Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Taking Care Of Special Needs

Taking Care Of Special Needs
Joshua helping Justin put-put.
I have been watching the interaction between Joshua and Justin at the High School as they walk ahead of me toward Justin's class.  With all the talking and laughing, they look more like two good friends hanging out than brothers.  Over the years, their relationship has grown stronger and I've come to realize Joshua has become an important part of Justin's life.  Even though I take care of Justin's "special needs", Joshua takes care of Justin's "normal needs."
Being a teenager and young adult is an awkward time in anyone's life as we search for where we fit in with society.  As I watch Joshua search for his place in society, I've noticed he has helped Justin find acceptance within his group of friends.  It's something I haven't really been able to do for Justin and it warms my heart to see his brother attend to his needs without knowing what he is doing.
With that being said I've noticed my job of taking care of Justin's "special needs" is posing to be more of a challenge as he gets older.  I didn't realize there was such a big gap in people providing services for young adults with disabilities.  I call providers but they either stop taking people around age 13 or they deal with the elderly.  What are the care takers of young adults with disabilities supposed to do?  Where are we supposed to turn?  I haven't yet found my answer, but it won't stop me from continuing my search for my son.
In times when we can't find an answer, we have to take it one day at a time and be thankful for the needs that are taken care of.  It can be so easy to focus on what hasn't been accomplished, but it doesn't have to be like that.  Continue to work on issues that need to be taken care of, but don't forget to take a breather and enjoy life.  Don't forget to take care of yourself.
Going now to take a breather.  Thanks for reading.
Angela :)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

When Should Bullying Be Ignored?

When Should Bullying Be Ignored?

A great deal of attention has been brought to the subject of bullying.  Bullying isn't limited to able-bodied people with huge egos wanting to belittle those they feel are beneath them, but people with special needs can be bullies as well.  I didn't realize just how much of an issue this was until Justin became the target of a bully; a bully who was also special needs.  Many who bully use the excuse they do what is being done to them, but I don't totally buy into this.  If someone were in someway mistreated, don't they in turn make sure they don't mistreat others because they know how it feels? 

I also have to ask myself where are the parents of the bullies and do they care what their children are doing?  Sadly to say, many parents of bullies don't care as long as their children are out of their hair.  Their lack of disciplining their children and showing them the love and respect they so crave comes out in their children's everyday actions and many times these actions are against their peers.  Then when parents are confronted with the inappropriate behavior, they either lose their temper with the one confronting them or ignore the situation all together.  How can anything get accomplished when we keep running into a brick wall?

I try to rear my children to be respectful of those around them and to treat others the way they would want to be treated.  Sometimes this means we have to stand up to what others want to sweep under the rug, because ignoring the situation achieves nothing and in some cases makes the situation worse.  It also sends a message to our children who are being bullied that they are not important and I want them to know they are just as important as everyone else. 

Trying to change the world for the better, one bully at a time.
Angela :)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Wrongfully Judging Others

Wrongfully Judging Others
You judging me?!?
Justin in 2008
Luke 6:41-42 (KJV) states "And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?  Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye."  These verses speak to me on so many different levels, but what sticks out the most is something that is running rampant in today's society;  pointing out someone else's faults without seeing the bigger faults in your own life.
Some are so judgmental and quick to point out the "faults" with our special needs children while being totally oblivious to the bigger "faults" of their own children.  They find our children's "odd" behavior off putting and many times criticize us for "not disciplining" the child correctly.  I would like to ask those who think they have the answer to straightening out our children if they have really opened their eyes and taken a closer look at what their children are doing.  Many times our children make "horrible noises" because they are non-verbal and have no other way to get our attention when something is wrong.  They are not deliberately trying to cause a scene and we as their parents don't always know when they are going to have a "meltdown."  Instead of passing judgement and calling our children names, I would encourage you to look at your perfectly healthy child snickering and making fun of my mine.  Why do you not judge them for their behavior or do you see nothing wrong with it? 
How would you want people to treat your child if the shoe was on the other foot?  How would you want people to treat you?  Before you pass judgement on a special needs parent or their child, try to understand their may be more to the situation than meets the eye and then set a good example for your children.  Teach them compassion.  Teach them to accept.  Teach them to love.  Teach them to treat my child the way they would want to be treated if this had happened to them.
Going to try and teach my children the value of spending the evening together.  Thanks for reading.
Angela  :)

Friday, August 30, 2013

My Love - Hate Relationship With Leg Braces

My Love - Hate Relationship With Leg Braces
Justin in 2001
Justin didn't really walk until he was three and has worn some type of foot or leg support since he was a couple of years old.  He began with shoe insets, then went to ankle braces.  After that came the braces which came  up to his knees which he wore until he was eleven, and for over a year now he is back in ankle braces.  I had the love-hate relationship with the ones which came up to his knees.  

I especially hated them during the summer months.  I loved the fact they helped him walk better, but people would stare because they were more noticeable when he wore shorts.  These braces were  made of plastic and made his legs hot.  When I took them off in the evenings, his socks would be wet with sweat.  His shoes also had to be several sizes larger than he normally wore and this made he look like he had clown feet; especially when he picked out bold, multi-colored shoes.

Sometimes I wonder why I hated those braces so much when the only time Justin really complained was when they hurt his feet.  Why couldn't I just be happy he was able to walk better when he wore them?  Maybe they were a constant reminder of Justin's daily struggle to just get from point A to point B without falling.  Maybe it was because it pointed out to people Justin was "different".  Then again, maybe it was a guilt I felt because I couldn't fix it for him.

