Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Letters to God~ Finding Time

Dear God,

I don't really know where to begin this letter. I talk to you quite a bit throughout the day anyway or do I? I thought I did but in reflecting on my day today I realize that you barely even got a "good morning" from me much less any inclusion into the events of my day. Everyday, including the weekends, seem to start off harried. It doesn't even matter how early I get up, as I am seldom, if ever, on time. My mornings consist of feeding kids, cats and a dog, trying to match socks, find homework, check the weather and trying very hard to stay on task. As you know, I am easily distracted by a hair ball in the hallway or the toaster that was left out from morning breakfast. I keep finding myself distracted by everything. The only thing I am not distracted by is preparing for my day. My son has absolutely no interest in school. As a child with Autism school is extremely difficult for him and he shares this with me in his morning greeting. "Good Morning Matthew!" I say. "I hate school" he groans. Deep breathe on my part, moving on to my daughter. Fortunately for me she has a better outlook on school but still wants Mommy's help with what to eat, what to wear and everything in between. Do you find us comical in the mornings Lord as we stumble on top of each other racing to the bus stop? I am sure when you greet me in the mornings I am barely aware. I take notice of little except the ticking clock.

The duties of my day job, juggling doctor's appoinments for my son, housecleaning, homework, dinner, grocery shopping, taking out the trash, feeding the cats and a dog again, working on the non profit I just started, trying to get the kids in bed at a decent time only to fall into bed exhausted myself, it is a never ending cycle. As I take two seconds to look at my schedule I notice that I have not dedicated time for us. Actually, I am amazed I find any time with you at all. A quick prayer under my breathe does not constitute a full fledged relationship. As a matter of fact, I had no idea that from a relationship perspective, ours would be labeled "its complicated" on Facebook!

As our world is right now, everything moves at such a fast pace. From fast food to instant everything, life is hurry, hurry, hurry. A relationship can be fast but those types are usually quite shallow, only on the surface. It takes time to get to know someone. I realize that you know me better than anyone. You knew me before I was born and you have been with me every step of my life. It is my yearning to know you that brings me to this first letter. I want to know who you are. I want to know your character, what makes you smile. I want to sit at your feet as Mary did and listen to your heart. I want a Mary heart in a Martha world. Time to take this relationship to the next level. Time to commit to spending time together. I am not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination, however I will make our date for before sunrise. I believe it is the only time I can get right now to call ours. I will ask you though, if you would, prepare the way for me to have some quiet time? Help me to alleviate the unneccessary clutter from life so that I not only can spend quality time with you but also with my children. Help me to say no when neccessary and to use the time I am given each day wisely. Help me to stay focused and on task and help me to know you.
"If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so that I may know you"
Exodus 33:13

I may be a little slow in the morning but I will be there...

Your Daughter

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Start of Something New...

Today I begin a new journey! I am so looking forward to see where it takes me. I wish I could tell you that I am heading to some exotic island where the waters are crystal clear and swimming with dolphins is a common occurence or that I have won the lottery and all of my financial concerns have been laid to rest, therefore I am taking all of  my family and friends on vacation with me. No, this is a different type of journey. Better than crystal clear waters and swimming with dolphins? Absolutely! This journey will take work though and discipline. The latter will be the challenge for me as anyone that knows me knows I am classic ADHD. All over the page, easily distracted, at least ten different projects spred all over the house and  spilling over into the yard, but I am determined to take this journey and savor every minute of it. I do not have to rush around and pack bags nor do I have to board the dog or clean out the refrigerator of perishables. I don't need a passport, money or transportation. This journey, I believe, will open my eyes and my heart to those things I am desperate to understand. I have tried everything else in my own power and it's not working. I am ready to try something new! If I get answers then it was all worth it and if not, then I have lost nothing. Besides, God invited me on this journey. Who am I to turn down such an invitation?

