Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Grace, Joy, and His Power

God is at work. In our lives. In our family. In my own spirit. He has been stretching me personally for the past seven months, as I learn to love like he loves. It’s a work in progress, for sure. Learning to love Zach has been hard. My perspective has been clouded by my own issues—fear, pride, and selfishness. I’ve been praying for God to help me see Zach through his lenses. Lenses of Love. And last night, I was able to see Zach, for the first time, through God’s perspective.

Last night, Zach had his therapeutic horse riding lesson. Although I didn’t witness it firsthand because Todd went with him, I heard all about it and his awesome instructor took pictures and sent them to me. And pictures truly do speak a thousand words.

So here’s what happened. A boy that is the same age as Zach was there and they did their lesson together. This boy has been coming to horse therapy for a month and has been too anxious to get on the horse. But last night, Zach not only modeled courage, but he encouraged this child. He helped him. And he cheered for him. And that boy got on. The. Horse. For the first time. And rode proudly. How amazing is that?! How amazing is God?!

A couple of weeks ago at horse riding (which I did witness), a 13 year old girl was there, ending her lesson. She had a lot of anxiety about getting on the horse, too. She hung around for Zach’s lesson and after seeing Zach mount that horse with such confidence and ease, she decided to give it a try. His courage was an inspiration to her.

Through these two simple acts. God has helped me see that despite all of the “special needs” Zach has. Despite all the challenges we face on a daily basis. Despite all the fear that lies in my heart. This child he has sent us is a gift. A blessing! In just a few weeks, he has blessed two children through one simple activity. And if I can only shift my perspective, I can allow him to be a blessing to our family, too.

2 Corinthians 12:9 says “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness. So now I am glad to boast about my weakness, so that the power of Christ can work through me.”

The power of Christ truly is working through Zach in these moments. Isn’t he?

This serves as a good reminder to me to look past the trials we are facing and see the blessings in those trials. To look past my own weaknesses and limitations and remember that God’s power and grace can shine through those weaknesses!

An added bonus--I’ve been praying that Zach would meet a friend. A true friend. After the lesson last night Zach and this other child ran around and played together. The instructor has arranged for the other boy to start coming to horse therapy at the same time as Zach. I believe this just might be the beginning of a beautiful friendship! An answered prayer, perhaps.

Lord, “I praise you because [Zach] is fearfully wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well (Psalm 139:14)

Just look at this Grace. Joy. And The Power of Christ that is at work.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Truth Is...

“You are awesome.” “You are amazing.” “You’re a saint.” These are words that Todd and I hear often. People look at our family and say these things about us. To us. I’m here to ask you, “please don’t?” Please don’t say this. Please don’t even think this. Because I promise you, we are not. This is not the truth.

We are not any of these things. The truth is, we are imperfect human beings just trying to live a life God has called us to. God called us to this journey and we simply said “yes.” If anything, we are obedient. But awesome? No. Amazing? No. And certainly NOT saints!

Someone said to us recently, “Things could have been so much easier for you, but you CHOSE to do this.” The truth is, WE did not choose this. This path was nowhere to be seen in OUR plans. GOD chose this for us. For our family. We simply said “yes”. But this path has been hard. The past five months have been SO HARD. So much pain and difficulty is wrapped up in this story. We know that blessings will abound in the end. But sometimes, it’s hard to see that. Right now, we are in the trenches. Just trying to figure it out. Just trying to survive. I grow weary. Often. I forget God’s truth. And I fail. Miserably. Every day. Multiple times a day. You don’t always see it. But I fail. I am selfish. I am prideful. I am fearful. I am flawed. Just like you. I am NOT awesome. I am NOT amazing. And I am definitely NOT a saint.

