Blessings

I have this song running through my head this morning, Blessings by Laura Story. Yesterday my husband and I were talking to a neighbor who also has a special needs daughter. Many of you know about our Thomas who is also special needs. We’ve been through many, many trials with Thomas. And everytime I hear this song I think of him. What if our greatest trial is God’s blessing in disguise?

Anyway, when we were speaking with our neighbor she mentioned that she often wonders what her daughter would have been like had things been different. My husband replied that he often thinks the same thing about Thomas. I do think that also about Thomas. The big “what if?”  What if he’d been born “normal”?. What if? It almost makes you loathe the word, “if”. That word can hold so much. Thomas is one of the greatest achings of my life. It still pains me that he cannot live at home. I know my husband feels the same. I love Thomas for who he is now, not what he could have been. Thomas being the way he is changed me as a mother. And if I were to be able to change him to a “normal” person, would I then have to change myself to how I was before he was in my life?

I honestly don’t dwell on the what ifs because it is pointless. I tend to focus on the present and future which can hold enough worry all by themselves.  But this song speaks so perfectly to my heart. Especially when she sings, “This is not our home…”  No, this is not our home. I often wonder if when I do meet our Lord will I ask Him questions about my earthly life. Thomas being in the forefront of those queries. Why were we chosen to be his parents? Why did God make things so challenging? Why the heartache? Or will I even care at that point? What I do believe is that when Thomas meets the Lord and joins us, I believe he will tell us himself. It will be glorious to hear my son talk clearly and coherently. I was given a glimpse of this in a dream I had a couple of years ago. Thomas was just a typical teen and him, Alyssa and I were just sitting in our front sun porch talking to one another. I have no idea what we were talking about I just remember Thomas being “normal”. I know when we’re all in heaven together we’ll all talk again. God gave me a preview.

Another meeting

I had a teleconference meeting yesterday with my son’s school to discuss his progress and goals for the next year.  To start off I am very happy with this school.  They know my son and that by itself goes a long way.  His future goals are pretty much a continuation of last year’s or should I say they are building on last year’s goals.  Right now Thomas “works” at a Goodwill not far from his school, does his laundry with supervision at the laundromat and shops at the supermarket also supervised. His teacher stressed to me that if they are at say the library and Thomas has a question he is directed to ask the librarian, same with the supermarket, etc… I love that they are promoting independence. I know there is no way I could have done these things with him and keep an eye on our youngest and hope Thomas doesn’t get aggressive. I know the school setting is very different than our home setting, they have structure, back up and staff available. I don’t.

After the teleconference I did feel a bit sad that this is our reality. Thomas’ reality. I don’t regret the decision for residential school. His placement alone is testimony to The Lord. As thrilled as I am with Thomas’ progress and placement there’s still that pain there. Sometimes it is more dull than other times. But it’s there. I don’t think it will ever go away.

Speaking of The Lord and meetings I had an experience a week or so ago that left me not knowing what to make of it. I was driving home with the girls and the Christian music station was on the radio. I was listening to the music and thinking how wonderful it must have been to be a disciple of Jesus back then. To have heard Him teach and be witness to His kindness and forgiveness firsthand. To be able sit close and be able to touch Him. I can’t describe how incredible I think that would be. The next thing I knew I had a crystal clear image of me sitting next to Jesus. We were on the ground near boulders in a green field. He was speaking but I don’t know what he was saying, I was intently listening and in awe of Him. Then, I was “back”. I never took my eyes off the road and I wasn’t daydreaming. I felt as if He met with my soul if that is possible. And the joy, the joy I felt was similar to when I met The Lord the first time when I was stopped at a red light.

There is nothing like that joy and I don’t want to forget it. At first I was nervous to share this experience but thinking more, I’m not. It’s my experience and there has to be a reason it hasn’t been revealed yet.

Our Anniversary

On November 12,1995 two best friends were married.  Today is our wedding anniversary.  Today is the day 18 years ago Tommy and I became Mr. and Mrs.  I don’t mean to sound corny but I am proud of us.  I don’t know what the future will hold but the past 18 years seemed to fly by.  I remember us lying on the beach on our honeymoon saying we should save up to go back to Hawaii on our 10th anniversary.  10 years seemed so very far away.  We had no idea Thomas would be who he is nor did we have a clue we would have had 4 children.  Thomas was born that following July.

