Sunday, October 15, 2017

Making A Way

Have you ever been on a carnival ride with endless spinning and find yourself in somewhat less of a  neutral state? You can't say you hate the ride because the darling next to you is wide-eyed and giggly, but the spinning is quite annoying, your heart is a little panicky, and your eyes are closed, begging for time to hurry and dump you back to a place that is more comfortable.

This is the scenario that best pictures how our life has felt over the last several months and prompted an unintentional departure from this space. 

In the quiet moments, I know the truth. But...quiet would only be heard in this house if someone was jumping on the sofa shouting it with all their might. And disorder has a way of unraveling me...quickly...and causes me to wonder why on earth God picked me.

There was a moment, last spring, at the end of an IEP (special education) meeting for LJ that I let the chaos win and fear bludgeoned my heart. I barely held my sobs as I ran-walked to the car. 

We were failing LJ. 

For the first time in my adult life, I ran away. I, quickly, sent a text message to work, but otherwise didn't tell anyone how I was feeling or where I was going. I just ran. I gave God a list of jobs I would have been exceptional at and presented different scenarios that would, presumably, have been better for LJ. Because he's a gentleman, he didn't interrupt. I went on and on and on. I cried for five hours straight and only stopped long enough to try on and purchase a new pair of Nike sneakers. That helped a little.

As I pulled back into the parking lot of the school and shut the car (and by car, I mean bus) off. The Holy Spirit delivered his one liner.

God did not pull LJ from disaster just to fail in your family.

So true. And I knew it was true. I held my breath for a few seconds and let it sink deep into my heart before the door opened and I had to let all the little people back in.

I don't want to bore you with days of details, but I have to tell this story.

LJ's clinical labels include emotionally impaired, ADHD, ODD, and some OCD. 

School is an ever-living nightmare. 

The meeting I attended was to recommend LJ for special education. Our school is amazing and the plan was strategic, but there was one huge problem. We live on a two county district line. Our current school is in our city, but we are assigned to attend school in the neighboring county. When we found the perfect country home to fill with more babies, we understood the special education risk, and chose to attend school as a school of choice family. It was a part of our story that we were sure about.

Fast forward four years and we had a weighty decision to make in 10 days. If we signed and accepted the IEP recommendation, LJ was going to have to switch districts and attend a different school than his brothers. If we didn't sign, he could continue on, but it would be without the services he, desperately, needed.

We prayed and cried and talked to every person that would listen. I even wrote a raw-heart letter to both superintendents begging for them to make an exception in our case. When our request was denied, Ben held my hand and reminded me that the Knower of all things, knows LJ best. We wondered if sending LJ to a district on his own might benefit him in surprising ways and tried to settle into the summer without thinking about it. I couldn't think about it; sending the boys to different schools ripped my heart in two.

Two weeks before school started, the principal of our school called, and opened with, "You must be praying hard. I've never seen anything like this in my career." 

Legislation specific to our predicament was passed in our benefit, weeks before, and required the two districts to join a cooperative agreement. The principal was calling to tell me that LJ would receive full special education benefits as if he was an in-district student. And I didn't have to do anything.

This was an Ebenezer raising moment for us. God made a way for LJ where there was NO WAY. He cares so much for his son, he cleared the necessary debris and changed legislation for him. Equally as significant - his way was on its way, while we were walking through the mud. 

This was not a coincidence or act of man. 

It was a miracle that I hadn't even thought to ask for. It's the sort of thing that begs consideration...what else haven't I asked God for?

I don't know if school will ever be less of a challenge for LJ. I don't know if he will learn to control his emotions or recognize his triggers. What I do know is that he is worth the investment and God will never fail him. Or me.

Even in the disorder.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

God Sees

"I don't know what to do! Tell me what to do!? I think I'm going to cut my tether and run."

Wait, wait, wait....slow the information train down. 

I hadn't heard from Sweet Mama in over a month; the last few conversations we had were difficult ones. She discovered she was pregnant, again, and waffled between abortion, parenting, or asking us to parent. She admitted it was an uncomfortable conversation to have with me (I agreed), but she had no one else to turn to. 

I mostly listened while my insides screamed.

"They put me on a tether and if I don't have a permanent place to live TOMORROW, my PO is hauling my a** to jail. I can't do it. Not again. Not pregnant. I am going to run. Doesn't that seem like the best choice?!?!"

After I was schooled on why she was tethered, what a PO is, and why shelters aren't an option, I asked if jail was the worst multiple choice answer. I couldn't think of a kinder way to say it, so I just went for the punch-in-the-face approach.

She lectured me up one side and down the other for such a suggestion, but all I could think about was dependable shelter, meals, and medical care. 

I can't relate to most of her experiences and pretending isn't genuine, but I care for her deeply and do my best to listen to the Holy Spirit so that I can give her godly counsel.

She asked if I would wire money to help secure housing. She was desperate and I could hear it in her voice. But I said no.

I pleaded with her not to run and tried to paint a picture of what that would mean for her and her baby. It was well over two weeks before I learned her whereabouts.

She didn't run. She did go to jail. And she lost the baby.

I felt immediate relief on all three accounts and then I heard (really heard) the shake in her voice and I saw a picture of her heart.

It is so important that we, intentionally, remove our natural lenses in such situations because despite our best efforts to love generously, we are tarnished by experience and influence. I didn't share this story for a long time because I didn't want anyone to voice the same unfiltered thoughts that I had.

Yes. This baby was rescued from a life of risk and separation...but at her mother's expense. Does one life hold more value than the other? 

Imagine the loss.

Three babies born to Sweet Mama were removed, brutally, by the legal proceedings in a courtroom - and while I did my best to keep their memories vivid and alive - there was never a goodbye. 

Now there is a fourth. The details are different, but the loss is the same. Life on the inside; barren on the outside. 

I've spent weeks thinking about the severity of Sweet Mama's circumstances and the mix-match of our stories. Her heart is shredded...yet she doesn't give up. She, stubbornly, holds on challenging others to defy her will. I see so much of her daughter in her. They are fighters; survivors. 

I feel the feels when I think about Edith and her story. Named by her mama - reward of war. The truth in it is chilling.

Somewhere in all the darkness, Sweet Mama has a flicker of hope.

She hopes for a kinder life. The chance to love and mother and know peace.

Do you know what her name means? 

I only looked it up, today.

God sees.

God sees her. He knows her comings and goings. When she sits; when she stands. Even when her thoughts are afar, he knows them. He loves her so much that he called me - the mother of her children - to see her, too.

...and I'm doing my best to see her as he does. Whole and worthy and of priceless value.

Who has God asked you to see?