What if it's not "Just a Season"?

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Seasons come and go. They are ever changing. Although winter might drag on for what seems to be a little too long, eventually spring comes pushing through with it’s new growth and life.

For most of us, there are seasons of life that ebb and flow. For example, we try to hang on to the sweet memories of the “infant stage” when the nights with our babies are long but the snuggles so sweet. Although the early years can be hard, we are encouraged to cherish them knowing that this season of life will pass all too quickly.

There are seasons of life people look forward to with expectation – whether it be the young family season, empty nest or retirement season, we know that life is ever changing.

But what if it’s not “just a season”? What if the predictability of life’s ebb and flow for most people looks nothing like the life you’ve been handed?

This is where we find ourselves. Maybe some of you do too? As the parent of a special needs child, maybe you are coming to terms with the fact that there may never be a “diaper season,” “feeding tube season,” “baby toy season,” or “empty nest” season. This may always be our normal. No seasons, just life.

We pray for the best and make plans for the forever. We dream up house plans we would have never thought of before – the one with the built in apartment for “someday if he’s independent enough” or the protective padded walls “because he’s getting bigger and stronger.”

We say goodbye to seasons and learn to embrace a unique ebb and flow all our own. Growth and milestones are celebrated as they come. We love fiercely, cry often, and learn to maneuver an entirely different world; a world with no seasons.

So what if it’s not “just a season?”

Look for the God Moments: Our God is a God who pursues the hearts of His people. He is never absent from our every-day-less-than-glamorous, messy lives. If you have gotten to the place that God feels far removed, it is not because He’s not there, but because you have taken your eyes off of the Savior. It is easy to get so caught up in a world with no seasons, that we forget to look for the ways God is at work in our everyday lives. Look for the God moments. Look for the many little ways He reveals His presence in the midst of life. His whispers of love are in the hand held, eye contact made with your child, the song that filled your heart, and in the friend He was sure to put in your path today. In the midst of the never-changing seasons, God wants to meet us in the middle of it all. Look for the God moments to spur you on and lift you up.

Trust God’s Sovereignty: Do you trust in the sovereignty of God? I hope that you do. If you find yourself in a world with no seasons, this fundamental question is of utmost importance. Hold on to the knowledge that God does not make mistakes. Your child’s disability comes as no surprise to Him. Furthermore, God handpicked you to be the parent of your special needs child. This means that however ill-equipped you feel to live in a world with no seasons, God knew you were up for the task. Although at times we feel like cowering in the circumstances of life that come crashing down around us, we must pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off. Walk in a boldness knowing that if God has called you to this way of life, He will see you through it.

Find Gratitude: Although the days are hard and the nights are long, I have found a place of gratitude to rest my weary soul – so that when I breathe in the grace that God has so delicately covered the fragments that are our life, I can see the work of His masterful plan and find peace in trusting Him through the process. You see, if we didn’t know the pain of falling apart, we would never know the joy of being held together by the Lord. If we didn’t know the desperate heart cries of a parent on behalf of their child, we would never know the victory found in trusting God’s sovereign plan. If we didn’t know what it’s like to earnestly pray for healing, we would be less likely to notice even the smallest of ways that God is moving and the milestones or small victories made. Be thankful for the lessons discovered in having to depend on Jesus as your only source of strength, for some have never discovered the joy that can be found in doing this.

If you find yourself in a world with no seasons, take heart. God is working in the midst of it all. When we begin to look at our season-less world as a gift, the heaviness in our hearts begins to dissipate. Do you trust Him enough to embrace a life that is so unique, so dependent upon Him, so broken and yet so beautiful, that if lived in obedience to Him…it just might point others to Jesus? And if so, dear friend, wouldn’t it be worth it all?

