Monday, October 20, 2014

Be Aware

I have shed many tears during the past six years. For my son. 

At first, it was out of frustration. I just couldn't figure out what to do, how to care for him and make him comfortable. Then, there were tears of fear and questioning - Would he ever speak? How would his life be different? Next came, tears of joy, at his first words and other accomplishments. So many emotions for me, the mother of a child with Sensory Processing Disorder.

Most recently, I stood in my backyard one evening, crying into my husband's shoulder. Broken-hearted, hurting for my son. He had had his third toileting accident at school, because he was afraid to use the restroom. Despite all our efforts, he wouldn't do it. As a result, he pushed his body to it's limits, holding it until he couldn't anymore. 

That night, I cried, "It's not fair!" Not fair that he has to deal with fear and anxiety on a daily basis. Not fair that his body gets confused and reacts to normal stimuli atypically, leaving him uncomfortable and agitated.

While the toileting situation has had me the most distraught lately, what brings me to tears most days is the way O thinks. How his mind analyzes everything to the point of anxiety. It tears my heart apart when I realize all the things that go through his mind, which cause him stress and worry. 

Some of those things are:
- Whether or not to tell me about an injury, anticipating that the "medicine" might hurt more or that I might offer him a bandaid -
- Wondering if the new pjs I just bought him for "pajama day" will feel itchy -
- Starting each day thinking about what may be different or out of the ordinary -
- Hoping he doesn't make a mistake on his writing assignment -
- Focusing on how many minutes are left until the bell rings, because he doesn't want to be late for school -
- Needing to inspect his food before he eats it, if he eats it -

But, there is also good news. There is a God who answers prayers. A God who loves O more than I ever could and as a result is responding to the pleas of his people. To take away O's sensitivity to smell in the cafeteria. To make the bathroom less scary, so that it can become a part of his routine at school. God has been showing me that when I can't, he can. 

That's the truth I want to rest in, every day. God makes promises and fulfills them. He can!

October is Sensory Awareness Month. 
One of the purposes of this blog has always been to raise awareness of SPD. 
Will you do your part in raising awareness? 
Will you share this with one person today?

Monday, October 13, 2014

God's Story

It was Friday night, October 3rd. I sat in the chapel at Hume Lake, surrounded by hundreds of women, feeling overwhelmed. Weighed down by the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit. Undone by the love, grace, goodness, and mercy of God. Amazed that he would choose to use me. Again.

This year marks the third in a row that I have organized the women's retreat for the ladies of my church. It started three years ago when I decided that I wanted to attend a retreat. And, because I didn't want to go by myself, I began asking other women in my church if they wanted to go. The first year, we had 8 women, last year there were 12 of us and this year 16 women, of all ages, from our church attended the retreat.

My job as the organizer - to make sure everyone registers, pays, knows what to bring and has a ride. In addition, I have chosen each year to pray for the women who will be attending and provide them with a gift. (You can read about previous year's gifts here and here).

This year, I went through multiple ideas before finally landing on this - a journal with personalized label and inside, a letter to each woman.


So, by now you're probably wondering what is so amazing about any of this. Well...can you guess what the main theme for the women's retreat was? God's story. The challenge: To see God as the writer, director and producer of a grand story. To recognize that he is central, the main character. And to ask, "What is my part in God's story?"

It all seemed very familiar to me. And, it wasn't simply that "God's story" was the theme. There were specific words, phrases, and passages of scripture that were identical. For example, the first night of the retreat,the speaker read from Genesis 1 and Revelation 21 - the beginning and the end - focusing on God's story from creation to eternity, words that I had used in my letter.

An excerpt from my letter...
As you write and reflect [in this journal], consider your part in God's story. Rest in the knowledge that every day of your life, from creation to eternity, has been purposed for you by the creator of the universe. You are his masterpiece – a reflection of him, showing the world his character and what he has done in you.

My prayer is that you would stand unashamed of your life's narrative. That you would not minimize who God has made you. That you would surrender your story to the author of hope. Let God be God. Let him write his story on your heart. Then, make space for him to move, for him to perform great and mighty miracles in and through you.

God created you. He loves you. He saved you and made you holy. Let him make your story

I wrote this during the weeks leading up to the retreat, without ANY knowledge of the speaker's message. I had NO IDEA that she would be speaking on the exact topic that God had been stirring in me. 

Can you see why I was overwhelmed? God had given me too much. The way he had orchestrated it all was overpowering. So much so that I could barely speak about it. It was so difficult explain. It still is. But, I had to share. Because it's proof that God is active. He is on the move and we can be a part of his movement, his story.

One of my favorite songs recently has been Overwhelmed by Big Daddy Weave. These lyrics capture what I was feeling so beautifully:
I see the work of your hand
I hear the sound of your voice
Captivated by your beauty
All that you've done is so overwhelming

Are you playing your part in God's story? Have you made room for him to overwhelm you?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Come Back

It is no secret to my family and friends that I am germophobic. My supply of hand sanitizer and propensity toward hand washing has increased in recent years, especially since I had kids. There are times when the stress and anxiety of possible illness just takes over and I can't help it. In fact, I recently reprimanded my nine-year old for helping her sick friend to the nurse's office at school. Not my best parenting moment.

My husband once commented, "You can't put them in a bubble, you know."

My response, "Wouldn't that be great if we could?!"

Part of my life I lived in a spiritual bubble. I kept my faith to myself and at times didn't even allow God penetrate the tough exterior that I had built. Then, God popped my bubble, creating in me a desire to venture outside of my safe place.

And, even as I began to move out of the comfort zone I had created, my desire became to move further. I wanted to keep moving, to know more and to go further.

That's when the frustration set in. God, I only want to do your will. Was that true? Or, did I just want to keep going? Come back. He had asked me to step out, but maybe he didn't want me to go that far. Yet.

"We often find God's will when we do what's next and obediently respond to the normal duties of life...
The Enemy's voice will focus on the past and the future while the voice of God will focus on today. He is the God of right now." 
- Priscilla Shirer, Discerning the Voice of God

As I have been reading, studying, praying and listening recently, I have learned that God is the leader, the good shepherd who wants to go before me and call out to me when the path has been set, cleared and well worn by him. We are part of a larger story. Consequently, timing is everything. We must wait for God to speak before acting.

Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, "This is the way you should go."
- Isaiah 30:21 -

"The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given - and you will receive even more." 
- Mark 4:24 -

Remember that bubble, I talked about? God called me back there. Only, he transformed it into an inner circle or sphere of influence. It was no longer an impenetrable barrier, it was a way to embrace my people. It was those close to me he was asking me to minister to. Those in my family, church and city. He didn't want me too far away from those people. My people.

Sometimes being outside of our comfort zone simply means having a difficult conversation with a friend or inviting a neighbor to join you in Bible study. It may not be about literal distance, but about a stretching of your heart and mind, looking at the people and places around you differently.

So, what is God calling me to right now? In some things he is asking me to wait, to let him lead and carve out a path before he asks me to walk it. In other things, he is asking me to act, to do something - call a friend, write a note, show my husband how much I love him - today. Still, in other things, he simply wants me to let him take care of it. To pray and watch him work, so his glory can be displayed in our lives.

Lord, may I be a person who seeks you and desires to walk in step with you. Lead me along your path, your plan, because I know it's what is best for me. May I be a woman who waits patiently for your invitation, as my desire is to move with you. Help me to always remember that your perspective is greater and that it's in your power that I operate in the works you have planned for me. Allow me to see the needs around me and direct me toward obedience, so that I will be willing to serve when you call. Amen