It was such a little problem, but as the months turned to years and we started to prepare for preschool, Micaela’s chewing habit became worrisome.
At first I did what many parents do, I tried to brush it off. I said, “She doesn’t try to eat thing or swallow them, she is just exploring a little.” But, when teachers became concerned with her interaction in the school classroom I realized I needed to “fix” the problem.
I spent months working on the behavior at home. Every time Micaela would start chewing on something I would take it away, talk to her sternly, and hand her something edible. I made no progress. Micaela started going into corners to munch on her favorite textures.
God must have felt the worries of my heart, because he started sending little pieces of the puzzle my way.
First, one of her therapists listened to my concerns and said that Micaela’s chewing wasn’t exploratory, it was more like self-soothing. She pointed out that adults do the same thing with chewing gum.
A friend who teaches DD-Pre was visiting and observed Micaela’. She told me about Oral Motor necklaces. It is something that a child can wear around their neck and chew on whenever they are needing that kind of soothing.
I ordered one right away. When they came in Micaela was interested for a few days and then cast it aside. Her respite care provider mentioned that it was too bad the necklace didn’t have Velcro on it since Micaela loved that texture the most.
I added Velcro to the necklace. Finally, Micaela was set.
Micaela now rarely chews on anything but one of her necklaces if she knows where they are. Yesterday, I placed a couple in her bag and one around her neck before she got on the bus.
I wanted to share this with you, because this problem could not have been solved without the input with others. It required me to be honest with the people around me. How often do we try not to speak of faults or habits because we are embarrassed? What if solutions and invaluable advice are waiting for us? We will never know if we never talk about it.
No one wants to show others their weaknesses. We want to always appear strong and able, but we rarely find healing and solutions while working alone.
If something is holding you back from talking to others about a hurt or habit, ask God to give you the courage and the right person to bring your problem to. Don’t try to solve it alone. Let yourself be loved.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Have you ever received amazing solutions and advice because you had the courage to open up to others?
Do you have thoughts like this: “So much rests on my shoulders.” “My family is depending on me, I have to get this done.” “I never have enough time.” “I could do more.”
These thoughts have plagued my exhausted brain for years. There is always so much that I must accomplish and I feel like I am constantly falling short. I don’t give the girls enough attention. The house doesn’t ever feel clean enough. I wish I could study more, read more, learn more. I wish I could give Jovani more devoted time, too, but I am so tired.
In our last Monday post, Confessions of a Workaholic Who is Still at Home, I admitted that I was addicted to adrenaline. While I could have claimed that I was overburdened or overworked, the real truth was that I clung to the worry, anxiety, and rush that came with constantly being busy, constantly needing to do more, and constantly maintaining productivity. I cut God’s provisions out of the equation and bullied through life on my own strength. I didn’t sleep enough, care for myself, or trust my connection with God to direct my life.
If you took the Adrenaline Addiction Test at Soulshepparding.org and came up positive for this addiction too, then you might need to pull back and re-examine your life.
I found out about adrenaline addiction four months ago and since then have put in place new practices that have helped me rest in God. We still have to be productive. We still have to care for our families. But we can shift the burden of always needing to know what to do and who to help onto God’s shoulders. We can focus on connecting with Him and trusting Him.
We are not always supposed to be “doing”. Sometimes, we are supposed to rest with no other motivation except to connect with God, be replenished, and refresh our bodies. Crazy notion, right? And sometimes (this is even crazier) sometimes we have to stop and rest even when there are still things to do on our list. In years past, when I have felt frazzled and frustrated, I have self-soothed by getting busy, and getting things done. But, like any other addiction, I am not solving the problems behind why I feel upset.
This week, I want you to consider picking 1 to 3 things from this list and putting them into practice.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live out all my days feeling like it all rests on my shoulders. I want to find some rest. True rest.
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
What are some others ways to shift the focus of your day from your own busy-ness to the goodness of God?
I rolled over again and checked the time. 2:12am. Yuck. I stared at Micaela’s sleeping form on the baby monitor and swallowed. In about 5 hours she would be on the bus for her first day of preschool.
My mind thought forward to her day ahead. I thought of the teacher trying to get all those little 3 & 4 year-olds used to class routines while Micaela crawled around and threw her little fits. I knew she would have difficulty with most classroom activities like story time and desk work. I knew it would be hard for everyone trying to find a way for her to participate in PE and art when so many things were designed for children who could walk and talk.
I laid there in bed and tried to push back my panic. I felt like someone sitting at a table with a puzzle and offering a piece that wasn’t even from the box.
There were other options. I could delay it. I could take Micaela to school for her therapies and bring her home with no classroom time, no peer interaction. Then the hurt would be less for everyone, including me.
As I sat, cupping the warmth of a coffee mug, a floodgate of memories opened. You see, I was once a teacher. The last two years I taught I had an inclusion classroom which meant that children with special needs were students in my class. Precious kids with difficult conditions dramatically changed the culture of my classroom those years. And yes, even then, different hurt. Different hurt, but it made me strip away ideals, build and strengthen my teaching techniques, and create little fissures in my heart where love and compassion built new heights of caring. Different hurt, but changed and grew both me and my students.
To be honest, those “different” kids were held closer to my heart and more brightly in my memories than any others. By the end of those school years they were the hardest students to pass on to the next grade level, the most difficult to say goodbye to.
Like so many other times before, I was going to have to trust God. God created Micaela with purpose just like He created each one of us. And everything God makes is good. Even those different lives that make others wiggle and squirm in the discomfort of change. In the end, the growth is precious.
