Monday, October 31, 2011

Autumn Memories

Our family has always enjoyed Saturday outings the Fall.  We love to go to parks, play in the leaves, throw sticks and pine cones over bridges and watch them float down the river, chase squirrels, and go for long walks.  Of course Wesley also loves water and desperately tries to climb out of his stroller to play in the fountains even though the weather has turned chilly.

This slide thing is lots of fun now that I've got the hang of it!

Did you see that Dad?  I chased the squirrel right up into that tree!

 Watching sticks float down the river (or in Wesley's case, just watching the rippling water)

This kid has quite a sense of humor.  He's always making us laugh these days.

Must. Get. That. Water.

I just love his delightful smile!

Brothers having fun together.

Wesley peacefully stood on the water's edge for quite a while with Daddy and just took in the scenery.

Meanwhile, Zach was busy saving the world!

Our recent Saturday outings have been such delightful family times.  I have enjoyed watching our boys play together and investigate God's creation.  Even more than that, it has been a joy to see their unique and very different personalities and yet watch how well they play together and how much they enjoy being with each other.  God's perfect plan is so evident in how He created them and placed them each into our family at the perfect time.  They are wonderful companions and are both so good for each other.  I look forward to seeing how our third little guy will fit in and complete the puzzle.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Shapes & Colors

Recently I have been discouraged with Wesley's development, finding myself comparing him to other children with special needs and then concluding in my mind that he is lagging behind.  For example, when I read about children with Down syndrome who head off to preschool already knowing their letters, numbers and colors, it is easy to sit there and think, "Wow! I'm not even sure Wesley will know these things by the time he goes to kindergarten".

Wesley's sensory issues and struggles with motor planning have played a huge part in his delays in other areas. He still struggles to sit still and concentrate for longer than a few minutes at a time, and it is very difficult for him to learn motor plans for vocalizing sounds and forming hand movements, which has led to delayed communication.

Because we have been working so much to help Wesley regulate his body and communicate his basic needs, working on things like letters, colors, numbers and shapes have fallen by the wayside.  I just started labeling shapes for Wesley a few months ago, and we only added color labeling into the mix of activities in the past two weeks.


Knowing how long it has taken Wesley to learn new things in the past, I fully expected to continue to work on shapes and colors for months if not years before seeing him really begin to pick up on these concepts.  So when I pulled out Wesley's shape sorter and pegboard yesterday to work with him, my expectations were quite low.  Much to my surprise, when I gave him a choice of two shapes, 3 out of 4 times he chose the correct one.  He made excellent eye contact, closely examining each shape before making his choices, so I knew his correct choices were not accidental.  Then, when we moved on to colors, he again chose the correct color 3 out of 4 times when I gave him a choice of two colors.  I kept giving him color choices, using two pegboard pieces that were different colors but the same shape, thinking that surely he hadn't learned his colors this well after only a few weeks.  Each time I gave him a choice, he only confirmed that indeed he did know which color to choose.

As we were working on colors, Daddy walked in the door from work, and just to confirm that this was no fluke, Wesley showed off his new color identification skills to Daddy too.  To say that we were astounded would be an understatement.  In fact, Daddy had no idea that Wesley even had the concept of color matching, much less color identification.

I was grateful for the reminder from the Lord that He is indeed at work in Wesley's life.  Just because Wesley is struggling to communicate does not mean that he is not learning.  The fact that he is learning his colors and shapes so quickly shows that his receptive language is developing quite well.

On top of this, over the past few days Wesley has been trying to imitate words more often.  He still has very few consonants and not all of his vowels, and he attempts to speak on inhalation rather than exhalation, so we have a long way to go with working on airflow.  But he is TRYING, and that is a huge step when the motor plan for speaking is so very difficult for him.

Wesley, your Mama and Daddy are so very proud of you!  You continue to amaze us with all that you are learning and doing.  We can't thank God enough for blessing us with such a wonderful son!

