The WOW Walk

When our boys were crawling babies and old enough to start noticing and exploring the world around them, Mike would often pick them up and carry them, through the house, outside, in malls or restaurants, just about anywhere at any random moment, and show them things up above their vision. Since they spent their entire day on the floor it was almost impossible to see or know what was up above.wow-walk-1He let them touch clocks, pictures, candles and other things hanging on walls. He showed them flowers, plants, leaves, trees. He let them look out windows, took them into closets and pointed out items on shelves and walked them in restaurant lobbies to let them see whatever was at eye level.

Every item seen or touched was prefaced with, “Wow!  What is that?” Then he would name it and add a simple explanation, “That’s a clock. It’s round. Watch that second hand go. That’s pretty awesome isn’t it?”

Watching their precious faces light up at the discovery of some new wonder was priceless as they absorbed the novelties of their world and every tiny discovery in amazement.

These ‘Wow Walks’, as we came to call them, resulted in Jon’s first word, not being DaDa or MaMa, but “Wow!”

Our nine month old crawling and exploring grandson was with us last week. The first thing Mike did when Asa was comfortable with us holding him, was take him on a “Wow Walk.” He had quite a few of them while he was here, to the point where if he was fussy, his mom or dad would ask him, “Asa, do you want Grampy to take you on a Wow tour?”

The answer was a big smile and outstretched arms. His way of saying, “Yes Grampy, take me, take me.”wow-walk-2As we age and mature, we often lose this childlike sense of wonder. The responsibilities, problems and heaviness of our existence on this planet can easily mire us down, into negativity and despair; things once new and exciting as a child become commonplace. We can see a beautiful sunset, without celebrating it, walk past a rose without smelling it or look at a rainbow without contemplating its mystery. We begin evaluating others through eyes of cynicism or mistrust and miss moments of joy and beauty in everyday life.

Why are we reminded by Jesus to remain, not childish in behavior, but childlike in faith?

“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3). I believe He knew how quickly the belief and wonder could fade; after all, He was here, walking as one of us, when He said this.

He also came to return that sense of amazement to life. Not just a, plodding along, trying to keep our head up and survive, sort of reality, but abundance (John 10:10).

Is the wonder and joy of life far from your grasp? Do the problems and struggles you face keep you down? God can lift you up.

Let Him lift you from the floor of limitation. Trust him as a small child trusts a loving grandfather. Reach for Him with outstretched arms. Allow Him to carry you higher and show you great and marvelous things. Lift up your eyes, believing there is much more above and beyond where you are right now.

Don’t settle for a ‘Woe Is Me’ walk through life.

Make it a ‘WOW’ walk!

But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14

“Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” Luke 18:17

“The thief comes but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10

“But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.” Psalm 3:3 

“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2     

“But as it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things which you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3

The Myth of Assumptions

ASSUMPTION: a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof,

Or the Categorizing of People We Don’t Know, Under Labels:file

 

Myth- All people with Down syndrome are always sweet and happy.

Fact- I live with one who isn’t always sweet or happy and know of several others who cry a lot.

Myth- All Puerto Ricans love rice and beans.

Fact- I know one who could care about rice and beans. In fact, I’m a white Yankee from New England and I love rice and beans.

Myth- All black people are thugs and takers.

Fact- I have a lot of wonderful black friends who are hard working, loving and giving citizens.

Myth- All Mexicans are illegal.

Fact- I know people of Mexican descent who are awesome legal Americans.

Myth- All Moslems are terrorists.

Fact- I know of several Moslems that are just as concerned about terrorism as I am.

Myth- All white people hate…anyone else…who isn’t white.

Fact- The white people I know don’t hate anyone. If God made you purple with pink stripes or green with yellow dots, I’d still like you.

Myth- All people living in the south are racist, redneck, hicks.

Fact- Been living in Florida sixteen years, if this is true I sure know a whole lot of really nice non-racist, redneck, hicks.

