Thursday, August 30, 2007

Finding Rest: Part Two (Scroll down three posts to read this story from the beginning)

Why share such a personal story? I share it because I have talked to enough women to know that underneath the makeup and the matching outfits and the small talk that make up our exteriors, we are a broken people. To pretend otherwise creates isolation. Thoughtful honesty creates closer relationships and greater understanding. When we share the way God works in the difficult things of life it encourages first oneself and then others.

For some of us, the pieces have been patched and restored and there is wholeness where there was none before. But some of us are walking wounded, barely hanging on and wondering if there is hope. We have a choice. We can either be completely shattered by bitterness, depression and anger or we can lay the fragments before the One who can take the sharp slivers and jagged pieces and create a beautiful, productive life. Here is the conclusion to John's story.

When John was ten, he was sullen and moody and difficult and so was I. But I was no longer proud. I had seen too much of my own wretchedness. I was broken, squashed on the Potter's wheel. My dear friend Amy (see yesterday's comments) saw that I was losing the battle to be good and strong and loving. She called another friend and we met together for prayer. It was then that God began reshaping the clay of my spirit into a whole new vessel.

Stuart and John and I met with a family counselor. We took with us the test results from three years prior. The psychologist read through the reports and listened to our story and said, “You’re dealing with Asperger’s Syndrome. Your parenting is innovative and creative (I did not tell her about the swearing or the clenched teeth) and I don’t know that there is a whole lot I can tell you that you aren’t already doing.” Asperger's Sydrome. With those words, the pieces of the puzzle flew into place after a decade of wondering what we were dealing with. We were not sorrowful but relieved.

I found an online support group and learned that Aspie kids sleep poorly, that they like small spaces (which is why John loved my closet) and hate change. I connected with parents who understood what it is like to listen to daily monologues about Lord of the Rings or Battlezone. I trundled my stack of parenting books off to the Salvation Army. I learned to discipline in tiny increments. “If you talk like that again, you will lose two minutes of computer.” I learned to relax my standards, to offer mercy and extend grace. I learned to hug and joke and and love even if John was unlovable. I learned that if I did these things, he became lovable.


Today, John is happy. This is the one thing that has changed. He is still tenderhearted and funny and creative. He still has strong academic abilities and he still needs close supervision to keep him on task. Last week he went church with his button-down shirt on inside out. We have to check to see if he has shoes on and contacts in before he leaves the house. He stands in the kitchen and talks about Harry Potter while Lauren washes the dishes. He’s supposed to be helping but he forgets. I ask him to bring me Charlie’s shoes and he comes back empty handed and I ask him again and he brings me a comb. We laugh (usually) and he tries again. I don’t think about him learning to drive or going to college or leaving home. It stresses me out.

The entries in the family journal continue. Once he cut the "chickens" off top of his head because they were bothering him. I had to shave his head to repair the damage. He appeared in my bedroom at midnight wrapped in an orange blanket with his shorn head sticking out and explained, "I'm an insom-ni-monk." He put Charlie down for a nap one afternoon, "I put Charlie to sleep with 'The Song of Invigoration!'" And while helping me in the kitchen, "I did the impossible. I put ALL of lettuce into these two bags!" (He had smashed two heads of lettuce into two small ziplock bags and squeezed out all the air. Two heads of romaine reduced to the size of a baseball.)

I found this statement in a commentary that I was reading this morning and I think it applies here. One of the most common errors evident in the professing church today (is) triumphalism. It is our insistence that Jesus be now what the Bible says He will be and do then—in the future. We all wish to identify with the triumphant Jesus, who overthrows the wicked, and brings prosperity, peace, and freedom from pain to His people. But we do not wish to identify with the “suffering Savior.” I don't know how successfully John will venture into adulthood. I don't know if his story will be one of triumph from a worldly perspective. All I know is that before I fought and kicked against John's difficulties and now I don't. This is triumph in God's eyes.

One day, a long time ago, when we were having a rough day and I was disciplining and controlling because no child of mine was going to act that way, God said, "No. John is not yours. He’s mine." And, of course, He was right. God created John and He has a plan for him and He has been faithful to reveal it one grain at a time. So now there is peace. Now I can enjoy the gift and the wonder of raising this boy. John is a blessing. A great, great blessing. God knew what He was doing all along.


Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls." Jeremiah 6:16

28 comments:

tegdirb92 said...

what a wonderful post!! John sounds like a wonderful boy and you are so blessed to have him for a son. We too are a family with a diagnosis--we have two autistic sons, one worse than the other--but them being different from everyone else makes us even more appreciative of God's blessings. I am so glad that I met a family who can understand just how precious and blessed each day with our children really is. Wonderful post.

ValleyGirl said...

What an incredible boy and what an awesome God. Your story is beautiful and doubtlessly, you have touched many lives and encouraged many people. God truly can use anything and anyone to teach us and shape us. Thank you so much for baring your heart and sharing with the world your journey with John.

