When the dream doesn’t match the diagnosis

Jesus healed her

This past weekend I had the incredible blessing of serving at an event that is very dear to my heart. This amazing event pampered 140 moms and wives whose lives have been transformed by either a special needs child or a special needs husband. These women were served an eloquent lunch, and then offered services such as massages, makeup, hair and nails, all in an attempt to celebrate these incredible women by giving them a day where they were the ones being served, pampered and loved on.

When a friend suggested that I attend this event I immediately knew God was calling me to serve at it instead. It’s true I do have a son with special needs and it would have been nice to be on the receiving end of a little pampering but I don’t think I could have made the amazing connections with these spectacular women had I been on the other end of it. When I inquired about serving I wasn’t sure what I’d be doing or how I’d be able to give of my time. I’m not very good at doing makeup so I surely wouldn’t want to send these woman home looking like they just left clown class. I am way better at doing my own hair than I am at doing other people’s hair. In fact, My daughter actually says she feels like she’s going to throw up every time I do her hair. I didn’t want to put that to the test to see if this is an isolated incident or if I could possibly make others feel the urge to hurl by simply touching their hair. I am no masseuse so that was out of the questions. However, I have always enjoyed doing my own nails and felt I could offer this service so I packed up all my nail accessories and prayed God would shower me with His favor as I decorated the nails of His precious daughters.

As these women walked up and we began to talk they seemed eager to share their stories, show their pictures and welcome me into their lives. I talked about my own son who has special needs and that seemed to somehow relax them as they realized I understood their struggles, fears, and doubts. As I did life with these women for the next few hours a theme began to emerge. One that I knew very well. One that I had struggled with just years prior. One that still tries to creep its way into my thoughts every now and then.  Each woman in her own way expressed her deep sorrow over broken dreams.

Luke 13:10-13 Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, Woman, you are freed from your disability.” 13 And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God.

The gospel according to Luke tells us the parable about a crippled woman in the synagogue who was healed by Jesus on the Sabbath. There are a few things about this text that I find very interesting and strikingly similar to the emotions that these women were expressing to me on Saturday. First, it says that this crippled woman was bent over and unable to straighten up and had been this way for 18 years. Can you imagine walking around every day seeing nothing but the dirt? Not being able to see the faces of those you so badly desire to connect with. While the text doesn’t specifically talk about the hopelessness of this woman one can only assume it was there. Not being able to lift your eyes up to the heavens surely must have ushered a ton of negative thoughts into her mind. After all, all she could see was dirt. Secondly, Jesus desired to free this woman from all that held her down. He didn’t ask for anything in return or tell her she needed to do this or that in order to receive His healing. His love for her is what drove him to heal her.

When we allow ourselves to focus on the dirt in our lives, our eyes become fixated on the battle instead of on the blessing. We see all that is wrong and broken but struggle to see what is standing right before us inviting us to straighten up and offer praise unto the Lord. Each of the women that I spoke to in one way or another mentioned that one of the hardest things for them was letting go of their dreams. The dream of having a perfect family, the perfect husband and perfect kids. The one that says 2.5 kids is “the norm” and if you have a white picket fence to go along with that handsome husband and beautiful healthy babies then you’ve somehow accomplished success in your life. But then you hear those unexpected words. That ugly diagnosis that just doesn’t fit into your dream.

Autism.

Downs.

Spina bifida.

To name just a few. Suddenly all the dreams you had for your child have shifted and your biggest concerns are now wrapped around getting through the next medical procedure, introducing new medications, or worrying about how you’ll be able to afford to properly care for a child with special needs. I have been there my sweet, sweet friend. I had to mourn all the dreams I had for my son. I had big dreams for him but that’s just it, they were my dreams for him. He doesn’t care about any of the things that I once thought he’d accomplish. Being a doctor, a lawyer or the next captain of the Detroit Red Wings. He actually doesn’t like doctors very much, and the first and only time I took him to a Red Wings game he cried because it was too loud and begged me to leave the game with a tied score in the 3rd period. Insert pity here!

I spent the first 13 years of my son’s life trying to get him to fit the mold of what society said he should be. I parented him according to how I thought he should be and not according to who he actually was. The most beautiful thing happened when I buried my dreams for him; suddenly I began to see his dreams shine through. I had unintentionally and unknowingly been smothering his dreams by trying to get him to be the son I thought he should be. There was love behind my motives but it gave way to disastrous results. I saw more meltdowns, we had more arguments, and I began to avoid certain social situations because I felt judged and embarrassed. While other parents were reporting the milestones of their children I was struggling to understand daily meltdowns, temper tantrums and his socially awkward behavior.

Years ago I took my kids to a work picnic where a bike was being raffled off. Boy did my son want that bike. He had no concept of how many other boys wanted that same bike so when the ticket was pulled and the number read and it wasn’t his, he threw himself down on the ground began crying uncontrollably and kicking anything or anyone that came within reach. I was mortified as I watched my co-workers stare. I knew what they were thinking. Because they were thinking the same things I used to think when I saw an “out of control” child in public.

