Sunday, January 20, 2013

Questions and Answers

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, Wesley's verbal communication skills are suddenly exploding.  He regularly puts together two word phrases with ease.  This continues to amaze us as we know how difficult it is for him to put together the motor plan for this.  For example, just this week I handed him his baby burp cloth, which he loves to hold while sucking his thumb, and he started jabbering excitedly.  At first I just assumed he was babbling to himself, but eventually it dawned on me that he was talking to me!  I started listening, and he kept patting his burp cloth and saying "yellow burp!".  As soon as I responded with, "Yes, Wesley. That is your yellow burp.  Good job!", he gave me a huge smile and laughed.  He was so proud of himself for telling me this fact.  Likewise, I was proud of him for multiple reasons.  He noticed the color, identified it correctly, and named it verbally.  In addition, he put two words (three syllables) together to tell me what he had observed.  This is no small feat for my boy.

Wesley has also discovered a fun new game, which he calls "Rock Baby".  In an effort to entertain him one difficult evening, I took him in my arms and sang Rock-a-bye Baby, hanging him upside down and tickling him when the baby falls.  This has become a new favorite of his, and he regularly sits next to me, earnestly saying "Rock Baby" with a look of expectation in his eyes.  Whenever the game starts to get old to me (usually after the 10th time in a row singing it), I remember how beautiful the words "Rock Baby" are as they come from his lips, and I laugh with him as I sing it again.

Then a few days ago I had a conversation with my precious son that I never dreamed would be possible for years.  I asked him questions, and he answered them.  He didn't just smile at me in response.  He didn't repeat the last word of my question as he often does.  He didn't wait for my response so that he could imitate it.  He answered my questions with no prompting!  I cannot even begin to articulate how impossible this is for him.  But yet, he did it! God is at work in my little boy, and there is no denying it.  Mountains are moving in this little boy's life.

Our conversation began when I heard Liam screaming and ran into the room to discover Wesley hitting him. I quickly pulled Wesley away from his brother and looked him in the eye, saying "What did Wesley just do to Liam?"  Much to my surprise, Wesley responded, "Hit".  I then shook my head while asking, "Is it kind of Wesley to hit Liam?"  Wesley looked deeply into my eyes and said "no".  Then, fighting back tears of joy, I asked Wesley "What should Wesley say to Liam?"  When Wesley responded by looking toward Liam and saying "Sorry" with a mournful voice, it was almost more than I could believe.  As I drew my son close and hugged him, I was struck with awe as I saw how the Lord is working in his mind and his heart.

Wesley, you are fearfully and wonderfully made, and your heavenly Father is performing wonderful works in you right now.  My soul knows it very well.  I don't know what His plan is for your life.  I don't know how long this amazing burst of growth will continue.  But I do know God has a perfect plan for your life, and He will fulfill his purpose for you.  And along the way, He is using you to show the radiance of His glory to all who are looking.

Friday, January 18, 2013


One of my greatest joys is watching my two little boys become friends.  Wesley rarely notices other children, and especially children smaller than he is, so I expected things to play out similarly at home.  Much to my surprise, Wesley not only notices his younger brother, but actually even likes him.

At snack time, Liam follows Wesley around the house, hoping he will share.  Usually at some point along the way, Wesley spills his snack and they sit down on the floor to share it together. It warms my heart to watch them smiling at each other as they sit next to one another and shovel snacks into their little mouths as fast as they can.  They must already be learning that the faster you eat, the more you get.

When Wesley wants to play the piano, he does everything in his power to coax Liam over to the piano to play with him.  Then once he's over there, Wesley calls me over to lift Liam onto the bench next to him so that they can sit together.  The boys love to play the piano together and will giggle and laugh as they play.  But Wesley also enjoys watching Liam play the piano and will often just sit next to him and watch him curiously as he bangs away.

I regularly hear Wesley and Liam giggling together in the car as they imitate each other and then crack up at each other's antics.  They have started doing this at home too, and it brings a smile to my face as I watch them following each other around downstairs and laughing together.

Wesley is so patient with Liam when he swoops in to knock over all of the bowling pins Wesley has painstakingly worked to line up on the carpet.  He just looks at him curiously and then joins in on the fun of knocking them over before starting all over again with the work of setting the pins upright.  I am often shocked by the number of things that Wesley permits Liam to do that would infuriate him if anyone else did them.