Speaking matter of fact, I’d have to say Thomas was our greatest challenge during our marriage. We had no idea what we were dealing with during those early days. We were young and he was our first child. I know we were guided by the Holy Spirit. I know because there is no way we made it through through that time in our own strength.

I’m excited to celebrate 18 years. I know it’s not a “milestone” like 20 or 25 years but it’s a milestone nonetheless. I can’t say I never thought we would make it this long, I didn’t think that at all. To be honest aside from our honeymoon and mentioning the wish to come back to Hawaii in “10 years” we never discussed future anniversaries or how we would celebrate them. Maybe that’s how we get by; putting one foot in front of the other and not taking the next day or year for granted. I know raising a child like Thomas had that effect on me personally as I never know what the next moment would bring never mind the next day, week or year. I took one day at a time with him, sometimes one hour at a time especially when his behavior was challenging.

I love my husband probably more now than I did 18 years ago. We were 25 years old when we said, “I do”. I believe we have both grown as people and I know Tommy has taught me so much. About myself and about the world in general. I only hope I’ve taught him something as well.

Boldness

I’m on the ferry to Manhattan and I just finished praying. I didn’t pray for much specifically or for any particular want or need other than a safe journey for all on the ferry and return home. I mostly prayed to give thanks and praise Him. It makes me feel good to say “Thank you” and praise God. Just praise him, it’s that simple.

I also gave thanks for pulling me up by my arms when I was sinking away from Him. I have this vision of The Lord holding us up by our arms when our strength is waning.

This is not to be a sad reflective post, it’s a post of praising Him and thanking Him for all He’s done. For putting people in your life that can help you or people you are to help.

I wish I were bolder. I’m bold in writing and proclaiming Jesus is Lord, but many times I wish I were bolder in a vocal sense. We are called to make disciples.

I have no problem praising God when talking to people in general but it doesn’t occur to me to share the Gospel. Is it fear? Do I fewer I will be looked at as a fanatic? And honestly would that be a terrible thing? To be known publicly as a Jesus fanatic when essentially it is who I am inside, just not yelling it to the world. And would it be horrible to yell or at least be more vocal to the world?

I praise Him.
And I wish for boldness.

The Who’s and Why’s

There are many times I feel unsure of what to write. I’ve visited the sites that give you ideas (thank you Rob), but I don’t think they are “me”. I like to write about what is on my mind even though whatever that topic may be might not be as interesting to a reader as it is to me. Then I ask myself who am I writing for? Myself or an audience? This blog has been extremely therapeutic for me. I’ve never been so honest about our life with Thomas. I never thought I’d be so honest about dealing with depression and medication and therapy. I never thought I’d receive the feedback I did because of my honesty. So I guess I’m writing for me and an audience even though I know my audience varies from time to time.

When I look back to a year ago I thought I was doing “well” handling the depression. I can see now the difference a year makes. Last year I was not doing well at all and I thank God I can see the difference today. A year ago had I ran into the mom I wrote about in my last post I probably would have broke down in tears explaining Thomas in residential school. I didn’t even come close to that the other day. And as an added bonus, Janice told me I looked great. We all know what an ego boost a compliment is.

I truly wonder what I will be reflecting on a year from now. I pray it’s the take off of my business but if not it will be ok as right now I know it’s in God’s hands and if He feels it’s not to be then it is not to be and God will have other plans for me.

Music

These days I only listen to contemporary Christian music.  I love Hillsong, Matt Maher, Casting Crowns to name a few.  I find the music really hits my soul.  Before I found the Christian music station on the radio I was always searching for music to fill my soul, I felt like I was always looking for “something” when I was in the car flipping through the stations.  When I finally did find the Christian station I was so excited I had no idea how long they had been around or anything I was just so thrilled to find this music!

To me the funny thing is I spent my teenage years listening and going to many concerts of heavy metal bands.  We had a great time, some more fun than others. Sometimes we went to clubs to see bands and that was usually interesting when the mosh pit started. You learned quickly to back up and not get “caught in a mosh”

Oddly enough these days I rarely listen to the music I loved and adored back in the day. I really would rather hear a Christian song praising The Lord. Every now and then my husband will play some blast from the past and after I smile at the memories I’m done, I’m good you can shut that off now…

What makes me smile the most is when my daughters will ask me to turn up a song while I’m driving. The first time I was so surprised. Now I hear Christian music coming from my oldest daughter’s room when she’s getting ready in the morning. The two older girls do listen to “regular” music too like modern day stuff and I feel so behind when I don’t know these songs but meh…it’s ok I deal and feel a little old.

