I’m on my way to an appointment in Manhattan so I’m on the ferry today. I’ve missed riding it to and from Manhattan. I’ve missed the people watching opportunities. I don’t really have that option at my current job not that it stops me from people watching anyway. Even if it’s mostly the same people everyday; they don’t act the same everyday.
I’ve been giving a lot of though about giving my concerns and anxiety over to God they way he tells us to in the Bible. 1Peter 5:7 (NIV) “7Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” So easy to read; so difficult to do. It was difficult I should say. The more I put this verse into practice the easier it becomes. I have to say it out loud to The Lord, my worries and anxieties that is.
I’ve readily handed over to The Lord the issue of Thomas and his group home placement. I no longer worry about The when/how/why/etc… It’s in Gods hands. It’s always been in His hands. I finally chose to accept it and hand over my worry to Him. I no longer get upset at how long this process has been taking. It’s ok, Gods timing hasn’t occurred yet for Thomas to move on.
The same goes for my Dad and his cancer. I’ve recently handed over to The Lord my dad and his chemotherapy treatments to The Great Physician. Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals. This was a tough one but made easier with repetition. I’m now at the point where I fully believe my Dad and his medical treatments are in the hands of the great I Am.
Thy will be done. His will is not always what you or I would want but what God’s will is and what He deems best. His ways are higher than ours and I know if I pray continuously and with passion I do feel his embrace and I’m able to lean on my Lord and Savior. He will not leave you and absolutely meets you where you are. Even on the ferry .
I’m told things are “In the hands of the state ” which is mildly amusing. The same hands of the state who were pressuring me to take a placement in Brooklyn this past spring. The same hands told me “things could take a while” when I questioned them why they were moving so fast when Thomas was only 20 years old and still had a year to go of education from the New York State Bd of special education. I now know why they were pressuring me to take the placement at that time. It seems “The State” moves rather slowly.
Don’t get me wrong I’m not looking to move Thomas any quicker than he has to be moved. He’s in a great place getting great care and in a wonderful school with an awesome teacher. The staff all love him. I’m just curious as to when this transition will take place. Will it be a month from now? Two months? Six months?
The other thing that is almost amusing is that my contact from the state, the coordinator who pressured me to take the Brooklyn placement who called me on a regular basis has been silent. My phone has not rung from him in months since it’s been decided that Thomas would be placed here in our borough. I called him yesterday and left a voice mail asking him what if anything was going on. Since it was a Friday I didn’t expect a phone call back. We’ll see if I receive a return call come Monday. If not I’ll simply have to call again.
I’ve also come to the realization that even though I say Thomas’ future is in the hands of the “State”, it’s really in the hands of our Lord. God has the ultimate control over when and where Thomas goes. I’ve submitted my control of this to the Lord and it feels right to acknowledge that he’s had the reigns the whole time anyway. There have been no coincidences in the actions that have taken place to secure Thomas’ placement in this group home. Every action was planned by our God and carried out by Him. It all seems so perfect and as if the universe came together at just the right time… it did just as God planned it to be.
Thats merely a blessing that I can see and talk about now. There are so many other blessings we know nothing about that are just as carefully planned and executed so perfectly with the perfect outcome. Praise God! His works aren’t always so obvious or in plain sight. Many times we see His works years after. His blessings in disguise.
Thomas called last night. He’s super excited and nervous about moving to the group home. The progress of which is at a stand still while we wait for the State to make its next move. I’m ok with the wait. Thomas is in a great place with people who genuinely care for him. It’s not like we have to move him now or else…
While on the phone with him I couldn’t help but feel guilty. It’s the same guilt that has plagued me since he went to live at the residential school he’s at now. That I couldn’t serve all Thomas’ needs. I actually though this morning as I reminisced about his life, “Why did God give him to me knowing I couldn’t provide everything he needs?” As usual God’s ways are higher than ours and one day I’ll know His way regarding my son. Until then I wonder. I wonder if He gave me Thomas because He knew I’d try so hard to help him? Did He know I would go beyond our scope as a family to get Thomas what he needed even if it disrupted Tommy and my vision of what an intact family looked like? That we would allow Thomas to learn from people while living somewhere else? These are questions I ask rhetorically. I know with all my being that The Lord knows everything. As difficult as it was raising Thomas, God was there every step of the way. Orchestrating and overseeing it all. Nothing was a surprise to Him as it was to us.
I wish I didn’t feel the guilt. I supposed I’ll always feel some measure of guilt that Thomas’ needs go beyond what I can reasonably provide. I think back to all the doctors and specialists. Those who helped and those who were less than helpful (understatement). The Lord orchestrated every move; every appointment. He was faithful. And He’ll orchestrate my son’s future of this I am certain.
Earlier I said we are waiting for the State to make its next move but in reality God is in charge and it is His love and mercy that will decide what the next move is for Thomas. It always has been God.
My boy is coming back here to live in the group home we’ve looked at that is 15 minutes from our house! Last week the agency sent two workers to Thomas’ school to screen him to make sure he is a good match with the other residents of the group home. I spoke to Thomas’ social worker and she raved about him and his fantastic manners. I was so proud; I then spoke with the owner of the agency (who owns the group home) and his exact words were, “They met Thomas, they fell in love…he’s in” I would love to say I wasn’t surprised but I was. Not surprised that they would fall in love with my son, he has a great personality and is in fact quite likable, but surprised that all in all this process went very smooth.