Of course, they fight together too.  Liam is very interested in Wesley's stacking cups and communication device, and this results in many quarrels between the two of them.  What this really means is that Liam's curiosity often results in his getting cups ripped out of his hands as he is pushed over by his big brother. I often run in to find Liam screaming as Wesley is quickly gathering all of his favorite toys back together.  But even this is a good thing. In giving Wesley a younger brother, God is giving him the opportunity to learn what it means to share and be kind to those around him in a way he would have never learned with just Zach.

As I watch this friendship blossom between my two little boys, I pray that God will continue to bless it.  I pray that they will grow up to always love each other and be close friends.  I pray this for all three of my boys.  May they be a cord of three strands that is not easily broken.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

I Love You

Wesley's bus driver smiled at me as I stepped onto the bus, a twinkle in her eyes.

"I have the most exciting thing to tell you", she said.

"After you got off the bus this morning, as you were waving to Wesley, he said 'I love you!'"

My look must have said it all.  Are you sure you really heard him say that?

She smiled as she said, "You know how you say "I love you" to him each morning as you buckle him in?  Well, he said it back."

She's right.  Every morning I say each word to him and he repeats it back to me.  I.  Love.  You.

This morning it all clicked.  As I waved to him, he told me that he loved me.

I only wish I could have heard it with my own ears.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Self-Initiated Play

There are many wonderful things about this picture of Wesley, as several blog readers pointed out.  It is amazing that he is ignoring the stacking cups (his favorite toy) on the floor.  As well, he is naming out loud the color of each fish that he is going to catch before he catches it.

Did you catch that?  He is naming out loud the color of each fish that he is going to catch before he catches it!  That, my friends, is something I never would have guessed he could have done at the age of three and a half.

Even more than that, he not only caught each fish, but he also put them all back in afterward.  That is an even more difficult task to complete, since it requires detailed fine motor work along with matching puzzle piece shapes with no matching pictures on the puzzle board.  The fact that he completed this puzzle without getting distracted and moving on to something else is pretty amazing.

But what is most special to me about this picture is that Wesley initiated doing this activity. We have been working for years to help Wesley learn how to play by himself.  Because he struggles so much with sensory integration problems, unless we are actively playing with him, he is usually seeking sensory stimulation of some kind.  My job as a mom is to do my best to keep up with my other responsibilities along with facilitating play with him as much as possible.  Usually when I leave Wesley's side to attend to a brother, I come back to find he has run off to do a more preferred (and probably sensory related) activity.  So you can imagine my shock when, after pulling down this puzzle and then going to help Liam, I came back to find the puzzle nearly completed.

While I knew that Wesley could play with this puzzle when prompted and kept on task, it was a joy to me to find him enjoying this game of his own volition.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Do You See What I See?

Can you guess what is so amazing about this picture?

What is it about this moment that makes it so special?

I'll give you a's not that Wesley is able to do this puzzle.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Hang On