I know this daily issue is part of what makes Justin who he is and I know I am doing all I can to ensure he progresses as much as possible, but I can still close my eyes and see him walking without dragging his right foot or holding onto my arm to keep his balance.  I then realize this will one day be a reality for him.  Maybe not here on earth in this flesh body which will always be riddled with problems, but he will have a perfect body when he makes it to Heaven.  I pray he will be here on earth for many more years to come, but I also rejoice in the knowledge that one day he will be made whole.

Thanks for "walking" down memory lane with me,
Angela :)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Growing Up Is Hard To Do

Growing Up Is Hard To Do
Boys at the State Fair in Oct 2012

The hustle and bustle of a new school year has begun and I am left wondering where the summer went.  Since both the boys are at the high school now, I am really left wondering where the time with them as children has gone.  I realize they have grown up way too fast as my mind wonders back to their first day in kindergarten.

Justin was too medically fragile to attend school to begin with, so we started out his education with teachers and therapists coming to the house, but the day did arise when I had to take him to school.  I thought it would be a tough transition for him since he hadn't been in school before, but the fact of the matter was it was tougher on me.  I remember walking him to his classroom and he clumsily ran off to play with his classmates.  No hug... no kiss... just the slam of the door in my face.  I must have stood looking through the window too long because the teacher came to the door and reassured me Justin would be fine. 

I then drift back in time to Joshua's first day of kindergarten.  The boys went to school on the first day; the girls on the second and both boys and girls came together on the third day.  I thought the transition for him would be easy, but was I ever wrong.  I literally dragged him across the school parking lot and to his classroom where he sobbed and clung to me.  He was ok going back on the third day until "the girls" started walking through the door.  "But mommy, there's girls."  He whispered in my ear.  I pulled him close and said, "Well, mommy's a girl."  Then with a bewildered look on his face, he replied "No you're not.  You're mommy!" 

I was brought back to reality when both boys got out of the car to go to class.  No they aren't the same little boys I remember dropping off at kindergarten, but then they aren't supposed to be.  They are supposed to grow and become more independent.  Even though they still have alot of growing up to do, I can look at them and see who they are becoming and this makes me such a proud mommy.

Trying to see them for the young men they are becoming instead of the child I remember.
Thanks for reading,
Angela :)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Making Sense Out Of Sensory Issues

Justin at therapy in 2004
 I understand that Sensory Processing Disorder occurs when the brain doesn't receive and interpret signals from our senses correctly, but I still have problems making  "sense" of Justin's sensory problems.  My mind just can't grasp how in some ways he can get overstimulated, but then understimulated in other ways.  For the parents of children with these issues, I am sure you know what I'm talking about.  We spend many hours trying to figure out what sets them off and then we spend many more hours searching for a solution. 

One of Justin's biggest daily struggles stemmed from combing his hair so I reevaluated the situation.  I like Justin to have a little bit of hair to comb and style, but asked myself if it was really worth the daily fight and my answer was no.  So my dad and I have worked with him to be able to use clippers on his hair and keep it short.  It has certainly made for a less stressful morning for both Justin and I when he can get up in the morning and not have to worry about his hair.

I've also noticed Justin would have issues in crowded, noisy or new environments and when he was younger, he would have a total meltdown.  I'm talking about hands over the ears, slumping to the ground as if all energy had left his body and screaming to the top of his lungs.  Several times I've had to scoop him up in my arms and leave.  Of course I would hear the occasional "All that boy needs is a good spanking to straighten him out."  I would feel the tears well up in my eyes and I wanted to turn around and give them a piece of my mind, but the mother in me made me focus on my son.  To deal with this issue better I do two things; one is I make sure he has fidgeters on a lanyard around his neck and the second thing is I use music therapy.  These things being put into place hasn't eliminated his issues in different environments, but it has made things less stressful for him.  It has been years since he has had a total meltdown.

I could go on and on about his sensory issues, but the point I'm trying to make is that we just take it one step at a time.  If something doesn't work, well then we try something else.  Just keep in mind, even though we may not totally understand what our kids are going through, we can still work hard at making their world a little less stressful which in turn makes our world a little more peaceful.

Wishing you all an evening of peace,
Angela :)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

