Monday, August 20, 2012

It Is Not Death To Die

Last night we received the long-awaited and yet dreaded phone call that Mike's grandfather had died.  While his health has been failing for years now, that does not lessen our sadness that he is no longer with us.  But despite our grief, we rejoice that this is not the end.  Pa is now with his Savior, where there is no more pain or suffering.

Because of the miles between us, the boys and I never knew Pa very well.  In fact, Liam never had the opportunity to meet his paternal great-grandfather.  But despite this, we have only fond memories of him.

One of my first memories of Pa was of the time he took Mike and I out for dinner on our first visit to Boston after getting married.  I remember fighting back tears as he spoke of his life and the hope that he had because he had placed his faith in Jesus as his Savior.  Seeing his sincerity of heart, his clear articulation of the gospel, and his longing for heaven brought me such joy.  In fact, it was as I recalled this conversation last night that the following lyrics came to mind:

Oh Jesus, conquering the grave
Your precious blood has power to save
Those who trust in You will in Your mercy find
That it is not death to die.

I am so thankful that because Pa trusted in the precious blood of Jesus, he experienced God's mercy last night and found that it is not death to die.

Pa always had a special place in his heart for our boys, and they responded by loving him dearly.  I laugh when I think back to our trip to visit Pa when Zach was almost two.  Pa and Zach were sitting in the back of our rental car, and as we drove past the scenery, Pa pointed out historical landmarks such as the one-room school house that Zach would have attended if he had lived nearby.  Then Pa, with his Bostonian accent, pointed out several cars (cahs), and Zach in his sweet voiced piped up, "I don't see any cows!".  Both Pa and Zach cried when they said goodbye at the end of this visit.  It broke my heart to separate the two of them.

We visited again when Wesley was 17 months old, and Wesley and Pa quickly became good friends.  Wesley loved to walk over to Pa, and Pa was always quick to reach out and save him when he would trip.  Of course, Wesley nearly pulled Pa over several times in the process. Every time I would look over at the two of them, Pa would have a big smile on his face as he soaked up every moment of doting on his great-grandson.

This was a special trip for us, as I think we knew in our heart of hearts that this would be the last time we would see Pa in this world.  So we made the most of every moment, bringing Pa along on our trips to the zoo and the Boston Children's Museum.  I think we wore him out, but it was well worth it.

In many ways Pa was like a father to Mike, and I will always be grateful for the ways he invested into my husband's life.

It is not death to die
To leave this weary road
And join the saints who dwell on high
Who've found their home with God
It is not death to close
The eyes long dimmed by tears
And wake in joy before your throne
Delivered from our fears

It is not death to fling
Aside this earthly dust
And rise with strong and noble wing
To live among the just
It is not death to hear
The key unlock the door
That sets us free from mortal years
To praise You evermore

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Challenges of Writing Publicly

My Dearest Zach,

Your Daddy recently informed me that I do not write about you often enough on my blog.   He's right; I'm guilty as charged.  Writing publicly is a difficult thing, and I want to compose thoughts that are both honoring to the Lord and also edifying to those who read them.  As well, to be honest, it is easier to write about the struggles and joys of raising a child with special needs.  I can write about our times of stumbling and our moments of excitement in such a way as to give people a glimpse of what life is like with a family member with special needs, encourage others who walk a similar road to us, and remember where we are now.

On the other hand, when I write about you, I know that one day you will probably read every word.  Therefore, I am particularly thoughtful of what I write about you, for I don't want to say things you will one day wish had been left unsaid.  I don't want to plaster your sins out on the internet for all to see.   As well, I have no desire to brag about your accomplishments.  This is not because I am not proud of you, for I am!  I could never even begin to express to you how very proud I am of you and how much I love you.  Words are not enough to tell you how much you mean to me and how very thankful I am that God blessed our family by giving you to us.

Over the past three years, I have learned even more how painful it is to watch others brag about their children and how much this can tempt us to compare our own children to others. I do not ever want to compare you to other children, and I do not want others to compare their children to you.  Either I will find you to be advanced or better behaved or more godly and pride myself in having a superior child, or I will find you to be lacking and be disappointed.  But God has created you exactly the way He wants you to be. He has given you your mind and your personality.  He didn't make you to be someone else, and I don't ever want you to be someone else.  As well, I don't ever want any other parent to wish their child was like you.  You are unique created by God, and with that come the singular blessings and challenges of being you.

But most of all, I do not want you to ever take pride in your accomplishments, for all that you have is given to you from the Lord.  My greatest prayer for you is that you will love the Lord with all of your heart and walk humbly with your God.

Please forgive me for my lack of writing about you as I struggle in my heart with how to record these first years of your life.  Know that you are my precious and very loved firstborn son and that the lack of words about you on this blog are no indication otherwise.

That being said, I have taken your father's concerns to heart, and this next post will be all about you.

I love you, my precious son!


Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth.  For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”  Jeremiah 9:23-24

For who sees anything different in you?  What do you have that you did not receive?  If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?  1 Corinthians 4:7

Monday, August 13, 2012

Staycation 2012: Conclusion

We concluded our vacation by returning to one of our favorite spots.  While visiting new places and seeing new things is exciting, coming back to a well-loved location is often much more relaxing and peaceful.