In fact this whole scenario has God’s fingerprints all over it. If I hadn’t started the bible study group for Mom’s of special needs children and hadn’t asked Trish to be my co-leader; if I hadn’t mentioned to Trish the pressure I was under to submit to Thomas living in a group home in Brooklyn; if Trish never gave me the phone number of the owner of the agency; if I never called the owner and found out he indeed had an opening at a group home here in this borough…Thomas wouldn’t be going where he’s going.
It all starts with the bible study. A way for mom’s of special needs children to get together and glorify God while having camaraderie with other women going through similar life circumstances. It all starts with God. The way it should be. He is first. It didn’t hurt at all that I had people from my church family praying for us, praying for Thomas to be placed in that group home. Prayer is so powerful. Praying to the God that loves us.
I have to say that I’ve seen God move so plainly and openly when it came to Thomas. I do believe that every prayer I’ve had for Thomas has been answered, not always in the way I wanted but in the way that was best for him and best for my family. His ways are higher than ours and God’s timing is always perfect. This group home placement is an answer to prayer. The timing is perfect and I know God will make way for a place for Thomas in whatever program that will be great for him after he leaves the residential school.
You have to have faith.
We celebrated Alyssa’s birthday the other night by going out to dinner at a local family owned Italian restaurant. After dinner we walked the boardwalk of one of our local beaches. It was Tommy and I, the girls and Alyssa’s boyfriend, Sam. We had such a great time and it occurred to me that I always wanted our family to be almost it’s own entity. Our own little universe and world. The other night I realized I’ve got what I always wanted, or rather I’ve always had what I always wanted. My world begins and ends with my family. This is the way it should be.
I think back to when I was younger I didn’t recognize this wonderful group of people as being my whole world. I felt claustrophobic in dealing with Thomas’ issues and the way he was. I wished for a more “normal” family/world. I was envious of other families and wondered why was mine the way it was? I never looked to change the girls, they were wonderfully typical (by girls I refer to Alyssa and Lelly, this was before Samantha was introduced to our world). I was fortunate that I found a wonderful online support system to help me with Thomas. And I’m even more fortunate that I’ve been able to meet just about every single person of that support system in person. Most recently, I had lunch in Manhattan with my dear friend Wendy who was in town from California.
I believe our “worlds” are fluid. People moving in and out. Even family members choose to drift out much to our disappointment. However, I don’t often believe the fluidity to be intentional. People move in to our lives/worlds for an amount of time and they move on. The only constant in our own universe consists of the core and we all know who our core are. The other night on the boardwalk I felt like we were our own bubble of family. Minus Thomas. The times I feel the most complete as a mini universe is when we’re all together. And I look forward to him moving to this group home so we can be complete more of the time.
Yesterday I received a phone call from the agency that owns the group home that we are interested in for Thomas. They wanted to visit him at his school and also have Thomas visit the group home himself to ensure he is a good match. My heart stopped for a minute. Then I realized I’m nervous for him. This will be a big transition. And I have to say this is the first time I’ve been anxious for Thomas to make such a big change. All the other times he’s had to be living in residential we were in crisis mode. Thomas wasn’t safe to be around. Today he’s a different person, the residential school he’s been in has literally been a Godsend; an answer to prayer for him and us. The Lord made it happen for this school to be “the one” for our family.
I’ve written about this before but when we were waiting for Thomas to be admitted to residential 4 years ago, this school was the only one who called me back. I had been calling all the schools on the “list” where his packet was sent by the Board of Ed. and I was discouraged because either no one was calling me back or the ones that did call me back weren’t appropriate for my son. Things were not pleasant here at home, and Thomas was in and out of the psych hospital. Finally one morning after I dropped Samantha at school and went for a walk I came home to the phone ringing. I didn’t want to answer it but forced myself to. It was the school that was to become Thomas’ home for the next 4 years. Turns out they were looking at IQ scores from years ago and they thought Thomas was too high functioning for them. I quickly corrected their error and they were then reviewing the most current evaluations for Thomas. Long story short, Tommy and I visited the school and we loved it. After a couple of bumps in the road Thomas was admitted and we’ve all been happy with Thomas there for the past 4 years. The staff has been wonderful and attentive, his teacher (the same one since day one) has gone out of his way to encourage only the best from my son.
So now the transition begins. I’m still in awe at how the Lord works. He arranged for Thomas to be placed where he is now and His fingerprints are all over this group home placement. I just happened to mention to my bible study co leader that I was being pressured to accept group home placement in other boroughs. Trish then gave me the phone number of the group home agency, I explained to him our situation and the next thing I knew Tommy and I were visiting a group home 10 minutes from our house! When the Lord has a plan there is nothing that will stand in His way. And the way He orchestrates events is nothing short of mind blowing.