“Control you child”

“My child would NEVER behavior like that and get away with it”

“Isn’t he too old to be having temper tantrums?”

“What a spoiled brat”

“you just need to give him one good A@@ whipping, that would straighten him out”

What I didn’t know at the time was that my son had trouble processing information and that all I needed to do was walk him through the situation in detail which would usually prevent a meltdown. He needed to know what to expect, he needed to know that there was a possibility he might not win this bike he so desperately wanted. I also had no idea that being at a picnic with a hundred other people over stimulated him in ways he couldn’t manage on his own. I didn’t know that getting to know my son would teach me how to be a better parent. Because regardless of what I may have thought standing over him while he is  having a “stimulation overload” saying “get up and stop misbehaving” is never going to bring about the results I was hoping for.

I don’t have it all figured out. I still see meltdowns and as a matter of fact my son had one yesterday that was so severe I had to skip church. But through all of this the one thing I can say is that I am no longer standing with my eyes fixed on the dirt. Jesus called me forward and said, “Woman, your are freed from your disability.” By the way, that boy who melted down yesterday told me something this morning that made my heart dance. Last night he prayed that he’d wake up in time to wish me a happy birthday before I left for work. I am blessed to have two of the greatest kids ever made and to think of what I would have missed out on if I would have continued to force them into molds they were never meant to fit into.

To all of you, amazing women and men who have been blessed to raise these extraordinary children keep your eyes on fixed on Him the only one who can see things as they should be, not as they are. Hand your precious child over to Him whose love is all encompassing, transcending, and everlasting and allow His hand to guide you, His light to guide your steps and His truth to free you from whatever keeps your eyes fixed on the dirt.

Your turn

Are you a parent of a child with special needs? If so, I’d love to hear your story. Have you been fixing your eyes on the dirt instead of the designer? I invite you to pull up a chair at my table so we can dance through the storm together.

The devil is no match for my Jesus

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Psalm 46:1-3 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging

Learning to accept God’s love, I mean really accept it was probably the most difficult thing I’ve done thus far. I know in all my intellect that God’s love is immeasurable, never-ending, and all-encompassing but how do you teach someone to receive love, especially a love so divine. There isn’t just one simple answer, it actually took years for me to be able to stop running away from God in all my shame.  To learn to face Him instead of covering my face from Him. I needed to stand before Him in all my brokenness, head hung, teary eyed, and open-hearted and allow Him to do the work that needed to be done. No matter how painful, how uncomfortable or how much I desired to stay in the safety of my deceits.
I had been in a dance with the devil for so long believing in the lies he had whisper into my life. “No one could ever love you, you can’t even love you.”
“You’ll never be anything more than a screw-up.”  “How can you possibly think that God could use a broken mess like you?”
I’m wiser now and those lies no longer poison my thoughts but to say I am free from the torment of the devil would be to say I am no longer growing spiritually. With every step, stride, and sprint I take towards God I am up against the one who hates my soul. The one who will lie, scheme and deceive in order to knock me off course. But I have my eye on the prize. I can see the finish line.  And I know that my reward is waiting for me on the other side.
It’s true that this life will bring pain. We will cry both tears of joy and tears of sorrow. We will lose people we love, relationships will fall apart and disappointments will threaten to weaken us. Broken dreams and broken hearts will walk hand and hand but as gloomy as that all sounds we have hope. We have a savior. We have Jesus fighting and interceding on our behalf. We have God’s word to guide our steps, mend our hearts, and heal our wounds. We’ve been given the greatest gift ever given…salvation. All we need to do is accept it.  Open it up and put on the cloak of righteousness, adorn ourselves in His glory, and allow His light to shine through us. I have seen the light of Jesus make a single tear sparkle brighter than a diamond.

 I was a rough weekend at my house, every little thing sent Clinton into a rapidly descending spiral. Words were thrown from his mouth like daggers to my soul. Tears soaked the front of his shirt as he sat outside hiding his head in his hands. I stood in the kitchen continuing to wash the dishes, I think I probably washed the same glass for 10 minutes as I broke my heart open before God.

Help me, father! Give me the words to speak life into this situation, grace me with enough mercy to walk into the battlefield and end this war.

 God in all His faithfulness will always answer a plea for help. I knew in that moment if I reacted to my son’s behavior I’d soon be in my own downward spiral. I needed divine guidance, the Holy Spirit needed to take over because my flesh was raging with ugliness.  God allowed me just a momentary glimpse into the despair my son was feeling and gave me the exact words to speak to him in that moment.

21 days closer to God

 A few months ago I felt led to fast for 21 days. In the days leading up to this fast I was given 21 words by God; one word that I was to focus on each day. During this time of fasting God brought a cleansing to my home. Peace suddenly replaced chaos as I purged things from my life that didn’t glorify God. One of the many amazing testimonies that came out of this was is the deliverance of my son. A spirit of anger had attached itself to him for many years. At a moment’s notice, he could become so enraged that on more than one occasion the police were called to calm him down. He would shout obscenities against me and God. I’d begin praying and quoting scripture over the situation and a peace would grab a hold of him as he’d beg for forgiveness. This was a cycle that has been playing out in our home for many years, and I knew it was time to put an end to it once and for all.