"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them."
Psalm 139:13-16

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Our Faithful God

"And David said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul."  1 Samuel 27:1
The thought of David's heart at this time was a false thought, because he certainly had no ground for thinking that God's anointing him by Samuel was intended to be left as an empty unmeaning act. On no one occasion had the Lord deserted His servant; he had been placed in perilous positions very often, but not one instance had occurred in which divine interposition had not delivered him. The trials to which he had been exposed had been varied; they had not assumed one form only, but many—yet in every case He who sent the trial had also graciously ordained a way of escape. David could not put his finger upon any entry in his diary, and say of it, "Here is evidence that the Lord will forsake me," for the entire tenor of his past life proved the very reverse. He should have argued from what God had done for him, that God would be his defender still. But is it not just in the same way that we doubt God's help? Is it not mistrust without a cause? Have we ever had the shadow of a reason to doubt our Father's goodness? Have not His lovingkindnesses been marvelous? Has He once failed to justify our trust? Ah, no! our God has not left us at any time. We have had dark nights, but the star of love has shone forth amid the blackness; we have been in stern conflicts, but over our head He has held aloft the shield of our defense. We have gone through many trials, but never to our detriment, always to our advantage; and the conclusion from our past experience is, that He who has been with us in six troubles, will not forsake us in the seventh. What we have known of our faithful God, proves that He will keep us to the end. Let us not, then, reason contrary to evidence.
Charles Spurgeon, Morning & Evening, October 17
This quote has been very helpful to my soul as we are beginning the process of transitioning Wesley to preschool.  Up until now, we have never had a shadow of a reason to doubt God's goodness toward us or toward Wesley.  His lovingkindnesses toward Wesley truly have been marvelous.  He has not once failed to justify our trust!  So now we can trust that He who has been faithful and has been with us up until now will not forsake us as Wesley heads off to school.  He will keep us to the end!

Monday, October 17, 2011


About a year ago, when I brought Wesley in to see his GI specialist, I asked on a whim if he knew of a feeding therapist who might be able to help my sweet boy.  At the time, Wesley was only eating baby food, and we were desperate to find someone who could help him. Much to my surprise, Wesley's doctor DID have a therapist that he highly recommended.  He warned me, though, that it was unlikely that I would be able to get in to see her.

I called the clinic where she worked and found out that, as Wesley's doctor had thought, she had no openings.  But, she did still have availability for evaluations.  Since Wesley had just received an annual feeding evaluation with Early Intervention, we went ahead and set everything up for the evaluation to be billed to our private insurance (which, praise the Lord, covered feeding evaluations!)

During Wesley's evaluation, the feeding therapist commented multiple times on his struggles with swallowing and the many issues he had with his tongue movements.  She ruefully stated that it was too bad we hadn't come much sooner, since now it would be necessary to correct many things that could have been taught properly the first time.  As she finished up his evaluation, she told me that with a lot of work she could have him eating everything before he aged out of Early Intervention.  When I asked about her full schedule, she said that it was very important that these things be addressed right away, and that she wanted to personally take him on as a client and help him.

As we left her office, I was struck by two things - both the seriousness of the situation that she would be so quick to make a way to fit Wesley into her schedule and start seeing him immediately, and the fact that God had so wondrously provided for Wesley's needs even when we didn't think it was possible.

Fast forward to a year later, Wesley saw his GI specialist again this month.  Much to my surprise, he remembered our conversation from a year ago and asked about how Wesley was progressing with feeding.  As I recounted our story and thanked him for recommending this therapist, he expressed surprise both that Wesley was able to receive services from her and that his accomplishments with feeding were so significant.  I had to fight back tears as I so clearly saw the hand of God on Wesley's life, providing abundantly for him.  God has blessed Wesley with a wonderful GI specialist, who has not only treated him with great skill and wisdom over the past two and half years, but also took a personal interest in him and sought to help him with his feeding issues.  Then God provided us with a spectacular feeding therapist with a heart to help my struggling boy, whose skills He has used to do a radical work in Wesley.  The fact that Wesley is now able to eat most things and is accepting of new foods is truly a magnificent transformation.

I am so grateful for this reminder of how God is mightily at work in my little guy's life.  God truly does love Wesley and is faithful to provide for all of his needs.

"I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds." Psalm 9:1

Sunday, October 9, 2011

It's That Time of Year

It's football season again, and around here that means I hear lots of boys yelling "Go Patriots!"  Even Wesley enjoys watching the games.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Works of God Displayed

The Sunday after I wrote this post, our pastor Tab Trainor preached an excellent follow-up message on John 9:1-7.  I have wanted to write a post on it since first hearing it but have struggled with how best to articulate my thoughts.  At this point, it seems most appropriate to start by explaining why it was particularly fitting and especially meaningful to me to hear this message preached by Tab.