So now things are getting real. There are meetings to be had concerning Thomas’ school placement for his last year of being educated by the Board of Ed. I’m sure they’ll be more than happy to enroll and pay for him to attend public school as opposed to residential school. Things won’t happen overnight, but I’m sure I’ll be surprised at how fast and quick time will pass and I’ll pray for Thomas to make a smooth transition and be as resilient as ever when he moves from one residence to another.
So my Alyssa will be graduating high school next week. Incredible… because as most parents we still remember her when she was a much younger child and the silly, funny things she would do. I’m amazed at how fast time flies by and even more amazed at how not so fast the minutes and hours and days go when waiting for things to happen. Like waiting on the IRS to send us information pertinent to Alyssa receiving her financial aid packet. The time has flown now that we are a week from graduation but time seems to have stood still in regard to the IRS getting our information to us.
The milestones for Alyssa have been nothing less than remarkable. She was stunning at her prom, as were her friends. All the makeup and hair up do’s were simply gorgeous on all of them. Although at that age all the girls could have worn a paper sack dress and still have been beyond beautiful. They went to the beach for the weekend after the prom and from what I can tell it was pretty uneventful. For that I’m so, so thankful.
This past Friday at our church high school youth group meeting they had a special event honoring the graduating seniors. It was great, the youth leader set things up as if he were interviewing each senior on the Tonight Show. Asking them what impacted them the most about youth group, what had their parents taught them that stood out the most, etc… It was really nice and some of them were so funny telling stories that made us all laugh out loud. Afterwards all the seniors were prayed over, it was so moving.
As for the group home placement and Thomas, I guess no news is good news. Tommy and I met with the agency’s nurse and psychologist last week and we liked them both. I’m thinking the last thing for the agency to do is screen Thomas to ensure he is appropriate for their group home. Its the hurry up and wait issue that bugs me. I’m not a good “waiter” for lack of a better word. At the meeting we discussed Thomas returning to the former school he attended before he went to residential. He would stay there a year until he turned 21 and then attend a day/vocational program. I’m thrilled with that plan as Thomas could then “graduate” from that school. Of course a CSE (committee on special education) meeting would have to be held to change Thomas’ placement and I doubt the board of ed will deny moving my son from expensive residential school to less expensive public day school. I just want all the pieces to fall into place…now. But I know things will happen in God’s time and his time is always perfect.
Things are moving along albeit slowly but that’s okay. Slow and steady is fine for both Tommy and me. I’ve learned that an agency here had requested Thomas’ “packet” from his current school and it was quickly emailed off. I still have phone calls to make, Thomas is in need of a “Medicaid service coordinator” or MSC for short. This person will help greatly in setting up services for him when he comes to live in a group home. Thomas has had MSC’s in the past when he lived at home. So we’re familiar with their role. Tommy and I are also meeting with the group home’s nurse and psychologist this week. I’m looking forward to this meeting.
I have something amusing to write about. The person from the state who was previously pressuring me to accept group home placement in other boroughs *except* for the one we live on is now totally on board for Thomas to live here. On this borough. Really? The other day this person said to me, “You’ve been away from your son long enough, you need him to live near you now…” It was all I could do to not reply in a sarcastic manner but I knew I just couldn’t. Instead I exclaimed my agreement with them, “Oh yes, exactly!”
I’m so grateful to my church family for praying with us for the group home placement to happen. People I didn’t even realize were praying for us are doing so. The power of prayer is real and I’m honored with this wonderful group of people. It’s amazing how the Lord works, He is worthy to be praised! When I look back at my journey with Thomas it’s the times I know that God was with me that mean the most. He is always with me but the distinct times I know God was blatantly, no argument, hands down, definitely answering my prayers mean so much; how do you put it into words or explain it to someone? You can’t. You have to believe.
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10) is one of my favorite Bible verses. In looking up this verse I learned that “Be still” is to stop frantic activity, to cease and to look to the Lord for help.In this life I lead now, I can see no other way to face a problem. Acknowledging that God is all knowing, everywhere and all powerful; trusting Him and His plan; that we understand who He is. When I am still and surrender to God I know I can find peace.
I’ve spoken to the director of the agency who owns the group home we want Thomas to live at. In turn he, the director; spoke to the person from the state who is in charge of finding a group home for Thomas. The director informed state guy that we want Thomas in his group home, I called state guy and told him Tommy and I want Thomas in that particular group home. Sounds simple right? No. Now state guy needs to see if the state and the powers that be, will approve Thomas leaving his current school before he turns 21. I’m not good at waiting. Not good at all.
We need prayers guys! Prayers that this is God’s will that Thomas is to live in this group home. I told state guy that we are totally okay with Thomas leaving his school before he turns 21. I get almost giddy to think he could be living so close to us. I imagine simply having him over for dinner, going to the mall just “because” on a Wednesday night, walking down to the “famous” Italian ice place down the street on a summer night… Not having to schedule and plan every single visit. Don’t get me wrong I adore the staff where Thomas is now and they have been completely accommodating to us and it will be difficult to leave them, but it’s time for a move and I pray this is God’s plan for us. But for now we wait. I don’t like waiting and not knowing. This is so out of our hands: But I know it is in God’s hands.
And so I pray. And I ask my prayer warriors to join me.