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.
I was driving and listening to one of the Christian radio stations we have here and the dj played an intro to a song. The intro was from one of the artists who’s song was about needing Jesus. And it hit me. I need Him. I really do. I was thinking of all the times in my life I thought I could do it on my own or thought I was doing things in my own strength and how very wrong I was/am.
I started thinking of how many times I didn’t thank God for his goodness and mercy. I repented for transgressions that happened a long time ago. He knows. I’m sitting here at the ferry terminal waiting to go to work and I realize He is here. Right here in this building full of people waiting to get to work, school, tourists… Our Lord and Savior is alive and well and He is with us wherever we go even in times or trial, especially in times of trial. I never before thought of The Lord as being so… so tangible. His love is amazing and all anyone has to do to receive it is accept Him as your Savior; the Lord of your life.
I also thought of The Gospel. The truth that God sent his only son who lived a sinless life to die a horrible death for us all of us. It’s so very humbling and unreal and so very real at the same time. The Gospel is indeed good news!
I thought of all this while driving home from bringing my daughter to my Mom’s for a sleepover. It’s amazing how God will meet you where you are when you’re least expecting it. He meets you where you are… You don’t need to be “perfect” or cleaned up or have your act together to meet Him. The Lord takes you as you are and loves you as you are.
I’ve been thinking a lot about surrendering to God. Giving over to him my worries and anxieties. It’s wonderful in theory but difficult in real life. I correct myself, it’s sometimes difficult in real life. I had no problem handing over Thomas’ situation with the group home. Handing that over to The Lord was a relief. I no longer fretted over whether or not he would get in to that particular group home; my view was that if he did not get in then it wasn’t in God’s plan for Thomas and there would be another group home on the horizon.
I’ve recently handed over my new job search to The Lord. I know I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be right now. If another job does not present itself well then I guess I’m supposed to stay where I am for a little longer. And that’s okay. I do like where I am and enjoy what I’m doing for the most part. More hours would be nice… So we shall see.
I do have one area of my life that I have a difficult time surrendering to God. It’s part of my duties/job description as a nurse at my job. I keep praying about it and I do surrender but then I take it back. Pretty typical. My friend Louise would say, “We put it on the table and then we take it back…” I want to be able to lay my anxieties on the table to The Lord and leave them there and not look back. I know it’s possible I’ve done it before. Surrendering and submission are the hardest things to do. But they are the best actions to take before God. To acknowledge that He is in charge, He holds all the cards and He is above all. I remind myself over and over that His ways are higher than ours and He does indeed have a plan.
I’ll keep praying and surrendering and worshiping the one true God. There is none higher and I’m honored to serve him.
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.
Last night I had the privilege of seeing Worship Night in America presented by Chris Tomlin at Madison Square Garden in NYC. Oh. My. Gosh. It was amazing. Truly amazing. I get goose bumps talking about it and reliving it all over again. All the artist he had lined up were so, so talented and so very dedicated to serving our great God. The special guests were Louie Giglio who preached a very moving session on traveling “the 20 inches” between our knees and the floor to pray for our nation. This man had all of Madison Square Garden on our knees and praying, very moving and oh so powerful. Max Lucado was another speaker he was so wonderful reinforcing how much we are loved by our God that we should let Him love us; we can call our Heavenly Father just that “Father, Abba, Papa” because He loves us so.
The musical artists were, Matt Redman, Matt Maher, Phil Wickham, Kim Walker-Smith (whose voice was incredible with all the jumping and dancing she did and never once faltered), Bryan and Katie Torwalk, Stephen Curtis Chapman, Tasha Cobbs and the very talented DJ Promote. When Tasha Cobbs took the stage to sing “There is Power in the Name of Jesus” she had the whole Garden mesmerized and singing and worshiping with her, I wish I could describe the feelings she provoked in her performance. The only thing I can do is link her performance of the song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pD2zIuiC2g She sings from her soul.
Chris Tomlin performed his hit “Good Good Father” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqybaIesbuA. He had everyone singing and worshiping. Honestly all the performers had us worshiping the one true God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I haven’t been this moved at a concert since I can’t tell you when. I felt filled with the love of Christ, something I feel is desperately needed in our country. To feel that love and to know it is finished, we’ve been ransomed and paid for by the blood of our beloved Savior.Another song was “How Great is Our God” also by Chris Tomlin https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBD18rsVJHk. Matt Redman did not dissapoint with “10,000 Reasons” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtwIT8JjddM
I can’t recall every song that was sung last night but they all prompted you to jump up from your seat, raise your hands in worship and surrender your heart to our great God. f anyone reading this has the chance to see this awesome concert I urge you to go and be prepared to be moved by the power of God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
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.
