Monday, April 18, 2016

Why I Advocate

22 years ago I walked into a speech evaluation with my brown haired, blue eyed three year old boy.  I walked out in a fog of emotions, desperate to erase the words I had just heard. Autism, they said, very casually, Autism. That day, that moment everything changed, and the life I had envisioned for my Billy came to a screeching halt. From that day on, life would never be the same, never. Looking back, I knew Billy's lack of communication was more than just a speech issue...I desperately wanted it to be, but it wasn't.

The "process" was quick and efficient, Billy started special education preschool within the next few weeks and our journey into the world of Autism began. I watched Billy climb on the little yellow bus still grieving the "loss" of my little boy and the uncertainty of what his life would like in the years to come. I grieved a long time for Billy and, selfishly, for myself.  In my mind, I had lost the child I thought I would have. My "plans" died that spring day as we walked out a speech evaluation and we were given a "new normal". I have never really liked this new normal, I don't think I have to like it, I think God "gets that" and it's o.k. What I do know about this journey is I have seen the glory of The Lord as His plans for Billy and our family have unfolded over the years. In those moments when I look back and get a glimpse of all He has done...that is when I am "o.k" with the new normal.

You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told.
Psalm 40:5

Kindergarten came and Billy received his "official diagnosis" of Autism...there it was, I couldn't deny it, I had to face it and begin to advocate for my little boy. Every step of the way God provided wonderful people who would guide my path and teach me how to advocate for my little boy. Never once did God leave us alone as we walked this new territory, despite the fact I didn't know Him. Thankfully, that would change along the way, too. You can read the entire story Autism and Redemption on a previous blog. He is a good Father, He is faithful to His children...I have lived that truth and am forever grateful to our Father who loves us with an everlasting love.

It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8

Friday, March 20, 2015

The End

Four years ago we stepped into the life of a young mother of three. Despite warnings she did not want to "change" we stepped in anyway. Sure, just as God never left me in my mess, He would certainly step into her mess and change her heart. It would just require us to walk with her for a while. We were in it long term,determined she was worth it, Joshua's birth family would become a huge part of our life.

With certainty, we forged ahead one day at a time. She became pregnant and we were fortunate enough to be asked to adopt this precious baby and save him from the generational poverty his birth-mother had lived in for so long. But, we didn't want to just save Joshua we wanted to see his birth-mother whole, healed and able to care for the three children which would remain with her.
Life would have been easier if we would have adopted Joshua and walked away, but God didn't call us to be comfortable He called us to serve Him which meant we would continue to walk with her. We were obedient, we followed and trusted God every step of the way. I can't recall the number of times we stepped in and helped our doesn't really matter, suffice it to say, we have been the one constant in her life for a long time even though she has many natural supports which should be surrounding her. Unfortunately, she comes from a long line of generational poverty, she is a victim of her circumstances every single day. She can't see the forest for the trees, the beautiful ocean beyond the puddle. She lives in the mud every day of her life and we have learned she likes it there, in the mess, not because she can't get out of the mess, but because she doesn't desire to get out of it.

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” C.S Lewis

Two and half weeks ago we brought her two youngest children into our home....she had a plan. She was going to have stable housing AND transportation within the next month. She desired to have the boys with her again as soon as she was situated and stable. It looked like that would happen, instead last week I received a frantic phone call saying she was losing everything, basically. She was taking her oldest child out of school to live in another city with a relative. Once again, her mess would continue, despite my naive idea she would really come through with that plan. Remember this has been four years of highs and lows, mostly lows with this 25 year old girl. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Life is too short to be "too busy"

I have been blessed with a beautiful friend and sister in Christ, her name is Susan Meier. Susan and I bonded easily and quickly because we share a similar struggle...we both have adult children with special needs. I call it a struggle because not every day is easy some days are long and difficult.
Susan was her daughter's caretaker, we both have had moments and days when we were just exhausted with what being a mom with a child with special needs means. We encouraged each other, we laughed together, and we carpooled to their special needs group together to lighten our loads. Susan was always willing to drive both ways when I was "too busy". She invited Billy over to watch movies, took him to lunch and loved him even on his most difficult days. And in the last year there were many of those days. I treasured this sweet, generous, compassionate lady more than I can say.

Almost exactly 8 weeks ago my sweet friend was diagnosed with inoperable stage 4 brain cancer and today she has left this world and is at this moment dancing with Jesus, free from cancer, free from the pain it caused her the last few weeks.

