Why I’ll Never Give Up On Taking My Son to Church

So, it’s been awhile.  Remember what I said about being in the belly of the whale?  That’s where I’ve been.  Fighting the battle that is THIS post.  I didn’t want to write this post.  But He has refused to let me think about anything else.

Almost every Sunday, I drag D to church.  Going to church is hard for D and he’d rather do almost anything else.  Most Sundays he has a meltdown and I have to intervene to calm him down and get him centered in order to continue.  Most Sundays he complains about having to go and is simply determined NOT to enjoy himself.  It is difficult for ALL of us.  Occasionally I will wonder why I keep fighting this battle, before remembering the promise I made.

When I got pregnant with D I was 37 years old.  I knew this child was a gift from God.  I just knew God gave me this pregnancy.  And I behaved like I knew exactly that.  I never, ever once worried I would lose the pregnancy.  I knew I wouldn’t.  This child was a gift.  This child had a purpose.  I didn’t know what it was but I knew he had one.

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But then things changed.  Instead of thinking that this child was God’s gift to ME.  I started thinking that this child was MY gift to God.  That THIS child belonged to God.  That I was tasked with raising him and training him, but ultimately the child himself belonged to the Almighty God.  I really didn’t understand this thinking myself until very recently when I read this bible passage:

For all the firstborn are Mine; on the day that I struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I sanctified to Myself all the firstborn in Israel, from man to beast. They shall be Mine; I am the Lord.”  Numbers 3:13

 

I grew up knowing that all firstborn animals of Israel belonged to God.  It was not until recently I read that all the firstborn children of Israel belonged to the Lord, also.  I am certainly not a Hebrew, but I am certain that this passage explains it.  It explains why I am so certain that D belongs solely to the Lord.  That is His child.

And that is why I will never give up trying to take D to church every Sunday.  D has to know God.  It’s absolutely necessary.  It’s important for all children to know God, of course.  But D is different.  He has autism and that complicates things.  He is a black and white child in a world filled more and more with grey.  He doesn’t understand how the world works.  He won’t understand how God works.  I know he will struggle with faith.  He struggles with most everything else.

I pray solely and daily for him, most of all.

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Not because I don’t love A.  But D is different.  He was different from his birth.  He was named biblical names.  His middle name is Jacob. In the bible, Jacob literally wrestles with God and is renamed Israel.  God has promised Jacob an entire nation built through him.  There is the birth of the nation of Israel.

I do not know what God has in store for my son.  I know he has something in store.  There was a time in which I prayed earnestly for an answer to the question of whether or not D would be a man of faith.  The answer was that God has plans for D.  Plans that don’t include me.  I am to introduce him to Christ, and through Him, God.  Then let him walk his own path.

I am unable to do that alone.  I must have help.  I am so grateful for those who embrace him with open hearts.  You don’t know how richly you’ve blessed us.

And that’s why I will never, ever, ever give up taking D to church.

Becky

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Having A Contrary Heart

I have a confession to make.  I have a contrary heart.  I mean really contrary.

Deep in the belly of the whale contrary.

I set up curtains there.  It’s a home away from home.  That’s how much time I spend there.

When I was a teenager I was busy telling the Lord what I could handle.  A child with Cerebral Palsy?  Okay.  One with Down’s Syndrome?  Sure.  Just not Autism, Lord.  I can’t handle that.

I couldn’t handle leading a ministry at church either.  Nope.  God didn’t want me to date a young man from seminary because I wasn’t meant to be a pastor’s wife.  There’s no way I could be a role model.  Nope.  Not me.  God knows I’m not role model material.

It took me until the age of 45 to realize He wasn’t listening to me.  I wasn’t listening to Him either.  Funny thing that.  Do you know that if you’re busy telling God what you’re not then you can’t listen to Him telling you what you are?  Because, you know, you can’t listen when you’re talking.

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Tremble, and do not sin; Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still.  Psalm 4:4

Declarative statements are all fine and dandy in a court of law, but they sure don’t work with God.  He asks us to be still.  Be quiet.  “Meditate in your heart” sounds nothing like talking.  It’s a whole lot of not talking.

I did a lot of talking.  A lot of telling God what I couldn’t and wouldn’t do.  Just like Jonah.  And like Jonah I’ve spent time in the whale.  I know what it means to be sitting with the sun beating down on your head, wondering why God doesn’t do something!  Why doesn’t He say SOMETHING?!  But if you’re busy grumbling about your situation you can’t hear God saying:

Move, silly.  Just get out of the sun.  My shade is over here.  

You know, it’s not at all comfortable to be in a place God doesn’t want you to be.  I’m sure Jonah didn’t think the belly of that whale was a 4 star hotel.  It wasn’t at all comfortable for D to be in public school.  “But homeschooling is DEFINITELY not for me, Lord”

And that fast, I’m back in the whale.

