Church today

Our new Pastor began preaching today. He was awesome! He’s from the South and just spoke the message loud and clear with bits of humor scattered here and there. I truly enjoyed hearing him preach.

Pastor John spoke with such a passion for the Gospel it was wonderful. He also spoke of our finding happiness and joy in things or places outside of Jesus. That nothing but Jesus will bring us joy. Such powerful true words. Lately I feel such peace when I pray that it can only be described as joy. Knowing I can talk to my God, my Savior and knowing that He loves me…How do you describe that feeling other that it is joy? How do you tell other people that that is how close they are to finding joy? To shut out the noise and be still and know that He is God.

Our Pastor also spoke of wrong thoughts we have. Such as, ” Suffering is avoided by a lot of faith; God is mad at you; we deserve or earn suffering to gain favor from God; and that suffering is not part of the good plan of God.” Pastor John also said our suffering is not always oppositional to the work of God. This hit home to me personally in regard to my battle with depression and the trauma of living with my son when he was aggressive towards me. I was did think God was mad at me and for the life of me I could not figure out how this was part of God’s plan, that someone (meaning God) has made a big mistake.

In the middle of a storm it’s so very difficult to imagine anything good arising from what you’re going through. I know I have to always remember that even when things are tough, God is with me. He has not forsaken me and never will and that God will be glorified.

I’m already looking forward to next Sunday.

Coming Together

I had my meeting with the Pastors at church concerning the new small  group/bible study for Moms of special needs children. The meeting went well, I had to tell Thomas’ story to one pastor who wasn’t aware that I even have a special needs child. I gave him the extreme abridged version of the past 19 years of my life. With each breath I took I noticed the pastor’s eyes getting bigger and bigger. Thomas’ story is a lot to digest in one sitting. They asked me why I wanted to do this group. I answered that it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while but I haven’t been in a place where I could do this. Now I am in that place and it feels good. If I can help anyone with my experience with Thomas I’ll experience the truth of the statement that “God doesn’t waste a hurt”. For years I’ve wondered when he’ll use what I’ve been through. Now seems to be the time and I’m so grateful to Him.

I reached out to a few moms tonight and have two solid “yes” answers. Tomorrow I approach  more moms. I swear it’s the Holy Spirit giving me the gift of being bold. I’m hoping one Mom’s childcare situation gets sorted out so she can attend.

I’m excited to see how God is working and will continue to work as I pray for direction; for Him to guide my steps.

 

 

Prayer and My Son

Before Thomas went to residential school he used to attend church with us. There was even a class for special needs kids during the service, sort of a Sunday school type. That was awesome as Tommy and I could attend church worry free and I felt assured that he was getting some sort of lesson about the Gospel in a way he could understand. Back then I would often ask him if he knew that Jesus loved him and Thomas would answer, “Yes”.

This past Christmas when Thomas was home he told me that some of the staff pray with him and he kept saying “Jesus” over and over. I asked him if the particular staff members pray to Jesus with him and Thomas said yes. This really touched me because its a rare occurrence for Thomas to attend church with us anymore. If he’s home for the weekend Tommy takes him back early Sunday morning to avoid the traffic.

It makes my heart sing that the staff at his school will pray with him. Not only do they take care of his physical and emotional needs in a way that I could not they are also taking care of his spiritual needs. I still ask Thomas is he knows that Jesus loves him and he still answers yes. That makes me smile. My son with his limited capabilities knows our Lord loves him.

Before I was saved I used to worry that because Thomas is special needs and he wouldn’t be able to be confirmed and receive communion (in the Episcopal church I grew up in and used to attend you were confirmed and received  first communion at the same time at age 12).

I don’t doubt that my son is saved. I know our Lord and Savior love him and have placed staff members in his path that love the Lord and are willing to share that love.

 

Being Moved

The new year has been ushered in and with it brought my father to the ER/hospital/admitted with pneumonia. It came on very suddenly. He was fine New Year’s day; by the next morning my mom was calling an ambulance and my dad was on his way to the hospital. So fast. He’s feeling much better today and is eagerly waiting to be discharged home.

