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.
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 love hearing other people’s testimonies, hearing how the Lord led them here or there, how He has worked and continues to work in people’s lives. I’ve shared my testimony here on my blog about how I met the Lord while crying and listening to “Praise You in this Storm” by Casting Crowns. Lately I’ve been thinking of how God works in my life every single day. How He orchestrates literally everything and every circumstance. How He hand picked and chose every one of my children for me. He knew He was going to give me Thomas and how difficult it was going to be to raise him. He also gave me my girls; Alyssa, Daniella and Samantha knowing how “typical” they would be. Don’t get me wrong the girls been challenging in their own ways but they are nothing like the challenges we’ve faced with Thomas.
I love how God made Thomas so resilient, that when he was 8 years old we had no other choice but to enroll him in residential school for the first time. Thomas did not want to leave us but he did it. He said goodbye to us after every visit, many times in tears but he would bounce back and adjust to his new “home”. He’s adapted even more wonderfully to the school he attends now. I credit God with gifting him the ability to adapt to new surroundings so well. No one else could have known Thomas would need such a gift and there is no way his resilience could be learned.
I’ve been thinking about the Gospel a lot lately too. No matter how many times I think of or hear the Gospel I am so humbled to know that Christ died for us. And the way He died; brutal. I am struck at how much God loved us that He gave up his son for us. Sometimes it’s more than I can think about and wrap my brain around it. I not only believe this, I know this to be truth. It is absolute and it saddens me when people don’t get it or stay away from the church. I don’t know how to spread the Gospel outside of this blog. I’m not one to loudly proclaim it even though I know the truth in my head and my heart. I wish I were more bold in person but maybe this blog is how God wants me to be bold.
Thomas has been in the residential school now for just over 3 years. I was thinking back to when he was living at home. He was only able to live at home for about 3 and a half years between the first residential school (from ages 8-12) and the second (ages 12-16). It was nice having him home for that time. His meds were stable, Thomas himself was stable. We were able to do things like a “normal’ family. Even go on vacation and/or to the beach.
At the beach Thomas loved to look for shells, he did not like the water at all. In fact at one outing to a beach in NJ with my best friend and her daughters I actually lost Thomas. He took off without me looking for sea shells and when I looked around for him he was no where to be found. I felt the panic rising up. My best friend helped me look but all we saw was a sea of beach goers and not a sign of Thomas. I knew he didn’t go in the water but where the hell was he? Every story I ever heard of people hurting those with special needs ran through my head. And I felt sick. I wanted to throw up. I couldn’t imagine how I was going to tell my husband that I lost our son. I figured I couldn’t go home and I would camp out at the beach until I found him. Eventually I grabbed hold of a life guard and explained the situation. They radioed down the beach and it just so happened another lifeguard had happened upon Thomas thinking he was lost. The lifeguards radioed to each other I was told to walk down the beach to a certain station and they had Thomas. As I was walking/running down the beach I saw Thomas walking with a very attractive and fit female lifeguard. His face lit up when he saw me, it was all I could do not to cry. I took custody of him and as we started waking back to where our things were, I teased him saying he wanted to hang out with the “pretty lifeguard” he smiled and then said, “Mooooom! You left me!” I laughed and told him I didn’t leave him; he left us by looking for shells. It really didn’t matter at that point, I was just glad to have him back.
With Thomas the way he is now I don’t see us going to the beach without extra help meaning one person just for him to watch him and keep him occupied. That is if we could even get him to the beach. Towards the end of Thomas living at home vacations with him were not fun. After changing meds because of a sharp decrease in his white blood cells, Thomas was not as stable as he was in the past. His behavior had changed and he became very stubborn. Even refusing to get out of the car when we arrived at the beach. When we did manage to get him out of the car he refused to even look for sea shells and he refused to leave the beach chair with umbrella bought especially for him.
I miss walking on the beach with Thomas. Trying to bribe him with a dollar or two or five to get his feet wet. The answer was always, “No” but with a smile. He has a great smile.