Suddenly we were are able to discuss God’s word without him being thrown into a tantrum and Clinton has even been to church with me a handful of times. For those of you who are unaware, prior to this, my son would have seizures every time he came to church with me, they would typically last the entire duration of the service and would leave him feeling very weak and nauseous. My son does not have epilepsy but doctors were never able to give us a definitive reason for the seizures my son was enduring. We tried medication, therapy, we even tried changing his diet and eliminating stressors in his life, always with little or no success.

BUT GOD!!!!

As I stood pretending to wash the dishes the Lord spoke to me and said
“Go tell Clinton that making one mistake does not undo the progress he has made”
I knew this was from God because as I was scrubbing the glass and gazing out the window I caught myself thinking how all the progress he had made over the past few months had suddenly just evaporated right before my eyes. I did as I was instructed and stepped outside.

one mistake does not undo the process you have made, it’s just one mistake. I make mistakes every day and I’d still loved, and treasured by God. Don’t allow the lies of the enemy to tell you anything other than that. God may be placing a conviction upon your heart, one that he wants you to heed to, and one that will lead down the road to repentance but He is not condemning you. Seek forgiveness and then forgive yourself.

When he lifted his head from his hands and looked at me I knew without words being spoken that Clinton and I along with the Lord, had just been able to put a stop to the nasty devil and his attempt to make Clinton believe that all of his hard work had just been undone in a matter of seconds. I am so thankful that on this day I was able to push hard into the Lord and allow Him to direct my steps. So often I react instead of responding to a situation at hand. When I react I speak and behave using my emotions, however, when I take the time to respond I am able to respond in a way that is spirit led.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” John 10:10 (ESV)

While I know that we will most likely still endure our share of meltdowns, I also know that it is no accident that I was chosen to be Clinton’s mom. I was selected for this mission, and it is one that I cherish with my whole heart. I have learned more from being his mom than I could have ever learned in a classroom. So when I walk across that stage in just a few short months and receive my degree in Social Work I know that all of those battles we so painfully endured way have been transformed into beautiful blessings.

Joy comes in the morning

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Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12 (NIV)

Today my heart is captured in an astounding dance of worship. Nothing amazingly fantastic happened today. In fact, I woke up late and missed my morning workout. My son was not happy this morning and a mini meltdown began to ensue, (I still can’t understand why he insists on getting up at 5:45 am). My daughter’s door slammed shut in an attempt of letting us all know how displeased she was with her brother’s attitude.

If happiness was what I was seeking, circumstances would have made this pursuit impossible. I would have begun barking orders at my children insisting that they pull themselves together as I was quickly becoming unraveled. I may have gone into my office and slammed the door getting the attention of both my kids because nothing says “moms mad” like a slamming office door. Isn’t it silly to base our emotions on the behaviors of others? Yet, we do that so often. We say things like “he made me so mad” or “I was happy until she…” When we look to others to make us happy, to validate us, or to define us we always end up disappointed. Maybe instead of going on a pursuit for happiness we should embark on a journey into joy.

Joy isn’t dependent on your circumstances. Joy will never be found in the opinions of others. Joy is found when we allow Jesus to shake us to the core. When we invite our savior to come in and break down walls, loosen chains, and release us from strongholds, it is there that we find Joy.

Today I’m in an astounding dance of worship because I woke up and I chose JOY.

It wasn’t easy, my flesh and my spirit began a tug-of-war one declaring defeat and the other triumph. My flesh wanted to sulk in a pity party about how hard it is to be me, but my spirit wanted to praise the Lord and declare peace, and unity in my home. So I walked into my office but instead of slamming the door, I hit my knees.

I began thanking God for the peace I wasn’t yet experiencing. I praised Him for the words of wisdom He was going to give me and then I suited up in the armor of God and headed for the battlefield.

Moments later my son was calm and my daughter was apologizing and asking me to braid her hair before she left for school. Peace was flowing through my house and the praise and prayers that had just left my lips were now sinking deep into the walls that surrounded us. Almost as if a protective shield had been placed on my family.

Happiness is a temporary sensation to an immediate situation, but JOY can be experienced wherever you stand today.

Love is…not how I responded

humility

Love is patient, love is kind. it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 (NIV)

My alarm goes off every morning at 5am; on most mornings I am coherent enough to jump out of bed, lace up my sneakers and start the day with some kickboxing. That was not the case this morning. In fact that hasn’t been the case all week. So when my son came running into my room this morning to tell me his exciting news (what could be that exciting at 5:15 in the morning and why on earth is he even up and so chipper?) I greeted him with a short temper and explosive anger. I had 30 more minutes before I needed to get up and make sure my daughter was up and moving around and I had planned to savor each tiny morsel of those minutes.

As I began to speak to him in less than hushed tones, I listened as the excitement in his voice and enthusiasm of his actions quickly faded. He left the room and I began to think about how selfish his actions had been and the more I fed that thought the more I attempted to justify my actions.