Tab is a man who truly loves the people of God.  God has given him a heart for each and every person in the flock that he has been called to care for.  In fact, it would take multiple blog posts for me to mention the countless times that Tab has personally reached out to and lovingly cared for Mike and I over the past thirteen years.  He has been intimately acquainted with our struggles over the years and has faithfully walked alongside us through thick and thin.

Due to the growth of our church over the past five years, we had less contact with Tab and his family for a while.  So when Wesley was born, I was not expecting the extent of the care that we received from Tab.  Because of his affection for those in his care, Tab remembers what they are walking through and is faithful to follow-up.  For the past two-and-a-half years, I cannot remember a month where Tab did not find me at least one Sunday and ask how we were doing and how Wesley was doing.  And he never asks it as a perfunctory question.  He wants to know.  He wants to hear the details so that he can know how best to pray for and care for the people that he loves so much.  Many Sundays Tab has also laid hands on Wesley and prayed specifically for requests that we have shared.

While I know that most pastors love and pray for those in their congregations, I truly believe that God has given Tab a gift of grieving with those who grieve, lovingly caring for those who are walking through difficult seasons, encouraging the fainthearted, and helping the weak. Several years after Wesley's birth, while most people have moved on, Tab continues to regularly ask us specific questions about how we are doing and how he and our church can better walk alongside us.  He asks about Wesley's development, struggles, and successes.  But more importantly, he asks about how Zach is responding to the extra time we spend with Wesley.  He asks about how we are doing in our marriage.  He seeks to understand how disability might affect our family in ways that others might not be aware of.  He asks about our walks with the Lord - if we are trusting Him and believing His goodness and faithfulness toward us.  And then he asks how he personally and the church as a whole can better seek to serve our family.  Every time Mike and I interact with Tab, I sense God's pleasure as I see Tab's genuine love for Wesley, one of the least of these, and for the family to whom God has entrusted him.

So in August when Tab started his message by asking "How do I interpret my sufferings and hardships and difficulties?", I heard this question as coming from a man who deeply cares for those in his congregation and longs for each person in his flock to interpret their struggles through the lens of the cross.

Tab went on to say that what Jesus says in John 9:3 also applies to our own suffering.  Along with the blind man, we suffer that the works of God might also be displayed in us.

Tab reminded us that God does not want us enduring trials with a vague sense of condemnation, thinking that God must be displeased with us.  The God of the Bible is not a god of karma who is out to get us.  Our trials have a purpose - they are not meaningless.  For instead of having a god of karma, we have a God who loves us.  Does this mean that we will be healed?  Maybe, but not always.  God's works can also be displayed in sustaining us and transforming us through trials or refining and strengthening our faith.

Seeing this truth helps us to take our focus off of the why questions (Why Lord?  Why me?) and instead helps us to ask the how questions (How Lord do You want to be glorified and praised in this?  How do you want me to display Your work on this stage?  How is Your power made perfect in my weakness?)

But in order to do this, we need a Christ-centered trust.  Since Jesus Himself is well acquainted with suffering and grief, He can relate to all of our sufferings as a result of His own experience. It is trust in the suffering of Christ that can bring great comfort to the suffering saint.  Because God sent His own Son to take the punishment for our sins and suffer in our place, we can now trust that God will work out all of our circumstances for our good and His glory.

"Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast.  You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful."  James 5:11

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Joyful Suffering for Jesus

He did not die to make this life easy for us or prosperous. He died to remove every obstacle to our everlasting joy in making much of him. And he calls us to follow him in his sufferings because this life of joyful suffering for Jesus’ sake (Matt. 5:12) shows that he is more valuable than all the earthly rewards that the world lives for (Matt. 13:44; 6:19-20). If you follow Jesus only because he makes life easy now, it will look to the world as though you really love what they love, and Jesus just happens to provide it for you. But if you suffer with Jesus in the pathway of love because he is your supreme treasure, then it will be apparent to the world that your heart is set on a different fortune than theirs. This is why Jesus demands that we deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow him.

John Piper, What Jesus Demands from the World, p. 71