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21

First written for my partners at Joni and Friends and Irresistible Church

https://irresistiblechurch.org/just-season/

Asking for the Healing of a Loved One: To Touch the Hem of His Robe

Have you ever prayed desperately for someone’s healing? I mean the cry-from-the-bottom-of-your-heart pleading with the Lord for deliverance, freedom, and healing.  After all, God is fully capable of full healing. Doesn’t he see this great need? Doesn’t he feel the heaviness of your cries as they fall one by one before his throne? I know you are able, Lord. Please, I am asking for healing. It’s as though, in the corner of your heart, you hold out hope that if you just plead hard enough, you might somehow will your loved one to healing. I know this desperation. I know this cry.

As I laid in bed next to my little boy, he wrapped his tiny arms around my neck and drew in me. He kissed my cheek with his baby-soft lips and then laid his head down on the pillow. I continued to hold him as tears filled my eyes and a rush of emotions filled my soul. It’s crazy how this Autism thing works. When my son has struggled through a particularly hard day, I am crushed. However, this day he had not struggled at all. In fact, he had made wonderful eye contact, had snuggled, and talked to me throughout the day. It was a beautiful day of clarity and freedom from the chains of Autism that so often bound him. It may be hard to believe, but sometimes the wonderful days break my heart almost as much as the hard days.

I had seen glimpses all day of the little man that he is. We had shared smiles and giggles. His bright personality had lit up the room. We had played together and he had spent part of his day in a tent with his sister making choo choo train noises. He was able, for the most part, to communicate his needs and wants. It had been a beautiful day. Now as I laid in his bed holding him, I felt so very grateful for the blessing of this day, but I was also overwhelmed with sadness. As the parent of a child with Autism, I fully know that just as a ray of sun will peek through the clouds and then go back into hiding, this bright day of clarity would not last. Tomorrow would be a new day and I would once again be left searching for the little boy I know is locked somewhere deep inside my sweet boy. This thought ached deep in my heart.

I pulled my son closer; as though I was trying to hold on to him as tightly as I wanted to hold on to this day. Please heal him, Lord. I know you can. Without even thinking, I closed my eyes and imagined reaching out just to touch the hem of Jesus’ robe. If I could just touch Him. If I could just hold my son in my arms and touch Jesus. Just touch the hem of His robe.

You know this story, don’t you? The bible tells a story in Luke 8 about a woman who was sick. She had been sick for many years with an illness that would have alienated her from society and caused her to feel miserable. And there was Jesus. He had just calmed a storm at sea, restored a demon possessed man, and He was on his way to heal a twelve year old girl who was dying. Yes, this woman knew who this “Jesus” was. I can almost feel her desperation. Jesus, this man who professed to be Messiah, this healer of so many, was passing through. In complete abandon, I imagine her rushing out her door, desperate to see this Jesus. I know you are able, Lord. Please, I ask for healing. As she approached Jesus the crowd pressed in on Him. Was this it? Would she get this close to healing and complete restoration just to lose Jesus in the crowd? With her heart pounding in her chest, she pushed through the masses and was able to squeeze her hand through a small break in the crowd. If I could just touch Him. If I could just touch Jesus. Just touch the hem of His robe. With twelve years of sickness behind her and the thought of an eternity of pain, exclusion, and embarrassment ahead of her, she reached out and grasped just the hem of Jesus’ robe. Healing. Complete healing. Trembling, she came before Jesus and He told her, “Your faith has healed you. Go in peace” (Luke 8:48).

Desperation. Faith. Healing.

So, as I held my little boy, desperation rose up inside of me. If I could just touch the hem of His robe. I know you are able, Lord. Please, I ask for healing.

It’s very rare that I ever ask God to “heal him from Autism” anymore. My prayers have shifted. I believe that some parts of Autism are a very special gift. My son sees the world in different ways than you or I could ever imagine. In many ways, Autism gives my son a unique and special gifting and personality that I would not ever want to lose. It’s the frustration, the inability to communicate, the aggression and impulsivity that I pray he would be released from.

