Giver of Good Things

“Here you go!” Another dandelion was thrust into my face.

“Oh how pretty, thank you!”, as I held my growing dandelion bouquet in my hand.

Our backyard was a carpet of yellow dandelions and the kids were on the hunt to collect them all.

I would ‘ooo and ahh’ over each one. I rubbed a few flowers under their chins ‘to see if they liked butter’ (I am not sure why we do that with dandelions, but we do.) The kids would be so happy that their chins turned yellow because they wanted me to know that, in fact, they did like butter.

Then they would race back out to the yard to find more yellow flowers.

Sarah, around 4 years old at the time, was in the backyard with the kids and I thought she was also picking flowers. When the kids came up to me with their flowers, Sarah came as well. Each kid dropped their flower in my hand. Sarah was the last one.

I held out my hand. Sarah looked at me, looked at her hand and dropped the contents into my hand.

I was expecting a flower but it turned out to be the biggest bug I have EVER seen!

I screamed, not just a shriek, but a blood curdling scream. I chucked the flowers straight into the air as I got up and ran. I did a dance of wiping my arms and legs just in case the insect was still on me.

(When I was growing up I was playing in a neighbor’s abandoned car and it had a wasp nest in the back seat. I was only stung twice, but now have a HUGE fear of insects.)

Sarah looked at me like I was so strange….she gives me that look a lot! To her, she gave me her gift and she was proud of it.

The kids still tease me about my reaction to her gift that day.

Recently I was speaking to my co-worker who is an Associate Pastor at the church I work at and we were discussing Psalm 51.  Psalm 51:10 is one of my favorite verses, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

He mentioned, though, the struggle of Psalm 51:8b. “…let the bones you have crushed rejoice.”

His comment stayed with me. For days I wrestled over this verse. Crushed bones is pain, crushed bones is anguish. It is place of excruciating pain in your life.

I think we have all been there; that place where you struggle to catch your breath.

What is my reaction, though? In that space do I truly rejoice? Do I thank Him for the ‘crushed bones’ in my life? Or do I complain to Him, telling Him it’s not fair and I ‘deserve’ better?

I come back to the truth that I know He is a good Father and gives me all that I need.

I am reminded of Matthew 7:9, “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or, if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!”

As much as I try to give good gifts to my kids, just like Sarah gave me what she thought was a good gift; I could never out give my Heavenly Father.  He continues to give me good things, and as challenging as this is, this includes a life with autism.

Autism has been a bone crushing experience, but I have seen a faithful Father be ever so tender with me. He has provided and taken care of us. I have witnessed daily the power of prayer of people faithfully praying for our girl. I have seen my faith deepen when the path before me was dark and I was at a loss of what to do for her. I’ve clung to the One who is Faithful and True as I desperately needed Him for strength and guidance. It has been bone crushing, but I rejoice because I know my Father. He is the giver of good things!

She a Babe

My phone flashed that I received a video.

It was from my daughter Kendall.

I chuckled as I saw it was a video of Sarah with the caption “She a babe.”  (Yes, you read that correctly.)

I opened up the video to see Sarah trying on sunglasses at a drug store. She was quite pleased at herself as she posed in the mirror that was on top of the sunglasses carrousel. She was making a peace sign with her two fingers and saying “cheese” into the mirror.

Kendall was supposed to pick Sarah up from my sister’s house and take her home. David and I went to Jim’s university to see Jim play lacrosse and we were juggling who was watching Sarah.

Why was Kendall not home with her?

I called from the game “Hey, what’s up? You took Sarah out???” I try to avoid taking Sarah out as she usually cries and can make a scene.

“I picked her up from Aunt Leanne’s but then I thought Sarah might enjoy going out. I took her to Subway for lunch. She danced in the store! The employees thought she was so funny! We walked around the city’s downtown park and Sarah was strutting and posing on the sidewalk. It was hilarious!! I then took her to RiteAid and she was trying on sunglasses. I LOVE HER!!”

When I got home from Jim’s game Kendall showed me the video of Sarah walking in the park. She walked fast with her head down and then she stopped, looked up and posed with her hand on her hip as if she was a model walking the catwalk. Where did she learn that?!?! It was funny and adorable!

I laughed but a wave of conviction came over me. I’m an adult and her mother and I’m reluctant to take Sarah out, but here is her twin sister giving her a girls’ day out!

It comes down to the fact it takes work to take Sarah out and sometimes I am too tired, too lazy or too willing to take the path of least resistance. It is humbling to be challenged by your teenage daughter, but sometimes a humbled spirit gives you that push you need to break out of your comfort zone.