Myth- All people who disagree with my opinion, lifestyle, and behavior are haters.

Fact- I’ve been married for four decades to a man I sometimes disagree with. We don’t hate each other. Ever.

Myth- All cops are racist murderers.

Fact- I have police friends who pray they never have to draw a gun on anyone and want to go home to their family at the end of each day, like the rest of us.

Myth- All Pentecostals swing from chandeliers.

Fact- I’ve been in Pentecostal/Charismatic type churches most of my life and have never seen anyone swing from a chandelier. In fact I’ve never been in a church building that had chandeliers to swing from.

Myth- All pastors are after your money.

Fact- I’ve been married to a hard working pastor for four decades. He’s never been after anyone’s money, not even mine.

Myth- All Clinton supporters are left wing, communist liberals.

Fact- I know people who supported Hillary and they aren’t communists. They had their own well thought out reasons for wanting her as President.

Myth- All Trump supporters are right wing, racist, homophobic, narrow minded, bigots.

Fact- I know people who supported Trump and they aren’t any of those things. They had logical, personal reasons for wanting him as our nation’s leader.

Myth- God only likes Democrats/Republicans/Libertarians (pick one).

Fact- “God so loved the world…” He didn’t pick and choose. He didn’t die for Trump supporters over Clinton voters. He didn’t die for Pentecostals more than Catholics. He doesn’t love white people more than black or Moslems less than Americans. Jesus came and loved on sinners, publicans, religious leaders, prostitutes, big mouths, crooks, fishermen, soldiers, sick, broken, tired, and messed up people. He loved and died FOR ALL.

So, how about WE THE PEOPLE put away ‘childish things’; end the bullying, name calling, mudslinging (even though our politicians won’t), the kicking, screaming, whining and temper fits because we didn’t get what we wanted and get to the business of making our home, church, neighborhood, community, state and country a better place.

Jesus calls us to a higher standard, “But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell” Matthew 5:22.

Can we be mature adults? Stop labeling? Stop categorizing? Stop forcing our agenda on others? Stop believing everyone is our enemy because their opinion, their politics, their social status, their..whatever… is different from our own?img_0885How about we invite that ‘opposing person’ out for coffee or lunch? Sit and really listen to another perspective with an open heart, instead of an angry reply. Honor her/him because God cares about her/him and value her/him for who she/he is instead of tripping over what we want them to be. Give someone a chance when we don’t think they deserve it, because we’d like the same courtesy extended to us.

WE THE PEOPLE can end the division among us and we don’t need a President to tell us how to do that! Let’s freely give others the benefit of a doubt and release all assumptions.

Jesus is our example. We can choose to take up our cross and follow Him. Then the world will know we are His, not by our agreement, but by our love.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.”

1 Corinthians 13:11 “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I stopped those childish ways.”

Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.”

John 13: 34 “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so also you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.”

Matthew 5:43-45 ““You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.”

Wings

I watched it, from my kitchen window, fluttering against the screen, desperate to get out. The butterfly was trapped. It flew in through the large roof opening of our pool frame, a hole the hurricane left behind when a screen came loose in the wind.gulf-fritillary

The butterfly showed no interest in the array of flowers we’ve planted inside, it wanted out and bumped along the side panels until it needed to rest, finally clinging to the screen instead of flying against it.

I dried my hands, grabbed a Rubbermaid container and lid and went out on the deck. I figured if I could trap it inside the container I could set it free, but it flew off before I could catch it.

I grabbed the pool scoop, the thing that looks like a large butterfly net, and followed the creature, gently swiping at it as it darted and glided above my head.

Opening the screen doors on each end of the enclosure, I attempted to guide it to freedom, but it flew too high or darted away in another direction. Butterfly obviously didn’t understand my good intentions. It couldn’t believe I was concerned for its welfare, though several times it was only inches from the open door.