I just love the way contemporary Christian music lets me worship and the way it ministers to me. I never thought that would happen. But God works that way I guess.

God and therapy

I told my therapist today that I believe she was placed in my life on purpose by God so many years ago (she helped us with Thomas and how to navigate the board of Ed for the first residential school).  I was surprised that she didn’t bat an eye at my statement.  I don’t know her religious background or beliefs, but I do feel comfortable saying what I believe is true as a Christian.

When I was first searching for a therapist I was convinced I had to find a Christian therapist. I was afraid of my faith being mocked or if the therapist had different beliefs or was an atheist they would argue with me. I know now that I was being unreasonable but back in the day that’s how I felt. When I did see a counselor from church all we pretty much did was talk about helpful bible verses and my son’s behavior. In hindsight it was not what I needed at all and if not for my husband telling me this wasn’t working I don’t know where I’d be.

This is not to say all counselors who work at or volunteer at a church or place of worship aren’t any good, I was just much more depressed than originally thought and I needed stronger interventions.

It took Nancy and Dr. L and medication to get me well and I know they are both working under The Lord’s guidance. He is the great physician and I’m so thankful His light is shining to defeat the darkness of depression. I did an exercise with Nancy today where I had to visualize the depression as an object and what will beat it. I pictured the Light of God coming in and destroying the dark object of depression. I ended the exercise visualizing the Light shining continually on the hiding place of the depression.

Nancy asked what I visualized and I told her about the light of God shining down. I didn’t know how she would react but she smiled and approved. That really meant so much to me.

God’s light and wounds.

I’ve been feeling down the past few days.  It’s not major but not minor either. But on the upside, Daniella and I had an interesting conversation last night.  She asked me what do Nancy and I talk about, but…I don’t have to tell her if I don’t want to.  I thought that was very sweet and insightful for a 12 year old.  I explained that we talk about almost everything and yes sometimes we talk about her and her siblings, but not always.  That Nancy listens and may explain why I might feel a certain way or pick up on things that I don’t feel are important.  I have a caring daughter.  I’m glad she feels comfortable enough to ask me such questions and in a mature manner.  

I’ve been praying in hope that a The Lord will relieve this down-ness. One of my wonderful choir friends said something to me last Thursday that is sticking with me still.  She said that God uses your weaknesses and wounds through which His Light spills out of you.  You are then able to bless others when you expose the humble, hurting parts of yourself.  I found this really profound.  This blog is/has been an outlet and source of healing for me. I’ve received such feedback to keep writing, something I never expected, I had no idea anyone would even read what I write.

I can only hope God’s Light spills out of the parts of me that are wounded and that that light is shining and touching someone else.

I really heart my choir family. My friend received her words from a book “Dear Jesus” by Sarah Young.

The Mall

I was in the mall with our youngest, Samantha and I noticed a young man holding the arm of another young man. I looked again and noticed it was an outing of special needs young adults. Sometimes seeing this makes me sad. Not because the people are special needs, but because my special needs young adult goes on these outings without me.

Before everything fell apart when we changed medications (due to low white blood cell counts caused by one med), I had a picture and plan of what our lives would be like. It all seemed to be fitting into place. Thomas was in a great school, we both adored the staff, he was a part of great recreation programs and Thomas was on the waiting list for group homes once a space became available after he turned 18.

Don’t get me wrong I’m incredibly grateful for the school Thomas attends now and I know we couldn’t continue to live the way we did any longer. I know all this logically. However logic and emotion usually don’t reside together, not in my mind anyway. It’s not all the time that I get sad, just here and there. I guess I feel sorry for myself and that sounds terrible, to me anyway. I don’t like pity parties. When I see these young adults I remember “the plan” and how it’s no longer viable. Then I remember that I was never in charge anyway. God is and He has his own plan. One I am not necessarily privy to. I have to trust in Him.

