The last 9 yrs – Part 1

Although I still continue to write in my journal, life happened and I forgot about this blog.  Ten years ago marked a season of my life that was full of uncertainties and burdens I could not carry on my own.  On March 31, 2010 my father passed away after being hospitalized for a month.  I was planning to fly back to visit but he died as I prepare to leave for SFO.  When I got there, plans were under way for his wake and funeral.  It was the last time I saw my relatives there, most of them have passed away since.  That began a series of adjustments for my Mom which included the sale of her home of 42 yrs.  It’s the home I grew up in.  We moved there when I was 1. After the sale of her home in 2012 she moved in with us permanently.  At the same time, we enrolled our son, Scotty, at Beyer high school because it was time for him to transition out of our home where we homeschooled him for several years.  He enjoyed his stay there and was thrilled to graduate with the Class of 2012.

During this time, my Mom had a difficult time adjusting here what with leaving all her friends, family and belongings behind.  She developed metastatic breast cancer in 2013 and we took care of her while she underwent surgery.  They gave her 5 yrs but she is still in remission up until now.

In Fall of 2013, we enrolled Angela at Big Valley Christian School to finish high school.  It wasn’t a easy decision for me but we knew that it was time for her to transition out after 10 yrs of home education.  The first couple of months were hard for her but she did well academically and found some friends there.

Around this time, the newspaper industry was doing worse than we thought it would.  This put more pressure on Scott to work many hours.  His work environment became stressful after some layoffs which put more of the work burden on him.

After Scotty graduated, he stayed home for a year but missed all his high school peers so I looked around for an appropriate day program for him and found Open Doors at McHenry Ave.  I wasn’t happy with it but it was sufficient at the time.  This is when he was riding his bike all over town including downtown Modesto.  He was 22 at this time and it was really hard to keep him home for his safety.  Thank God he was never hurt, but during this time he lost about 5 bikes due to theft.

I was weary and with the loss of community during this time I went through a season of gospel winter.  As circumstances began to change, my faith was tested.  And so I am reminded:

Isaiah 40:29

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.

 

Rests and Pauses

The year 2009 was a difficult year as far as my health goes.  I had so many challenges with fatigue and digestive issues which ended in a breakdown at the end of the year.   Taking on the burden of trying to teach my autistic son was too much to handle.  The more I tried the more he failed.  At the end, he had a regression that affected his speech and ability to communicate.  It wiped out over 5 yrs of work in speech and language.  It affected me so much that I couldn’t function well for 3 months trying to cope and understand what happened.  What I didn’t know is it was just a pause.  The world did not end but it sure felt like it because I have attached my worth to whether or not I can educate and cure him.  But God in His wisdom was just showing me something more precious- Faith and Contentment.  Regressions, physical afflictions are just rests.  Just like in music, they are just as important.  God teaches us so much if we listen, humbly submitting our will to His.

Here is my paraphrase of Habakkuk 3:17-19:

Though Scotty may not grow to what I expect. Nor there be no fruit of my labor, training and therapy. Though my strength fail and there isn’t any food on the table. Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, the God of my salvation. The Lord is my strength. He carries me like a Father to a child.

“Earthly sorrow has a mission in the sanctifying of life” -J.R. Miller

Adrenal Fatigue: Finding God in Weakness

For the last 6 months, I have struggled through fatigue affecting my mind and body.  There was an emptying of all strength, draining completely that even a small amount of work or excitement led to shortness of breath. Sleep was shallow and so there was no rest.  I thought that it couldn’t get any worse than this, then I contracted a virus that affected my digestion.  I couldn’t eat anything that wouldn’t cause abdominal cramps.  I felt weak and helpless. However, I knew God had a purpose in it and that morning when I prayed and asked Him – this is what I read:

“A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out”  Matt.12-20

“Yet I am always with you” Psalm 73:23

“I the Lord have called you in righteousness and will hold your hand”  Isaiah 42:6

And from Spurgeon(Morning and Evening):

“The God of Providence limits and controls the manner, intensity, repetition and effects of all our sickness: each sleepless hour predestined, each relapse ordained, each depression of the spirit foreknown, each sanctifiying result eternally purposed.  Affliction is not a haphazard event.  He commits no errors in measuring out the ingredients which constitute the medicine of souls.”

Weakness through illness is humbling.  I don’t like going through it, but God in His wisdom teaches me so much through it.  It is not by might that I accomplish homeschooling but through His Spirit.  Actually it was all His strength.

A Brief Respite

Since the peak of aggression last month, Scotty’s behaviors have decreased and a month later, we find him back to his normal self, drawing appliances, catching bugs and asking questions. Sometimes I’m anxious still, thinking in the back of my mind that tomorrow maybe be a different day.