I decided to take my complaints to God, maybe I was looking for a “you go girl” response. Maybe I was looking for a “what was he thinking barging in your room in the wee hours of the morning” but what I got was far more humbling.

Picking up my bible I sat down and began pouring out my heart to God. I told him how weary I had felt lately and how this was just the last straw. I asked how I could make my son understand how “self-seeking” his action had been. Before I got out another word God reminded me of the many times I had woken up in the middle of the night this past week asking him to bless my dreams. He reminded me that as I sat there seeking him it was only 5:30 in the morning. The point he was making was crystal clear and I suddenly felt a huge “God sized” conviction on my heart.

God was showing me that as my Father He is available to me at all times. He delights with me even over the small things. He has sat with me for days straight as I cried uncontrollably. He carried me when the demands of parenting a special needs child were too much to bear. He has been there for me whenever I needed him and he gave me exactly what I needed in that moment.

I on the other hand had done the exact opposite. My reasons for seeking God in that moment, and most of my previous moments, were “self-seeking”. As His words began to crystalize in mind so did my desire to seek my son’s forgiveness.

therefore, if you are offering your gift at the alter and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the alter. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5-23-24 (NIV)

I explained to my son how selfish I had been and how I was sorry that I didn’t choose to share in his excitement. I thanked him for wanting to share his news with me and told him I would be delighted to hear what he had to say. He perked up and began rattling off his news in warp speed.

My son may have a multitude of special needs that keep him from doing certain things. He isn’t always able to contain his bubbling excitement and he has some disabilities that bring about judgment and ridicule from others but the one thing my son does unlike anyone I have ever met is…FORGIVE!

Is there anything in your life that God may be asking you to resolve with another? If so don’t wait a single second more, write that letter, make that phone call, or send that email but make the effort to ask for forgiveness and then sit back and watch God move mightily in your situation.

Peace saved my son’s life ~ part three

glory road

With the sweet melody “IT’S A MIRACLE” still playing in my heart and (in utero) fetal surgery still in its beginning phase, we scheduled my son’s first operation. I had never even had as much as a stitch in my life and now I was heading into the hospital to be prepped for surgery the next morning. I was nervous yet hopefully.

It was discovered that my son had an obstruction in his urethra that was hindering his ability to pass urine. Maybe you all already know this but I had no idea, that the amount of amniotic fluid depended on the baby’s ability to urinate. The baby drinks in the amniotic fluid and then recycles it back out. The problem was that my son was not able to void, so each week leading up to the surgery they would manually drain his bladder with a huge syringe like needle and then they would fill my womb with artificial amniotic fluid. It appeared that he was very appreciative of this because every time they’d fill my womb with the fluid he’d kick, squirm and stretch in ways he hadn’t done before.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18 NIV)

The surgery would be done through a tiny incision in my stomach, a scar I wear proudly today. A laser would then be used to remove the obstruction in my son’s urethra. Only, my son had other plans. Apparently he didn’t like the laser and although we were both put under anesthesia during this operation, he seemed to move in the opposite direction of the laser each time. Making it impossible for them to stick to their plan A. After several attempts and a scar in the shape of a lightning bolt that we’d discover at his birth, plan B was put into play. They inserted a shunt into my son’s bladder that would allow the bladder to be emptied through this tiny coiled object that was sticking out of his side. There was a risk that he would pull this out and then a re-implantation would be necessary to replace it. There was also an increased risk of my water breaking prematurely due to the invasiveness and frequency of these pokes. Risks worth taking.

Finding treasure in each trial

My pregnancy would be monitored very closely which resulted in an ongoing weekly appointment for an ultrasound. This appointment soon became the highlight of my weeks as I was able to get a sneak peak into the personality of my son. On a number of occasions he’d be relaxing with his little hand resting on his head; a pose you can see he would continue to strike even after birth

clinton-1revised

Other times he’d be doing back flips like a well trained acrobat. He’d push back every time the ultrasound tech would push too hard. I laughed at the thought of how strong willed he was.

Then there where those moments when he’d need immediate care, so another needle would be pushed through my stomach into the womb to drain a pocket of fluid that collected in his left kidney. This kidney was no longer functioning and was most likely related to another condition he had been diagnosed with called  Prune Belly Syndrome .

According to WebMD Prune-Belly syndrome, also known as Eagle-Barrett syndrome, is a rare disorder characterized by partial or complete absence of the stomach (abdominal) muscles, failure of both testes to descend into the scrotum (bilateral cryptorchidism), and/or urinary tract malformations.

My son had already been through so much and he hadn’t even taken his first breathe outside of the womb. He had proven to be an overcomer, a fighter and a warrior and he didn’t even have a name.

The finish line

In October of 1996 I was placed on bed rest in the hospital for the remainder of my pregnancy. My son would be born on November 19, 1996 after 28 straight days of being in the hospital. He was born on a Tuesday night at 10:11pm and weighted in at 5lbs 90z. He was small, wrinkled and had a full head of thick dark hair. Hours after he was born he was transported to Children’s Hospital in Detroit Michigan where he would spend the first month of his life winning the hearts of the staff in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

clinton-2revised

He would hit some pretty rough patches during his first month. The shunt was removed and a procedure would bring his bladder to the surface of his stomach and a hole would be made in his stomach to allow the urine to be easily drained using a catheter.