“You’re so close! Come on Butterfly. Work with me. I know this is scary for you but I’m trying to help you here. Why can’t you understand, I’m just trying to help you be free?”

Eventually the butterfly exhausted itself and rested again, on a side screen, within reach and I gingerly set the Rubbermaid container over it and slid the lid underneath. The frightened creature panicked and crashed violently against the walls of the plastic prison.

I carefully carried it outside, far away from the pool enclosure and lifted the lid. The butterfly burst from captivity and soared away above the trees in a joyous dance of freedom.

In every place where my mind, heart and soul are trapped, every obstacle I so violently and fearfully bump up against, every towering wall I encounter with no escape, God is on a continuous rescue mission to set me free. He is there waiting, as I kick against my prison walls, believing I must find my own way out.

He longs to show me how to soar. He patiently moves me closer to the open door, closer to liberty, while my heart flutters in fear and my soul lifts in pride.

My Merciful Father patiently waits until I retreat in exhaustion and there, submit to the gentle nudge of His heart to my own. “Come on Daughter. Work with me. I know this looks scary and you don’t understand, but I’m trying to help you. I’m just trying to set you free. Trust Me.”

With gentle restriction He apprehends me, changes me, and then sets me free to rise above the challenges of my own thoughts, heart and life.

Wings are not meant to fly against obstacles, but over them. Wings take us places we can’t normally go. Wings are meant for freedom.

Today, I submit to God’s capture. I will Trust Him, because soon, confinement will be over.

Freedom will come at last.

And I will soar.

Isaiah 40:31(NKJ) “but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings..”

Acts 26:14-15 (AMP) “ And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice in the Hebrew dialect saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick [repeatedly] against the goads [offering pointless resistance].’ And I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus..”

 Galatians 5:1 (ERV) “We have freedom now, because Christ made us free. So stand strong in that freedom. Don’t go back into slavery again.”

John 8:36 (ESV) “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

 

O Me Of Little Faith

mustard-seedI awoke at 3:42 AM in a heart racing panic and find myself at this place more often than I care to admit. It weighs heavy in the back of my mind, no matter how I try to push it away, the unknown haunts me. What will become of my son when we are no longer here? With the passing of every year, every birthday, his and mine, the question looms larger.

So I guess it’s confession time. It’s time for me to admit, to say it out loud; I don’t trust God in this. My re-occurring fear and worry prove it. I’m convinced no one will take care of him as well as I do, after all I Am Mom and have invested most of my life here. Other than Mike, who else will care enough to do that? I don’t know and the not knowing eats at me, plagues me and some days, consumes me.

Trusting God with a child is a tall order for any parent.  We are so hands on, heart invested, all in, with our kids and it’s easy to default back to a place of worry. But a child, who needs continual, life time supervision and assistance, elevates investment levels to exponential heights. So often I feel like the dad who brought his son to Jesus and cried out, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!” Maybe Jesus understands this parental desperation more than we know. He healed the boy in spite of dad’s wavering faith. And that gives me hope.

I’ve thought a lot about faith. What is it? How does it work? What should it look like in my life? Honest questions from a girl who grew up in a church culture equating struggle, disaster, illness, and tragedy with a condemning lack of faith; feeling failure and shame whenever my sunshine, lollipops and rainbow life disappeared behind onimous black clouds for a season. Understanding what it means to really trust God has been a huge re-learning process for me.

I’ve seen His unlimited goodness and faithfulness through the years, in both the easy and hard places of my life,  but realize I’m still lacking when it comes to radically abandoned trust. I’ve also lived long enough in my Heavenly Father’s amazing grace to understand we are always in process. Every day and every situation brings new opportunities for my faith to rise to higher levels.

An infant isn’t a full grown adult one week, one month or even a year after he is born. He grows incrementally day after day, over the span of many years. And we don’t condemn him for it. A twenty year old will not have the wisdom and experience of a seventy year old. Full maturity comes with time and age. We know instinctively this is the natural order of things, yet we Christ followers can beat ourselves and others up when we are not spiritual giants overnight.