As much as I mourn the change of my plan, I do enjoy the quiet environment of my home these days. It’s not always “quiet”, there are 3 girls living here, one a teen and one a pre-teen. But it’s not chaotic either. And I’m not emotionally exhausted trying to keep everyone peaceful and myself safe. It’s kind of a sucky trade off to see my son turn into someone I would fear, but God will use this for his glory. I know he will.

There are some things I miss so much about when Thomas was stable on that particular medication. I will never forget one time, about 3 years ago, right before we had to stop the one medication. Thomas and I were in Manhattan to see his psychiatrist. Saks Fifth Avenue was a few blocks from the doctor’s office and my husband had just informed me I could purchase my dream handbag. There was a boutique in Saks. Thomas and I get there and he helped me pick out some bags to try on. The whole time asking me, “You gonna buy it Mom?”. Meanwhile I was overwhelmed and hyperventilating as I never in a million years saw myself buying this designer handbag. I went outside to call my husband and ask him if I could but it there at Saks without him present. It took a while to get him on the cell phone so Thomas and I walked to a find a pretzel vendor. Just as we found a pretzel guy, Tommy called back and said to get the bag, to open a Saks account as I didn’t have our major credit card with me. I told Thomas I was getting the bag and he practically ran back to Saks! I had to keep up with him, lol! Thomas was walking so fast saying “Excuse me, my Mom’s getting that bag!”. We arrive back at Saks and the salesman was so great to Thomas. He didn’t patronize him. Thomas pointed to the bag and confidently said, “That one, my mom’s buying it!”. Unfortunately I was unable to open a Saks account as I didn’t have my major credit card with me. Arrgghhhh!!!! I tried to explain that if I had the credit card I wouldn’t need to open the Saks account. They wouldn’t budge so I had to explain to Thomas that I didn’t have the right card but I will get the bag another time. I’m not sure who was more disappointed him or me.

About 2 weeks later I made my way to The Mall at Short Hills in NJ. Tommy couldn’t come as Samantha was sick. You know Thomas came with me, I had to have him come along to purchase “The Bag”. The whole experience wouldn’t have been the same without him

The thrift and the big city

Last week I had a couple of appointments back to back so I wasn’t on my regularly scheduled thrift escapade.  I’m in Manhattan twice a week now.  I’ve been trying to shake up my routine a bit.  I did mention I found a new to me Goodwill store uptown.  Honestly I prefer the Salvation army.  Believe it or not I find Goodwill pricey as far as thrift stores go.  Salvation Army …good gravy you can find some treasures there!  Well I do anyway 😉

And just to shamelessly plug my business (www.nayaudo.com),  if there’s anything/clothing or shoe wise anyone wants me to keep an eye out for, you can contact me through my website.

I absolutely love going to Manhattan. I love the anonymity, I love to people watch, I just love New York! It’s funny how different areas of the city have their own vibes. These are just my opinions and observations but the upper west side is a bit different with people walking around in work out wear like they have nothing else to do that day and there’s a ton of nannies pushing strollers, oh my gosh! I really like it up there as it’s not nearly as crazy and busy as say Times Square for comparison. It’s almost like “Manhattan Lite” There’s an awesome Salvation Army up there that I’m a “regular” at.

In Chelsea it’s a younger vibe on the street. I feel out of place honestly. I walk with my head up and all but I don’t think I could work in that area or be there on a regular basis. It’s much busier than the upper west side with a lot of cool shops and supermarkets. There’s a really nice Goodwill where I frequent :).

Downtown, so busy with the hustle and bustle of all the businesses and Wall Street and all the men in suits and the women dressed so nice. And mixed in are the tourists, some trying to figure out how to get to the ferry that takes them to the Statue of Liberty. I’m clueless on how to get there, I think we went there on a class trip when I was like 10 yrs old or something. Anyway I’ve met a lot of incredibly nice and interesting tourists. Downtown during the day is a nice place to people watch. Plus shopping, there’s Century 21 and DSW. I haven’t found any thrift stores yet downtown. To be honest I haven’t looked all that hard. There has to be at least one!

I pray on the ferry. I also pray on the subway. When I’m alone on those two modes of transportation I enjoy the solace and escape. Sometimes I open my eyes and I’m surprised at where I am. It doesn’t matter how deep in prayer I think I am. God knows. He knows our hearts.