Little did I know as I picked up Kristen for Days Journey (special needs group) last Friday it would be the last time, this side of Heaven I would see sweet Susan she was awake, bright eyed and beautiful sitting in her wheelchair.

I hugged her tightly and said the things I needed to say...she responded to me in the only way she could with a sweet, sweet smile.  As I turned to leave I looked back and said "bye Susan" and with a huge smile she waved good-bye. That moment was a sweet gift and a precious memory I will cling to the rest of my days....especially on the days I drive up the driveway to pick up Kristen... I will be driving both ways, because life is much too short to be "too busy" for this sweet, sweet girl who has lost her very best friend, the one who loved her so well even on the most difficult days.

“O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!" Psalm 39:4

Monday, September 29, 2014

Running to Peace

Christianity is not the answer to your best life now, it isn't going to make you rich or famous or popular but it is going to prune you and grow you into a beautiful masterpiece. We may not be able to "see" the masterpiece through the struggle as we fight our flesh and sin every day. But one day we will see the beautiful work of His hands, the reason for the struggles the reason for the disappoints and the reasons we had to suffer for just a little while.
"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Over the last few months I have found myself in a "storm". The reasons why I can only speculate. He has created in me a heart that wants to meet every need, to fight for what is "right", and give of my heart, time, money and energy as much as I am able. I want to say YES to every opportunity and every need that presents itself...I desperately want to live for so much more. I believe we owe that to The One that gave everything for us.

God is constantly at work in our lives. The Spirit is always speaking to us, guiding and directing our paths...if we listen. Most of the time it is easier not to listen...because many times listening means things are going to change. The Spirit isn't there to be ignored, to be pushed to the back of our minds, or to be rationalized away. When we are not heeding the warnings of our hearts then that can create in us an uneasy spirit, a spirit that has no peace.

"I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you." John 14:16-17

Peace is everything....peace means you are in His will for your life, you are exactly where He wants you. If you find yourself in a situation where there is no peace then that is not where you are supposed to be, remaining in that spot will mean disobedience. If it is not meant for YOU to be there...then someone else is supposed to be there and it is not you. So fast as you can toward peace, because it is waiting for you on the other side of the storm. 

Every door God opens does not necessarily mean we are to walk through it...or are we? Do we get these opportunities so God has the opportunity to speak to our hearts or to use a friend in our lives that will speak truth to us?  Or is all of this just a time of pruning? I don't know....I may never know for sure...but I do know one thing; I am thankful I have beautiful friends in my life who are not afraid to speak truth to me, who seek peace in every situation and every decision. 

I am even more thankful to my Heavenly Father who has not left me alone to walk this journey. He is at work in me every day, growing me into the person He wants me to be and some days that means pruning is necessary to move me into a new direction and, prayerfully, able to bear much fruit for His Kingdom. So, I am thankful for pruning even when it's painful...even when it's disappointing...even when I can't see what's on the "other side" of the storm because I know it is all for my good and His glory. 

"I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come." John 16:12-13

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Dying to this Life

As I look back over the last seven years of my life I can see the path God has had for me and my family so clearly. Seven years ago, Jesus saved me from myself. From the moment He saved me my life has changed, I'm not the same person, I have been made new. Somedays my mind drifts to my "old life", the way I use to think, see, and hear the world around me. To be totally honest, some days I miss that life. My flesh would love nothing more than to sit down in that same chair four years ago reading Radical and not hear what it was saying, be unreponsive to the words God used to change my direction. But that is my flesh, that is the weakness that remains in me.

At 50 I NEVER thought I would be a mother to 7 children ages 25yrs to 15 months. Four biological, one adopted, and two foster children is the craziness of our life. This is not the life I had planned. I had very different plans. I wanted to be retiring in a few years...going to the beach, enjoying life, all of my children grown and leaving the nest. God in His mercy and love for us revealed other plans...plans that would break my heart and fill my heart. As I look at our "littles" I feel incredibly blessed to be back here. My husband gets to experience childhood for the first time, and I get to experience it with new eyes and, I like to think, more wisdom.