My Brother, My Friend


Justin and Joshua  - Summer of 2003
Justin, who was nine at the time, should have been able to do twice as much as Joshua who was five, but it didn’t work out like that.  They played together all the time, but Justin noticed he was “different” and couldn’t do the things that his little brother could do. At times, his frustration got the best of him and he wanted to give up, but Joshua’s tendency to include his big brother made Justin feel “normal”.  Never had this inclusion been as important to Justin as it was one day when I took the boys to play at the park.
As I pulled into the gravel parking lot, I noticed several kids already on the playground.  Afte we walked through the wrought iron gate, the boys took off running toward the swings.  Justin laughed as he ran clumsily behind his little brother and finally made it to his destination. He studied Joshua's every move, but couldn’t seem to grasp the concept of how to swing.  “Hold on.” I said and gave him a little push. Justin’s eyes lit up when he began to swing just like Joshua. 
I looked around and noticed a wooden bench under a pine tree just a few feet away.  I sat down and had pulled a book out of my blue tote bag when I saw a small group of kids running around.  They made their way to the swings and began to strike up a conversation with the boys.  Justin tried to talk with them, but they could not understand his gibberish.  The four kids began to focus their attention on Joshua and ignored Justin.  After talking for a few minutes, Joshua and his new friends ran off to play on the monkey bars leaving Justin by himself.  The smile disappeared from Justin’s face as he watched the other kids have fun without him.
My heart broke when he looked up at me with tears in his eyes.  “I play Joshy.”  He said as he pointed to the other kids.   “Do you want to swing some more?” I asked as I knelt down in front of him.  “I not do it.”  He said as he looked down at the ground.  “What about something to drink?”  I asked as I reached into my bag.  Justin sighed.  “No.  No tank you.”  He said. 
The sounds of the other children laughing and playing echoed across the playground as I sat in the swing beside him.  After we sat for a few minutes I saw Joshua and his buddies run toward Justin.  They were out of breath by the time they made it to him.  Joshua bent forward and placed his hands on his knees and tried to catch his breath.  I was so proud of Joshua when he asked if Justin could play with them.  “It’s ok with me, but maybe you should ask him.” 
Justin's face lit up like a Christmas tree when Joshua asked if he wanted to play with them.  "Yeah!  Yeah!”  Justin squealed with excitement. Joshua then turned to the other kids and said “This is my brother Justin.  He has seizures in his head, but he likes to play just like us.”  Justin stood up and his new found friends waved to him.  “To the monkey bars!”  They all exclaimed as they ran off together.  Of course Justin lagged behind, but it didn’t seem to bother anyone.  My eyes filled with tears of joys when the other kids cheered Justin on until he made it to where they stood.
The kids played for a long time…running, laughing, having fun.  I decided it was time to go when I noticed some of the other kids leave to go home.  “Alright boys.  It’s time to go.”  I said as I stood up and swung the tote bag over my shoulder.   “Awwww mom!  Do we have to?”  Joshua asked looking up at me with his big brown eyes.  “Come on.”  I said with a tussle of his hair.  Justin had a sparkle in his eyes and a big smile on his sweet little face when he said “Dat fun Mama.”  “I’m glad you had fun, but I bet you’re tired.”  I said as I bent over to adjust the strap on his leg brace.  “I sweepy.”  He said as he rubbed his eyes.   “Both of you will probably sleep well tonight.”  I said when I stood back up.
As we began our walk to the car, I heard someone yell, “Justin!  Joshua!  Wait a minute!”  The three of us turned around to see a freckle faced little boy running towards us.  “Do you have to go now?”   He asked while looking up at me with big pleading blue eyes.  “I guess we can stay a little longer if they want to.”  I replied as I glanced in the boys’ direction.  Cheers filled the air as all three boys jumped up and down with excitement.
I watched the three of them run to the swings.  Justin sat down while Joshua and their  friend took turns pushing him.  Justin’s sweet laughter filled the air as he went higher and higher.  I realized at that moment how important this was for Justin.  After all, he wants what we all want….friends, love and acceptance.  Joshua without realizing what he had done, made that moment possible for his big brother just by letting the children know that Justin is just like them….a boy who wants to run, play and have fun.
Thanks to all my friends for reading,
Angela :)

Monday, July 15, 2013

A Much Needed Vacation

A Much Needed Vacation

Justin at the beach
We all have our daily routines which is well and good but everyone needs a break from time to time......a change in scenery.....in other words, a vacation. That's exactly what we did with the family this summer when we went to Wilmington, NC.  We took a much needed getaway to somewhere we hadn't been before and it was exciting deciding what we should do.  The scenery was beautiful and we couldn't have asked for better weather. 

The thing the kids loved the most was when we visited the USS North Carolina. Tim and Joshua kept Savannah in their grasp as I helped Justin move around the battleship.  There was alot of climbing up and down stairs and this worried me a little since Justin's balance isn't the best in the world, but he climbed those steps just as good as I did.  After awhile though, I could tell his legs were getting tired and I made him sit down on a bench to take a break.  I was pleasantly surprised at how well he held up and his sensory problems didn't get the best of him.

We also visited the Railroad Museum and the Cape Fear Serpentarium.  Yes... a place where there were lots of snakes and crocodiles.  To be honest, it was kind of cool in its own creepy way.  We were all having fun until they began to let some of the snakes out to feed them.  At that point, Justin wanted to go.  I coaxed him over to a bench until the snake feeding was finished and then he leerily finished looking at the rest of the exhibits.

We also went to the beach.  I talked Justin into removing his boots, braces and socks and he walked along the edge of the water with me.  The water and sand washing over his feet scared him a little at first but he got used to it.  He would holler and then laugh with the anticipation of the next wave of water heading toward his skinny little toes.  I looked at the precious smile on Justin's face, then I looked over at my husband and daughter still walking along the water's edge before looking back at Joshua who was in the sand picking up sea shells.  We were all relaxed and at peace without a care in the world at that moment.

I realized it's not always the big things we do with our children that matter, but the small things we do that can have a lasting effect and make some of our most treasured memories.  The most precious gift we can give our kids is our time; even if it's just holding your child's hand while walking on the beach or looking at the sea shells they collected.  It makes them feel loved and important and in return we have memories that last a lifetime. 

Thanks for sharing in our memories,
Angela :)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

My Own Little World


I bought Justin a shirt one time which read "I live in my own little world, but it's ok they know me here."  I thought it fit Justin perfectly but as I began to ponder it further I realized it's true for everyone.  We are all responsible for what and who we let into our world and as we began to have children, we have the added responsibility to monitor their little world as well.  The world we create for our family should be one of comfort, peace and acceptance, but then why is there so much pain, suffering and heartache? 

 This question has been plagueing my mind since reading the news this past week.  One story was about the death of a 32 year old man with down syndrome.  They arrested the mother and sister in connection with his death.  The man had been locked in his room and forced to sleep on a child's bed covered with feces.  He had an untreated skin condition which caused sores to form so deep you could see the bone in some areas.  The shocker for me was that he weighed only 69 pounds at the time of his death.  Yes, you read that right.  A 32 year old man weighing only 69 pounds when he died.  The mother's only worry was wondering whether or not she would continue to draw her son's disability check even though he was dead.

