My Last Post

20140521-003238.jpgI was looking through these files the other day. My husband and I had a consultation appointment with a doctor, who specializes in Speech-Language Pathology and Auditory Processing Disorders. The office asked us to bring any past evaluations and assessments that have been conducted on our son. As I sorted through all the paperwork, I came across a polaroid picture of Gabriel that was taken 5 years ago. He was 3 1/2 years old, attending his very first speech therapy session. There’s an obvious look of anxiety in his face. In the picture, you could see him tightly gripping someone’s hand … mine. I remember that day vividly. He was so scared.

Now, here we are. My son is almost 9. The road has been rough, and still, I wonder what is ahead for him and for us. My faith is shaken sometimes, as I share the same anxiety my son felt that day 5 years ago.

This doctor that my husband and I met was recommended to us by some friends, who have been on a similar path with their youngest son. At the end of the appointment, we scheduled Gabriel’s evaluation in June.

Perhaps we’ll get a real diagnosis. Or perhaps the doctor cannot pinpoint exactly what it is.
Perhaps our path will be clearer. Or perhaps it will become more muddled with decisions to be made.
Perhaps we’ll get our questions answered. Or perhaps we’ll find ourselves asking new ones.

I am thankful for the opportunity to have this evaluation done, but I realize that I can’t put my hope in it, its results, or the doctor who will conduct it. No matter the outcome of this evaluation, it is The Lord who will continue to lead us as He has been faithfully doing these past 5 years.

When I began writing here, I never could have imagined this is where it would take me. I want to extend my deepest thanks to you for reading what I have shared here about my journey. Thank you for encouraging me. Thank you for weeping with me. Thank you for praying for me and for my family.

But, I believe it is time. It is time to close this chapter. To look with eager anticipation at the road ahead … though it be rough, God is good. God is most definitely good.

Love Lessons

Cry babyIt was one of those days, where I felt like no matter which way I turned, I was hitting a wall. There seemed to be obstacles everywhere that kept me from going where I wanted to go and doing what I wanted to do. There were challenges with my children: it seemed my voice could not be heard, my directives could not be understood, and my efforts could not be appreciated. So, our homeschool day ended on a sour note. The pity party began.

I give, give, give to this family and get nothing in return.

So, here is where The Lord took me in the midst of my complaining.

“… train the young women to love their husbands and children” (Titus 2:4)

But I do love them, my heart would protest. It is apparent in the time, energy, efforts, and sleep that I sacrifice for them. I am practicing sacrificial (agape) love for them. And, I know I’m not alone in this. Without a doubt, many wives and mothers love their families in this way.

But the Titus verse is a command for women, not to agape love, but to phileo love, meaning to love with affection.

I have been so busy loving my family with sacrifice, I have failed to love them with affection.

My love falls short.

On his way home from work, my husband called, “Let’s take the kids to the park.” My first thought was to respond, “You can take them. I have other things to do.” I looked at the kids, and they were playing happily together on the floor. They don’t have to go to the park; they’re just fine over there. How could I possibly take any time to go out and play with them when the sink was full of dishes, dinner had to be prepared, and the tower of laundry was about to topple over? Thank The Lord for holding my tongue.

Higher, Daddy!We went to the park. I pushed my 2-year-old on the swing while we sang one of his favorite nursery rhymes together. I watched with delight at my 5-year-old boy climb up the hill, diligently looking for the best rocks for his collection. I hugged and kissed my only daughter after she fell and scraped her knee and then ran off to play again. And, I supported Gabriel’s legs as he excitedly swung his arms across the monkey bars.

Before this day, I was missing out on a lot by not phileo loving my children. Praise The Lord that in His kindness, He didn’t let me miss out this time.

 

Photo credit 1: Jessikaori
Photo credit 2: Christopher Elliott

The Day He Rode Without Training Wheels

My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person; he believed in me. ~Jim Valvano“Mommy, I did it! I rode my bike!” Though I could not see his face, the enthusiasm in my son’s voice came through loud and clear over the phone. Doctors had told us early on that delays in Gabriel’s speech development could also mean delays in other areas, such as motor skills. Play dates at the park confirmed this, as I watched my son struggle to climb the jungle gym, while his younger sister whizzed passed him. Eventually, he improved, and he could climb as well as any 8-year-old. But, one thing that he was still not able to do was ride his bike without training wheels.

Even as a preschooler, he had a difficult time riding his tricycle, preferring to move that thing around with his feet, like the Flintstones. Graduating to a bicycle was another huge hurdle for Gabriel to overcome, but training wheels gave him confidence. He had the biggest bike with training wheels at the park, and I wondered if we would ever be able to remove them.