Currently I am studying the book of Ruth. Ruth could have taken the path of least resistance and done what her sister-in-law had done and stayed with her people. But Ruth didn’t. Ruth stepped out in faith and went with her mother-in-law to Israel. Ruth humbled herself by gleaning the leftovers in Boaz’s fields to feed them both. She humbled herself by following her mother-in-law’s instructions and approaching Boaz to ask him to marry her.

Personally, I would struggle with what her mother-in-law, Naomi, suggested. And while her heart might have been pounding as she made her way to Boaz’s field, Ruth’s response to Naomi was, “I will do whatever you say.”(Ruth 3:5)

Her response is refreshing. Instead of refusing and giving Naomi all the reasons of why she couldn’t, Ruth’s heart was one of openness and humble obedience. Over and over again Ruth did the uncomfortable and stepped out of her comfort zone. Her story inspires me; her story challenges me.

So I am making a conscious effort to take Sarah out more. I realize that in less than 5 years all the kids will be in college and this will be my new normal with her. So far we have gone to lacrosse and softball games and she is doing very well! She sometimes yells out phrases that only make sense to her, but she isn’t crying!

My favorite thing she has done so far is at her younger brother’s high school lacrosse game when she stood up and started clapping to a song played over the loud speaker. The song talks about clapping your hands. Sarah heard it, stood up and started to clap. She looked around puzzled wondering who was asking her to clap.

I smiled at my sweet girl and thought Kendall is right, “She a babe.”

God opposes the proud but give grace to the humble.” I Peter 5:5

Strengths

There are times when I laugh so hard, I snort. I try to hold it in, because it certainly isn’t ladylike, but I just can’t help it.

Yesterday was one of those days.

We had some plumbing issues. To fix it we needed to cut open our bedroom’s closet wall to gain access to the pipes in our shower, which meant that we had to clear out everything on my side of the closet. This exposed a weakness of mine, I keep anything and everything that our kids did or made. If a project at school or at church had my child’s handprints on it, I saved it.

David nicely, sweetly, gently encouraged me to purge some things from my four drawer cart that I keep all the kids keepsakes; one drawer for each kid. But, as I went through the drawers it brought back a flood of memories.

One of the keepsakes I found was from Kendall sharing her strengths when she was in elementary school. It listed out 28 things she thought she was good at. It started out fine: “I’m good at baking, school, making people laugh…” But, then she said things that really did make me laugh: “I’m good at watching TV, thinking, eating food.”

Then I read the next one on the list and the snort laugh came out…

“I’m good at breathing.”

She sure is! She doesn’t even have to think about it! (Though, ‘thinking’ is a strength of hers!) She is that good at it!!

At my work we have been going through our strengths to see how God made us and how we can be more effective as a team. I have found this fascinating as I see how God has made me. While I have done personality tests before, this test, I feel, was spot on about how I am wired. It was a confirmation to me about my college degree, why I like to work with certain personalities and why I love and feel called to work at a church.

Yet, on this Autism journey, I feel like in my humanness I am weak. People have said to me, “God gave you Sarah because He knows you can handle a special needs child; I know I couldn’t.”

While I know that is compliment, I don’t feel like I am strong. There are days that I feel like in my own power, I am very, very weak.

It reminds me of a very low point on this journey. I had had it. The weariness and weight of life, the constant screaming of Sarah, her poop smearing on walls, the financial burden of the cost of her care all became too much. I was walking into the living room and heard a crash in the kitchen. I knew Sarah had gotten into something. (It turned out she swiped plastic cups and plates off the counter unto the floor.)

“Really?” My heart sank, tears welled up in my eyes as I sighed and started to drag myself into the kitchen to see what she had done.

Just then my knee buckled from my weariness and I thought I was going to fall. I felt someone behind me, catching me, picking me up from under my arms and putting me back on my feet. I quickly turned around to see who was behind me, but I was by myself. I will never forget that moment. It truly was,

fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26

For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10

That day will ever be on my heart as a reminder that Christ is my best strength over anything I face! I don’t need a personality test to know that. He continues to infuse me with His strength and remind me He is always there!

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” Philippians 4:13

To Be a Katherine

I did a double take as I dropped Kendall off at her friend’s house for a birthday party/sleepover when she was in 7th grade. Her friend Katie, the birthday girl, took me by surprise. I caught my breath when I saw this young girl’s face and I recognized who she was.

“Katherine?” I hesitantly asked.

“Yes.”

“You’re Katherine?” as I put my hand to my heart.