Wayne Jacobsen (thegodjourney.com) put it like this: “I like the process of God winning us to trust. It’s not that we should trust Him or have to act like we trust Him even where we don’t. God wins us…I think life puts us in different points of extremity..but those opportunities when He says, “OK, we’re going to go deeper here, you’re going to get to learn to trust Me more”…I think all of my days I’m still going to find myself in places going, “OK, my trust doesn’t extend here yet, but God let it.” Maybe that’s the Author and Finisher of our faith, He’s going to grow it into a reality…the faith I live in today was not mine to produce but [grew as] I cooperated with Him.”

When Jesus calls out his followers with, “Oh, you of little faith,” we see it as a negative, a criticism, a scolding, but maybe it was more of a reminder than a rebuke.

After all, He said we only need faith the size of a mustard seed to throw a mountain into the sea (Matthew 17:20). A mustard seed is slightly larger than a grain of sand. That’s tiny!  Could He be telling us we don’t need as much as we think, we just need to exercise what we already have and watch it produce? After all He does the work, the miracle, the impossible. We just do the believing.

There’s a tension, a balance, between planning for the future and worrying over it and our manual for living, the Bible, addresses both. Proverbs 6:6-8 tells us to consider the ant who stores up and plans for the days ahead. Jesus tells us to consider the lilies who don’t fret or toil but are clothed in beauty by the Provider of all things (Luke 2:27-40).

While we plan as much as possible for Jon’s future, we must trust God with the rest. We do our part and believe He will do His, because He always has. Today, I absorb what Apostle Paul stated in Philippians 4:6-7, into my heart, mind and spirit, “Never worry about anything. But in every situation let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks. Then God’s peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ.”

So Lord, today, I give Jon and his future back to You. Once again, I lay him at your feet and     place him in Your capable hands, knowing You have a good plan already in mind for him. I thank You for it, even in my inability to see or control it. I may need to do this again tomorrow and the next day and the day after that, Father, but I offer my mustard seed faith to you, thankful for Your patience while it grows into larger trust I have yet to obtain.

Lord, I believe. Please touch those places in me where I don’t believe, those areas filled with doubt, worry and fear. I give them, along with my son, to You and thank You for never giving up on me but continuously calling me into Your amazing faith, trust and peace.

Today I choose I choose Faith.

Today I choose Trust.

Today I choose You!

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” ~Corrie Ten Boom

Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

Proverbs 6:6-8 “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.”

Luke 12:27 “Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”

Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

A Perfect Imperfect Life

I celebrated another birthday last month. An odd thing about the years adding up, you realize how much you don’t know while also becoming wiser in the things you do know. Quite paradoxical, I’ve surmised. overflowSo on the wisdom theme; I’ve been thinking about clichés lately, both biblical and otherwise, those phrases we throw around as magic wand solutions to life. You know, stuff like “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence,” God won’t give you more than you can bear;” statements that help us feel better when we don’t know what else to say. I’ve been wondering where they came from and if they’re actually true.

Lately I’ve been contemplating this one: “Is your glass half full or half empty?” and have decided I don’t want my cup to be half anything. I want it filled to the brim and overflowing with thankfulness, grace, love, encouragement, joy, laughter and peace.

God has blessed me in many ways this past month, my glass is full and I want to acknowledge a few of these blessings with gratitude.

