This Way or That Way?

Tori goes for a ride!

Chris is ready to drive!

My kids all love to be the back seat driver. The excitement of pointing and saying “This way!” for Robbie, and the van actually turning that way is really incredible for him!  He starts bouncing and giggling in his seat.  He can hardly stand the anticipation of going the direction he chose!  He is following in his brothers footsteps.

Chris has always been good with directions.  He learned his right and left around the age of 3.  When he was 2, and we would be driving somewhere that went by a favorite spot, like a park, he would become incredibly upset and start screaming and crying as we past it.  He had realized we were not going to that favorite place, but some unknown destination.  He wasn’t able to talk yet, and he also had delays in receptive language, so he didn’t understand most of what we said to him, like “We’re going to the store.”  So he was left with only what his eyes told him.  What he could see was all he had to go on.

We went to Virginia when the twins were turning 2.  The next time we went they were about almost 4 years old. When we went back at the age of 4, Chris surprised us by telling us the directions from Interstate 495 to my parents house.  This was about 5 miles, and 4-5 turns! Then, later in the same visit we went to a park we’d gone during our previous visit he was 2.  When we pulled into the parking lot (in a residential area where you can’t see the park b/c of the trees), he says, “Thank you!” and starts clapping!

Today he memorizes maps in his room when he can’t sleep (he now has Metro DC area, Washington DC and Maine maps) and he “drives” on Google Maps all the time and learns his way around different states.

Chris is like my personal GPS.  One time when I was driving him home from preschool, there  was a detour and I got lost.  I had no idea how to get back to a main road so I decided to just follow Chris’ lead.  He took me right back to the main road, so I knew where we were.  Then, just out of curiosity, being finally oriented to my surroundings,  I asked him which way to go, and he told me to go the opposite direction from what would take us home! He was ready to have  a nice long exploratory ride.

It is a good thing that God never steers us wrong.  Sometimes it may seem like He is “taking us for a ride” when we end up in a different land than we anticipated driving toward… like that story about ending up in Holland. For those who have not run across it,  it goes like this:

Holland Schmolland
by Laura Kreuger Crawford

Imagine that you are planning a trip to Italy. You read all the latest travel books, you consult with friends about what to pack, and you develop an elaborate itinerary for your glorious trip. The day arrives.

You board the plane and settle in with your in-flight magazine, dreaming of trattorias, gondola rides, and gelato. However when the plane lands you discover, much to your surprise, you are not in Italy — you are in Holland. You are greatly dismayed at this abrupt and unexpected change in plans.

You rant and rave to the travel agency, but it does no good. You are stuck. After awhile, you tire of fighting and begin to look at what Holland has to offer. You notice the beautiful tulips, the kindly people in the wooden shoes, the french fries with mayonnaise, and you think, “This isn’t exactly what I had planned, but it’s not so bad. It’s just different.”

Not only is the land not what we planned and different, but it is beautiful to be put in a place where we can learn about God in new ways, with new challenges.  Yes, we have many different circumstance than most families, but along with the “bad” different, there is the “good” different, that other families don’t typically get to experience.  This place is also a place where God is living and active, where he is teaching and healing. It is truly an adventure with the ultimate Guide.

In this adventure, and in all of life, He desires to guide us and tell us which way to turn.  We don’t need to wander aimlessly even in an area with so many unanswered questions.  Isaiah 30:21  “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

In addition to God willingness to guide us, He also desires for us to trust him enough to ask him for directions.  Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him,and he will make your paths straight.”

Our adventure, when with ears that listen and the perfect Guide, is a good place to be… Let the adventures begin!

Romans 8:28  “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.



Where are your Feet?

Robbies' little feet

When Robbie was a baby, he had recurrent ear infections, and stomach emptying problems that caused significant reflux.  When he was about 11 months old, he was on a medication to aid in emptying his stomach.  Robbie had just started standing, and moving around a little by holding on to furniture.  He was getting ready to walk!  We expected it any minute, that he’d take his first steps.

The first steps didn’t happen. As a matter of fact, it seemed he’d become afraid to move around.  If he wanted to go to a different place, he’d get me to carry him.  Around the age of 15 months, I noticed on his stomach emptying medication, that it can cause dizziness, but it should go away after adjusting to the medication.  So I wondered how would someone know if a very young child was dizzy?  He’d been on the medication for 4 months.  We decided to stop the medication and see if he still really needs it, and see what would happen with his walking.  That very day, Robbie stood up and walked across the room!

4 months later, Robbie had tubes in his ears to drain the fluid that was constantly there.  We expected for his balance, hearing and his processing of sound to improve greatly.  And some of it did.  He was able to tell which direction sound was coming from, and turn his head to it for the first time!!  His balance was better, but he still had problems with movement.

