This Dream

August 25, 2011

I have this dream. It involves Jesse and I sitting on our couch in the morning. He’s sipping coffee and we are talking about the upcoming things in our day. Then, we hear ‘the sounds’ emanating from upstairs. And soon, six sets of little feet come pitter-pattering down the stairs. We help them grab their bowls of cereal and glasses of milk.  As we all converge around the living area, Jesse prays and reads something from the Bible.

That’s it. That’s my dream. Its simple. Nothing fancy. It has been my dream since I met him – Jesse. I always wanted a lot of kids and when he said 6 sounded fun – well, we were meant for each other. We got married and started building our lives together.

We bought a huge house and got pregnant. Our little lady arrived on the scene.

Around this time, we fell in love with the youth group at our church.  We felt God calling us.  At the same time, Jesse discovered a calling to return to college and study graphic design.  He started a work from home job and went back to school. I started working full-time.  We became the youth ministers at our church and we just felt so excited about the things God was bringing into our lives.  Soon, this little dude came too.  And we were very excited.

Jesse’s work-from-home job became demanding – they didn’t even give him 2 days off for Evan’s birth.  I had a c-section and had limitations – I couldn’t carry anything heavier than the baby.  This made it hard to care for our little ones.  In the end, Jesse had to leave that job.  We moved out of our gargantuan house and into a two bedroom apartment.  Six months later, we were officially in foreclosure.  I started working night shift. I got pregnant. We stepped down from ministry.  The bill tally was $1000 more than we made each month. Peanut butter and jelly was our daily staple.  It began to feel a little less ‘exciting’. 

In my third month of pregnancy, I developed kidney stones.  In my fifth month, overwhelmed by the circumstances around me, I became depressed and suicidal.   Our apartment lease ended and my parents offered to let us live with them. I think ‘very worried’ hardly described my mom’s feelings.

We moved in and welcomed some Good News.

At Evan’s 18-month check-up, the doctor was concerned about his lack of speech.  Soon we sat in a neurologist’s office and listened to his remarks that we were likely looking at ‘autism spectrum disorder’. 

In these moments, I felt so far from the patter of six little feet and Bible readings over coffee. Some days I still feel pretty far from it.  I wonder if it is even worth considering anymore. 

At the beginning of this year, a good friend of our’s prayed for us.  He told us that God was going to restore us this year.  I remember feeling hopeful and doubtful, all at the same time. 

Saturday was Jesse and I’s sixth anniversary.  Unfortunately, with my new job, I had not been able to request it off. However, that morning I received a call saying that I could have the day of.  Lying in bed, I began to think about the last year and the gratitude just overwhelmed me. 

We paid off over $30,000 in debt, when I only made $21,000 the entire year. We moved out on our own. Jesse got a job – a great one. I got a job – a great one, with great hours.  I’m starting to feel restored.  This morning, I had this song in my head:

It’s been a long, hard road these last few years. Yet, it seems we are finally rounding the bend.  In the end, all of the struggle, the pain – it led us straight to Him. We could not have survived it all without Jesus. It sounds hokey and cliche, but He truly has been our Savior. 

Which brings me to Evan…

I just hope this road leads him straight to You, Jesus.

The Happiest Boy

May 29, 2011

This week my Monday spiraled out of control.  I took Evan to the first day of his evaluations for the school system.  These are done while a group of 5-6 kids participates in two days of pre-school classes.  The speech and occupational therapist, as well as a school psychologist evaluate the children through the morning. 

Eager mother that I am, I arrived 20 minutes early.  As the other children arrived, Evan came and sat on my lap.  He made his usual happy and excited noises.  Of course, the other children (who are also developmentally delayed) were all talking.  I saw the parents looking askance at us and I knew what they were thinking. 

Perhaps my son (or daughter) isn’t as behind as I thought! 

And, of course, I was thinking:

Wow, he’s so much further behind than I thought!

Obviously, discouragement was knocking on my door. 

When I arrived home that evening, I got the mail and opened a large, letter envelope from the organization First Steps.  First Steps completed Evan’s yearly evaluation last week and I knew these were the results.  There are five developmental areas listed in their evaluation: gross motor skills, fine motor skills, social, communication/language and cognitive.  The rating scale spans from -20 (severly delayed) to zero (developing normally).   When I saw the scale, I groaned internally. 