  • My husband took me out, brought me flowers and spoiled me. He spoils me all year actually and I’m awestruck that he has celebrated four decades of birthdays with me so far. I don’t deserve such love and loyalty.
  • We were able to visit our son, David, his wife, Clara and our cute, adorable, babbling, hug-able, my-heart-is-bursting-with-love, little grandson, Asa, for a long weekend. Someone please remove the stars from my eyes and forgive me for turning into the obnoxious grandmother I said I’d never be!
  • I have great friends! Three of them brought a surprise lunch to me on my birthday, cooked it in my kitchen and served me at my table. For someone who spends half her life in the kitchen (or so it seems) it doesn’t get much better than this. A few days ago, friends from Kissimmee drove up and stayed the day, brought gifts, food, laughter, a massage table (with essential oils! Ahhh!) and took me out for dinner before going home. And I had a night out with another beautiful friend this week who is rich in wisdom, overflows with love, makes me laugh way too much (if that’s possible), and challenges my heart and brain with stimulating conversation. God has surrounded me with the very best of His human creation.
  • I was able to get Jon to his dentist appointment on time (miracle!) and as he was waking up from sedation (our doesn’t want to be touched and doesn’t talk much son), held my hand and began quoting the 23rd Psalm and singing The Lord’s Prayer. God gives us deep glimpses into our Jon’s heart now and then, and reminds me that the heart of a person is more valuable than what is seen on the outside.
  • I’m not running marathons, but I’m more pain free and healthier than I’ve been since I was in my twenties, thanks to the knowledge I’ve gained in recent years about diet and nutrition. God has been faithful to lead me down a path of understanding my body as a temple of His Holy Spirit, and all this entails.

Life is far from perfect, there are constant obstacles and challenges but the longer I live, the more I’m aware of the perfection that exists in beautiful moments of time. Yet our selfish flesh loves to wallow in the mud of misery, negativity and pity. The enemy of our mind and soul delights in reminding us how hard our situation is, how difficult that person is, how we don’t have enough, how we aren’t enough and most of all that our God is too small! I can choose to remain mired in negatives and dwell on downers or allow Jesus to fill my cup to the brim with goodness, mercy and joy.

Remember, an overflowing cup is going to spill all over somebody. With every today, I want to live in a refreshing overflow of God’s presence, discovered in the richness of an imperfect life.

Perfection in imperfection, it’s the ultimate paradox lived in and through Christ.

John 7:38 “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'”

John 4:14 “But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a fount of water springing up to eternal life.”

Luke 6:45 “The good man brings good things out of the good treasure of his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil treasure of his heart. For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.”

Proverbs 4:23 “Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.”

Psalm 68″19 “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits, The God of our salvation!

 

On Whose Lives Matter

Jon SuaveThe topic of lives that matter has been at the forefront of news lately, so I might as well add another group to the fray, one that receives little to no headlines, attention or protests.

In 2013, Robert Saylor, a man with Down syndrome died of asphyxiation after three off duty policemen moonlighting as security guards, restrained him to the floor in handcuffs when he refused to leave a movie theater. His caregiver’s pleas for understanding were apparently disregarded when Robert wanted to see the movie again.

Last week, Arnaldo Rios Soto, a man with autism, watched police shoot his caregiver on a Miami street. Arnaldo had wandered from his group home carrying a favorite metal toy truck in his hand. Someone called the police when they saw Arnoldo, describing him as a man with a gun, acting erratically. His caregiver, Charles Kinsey, was trying to coax him out of the street to safety when police arrived. As Kinsey tried desperately to explain Arnaldo had autism and the object in his hand was a toy truck, an officer discharged his gun at Arnaldo shooting Kinsey instead.

Police officers have protocols to follow and tough judgment calls to make based on their best assessment of a situation and the developmentally disabled rarely fit the cooperation profile. During one of Jon’s wandering episodes he was handcuffed and held in the back of a police car when he failed to answer an officer’s questions or supply his name. To the untrained, the developmentally challenged can be perceived as dangerous and they experience more misunderstandings with police than any other population.*

This week in Tokyo, Japan, Satoshi Uematsu a former employee of a residential facility for the disabled, broke in during the night and stabbed nineteen sleeping people to death and wounded twenty five more. Earlier he had written a letter that stated, “all disabled should cease to exist,” and “the disabled can only create misery.”