DSC_0010.JPGYesterday, my husband took him out to go bike riding. By God’s providence, one of the training wheels came off as he was riding. My husband decided to leave it off and encouraged our son to keep riding. When he could tell that Gabriel’s confidence was growing, my husband told him, “Son, I’m going to remove the other wheel. Just give it a try.” After a few minor falls, Gabriel was riding around the parking lot with no training wheels. A couple of bystanders watched and cheered on both father and son. One of them, an older gentleman, said to my husband, “Now that’s something to remember!” And after that parking lot ride, I received the phone call from Gabriel. I wish I could’ve recorded his voice and play it back for you all to hear. He was gushing with excitement. I could not contain the tears of joy, for Gabriel’s accomplishment reached deep into my heart.

I’m just like Gabriel. Timid, anxious, and afraid to fall. I want my training wheels because they keep me steady, but God knows when to remove them. He will keep me steady. And as I entrust myself to Him, I will discover that all along, He has always been holding me up.

 

(Photo credit 1: Lotus Carroll)
(Photo credit 2: billjank)

On Cliff’s Edge

edge of cliff aheadIn your pilgrim’s journey, do you sometimes sense you are constantly walking on a path that will lead to your end? Do you feel helpless, hopeless, and alone? And you wonder, why is God leading me here?

I read some encouraging verses the other day, and God comforted my heart. It is too good not to share. We are all going through something, aren’t we? A difficult marriage, rebellious children, a friend’s betrayal, failing health, financial problems, and the list goes on.

On the Edge of a Tafoni Cliff

Whatever your circumstances may be, do you feel like your toes are hanging over the edge of the cliff that even the slightest breeze can bring you down? What is holding you up? Or rather, who is holding you up?

“When I thought, ‘My foot slips,’
your steadfast love, O LORD, held me up.
When the cares of my heart are many,
your consolations cheer my soul.”
(Psalm 94:18-19)

 

Photo credit 1: tbone_sandwich
Photo credit 2: Orin Zebest

Raised Imperishable

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About a year and a half ago, my dear aunt ended her battle with cancer and walked in victory with her Savior in heaven. I still think of her often. At family gatherings, her presence is surely missed. Even when the cancer and the treatments left her physically weak, she would still show up at those gatherings, usually laying down on the couch, but greeting everyone with her sweet smile. I remember one particular day, we spent hours talking about many things … about how she wants to spend every day given to her for the glory of God … about facing her fears when she went in for treatment … about how The Lord has comforted her through this trial … about the opportunities she was given to testify of Jesus Christ to the nurses who took care of her. She also expressed her desire to witness her only son get married, but she fought back the tears, realizing this dream would likely not come to be.

Recently, my son Gabriel asked my uncle about her, “Where’s Grandma?” “She’s in heaven,” my uncle replied. Gabriel continued, “Do you have her glasses? Does she need her glasses?”

“No, she doesn’t need her glasses there. She’s perfect.”

Towards the end of her earthly life, the cancer drained her of the outward brightness she always displayed to others. During what was our last visit with her, she no longer had a smile outwardly, but that sweetness that could only come from the love of Jesus, was still there. She couldn’t talk and could barely move, but she still managed to have enough strength to reach for a small box of crackers next to her bed so that she could offer a snack to our kids.

When she finally went home to be with The Lord, there was sadness, of course. But joy filled my heart at the thought of her, sitting at the feet of Jesus and worshipping Him, completely cancer-free!

“Somewhere in my broken, paralyzed body is the seed of what I shall become. The paralysis makes what I am to become all the more grand when you contrast atrophied, useless legs against splendorous resurrected legs. I’m convinced that if there are mirrors in heaven (and why not?), the image I’ll see will be unmistakably ‘Joni,’ although a much better, brighter Joni.” ~ Joni Eareckson Tada, who was paralyzed after a diving accident over 45 years ago [Heaven: Your Real Home (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995), p. 39.]

Kiddie Quotes

BellyWhen I was pregnant with my first child, many of my friends were too. We all endured the ups and downs of nine months of pregnancy, and afterwards, we continued to share our experiences of the confusing world of baby blues, nursing, diaper-changing, and sleep deprivation. Comparisons were inevitable.

As our children entered the toddler years, my son’s development seemed to stall. As I heard many words and sentences coming out of the mouths of these little ones, my Gabriel was still uttering incomprehensible words and what others would label “baby talk”. How can a mother not worry? Questions from his pediatrician about his speech development only enlarged my concerns. This was the beginning of our journey in language disorders, speech therapy, and a plethora of unanswered questions.

Gabriel is 8 years old now. It’s been a long road since that day, and the path ahead of us seems even longer. There was a time when I thought he would never be able to talk. But now, there are days, my ears need a break from all his chatter. He has a lot of words stored up there in his memory. The challenging task before us today is to teach him how to take those words and put them together in such a way as to communicate effectively.