Jeremiah 33:3 says "Call unto me and I will answer thee and show thee great and mighty things." Bet you did not know that God had his phone number listed in his word did you? I called him yesterday as I sat in the bay window of my living room watching my children play in the first, and possibly only snowfall of the winter season here in Virginia. I watched my 11 year old son diagnosed with Autism, Asperger's Syndrome specifically, and my "neuro typical" daughter throw snowballs with the neighborhood kids in the dimly lit snow covered street in front of my house. Their laughter echoed through the neighborhood and I smiled, warmed by the idea that at this moment all were accepted. I asked God why this could not be all the time, I asked him why my son had Autism and why he had not healed him yet, I asked him why my daughter should have to struggle so much, torn betwen protecting her older brother and finding her own place in this world.I asked him why I get so angry at the smallest things these days, why am I so rushed and why I can not seem to find the time to just breathe.  He answered me in his own gentle quiet way, just as a Father to his daughter. He asked me to join him on a journey. "There are three requirements for this journey" he said. "First, give me forty days. Nothing more, nothing less. Second, devote time for us to talk and share every day. It matters not what time of day just make sure it is every day. Get deep into my word and I will show you what you seek. Third, write letters to me. Pour your heart out and be who your are."

So today a new journey begins. Have you ever done something like this? I am not sure where this new path will take me, but I am certainly ready for the challenge. I'll be posting my letters and thoughts along the way. Join me in this venture and expect something great from God!

~ Robin

Thursday, February 16, 2012

God's Gift

Hello God? You there? Yep, me again. Do you have a minute? I recall somewhere in the Bible, Matthew 11:28-30 I believe, where you made a statement that says “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Well, here I am, wiped out, emotionally exhausted, totally at a loss and trying very hard to unload all of my frustration onto you. I am definately weary and I am holding you to your word. Are you ready?

Does this have to do with my son? Yes God, this has to do with my son. I know, we discuss him a lot. Yes, I know he is unique and beautiful and amazing. Have you noticed how he pays such close attention to detail? He sees the beauty in life that I almost always miss. If it wasn't for him pointing out the fine hairs on the caterpillar or the brilliant yellow under the wings of a bird or the intricate details in the architecture of our church I would have missed it all completely. He can be so quiet sometimes that I don't even know he is there, but he is always thinking and creating. Yes, I know he was made in your image...wow, I did not know you had AUTISM God! This is the first time you mentioned it. I can certainly see some similarities.

 So, this is how I'm feeling. I love my son with all of my heart and it is my heart that breaks for him a little more each day. I don't know if I can bare it. He is 11 years old now and his life has not been easy. He was diagnosed at age four with PDD NOS, age five with Autism and age 6 with Asperger's Syndrome. When he was younger he seemed happy, quiet, and at times, distant, but happy. He has always had sensory integration issues. Certain noises like the dryer buzzer or the sound of the vacumn cleaner cause him great pain. He was not and still isn't very coordinated so playing sports was not something he really wanted to do, but yet when he took swimming lessons last summer he mastered the breast stroke within minutes after learning it. His coach was so amazed by him. Did you know he can calendar count? Give him any date in the past, present or future and he can tell you what day it was, is or shall be. Even though I know he is really smart, he does not think so. His grades in school are poor, he has no friends and communication is so hard for him. He asked recently if "he would always be this way?" (very insightful if you ask me). He told me one day that he just can't find the words. He sees everything in pictures. He can't process conversations or things that he reads.  Kids make fun of him, teachers are frustrated with him, people in public make rude comments about him. Being in public can be hard for him, the sounds, smells, sights can be overwhelming and he becomes loud and sometimes angry. People look at us and whisper. He does not understand what he is doing to offend others and many times he isn't doing anything wrong, he just responds to some things differently than most. When he cries Lord, his tears flow like a river. His cries are deep from way down in his soul. I hear him crying in his room at night. His best friend is his cat. He tells her how lonely he is.  I don't know what to do any more God. Time is soaring past us and today I feel my hope dwindling yet again.

I don't understand why this has happened in our lives. I don't know what my purpose is for this situation. The pain of watching my own beautiful son struggle becomes unbearable at times. I am living my life on the verge of tears. I constantly ask myself if I am doing everything possible to help my son. What am I missing? I don't think I am handling things very well. I can not fix what is broken. He is so amazing and funny and creative and beautiful and .... Can you understand how hard it is to be ridiculed, misunderstood, whispered about?  Of couse you can. You felt all of the pain I feel as a Father for his son.

