desert and for the year’s crops.1 Everyone was in a festive mood except Hannah. Have you ever been at a party, but you were just too heartbroken to participate and wish you could go home? Me, too.

It didn’t help that her rival lived in the same house and gave her no relief. What a terrible environment to be in; to have your pain mocked daily in front of you. I love that her husband, trying to console her, gave her the best food (people have been comfort/stress eating even back then!), but Hannah was too upset to eat.

Distraught. Broken. Weary.

What Hannah does next is what I need to do during these times.

I Samuel 1 says that once the Feast was over, Hannah couldn’t get to the Temple fast enough to pour out her heart (verse 9). Her mouth moved so fast and words barely were spoken as she dumped out her anger, frustration, bitterness and misery before the Lord (verse 12).

I was pouring out my soul to the Lord…I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”  I Samuel 1:15-16.

She took all of her baggage to the One who could do something about it!

What a great example! I am thankful that when life leaves me feeling crushed, heartbroken and disappointed, I can run to the Father and pour out my heart to Him. He is still the only One that can do something about it!

There are times that I am like Hannah, too, when my soul is so heavy that words don’t even come forth. I am at a loss, just that I am hurting and I am seeking relief. I am thankful my Father knows my heart and that the Holy Spirit will pray on my behalf when I just can’t. I love that!

Sometimes life can leave you crushed, just like Jack’s reaction to the ‘molten blob of toxic mess’ of Halloween candy. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit is always with me, praying for me, renewing my strength, and gives me other blessings to encourage and remind me that I am His. It is such a comfort to my heart, especially when there are no words.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” Romans 8:26

1  Commentary from NIV Study Bible, page 372, Zondervan 1995