The day-to-day is taxing, and I’m often tempted to think there has been no progress. But, if I pause for a minute to look back, I see God’s faithfulness in all this. He has answered so many of our prayers and will continue to demonstrate His faithfulness to us in the days ahead. I am certain of this.

Communication can still be a huge hurdle for Gabriel. Anxiety-filled stuttering and repetition can be difficult to overcome. But other times, he is able to say exactly what he is thinking and exactly what I need to hear to brighten my day. And, I hope his words will brighten yours as well.

At 5 years old ….
G: (pointing to my pregnant belly) I want to open.
Me: You can’t open it.
G: Oh, I don’t have the key.

Me: Today you are going to see a new teacher (speech therapist).
G: We bought her at the store?

At 6 years old …
G: Mommy, is it a weekend?
Me: No, it’s a weekday.
G: (Sighs) That’s a lot of weekdays!

At 7 years old …
G: (pointing to my not-pregnant belly) Mommy, do you have a baby?
Me: No, I don’t have a baby in there.
G: You ran out of babies?

At 8 years old …
G: Why do superheroes have to wear underwear?

 

(Photo credit: Neil Gillis)
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Let Your Words Be Few

Word Balloon Frame 01: Cut UpIn my last post, I shared about the need to be watchful in how we use our words towards others. Words uttered in carelessness serve only to hurt and divide.

But I have noticed something else about myself. Negligence in my speech towards other people eventually flows down to my communication with The Lord. When I pray, I am less inclined to praise and adore Him and more prone to doubt and complaint. I don’t know about you but when I have a complaining heart, my words multiply.

“Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.” (Ecclesiastes 5:2)

Even before The Lord, we must be slow to speak. Pause and consider who you are and who He is. Our sinful heart would keep us from approaching Him if not for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us. This ready access which we have been graciously given ought not to be taken for granted. Precious blood marks the path through the Holy Place, past the torn veil, and into the Holy of Holies before God Himself. What will you say to Him?

Look at Isaiah’s response when he received a vision of The Lord sitting on His throne.

“Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5)

I’m afraid that I sometimes take too lightly my sinfulness and think even less of His holiness. I have certainly regretted many words spoken out of anger or bitterness to my husband and children. But, my heart is grieved even more at the words of doubt and unbelief that I have spoken to God Himself. The only thing that keeps me from being paralyzed by my past sins is His amazing gift of forgiveness.

May we learn to sit in silence before rushing into prayer. May we relish the quiet meditations of our hearts before beginning to speak. May we be still with reflections of His character before uttering one word.

Then, we can proclaim, “O Lord, how great Thou art!”

 

(Photo credit: heath_bar)

Disclaimer: Especially Made has no affiliation with any advertisements that may occasionally appear on this site.

Guard My Mouth

Since he was a toddler, Gabriel’s world consisted of a great deal of repetition. When he was diagnosed at 3 years old with a speech and language disorder, one of the most common manifestations was what professionals called echolalia. If you greeted him with “Hi, Gabriel, how are you today?”, my little parrot would reply, “Hi, Gabriel, how are you today?” Many children engage in this sort of behavior, but they soon grow out of it once they are able to get a handle on communicating more independently. Advised by the speech therapist not to discourage the echolalia, we allowed the repeating to help Gabriel process information before he was ready to respond appropriately.

Though there were still significant delays in his development, he progressed. As predicted, he gained some proficiency in everyday conversation, and the echolalia began to disappear. Well, not completely.

Today he will still repeat, but not during conversations. He is selective and will focus on a certain sound or phrase he hears and repeat it, almost without thinking. His choice, however, seems to almost always be his sister. Is this intentional? I don’t know. But, imagine the child who plays that cruel game of repeating-everything-she-says. “Stop copying me.” “Stop copying me.” “I’m going to tell Mommy.” “I’m going to tell Mommy.” But in this case, Gabriel is not trying to play a game.

silenceAs you can imagine, homeschool has been quite challenging for both of them because he is mimicking every word and sound his sister makes. But I could tell this is just as frustrating for him. One day, he came up to me and said, “Mommy, could you just put tape on my mouth and I will stop copying my sister?”

How many times have I approached God the Father with a similar request? “God, please put a guard over my mouth. Let my words be a blessing, not a curse, to others.” We have been warned that the tongue is more difficult to tame than the fiercest animal. Oh, how true that is!

There have been so many careless words that have spewed from my mouth, mostly directed towards those dearest to me … my husband and children. No amount of remorse can give me back that time and allow me to take back those hurtful words. And many of us know how much deeper the cuts of unkind words are because we have both inflicted and received them.