“Yes”, she looked at me with such a puzzled look. Her mom, who was in the living room helping all the girls unload their sleeping bags and tote bags, came to the door with the same puzzled look.

I couldn’t help it. Tears started to well in my eyes as I looked at Katie’s mom and said, “Your daughter has a very special place in my heart.”  I confused her even more because we had never met before and she and Kendall became friends during this current school year.

I explained to them why. When Sarah was in 3rd grade and she had the most amazing experience!  Her autism impaired class was integrated with Katie’s 3rd grade class.  These general education kids learned side by side kids with special needs and learned to accept them.  I told them how one parent in the class told us that her son who always struggled in school gained confidence as he saw and helped children with tougher issues than he had.

Sarah found a friend in Katie (Katherine). Katherine loved to read and Sarah’s teacher said Katherine would sit down in the reading nook in the classroom and Sarah would join her. Sarah loved to be around Katherine and Katherine accepted her for who she was. Sometimes Katherine read to Sarah and sometimes they just sat together while Katherine read to herself. Sarah’s teacher said that she caught Sarah picking up a book trying to imitate Katherine reading. She said it was so sweet to watch. Sarah adored her and Katherine was the first non-related friend Sarah had ever had.

Then the most amazing thing happened. Katherine began to help Sarah learn to read. Sarah would copy what she was saying and soon Sarah was reading ‘ICanRead’ books! Her teacher said that Sarah would listen and do whatever Katherine taught her. She said the look of pride on Sarah’s face was priceless!

I loved how Katherine was not afraid of Sarah or Autism. She wasn’t afraid that she was going to “catch” Autism, but saw Sarah as a friend and wanted to help her.  Sarah learned how to read because a girl named Katherine took the time to work with her.

By the time I finished my story, Katie’s mom and I were both crying and we hugged.

I told her, “You will never know how much your daughter’s kindness has made a difference in our lives.”

Her act of kindness has stayed with me. I shared her story when I spoke for several years to 3rd grade students at a local public school about Autism Awareness.  The school wide program was called “Everybody Counts” and each grade at the school learned about a disability. (It was a great program! I wish my kids’ elementary school had it!)

I would talk to these students about Autism and its common characteristics, and then I would share Katherine’s story.  Afterwards, I would look directly at the students and asked them, “Will you be a Katherine?  Will you be kind and be friends to a child with special needs just like Katherine did?”  As I stared into these little eyes, their heads would nod in agreement with such heartfelt emotion.  It was so sweet!  I shared with them that autistic children, while different from them, are kids too, and just want to be friends and accepted.

To be a Katherine! One girl’s actions inspiring others on how showing kindness can make such a difference in others’ lives! I wonder if any of those kids remember her story and showed kindness to others. What an amazing ripple effect that would be! No matter what, Katie’s actions are still felt today in our lives! I don’t know if she has forgotten this, but we never will! She opened up Sarah’s world just by being kind and being a friend. She might have thought what she did was small, but it meant the world to us!  Like your prayers!  Your prayers for Sarah truly mean so much to us! It is the lifeblood and encouragement to us to keep going on this Autism journey. We can never thank you enough; we are seeing such a difference in her!

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Hebrews 10:24

Picture (Im)Perfect

I love seeing photos of my family and friends taken by professional photographers. My favorite family photos are the ones taken in autumn with the changing colors of the leaves as the picture perfect backdrop. Truly beautiful!

It reminds me of a photo shoot we had at Sarah’s Autism therapy center when she was five years old. The Center hired a professional photographer to take photos of our families. This photographer was amazing! Children with Autism do not always cooperate, but she was patient, kind and came prepared. She gave me the proofs of the photo shoot and I treasure them because they reflect what our lives were like at that time.

These are scans of the proofs so the quality is not what I would like, but it will give you the idea.

I call this one ‘Mesmerized’:

mesmerizedsarah

Photo credit: Sherry Kruzman Photography

The photographer had a plastic gun that when she pushed a button on it, bubbles would float out of the nozzle. She used it to gain the children’s attention and to get them to look at the camera. My children acted like they had never seen a bubble before. I was standing next to her, waving my arms and saying, “Smile! C’mon! Look at the camera! Over here!!” Nothing; my children were totally mesmerized by dollar store bubbles.

I call this photo “Nitpicking”:

sarahtoe.jpg

Photo credit: Sherry Kruzman Photography

Why look at the camera when you can focus on your brother’s big toe?

This one, one of my personal favorites, is called “Rockstar”:

rockstarsarah

Photo credit: Sherry Kruzman Photography

I have no idea what song was in Sarah’s mind at the time, but she was rocking out to her own beat.