The first people exterminated during Hitler’s ‘purify the race’ campaign were not Jews, but the disabled or feeble minded, as he chose to label them. Our Jon would have been the first to die, had we been alive in that decade. It seems no population is exempt from injustice and violence in a world where human hearts trade fear for discernment or choose evil over righteousness.

A recently released movie, “Me Before You,” based on the novel by the same name, is a fictional story of a handsome, athletic young man from a wealthy family who is spine injured in an accident and becomes a paraplegic. It’s meant to be a tear jerker romance, but, of course, I found myself watching this story through the filter of disability and its connection to the value of a human life. The final message of the movie was disappointing, (spoiler alert!) the life of a disabled person is not worth living so the young man travels to Switzerland to die by assisted suicide.

Significance is defined as the quality of being important, large enough to be noticed or have effect or influence, to be worthwhile, valued. Everyone longs to matter. WH Auden, a poet from the 1930’s wrote, “..for who can bear to feel himself forgotten.”

We celebrate celebrity, worship achievement, want to be a ‘somebody’ and leave our mark on the world; a bigger than life personal graffiti wall that boldly states “I was here!” Our culture glorifies importance based on many factors: success, fame, wealth and influence, to name a few.

Disability that achieves the earmarks of worldly success is glorified, but not all disabled persons contribute in ways others consider worthwhile. Does this make their lives less valuable? I don’t have answers to all the tough questions about disability in the world, but our answer to the question of value usually depends on our worldview.

This is mine: “God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness..” (Genesis 1:26) and “the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7).

If we believe God is the creator, author and beginning of all human existence, there can never be any doubt all lives matter. When Jesus told us to “love your neighbor as you love yourself” (Mark 12:3), He didn’t offer any exceptions, in fact He stated no other commandment was greater. He gave the example of two people groups embroiled in a cold racist war with one another in the parable of The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), to illustrate what this love looks like.

Violence is a heart issue and will never be resolved until these words of Jesus are understood in the heart of every person and become standard practice.

If we are breathing God’s air on this planet He made, His life is in us, regardless of race, color, gender, preference, ability and age; we are His precious treasure. What others see when they look at us, our outward appearance, is only the packaging for the treasure inside and the wrapping, as beautiful as it might be, is never valued over the gift it holds.

We are significant because God thought we were worth creating. He paid for our life with His, and extends nail scared hands to all humanity as proof of His investment in us and as a personal guarantee that we are top priority.

Jon matters. You matter. I matter. God said so.

And that should be good enough for all of us.

Psalm 139:14-16 “I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them..”

Psalm 22:10 “ I was placed in your care from birth. From my mother’s womb you have been my God.”

*”Disabled people are four to ten times more likely to face violent crimes than the general population, including police violence, sexual assault, hate crime, bullying, robbery, and murder. According to the recent Ruderman report on media portrayal of police violence towards people with disabilities, at least one third to one half of all police violence cases covered by the media involves the disability community. ~ “#BlackDisabledLivesMatter vs #AllDisabledLivesMatter” by Pharaoh Inkabuss, blackautist.tumblr.com~

Swimming Through The Nevers

Our son, David, texted me from Wisconsin, where he, Clara and little grandson, Asa, were at Clara’s parents for the week with the rest of her siblings, their spouses and kids for a family gathering.

asa cousinsDavid’s text said Asa was meeting his many cousins for the first time.

Without much thought my reply was, “That’s fun, because he’ll never have any on this side.”

“Yeah, I’ve been thinking about that.” He responded.

It hadn’t hit me until this moment; David’s children will never have cousins from our side of the family.

It was another ‘never’ moment in our life with Jon and I was suddenly saddened with a loss I fought for several days.

Loss always brings varying levels of grief and comes in many forms, through death, rejection, betrayal, disappointment, regret, hijacked hope, disabled dreams or what could have been.

