Tag Archives: love

When Family Has More Issues than TV Guide

Man Holding a Book and Looking Askance from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Collecting prayer concerns near the holidays is always interesting. Everyone has added excitement and stress, and it seems much of that revolves around family.

A roomful of special needs moms all nodded knowingly when one requested, “Prayers appreciated. They’re all coming to town and my family has more issues than TV guide.”

It is great to see extended family, but what happens when they just really don’t understand the reality of life with special needs?  Distance allows for prolonged time dwelling in the land of denial. Unrealistic expectations about development or chronic health concerns can take some of the happy out of the holidays.

Wouldn’t it be great to be that perfect, harmonious family? But then again, where do we see examples of that? They are few and far between in the Bible. There has been dysfunction from the beginning. There was that whole issue about deflecting blame and finger pointing when it came to eating an apple, “She made me do it.” “The snake tricked me.” The stakes were raised when jealousy began between their children, ending with murder. There are stories of stealing a birthright, incest, a king having his general murdered in order to steal his wife.  These are Biblical values? Not so much, but these are the families in the story of the history of salvation.

Our own families are shining brightly right now, aren’t they? What’s a little misunderstanding in the politically correct terms of disability in comparison? It’s an opportunity for education and conversation.

All relationships are about choices. How do we choose to be together with one another? It is love that wins. Love is a choice. We see it in our actions.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.  Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:16-17 NRS)

This fourth week of Advent as we celebrate love  and we can see how God’s action in love toward us shows us the way forward.  When we make mistakes, God loves us anyway. So much so that he sent his Son so that we could be reconciled and have that example of perfect love. Putting love into action is God’s choice for us, too.

“My in-laws are coming and I’m planning to kill them (a pause just a tad long) with kindness.”

Well chosen, my friend. Love always wins.

Loving God, thank you for the example of perfect love. We fall short. We are human, yet you love us anyway. Help us, too, to offer that grace to others and keep the fun in dysfunction. Amen

Image “Man Holding Book and Looking Askance” by Imagerymajestic from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Rev Doc Lorna

 

 

 

Just Horsing Around

Steeplechase_(2018245)

If I had known the day was going to include a life or death, headlong, downhill race after my son, I would have worn different shoes.  In hindsight, I should have seen it coming.

We moved to Chicago from Alaska while my husband attended graduate school. Living on a tight, student’s budget, we were happy to find a family friendly event in the neighboring town of Naperville, an annual steeplechase.  It was a day in the country with horses jumping over fences (be still my heart!), gorgeous fall foliage, and a hillside picnic where our high-energy, high-rise dwelling three year old with ASD could enjoy the great outdoors and fire his afterburners. Perfect! Thinking it might be a fancy horse event, I wore casual slacks and flats.  That was mistake number one. Oh, I was dressed just like everyone else, but…

We parked in the freshly mown hayfield and climbed the hill to find the ideal place for Craig to run and play, spreading out our blanket with the perfect view of the finish line. Opening our picnic hamper, we settled in for the first race. Eight brush jumps, a beginner round taken at an easy pace.  Craig watched the horses jump the first few fences, bouncing away in my lap on his imaginary horsey, and shouted, “My turn!”

I thought he was joking.

That was mistake number two.

Back in the day in Alaska I rode horses and my husband would meet me at the barn with our son.  After I had finished my ride, we’d buckle on a helmet and Craig would sit in the saddle in front of me, kicking his tiny feet, “Go Alex, go!”  Each time he got to the barn, he’d see me jump a fence or two, call out, “my turn!” and he’d get a ride.

You know how kids with ASD are about routine?  Well, I hadn’t figure that out yet.

He jumped out of my lap and started running down the hill, “My turn!  My turn!”

I called after him that he couldn’t ride those horses, thinking he would stop. Ya, right. All I managed to do was let him get a head start.

That was mistake number three. Game on!

Mommy instincts finally kicked in.  He’s not stopping!  His tiny legs had remarkable turnover as he sprinted for the finish line.  “Craig! Stop! The horses are coming!”

“My turn!”

Dear God help me! No one else knew what was happening. The rest of the sparse crowd had their attention fixed on the finish line. I started running faster, flats slipping on the damp grass.  My husband, realizing the seriousness, was on his feet behind me.  There was no time to zigzag around the other picnicking guests.  I leapt entire families in hurdler form, screaming like a crazy woman, “Craig! Stop!”

“My turn!”

All dignity gone, feet skidding wildly, I finally managed to scoop up Craig about ten yards from the rail. Frankly, I was glad I didn’t fall on him and crush him.

Relieved. Scared. Embarrassed. Elated.

I tucked him under my arm like a wiggly football, full of giggles for his great adventure,  and started the long trudge back up the hill to scattered, polite applause, apologizing to far more people than I care to remember. I was embarrassed, they were amused.

I realized in that moment how deeply I loved my child.  I couldn’t think of logical consequences for a punishment, nor behavior plans. I doubt in that moment I even knew my own name, but I felt an overwhelming sense of love and knew nothing would keep me from chasing after him.