I write these words not to condemn but to expose the truth. For you to think that I am a saint, makes me feel like a fraud. Because you don’t see the moments of truth. The times when I’m so tired, I can’t think straight. I lose my patience and yell at my kids. You don’t see the CONSTANT correcting and redirecting it takes to help a kid who comes from hard places so that he unlearns all the bad stuff and learns healthy and appropriate behaviors. And the times that I just. Can’t. Do it anymore! So I am not so gentle with my children. You don’t see the struggle in my heart to LOVE this little boy the way Jesus does because of my selfishness and fear. You don’t see the fear. There’s SO MUCH fear. All the “what ifs” that the Holy Spirit helped us overcome in the beginning so that we could take the leap of faith and say “yes” to this journey in the first place. That fear haunts me. Daily. Fear of the past. Fear of the unknown. Fear of what lies ahead. I’m paralyzed by this fear sometimes. The pride that I struggle with. The struggle to relinquish control to God. Because this journey is bigger than me. More than I, alone, can handle. But I just want some control in this. The selfishness that creeps into the long hours of the days because sometimes, I just want it MY way. And sometimes I just want to do what I want to do. I don’t want to sacrifice day and night. I just want some ME TIME. And when I don’t get it. I’m grumpy. And I take it out on my kids. And my husband. Constantly fighting the battle between my worldly desires and God’s eternal perspective.
This. This that you don’t see. This is the truth. It is not awesome. Not amazing. And not saintly. So, please, don’t put me on a pedestal. See me as I really am. I am Imperfect. I am flawed. I am a sinner. I am human.

And despite all of this, I am loved. No matter how much I screw up, God will always love me. And his grace can overcome all of this. And he will give me the strength to keep doing this. Every day. And in my imperfection, HE can be glorified! So, I hang on to HIS word and HIS truth every second of every day. And sometimes I forget and it’s in those moments that my humanness prevails and I fail. But the Holy Spirit ALWAYS gently reminds me of the truth and picks me back up and I start over again. And His truth sustains me so others can see the beauty in this story He is writing. Despite the hard parts. And God can be glorified!

This is the truth…

“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me-the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” (Acts 20:24)

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)

“Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:2)

“For all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:23-24)

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (1 Peter 5:10)

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

We're back...and finally coming up for air!

So, my sincerest apologies for those of you who were following our blog who are not on FaceBook because we just kind of left you hanging since we arrived in China. Internet connection issues and other technology issues left me unable to edit my blog after that first time while in China and once we got back, well...needless to say, we've been busy adjusting to our new normal. I was able to post on FB, though, so that's where I did all my updates and have updated a few times via FB, short and sweet posts, since being home. Well, we have been home for two months today and we are finally coming up for least for a second. I figured I might do a blog post with an update or two.

So life has been a little hectic. Overall we are all adjusting well. There have certainly been some challenges, but we are making it and things are better each day. We've seen many medial professionals in the past two months- from the dentist and pediatrician to a cardiologist and ophthalmologist. We discovered early on that Zach had a cataract on his left eye and was severely near-sighted in his right eye (I'm talking -10.5 prescription, which is crazy blind; I mean, I'm a -5.5 and can hardly see without my glasses), so the poor boy was basically not able to see. We have since had cataract surgery to remove the cataract (at which time a cataract was discovered on his right eye, too, but since it's not visually significant the eye doc recommends just monitoring it). We had a follow up visit two weeks ago and things were looking promising, but they won't be able to know for sure what his vision is until his next visit which is in two weeks. At that time we will get a prescription for glasses for him. We are pretty certain, based on our own, very non-medical eye tests (that is, cover your right eye and tell me how many fingers we are holding up) that he can see. Because we have no way of knowing how long the cataract has been there, there was a good chance that Zach would still not be able to see out of that eye even after the surgery because apparently the nerve that carries the signal from the eye to the brain dies when it's not used for a long time. This does not seem to be the case, as we feel very hopeful that is, in fact, able to see from his left eye! This is a huge praise to God!!

Other than this, he is a very healthy boy. We do still have a hearing test coming up to check his hearing and a sleep study that we have chosen to postpone till the summer.

Zach started school after the holidays and LOVES it. He is in fifth grade and is being well taken care of by the special education teacher at the school. We are still in the evaluation and IEP development process with the school so that we can determine the most appropriate plan for his education. I start back to work, officially seeing kids this week, too. We shall see how that goes!

We have gained so many insights into how God's hand is at work in Zach's life and how He is working through all of this. I've also gained insight as to how Satan is still trying to sabotage God's beautiful plan. I have so many blog post topics that I've started in my journal about the things we are learning that need to come to life, but I've just not had time. I do plan on sharing these insights in the near future. Please stay tuned! And please continue to keep us in your prayers because we are still in the trenches and working things out. But we have come so far from where we were two months ago and know that things are going to continue improving. Thanks for your support and prayers!!