“When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” (Proverbs 10:19)

“Could you just put tape on my mouth?” Oh, I wish it was that easy both for me and my son. With our mouths, God has given us an amazing privilege of blessing, encouraging, and edifying others. Tight lips would forfeit that privilege. So, our wise Father gives us some very practical instruction concerning godly speech. Less is more. With fewer words, we can be more intentional with them … only speaking when there is real purpose and only saying what is truly needed.

Let us exercise great care in choosing our words. May our words leave behind, not an intolerable stench, but a lasting, fragrant aroma of blessing.

 

(Photo credit: RebeccaBarray)

The Fight to Worship

SooMee and AndyWe sat down during worship service, and Gabriel was fidgety as usual. With a song sheet in hand, his dad tried to get him to focus on something by inviting him to follow along the lyrics during the congregational singing. This worked last week. This Sunday was a different story. He didn’t want to sing, but he sat there quietly enough that we let him be. When the sermon began, he decided he wanted to sing after all. This didn’t surprise us. Often, Gabriel will do this. He will want to go back to something he had originally turned down long after the activity had already passed. Do-over’s aren’t always possible, as in this situation, and it can sometimes be extremely difficult to help Gabriel move on.

So, for the first 15 minutes of the sermon, my husband tried to explain to Gabriel that he needed to proceed to the next thing. I bowed my head in prayer, painfully aware that my son’s anxiety was beginning to rise to a level that could very well explode. I tried not think of the people sitting around us, who I’m sure could tell of the conflict that was taking place. My mind was spinning, and try as I may, I could not understand a word my pastor was saying. Why did this have to happen now? I thought. Spiritual battles don’t necessarily happen in the dark, secret corners of your house. For me, it was happening right in the middle of a worship service.

Then, all of a sudden, as if The Lord flicked a switch in my son’s mind, he stopped completely, opened his notebook and started doodling as if the quiet argument never happened. Eventually, The Lord calmed my heart and began draw me into His Word.

Before the service ended, we sang one last song.

And right now
In the good times and bad
You are on Your throne
You are God alone

Drowning in an ocean of despair, God displayed a bright ray of hope to me. He is there sitting on His throne. He is still in control. I cannot begin to go the depths of all of God’s purposes for allowing that small battle to occur. Could He not keep Gabriel’s mind from going back and forth? Why did He not give us complete, undistracted time from the beginning? We were, after all, there to worship. I can’t tell you all the reasons why God presented us with this obstacle. But, I will tell you this … in the end, He brought me to worship. And, when I closed my eyes to sing that last song, my heart wrapped around every word.

“You are on Your throne.”

 

(Photo credit: quinn.anya)

Disclaimer: Especially Made has no affiliation with any advertisements that may occasionally appear on this site.

The Believer’s New Clothes

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Last week, when we had barely begun school, my son Gabriel began to complain that his stomach hurts. I thought, Sure, it hurts. It didn’t hurt a few minutes ago before we cracked open our books. Now I don’t want you to think I’m an insensitive mother. Any parent can testify that children can get pretty creative with their complaints if it means getting out of something like school. I pressed him to continue his work, while, at the same time, observing his behavior concerning his alleged pain. Well, it wasn’t long before the complaining intensified, so I excused Gabriel from the rest of his school work. For the remainder of the day, he was planted on the couch, with a cup of water and a vomit bowl next to him.

The next day, I didn’t want to take any chances. The thought of him throwing up all over his school books was enough for me to announce a non-student day. Gabriel was certainly happy about not having to do school, but though he still felt weak, he wanted to change out of his pajamas. Thinking he would be more comfortable in his PJ’s, I told him to wait. I know when I’m sick, I want to live in my pajamas and curl up under my blanket. But Gabriel insisted because for him, pajamas are for night time only. It was a new day, and it was time to change into new clothes.

Princess Diana's Wedding dress, 1981One day, we will awaken to a new day, when we will forever cast off our old clothes of flesh completely. No more fight with sin. No more war waging within. Free at long last from this body of death. Our filthy rags of this life will be no more, and we will be arrayed in white robes, not made with hands. The finest clothes worn by kings and queens cannot compare with our new garments in heaven. Fellow believers, one fine day, we will be royally dressed because of the sacrifice of Christ.

“They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:14)

But as we wait, we need not despair. For even now, if you have received Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you are already covered with His righteousness. We may battle with our flesh day in and day out, but we can be confident that the work to redeem us from our slavery to sin was finished on the cross. And when we finally see Him face to face, our transformation will be complete.

“Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2)

 

(Photo credit: thefoxling)

Disclaimer: Especially Made has no affiliation with any advertisements that may occasionally appear on this site.

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