Hmmm? What's that? Who chose his name? Well, I did. I never thought I would have any more children. I had prayed for another son, remember? Matthew is the name that came to me and it was the only name I would consider. The meaning of his name? Yes, I know, it means.....Gift from God.

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" (James 1:17).

I understand God, I get it. Just as you gifted the world with your beautiful and perfect son, you have also gifted me with my own. I would not have him be any other way.  Thanks for spending time with me and listening to my heart. It  feels much lighter now. Oh and God, thank you for my gift, my inspiring, amazing son, my Matthew.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Waiting to Exhale...

It feels like I have been holding my breathe for a very long time. A long deep breathe that causes my heart to race, my palms to sweat and my head to spin. I remember when I took that last great gasp of  air, it was when my first son, Bryan, was born. I was terrified of becoming a mother. I had no clue how to be one and the thought of being responsible for anyone other than myself was quite daunting. I was terribly young and niave and he was so tiny, barely six pounds. He reminded me of a little frog. He was due on Valentines Day but waited a little longer and came into this world  effortlessly on February 18, 1985.  I distinctly remember the very moment  when my beautiful, perfect son was placed in my arms and I fell deeply, passionately, madly in love. My concerns melted away along with my heart. He took my breathe away.

I was adopted as an infant. My birth mother was forbidden by her step mother to keep me. At that time in the early 60's it was quite unacceptable to be an unwed mother. Although my birth mom and dad had planned to marry, life threw some curves and I was adopted from the Children's Home Society in August of 1964. I can not imagine the heartbreak my birth mother experienced. Her love for me was immeasureable.

Growing up I had a difficult relationship with my adoptive mom, the only mom I ever knew. She was a sensitive, loving, talented woman but her insecurities cast a shadow over her life that she could not seem to escape. As she slowly spiraled into a world of alcohol abuse our roles of mother and child reversed and I became the caretaker at the tender age of 14. I was constantly seeking my mothers approval, always looking for a way to engage her in my life somehow. There was a huge void in my heart, the need for my mothers love was so great. I did not understand what I was doing wrong. I blamed myself for her lack of interest in me. I had convinced myself at an early age that I must be to stupid, to fat and to ugly to be loved and accepted by her. What else could it be? At that time I did not realize that it was her past that haunted her and it was her insecurity caused by years of abuse as a child herself that caused the barrier between us.

I became pregnant at twenty years of age, still a baby myself in many ways. I had such mixed emotions about motherhood, never having that relationship I so craved made me feel inadequate. It was during my pregnancy that my mom was diagnosed with bone cancer. It was just a matter of time and I was devastated. Never one to give up easily I continued to seek out my mothers affection or at the very least, a little attention.  As my belly grew I noticed that my mom started calling me more. She started giving motherly advice, she started showing concern for my well being. It was during this time that I started to see a real relationship begin to bloom between my mom and me. I will never forget the day that I was helping her around her apartment. It was late and we were both tired. She was watching me intently, not saying a word, just watching. She had a look in her eyes, one of so much pain. She crossed the room and gently laid her hand upon my belly. Her eyes were moist with the tears she was trying to hold back and she asked quietly "What's it like? What's it like to have a baby in there? I could never carry a child of my own. I have always felt like I was less of a woman because of it, I have no idea what it is like. Can you tell me?" This was the moment I had waited for my entire life, the opening to a long conversation with my mom. A conversation filled with many questions and answers, the one that started the healing process in both of our lives, the one that said I love you and I forgive you.

As I look back I realize that it was my unborn child who initiated the beginning of the healing process in my relationship with my mother, it was my son Bryan that introduced me to a love that I had never experienced before but have been blessed with two more times in my other children, Matthew and Emma and it is my son Bryan who took my breathe away for the first time 27 years ago that inevitably changed my life for the better. I still feel my heart race when I see yet another goal he has reached or get a glimpse of the man he is becoming. My palms sweat when I hear of bad news in his neighborhood, always concerned for his safety. My head spins at the the time that has passed so quickly and I find myself yearning to hold my son at 5, 8 and 12 years old just one more time. He continues to take my breathe away and for that I am truly grateful.

Happy Birthday Bryan
I Love You,