Jennifer said...

I just left you a "comment" under your "comment" from today (Thursday), in case you want to read it... some days it feels like I have two posts, one on the blog, one under "comments!"

I could rattle on and on about this post... it is so obvious to me why God gave John to you. He has bloomed, but so have you, it would seem. Just like John is blossoming under your efforts to love and be gracious, you are blossoming under God's acts of love and grace in your life. I can identify with that as a mom. Children are so sanctifying! Oh, and how very GOOD God is, that He, being so big, would love such little people so tenderly! Your post brought Him honor and praise tonight. My heart is saying, "thank you, Lord," again and again. I needed to hear it, especially hearing the specifics of how you have learned to spread grace in your home. I think it was "Holy Experience" that talked about "smiles of approval" in her post today. Hm. I think God is trying to teach me something...

I'll be praying for you. You have given me plenty to think on for quite awhile. Thank you SO MUCH for your transparency, and for sharing such a personal story.
Jen

melody is slurping life said...

And I love the photos. :)

Sunydazy said...

Thank you for being willing to share your struggles and your triumphs with the rest of us...Very thought provoking story...I need to do further research on this subject.
Blessings to you as you continue to mother this very wonderful person.

lori said...

Oh Kate,
He knows all along...doesn't that just humble you...it sounds much like the trials of infertility that we had to endure...it was the refinement that needed to be done by the MASTER...It was only one word...beautiful!!

Praising God today that you were covered in prayer, and allowed the work to be done...and now you can stand in wonder and joy, knowing that God knew as he "formed him in the womb" what his purpose, (for this season) would be..
amen....
sincerely beautiful!!

oh, the poem on my site..i confess I had a guide...but the conversation...it was beautiful, and real and part of my refinement process...i will post the book, I can't remember the whole title...thank you for the kind words...
now i must walk with a non blogger and share your story...
peace today!!
lori

Melissa @ Breath of Life said...

Kate,

I can't even begin to form an adequate comment. And what right do I have to "comment" on your family's beautiful, powerful & touching testimony? It's so much more than a story. It's undeniable evidence of a loving, living, faithful God.

Janelle said...

My favorite thing about God is that in true weakness and humility, He can shine. Your life changed the minute you laid it down for Him. He makes all things beautiful and He set your feet to dancing.

Thank you for your sharing your story. I think it is important that we share for one another. When we tell our stories, someone sees God's grace and faithfulness in our lives. What a powerful tool for the Kingdom of Christ!

I love this picture of the rainbow. It looks like John will conquer the world.

Alana said...

Wow, what an amazing and beautiful story. Thank you so much for sharing it.

My nephew has Asperger's and my sister has gone through many of the same struggles.

I think I'll send her a link to your blog posts. Hopefully it will offer her some encouragement.

Refresh My Soul Blog said...

Oh Kate. This post encouraged me more than you can ever know. I am really struggling right now with seeing mine as a blessing and I can see where my heart is getting hardened. Oh God break me. I am fearful as well of something wrong with her but as you post "She" is God's and He will equip us with what we need to raise her with grace and mercy. Thanks for sharing. Like usual you make me want to be a better mom and love well. Thanks for being real. Thanks for your obedience to our great King.

I LOVE the picture of John and the rainbow-it reminds me of the covenant God made with us and His promise and love for John. I cannot wait to see what God does with him. You are so blessed.
Much love,
ANgela

Kathy at Sumballo said...

Kate, this story explains so much of the character and passion I have seen in your blog. God has done an incredible work in your family's life. Brokenness and imperfection is not to be feared but to be seen as one of God's tools to refine us, to make us more like Jesus. This morning, I read Oswald Chambers: "The joy of Jesus was the absolute self-surrender and self-sacrifice of Himself to His Father, the joy of doing that which the Father sent Him to do. 'I delight to do Thy will.' Jesus prayed that our joy might go on fulfilling itself until it was the same joy as His." Thank you so much for sharing your journey with the King of kings.

The Small Scribbler said...

Alana,

If your sister reads these posts and would like to e-mail me tell her to feel free.

That goes for everybody. If you have a friend or relative who deals with Aspergers and might need encouragement send them my way.


Kathy

"The joy of Jesus was the absolute self-surrender and self-sacrifice of Himself to His Father, the joy of doing that which the Father sent Him to do. 'I delight to do Thy will.

This quote fits perfectly. Oswald Chambers can say in a few words something that a mind can ponder on for awhile, can't he?


And to all,

Thank you for your sweet, encouraging words. You are good friends.

Kate

Xandra said...

"...underneath the makeup and the matching outfits and the small talk that make up our exteriors, we are a broken people. To pretend otherwise creates isolation. Thoughtful honesty creates closer relationships and greater understanding. When we share the way God works in the difficult things of life it encourages first oneself and then others."