I spent every day in the NICU cuddling, feeding and loving this precious baby. When I couldn’t be there he had a team of nurses and doctors who knew his story and had fallen in love with him. They promised to take good care of him when I couldn’t.

God’s promise

God’s promise had been brought to fruition. My baby was born and while he still had a long way to go and a number of surgeries to overcome he was stable enough to come home just in time to celebrate Christmas 1996.

Later Christmas night a fever would spike in my son and an emergency trip to the hospital would reveal an infection in his bladder.

When my son was 18 months old his kidney would be removed along with the massive amount of loose skin on his abdomen due to his lack of muscularity. Doctors suspected that, due to the severity of this operation, my son would need to learn to sit, crawl and walk all over again.

Again the strong willed nature of this child left the doctors amazed when he walked just 10 days after the operation that left a scar from his sternum to his pelvis. He ran a few days after that and has been running full force ever since.

The chronic conditions my son was born with would pale in comparison to what would be revealed years later. I would soon discover that the disabilities not seen by the naked eye would form the broken road that led me into the arms of my heavenly father.

 

Take away

God doesn’t always wrap our gifts with a bow. Sometimes the gift that he is giving us comes to us through grieving. Many times the blessing is hidden within the battle. All too often it is through a trial that the true treasure is revealed.

I am just an ordinary mom but I have been entrusted with an extraordinary mission.

Go deeper

Romans 8:18 states “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

What is the glory that Paul is referring to in this verse?

Why must we suffer in this life and what does it mean to suffer well?

 

 

 

 

 

Peace saved my son’s life ~ part two

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I sat in the waiting room of the doctors office on that hot August day and rehearsed my line “I have decided that I’m NOT having an abortion”as if there were a possibility those words would slip my mind and the utterance of their replacement would then become my destiny.

Days prior I had been given a list of reasons why this baby had no chance of survival. One by one I listened as I painfully fought back tears.

  • “He has a broken neck” at which time the ultrasound reveled the truth that my baby was bent in half backwards and his head was resting on his butt.
  • “His spine is contorted and curved so severely that correction would be impossible.”
  • “there is an absence of amniotic fluid which has likely caused major facial deformities and it looks as if he has club foot.”
  • His bladder had been so full that it actually exploded (which we would later learn saved his kidney)

“We can’t tell you what to do but, we strongly suggest, for your own health, that you consider aborting this pregnancy.”

Three of the sweetest words every spoken

I won’t lie and say that this decision was easy, because it wasn’t. I can’t say that thoughts of compromising my health didn’t invade my brain because they often did, but as quickly as they came they were gone. I didn’t know it at the time but I was in a spiritual tug-of-war for the life of this baby.

We have all heard stories about those amazingly courageous women who postpone going through chemotherapy while pregnant because they have a deeply imbedded need to protect the life of their unborn child. That wasn’t me. I wanted it to be me, but it just wasn’t.

God filled me with peace and the little nugget of knowledge that this child would be born (click here to read part one) and that was the only thing I was holding on to. That peace gave me the hope I needed. That peace gave me the answer I sought. That peace would walk me though some very dark days.

The time had come for me to speak those words. It was time for me to tell this team of doctors that while I appreciated their concern and medical opinion I was going to go against their advice and attempt to carry this baby to term.

I don’t remember exactly how these words came out, but I picture it being something like this…the doctor is reading off the results of the genetic testing, and in a desperate attempt to make my stance known, I interrupt him with an almost incoherent

“I’m not aborting my baby”

Maybe it didn’t happen that way, but my mind was racing at that moment and the exact details have somehow gotten lost in a sea of medical terminology that was swirling around in my head.

Regardless of how those words were spoken, I do remember them asking me if I had considered all the risks. When I answered “yes”, they ushered me out of the consultation room into a much smaller and darker room where they proceeded to squeeze the cold gel out onto my stomach in an attempt to peer inside my womb.

The movement of the wand was quicker and more purposeful than I had remember the last ultrasound being. The screen had been turned away from me which made it impossible to see what was happening.

“Is everything okay?” I asked not really wanting to hear her answer

“Is everything okay?” I said again still not getting a response.

With a dash of assertiveness and a pinch of you had better answer me in my voice I said

“IS EVERYTHING OKAY?”

“I’ll be right back” she said in a rushed voice and then quickly stepped out of the room. Seconds later the room was wall to wall full of doctors. All of them glaring at the screen and each taking a turn moving the wand across my stomach to get a better look. Finally, after what seemed like hours, one of the doctors spoke…

“What did you do to the baby that was in here?”

What did he mean what did I do? Does he think I hurt this baby? Was the baby gone? Is the baby dead?

It’s truly amazing how many things your brain can think of in a matter of seconds. I opened my mouth to speak but it was as if no words could be formed.