I’m sitting in the sun.  His shade is 3 feet away, but I’m.  Not. Moving.  I have a contrary heart.  I’m hardheaded.  Sheer stubbornness.

I’m satisfied with coal because I’m not digging for diamonds.  It’s too much work.  I have to stretch myself too far.  It’s not comfortable.

By the way, God isn’t concerned about my comfort in the least.

Getting up in front of people isn’t the least bit comfortable for me, but now I’m leading a ladies’ bible study.  I’m comfortable at work but I’m a stay-at-home mom.  Autism scares me and I have a child with Autism.

Perhaps you have a contrary heart too.  Perhaps you like to spend time in the whale.  You don’t have to stay, you know.  It’s up to you.  This is all you have to do:

Cease striving and know that I am God;  Psalm 46:10

Be still.  Meditate.  Listen.

Our Best for God

I’ve been reading Leviticus the week in my daily bible reading.  I have to admit to being fascinated by the demands that God levied on the people.  He was strict and exacting in his instructions.  Even striking two of Aaron’s sons dead for daring to burn incense against His instructions.  I’ve been reflecting on some His instructions to the Israelites:

 ‘But if his offering is from the flock, of the sheep or of the goats, for a burnt offering, he shall offer it a male without defect.  Leviticus 1:10

So, one of His rules was that it had to be without defect.  They couldn’t bring the Lord an animal with any kind of defect.  No lame or sick animals would be allowed.  It had to have VALUE.  This would be an animal that would, if sold, bring quite a lot of money to the owner of the animal.  This animal would be the best of the lot.  An animal in its prime, without defect.  The BEST of all the animals the person owned.

 

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From the sacrifice of peace offerings he shall bring as an offering by fire to the Lord, its fat, [a]the entire fat tail which he shall remove close to the backbone, and the fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails,  Leviticus 3:9

 

This was one of the verses that inspired me.  I remembered something that I saw on television.  A man went to visit a village in Africa.  While he was there, they killed the fatted animal for this visitor.They gave him the best pieces of the animal.  The piece that they gave him was ALMOST ALL FAT.  The visitor even remarked how he almost couldn’t eat it.  See, our culture has changed!  These days most people remove the fat of meat before they eat it, but IT WASN’T ALWAYS THIS WAY.

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During biblical days, the FAT had more value than the lean parts of the animal.  Now, we know that the number of calories in a gram of fat is 9, but in a gram of protein is only 4.  What this meant in biblical days is that FAT KEPT YOU ALIVE LONGER!  FAT HAS MORE VALUE!  

So, God demanded the absolute BEST from His people.  Not only the BEST animal, but the BEST part of the BEST animal!

So I asked myself if I am giving God my best.  The best part of me.  The best time of my day.  The best of my money.  The answer was a resounding NO.

Most of my day is given to my children.  Some is given to my husband.  God gets about 20 minutes right before bed.  Unless I’m too tired.  Then He gets nothing.

Has God’s standards changed since the days of the Israelite?

No.

Has His People’s standards changed?

YES!!!

Instead of my time, God gets lots of my excuses:

“I need coffee before facing anyone.  Including God.”

“The kids are always demanding early in the morning.”

In my experiences, I’ve come to a conclusion.  It’s not good to be available 24/7 to my kids.  Not good for them.  And not good for me.  Last year, when I began doing yoga to help with my fibromyalgia, I was interrupted almost constantly.  I almost gave up.  Then, in determination, I began to be “unavailable” to my kids.  Every time they attempted to interrupt me I’d say, “I’m not available right now.”  And you know what happened?  Nothing.

That’s right.   Nothing.  No one died.  There’s was no blood.  And (almost) no big mess.  I was unavailable to my kids for up to 30 minutes and nothing bad happened.

There’s no reason I can’t be unavailable to my kids while I’m reading my bible and spending time with the Lord.  The same goes for you.

No one will die while you’re unavailable for your kids for a few minutes.  In fact, they might learn something about not being in the center of their universe, which in my opinion, is a good thing.

My new goal is to give the Lord my absolute BEST.  No excuses.  Won’t you join me?

 

Becky

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Parenting the Neurotypical Sibling

There’s a unique quality to parenting an older Autistic child and a younger neurotypical child.  One, quite frankly, I haven’t figured out yet.  I’m sure it’s well understood that parenting a child with Autism is different.

There are thing that I let D get away with that I would NEVER have if he didn’t have Autism.  I have to let some things go.  I have to give him an outlet for his frustrations that doesn’t include aggression.  I must allow him some comforting behaviors  that sooth him that are not always age appropriate.

And then there’s A, the typical younger child.

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Ironically, I have no idea what to do with A.  The crash course I’ve taken in parenting a child with Autism didn’t include any chapters in parenting a child like A.  A is a typical younger child, doing things at times to spite older brother, which under any other circumstance is perfectly normal.  He is also picking up behaviors from older brother.  Behaviors that he wouldn’t otherwise be able to get by with. Tantrums, complete with throwing things, which I don’t let D get away with.  He often attempts showing a temper that I’m sure he doesn’t have.  He tries to do everything big brother does, which I know is perfectly normal.