I thank God for the last few days of respite. It allowed me to rest, slow down and reflect on God’s many blessings. I thank all of you who continue to pray on our behalf. The discouragement and frustration that plagued my heart the past month has healed for now. I learned to drink all from the cup He gives us– the bitter and the sweet. I continue to learn how to love a child who doesn’t yet know how to love me back. I learn to be kind and patient when faced with anger. I realize also that it is a battle, a fight for joy. War is waged every moment that I am only seconds away from anger myself. Through grace, armed with prayer, we give thanks in order to have joy because it is only in His presence do we find it at all.

Dealing with aggression

If you ask most parents, aggression is the hardest thing to deal with as parents. It invokes “crisis” and disrupts family life and learning. For many years since Scotty was 3 years old autism took on many faces – tantrums, head banging, blood curling screams, scratching, biting and sleepless nights. After many years these behaviors became less and less as we use many kinds of intervention from behavior modification, neurodevelopment to biomedical approaches and chiropractic care. We had many successes amidst the failures and frustration dealing with this disorder. There are times when he seems like a typical child doing appropriate activities. But just when we have momentum, regression hits us hard that we lose a whole year of work finding ourselves back to fighting that same monster that takes over him.

As his eyes turn into rage I brace myself. My vision clouds, my heart sinks, and my whole body tenses up. All I can think of is how to redirect his rage with as little words as possible. I try to help him refocus, say short phrases like “look at me”, mention the consequences and wait and see if he can comprehend. Usually in the middle of a rage or meltdown, he will have only heightened emotions, rapid heart rate, shortness of breath and because he can’t handle all these feelings–he will try to physically hurt himself through whatever means he can find. I feel a variety of emotions: anger at this monster that continues to control him, sorrow as I see him hurt himself, and lately total surrender to God. In the past I felt hopeless resignation, but there is comfort in casting this burden to God who is in control of all things. During these meltdowns, I have prayed aloud as I held his trembling hand tightly and prayed very hard until tears start coming down my face. He calms down as he hears me pray about him, and all of a sudden in the middle of his rage, he notices my tears. About an hour later, he asks why I was crying. I tell him it is because I am sad to see him hurt himself.

So in the midst of darkness of mind, there is awareness, and in sorrow there is comfort. How blessed we are to be able to call on God anytime. And in total surrender and helplessness, we find Him as faithful as He has been in our joyful times. In complete weakness of spirit we find His grace and love.

A different language, a different world

On our recent trip to Mexico, one of the things we noticed was our difficulty understanding their language. Because we only know words, but not how they are put together, we can only understand about 2 words each sentence. For those who cannot speak English it was a struggle to communicate. It made me understand Scotty’s situation when it comes to language. He has been in speech therapy since he was 3 years old. For the last 12 yrs we all tried to teach him his language. It is only in the last 3 yrs of hard work with language processing that he have made great gains. But it wasn’t until now that I understood his personal struggle. When we speak fast, he cannot process it and therefore can not comprehend what we say to him. It is very much like being in a foreign country where you barely get a gist of what people are saying and you then learn to understand tone and body language.

Holland

This is a poem I was given in a support group. It was hard to read at the time, but now I fully understand it. It deals with the acceptance of our lot in life whether that be our children or our roles. We do not design or plan our lives, thankfully God does and we can rest our hope in Him.

Welcome to Holland

When you are going to have a baby, it’s like you’re planning a vacation to Italy, you’re all excited. You get a whole bunch of guidebooks and you learn phrases in Italian so you can get around. When it comes time, you pack your bags and head for the airport—for Italy.

Only when you land the stewardess says, “Welcome to Holland”.

You look at one another in disbelief and shock and say, “Holland? What are you talking about? I signed up for Italy!.

But they explain there’s been a change of plans and you’ve landed in Holland, where you must stay. “But I don’t know anything about Holland, I don’t want to stay!.

But you do stay. You go out and buy some new guidebooks. You learn some new phrases and you meet people you never knew existed. The important thing is that you are not in a filthy, plague infested slum, full of pestilence and famine. You are simply in a different place than you had planned. It’s slower paced than Italy, and less flashy than Italy, but after you’ve been there a little while and you have a chance to catch your breath, you begin to discover that Holland has windmills. Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone else you know is busy coming and going from Italy. They’re all bragging about what a great time they had there, and for the rest of your life, you will say, “Yes, that’s where I was going. That’s what I had planned.”

The pain of that will never, ever go away.

You have to accept that pain because the loss of that dream, the loss of that plan, is a very, very significant loss. But if you spend your time mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you will never be free to enjoy the very special, very lovely things about Holland.

—Diane Crutcher