We swim in this deep ocean of life, joyfully splashing, serenely floating or treading water, when loss washes over us like an unexpected wave. We’re swept under by its powerful force, breathless and fearful, struggling to find air and a way to resurface.

I don’t know, maybe other parents of special needs kids do this better than me, but I still experience blindsided takeovers in my life with Jon. I’m buzzing along in our daily thing, trusting God, thankful for the blessings we have when it hits again, another huge wave, reminding me of more ‘nevers’.

You’d think after all these years I’d see it coming but they still catch me off guard. My heart sinks, panic and desperation threaten. I spit and sputter and cry out to God, once again, asking to be pulled from the depths of despondency.

And He does. He always does. He reminds me He understands my mother’s heart. He assures me He is there to bring me through. And He keeps His promises. When the wave subsides I rise again and get back to the good in life, looking on the bright side with a completely full, instead of half empty cup, counting my blessings instead of my lack.

Asa won’t have cousins here it’s true, but he will have grandparents who love him. And because he has Uncle Jon in his life he will grow, as did his father, to be kinder, gentler, more compassionate and more accepting of other’s differences. Our grandson will be shaped and influenced by the unique dynamic of our family in ways others cannot offer.

Each of us have opportunities to dwell on the can’t, the won’t and the never. Yours are probably different than mine but we all have them. It’s human to be pulled under the waves of despair at times but it’s NEVER okay to stay there.  Drowning is certainly an option, but not a good one.

Ecclesiastes 3:1, says there’s a season for everything, so we do our grieving, kicking and flailing, then grasp the hand God extends beneath the turbulent waters of living, resurface, breathe and move on.

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you..” Isaiah 43:1-2.

Here’s one ‘never’ I can rejoice in. There’s never a need to drown in despair! My God possesses perfect life guarding skills. He will always carry me back to solid ground.

 

Psalm 40:2 “He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.”

Psalm 42:11 “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1 “For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven..”

A Fathers Influence

The prevailing statement in the biblical records of the kings of Israel and Judah in the books of Jon and Mick copy1st and 2nd Kings is this, “and ______ became king. He did evil/good in the sight of the Lord as did his father.”

A dad present, absent, involved, indifferent or even unknown will shape the emotional and spiritual health, values and character of his child well into adulthood.

Fathers matter. A great deal.

Though the reward for years of teaching, training, playing, listening, loving, providing and sacrifice, may not be obvious at this moment, plod on.

Sometimes you are weary, flawed, imperfect, but don’t give up. Be your kid’s dad to the best of your ability and in the grace and strength of your Heavenly Father.

Mick and Dave copyEventually the fruit of your influence will ripen to maturity and you will be blessed with a rich harvest. You will leave a legacy of good for the next generation.

Thanks Dads, for all you do for your children, for your commitment to your family.

You ARE making a difference.

Happy Father’s Day!

Asa FaceTime with Mick                                                         Grandson Asa talking to Grampa!

 

 

Will the Jon Moms Please Stand Up

This year, as the calendar would have it, I experience Jon’s birthday and Mother’s Day just a few days apart.

Jon’s birthday never goes as (we) planned. We wanted to take him out, he didn’t want to go. We had cake, balloons and gifts ready at 11am, he stayed in his room until 7:30 pm. He wouldn’t let us sing “Happy Birthday” to him, he wanted to play “Bad Moon Rising” on YouTube instead (??!!).Jon 36 birthday

The candles had to burn all the way down to wax craters inside the top of the cake before he’d blow them out. Mike waited up until 11:30 for gift opening to commence and couldn’t last any longer. He went to bed and gifts were finally completed at 12:45 am, with me falling asleep on the sofa. Jon was just getting started.

He’s thirty-six now. I’m not really ‘raising’ him anymore. Those days are over and he sorta’ does what he wants around here. But I’m not really done parenting him either or maybe it’s more of an advisory enforcer role, reminding him to shower, shave, take his meds, not wander away and to quit hijacking kitchen utensils he doesn’t use and bills from the desk drawer, he’ll never pay.