Then he spoke three of the sweetest words I had ever heard…

IT’S A MIRACLE

The doctors said that the baby they had seen just three days prior had no chance of survival. But today there was hope. His neck was not broken, his spine was straight and there was no more evidence of club foot.

I don’t know the exact moment that God healed my baby, but I do know that if it weren’t for the peace He placed within me that day, I never would have had the strength to make the decision to keep this baby.

As the doctor’s turned the ultrasound screen my way I saw my baby’s hand, complete with five perfect little fingers, wave past the screen as if to say “hi mommy”. The tears I had fought back were unleashed in this moment and I knew this baby would be born.

This is just the beginning

My son had been healed of those life threatening aliments but when one door closes another always opens. This would not be the end of this journey, in fact it was just beginning.

There were still some medical issues that needed immediate attention. My son’s first surgery would be scheduled just a week later while his home was still my womb.

There is still so much left to the amazing story of God’s grace and redemption. I hope that you’ll join me next Saturday so we can continue on this journey together, but for now I’d like to leave you with a few things to think about.

 

Take-a-ways

  1. God is so much bigger than our burdens and he can do far more than we can ever even imagine he could do, and he does it out of love.  Go deeper into this truth by reading Epesians 3:20
  2. God specializes in seeing what we never knew existed. He sees us through eyes of grace and love and he looks at us as we could be not as we are. Go deeper into this truth by reading Psalm 139:13-16

Challenge

Allow God to introduce you to a hidden talent that he has placed within you and then work to use that talent for his glory. Ask God to reveal to you what he loves about a person in your life that you are struggling with and then learn to love them in the same way.

How has God been working in your life lately? Lets give him the glory and shout his praises.

 

 

 

The peace that saved my son’s life

trainhimup

My experience as a parent spans across 18 years. During those 18 years I have used the word “no” more times than I can count and I’ve made mistakes that far exceed that number.

You can read books, blogs and even brochures (do they have baby brochures? Probably not but for the sake of the B theme we’ll say they do) but nothing can prepare you for that moment. The moment when you experience something that wasn’t covered in the stacks of literature you memorized hoping it would make you a good mom or at the very least an educated one.

I have an 18 year old son and a 15 year old daughter and being their mom has taught me some amazing lessons. Some of these lessons included tears, on my part and on theirs. While other lessons helped to form me into the woman I am today.  But through all the tears, laughter, love and hugs I wouldn’t change a single moment.

Back in April of 1996, I stood in the dimly lit corner of my kitchen, in my one bedroom apartment, as I attempted to recover from the shock of just discovering I was pregnant. After taking multiple pregnancy tests and trying to convince myself that I must have bought a batch of defective tests, I finally gave in to the fact that I was indeed pregnant. Not knowing what else to do, I shot up a promise to God. A promise that would test and push me to the limits, I never knew existed, on a daily basis.

I promise to be the best mother I know how to be for this child

I figured that meant changing his diaper when it needed changing, feeding him in the wee hours of the morning and even patiently consoling him when he cried for no apparent reason. But as I would soon learn it would take much more than that to keep the promise I made that night.

Real raw emotion

I had prayed and made a promise to God back in 1996 and I feel I should clarify that back then I had a “what can you do for me” attitude towards God. I prayed, but only when life was hard. I promised, but only when I found myself in another situation that I viewed as undesirable.

At the age of 22 I was immature, I was in an unhealthy relationship, had no job and was a high school drop-out. So having a baby or even being able to raise a child was not something I had on the top of my to-do-list.

I didn’t want to be pregnant, I had no desire at this point in my life to be a mother. My mind immediately went to the things I was going to need to give up, like smoking, drinking, and every other selfish behavior I had adapted to over the course of my 22 years.

I was angry and blamed the world for all that was wrong in my life. I took zero responsibility for the things going on around me. I honestly believed that all my problems were created by other people, yet here I was ready to become a mother. What kind of mother could I be when I didn’t even celebrate the fact that the miracle of life was growing inside me?

God has a way of making you want those things you never knew you wanted

I heard that statement while watching the nightly news one night. I was half paying attention and can’t even remember who actually said it, but God must have known I was going to need that truth because I tucked it away in my heart. A few short weeks later I would need to cling to that truth as I listened to doctors tell me they had no idea what was wrong with my baby but they were certain he had no chance of survival.

Suddenly I was faced with a decision to make.

Try to carry this baby to term or take the advice of the doctors and get an abortion?

Peace saved the life of my son

I left the hospital that day with those words ringing in my ears and piercing my soul. Just a few weeks prior I had not even wanted this baby, but now I was drowning in feelings of deep sorrow at the thought of losing him.

When I got home I picked up the phone, I needed to talk to someone.

I called my sister, no answer!

I called my aunt, no answer!

I needed someone else to make this decision for me, I was too weak, too immature, and too selfish to make it alone.

So I turned to the one I knew would be there, would he hear me or even listen to me after all I had been feeling and thinking in the days that led up to this moment? I had no idea but I was desperate and needed guidance.