The other story I read which brought me to tears was a local story about the death of a three year old little girl. The mother had already been sentenced to 20 years in prison in connection with the death and her boyfriend got life in prison.  Evidence showed this little angel had bruises all over her body and burns around her private areas.  She had an untreated urinary tract infection that spread to her kidneys and the blood stream, but it was also proven she had been raped several days before her death.

I can't understand why the people in these two individuals lives didn't try to ensure their world was free from this evil.  They had the ability to provide a safe haven but chose instead to be a part of the torment their children endured.  Why oh why does the innocent have to continue be the victims of the cruelness of this world?

I don't have the answers but I do know we don't have to worry about what is going on in these two individuals' world anymore.  They are with our Lord in Heaven and He tells us in Revelation 21:4 KJV  "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."

I urge each of us to take a look at our own world and the world of our children and if there is something we can do to ensure the safe, loving environment that is so needed to make sure they grow physically, mentally and spiritually, then please make the effort to do so.  We only have one shot at this.  We can't go back ten years from now and try to fix it.  It is something that must be done at this moment.

Thanks for taking time out of your day to be a part of my world.
Angela :)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Cuties Have Cooties

Justin and Joshua

Warm rays of sunshine were cast down from the sky as pollen filled the air on that beautiful spring afternoon.  I saw yellow buttercups in full bloom as I parked my white Escort station wagon in front of Justin’s school.  The cold, dreary days of winter were gone and spring was definitely in the air.
Joshua was three and a half years old and sat quietly in the back playing with his hot wheels cars in the seat beside him.  I was greeted by his babyish grin when I opened the back car door.  His big, brown eyes met mine as I took him out of the car and placed him on the pollen covered sidewalk.  I couldn’t help but smile when he slipped his small hand in mine, led me to the front door of the school and said, “Gotta get brudder.”

I opened one of the heavy blue double doors and we walked inside.  It slammed behind us and echoed through the school as we started down the maze of hallways that led to the back of the school where Justin’s class was found.  Joshua stopped several times along the way to look at the colorful, whimsical murals that were painted on the walls.

As we approached the classroom door, I paused to admire his class’ artwork that was so proudly displayed on the bulletin board.  I felt my heart fill with joy as I looked at all the colors swirled together on the white piece of paper with Justin’s name on it.  To me, it meant he did something he found difficult that most people do with the utmost of ease. 

I turned from the colorful artwork when I heard the class room door open.  Justin’s teacher stepped into the hall and carefully closed the door behind her.  Jennifer brushed the blonde hair from her eyes.  She placed one hand on my arm and said, “I just have to tell you what Justin did today.  He was just so sweet.”  She then placed one hand over her heart and began, “During recess, Justin walked up to a group of girls and told them they were cuties!”  Not my boy, I thought.  Not flirting with little girls already at the tender age of seven.  Jennifer thought it was the most precious thing as she continued to give me details about the event.  I had to admit…..it was cute.

We eased into the classroom and I found Justin on the playmat dancing to children’s songs playing on the portable CD player that had been placed on a wooden table.  His small, frail body awkwardly moved to the music as he tried to snap his thin, little fingers.  His jean shorts revealed the braces he wore that came up to his knees.  He turned around as he danced to the music and I caught a glimpse of his angelic face.

Jennifer told him to get his book bag, but he was in his own little world and continued to dance.  She walked closer to him, clapped her hands and in a sterner voice told him again to get his book bag.  Justin clumsily walked over to his cubby and retrieved his Spider-Man book bag while he said “Time go.  Time go.”  He slowly made his way to where Joshua and I stood as his classmates told him goodbye.

We made our way back to the car and as I placed the boys in their seats, I asked Justin about the little girls he spoke to at recess.  “So, I heard you told some girls they were cuties.” I said as I buckled his seat belt.  Justin giggled and gave me a big smile.  His two front permanent teeth looked like they were too big for his little head and I couldn’t help but think he looked like Bugs Bunny when he smiled.  I laughed, told him he was silly and closed the back door.

When I opened the driver door and sat in the seat, I heard Justin say loudly “Key-oooooties!”  Then he and Joshua laughed like it was the funniest thing they’d ever heard.  “I know, I know.” I said.  “You think those girls were cuties.”  “No! No!” Justin exclaimed adamantly.  “Key-oooties!”  As I listened to the laughter bellowing from the back seat, it finally hit me like a bolt of lightning.  “Justin” I said. “Did you say those little girls were cuties or did you tell them they had cooties?!”  He glanced at me with a mischievous look on his sweet little face and said, “Yeah! Yeah!  Key-oooooties!”

It was that moment I realized I was still the only “girl” in my son’s life…..probably the only “girl” he could think of that didn’t have “cooties”.  As for Justin’s teacher, she still believes to this day that Justin told those girls they were “cuties”. 

Thanks for reading,
Angela :)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Doing Unto Others

Doing Unto Others
How Justin would look when he was mad.
God tells us in Matthew 7:12 (KJV) "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them:"  and He goes on in 1Peter 3:9 (KJV) to tell us "Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult.  On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing."

We all want to be treated fairly, but have we always treated others fairly or have we done what was right for us and not care whether it was fair to others?  Have we always been kind to each other in our times of anger, or have we plotted revenge and said things to deliberately hurt someone's feelings just to get back at them?  I know it is hard to be kind to someone who is mean and hateful to you, but repaying them hatefulness for hatefulness does nothing but fuel the fire so to speak.  After all, isn't it easier to work out your differences if you chose to be kind instead of mean?