Robbie loved to swing when he was very little.  Big long swings were like Heaven to him and he’d often fall asleep while swinging.  However, the summer after his tubes were placed in his ears, he suddenly could not tolerate the swing.  He would ask to go in the swing, and so I’d put him in, and swing him, and he’d panic and cry “All done! All done!” and I’d stop the swing and try to get him out but he would stop me and ask to get “down” but when I’d reach to lift him out of the swing he’d push me away, then scream and ask for down…then push me away, over and over.  He could not tolerate movement, or to stay where he was-in the swing. Eventually, I would just pick him up and hold him tight as I could, to help him feel safe, and take him inside. He would scream and cry, and tantrum for a long time until he felt safe again.

Later we came to learn that this problem has a name, “Gravitational Insecurity”.  It is a fear of not being grounded. It is a fear of movement.

He wanted and needed my help and comfort, but couldn’t take it because it involved more of his fear: moving. Through much help from therapists and the preschool he attends, Robbie has improved exponentially. Today (now he is 5) he will swing on his own, climb rock walls, climb ladders, go down slides, etc. on his own.

We still see the “gravitational insecurity” rear it’s ugly head at times, like the other day when he wanted me to carry him down the stairs.  I told him if I carry him, it will have to “piggy-back” style, and surprisingly, he climbed up on my back. As we start to go down the stairs to our basement he giggles like he his having fun, but when we are almost to the bottom, I felt him tense up and start to panic. “One more step Robbie, we are almost there!”  He made it!  He recovered quickly from his panic and  walked off to play with his trains.  What a difference!

There are a couple ways I want to go with this:

First, how often are we in a crisis, and aren’t able to accept the help that will get us out?  How often are we afraid of the very thing that can save us?  I wonder sometimes if this is how some of us feel about Jesus. Sometimes the very help we need seems so intimidating or scary that we are afraid to accept it. Thank God He is bigger than our hearts!  (I John 3:20 “…For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.”)

Secondly, I want to focus on being “grounded”.  Robbie feels safe when he is literally grounded to the earth, or floor. One of my favorite passages in scripture is Ephesians 3: 16-19(NKJV)

16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

It talks about how should be rooted and grounded in love…  In 1 John 4:18 it says “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear,”   So we are encouraged to be rooted and ground in this love that drives out fear, the love of God that is greater than we can fully comprehend in this life, but we are to seek after it, and pray to comprehend it more fully.

I wonder how “gravitationally secure” we would be if had deep roots into His love.  When I have tried to pull weeds out of our yard, I have felt how strong the roots are, and how deep and entangled they are with the ground they live in.  Some were so strong that no matter how hard I pulled up on it, I could not remove it from the earth.

I hope and pray that I, and you too, would grow those kind of roots. That when trials and struggles come our way and pull on us in attempt to uproot us, we would remain safe and secure in His love, deeply entangled with the Word of God…that we would not be shaken from our foundatation.

Later in Ephesians chapter 6  verse 13, it talks more about being grounded.  It says, “13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then…”

Let us stand firm, grounded in His love, and trusting his Word.

Ephesians 3:20 “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

Letting God off the Hook

Treasure Chest of Gods' Promises

The first few weeks after realizing Chris had autism, I cried day and night. I felt like I lost my son.  I thought I would never hear him talk, say “Mommy”.  I thought  I’d never see him play with friends, maybe never even be happy.

I call my good friend, still in tears.  She tells me, “God is holy, he doesn’t make mistakes”.  That phrase, that truth, has stuck with me and has been paradigm shifting for me.  God knew Chris had autism all along, it wasn’t news to Him. Chris is the same Chris he’d always been, I had just come to realize more about him.  More about how God made him.

I didn’t loose him, I lost what I thought I had in him, but never did.  Instead, I had the Chris that God planned for me to have, for a reason.

Over time, I came to totally accept Chris’ autism, and to be excited to be chosen to raise him.  I was certain that God was going to heal Chris.  I thought He’d promised me that.  I certainly knew that He could heal him.

Chris gained a lot of skills quickly, once we started speech, OT, and preschool.  He was gaining speech quickly and just growing by leaps and bounds!  God was healing him!  It was so incredible to watch.  I was in awe daily at what God was doing in my little boy.

And then it stopped.  It seemed like he was actually going backwards, becoming more withdrawn, not making progress…

How could this be happening!!!

I was reading a book by Stormie Omartian called “The Prayer That Changes Everything”.  She mentioned how sometimes we love God for what he can do for us, instead of for who he is.

Wham!

Somewhere along the way, I had begun to love God for his healing of Chris.  Things were great and I couldn’t have been more “on fire” for God while Chris was “being healed”.   When that stopped, it was like the floor dropped out from under me and I wasn’t so happy with Him!  The expectation of healing was what I was standing on.

I realized that night that I needed to love God regardless of whether he healed Chris. I needed to love Him because of all of who He is, not because of all he can do.   I needed to package up the promises I thought I had, and lay it at the feet of Jesus.  Give it back to him.  Let God off the hook.  Love God for who he is regardless of what he does or does not do.

