Nightmares on Marion Street

D has nightmares.  He used to have night terrors, which were a horrible thing for a parent to experience.  In those days, D would sit straight up from the bed and begin to scream.  No amount of soothing him would help.  He would scream solidly for 1 to 2 minutes, then stop just as suddenly as he’d started and lay back down and go back to sleep.  They scared me and panicked my husband.  There was nothing we could do.  He no longer has those, but he does still have nightmares.  They will occasionally keep him up for 1 1/2 to 2 hours at night, because he is afraid to go back to sleep.  I understand that.

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I also had nightmares as a child.  I also roamed my house in the single digit hours of night, afraid to return to sleep.  As the years went by and the nightmares remained, unabated, I began to get desperate for them to stop.  I tried everything I knew, which wasn’t much, but included trying not to sleep.  Of course, I was a child and it was impossible.  Finally, out of sheer desperation I prayed to God to stop my nightmares.

It worked.

There were no nightmares that night.  So I did prayed again.  And again.  The bad dreams stayed away.  If I ever stopped praying, they returned.

He has always been faithful to me.

 

So, tonight I count on His faithfulness.  I call on it.  I claim it for my son.

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Tonight we prayed this simple prayer:

Dear Lord,

We know you are God, and we know you love us.  We know you can do anything you want.  Tonight, we are asking you to keep the nightmares away.  We know you can do this because you are God.  Please remember our brother and our memaw.  Please forgive us when we make mistakes.  Help us forgive others who make mistakes against us.  

In Christ’s Name We Pray.  Amen.

Becky

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It’s A Swing Thing

D loves to swing.  Always has.  When he was still an infant I put one of those infant/toddler swings in the backyard and I would push him for what seemed like forever.  Then when D turned 2 he stopped going outside one winter.  He was going along just fine in the fall.  Then.  Nothing.  He was almost completely nonverbal at the time, so no matter how many times I tried to encourage him to go outside he wouldn’t.  And he didn’t have the words to explain.

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Then winter turned to spring and he began to go outside again.  And I thought it was just a phase and all over.

It wasn’t.

The very next winter the same thing happened.  One day I woke up to realize that it had been weeks since he’d been in the backyard.  An invitation to play was turned down.  At this point he had a few more words, but couldn’t seem to explain.  At one point he told me he didn’t like winter “because the noise the wind makes in the trees.”  I went outside to listen, but all I heard was silence.  Maybe that was it.

A was born in January.  That spring we all played outside and had a good time.  Ditto in the fall.  Then one day as winter approached I took A outside to the swing.  D had stopped going outside once again.  I thought when he saw how much fun A and I would have in the swing he want to come out with us.  What happened next was completely shocking.

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He panicked.  I was in the process of putting A in the swing when D ran out to us.  He frantically pulled on my jacket, shaking his head ‘no,’ mouth opened in a silent scream.  Confused, I implored him to play.  He ran inside, then back outside to me.  Finally speaking the words, “Hurt A.”  He pointed back to the door.  He was perfectly clear.  Something was going to hurt the baby.  We must go inside NOW!  Inside we went, immediately.

A few days later I stood at our back door, staring out at the backyard.  Suddenly, my eyes hit on the swing.  That was it!  It was the swing!  I told my husband to go take it down, right away.  And that WAS it.  He began going outside right away.

Since that day, his fear of swings has both worsened and clarified.  He still loves to swing. His fear is of empty swings, hanging and moving with the breeze.  It’s also of signs in the store and swing with movement of air.  The few times I take him to Kroger we must duck under those signs, to keep them from swinging.  Once he found one swinging, being blown by an air conditioner, I’m sure.  We quickly turned the corner, while I frantically told him over and over it was about to stop swinging.  His fear of things that swing is much worse in winter than summer.  And we tend to avoid playgrounds with swings, most especially in winter.

I call it what it is, an Irrational Fear.  It is part and parcel of his autism.  Autism, as always, had complicated a situation that shouldn’t be complicated.  It has stolen D’s peace.

A Time to Plant and a Time to Reap

It’s spring and my husband and I (well, mostly my husband) have made a small backyard garden.

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We plant in spring so we will have a garden full of vegetables in the summer and fall.  Then winter will come and everything will die and we will replant again next spring.  Happens every year.  A lot of people plant gardens in the spring, and we accept God’s timing in that.  Spring is for planting.  No one tries to plant a garden in the winter.

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But somehow, it’s harder to accept God’s timing in our life.

I didn’t meet my husband until I was 37.  There was a time that I would lament that I met him so late in life.  I would tell him that I wished we had met earlier, like in our 20s.  He, in his blunt way, would deny this idea and say, “No, you don’t.  I was a jerk.”  Over time I have begun to realize that God’s timing was perfect.  God has been working on my husband far longer than even he realizes.  I simply couldn’t meet him until he was ready for me.  If I had met him too soon, he would have been a “jerk” and it wouldn’t have worked.  I met my husband when God intended me to and, in return, I have a full, bountiful life.  Just like my garden will be in the summer.

 

So many of us don’t accept God’s timing.  We plant our gardens of life in the winter.  Then the frost comes, and we don’t understand why everything is so devastated.  If we had only waited for God’s timing, we would have a bountiful harvest, and instead we have reaped despair and heartbreak.

Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.  Isaiah 40:31

If I had insisted on rushing the Lord (trust me, I tried) and not waiting on His timing I would have married a “jerk” or even more tragically, married someone God didn’t intend for me to have.  I cannot imagine what my life would be like, because having a child with autism is stressful enough.