I have seen the Lord work miracles. I have seen babies live who were said to have no chance. I have seen cancer disappear when the doctors have no medical explanation. Yes, He is in the business of miracles and He is able. So I reach out to Him, to touch the hem of His robe, to ask for healing. Maybe one day He will answer “Your faith has healed your son. Go in peace.”

I have great faith in a great God, but I also have faith that He is sovereign and that He may not have plans to heal my son. It takes an equal amount of faith to trust that God is capable of healing, as it does to trust that He is sovereign and may withhold healing for a greater purpose that we may never understand this side of heaven.

Until the Lord lays it on my heart to quit asking, I will plead for healing on behalf of my son. If I could just touch the hem of His robe. I know you are able, Lord. Please, I ask for healing. I will also not stop trusting that the Lord knows best and that His ways are perfect. I find myself in the in-between; between desperation and dependency, fear and faith, helplessness and hopefulness, tears and trust.

If you find yourself in the in-between, just like me, remember these things: Our prayers do not fall before an unable God or an empty throne. He hears you, so ask. Our prayers do not fall before a limited God. He is able, so trust. Our prayers fall before an all mighty, all powerful, all knowing God. He is sovereign, so have faith.  Have faith even if it means trading your hopes for His perfect plan.

On those days that you are weary from the fight, remember that the Lord is close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18). When days come that you wish so badly you could hold on to for forever just to see them disappear, remember that His ways are higher than ours and that He is not a God of mistakes (Isaiah 55:8-9). We must have faith enough to touch the hem of His robe and faith enough to trust if He responds with a “not now” or a “not ever”. If you are praying for the healing of a loved one, I’m sending you a hug. You are not alone.

 

 

Uncertainties

There are many uncertainties when it comes to Autism. What is the cause? Is it something I did? Will there ever be a cure? Will my child receive the help he/she needs in order to be successful? Will my child be made fun of at school? Does my child know how much I love him/her? What would my child tell me if he/she could talk? What’s going on inside that little mind? What does his/her future hold? The list could go on and on and on.

With all these uncertainties it is so very easy for me as a parent to become completely overwhelmed by the What Ifs, What Wills, and Why Nots (the “three evil Ws”).  I let these uncertainties rise up in me until my heart feels as though it’s drowning.

There was one particularly hard day that I had had enough. I felt defeated by Autism and the “three evil Ws”. It wasn’t that Ezra was having an incredibly hard day, he was actually having a rather good day. But I have come to realize that just as my special needs child has those “bad days”, so do I. There are times where I just sit back and watch him and the uncertainties flood my mind; setting myself up for heartache and worry.  This day was no exception and I felt helpless.

So, I decided that instead of dwelling on all the uncertainties that Autism entails, I would make a list of certainties; the things I know without a doubt are true despite the grip that this syndrome has on my little boy.

What I am certain of:

-God has a purpose for my child and He will accomplish that purpose in spite of any syndrome or disorder my child may have.

- The Lord chose me to be the parent of my child. So, despite the fact that I may feel inadequate at times, I AM the perfect person for the job…the Lord chose me especially for my child!

-This is not our home. As a Christian, I know that one day we will trade in these earthly bodies for perfect ones. What a glorious day to see my sweet child and listen to him sing WORDS of praise to the Lord.

- The Lord will provide. The Lord will provide exactly what my child needs to accomplish his God-given purpose. We may or may not be able to afford the best of the best treatment or be able to go to every kind of therapy/program offered but the Lord will provide what we need in order to accomplish His special purpose for my child.

-God loves my child with a love far greater than I could ever comprehend. How much more must his heart break for my child and his frustrations and how much more must he rejoice with each triumph.

-The Lord never promised me “easy”. He did, however, promise that He will never give me more than I can handle. I must learn to lean on Him for strength.

- God is in control. He is on His throne. Nothing comes as a surprise to Him. He’s got this!

Such peace fills my heart when I remind myself of such certainties! I am so thankful for the peace of knowing that the Lord, my Heavenly Father, is in control!

Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”