Thursday, October 9, 2014

God Makes No Mistakes

God Makes No Mistakes
Justin in 2008
I read an article that really touched my heart about a boy with down syndrome asking his mother what happened to him.  The mom responded that nothing happened to him and God just made it harder for him to learn but easier to love.  What a great way to look at it.  God made all of us different and He done it for a reason.

It says in the bible that He knew us before we were even born and He knit us together while we were in the womb.  It even says He knows the plans He has for us, plans to prosper and not hurt us.  Yes, He has a plan for every person; even a person with disabilities. 

Many times we get caught up in trying to find a hidden meaning as to why certain things happen, but sometimes we have to just accept things as they are.  It is then we can put our trust in God and know that He is in control.  It is then, we can come to terms with the situation and confront the issues that lie ahead.  It is then when we learn to love unconditionally.  Maybe just maybe, that was part of God's plan after all.

As always thanks for reading,
Angela :)

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Sticks and Stones

Justin and Joshua in 2009
 At times I let my frustration and feelings of helplessness get the best of me as the inability to control Justin’s seizures began to affect his development.  I knew his well-being depended on my understanding his medical problems, but I was lost in all the terminology from his doctors and therapists.   I read everything I could get my hands on, but it went over my head.  I continued to search for something to make sense and give me a glimmer of hope that my son would be alright.
 I found that glimmer of hope when Justin was labeled developmentally delayed at sixteen months of age.  I was determined to work hard with Justin so he could get back on target with his development, but the next year and a half would prove to be a very trying time for us both.  With every step forward Justin made in progress, his seizures knocked him back two. It never seemed to break Justin’s spirit even though it broke my heart every time he had to relearn walking, talking, and going to the potty. 
Evaluations had also become a big part of our lives, so I thought nothing of it when the school system wanted to run their tests when he was three years old.  After all I didn’t expect to learn anything new, but I was surprised when it took longer to fill out their forms and answer questions than it took for them to conduct their evaluation.  When all was said and done, I wanted to know if they found him delayed also, but was only told the results would be mailed to me.  Nothing to do now but wait, I thought to myself as we left the office.
And wait is what I did.  After two weeks the day finally arrived when I opened the mailbox and saw the letter I had been expecting.  I walked back home and sat at the kitchen table.  I held the letter in my hand for a long time before I finally decided to open it.  I took a deep breath and ran my finger under the flap of the envelope to retrieve the two page letter.  “Why am I so nervous?”  I asked myself.  “This one will say he’s delayed also.”   My eyes began to search for the words that had given me hope for the past year and a half, but they were nowhere to be found.
 Instead my eyes fixated on the big X mark next to “mental retardation.”  I closed my eyes and shook my head as if it would change the words I had just read.  They’ve sent me the wrong results I thought while quickly looking at the envelope and then the letter.  Tears welled up in my eyes when I saw Justin’s name on both.  I threw them to the other side of the table and buried my face in my hands.  My vision of a normal life for my son grew dimmer with each tear that fell.
 I cried until I had no tears left to cry and I prayed until I had no prayer left to pray.  Many questions raced through my mind.  What do I do now?  How would people treat him when they find out?  Would he ever be truly accepted?  I have found my questions have been answered over time. 
 What I did was continue to love and help Justin as I did before.  I have watched him succeed at things and I’ve watched him fail at things, but that’s no different than the rest of us.  We all succeed and fall short.  We just have to be willing to pick ourselves up and keep going. 
 I also haven’t had to worry too much about how people treat Justin.  He has such an outgoing personality and loves just about everyone.  The ones that really take the time to know Justin become smitten with him.  He has buddies just about everywhere we go and if he isn’t with me, they always ask where their buddy is.  Of course we’ve run into some rude people but I just try to brush it off and focus on the positive.
 In closing, I would have to say Justin is who he is and I love and accept him no matter what.  God knew what He was doing when he created Justin and I should not question what I can’t fully understand.  I’ve watched Justin grown into the handsome, sweet young man he is today and my heart fills with pride knowing how far he has come even with all the obstacles that have been thrown his way.
As always, thanks for reading.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Justin's Angels In Disguise

Justin's Angels In Disguise
Justin and "Doodle"
As I began to ponder Psalm 121:2 KJV which states "My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.", I realized just how much help God has provided for Justin.  Most people with special needs have very few people in their lives they can truly depend on, but this is not the case for my son.  From the time he was a toddler, people have been drawn to him and it has not changed as he has grown older.
My mom and dad are the first ones I believe are some of Justin's angels in disguise.  From the moment he was born, they have been there for us.  Accepting him as he is, they have always made sure he is part of the family.  As he has grown, I've witnessed the closeness that has developed between them.  For this I am grateful.
Joshua and Savannah are more of Justin's angels in disguise.  They treat him no different than they would other kids.  They play and fight just like "normal" siblings would do, but they also look out for their big brother.  Again, he is made to feel a part of the family.  For this I am grateful.
When we get out of the realm of our little family, I begin to look at the people from our church.  Here again I have found more of Justin's angels in disguise.  From his Sunday school teacher he has nicknamed "pickle toes" to both our preachers to members of the congregation, they have welcomed him and love him as he is.  For this I am grateful.
Justin has also been blessed with wonderful therapists and teachers who have helped him through the years, but one assistant stands out in my mind.  Justin has nicknamed her "doodle".  She loves him and looks out for him like he were one of her own.  Justin even threatens to tell "doodle" on me when he can't go to school.  She is another one of Justin's angels in disguise.  For this I am truly grateful.
In closing, I would like to say if we focus on the positive instead of the negative and take a look around we may be able to see the "angels" God has placed in our lives to help us.  As I look around now, I see these angels and many more.  We may even be someone's help and not realize it.
Thanks to all our "angels" out there who give so much of their time to make life better for Justin.  We love you all more than you know.
As always, thanks for reading.
Angela :)