I drag him to doctor and dentist appointments and talk him into getting a haircut whenever he starts getting the caveman look.

We’re caught in a weird time warp somewhere between unreasonable toddler, love-able kid,  ornery teenager and grumpy old man. It all depends on the day or maybe the hour. There’s no category for that I suppose.

Then I went to an awesome mother’s lunch yesterday and it got me wondering what Mom category I fit into. The mom with the most kids, the most grandkids, the most great-grands, the oldest, the youngest, the newest, the singles and the all-done-empty-nesters were acknowledged and asked to stand.

Jon Me IHOP 11-2015I was confused. I’m sorta’ that one, but not really. I’m half the other one but not sure if half counts. So I stayed seated. Not that it matters much. Standing or sitting, I’m still two guy’s mom and happy for it.

I realize Mother’s Day isn’t perfect for some of us. Some have loss, rebellion, prison, prodigal, estrangement, medically fragile and unusual when it comes to kids and some who want children never have them. Life throws reality at us and we mourn, cry, kick and scream for a while then get up and keep going.

God keeps us strong in all of it. We are HIS daughters, whether we have twenty kids or none, typical kids or not. He doesn’t categorize or compare. We are just loved, valued and precious to Him.

So here’s a shout out to all God’s daughters. Whatever earth bound category you fall into (or not) may you know He delights in YOU today.

YOU are the blessed of the Lord.

YOU are the Apple of His Eye.

And YOU are His favorite (after me of course :).

Happy Mother’s Day!

Psalm 115:14-15 “May the Lord continue to bless you and your children. You will be blessed by the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.”

Psalm 17:8 “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.”

Zephaniah 3:17 “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you..”

 

Thanks For Loving Me

Jon was in his room, Mike had gone to bed and the house was quiet. I was in the family room reading a book when my phone’s text notification sounded.

I finished the paragraph I was reading, swiped the lock screen off and hit the message icon.

This text popped up:

??????????

I read it, re-read it. And read it again.

I don’t know what prompted my son to send this or what he was doing when he wrote it.  He’s a new father who is discovering how much a parent loves a child and what that entails.

I also don’t remember reading anything that touches my heart the way this simple, random text does.

The years of pouring into, providing for, caring, loving, hugging, teaching, disciplining, laughing with, crying over, worrying about, not giving in or up; all those hours invested in David, summed up in one eight word sentence.

There are no words to describe the fulfillment and joy it brings.

Those raised in dysfunction, abuse, conflict, abandonment, addiction, fear, neglect, anger or the myriad of other human frailties that cause physical and emotional scars, can change the trajectory for your children.

As imperfect parents we can still decide That stops here, whatever the That is, we can choose to not pass it on to another generation. By God’s power and strength we can be the parent our child needs us to be.

We can change. Be different. Make a difference. Forge a new family legacy constructed of grace, mercy, endurance, and forgiveness.

God set the example. He too says, “Thank you for loving Me like I love my Son.” He passed His love on by sending Jesus as the perfect sacrifice for us, and now “We love Him because He first loved us” (John 4:19).

dave asaDavid, now you understand how much you are loved by us and as a father, I hope you have a greater awareness of how much you are unconditionally loved by your Heavenly Dad. It’s your turn to pay that love forward. All the accolades, money and material goods in the world will never take the place of a love heritage passed to a new generation.

I pray, some quiet evening, years from now, when your season of parenting is over and your children are grown and gone, you receive a text like this one.

This one line text message is what parenting is all about.

This is a no regrets moment.

“Thanks for loving me so I can love!” This is the ultimate reward.

Psalm 127:3-5. “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.”

Isaiah 54:13 “All your children will be taught by the Lord and great will be the peace of your children.”

Proverbs 17:6 “Grandchildren are the crown of grandparents and parents are the glory of their children.”