I’ve always wondered what my dad thought of God and Jesus, did he believe? He’s the person that always came to my mind when our Pastor spoke about spreading the Gospel. The Lord has put it on my heart many times to talk to my Dad about Jesus but I pushed it aside. Today was different. I called my father at his hospital bed and told him I wanted to talk about his salvation and I wanted to be with him in heaven. Did he believe in Jesus?  To my relief my father said that Yes he believes he just doesn’t go to church and was actually spurned and turned off to church when he was younger. I mentioned perhaps he could go to church with my Mom when she goes. He seemed open to that suggestion.

I’m glad I had this conversation with my dad. It started out a little difficult but became easier the more we talked. I firmly believe the Holy Spirit was prompting me and I’m grateful for that. I know I would say to myself, “but I don’t know what to say or how to say it” referring to talking about God or Jesus to people other than my friends from church or my church family. My bible study leader always said to not worry, the Holy Spirit will guide you and she’s right; He will and has.

Looking Back

I’ve been doing this bible study specifically for moms of special needs children (the name of the book is a Unlocking the Treasure by Bev Roozeboom  ). It’s really got me digging deep in my faith which I guess is what it’s supposed to do.  It also asks a lot of questions some meant to be shared wth a group, others not to be shared. And I tell you a lot of what this woman writes really brings me back. Back to when Thomas was very young and many things were new. Like the first time I ever heard the word “retarded” pertaining to my son who was 3 yrs old at the time. The doctor who told me was so very cold and blunt. No bedside manner at all.  I refused to accept it and insisted this cold hearted man write an addendum in his report of how much I vehemently disagreed with him. I knew there was something wrong with Thomas but to tell me he was mentally retarded told me nothing but an IQ score. It didn’t tell me why he hit all the time and threw terrible tantrums or why was speech impaired.

In the bible study Unlocking the Treasure the author asks if anyone showed you compassion when you realized your child was special needs. The day I was told l that my son was “retarded” one of my husbands best friends brought me flowers and took me to a movie; a comedy.  When I look back it was exactly what I needed at that time and an act  full of compassion.

This study is also full of how much The Lord loves us. It’s mind blowing and humbling all at the same time. That the God of our universe loves us and wants us to seek him…I think of how much I love my children, how much I love Thomas after all he’s put me through.  God loves me more than that. It’s hard to grasp His love for us and wrap my brain around it.

 

A New Small Group in town…

So the Christmas tree is up and shopping is underway.  I’ve gotten more shopping done than I usually do at this time of year and I’m glad to be a little ahead of schedule. I’m due to start a bible study/small group for mothers of children with special needs with another mom in January. I’ve already identified a book; a bible study for Mom’s of special needs children; I think would be a good fit. I still have to finish it myself so I’m not entirely sure yet. Plus I don’t have input from my co-leader yet. In due time I’m sure it will all fall into place. Or rather in the Lord’s time it will fall into place.

I’m excited to about to be a small group co-leader. To be able to share my experience of raising Thomas and how God has been there through the good the bad and the ugly. Yes God was there when times were horrible as well as when times were good. And it was only through His strength did I gain strength. I was even angry at God on more than one occasion.  I know He was still there and never left us. I know that’s why I was so angry. To know God was there and things were still so crappy. I only got over the anger when I actually met the Lord. And it was then that I really knew in my soul that He was there did my anger dissipate.

I’m excited to have fellowship with other Moms and talk about the Gospel. And how Jesus is still working miracles in our lives and will continue to always be there working and interceding for us. I know I sound optimistic. I am optimistic. We have a wonderful mentor in place who will be there for us in person and in prayer. That makes me feel more secure and confidant in this new role.  I have this month to prepare and pray and prepare some more and then of course pray even more. I’m honored to be used by God in this way. To God be the glory.

 

 

 

Special Needs and Grace

I reread a book recently that I had read a few years ago. The name of the book is “Wrestling With an Angel” by Greg Lucas. It’s written by a father who’s son is special needs/disabled and how God’s grace is shown to him through his son, Jake. The book touched me in a profound way. And through it I’ve recognized God’s grace in my own special needs child.