Friday, May 16, 2014

Booger Bandit

Justin and Joshua - Spring 1999
 When Joshua was little, Justin did everything in his power to aggravate the little fellow, but he learned quickly that when Justin came near, it usually meant trouble. He kept a watchful eye on his tormentor and would toddle away as fast as he could at the first sign of trouble, but Justin was almost four years older and always caught him.  I was usually close enough to stop Justin before he could carry out his plan of action, but on this particular day I wasn’t quite close enough. 
There were no doctor or therapy appointments for Justin so the boys and I spent a lazy afternoon at home.  I sat on the couch and cross stitched while the boys played with their toys on the living room floor.  I glanced at the blue framed clock that hung on the wall behind me.  The old expression, “time flies when you’re having fun”, came to mind when I realized it was later than I expected.  It was time for supper and I had no idea what to cook, but I knew it would to be something quick and easy.  

I left the boys in front of the TV watching Barney as I made my way to the kitchen.  I fumbled around in the pantry and refrigerator for a few minutes, before deciding on fish sticks with mac and cheese.  “Hey boys” I said while going back into the living room.  “Do you want fish sticks with mac and cheese for supper?”  They were still sitting in front of the TV, but I could tell something was up, I just didn’t know what.  Justin grinned so big that it looked as if the rest of his face disappeared.  “Yeah! Yeah! Mac cheese!  Mac cheese!”  He said as he bounced up and down.

I then looked at Joshua who would not take his eyes off Justin.   “What’s wrong?” I asked as I knelt down beside him.  Joshua looked at me as if to say, “You poor, misled woman.  You know Justin can only be nice to me for short periods of time.  The time of peace is almost over.  He’s up to something.  I just know it.”  I shifted my focus back to Justin who gave Joshua an uncanny grin.    He didn’t give a clue as to the mischievous plan he had conceived to carry out against his brother, but I could see the wheels turning in that little head of his.

To be on the safe side, I decided to separate them.  I slipped a video in the VCR for Justin and took Joshua with me.  I sat him on the kitchen floor to play with his toys while I preheated the oven for fish sticks.  My mind wondered to the list of things I needed to do the next day as I put a pot of water on the stove for the mac and cheese.  I didn’t think much about it when I heard Justin laugh uncontrollably in the living room.  I just thought he was tickled with his Sesame Street video.

Just then Joshua yelled and started to cry.  I quickly turned around to see he was not playing in the kitchen anymore like I thought he was.  Panic set in and I snatched the pot of water off the stove and ran around the corner to see what was going on. When I got to the living room, I found Justin sitting on top of his little brother.

“Justin! Get off your brother right now!”  I sternly said with a hand on my hip.    Justin looked at me and grinned. He placed one hand on Joshua’s forehead to hold it in place and then quickly shoved a finger up the little fellow’s nose.  I quickly ran over and got Justin off his brother.  When I set him back down on the floor, I notice a stringy booger dangling from the end of his fingertip.  “Gross!”  I exclaimed as I ran to the kitchen to get a paper towel, but upon my return with napkin in hand, I noticed Justin “snacking” on the fine catch from his brother’s nose. 

I scolded him as we went to the bathroom and washed his hands. “It’s bad enough eating your own boogers Justin, but that’s just nasty to eat someone else’s.”  I cringed as I thought about what happened a few moments earlier and had him wash his hands again.  After his hands were dried, I made him sit at the kitchen table and put Joshua in his high chair.

At least I don’t have to fix appetizers I thought while finding a little humor in what happened.   As I put food on their plates, I saw Justin wiggle a finger in his brother’s direction.   Joshua covered his nose with both little hands and began to whine.  “It’s ok sweetie, mommy’s here.”  I said as I sat between them.  “Justin won’t bother your boogers any more.”  While I watched Justin inhale his mac and cheese, I imagined a black mask around his eyes as I playfully called him my “booger bandit.”

Friday, January 17, 2014

A Year For New Possibilities

A Year For New Possibilities

Christmas 2013
Jeremiah 29:11 KJV states "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end."  This says to me God has a plan for us...all of us.  He wishes us to prosper in this life and have peace but when we turn to our own ways, our lives can be filled with turmoil.
Justin's birthday is January 6 and it was hard to believe he turned 19.  Yes, you read that right.  He is now 19 years old.  I can hardly believe it.  Where did the time go?  Where is my little boy?  I've had to face the fact that he is no longer my baby, but he is now a young man.
I think back to when he was born and all the plans I had for him.  Some of the plans have come to pass and some haven't and I am okay with that because I know God has bigger plans for him than I ever imagined.  I've seen God's hand move in his life and witnessed my son being used by our Father in Heaven.  The feeling surrounding those moments is priceless.
As we have entered a new year, I realize it is a year filled with new possibilities.  Chances for God to use all of us for His will if only we will open up and let Him.  It's hard to turn away from our way of doing things, but our Heavenly Father knows what is best for us.  He knows the plans he has for us.  They won't hurt us.  In fact, these plans will do just the opposite.  They can bring the peace and love to our lives that we have been seeking. 
Wouldn't it be wonderful, if we would all be obedient to the plans God has for us and follow him instead of lusting after the world?
Thanks for reading and Happy New Year.
Angela :)