Perhaps that was for me a dim glimpse into the love that Paul writes of in his letter to the Romans.

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39 NRSV)

Absolutely nothing separates us from the love of God. God loves us in a deep and abiding sense. God, too, pursues us when we are headed the wrong way, flinging wide protective arms, even when we chose not to see them. When we finally turn to Him, He embraces us. “Welcome home, little one! I’m glad you’ve stopped horsing around.”

Photo by Jason Trommetter “Steeplechase” via Wikimedia Commons

Thank you Sandra Peoples for inviting me to guest blog today wiht this post at  specialneedsparenting.net.  If any parents out there are looking for a great book to use for parent support resources, check out Sandra’s book “Held.”

The Greatest of These is Love

When my son was an infant we did not live near extended family.  They were all in California, with two outliers in Oregon.  We lived in Alaska, having been whisked there five years prior by my husband’s company the day after we said, “I do!” With Craig being the only grandchild on one side of the family, and only one of two on the other side, we received requests to provide many videos of our whopping five-pound guy.  We then received complaints that they were a bit dull and the baby didn’t do anything.  It kind of made me wonder how they had never noticed when my husband and I were babies that we didn’t do anything either.  Perhaps the memory had faded with time.  Nevertheless, we kept up the videos.  We left off the long crying spells, the colic, and the inability to be comforted.  We left off the anxiety as milestones came along just a bit later than expected. Not enough to cause complete alarm, but just enough to make you go, “Hmmmm.”

This past Thanksgiving I visited my mother and she surprised me with a DVD that condensed all of those videos sent over the early years of Craig’s life. Our family of three settled in around the fireplace to share those memories recorded decades earlier and long forgotten. First baths, first smiles, cuddles in the rocking chair gave way eventually to tottering steps holding his daddy’s index fingers like handlebars. Watching his first haircut, I am amazed that Craig still has both of his ears after seeing him whip his head around trying to see what I was doing with those scissors.  I especially enjoyed the clips of me chasing him through the house, complete with Mark’s camera commentary and Craig’s shrieks of laughter encouraging me to ever higher levels of ridiculousness.  Parents will make complete fools of themselves for their children!  I collapsed on the couch, telling Mark, “I think it’s time to stop.  He seems tired.”  To which he replied, “I think mommy is the one who seems tired!”  He was right, and has video evidence to prove it!

I think that is what I recall most from those days, being tired, being a busy working mom, being a bit anxious about Craig’s development.  As a first time parent I had no point of reference.  Every child cries and cannot be comforted, every child can be picky about food, every child can be hard to put to bed, but … As years went on diagnoses came. First, ADHD. Then OCD. Then dysgraphia. Then anxiety. Then Tourette’s. Then Asperger’s. My focus became therapy and medication and behavior plans. Well, my focus was Craig, but also a whole lot of new things that became part of the world of helping Craig to be the best Craig he could be.

Somehow, in the midst of the intervening years those are the memories that crowd to the front. Toss in some vivid memories of “proud moments in parenting” when I was not as patient as I should have been and I realize I forgot something very important at the heart of it all.  I forgot about how truly, deeply, madly I love that baby boy who has grown into a young man of whom I am so proud.

Of course, I know I love my child.  He is part of who I am, even as he is separate and autonomous.  Yet, those videos brought home for me the underlying purpose of parenting. Deep love. It is so much a part of my everyday life that somehow deep love faded into the background of daily recognition.  In the shrieks and giggles and racing legs clad in fleece-footed jammies, I glimpsed it.  I even glimpsed it in those “boring” videos of us sleeping on the couch and rocking in the chair.  I think that is why we recorded so much of those times.  It wasn’t that they were exciting to watch, but that they were steeped in a new found deep love and wonder for the tiny person who was, and is, the biggest part of our lives.

The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth at a time when they had forgotten a bit about who they were and why they were a church, a gathering of people representing Christ to the world.  He wrote for many chapters offering guidance, suggestions, and the occasion admonishment.  Finally, in chapter thirteen he spelled it out plainly. The Christian walk is all about love.  He reminded them that love is patient, love is kind, love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.  He concluded that chapter, “And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor 13:13 NRS).

Faith, hope and love. Those are the definitive guides to parenting. Faith in God for guidance and direction as we shepherd our children through life, raising them up to their potential, whatever that may be.  Hope for a future that we cannot see, one that can be wrapped with anxiety and worry if we allow ourselves to be isolated from hope. Love, the greatest of these, prompts us to sleep on the floor next to a crib, go one more round with the insurance provider to advocate for our child’s needs, or simply make funny sounds to see a little face light up with joy. Of course we do those things and many more! We are made in the image of God and God’s character is defined by love for all people and all of creation. That deep love we feel for our child is but a dim reflection of the love that God feels for us, for our children, and for our families, whatever size and shape they may be.  God’s love is always there, even when we forget to notice. I wonder.  When we get to heaven will God show us a shaky home video of our lives, reminding us of all the times and all of the ways that we were loved by God as we grew as Christians and reached up to our potential as followers of Christ?

Faith, hope and love.  We need all three as parents; and the greatest of these is love.