They are upon us…Thanksgiving in a couple of days and then we blink and it’s Christmas. Tommy will be picking up Thomas tomorrow to have him home for Thanksgiving. He’s totally excited to come home and it’s really sweet. He called me this past Sunday morning~early, to confirm the day and time of pick up and that it would be Tommy doing the picking up. Thomas also called Tommy the night before to confirm the same. The boy is consistent.
The day after Thanksgiving “we” (meaning Thomas and I) put up the Christmas tree. Rather I put it up and he supervises. Friday morning Thomas, Tommy and I will go out to get a live tree and when we bring it home, Thomas knows exactly what to do, what goes first, that I need to test the lights, and hey where’s the stand, the star for the top and the skirt for around the tree on the bottom?? The girls will get all into the ornament decorating after a while and the whole thing usually goes very smooth. The only thing that gets exhausting is going up to the attic a million times that day. And Thomas will usually be on to the next phase of decorating after the tree is finished.
This year I’ve managed to get out of Thomas what he wants for Christmas. I consider that a personal victory because every year it’s a struggle to buy him gifts and we usually don’t have a clue to tell family what to get for him. Aside from all Thomas’ issues he’s really an easy going guy and really doesn’t want for much so when he does mention something, anything that he would like I make sure I’m paying attention. For Thomas’ birthday he received a television for his room at school. The TV has a DVD player, Thomas asked for the Spiderman movie on DVD and a new Nintendo DS with a couple of games. No problem! After I finagled that list from him, he then says, “That’s enough Mom, no more…I don’t want anything else” How do you spoil someone who won’t let you? You gotta love him and that way about him.
So here’s to a Happy Thanksgiving and a smooth Christmas tree decorating!
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.
It’s here! Our 20th wedding anniversary. Amazing if you ask me and I’m proud of us. Its been a ton of trust, love and a lot of prayer. I give half the credit to my wonderful husband, Tommy.. He’s taught me so much over the years. And as a result I like to think I’m a better person because of him. My husband is a very warm, thoughtful, giving, smart and handsome man. We were fortunate to have met when we were very young. We met for the first time at age 15. We became friends at first and then did the whole “…but I don’t want to mess everything up if we get together…” dance. Turned out we didn’t mess everything up. We started dating around age 17 and had many a teen angst argument/breakup/get back together scene through the years. But somehow we always found ourselves back together. I do believe he is my soul mate. He’s called me his best friend many times over the years and every time he says it, it’s like hearing him say it for the first time. I consider myself lucky to be called his best friend.
There were many difficult times over the past 20 years especially when it came to raising Thomas. Being Thomas’ mother made me grow in a way I never thought I was capable of growing. But God had his plans and as the vine dresser He shaped me and encouraged growth for me to become a tenacious mother. Tommy allowed my role to flourish by trusting me in locating doctors, therapists, psychologists, neurologists, support people and anyone else I recruited to help us help our son. It was not an easy time. We made decisions no parent should have to make for their child. Medications, hospitalizations, dealing with disbelieving professionals, residential school. Not an easy road and I know there are parents out there who have had an even more difficult time than us.
I love to remember our honeymoon and us laying on the beach trying to imagine what we would be like at our 10th anniversary. 10 years seemed so far away. We knew I was pregnant so trying to picture us with a 10 year old was next to impossible. We then told each other how great it would be to return to Hawaii on our 20th anniversary. Again, something that was so difficult to imagine. If you had told me then what my life would be like I’d think you were crazed. I was going to have a perfectly healthy and typical baby and our life was going to go as planned as anyone else’s.
Even with all the ups and downs and sideways turns I couldn’t imagine the past 20 years with anyone else besides my husband. He’s been there for me through very thick and very thin. Through the house moves and hair color changes. He is my lifeline and I look forward to the next 20 years with him with as much optimism as I had 20 years ago.
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.
A week from today Tommy and I will have been married 20 years. No matter how many times I think about it, it still blows my mind. I think about our beginning years and having Thomas so early in our marriage. Then Alyssa exactly 2 years later. All in all it’s been 20 years, 4 kids and 3 houses. Amazing if you ask me. There were many arguments and tears along the way as well as much happiness and blind loving trust. Plenty of prayer. A friend recently told me that Tommy and I are an anomaly. I laughed at that statement. Maybe we are. Especially with all we’ve been through with Thomas. I was thinking this morning about Thomas and the rough times. I was also thinking about the times of God shining through those rough times. There was one instance that Thomas fell flat on his face literally. (His reflexes are slow so if he falls forward his arms don’t shoot out as fast as yours or mine do.) Thomas broke his braces, his front teeth and required stitches on his upper lip and chin. When I saw him right after he fell I had to hold on to the bathroom sink to keep me from falling due to my knees going week. It was bad.
So off to the ER we went. And the staff there was wonderful to him and me. I managed to get a hold of our dentist and orthodontist who gave me instructions and were also wonderfully supportive giving me their personal cell phone numbers in case I needed them again. We decided not to wait for a plastic surgeon and the ER doc stitched Thomas up after numbing the area. I remember I was crying on and off for Thomas. I felt so bad for him. At one point I was holding Thomas’ hand and he was looking up towards the ceiling. He had a peaceful smile on his face and when I looked into his eyes I swear I saw the peace of the Lord. Thomas’ face was shining. I’ve never seen that peace in someone’s eyes before and I haven’t seen it again since. It was as if he just knew everything was going to be ok and everything was ok. The ER doc did a great job in stitching him up and the next day we saw the dentist and thankfully Thomas didn’t break his teeth far enough to require root canals. Our dentist was able to repair his teeth with bonding.
It’s time like these I know the Lord was with us. I wouldn’t be surprised if someday Thomas told me he saw an angel watching over him while in the ER. I know we’ve had many times in these past 20 years where the Lord certainly had his hand in watching over our marriage. When we moved back here from New Jersey I swear there was “something” working against us. There was roadblock against roadblock placed in our path during the sale of that house. Earlier that summer we had bought a storage shed for the backyard. According to the NJ inspector the shed was too close to the property line. So Tommy had to get all these guys from work to come over and move the dang shed. The inspector didn’t even want to measure the distance afterwards, just a glance and said, “Its fine”. I was so irritated I insisted he measure. The buyers pretty much demanded our refrigerator. It was not in the listing at all. They started threatening to cancel the sale if we didn’t include it. Somehow our agent smoothed it out that we were able to keep the fridge. And we didn’t even have a traditional closing. We did it separately where the buyers met with their attorney and signed the papers then Tommy and I met with our attorney to sign.It all culminated to an end where we had no house to go to for 4 days after the closing of the New Jersey house. Somebody dropped the ball and we to this day don’t know who. Luckily we had multiple family members who let us stay with them until we closed on the new house. But the Lord was watching us and got us out of the great Garden State. I know that.
So being married for almost 20 years I can say I’m definitely not an expert on relationships. And I wish I had pearls of wisdom to depart. I only know what I’ve lived and what our family has experienced and born witness to. 19 years and 51 weeks of marriage. Pretty cool.