That one sentence spoke volumes to me and reaffirmed my belief that no matter what our situation, we are all the same. We struggle, we triumph, we fall, we get back up. I don't want to be isolated....I want to fellowship with and learn from others who have been where I am.

Thank you so much for sharing John with us, and for being willing to open in up in such a personal way. He is beautiful!

bubandpie said...

We are just starting the diagnostic process, and I am full of anxiety and doubts, with no idea where this all is headed. This post reassures me that the truth really does set us free.

Mary@notbefore7 said...

What an encouraging story of Gods mercy, love, and grace in your life as you parent your son. It reminds me again that God will fulfill His plan for them, just as you left on my blog! Amen!

Thank you for sharing this. I love your reason. We do need to get out behind the matching outfits and smiles sometimes. Thank you for being vulnerable!

I am reminded that in our weaknesses, He is made strong!

Susan said...

Kate. I can not begin to formulate a response that expresses my feelings. So I will just say thank you for sharing. Your lack of fear and your openness encourages and blesses me.

Carol said...

I came to read your blog yesterday because I think you are such a great writer. I wasn't expecting what I found. I was completely drawn in. When the story stopped to be completed today, I was so let down. I need to hear the end!! It was like the cliff hanger on a season finale. I even reminded myself during the day today, to get back to read the end. All I can say is WOW! You have opened your heart up and poured out your soul into words-- and it is beautiful. What an incredible family you must have. May God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for sharing such a touching story. Carol @sheep to the right :)

Christin said...

All I can do is smile. God bless your sweet heart. And may his fingerprint forever be on John's life. Hugs to you.

Faith said...

Wow, what a beautiful and powerful story of love at work, and of God's faithfulness and wisdom. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.
And I do so love the picture of John with the rainbow.
And you KNOW I am totally on board with your comments about being honest and real! Love you, Siesta.

Shana said...

What a wonderful post. I especially love the first two paragraphs. Your words spoke to my heart. You are so right. Your little boy is a special gift from God.

Jean 1 said...

I found myself holding my breath while reading...drawn completely into the life changing process that Holy Spirit was leading you. It is amazing how completely faithful He is to reveal to us the things of Him through us, our children and our lives.

Melody said...

I just found your blog today. I also have a son who has Asperger's Syndrome. He is going to be 16 yrs old in January. He was also my first born. I have some questions I would love to ask so I will be emailing you. I am so glad I found your blog.

Stephanie (Ocean Mommy) said...

Kate,

I sit here in tears. So thankful that God placed you, each member of your family in our life. You are precious to us. This is an awesome post that shows your passion for our Father! You are REAL! Love you and thank God for your friendship!

steph.

Oh yea, the pictures are great! Kind of reminds me of the time John was a "tree" in the spring musical. Remember how he "shed" his trunk during the encore!!!! That boy makes me smile!

The Small Scribbler said...

Steph,

I hadn't thought about the tree incident for a while. Thanks for the laugh. Who would have known from that debut that John could act.

Kate

Etta said...

I just 'caught up' in reading your posts, and I don't have much to say other than that this made me want to go in and wake up my sweet firstborn and just hold him.

I know that I too would have acted and reacted just the same as you did; I confess I probably sometimes react that way to just general 4-year old boy stuff. I am often not a very patient person, sadly.

The story of how God has change YOU through this has been such a blessing to me. I just love your heart. You so often remind me of what a blessing motherhood is when I am feeling like it is a trial. Thank you for being used by the Lord.

Faith said...

What a touching story! thank you for sharing it and for being so personal on a blog! I am a special ed teacher (part time) and this year I am working 1:1 with a little boy who is much like your son! This was an awesome post.....it makes me look forward to starting my new job tomorrow with the little boy. I love the pic with the rainbow!
blessings to you,
Faith T.

Debra said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I am a mother to 5 also. My 2 oldest children have SEVERE ADHD and anxiety issues that are similar to Aspergars. I felt like I was reading OUR story when I was reading yours. I will send my oldest (9yo DS) upstairs to get something. Later he comes down forgeting I asked him to get something. He is so tender-hearted and I know my yelling is hurting his Spirit ;-( I just do not know how to make it through the day most of the time. Especially with my 2 yr old twins who need constant supervision.

Thanks for giving me hope.

Ganeida said...

Yes! The sleep issues! I'd forgotten. Mine didn't sleep as a baby, only cat~napped. It was exhausting. He had night terrors & always had trouble going to sleep. Later he would prowl all night. He also spoke in clear sentences before one year, using words like *inadequet, & unacceptable.* He refused to learn to read at school & when he did he refused to let anyone know that he could. His intellegence masked many of the problems. In retrospect I can't believe no~one suspected there was something wrong (besides us). We just got told he was badly behaved ie we were lousy parents.