I look into your eyes and see the pain.  In the dim light, your eyes flicker, giving me a glimpse of the hollowness deep inside.  The hurt is almost unbearable, so I look away.  I look back and weep at what I see.  Anger.  Toward God.  Toward me.  Shame.  Hurt.  Hopelessness.  Fear. Despair.  Emptiness.  I feel it to my core.  It is not yours to bear alone.  I bear it too.  Our Savior bore it two thousand years ago.  This is why He came.  And yet, despite His carrying it for us, in our place, here we are, trudging along, weighed down and crushed.
"Jesus , help me" is one of the most honorable things you can say.  The person who has something doesn't ask for help.  The spiritually destitute person has nothing, and that is what God requires of us.... In contrast to the people who build personal kingdoms that fade away in a generation or two, spiritual beggars are publicly praised.  They are citizens of heaven itself, the most honorable of cities, the ultimate right side of the tracks.  Since they have depended on the King instead of themselves, they share in what is his.  This means they have everything, and it will all last.
And so, I cry out, "Jesus, help us!"  For He is our only hope.  But you have no hope.  You have lost hope in the only hope you ever had.  Do not lose heart yet, though.  As your faith hangs tenuously in the balance, grab hold of my hand.  Let me walk with you.  When you stumble, hang on to me as you grab your bearing.  Let my faith be enough for both of us.  The Lord has called me to be your helper, and there is no better time to help than now.  So hang on to me, my love, as I look to Jesus, trusting that He will help us just as He promised.
Tears say, "I am undone."  Could we say anything else more authentically human? Tears say, "The world has reneged on its promises.  It promised satisfaction but delivered injustice, loss, and pain.  It is not the place where I can put my hope." Could we say anything else more wise?  Such a person is an "aching visionary," worthy of emulation.
Your eyes speak the truth.  The world has given you a cup full of injustice, loss, and pain, and you have drunk it down to the dregs.  There is no hope for you here. You know this.  What you may not realize is that knowing this is half the battle.  Let me point you to your hope.  I am already walking this road with you.  Follow my lead as I take another look at Jesus.  He tells us that He loves us.  He promises that He is good.  When you doubt his promises, cling to me.  Let my hope be sufficient to carry you too.
The meek do not rail against the Lord in their persecution.  They might not understand why something has happened to them--it is hard to understand how God's love and our own suffering coexist--but the meek don't demand answers. Instead, they trust God because of who he is, what he has said, and what he has done.
May the Lord restore to you the joy of your salvation.  May you taste and see that the Lord is good.  May you again see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  But for now, hang on to me as I trust God because of who He is, what He has said, and what He has done.

He came for you.  He bore you burdens.  Come with me as we walk to Him to find rest for our weary souls.

* quotes from Shame Interrupted by Edward T. Welch

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Eye Exam

Last week I brought Wesley in for his bi-annual eye exam.  While the results were not what I had hoped, the actual appointment was a moment I will always treasure in my heart.

As usual, Wesley was less than thrilled to be visiting a doctor.  He squirmed and complained loudly as we sat in the chair while the assistant examined his eyes.  He had no interest whatsoever in following the panda bear from side to side or up and down.  But then I thought to mention that he knows his letters.

The assistant seemed surprised, but she quickly pulled out the letter cards to go over them with him before putting them up on the screen.  At first Wesley protested the covering of his left eye.  Then once he realized we were naming letters, he quickly got on board, cheering for himself with each correct answer.

T. O. V. H.  We named these letters in random orders and decreasing sizes with pauses to cheer and clap.  As Wesley consistently named his letters correctly and continued to participate in the activity, my heart welled with pride.  My son was doing something I had never imagined would be possible at three years of age.  It was all I could do to quietly sit there instead of jumping up and down with joy and ecstatic praise.

When we switched to cover his right eye, I immediately knew something was wrong.  Wesley was no longer able to correctly identify letters, often naming letters that looked nothing like the letters shown.  Then once the letters were enlarged, he began to name them correctly again.  While I was disappointed to discover that his nearsightedness and astigmatism have again increased, it was so exciting to have Wesley show this to us rather than waiting to discover it once his eyes were dilated.

As we left, the assistant smiled at us, telling me that Wesley's naming of his letters would certainly be the highlight of her day.  Later, when we met with the doctor, he spoke similarly, expressing how impressed he was with how well Wesley is doing and even how much better he sat still and participated this time despite his obvious displeasure with the situation.

Wesley, we are so proud of you!

On another note, Wesley's verbal skills are suddenly exploding.  Just in the past week he put together more two (and five) word phrases than he's put together in his life.  When we took down the tree, Wesley kept waving at the tree and saying "bye tree".  One afternoon when he wanted to play with his gears, he kept saying "spin gear".  And best of all, as we walked into a restaurant a few days ago, I asked Zach if he wanted juice to drink.  Wesley overheard our conversation and said, "Juice!  I want juice!  Yeah!"

Then today, Wesley asked his first question.  I had decided to give him play time in his room rather than a nap today.  After changing his diaper, I pulled out some toys and said, "It's time to play.  Have fun!"  He looked at me, cocked his head to the side, gave me a half smile, and said "play?".  When I said yes, he laughed and exclaimed "play!"

Sometimes it is hard to see any progress.  The day to day grind of working with Wesley can begin to feel like a burden.  But then God, in his kindness, blesses me with weeks like this where I have the opportunity to see that God truly is at work in Wesley's life.  Wesley is growing by leaps and bounds.  Sometimes those leaps are small, but they are there.  And they are beautiful.