You go, girl!

(I love that her siblings do not seem affected by Sarah’s personal dance party.)

This photo I call simply, “I give up”:

igiveupsarah

Photo credit: Sherry Kruzman Photography

There are times when I compare my mothering of Sarah to the titles of my kids’ photo shoot.  “Am I doing enough? Am I enough for her?”  If I become mesmerized in my mind on all the things I am not doing, I will lose focus on what God is calling for me to do today. I can nitpick at all my faults and tell myself I am no “rock star”, but then I will lose sight of how He has been my continued strength in my weakness. He created Sarah and He created me to be her mom. I might want to give up, but He reminds me how far we have come. (This blog has been such a wonderful reminder and encouragement of His continued faithfulness!) So with a deep breath and a proper perspective of who I am in Christ, I reach out for His Hand as He continues to lead me down this road.

This life is not picture perfect, much like this photo shoot, but I treasure it!

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:10

 

“The Winner”:

bestonesarah

Photo credit: Sherry Kruzman Photography

Every Life is Precious

I love studying history. I get that love from my Dad who taught history and US government for over 30 years.  There are some moments in history, though, that make me physically ill. One of those times was hearing about the Nazi program called ‘T-4’ that claimed over 200,000 innocent lives. Special needs children and adults that were deemed ‘useless’ to the Nazi society were murdered via gas chamber, lethal injection or most cruelly, starvation. It was believed that this program was the training ground of the Nazi’s ‘Final Solution’ plan. On the United States Holocaust Memorial Website (www.ushmm.org) there is a photograph of doctors around a person in one of these ‘T-4’ institutions with the caption that translates “Life only as a burden” as the sick propaganda and ‘justification’ of their evil act.

Viewing this time in history with the fresh eyes of having Sarah makes my stomach drop. My heart aches for these families that lost their loved ones because they were viewed as unworthy of life. I wonder how many mothers mourned for their special needs child for the rest of their lives.

This past Sunday was ‘Sanctity of Life’ Sunday. Our church bulletin had the title “Celebrating Sanctity of Human Life: EVERY LIFE is precious.” My thoughts immediately went to Sarah and that her life is just as precious as anyone else’s. It is just different than the norm.

Many churches on ‘Sanctity of Life’ Sunday, quote Psalm 139:13-16 to describe how our God made us. Jerry Bridges in his book, Trusting God Even When It Hurts, says Psalm 139:13-16 needs to be read as one thought. He paraphrases it:

“God created our inmost being and fashioned us in our mother’s womb so that we might be equipped to fulfill the plan that He set out for us even before we were born. Who you are is not a biological accident. What you are is not a circumstantial accident. God planned both for you.” (pg. 166)

Sarah is not a biological or circumstantial accident. God has a plan for her life and while it looks different than other lives and has more challenges, it is just as precious.

Sarah brings us such delight. Last week, Kendall was teaching Sarah the multiplication table of 7 x 3 just for fun. Over and over again Kendall sang a tune that ‘7 x3 is 21’ to Sarah. She then said, “Okay, Sarah, what is 7 x 3?” and began to sing her song of ‘7 x 3 is…..’ and waited to see if Sarah would answer. Sarah was working on a puzzle at the time and with a sparkle in her eye looked at Kendall and then back down at her puzzle and sang back to her ‘22’. Kendall and I both started to roar in laughter. Sarah looked up and had this smile on her face that she knew she was being silly.

I thank the Lord for Sarah. She has enriched our lives for the better. I am thankful that our society has schooling and therapy options for her and other special needs people. I am thankful that people have a passion for teaching special needs individuals and have made it their career to teach, help and improve the quality of life for those with special needs.

Every life is precious. I couldn’t agree more!

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:13-16

Gift Wrapped

A few years ago I went to the Amazon website and saw that I had 334 items in my ‘cart’.

What?!

I clicked my computer mouse over the image of the grocery cart in the far right corner to see how I could possibly have that many items.  As I began to read all that was in my cart, I laughed.

Scroll after scroll, page after page, I saw a certain theme and knew who did it. It was all things Barbie, My Little Pony and even a pink Power Wheels electric car!

“Oh I see Sarah really wanted the Holiday Barbie. She has 3 of that doll in the cart.” I said laughing to Kendall as we viewed Sarah’s wish list.

I deleted everything in the cart and was very thankful that I do not store my credit card on my account. I was telling my friend and fellow mom on this Autism journey what Sarah did and she shared with me her story.

