Sunday, October 11, 2015

Thanksgiving Sunday 2015

In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
I Thessalonians 5:18

The bible tells us to give thanks in everything. The good, the bad- all of it. Quite often though it is hard to find gratitude in the everyday, mundane things of life and especially when things aren't going as smoothly as we'd like. Finding things to be thankful for in the periods of life that are a  bit rocky can be pretty difficult. I have been writing in a journal things that I am thankful for. Some of my thankfuls are a cup of hot coffee in the morning, a sunrise to wake up to, clean water to drink, a house to live in. When I stop and think of how I can be thankful, I find that any negative attitude starts to dissolve and joy refills me. I can't be angry and thankful at the same time. I can find gratitude in doing laundry because it means I have clothes to wear. I can find gratitude in cleaning up after supper because it means my family and I won't go to bed hungry. When I get thinking this way, I am reminded of how blessed I am. I have a full fridge and pantry, a home to protect me from the outside, a family who loves me, friends who care deeply and so much more. 
Although it is Thanksgiving weekend, I want to remember to be thankful every single day. God is so good to me and I am blessed beyond words.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

My Church Journey

I have attended church for as long as I can remember. In fact, my earliest memory is where I was very young (2 or 3 years) and watching my parents walk away to the service. I sat on a bench near the door in tears. Something about that memory has made me very insistent that my kids always knew that I would come get them if they needed... but that isn't what this post is about.

Not only have I attended church for over 37 years, I have been part of the same church for just as long. Doug and I were baptized in it, had our wedding there, all four kids were dedicated in the same sanctuary and we'd attended the funeral of loved ones, including my mom. Church was a habit and it was what we did on Sunday mornings. After a while we went for the kids to ensure they grew up in a church family and had a similar upbringing to Doug and mine.

Quite a few years ago, I began seriously thinking of why I was going. The short answer was because I felt like my parents wanted me to. Not that it would have mattered to my mom but I was attending because I wanted them to be proud of me - I'm a people pleaser. So, we continued through the motions. Then Sarah was born and some of her issues came to light. I wasn't comfortable with her in a classroom with kids physically bigger and developmentally typical so I kept her with me. I often felt the disapproving looks of people around me as she sat by my feet so I would head out and spend the morning in the foyer. After doing this for a while, Doug and I asked each other, why do this if I could stay home and watch Sarah in the comfort of our house. So we took some Sunday's off (for the first time ever!) and stayed home.

In the summer of 2013, Andrea was a music leader for the kids' VBS program at a smaller country church which is a secondary site to the main campus we had been at. To support her, we decided to spend VBS Sunday at the smaller church. She had previously told me it was small but I really had no idea until I stepped into the building - what a difference from the very large congregation I had been used to. Because it wasn't a normal Sunday service (the pastor was dressed up in a crown and robes), we decided to try again the following week - when we were back in the van, I told Doug that we had very likely found our new church home.

What made me fall in love with it?

The incredible sense of community that we found was a feeling that I didn't even really know existed. I didn't realize what I was missing until it was filled by a church family that was so welcoming to us. I have developed deeper relationships with ladies over the past two years than I expected and their friendships are such a welcome blessing to me. In addition to these friendships, my relationship with Jesus has blossomed in ways that I never imagined. Through prayer sessions with a special friend, she showed me how real He is.

I have learned to be honest with these people. In a small church family, it's hard to hide and they genuinely want to know how I am doing. Being open with others was a big learning curve and the desire to truly know how others are doing is now engrained in me. I have stepped out of my comfort zone and spoken in front of the congregation as well as taken the leap of faith in leading a Bible study with some ladies.

Obviously not everything is smooth sailing in a church (we are after all, imperfect people) but through the tough times, I'm learning to lean on Jesus' strength. My walk with Him has hit some lows as well but I know He is faithful - He waits patiently with His arms open for me when I come back to Him.

The initial transition was tough on the teens since they pretty much made up the youth ages. It wasn't long though before Andrea was first asked to be on a worship team and eventually the opportunity to lead her own team came up. I didn't feel uncomfortable keeping Sarah with me and it was quickly accepted as the norm. Joshua soon loved the smaller church as well - like me, he doesn't love large crowds and so he too preferred the feeling of a quieter setting. The kids have always been welcome and felt like they belonged.

I firmly believe that God wants us at this little country church. We have a purpose and a reason to be there. I am thankful for the body of Christ that my family is part of.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Microcephaly Awareness

Microcephaly awareness day is September 30. Although we will never know the actual cause of Sarah's delays, her pediatrician suspects that at some point early in my pregnancy, her brain suffered from a lack of oxygen.

When she was born, she was tiny. Barely six pounds and 17 inches tall. I had never held a baby so tiny.

We had never heard the term "Microcephaly" until we began seeing our current pediatrician around Sarah's third birthday. The Mayo Clinic defines microcephaly as:

"a rare neurological condition in which an infant's head is significantly smaller than the heads of other children of the same age and sex. Sometimes detected at birth, microcephaly usually is the result of the brain developing abnormally in the womb or not growing as it should after birth." (Mayo Clinic)

I believe that microcephaly is the greater diagnosis rather than the cerebral palsy. I have no medical reasoning other than doing my own research and seeing the effects of it. Sarah's head circumference is 46.6 centimeters which is average for a 20 month old. 

The consequences of microcephaly are:

"...depending on the cause and severity of the microcephaly, complications may include: 
  • Developmental delays, such as in speech and movement
  • Difficulties with coordination and balance
  • Dwarfism or short stature
  • Facial distortions
  • Hyperactivity
  • Mental retardation
  • Seizures"
(Mayo Clinic)

With Sarah, the most obvious effects of microcephaly are her developmental delays and her coordination and balance difficulties. 

She loves life. Other than a few things that will make her unhappy, she is an absolute ray of sunshine in our lives. Her family is her world and many times during the day she will check in with me as to everyone's whereabouts. Sometimes she will just say "mom" to make sure I'm still around. She is so easy to please with a walk, visit to a park or a quick trip out for some fries. Having a child with a "special needs" label was not something I ever thought I'd have but Sarah has enriched my life in ways that I cannot explain. I am blessed.

"Mom, I'm doing homeschool!"

We bought her a mini doll from the American Girl store.
She was thrilled!


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