I began to look at how Justin views things and for the most part, he treats people the way he wants to be treated.  He also doesn't plot revenge to "get back at someone."  He knows when he hasn't been treated fairly and he'll be the first one to tell you "Dat wong.  Dat jus wong.  Apolgize Dudin (translation: That's wrong.  That's just wrong.  Apologize to Justin)".  On the same note, Justin also knows when he has done wrong and will apologize (when that stubborn streak isn't rearing its ugly head).  He wants things to be back to normal as quickly as possible and doesn't like for people to be mad at him.

Isn't that what God wants for us too?  He doesn't want us spending our time angry and bitter, but to spend our time at peace with those around us.  So my closing thought is this; instead of sowing seeds of discord, sow seeds of love, peace, kindness and understanding.  If you do that, watch the blessings you will reap.

Wishing all my readers peace and love,
Angela :)


Friday, May 24, 2013

Time Flies Whether You Have Fun Or Not

Time Flies Whether You Have Fun Or Not
Justin and Joshua "taking a break" 

If you are the parent of a special needs child, I don't have to tell you how demanding it can be with all the doctor and therapy appointments.  Add work, cleaning, cooking, and spending time with the rest of your family to the mix and you begin to feel there is not enough hours in the day to get everything done. I remember feeling so stressed at times trying to accomplish everything that I felt needed to be done,  that I wanted to pull my hair out.

When I start to feel like my life is in chaos, I am reminded of what the Lord tells us in Matthew 11:28 (KJV).  It states "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."  What beautiful and uplifting scripture this is!  God is letting us know He understands what we are going through, but trust and turn to Him and He will give us what we need.  We're not to be lazy, but we don't have to work ourselves to death either.

As I pondered this scripture, I began to look at my day differently.  Sure there is a long list of things I want to get done everyday, but I learned to prioritize my list.  Do what absolutely needs to be done first and then move on with the rest of the list.  At the end of the day, I began to look at what I accomplished instead of the list of things that still needed to be done. 

So my advice to you is to take time for yourself as well.  After all, will it really be the end of the world if you don't get to wash a load of clothes everyday?  My answer would have to be no.  Will it really make a difference if you take a few minutes for yourself or spend a few more minutes with your loved ones?  My answer would have to be yes.  Remember God knows our needs and we are important to Him just as our family is important to us and He will give us what we need if we trust in Him. 

In closing, I want to thank you for "taking the time" to read my blog. 
Angela  :)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Like A Child

Like A Child
Justin enjoying life.

I've watched Justin's physical development zoom past his mental development during his eighteen years on this earth.  Even though he is an adult, he still has the mentality of a young child.  I have wondered why God would allow this to take place and my eyes were opened in Matthew 18:2-3 (KJV).  It states  "2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, 3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven."

I began to take a closer look at my son and noticed he still possesses an innocence and child-like faith that most of us lose when we approach adulthood.  We lose these qualities and find it hard to regain them when we get "too big for our britches" and start depending more on what we can do for ourselves instead of what we can do for God.  God's hand is upon us and He provides for us, but as we get older we sometimes want bigger and better things and start straying from the one who loves us beyond measure.

I took another look at my son and realized he doesn't care where his clothes come from or even if they have holes in them.  He wears them anyway and doesn't complain.  He worries not about what he is going to eat and never thinks it's not good enough or that he doesn't like it.  How many of us have to make sure our clothes match?  How many of us wouldn't be caught dead in a thrift store?  How many of us stick our nose up at what has been put in front of us to eat? 

I have also watched Justin be a blessing to so many people just by being obedient to what the Lord has placed on his heart.  It is with shame that I admit there have been times when the Lord has wanted me to do something and I didn't because I was scared of what people would think.  I worried more about fitting in or being talked about instead of obeying the one who has blessed me so much.

So in closing, I thank God for allowing me to see just how humble, trusting and obedient we can be if we move our own ego out of the way and depend on Him and be thankful for what we have been given.

Thanking God also for my faithful readers and that my words may touch someone.
Angela :)

Friday, May 10, 2013

Celebrating A Mother's Love

Celebrating A Mother's Love

Me and my mom
A mother gives unconditionally of herself for the benefit of those she loves and deserves our love and respect in return and with Mother's Day right around the corner, I've been reflecting upon not only the relationship with my children but also the relationship with my mom.   I realize how lucky I am to be able to share this special time with her and my heart goes out to those who won't be able to share this day with their mom.

I never truly knew the power of a mother's love until I became a mom myself, or the sacrifices made for me until I started sacrificing for my children.   Does that mean we had a perfect childhood or that we've provided a perfect childhood for our little ones?  No, it doesn't.  As a mom, it hurts to know we could have done a better job, but just because we've made mistakes doesn't mean we don't love our children, it just means we aren't perfect. 

So this Mother's Day don't focus on the things you should or shouldn't have done for your mom or children, instead focus on the love you received and the love you give.  If your mother is still with you, pay her a visit and show her how much she means to you.  If your mother has already moved on to be with our Lord and Savior, I know you are wishing for one more hug, one more kiss, and one more "I love you", but take comfort in the fact that you will see her again and chances are she already knows how much you love her.

Happy Mother's Day to you all.
Angela :)

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Works of God

The Works of God

Justin at 5 years old.
Being the parent of a special needs child, I can't tell you how many times I've asked myself, "why my child?"  I even began to question whether Justin's disabilities were somehow my fault, even though they weren't.  I prayed to God and found my answer in John 9:1-3 (KJV).  It reads "And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him."

This passage of scripture gave me piece of mind knowing that God has a plan for my son and his disabilities serve a purpose.  My mind began to ponder the possibilities these verses had to offer.  First, it clearly states that it is no one's fault for the disability.  So don't take the blame for something that you had no control over and instead, focus on the miracle in which you've been entrusted. 