It certainly wasn’t easy, but it was good.  Seek Him first.  That was my calling.

So I did.  Chris started coming out of his withdrawn state a bit over the next month or two.  I had let God off the hook and I was free to love Chris for who God made him to be. To accept every part of him – autism and all – as perfectly the way God wants him to be.

How about you?  Have you held on to something that God can give you more than you have held on to who He is?

Do you need to let God off the hook… and let Him be God?

Running Away

It is always very traumatic when a child is missing, or runs away. Especially when that child has a disability, or is fascinated with water.  Both of my boys have given me a taste of that trauma on various occasions!

CHRIS

It is Maple Syrup Sunday in Maine… 2007.  The twins are 4, and Robbie almost 2.  A friend had come over to help me with the kids since my husband was away on a retreat with church.  She was playing with Tori upstairs, and I was playing with Robbie and Chris downstairs.  Chris kept running off to his room to repeat a song, and then come back.  At one point, he ran but didn’t come back.

I got that sinking sick feeling…the door wasn’t shut all the way… I run outside. There is still snow on the ground.  I search around our house, calling for him, but there was no answer.  I go to the end of the driveway and look down the street in each direction.   I panic.

I run inside to tell my friend I am leaving to find Chris, and she stays with Robbie and Tori.

I am sure that Chris went to Farrington, his favorite road, so I head that way, running, watching… So many more cars have been driving on our road today because the farm is at the end of the street.  There is no Chris.

I stop and panic a bit more severely as I consider that my son could have been kidnapped, hit by a car, or lost in the snow with no shoes or coat…or, dead.  I feel like I am going to start  having dry heaves, but I have to keep going… to find him.  I knock on my neighbors door.  They just had a baby.  I wake them up and they come to help search for Chris with their new born baby girl.

A police car starts to drive down the road, slowly.  I call after it, I wave and yell and he doesn’t stop!  I jump in my car and chase him down the road, honking my horn.  Still, the police car does not stop.  He goes down to the farm, on the gravel road, now on the muddy mess of a path to the sugar shack.  Finally he stops.

I jump out of the car and call for him and finally he turns and  acknowledges me.  I tell him my son is missing and I need help finding him.  He says he got a call that there is a little boy here, and out comes Chris, in the arms of a neighbor.  The wife of the guy who plows our driveway every winter, but we’d never met.  I am in tears, barely able to speak. Chris is safe.

The police man thought it was a little funny, and asked what was going on and I explained to him that Chris has autism.  He didn’t say much after that.

It turned out that he had run up Farrington Road, after all.  He must have gotten cold, or sore feet or something because he just walked into another neighbors house without knocking.  There was a baby sitter there because the parents were at the sugar shack helping out.  They call another neighbor and one sitter watches the kids while the other takes Chris to the sugar shack, thinking he must be visiting and got lost.  Once at the sugar shack, the can’t find his parents so they call the police.  Mrs. Parsons takes care of Chris and gives him ice cream and pancakes and washes his muddy feet.  Thank God!

ROBBIE

Robbie also has run away a couple times.  Most often, I have seen him run off or can see where he is running if I missed the exit.  One time though, I didn’t see it, or have any idea which way he went.  I ran out to search, not knowing which way on Buck Street I should go first.  A car drives up and the man asks me if I am looking for a little boy.

“Yes!   Have you seen him?”

“He is down the street headed for North, would you like me to drive you to him?”

I didn’t even care of the dangers of that at this moment, I just needed reach Robbie before he got to North Street, because people always speed on that road and it is very dangerous for a little boy.  I hop in the car.

“I saw him running but I didn’t know if I should grab him, or look for his mom.  I figured I’d see a frantic mom and know who it was.”  he says.

He drives me up the road and I see Robbie right in the middle of the street running and signing to himself and flapping and as happy as can be.  Relief.

Then, a car turns onto Buck street.  Robbie is going up a hill and there is no way that car can see him.  Panic.  The car turns into the driveway at the corner of Buck and North, and Robbie is ok.  I thought he was going to be hit by that car, but he was safe.  He was safe.

The man offered to drive us home.  I agreed, since I was too shaky to walk.  I go to get Robbie and he won’t come with me. He is mad that I am stopping his fun.  He fights with me, twisting and turning in my arms.  He scratches at my face.  I hold him tight and put him in the car and we are safely driven home.  Thank God!

YOU

So, how about us?  Sometimes we run away from God to explore and see what is out there, like Chris, not knowing the dangers that lurk around.  Sometimes we run away like Robbie, determined to run and fight when called back, also not aware of the dangers.  How about you?  Are you running?

Jesus is.  He is running after you.  After all the people out there who are hurting, looking, running away and exploring, after all the people that don’t know him, after all the people who are searching.

If you stop and turn around, you may see him chasing you.

If you are lost, perhaps he is right there trying to get your attention.

He knows where you are.  His love for you fuels his quest for your life.

He longs to rescue  you, just as we would do anything to find and rescue our children.

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