So on Friday night we packed up the boys and drove to "our" river walk.  Wesley excitedly exclaimed "kahkee" (water) and "viveh" (river) while running full speed ahead with his head turned to the side to get the best possible view of the water.  (Yes, he often runs into things while looking sideways, and yes, this explains the large bruises on his shins.)

In the meantime, Zach gathered sticks and large branches to launch over the bridge. Collecting twigs, pine cones, and other floating tree matter to throw into the water and watch as it is whisked away in the current has become a favorite pastime of his over the years.

Upon discovering the camera, Wesley insisted that I take a picture of him.  How could I resist this sweet little face?

After enjoying a delicious pasta dinner at our all-time favorite restaurant, we moseyed back over to the river walk to enjoy frozen yogurt and dance to live music.

Even our little guy enjoyed tasting frozen yogurt, sitting in the grass, and watching the show. Although in truth, he only had eyes for his big brother.

While we were sorry to see this week come to a close, we look forward with great anticipation to many more fabulous vacations together!

Until next year!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Staycation 2012: Day 5

Staycation 2012: Day 4

Happy Anniversary to the love of my life!  It has been 9 years since that wonderful day when we said "I do", not knowing what the future held but knowing we wanted to share it together. How very blessed I am to share my life with you, Mike!  I love you and look forward to growing old with you, come what may.  I could not have asked for a better gift, for in you God gave me a husband who loves the Lord, faithfully seeks Him, loves me and our boys, and perseveres in running the race set before us without losing heart. 

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.  Psalm 136:1

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Staycation 2012: Day 3

This morning I forgot my camera at home, so pictures from my phone will have to do....

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sunday, August 5, 2012


How does one parent a supposedly normally developing child who is born into a family directly after a child with special needs?  It often seems that a parent has one of two options - to over-think and evaluate every little detail of this child's life, constantly agonizing over whether this child is following a normal pattern, or to tell oneself that everything is fine and brush off any concerns under the assumption that a doctor's clean bill of health is sufficient assurance that there is nothing to fear.

What is not commonly known is that the knowledge of developmental sequences we have learned in raising Wesley has enabled us to identify concerns in Liam's development that we otherwise would have most likely missed.  Knowing what developmental progressions look like has been both a blessing and a curse as we have followed Liam much more closely than we would have preferred to do, noting delays and praying that God would give us wisdom to know if we are overreacting or if our concerns are legitimate.

As I previously wrote, our fight for faith began when Liam was first born.  He followed in his brother's footsteps, unable to nurse for his first two weeks of life.  Then, when Liam was a month old, Wesley's physical therapist commented that Liam seemed delayed in his gross motor skills.  She gave us exercises to do with him and encouraged us to work with him daily with the hope of avoiding the necessity of calling Early Intervention for a physical therapy evaluation.  After several months of working faithfully with him, we were relieved to see him start sitting up at six months.

But just as Liam seemed to catch up with his gross motor skills, red flags started showing up with feeding and fine motor skills.  We persevered in attempting to feed him solids for two months while listening to others tell us that it was not at all uncommon for children to take their time in learning to eat and that we were only concerned because of our previous experiences with Wesley.  We wavered often, wondering if the signs that something was wrong that seemed so obvious to us were really just misguided fears influenced by the past. Were we exaggerating his delays, or were our concerns justified?  After asking God for wisdom and talking with multiple feeding therapists, we decided to bring Liam in for an evaluation on Friday.

As I look back, I am ashamed to say that I did not prepare my heart beforehand for what I might discover.  Instead of praying and asking God to give me peace and joy amid my circumstances, I spent my time preparing for the practicals - finding childcare for my two big boys, packing spoons and bibs, gathering different flavors and textures of purees and finger foods, and filling out pages of forms.

But again, as He always has, God showed Himself to be faithful despite my faithlessness. Throughout the evaluation and even in sharing the results with others afterward, God filled my heart with peace.  As the feeding therapist confirmed my suspicions of both feeding and fine motor delays, God enabled me to trust Him.  This news was no surprise to God.  And while it wouldn't be the way I would plan out my son's life, my heart was filled with peace with the knowledge that God has ordained every one of my son's days.  And more than that, He loves my son.

As I walked out of the therapy center with my precious baby, the words to an old children's song came to mind:  "Second verse, same as the first, but worse."  But yet, it wasn't worse. While my heart was saddened by the news, I was also very aware of how much God has worked in my heart over the past three years.  This time, my heart naturally turned to trust in God's steadfast love.  There was no struggle and fight to see God's goodness or to believe His promises.  Instead I was able to sing to the Lord and see that He truly had dealt bountifully with me.

So Liam will start weekly feeding therapy next week, and we will continue to observe him for a few more weeks before pursuing an occupational therapy evaluation.

And even in this, I see how God's plan is perfect and how His purposes for us are for our good. My big boys will be starting school in two weeks, which will open up several hours each morning to pursue therapy for Liam and to work with him uninterrupted.  While I had looked forward to several hours of free time each morning, I am again reminded that my time is not my own but the Lord's, to use as He sees fit.  And I am truly thankful that God has provided me with this lull in an otherwise hectic schedule to care for my baby.

But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.  I will sing to the Lord because he has dealt bountifully with me.  Psalm 13:5-6