Can we not evaluate this like movies – 5 stars for developing normally and 1 star for delayed!  At least he would be getting stars instead of NEGATIVE numbers!! 

Sighing, I proceeded to the next page which detailed Evan’s scores.

-20 Cognitive, -20 Social, -15 Language, -9 Fine Motor Skills and developing normally in gross motor skills.

At least he can be a professional athelete.

I was fairly close to despair.  Wishing and longing, yet again, for ABA therapy – the most effective ‘treatment’ for autism. 

I went to bed and dreamed that I was a secret agent chasing down ABA therapists (have to love that subconscious mind, right?).

The next morning, I woke up and light was streaming through the blinds and making my covers warm.  I smiled a little bit and thought about God bringing joy in the morning.  As I was lying there, I felt God speaking to me.  He was telling me to forget about my circumstances for today.  So I determined that I wouldn’t pray, think or talk about my circumstances for the rest of the day. 

During my bath, I read a book about strengthening myself in God.  It detailed the effects of negative thinking.  In life, there is always a struggle.  If we focus on these struggles, then they consume us.  If we focus on God, then He consumes us.  Hmmm….

Consumed by God vs. Consumed by Struggle. 

I choose God. 

On my way to Evan’s evaluation, I worshiped, instead of thinking about all of our struggles.  It was an awesome time and I had a feeling that God was ‘consuming’ me.

We arrived about five minutes early and most of the other kids were there as well.  Another little boy in the evaluations started jumping up and down. 

Mom, Mom!  He’s cool!!!

I looked around, thinking he was talking about someone else only to discover that Evan was the only other boy there.  I smiled.  The boy ran over and said hi to Evan.  Evan smiled.  Then, the little boy looked up at me and I’m sure I’ll never forget his words.

He’s my friend.

As I walked back out to the car, I was misty-eyed.  I knew God was consuming me now.  I was filled with joy for the first time in so long.

The sun was shining.

I went grocery shopping (and found some amazing deals on grass-fed beef!).  When I returned to pick Evan up, the school psychologist was holding his hand.  The other children were running to their parents and Evan followed them, even though he hadn’t seen me.  This was monumental since he rarely imitates other children.  I knelt down and he saw me.  Made eye contact.  And gave me one of the best hugs. 

As I stood up, the school pyschologist walked over.  I asked her how things had gone.  She said he did well and told me about the conference for his Individualized Education Plan (IEP) in June.  I said goodbye and started to walk away, but she grabbed my arm.  I turned around to face her and she put her hand on my shoulder. 

I just want to tell you that Evan is one of the happiest boys I have seen in years. You should be commended.

To which I replied:

No, God Should Be Commended!

Today, I was glad that God reminded me of my circumstances.

I write this as my day is drawing to a close and am reminded of my favorite poem, which continually reminds me of why I love God and the music He helps me to create.  It is by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  It was introduced to me by one of my eighth grade teachers, Roberta Hite, who, I believe, may have read this blog a time or two (and certainly deserves a shout out for the many students she has produced with a love for writing). I wonder if she will remember this poem from one of our school books!

The Day Is Done

The day is done, and the darkness

Falls from the wings of Night,

As a feather is wafted downward

From an eagle in his flight.

I see the lights of the village

Gleam through the rain and the mist,

And a feeling of sadness comes o’er me

That my soul cannot resist:

A feeling of sadness and longing,

That is not akin to pain,

And resembles sorrow only

As the mist resembles the rain.

Come, read to me some poem,

Some simple and heartfelt lay,

That shall soothe this restless feeling,

And banish the thoughts of day.

Not from the grand old masters,

Not from the bards sublime,

Whose distant footsteps echo

Through the corridors of Time.

For, like strains of martial music,

Their mighty thoughts suggest

Life’s endless toil and endeavor;

And to-night I long for rest.

Read from some humbler poet,

Whose songs gushed from his heart,

As showers from the clouds of summer,

Or tears from the eyelids start;

Who, through long days of labor,

And nights devoid of ease,

Still heard in his soul the music

Of wonderful melodies.

Such songs have power to quiet

The restless pulse of care,

And come like the benediction

That follows after prayer.

Then read from the treasured volume

The poem of thy choice,

And lend to the rhyme of the poet

The beauty of thy voice.

And the night shall be filled with music

And the cares, that infest the day,

Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs,

And as silently steal away.