Her son, Jonathan, is a friend of Sarah’s at her school and he, too, saw a few things on Amazon that he liked. Jonathan clicked away and then found my friend’s credit card to finalize his purchases. He said nothing to his mom about it but was very excited when the deliveries began to come to the door.

She knew something was up based on Jonathan’s reaction.

As she opened one of the boxes she saw the packing list she knew what Jonathan had done. When she began to pull the items out of the box, all of them were individually gift wrapped! After all, in Jonathan’s mind they were gifts to himself!

His birthday was coming up so my friend gave him some of the items for his birthday and saved the rest for Christmas–after she told him to never do that again!

At Christmastime, I look back at this past year and am so thankful for the family and friends that have prayed so faithfully for Sarah. I am humbled and in awe of the power of prayer in her life! While she still has some issues and struggles, she is doing so much better!

It is also during this time I think of the best gift that I and the entire world has ever received was not gift wrapped in wrapping paper and a bow, but rather was wrapped in swaddling clothes and found lying in a manger. Jesus, our Savior and the promise of God’s redemptive story, is the best gift! When I think about how I am ‘making it’ on this Autism journey it is because Jesus is my source of hope, joy and peace.

Hope, joy and peace; the very things we hear around Christmastime because they reflect the One we celebrate!

Merry Christmas!

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:11-12

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

Big Shoes to Fill

When people look at me and snicker, I have come to realize that it is never a good sign. After the 5th or 6th parent I passed looked at me and my kids and snickered at us, I thought I better turn around to see if there was a reason. Sarah didn’t let me down!

We were late for school. Not a bit late, not a few minutes late, we were ‘Get shoes on, I’m in the car and I’m leaving’ late. I parked the car on the street just across from the school and I was quickly trying to shoo the kids towards our elementary school. I heard the first bell ring across the parking lot and I knew we only had a few minutes before the late bell rang.

“C’mon!!” I ran ahead to catch up to the crossing guard standing in the intersection so we could make it across while he held back traffic.

That’s when the parents started to snicker as they walked back to their cars after dropping off their kids.  I turned around all the while motioning to my kids to hurry up as they walked through the intersection and I got my glimpse of Sarah. I told Sarah to put shoes on.  I just didn’t specify which shoes. Sarah was wearing David’s size 13 tennis shoes and was trying to plod her way to school. It was a sight! She tried with all her might to keep them on but she looked like a clown.

“Oh Sarah….” I shook my head and laughed at the sight. Needless to say, Sarah was late for school as we had to return home for her shoes.

Let’s face it; those were big shoes to fill!

Have you ever been in a position that you felt inadequate? Whether you are facing ‘big shoes to fill’ or just feeling like everyone has their act together but you. You look at others and wish ‘if only I was more like that’ or ‘why can’t I have my life together like that person?’ and so on.

It reminds me of a story:

“Rachel was not satisfied with the frame God built for her. She was sure her physical and emotional disabilities, her lack of abilities, were a cross she had to bear. She wished she could choose another frame.

One night as she slept, she dreamt she was lead to a place where many frames lay, frames of all sizes and shapes. She discovered a beautiful frame, inlaid with jewels and gold. “Oh, this one will be perfect for me,” she cried. So Rachel hung the heavy jeweled frame over her body. The gold and jewels were beautiful but far too heavy for her, and she collapsed beneath the weight of it.

Next, Rachel found a lovely frame with delicate flowers entwined around its sculpted form. This was surely the one to fit her perfectly. Hurriedly she lifted it, but beneath the flowers were piercing thorns that tore her flesh.

Wasn’t there a frame just right for her? She came to a plain frame. No jewels. No delicate flowers. Yet something attracted her to it. She picked it up and hung it over her, and it proved a perfect fit. As she looked at the frame encircling her, she recognized it as the one God had originally created for her!” *

God has designed you for a specific purpose and design. The more people I meet and hear their stories, the more I realize that each one of us has a journey. Some journeys I think sound so difficult, heartbreaking and challenging. I think I could never handle the weight they carry. Yet, I am sure there may be people who think having a severely autistic child would be too tough for them. (Sometimes it is for us and that is why we are so thankful for the prayer support!!)

I love how our Lord knows, designs and calls us to walk the roads He has for us. We can encourage and cheer each other on to run the race marked out for us (Hebrews 12:2) and give grace to each other. God is not asking us to fill anyone else’s shoes, just the ones that keep us closely in step with Him.

May I be faithful and trust Him and serve wholeheartedly with what He has placed before me today. ❤

Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

 

*(Calm My Anxious Heart, Dillow, pages 42-43, adapted from Streams from the Desert, Mrs. Charles E. Cowman, page 271.)