These verses also state God will use the disability to show us the wonders of His works.  Does this mean God will heal our child?  Sometimes the answer is yes and sometimes the answer is no, but if the answer is no we must not be dismayed as our Creator has other plans in store for our loved one. I for one, have witnessed God using Justin to touch and bless others and it wouldn't have had as much of an impact if Justin were "normal."  Justin is like a small child and obeys God's instructions and because of his child-like faith, he has been blessed with a closer walk with the one true Master. 

So I leave you with this last remark.  Our children's bodies may not be perfect by man's standards, but God makes no mistakes and our little ones are perfect by His.

May God continue to show His works through your child.
Angela :)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Stalling In Applebees

Stalling In Applebees

My boys and I were like three peas in a pod, but were more like the three stooges on that cold, rainy afternoon when I decided to take them out to eat.  I pulled my dark gray Nissan Xterra into the Applebees parking lot and was happy to see there were few cars since Justin didn’t like crowds.

We sat in a booth at the back of the restaurant near the restrooms.  As soon as we were settled, Joshua informed me he had to go the bathroom.  “Me too. Me too.” Justin said.  “Well, he can go with me then.” Joshua responded.  Since Justin was twelve at the time, I couldn’t take him myself, but this could turn out to be a fiasco if I send him with Joshua.   I hesitantly moved and let him go with his brother. 
While I was giving our order to the waitress, Joshua came back to the table alone.  “Where’s Justin?”  I asked while glancing at the restroom door.   “He’s doing something besides peeing and I’m not going to help him.” Joshua said as he crossed his arms.  I rolled my eyes and thought, what do I do now.  “Is anyone else in there?”  I asked.  “No mom, only Justin.”  He replied.  “Why don’t you go help him and I’ll make sure no one else goes in?”  The waitress said as she took her place by the door. 

I pushed against the heavy wooden door and made my way into the dimly lit room.  The door closed behind me and I called out to Justin.  His voice echoed from the stall when he said, “Hey mommy.”  I approached the stall door and pulled on the silver handle only to find that Justin had latched it so I couldn’t get in.  “Let me in.”  I said while pulling on the handle again and began to feel frustrated when I heard him laugh at me. 

Next, I heard a rustling of fabric and the clinking of a belt buckle in the next stall; then the distinct sound of a zipper.  I prayed no one else was in there as I bent over to look under the stall doors.  I saw Justin’s shoes inside the first stall, then took a deep breath and fixed my eyes under the door of the second stall.  There they were; two shiny black dress shoes looking back at me.  I quickly got to my feet and began to sweat as my heart beat faster.  I felt my face turn red with embarrassment.
I gave the handle of Justin’s stall several quick tugs and knocked on the door.  “Justin.  Hurry up and let me in.”  I said with a stern voice.  “I can’t!  I doooooookey!”  He bellowed with laughter.  I heard no more noise from the next stall, but I still saw the black shoes staring at me from under the door.  I got a sniff of the horrible odor coming from Justin’s stall and wondered how the trapped man next to us kept from gagging.
I had to hurry up and get out of here I thought as I tugged the stall handle again.  “Open this door and I mean it.”  When Justin finally let me in, I gave him a “you’re in big trouble” look.  “I mull bad.”  He said with a grin on his face.   “You’re rotten.”  I said as I rolled off some tissue and handed it to him.  When he finished, I flushed the toilet as he buttoned his pants.

I opened the stall door and looked around as I rushed Justin to the sink.  Still no sound came from the other stall.  “Wash your hands.”  I said as I washed mine in the sink next to him.  Then we both very hurriedly dried our hands and left.

After we sat back down at the booth with Joshua, I finally took a deep breath and exhaled.  Thank God that was over.  Then I heard the restroom door open and there they were, the black shoes that had looked at me from under the stall.  I could not bring myself to look at the man that had come out. I don’t know who was more embarrassed me, or the poor man trapped in the Applebees restroom stall.  

Hoping one of my most embarrassing moments brought a smile to your face.
Angela :)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Moments To Remember

Moments To Remember
Justin ready for the prom.
We all remember our high school days and those special moments that go along with this time in our lives.  It was when we got our driver's license, had our first date, went to prom and graduation.  Then we go out into "the real world" and start a family sooner or later.  We then long for our children to have their special moments when they reach high school, but since Justin has special needs I never thought this would happen for him.

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised when the opportunity arose for Justin to attend his prom.  Yes, you read that right.  Justin went to his prom. I was so excited and nervous for him at the same time.  His teacher would chaperone, but being a mother I still worried.  Would he have fun?  Would he fit in?  Would this be a moment in his life he would fondly remember?  All I could do was say a prayer and hope for the best.

I remember my heart filling with pride as I helped him with his tux.  He wasn't the little boy I remember, but instead he was a young man.  To keep from crying I asked him what he was going to do at prom and couldn't help but giggle when he replied he was going to shake his booty.  After a quick stop at my parents' home, the family was off to celebrate Justin's special night.  We met several others at a mexican restaurant to have dinner and went to take pictures at the local college.  Then it was time for the big event and was shocked at how quick Justin jumped in the car with his teacher, leaving me behind. 

After he made it to the prom, the rest of the family went to do a little shopping, but I couldn't really concentrate on what items I needed as my mind was solely on Justin.  Then I received a call from his teacher as we were getting ready to leave.  Excitement welled up inside of me as she spoke of Justin being in the middle of a group of students dancing and having fun.

