Grocery shopping has always been a challenge for our family. Let’s just say Elizabeth lacks in the proprioception and grace departments. Her tendency to stand smack in the middle of the isles isn’t usually received well by those who are making that “quick run” to the store. There have been times when she backs up right into the canned soups or stacked fruit or looks at the meat with utter disgust due to her severe food aversion. I’m convinced that by the time we’re done shopping everyone in the store knows her name because of my constant re-directing.
Today, I left her at home with the nurse while my husband and I took care of the shopping. Sometimes these child-free trips tend to feel like a mini-vacation! As we looked around in a relaxed state I noticed a woman walking around looking for someone. Her face showed concern…. “Eddy, Eddy” she yelled. She had everyone’s attention. Some people stared while others straight up laughed at her. My special-needs-mom instinct told me she was looking for a person with special-needs. Within a few seconds she began to walk in my direction holding the hand of a young man with obvious learning disabilities. I could hear her saying “YOU NEVER DO THAT AGAIN!” As we made eye contact I told her how relieved I was she had found him. Instantly, she began to cry and tell me how hard it was taking care of Eddy. I understood what she meant. The challenges we face are endless, stretching our patience like nothing else and tapping into fears unimaginable. Her rude spectators were clueless! Instead of trying to help her, they laughed. I can’t believe how mean people can be….. I later ran into her again and she told me that Eddy had apparently wandered off trying to find a bathroom without success and decided to “go” in the middle of the store isle. The store manager had assigned an employee to follow them around while she shopped. If you remember, pray for this woman and other special needs parents who handle these difficult situations on a daily basis.
Some days are harder… On those days I hold on to God’s promise in 1 Thessalonians 5:24
Friends, this is so true! Early intervention is key!
When Elizabeth was first diagnosed, I didn’t want to believe it nor accept it – because I didn’t see it. She was same baby girl I had always known. I knew what autism was because I’d been suspicious for some time and had done research on my own. Some signs were obvious while others weren’t. I bled on the inside, hoping for a mis-diagnosis but quickly more signs surfaced such as hiding under the table, refusing to speak, and repetitive leg motions. I couldn’t even begin to deny something was wrong. Very wrong. Her entourage grew, we were surrounded by all kinds of therapists and teachers who helped us understand her needs and challenges. They were opportunities to grow, both for her and us. Her early intervention started at about 2 1/2 years old.
I thank the Lord for his provisions, He always knows what we need before we even see it!
Everything changed the year Elizabeth was born. I was in the middle of school when I found out I was finally pregnant! After nearly 2 years of trying I decided to move on with my life and leave “fertility” in God’s hands. I was never the studious type but much to my surprise I was getting A-s in my classes. This pregnancy soon became rocky and no longer exciting. At 4 months I developed preeclampsia. My blood pressure climbed on a daily basis, doctor and hospital visits started to become the norm. By the 6th month St. Joseph’s Hospital in Orange became my new residence. I’m not good at math but I knew if I carried Elizabeth full term I’d be spending 3 months in the hospital! My education was no longer a priority but making sure I did everything possible to keep us alive. Our little lady was born at 6 1/2 months with many medical challenges. After 17 months in the hospital we welcomed her home. George and I began to refocus and think about dreams and goals. It was then the topic of education came up but this time it was for my husband. He went on to complete nursing school and become a wonderful caring nurse. Elizabeth is now a happy and healthy 7 year old full of life and laughter. Recently I finished my education from UC Riverside and look forward to passing the necessary state exams to becone a licensed interpreter. The Mother in me longs to always be there for my daughter and simultaneously the Dreamer continues to set goals and slowly trek down the road to completing them. Are you a mom with dreams? I would encourage you to not lose sight of those dreams. Set small doable goals that might take years to accomplish but do it. God places desires in our hearts with a purpose. You’ll know if this desire is God-instilled if you can’t shake it off or forget. Pray though the journey of becoming all God wants you to be and give Him the glory for every accomplishment, great and small.
Philippians 3:14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Years ago I was a missionary in Tecate, Mexico and worked at a school for children with various disabilities. In the morning a yellow school bus would wobble down the rocky dirt road of my humble neighborhood to pick me up. Inside the bus I could hear my name being called out by one of the few children who was verbal. As I climbed into the bus the seats were occupied by beautiful children with special needs. Some were in wheel chairs strapped to the ground and the rest in seats. Everyone seemed to love the bus ride and going to school.
I never intended to work at this school. When I first came to Tecate I was working in the children’s ministry and leading worship during in-home bible studies. The opportunity arose when my visa expired. Back then it was necessary for missionaries to renew their visas every three months so we paid a visit to Dr. Limon, a high ranking government official who was also a Christian. We went to him for advice and direction on the renewal of our visas. He was an easy going man with a love for Coke and potato chips and believed in the work we were doing in Tecate. He gave us each various ideas on how to keep our visas and encouraged me to volunteer at a public special needs school. I was thrilled at the thought but had no idea how to get involved. He provided transportation and a place for me in the school. The teachers were kind and gentle to the children and seemed to really love their jobs in spite of the minimal resources they had to work with. They all patiently thought me how to assist them with teaching activities, crafts and even some basic physical therapy techniques. I was amazed at how smart the children were and so capable of learning.
As I look back, I’m amazed on how beautifully God orchestrates everything in our lives. Little did I know that my experience at this school was preparing me for my future! It’s been fifteen years and I now have a daughter of my own with Autism and other medical challenges. I feel so blessed to have walked down that Tecate road.
Today I had an “aha” moment. My co-worker Steve updated me on the status of his daughter and their dealings with her epileptic seizures. A couple years ago he began to carry this painful cross. As he continues to tell me how Jorden will have about two seizures per week the pain in his heart was evident. His faith keeps him and his family strong thru these scary moments but none the less, scary…..
In 2009 my daughter, Elizabeth was born at just 26 weeks gestation and that’s when my scary journey began. She was what they call in the medical field a Micro-Preemie, weighing only 1lb 8oz. Month after month I watched her fight for her life as she struggled to breathe due to her underdeveloped lungs. Connected to many lines that monitored her vitals and provided nutrition, she grimaced from the discomfort she apparently felt. I visited the NICU every day and patiently waited for the green light for her to come home. The baby room was ready but little did I know that it would soon turn into a mini-hospital room filled with oxygen tanks, a feeding pump, a suction machine and many other medical supplies.
I struggled with ownership, although I knew she was my daughter, most of the time it felt like she belonged to the doctors, nurses and hospital. They told me when to hold her, change her diaper and anything else in connection with her cares. This was not the mothering role I pictured myself to be in.
Today as I remembered how difficult those 17 months in the hospital were; I also remembered that my daughter belongs to the Lord. I am in a sense a Step-Mom. Her precious life has been entrusted to me, to help her develop into the person our Father wants her to be, to raise her in the ways of the Lord and to show her how to walk humbly before our God. Let us not take this responsibility lightly, but see our children as a calling placed on our lives.