Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Celebrating a milestone

"Give your burdens to the Lord. He will carry them. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall."
Psalms 55:22 (TLB) 

I knew it was coming. It’s been in the back of my mind for the past year. I’ve tried to avoid, ignore, distract myself but there was no way around. Once again I find myself smack dab in the middle of it. My old pal (not)…. GRIEF.

As a young boy and now a young man with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, Ryan’s school years were often difficult. Although a struggle, he managed to keep up academically. It was the physical, emotional and social aspects that were his hardest battles. He started displaying anxiety near the end of his elementary years and began having full blown panic attacks in junior high. By the start of high school, we withdrew him feeling homeschooling would be best for the remainder of his education. 
It was not your typical home-schooling. A tutor came to our home. Ryan kept up pretty well until this, his final year of school. His tutor moved and Ryan struggled with the change.  So we chose to do this last year on our own, in our own way. Doing so meant he would complete his education, but in a non-typical fashion.  Ryan understood that he would not graduate with his class. We talked about it and he was okay with his decision. He knew he would not “walk” with his class. There would be no pomp and circumstance. 

On the other hand, I struggled as I knew this day would come. It is hard for me to see all the postings and pictures of friend’s children at their graduations. I am happy for them. I can and will celebrate those moments with them! Yet deep down inside, it pokes at my grieving heart. 

It was Ryan’s choice. I knew I had to respect that choice. Now he is struggling too. Not because of his choice but watching his friends celebrate these events and moving on. He said,” Mom I am happy for them but my life is so different. They are talking about moving out, going to college. It is hard, I know I will never be able to be on my own.”

Trust me, we have heard all the, “You can do anything you put your mind to” speeches but the reality is he can’t and he knows that. These types of life events bring that reality to the front. You see things the way they are “supposed” to be, yet have to accept that is not our reality.

We both have to grief the loss… again.  

There are no short cuts. Each grieving moment is as painful as the last one even when you know it is coming. I cannot protect Ryan or myself from it. As much as I want to run and hide, it eventually bubbles up. We will get through it, with some tearful days. Just as we have numerous times over the past few years. No matter how many time I experience it, it does not speed up the process. We still have to walk through it.

 I am thankful God understands our sorrows and Grief as he watched his own son fulfill his destiny:
We despised him and rejected him-a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief. (Isaiah 53:3, TLB)

As we process and deal with this grief we are also choosing to see things from a different perspective. Setting aside the “normal”, we are celebrating this milestone of Ryan’s life.

The one word I could chose to describe Ryan’s life is … Endurance; The ability to do something difficult for a long time; the ability to deal with pain that continues for a long time, the quality of continuing for a long time.

Ryan endured. He endured years of watching his friends get bigger, stronger as he became weaker. He endured teachers that didn’t want to understand, IEP meetings, promises made that were never kept. He endured going from being able to walk, to needing a wheelchair. Endured having friends pull away then reject him. He endured panic of such things as there being a fire while he was on the second floor of the school, and the fear of not being able to get out. He endured disappointments, changes, challenges and pain. Most importantly, in enduring HE FINISHED WELL!

So even in the midst of our grief, we are choosing to celebrate Ryan’s unique successes. He (and our family) have learned lessons one can only learn in the school of life. Ones that often take people years to understand. 

We know that God really does care. So much so that he says in Psalms 55:22, "Give your burdens to the Lord. He will carry them. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall." (TLB) 

Perhaps Francis H. Havergal summed it up best: “To thee I bring my care, the care I cannot flee. Thou wilt not only share, but bear it all for me. O Loving Savior, now to thee, I bring the load that wearies me.”

Grief is a lonely and personal thing. Feeling  alone, yet I know I am not. Thankful that God is in it with me.  He understands, and I don’t have to hide these feelings from him or pretend everything is okay.  He can handle, " the load that wearies me".

Originally posted 6/21/2016 : http://www.comfortinthemidstofchaos.com/


Saturday, June 18, 2016

A long awaited dream fulfilled

This past week I saw the fulfillment of a dream come true for my husband. It has been a long time in the making, 30 years to be exact.

Shortly after Jeff graduated from high school he left for Air Force basic training. He did not attend college but it was always in the back of his mind to get a degree. Early in our marriage he started taking classes at night and on weekends, while working full time. Then deployments, military training, cross country moves, the birth of 4 children, and special needs entered our world. All of these events brought additional stresses. I was overwhelmed and needed him home. At that point his dream was put on the back-burner. He chose to put the needs of our family before his desire of school. 

I know it was frustrating for him but he never made me feel bad or guilty for asking him to take a break. That desire was never taken from him, just put to the side.  As things would settled down he would take a few classes and then after 20 years he earned his BS.  He was happy with that but I knew he wanted to continue. Timing was not right.  

Then 2 years ago an opportunity came for him to return to school. We talked about what how it would work into our lives and schedules and decided to go for it. This past week he received his MBA, 30 years in the making!

Sometimes life gets in the way of our dreams and desires. Jeff persevered but never let his desires get in the way of his family’s needs.  It is hard. I know I struggle with this more than he does. I tend to want to throw a fit about it before I accept it, but he takes in stride. 

Letting go of our wants, needs and desires goes against our very nature. Yet there are times we are required to make sacrifices for those we love. Especially as a parent of a special needs child we find ourselves letting go of those things we once thought we would be or do.   

Do you have a dream that you feel will never be fulfilled? Do you trust God enough to surrender it to him? If the desire of your heart is what God desires for your life he will bring it to pass. It will not be because we have pushed ourselves to the limit or scarified our families to achieve it. It will be brought forth in his perfect timing.

If it is from God it will still be there when the timing is right. It may take 3 days or 30 years for that dream to be fulfilled. We might find as time goes by God may change our dreams and desires. He may have a whole new dream for our life. Which may go far beyond what we could have imagined. 

Trust him first. Put the needs of family above our own desires and he will honor and bless that.

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart”! (Psalms 37:4, NAS)