Greg Lucas’ examples taught me to see God’s grace where you least expect it. There is one instance where Greg is giving his son a bath and for a few minutes his son completely relaxes in the water with his eyes closed, no anxiety or stress and he’s given a glimpse of what his son would look like if he were a typical young man. That is grace, a gift from God. I’ve had a similar experience with Thomas. I had a dream that Alyssa and Thomas and I were talking together in the front sun porch of our house. Thomas was a completely “normal” or typical teenager. I woke up from that dream feeling odd and I wasn’t sure how to process it. I remembered what I had read in “Wrestling With an Angel” and  I realized the dream was a gift. That one day when we’re all in heaven together Thomas will speak to me as a typical child, one with no disabilities such as speech impairment or mental retardation.  He’ll be able to tell me everything he isn’t able to tell me on a regular day.

Greg Lucas also tells of his testimony of being led to the Lord by his son. Jake was 2 years old and suffered from terrible, constant seizures. One evening Greg completely surrenders to the Lord. He cried out to God and begged Him to take over, not just Jake’s illness but his entire life. That touched me because my son led me to the Lord.

When I returned to church and was saved, when I gave my life to Jesus; my life was “fine”. Thomas was living home and doing well. We had many supports in place and Thomas had recreation programs that he thoroughly enjoyed. The girls were also doing well. I met the Lord however because of my son. Thomas was in and out of the psychiatric hospital. I was so angry with God. Why? Why? I would ask and I didn’t receive an answer that was suitable. It was only when a friend (thank you Toni!) suggested I listen to “Praise You In This Storm” by Casting Crowns did I finally break down and realize Jesus was for me not against me. That He did indeed hold every tear I cried. It was at that moment God showed me His grace and my anger dissipated.

There are many more ways that God has shown Himself to me through my son. People who have come into my life who otherwise would not. Situations that would never have come about if not for the Lord. And I owe Greg Lucas’ book for showing me how God’s grace is manifested in my son.

 

 

Rest

I went to bible study last night. It was really nice, I like the women there and Louise, the leader is wonderful.  I leave there wanting to read more of the bible which I guess is how you’re supposed to leave a bible study group. We studied Hebrews Chapters 3 and 4 last night. Talking about “rest”. Resting in God. I love the imagery of resting with my Savior, the perfect Jesus, son of God. I had an epiphany moment before bible study. It suddenly hit me as I was listening to Christian radio that Jesus died for me. He was put on that cross and died; for sinners. That includes you and me. The levity of that struck me hard like to my soul. I don’t know why all of a sudden now this hits me but it did. And I’m so grateful for the cross. I doubt I can ever be grateful enough to Him who died for me. How do you express or show such gratitude without feeling you are falling short?

I was praying last night before I went to sleep and I came to the realization that I like spending time with the Lord. One on one time when I had no interruptions and it was quiet and it was just Him and me. “Special” is the only word I can think of to describe that time. I truly felt I was in His presence and it was so “right”. It made me long for more time with Him. One of the women from bible study once said that the more time you spend with the Lord the more He makes you long for more time with him. That He draws you to him. When she said that months ago I just shook my head, uh huh… Now today I get it.

I was also thinking today of how I felt towards God when I was depressed. I remember having a dream that I was praying so hard to God, but there was a glass around me and my prayers kept hitting the top of the glass and my prayers never reached Him. I used to make myself listen to Christian music in the hopes that the lyrics would break through somehow. I felt unworthy of His perfect love. Many times the lyrics would make me cry and not cry in a good way. I would weep for feeling so far from God. I felt like he was miles away and I couldn’t reach Him no matter how hard I tried.

Today I’m in a better place. I am loved by God and that love is perfect. He knows my name and I am His. He walks beside me and has already planned out this life of mine. His plans are perfect even though they aren’t the plans I personally would chose at any given situation. His ways are not my ways. His ways are higher than mine. I know these are words you’ve probably read or heard before; they are truth.

I look forward to more time with my Lord, my God.