The biggest problem is me, I know.  This one is the last baby.  The one who almost wasn’t.  The one who cries.  I’m such a sucker for a crying child.  I can’t stand it and want to soothe almost immediately.  Then along comes the child who uses tears instead of anger to get what he wants and I fall for it.  Yes, I admit it.  I fall for the tears.  I’ve only just begun to attempt to steel myself against those tears he uses so effectively.  I’ve begun to discipline A, finally.  To begin to enforce the rules.  I still do not know what to do when he imitates some of D’s ASD behaviors.  I’ve been at this parenting journey over 7 years now and still haven’t figured it all out.

I’ve often said that by the time I figure out how to raise my kids they will be in college and won’t need raising anymore.  Isn’t that kind of the way it works though?

Becky

No Special People Here

I’d like to state for the record:  I am NOT special.

There’s nothing extraordinary about me.  I’m an ordinary citizen.  Just like you.  Well meaning people tell me all the time:  God only gives those special babies to special people.  Nope!  Because I’m not special and He gave one to me.  D is special, but I am not.  Before D came along I was just like anyone else.  If I saw a child meltdown in the store, I, too, assumed the parent was lacking in discipline.  MY child, when I had them, wouldn’t do that.  I wouldn’t allow MY child to speak to ME that way.  Yes, that was me.  Judgmental and self-righteous.  The Pharisee and Sadducee kind of religion.

If I am different now, it’s because of the experience.

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I have more patience than most.  Before D, I prayed for patience.  Not anymore.  Thanks Lord, I have enough.  I have to have more patience.  D requires more patience.  D questions authority.  It’s just the kind of kid he is.  D is a boundary pusher.  D wants to know why.  And falling back on the old standby:  “Because I said so”  doesn’t work with D.  I have to give short explanations and then stick to my guns.  And be patient.  Because D WILL try to convince me to do something for him by making sure he takes a really looooong time doing it.  He once sat around for HOURS trying to convince me to turn on the tv.  Did I mention how smart he is?  It’s not bragging.  I keep trying to convince his dad he’d be easier to raise if he wasn’t.

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I have more determination than most.  Once again, I have to have.  If I didn’t stick to my guns, D would run my entire house.  D is a smart child who “wants to be a grown up.” He would like everything his way.  Once, he tried to convince me to call the school board and explain to them that he doesn’t want to do school and that’s that.  D would like to eat whatever he wants and weigh 200 lbs.  D would like to watch tv 18 hours a day.  D would never, ever do a math problem again.  The only thing preventing those things is me and his dad.  So, I am determined.  I do the hard stuff.  I make sure he does school.  I make sure he goes to church.  I even occasionally drag him to the store.  Not because I enjoy it.  But because D needs a normal life.  D needs to know how he is expected to behave at church and at the store.

 

I have lots of sympathy for other moms.  Whether they have children with special needs   or not.  Why?  Because it’s HARD.  This is hard.  Being a mom is hard.  Harder than I ever thought it would be. The sleep deprivation.  The exhaustion.  The feeling that you’re spinning your wheels and nothing ever changes.  It’s MESSY.  My two boys drag out every single toy they own every day.  I kid you not.  There’s stuff everywhere.  Bedroom, living room, dining room area and even in the hallway.  One of my mom friends were complaining about her house so I sent her pictures of mine.  She hasn’t complained since.  It’s DESTRUCTIVE.  My boys tear up everything.  A likes to tear up pages of books to get D to yell.  There are marks on our wall behind dad’s rocker/recliner, where the boys have run and jumped on the chair making it bang against the wall.  (Yes, I know I should stop them, but I pick my battles.)  Our vertical blinds in the living room get twisted, shoved aside and pulled out, and are crying out to be replaced.  It’s LOUD.  My two are really loud.  They have screaming matches, where they try to outscream each other.  Yes!  I’m serious!  A cries and laughs really loudly.  He was loud as an infant.  D has a leftover whiny noise he makes he gets annoyed.  We are working on those things, but it takes time.

Is there any wonder I have my own meltdowns from time to time?  Yes.  On my knees, crying so hard I can’t see or breathe.  I have been broken.  Numerous times.  Crying out to God.  Asking why.  So when I tell a broken mom I know how she feels, I do.  When I tell a mom with no support system that I want to help I’m being sincere.  When I tell you that you can trust me you can.

So, am I special?  No.  Am I different than who I was?  Absolutely.  I had to change to survive.  But it doesn’t make me special.  It doesn’t make me any different than anyone else.  The essence of being human is to change.  Life changing events happen to lots of us.  It changes us into better people.  Nothing special though.  Still ordinary.