This past Sunday I attended the church my sister belongs to. It’s an Episcopalian church much like the one we grew up in. The building was absolutely gorgeous with beautiful stone and wood structure and the most amazing stained glass windows especially those at the altar. The altar itself was lovely. I really enjoyed the priest, he wasn’t so serious he that he would be unapproachable, yet serious enough that you knew he meant what he said especially during his sermon.
I couldn’t help but compare “my” church to this one. We don’t have a fancy altar nor do we have stained glass windows. I wouldn’t even say we have a traditional altar per se, it’s more of a stage where the musicians and singers are set up and the Pastor speaks. High on the end wall hangs a simple cross. When I first started attending my church I was taken aback by all the musicians and singers on the “altar”. But I quickly got over it once the music and singing started. We sing contemporary Christian songs with older hymns thrown in here and there such as “That Rugged Cross” and “Amazing Grace” there are more (I am a friend of God) but I’m not so familiar with them to name them so quickly. I love our music worship time. To sing and worship our Lord in language that comes so easily to the tongue…it’s something that is wonderful and heartfelt.
The Episcopalian church has a formality to it. Stand, sing, sit, kneel, stand, sing again, sit, communion, etc…I’m sure there’s a particular order I’m just not used to it anymore. In my church we stand to sing and worship the Lord, we also stand in respect to reading a passage of the bible. It’s usually the passage the Pastor is going to preach on. Then we sit and our Pastor will preach for about 45 minutes to an hour, I’m guesstimating that time frame, I’ve never officially timed our Pastor. I really enjoy listening to and taking notes on our Pastor’s sermon. I like to go back and read what I’ve written and reminisce on the sermon and how it made me feel and how close to the Lord I felt. How much I felt in my heart that the Lord was speaking to me.
It was interesting to go back and attend an Episcopal church after attending my church for the past 8 years. I do prefer my church and our style of worship. To me it seems more heartfelt. I remember I tried to return to the Episcopal church I grew up in. But I left feeling empty, spiritually unfed. And they offered nothing for my children, barely a Sunday school and no youth groups or activities. My church has “kids church” every Sunday that my 9 year old attends and youth groups for middle and high schools. I love it. My older girls attended youth group and grew so much in their walk with the Lord because of those groups and their leaders.
I’m not bashing the Episcopal church I simply can’t help but compare what I have now to other worship styles. Especially after attending service so recently. I realize every church has their own style and customs, some dating back years and years. This post is not to disrespect any church that does things differently than mine does.
My Alyssa is graduating high school today. Today. She’s thisclose to turning 18 years old. I don’t wonder where the time went I was there I know how fast it all flew by. It wasn’t always flying by so fast there were days of excruciating slowness but I don’t remember them in detail so much. Much like labor pains those memories fade.
Alyssa is much like an oldest child rather than 2nd born. She was our first girl and our first typical child. I remember her as an infant (such a pretty baby even as a newborn), then toddler. In Pre-K she was the pretty little girl with long curls who clung to her mother’s leg and cried and cried. Grammar school graduation was sweet, Junior high grad was even sweeter. High school years that went so fast I stand in amazement at the woman she’s become in the past 4 years.
I feel incredibly blessed this morning. Blessed that my God has given me the privilege to raise this baby He gifted me with. I sit here holding back proud tears and remember all the times she’s made me proud, all the times she gave me the honor of being her mother. Even the times she made me want to rip my hair out. In gifting her to me, God gave me the opportunity to parent a very typical, very beautiful, very unique child.
While raising Thomas I often referred to the poem “Welcome to Holland” by Emily Pearl Kingsly: (http://www.our-kids.org/archives/Holland.html). There were too many times to mention that I mourned the fact that I didn’t sign up to be a special needs mom. That no, I did NOT want to be in Holland. Alyssa gave me the opportunity to visit “Italy”; the typical world, the world I thought I signed up for when I first became a mother. And for that I can never thank her enough. I don’t even know if she’d understand why I would be thanking her.
So I wish my girl all the best this world has to offer. She loves God and she loves me. What more could I ask for?