God, if this baby is in pain please tell him it’s okay to let go. I will always be his mommy and I will always love him but I know he isn’t mine. I give him back to you.

As soon as those words came out of my mouth an unmistakable sense of peace washed over me and I knew that this baby would be born.

God didn’t give me all the details in that moment. He didn’t show me shiny glimpses into the life that was waiting up ahead. He didn’t tell me everything was going to be okay. He simply told me that this baby would be born. But somehow that was enough for me.

I leaned hard on that promise from God as I made my way back to those doctors three days later to reveal my decision to carry this baby to term.

I am going to stop here for today. I am going to continue this series until I catch up to the present moment at which time this blog will be dedicated to encouraging those struggling with the daunting, yet rewarding privilege of raising children with special needs. This isn’t going to be a sounding board where I vent my current frustrations, instead this will be a blog that will inspire, encourage and teach others how to find God in the midst of adversity and every place in between.

For now I’d like to leave you with a few take-a-ways and a little challenge.

Lessons

  1. God has a way of taking what you thought you didn’t want and turning it into something you couldn’t imagine living without. I found this out the hard way as I’m sure many of you have. So I encourage you to take inventory in your life today. Look for those things that seem to be burdens because God may just be turning them into blessings
  2. Getting advice from family and friends is great but often times God is calling us to bring the situation to him first. Had I talked to my family before God that day I don’t know what the outcome would have been. Neither of them would have purposely given me the wrong advice, but looking at the situation from a human perspective seemed dismal and hopeless. The kingdom of God takes what is broken and makes it beautiful. He takes what is last and makes it first. The weak become strong, the sick become healed and the blind are given sight. Maybe there is a situation you’re seeking council on today. I invite you to lay it down before God because his ways far exceed anything we can even fathom.

challenge

Look at your life today and challenge yourself to see the hand of God at work in everything. It’s easy to see his hand in the face of precious baby or in the beautiful sunrise or amid the colors painted across a morning sky. It’s easy to hear his plan in the songs of the birds, or in the beautiful lyrics of your favorite song. Today I challenge you to see the hand of God in your tears, in your broken heart, or your unfulfilled dreams. Look for him in the loss of a loved one or that diagnosis you weren’t expecting.

Believe me he is there just waiting with open arms for his children to come running. Allow him to scoop you up into his loving arms and walk with you through those dark moments.

You may even begin to notice that dark moment take on an entirely different form once you shine the light on it.

I thank God for each and everyone of you and I pray that he would be revealed in a big way in your life today. That you would see Him working all things together for your good.

 

 

 

 

 

Wrecked by a whisper

quiet before God

One week post #Shespeaks15 conference and ideas are still swirling around aimlessly in my head. Feelings are beginning to push their way to the surface in spite of my attempt to cover them up with my favorite comfort foods. Questions about my ability and effectiveness as a writer keeps me from putting my pen to paper.

What is it all for? I asked, hoping to establish a mutual rhetoric with God.

But Silence rings loudly in my ears.

My eyes peer into the souls of others hoping a word of encouragement is awakened within them; one that breathes life back into my quickly suffocating passion and purpose.

But still nothing.

It was only a few hours into the conference when I distinctly knew that God was calling me to NOT pitch my book. I don’t know why God calls us to things we don’t understand, but I do know that his ways have always proven to be far greater than mine, so I defaulted to plan B. The problem? I didn’t have a plan B.

Do I cancel my appointments with the publishers?

Do I keep the appointments and use this time to get some valuable insider tips into the world of publishing?

I had just spent the last month working on my one-sheet, writing a book proposal, and attempting to cram the synopsis of said book into a 30 second spiel known as an elevator pitch. I had all the logistics figured out – I was ready.

Then I was wreaked by a whisper from God.

Slowdown, this is my book, not yours. I choose to use you for reasons you don’t fully understand. This moment is not the end; it is just the beginning.

made to create

I have an inherent need to create things, so when I was told to step back from writing my God’s book, I decided I would lose myself in reviving an old desk. This was a project I had been longing to start, but due to a hectic schedule it always seemed to drift down to the bottom of my to-do-list.

With time and an open mind, I headed to the store to buy the necessary supplies needed for turning this old banged up desk into a place where inspiration would flow, creativity would flourish, and a book would flower.

Before I began this project I read up on the proper way to go about sanding down an old desk. I learned that not all sandpaper is created equal, and that the different levels of grit will give you a much different result. I must have sent out a plea for help while standing in the sandpaper aisle because the man standing next to me insisted on walking me through the tedious task of picking the proper grit. Ugh, sometimes my ideas are better left in my head.

Moving the sandpaper along the grains of the wood, pressing harder on those rough areas that needed more attention, I began to notice the desk was taking on a new form. The areas that had been scratched, chipped, and damaged were now being smoothed out. This once dilapidated desk was now becoming a marvelous masterpiece.