When we picked him up, I asked him if he had a good time and I will never forget him replying "it real awesome." and grinning from ear to ear.  What a wonderful moment for my son.  A moment that I never thought would happen.  A moment that he will always remember.  A moment that I will always remember. 

So I say to all the parents out there with special needs children, it's ok to have hopes and dreams for our children.  Many times with just a little effort and understanding, these dreams will in fact become some of the sweetest moments to remember.

Thanks for reading and sharing one of our moments,
Angela :)

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Accept The Things You Cannot Change

Accept The Things You Cannot Change

I spoke with a friend whose mother had recently passed away and could tell their heart was heavy and troubled even though they knew she was in Heaven.  She had been sick for such a long time and they were ashamed to admit it was almost a relief when she finally died.  They didn't want to feel that way and thought something was wrong with them because of it.  I tried to help them understand the relief they felt wasn't because their mother passed away, but because she was in no more pain. 

As I prayed for my friend that evening, I realized that there have
been times when I've felt something was wrong with me because of my feelings concerning Justin.  Even though I accept him just the way he is, there is always a part of me that would take away his disabilities if I could.   How can I talk about changing him and in the same breath say that I accept him? The answer is this;  just as it tore at my friend's heart to see their mother in pain, it tears at my heart to see Justin struggle on a daily basis. No one wants to see a loved one in pain or struggling in life and as much as we would like to "fix" it, sometimes we just can't.  It's not a punishment or curse and we don't always understand why it had to happen; we just have to trust in God.

So in closing I want to share the Serenity Prayer with you and hope you remember it the next time life gets difficult.  "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;  Courage to change the things I can; And wisdom to know the difference."

Hoping this evening finds you filled with the peace of knowing that God is with you.
Angela :)

Friday, March 29, 2013

Missed Opportunities

Missed Opportunities
My daughter Savannah
I read something on the internet that I thought would be a feel good message, but instead it almost brought me to tears.  It began with the story of a mother taking her two children, one boy and one girl, to the park.  The kids ran and played while the mother sat on a bench.  My mind drifted back in time when I took my boys to the park so they could play.  I can still see them swinging, running, laughing and just being kids. The memories made my heart smile.

I snapped back to the present and continued with the story, expecting to read about these children having a wonderful time on their outing.  As it goes, the little girl called her mom to watch her twirl around, but the mom was too busy on her iphone.  She barely glanced at her daughter before returning to what she was doing.  Then the little boy called to his mom to watch him play, but again she hardly looked up from her phone. Both kids continued to have a good time but without their mother's attention.  I thought about the message this sent to those precious little ones.  It said what mom was doing was more important than they were. 
My heart began to feel heavy with thoughts of things I've missed with my little ones because something else was more important at that moment.  Just a few weeks ago my three year old daughter sat at the kitchen table.  "Mommy, mommy color with me."  She said as she held up a crayon for me to take.  "I can't right now sweetie.  Mommy is busy."  I said while continuing to sweep.  I'm ashamed to say by the time I finished sweeping, Savannah was no longer at the table coloring, but was instead laughing and playing with her puppy.  I gathered the papers together in a pile and put the crayons back in the box and went on to put clothes in the dryer.  I look back now and realize that was a missed opportunity on my part.  Was the sweeping more important than coloring with my little girl?  No it wasn't and I wish I could go back, take the crayon from her little hand, color with her and hang it on the refrigerator, but I can't.  It's my loss.
As I strive to have a closer walk with Jesus, I realize He is never too busy for me.  I've never had to "wait" for him to put down what He is doing.  He always makes me feel important.  This is what I must work on with my children.  I understand life is hectic at times and there are things that just can't wait, but many times it can be put on the back burner for a few moments to share that time with my children.  I will from now on work harder to treat my loved ones with the love, respect and attention they deserve and not just give them what is left.
Going now to make memories with my little ones.  Thanks for reading.
Angela :) 

Friday, March 22, 2013

My Shining Star

My Shining Star
by Angela Roberts

Justin - My Shining Star

My baby boy, I hadn't a clue.
How I would ever take care of you.
With your diagnosis, I was stunned.
I was even worried you'd be shunned.
I knew little about your disease.
Praying to God, I fell to my knees.
Please Lord please, help me do what is right.
I pleaded and cried all through the night.
Progress for you would be real slow.
                                              A normal life, you'd never know.
                                              But God has used you.  That's a fact.
                                              Even though you're handicapped.
                                              You've touched so many with love so pure.
                                              How you do it, I'm not even sure.
                                              But I see who you really are.
                                              My child, my son, my shining star.
Dedicated to all the shining stars out there.
Thanks for reading.
Angela :)

Monday, March 18, 2013

I Can Count


Justin at 3 years old
Justin was around three and a half years old and barely talked. The two of us sat on the blue living room carpet and played with blocks while we waited for his speech therapist to arrive.  I closed my eyes and enjoyed the cool fall breeze that blew through the open windows. Justin squealed with excitement as he knocked over the stack of wooden blocks we had counted.  “Look what you’ve done.”  I playfully said and beeped his nose. He beeped my nose back and began to gather the blocks again.

I looked out the door and noticed Kathy’s black Ford Taurus coming up the dirt driveway. She was right on time as usual. Justin adored Kathy and looked forward to her visits.  She was average weight and height with short reddish hair and always wore the most colorful nurse scrubs.  She loved her job and it showed when she interacted with the children.

Kathy walked up the faded, wooden steps and closed the storm door behind her. Justin’s face lit up when he saw her.  He toddled over to her and bounced up and down while he waited for her to pick him up.  She put her folder on the floor and bent over to scoop him up in her arms. She gave him a big hug and told him hi.  Justin placed his head on her shoulder and began to point at different colors on her shirt while we discussed his progress over the past several weeks.