I abide in the Lord and He has poured His bounty into my life.  My cup runs over.  How amazing that He has been so faithful even when I have not.

Becky

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.

 

Marrying Young – A Lesson of Hardship

A friend’s daughter asked me my thoughts a few week’s ago about marrying young, specifically in your late teens.  I didn’t tell her not to.  It wasn’t my place.  I sent her to the bible, which is always a really good answer when you don’t know what else to say.  In truth, marriage really hard in the best of times.  In the worst times, it can be a disaster.
I believe some who marry very young wind up staring across the marital bed at someone they would never have chosen if they’d waited.

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My brother married very young and it didn’t work.  Two, decent, hardworking people that I admire very much couldn’t make a go of it.  No abuse, no cheating, no evil intent.  So, that’s my experience with marrying young.  Not positive.  But sometimes, God sends people into your life to change your viewpoint.

Yesterday I met a young lady who married young.  She was still married at 26, with 2 young children.  Her daughter was 4, almost 5, and her son was 2.  She was married at 19.  After her parents told her she needed a college degree, she went to a local junior college to get her associate’s degree and got married.  But it wasn’t just her success in marriage that I found fascinating.  It was the trials she had experienced at such a tender age.

Her husband was partially paralyzed in a terrible accident a couple of years ago.  She told me that the day he took his first step after the accident he lost his job.  He became despondent and started to give up.  She refused to see him in a nursing home in his early twenties.  She stood strong and told him that if he went that route she was going back home to her family in Oklahoma.  He straightened up and went home, and their marriage continued through the hardship.  He’s only able to walk with a walker, which is too treacherous to attempt in a house full of toddlers.  Fortunately, his family is both close and   close by to help.

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Now, this young lady is facing another blow.  The doctors are looking at her 2 year old boy for Autism.  He doesn’t have an official diagnosis.  The doctors want to wait to see if a language delay is his only issue.  Lack of speech can cause meltdowns and tantrums due to frustration.  I was a positive as I could be for her.  I will pray that this young lady doesn’t have to shoulder so much so young.

 

I shared with her my belief that our trials either make our marriages stronger than ever or break them up completely.  The fortunate ones survive.  Mine has.  Hers has.  I have to admit that I have such tremendous admiration for this young lady.  And I didn’t even get her name.  She must have a will of steel.   A backbone of iron.  Never giving up.  Never quit.

So, perhaps young marriages have a chance after all.  And perhaps we should all learn something from this amazing person.  The lesson of being persistent.  The lesson of enduring through hard days.  The lesson of determination.

What excuses work now?

Becky

 

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Embracing God’s Gifts

Tomorrow is my son’s birthday.  Perhaps that’s why tonight I’m thinking about gifts.  Perhaps I’m thinking about gifts because a friend told me today that mine was wisdom.  I don’t know if that’s really my gift.  I know I have the blessing of listening to friends and family.  It’s impossible to know if one is wise.  How can one judge herself as wise?  Isn’t the very act of judging yourself wise rather unwise?  I think it is.  I’m still learning.  We are ALL still learning how to travel our path that God has given us.

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I find myself believing most are unaware of the gifts that God has given them.  Creativity  is an obvious gift, and those that have that gift seem to use it almost unconsciously.  My mother has the gift of hosting, and is perfectly comfortable with having enormous numbers of people in her home.  That is definitely not my gift, although I do enjoy smaller groups.  I used to make excuses why I couldn’t do as He asked.  We all do.  Even back in biblical days.  The bible is full of us giving God reasons NOT to do something.  God’s people make a lot of excuses why they can’t use their gifts:

“I really enjoy having people over, but my home is way too small to actually invite my Sunday School group.”

“I love to garden, but I’m sure the church has people that can do that job much better than I can.”

“I’d love to teach, but those kids get so wild and crazy…”

Mine was:

“I’d love to teach, but I can’t imagine actually getting up in front of all those people.  Besides, who would listen to me anyway?”

In my defense, it was a legitimate complaint.  In school, every time I had to get in front of the class I would get so nervous and anxious that I would go to the bathroom and cry and throw up afterward.  It was horrible.  I actually got out of having to sign a song in my college sign language class because the professor could tell I was a wreck.  The only time I successfully spoke publicly was in an 8th grade english class.  Oral book report.  I chose a biography of Adolf Hitler and I was still a wreck before I started.  Once I started though, something magical happened.  I got so into conveying the interesting and complex background that I forgot I was in front of the class.

I guess that’s what is happening now.  I’m leading a ladies’ bible study.  Granted, I know all the ladies but one and they are all wonderful.  Still, the same thing happens to me there that happened during my Adolf Hitler book report.  I’m so fascinated and into the subject matter that I forget to be nervous.  And we have a few stunned silences, which I figure either means I said something that they never thought of or they didn’t understand a THING I just said.  LOL  God seems to whisper in my ear, at times.  Sound crazy?  But I just start thinking and meditating and He leads me to answers in scripture.  I learn something almost every day.

So, do I have a gift?  I don’t know.  I do know that I had to make myself available.  I had to make that move.  I walked up to my pastor and said the words pastors everywhere LOVE to hear:  I’m available.  I’m willing.  I’m being led.  Use me wherever you need me.

Stop the voice in your head telling you that you can’t.

Stop making excuses.

Stop thinking someone else will volunteer.  He laying it on YOUR heart for a reason.  Allow Him to change your life.  Allow Him to change your circumstances.  It’s YOUR gift.  Use it. Bless others and you, in turn, will be blessed.

Becky