God uses sandpaper

I love how God can turn even the most obscure situation into a teachable moment. As I sanded the desk God began to show me how he uses different levels of grit in our lives to work out the damage we’ve incurred. Sometimes it’s necessary for him to push harder and use a more coarse approach because the damage is deep. Other times he simply wants to smooth out the rough edges which calls for a less abrasive approach. And in some circumstances it’s necessary to start with the most abrasive approach and gradually work your way down to a smoother finish. Each grit leaves behind scratches until you get down to the finest of sandpaper. At this stage the sandpaper works to smooth out the jagged edges leaving no trace of the once wounded surface.

God will meet you wherever you are, he will spend time with you in all of your brokenness, but he loves you far too much to allow you to stay there. I know firsthand that when God begins to sand away at our lives it is painful. We end up seeing things in ourselves that we’d rather keep hidden. All of those areas of selfishness, bitterness and un-forgiveness, suddenly spill over leaving behind ugly stains.

Thankfully God steps in and smooths out the surface. He washes away those crimson stains of sin and purifies us in his righteousness. He offers to us a gift that is more precious than diamonds, and dresses us in fine linens. He places a crown upon our heads and calls us His.

Come now, let’s settle this,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.” Isiah 1:18 (NLT)

I encourage you to look for the hand of God in even the most painful of situations. He’s there and he’s working, and although it doesn’t look the way you dreamt it would, it could be that you are still in the finishing stages. He is still sanding away at you, until all those rough edges have been smoothed out, so that you can go out and do what you were created to do…

Love God

And

Love People

 

Change is good

First, allow me to apologize for not being as diligent as I’ve needed to be at posting here on my blog. The truth is as much as I love writing and as loudly as my soul sings from pairing together words to form a sentence, I actually do it for you. I write to encourage, teach and guide others in finding their true identities. So please forgive me if I have ever made this “all about me”.

I really just wanted to make you all aware of a few changes that are happening here at Daughter of the King. After much debate and a little council, Daughter of the King is scheduled to receive a facelift. There will be a recovery period of a few weeks as she adjusts to her new look.

Please feel free to connect with me on any of my other social media sites, as always I’d love to meet and talk with you.

Click here to see what I’ve been working on and why I’m super excited to share it with all of you

Wholly His,

Michelle

 

When the present doesn’t look like the promise

jeremiah

I have been struggling to sit in front of my computer and write for some time. Every time I do have a moment to write or Inspiration stampedes into my brain, I end up sitting here doubting every letter that my fingers jump to.

Am I getting my point across in what I’m writing?

Did I put the comma in the right place?

Am I just fooling myself into believing that anyone even wants to read what I have to say?

Have you been there?

Maybe you’re not a writer but chances are there is something in your life that you are covering with fear, marinating in doubt, and then serving to yourself with a side of failure. But it is my hope that after you read this post things will change and you’ll be able to finally step out of fear and self-doubt and step into your new identity.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11 has been suggested to be the most misused verse in the bible. When I read that, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. How can having God’s promise of a future be misunderstood?

God began to flood my mind with all the ways I have misinterpreted this verse in my life and that is when I decided I would share it with all of you.

About a year ago God placed a calling on my life

“write a book”

that was it, that was all I got.

What should I write about? Where should I start? I had a multitude of questions that weren’t answered. So I waited, and waited and waited some more. But the longer I waited for the answers the more discouraged I became.

I assumed that with the call would come a supernatural anointing that would allow me to sit at my computer and pour God’s will for my life out onto paper. But the exact opposite happened. I sat at my computer and nothing happened. I’d write but I knew these were my words and not His words so I’d hit delete. This had been the process until recently.

I decided that since I couldn’t write anything that I felt was spirit led, I’d stop writing and instead I would present my concerns to God in prayer.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God

Philippians 4:6 (NIV) became the mantra for my life. I began to talk to God about his plans for me to write this book. I asked him to bring people into my life who could guide, and  encourage me. I asked him for the title of the book, I asked him for the content of the introduction, for chapter titles, subtitles and every thing in between. To my amazement, during prayer God poured into me, one word at a time.

Not only am I learning about the patience and diligence that goes into writing a book, I am also learning the valuable lesson of trust. You see, God hasn’t revealed to me the whole book, he actually only gives me one chapter at a time. I know when the previous chapter is done when he shows me what the next chapter will be.

This is the exact opposite of how I live my life. I like knowing what is going to happen, I make plans all day long, although, most of them don’t ever manifest into reality. This book has been the biggest learning experience for me because I don’t know what is coming next. I only know what I’m being called to write today. I don’t know if my book will be picked up by a publisher, or if 10 people or 10 million people will read it. The one thing I do know, is that, I was chosen to write this, to share God’s heart for his daughters and to encourage all of you to seek and find your true identity in the powerful name of Jesus.

So if discouragement floods your thoughts today, just remember that God hasn’t given you a spirit of fear or timidity, he is the author of courage, strength and self-control. Allow the power of Christ to transform you. Leave your life behind and instead pick up your cross and follow after Jesus with everything you are and with all that you have. Lay it all down for the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

God has placed a calling and a purpose on your life!  I encourage you to take it to him in prayer, seek his will above all else  and watch all the ways he will move.