We had worked on counting, colors and shapes for several months, but it seemed to go in one little ear and out the other.  Kathy reassured me that it would just take a little time as she looked at Justin and gave him a sweet smile.  He grinned back, but then decided to grab her loose fitting top and look down her shirt.  She tried not to draw attention to the situation as she moved Justin’s little hand.  We continued with our conversation as if nothing had happened, but Justin pulled his hand away and looked down her shirt again.  “No no.” I sternly said as I took him from her arms.  He gave me a look that let me know he didn’t understand what he had done wrong.  When I started to explain to him that we don’t do things like that, he held up two boney little fingers and said with a look of pride on his face, “Ball……two balls.” as he pointed to Kathy’s chest. 

 Kathy and I looked at each other in disbelief as her face turned red with embarrassment. Neither of us knew what to say or do.  I can’t believe he just did that I thought as I looked down at the floor and bit my lip to keep from laughing. “Well…..uh…..It’s time to play.” Kathy said to Justin as she sat on the couch.  I put Justin down and watched him clumsily walk to her so they could get started.  She sat him on her lap and they began to work on “ABCs” instead of   “shapes and numbers”.   As I left the room I thought to myself, maybe my little boy has mastered his colors, shapes and numbers after all.    
 Thanks for reading,
Angela :)




Wednesday, March 13, 2013

What Would Have Been.

What Would Have Been.
Justin at 17.
 "What would have been" is something we all ponder from time to time, and it can become a sad and depressing place if we allow ourselves to stay there. Not understanding why things happen can make it even more difficult to let go of "what would have been".  I know because I have been there and still go back every now and then. 
I went back to "what would have been" when I realized Justin would be graduating high school this year if it weren't for the disabilities.  I close my eyes and see him in his cap and gown on graduation day. My heart fills with pride as he walks over, gives me a big hug and says "I did it mom.  I did it."  I open my eyes and reality smacks me in the face.  That's not going to happen.  Not this year at least. 
As he continues to grow I see glimpses of "what would have been" for Justin. Right now his stubborn streak has grown from one to ten miles wide, but that's ok because he's developing his own identity and making more decisions for himself; something all teenagers do.  His development is slower than someone his age, but he's getting there.  Slowly but surely he's getting there. 
I have come to realize some of the "what would have been" for Justin will happen; just on his time and not mine. One day he will graduate high school. It will be with a certificate instead of a diploma but I will be just as proud because he will be done the best he can and that's all I ask.  So when his graduation day arrives, and he wraps his arms around my neck to say "I did it."   I will hug him back with tears in my eyes and tell him "Yes you did.  You did it."   I know I can't change the past nor control the future, but sometimes if we adjust our plans then some of the "what would have been" will in fact become a reality. 

Thanks for reading,
Angela :)


Monday, March 4, 2013

Welcome To My Holland

Welcome to My Holland

One of my favorite poems is "Welcome to Holland" by Emily Perl Kingsley.  It compares having a child with planning a trip to Italy and when the child has special needs you're taken to Holland instead.  The analogies in the poem bring out such emotion that many times I can't read it without tearing up. 

I was in Italy with Justin for such a brief time.  Being a first time mom, everything was so exciting and new, but I was snatched up from my life in Italy and thrown on an airplane when my baby boy had his first seizure at four months of age.  He then had a seizure when he was thirteen months old which caused brain damage.  I then realized we had landed in Holland without a round trip ticket. We would never make it back to Italy.

I mourned the fact I would never see the beautiful sites of Italy again and wished I had taken more time to stop and smell the roses.  Shock and denial soon set in and I even convinced myself we would make it back to Italy.  I worked fervently with Justin's doctors and therapists and searched just as hard for answers that would give me my son back, but in Holland we stayed.

 I finally realized that only God could make him whole again and I was to love and accept him like he was.  We had a wonderful group of family, friends, doctors, therapists and teachers who became our guides in Holland.  They showed us the simple beauty of the land and we began to feel at home. 

It is now eighteen years later and I am still in Holland with Justin.  We have now become guides ourselves to the newcomers here.  Some may go back to Italy and some will stay but no matter how it ends, they will never forget either place.  I still think back to my brief time in Italy with Justin, but now I find my heart and home in Holland.

Thanks for visiting with me my friends,
Angela :)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Justin's Story

Justin at six months of age
 Everyone's story here on earth begins with conception and ends with death.  Many people have asked about Justin's story.  Was he born this way?  Was it an accident?  Just what happened to make him so different.
Justin was born on January 6, 1995 and was perfect, but his story took an unexpected twist when he was four months old and had gotten his shots.  He had his first seizure that afternoon, but his doctor reassured me it was a breath holding spell.  When he continued to have  "breath holding spells" and his development was not on target, I asked the doctor about it.  I was told every child develops on their own schedule and not worry about it.  My instincts told me something was wrong, but I trusted the doctor and his diagnosis. 
 Then when Justin was thirteen months old, he suffered brain damage from a seizure that almost ended his life.  We later found out he had a reaction to the DTP shot and it caused his brain to swell.  They told me it was rare for that to happen, but it wasn't much consolation because my son was no longer the same.  Since that time, Justin has been labeled with a multi-seizure disorder, ADHD, mental retardation and sensory integration dysfunction.
He still struggles with his disabilities on a daily basis but he takes it all in stride and goes on with life.  If I could change things so it wouldn't be so difficult for him I would, but I love him just the way he is.  Even though his story has had some unexpected twists and turns, it is those circumstances that has made him into the person he is today.  

Thanks again for reading,
Angela :)