In the moments of my life when I stop to "see it" I am overwhelmed with it's volume and with it's blessing!  I'm exhausted and filled both at the same time! I have been given a beautiful gift to be a wife, a mother, to work in ministry full time at Sweet Sleep, and to serve on the Orphan Sunday Leadership Team. I have been allowed to serve the orphans that have captivated my heart. I didn't seek any of it, and I certainly didn't deserve it, just like our adoption of Joshua, God has put all of it in my path and it has been an incredible journey of faith, heartbreak at times and most of all love.  He has opened my eyes to the vast needs around me and He has compeled me to act.
For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. James 2:26

I am grateful beyond words to share this journey with my husband and best friend, Steve. This journey God has set us on cannot be done alone, it would never work. This journey is motivated by love for each other and for the One who loves us most, our ultimate purpose is to please Him. Our prayer is that our life reflects the love He has for us.

There is such truth in God's hear, to learn and to live. We can be transformed by it or we can choose to live the life we want, a life lived for ourselves and our desires. There are days when I wish Jesus would come quickly, but then He reminds me there is much work to be done. So we press on...even when it's hard, even when it's messy, even when we would rather just be sitting at the beach.  Thank You Jesus...for salvation....for allowing us to die to ourselves so that one day we will live forever with You.
And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:24


Monday, December 16, 2013

Autism and Redemption

Almost 23 years ago I was blessed with a beautiful little boy. I had hopes and dreams for him, just like we all do when we are expecting a child. Billy was my second child he had big blue eyes and I just knew he was going to be an athlete! I suppose many of us have that desire for our baby boys. My plans for him were already set in my mind but God had other plans. When my plans and God's plans collided it was devastating for me because I had nothing to cling to. When I heard the word for Billy as I had envisioned it was dead, forever.

I became a believer very late in my life, fall of 2007.  Billy was born in April 18, 1991. As I look back over those years, those extremely difficult years as Billy grew and became less engaged in the world around him, unable to express his needs except through screaming I now see God at work. I didn't see it then I only saw what I thought was judgement and punishment for something I had done, because I had done plenty I was not proud of. Plenty that deserved punishment from our Holy God. But now I know that wasn't from God! God loves us and saves us from the muddy pig pen we call our lives before we are saved. He doesn't punish us...He pursues us in His perfect ways. What I saw as devastation for the life of my little boy was God's plan of redemption for our family. He truly does work all things for our good, even if we don't see it at the time. Sometimes it takes years to actually "see" it.

During the difficult early years I was blessed with people all along the way. From the moment I first heard the word Autism at 3 years old to this very day....I have always had people to lean on and to help me navigate the world of Autism. Billy has always had people that loved him unconditionally even on his most difficult days which continue to have moments of screaming and sometimes uncontrollable tears. I am incredibly grateful for his Drs., teachers, family and friends who have reached out to Billy. Those that have not feared him but loved, supported and encouraged him. Everyone of them is so important to the story of Billy! But one person stands out....because this sweet friend would be the one that God would use to save our family from the "pig-pen" of this world.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Blessings of Foster Care

It has "officially" begun....we received our approval as a state approved foster home on August 23! From that point on we waited....excited every time our home phone rang. The home phone that is required for a state approved foster homes. But it never rang with the caller id...Department of Child Services. We have anxiously waited for our first placement...knowing full well that it was all in God's perfect timing. He would decide when and He would decide exactly who would become part of our family...if just for a little while.

We didn't receive any calls until the last week of September and that week we received THREE calls. Unfortunately, we had to say no to the first two....that proved to be difficult, more difficult than I had anticipated. Immediately thoughts raced through my mind. Were we supposed to say yes and we didn't? Were we more concerned with our comfort than we should be?  We both wrestled with our decision knowing we had really good reasons to say didn't fit with our family at all. But knowing that really didn't help us feel better about saying no. Our only desire in this journey is to be obedient, to do what God has called us to do for His children and to provide a safe, loving, Jesus filled home to children who desperately need that in their lives. The question lingered in our minds for days.

One late afternoon while I was at work, that same week, my cell phone rang with that same prefix...and I knew it was DCS once again. That was the call we had been waiting for....the one God had just for us. We know that, because we both said Yes, immediately! There was no anxiety, no question....we could do this placement. A few hours later we would welcome two precious little girls into our home. Our journey into foster care began October 2nd. It has been a whirlwind of activity. It has definitely not been easy the last week and a half.  God has had to press on me, once again, that this life is not my own. I gave up the comfort and security of a life lived for me a long time ago. The journey of this new life has been so much better than I could have ever imagined.

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