So, Micaela, with a big grin on her face, rode the bus that morning.
It was a long day. It was a difficult day. But it was a day that God had provided for.
You will keep in perfect peace
Have you ever struggled with the differences of others?
I didn’t know what to do with myself. For a few years now I have been very purposefully taking Sundays “off”. Of course, for a young mom, this is still an eventful day. I have little girls to tickle and feed, a husband to chat with, friends to call…yeah, it is just a different kind of demanding. I am busy, but I switch my focus from chores, writing, and child care to quality time with family and worshiping God.
This weekend my mother-in-law borrowed the girls so I would be able to care for the farm while Jovani was on a trip. As you can imagine, I packed Saturday with those jobs I can’t do with girls in the house. I kept a fast pace and felt great about what I accomplished. But Sunday…
Sunday felt eerie. What was I to do with all that quiet? After farm chores and church I felt like a little boat in the middle of a massive lake, dead in the water. I didn’t like the feeling.
I recently finished an incredible book, Your Best Life in Jesus' Easy Yoke. In one of the chapters, the author discusses people who are addicted to adrenaline. The description of such a person sounded like a workaholic. Now, I don’t know about you, but to me a workaholic is that man or woman who is never home, obsessed with their job, and gives their family a low priority in their lives.
But, as I read the chapter on Adrenaline Addiction in Bill Gaultiere’s book, I was shocked. How he described the person obsessed with being productive to the point where they panic if they are not accomplishing something, that was ME.
I think I pouted and argued with myself about this for a good two weeks before I simply accepted the reality: I am a workaholic.
I am a workaholic who prioritizes her family and is almost always home, but that doesn’t mean it is healthy. In fact, it is very unhealthy, because I struggle against the idea of rest. I struggle against giving God His agenda in my life. God doesn’t want us to always be going. He also wants us to spend a lot of time stopping, listening, and breathing. When I was honest with myself, I realized that I have a tough time trusting God. It seems easier to trust in my own power and strength. What if His will means I don’t get to accomplish my goals and dreams? What if the house is a mess? What if the laundry hasn’t been folded?
Bill Gaultiere’s book, Your Best Life in Jesus’ Easy Yoke, encourages you to constantly live in the rest that Jesus offers. We shouldn’t be striving and struggling and worrying. If we truly live and act in the belief that God wants the best for us and will guide us in all things if we let Him, then life stops feeling like a struggle.
We also must give up that addiction to adrenaline. If we are resting in Jesus’ love, we won’t be getting our adrenaline fix. Like all addictions, it is hard to give these things up.
The road to healing will be long for me, but I am learning. Since reading Bill’s book, I have started to do things that God has asked of me for a long time such as letting the house get cluttered on the days when the girls are needing extra love and attention. Leaving dishes in the sink and using my last hour of quiet for devotional time. Most of all, I don’t write or work on my ministry if I feel spiritually disconnected or disconcerted. I am learning to trust God when He tells me I need to prioritize something that goes against my own thoughts or will for the day. I am learning to stop, breath, and let the day come instead of me attacking the day with my own agenda.
You might have an addiction to adrenaline that turns you into a workaholic as well. Take a moment and visit soulshepparding.org and take the Adrenaline Addiction test.
If your results are positive, stay tuned. We will be discussing this topic further in my next Monday blog post.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Do you see other qualities of yourself that point towards being addicted to work?
Devotion: n. love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person or activity (from The Oxford Dictionary)
What does your devotional time with God look like?
God wants to be as much a part of our life as He can be. He wants to find Himself on our minds and in our hearts from the moment we wake to the instant our eyes close in sleep. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to profoundly dedicate time to and with Him.
Lucky for us, that list is very long. Below are my favorites.
-Read your Bible. Study. Take notes. Stop and pray as you feel moved to do so. Talk to God about what you learn in his word.
-Read a daily devotional. Let the beautiful words of Billy Graham or the encouragement of Joyce Meyer guide your time with God.
-Pray. Have a deep, quiet, intimate conversation with our Heavenly Father.
-Write down your prayers in a prayer journal.
-Sing or listen to praise music. Let the soothing rythms and uplifting lyrics open your heart to God.
-Study with a group. Find fellowship with like-minded men and women. Learn with them and through them.
-Draw, doodle, illustrate Bible verses or prayer journals.
I was taught that devotional time should be a quiet, private affair. I learned that it was about silent study of the Bible and deep prayer time. To this day, I still find these two things to be helpful in learning God's word and connecting to Him. But as I hear how others spend devotional time with God I realize that it can be so much more. I love shaking things up when it comes to my daily devotions with God. I don't like to be caught in a rut in which I feel less alive during those minutes with God than I do the rest of the day.
As a mom, I admit to having to fight for my devotional time. My personality thrives on a quiet time with my Heavenly Father where I focus only on Him, but it is hard to fit a good block of that as I care for my husband and family. I’ve learned to get creative and self-disciplined. However, just as this season of my life is crammed with activity and demanding on my time and heart, it is for this reason that I need to grow with God. I need to walk with Him and learn His ways.
For most of us, the reason we haven’t found a way to do daily devotions is time. We feel we do not have the time for it. But we do. The Bible says that where our treasure is, there is also our hearts (Matthew 6:21). The things we treasure we find the resources to care for them, invest in them, and adore them. All of us can look back on our typical day and see many things we invest our resources in that do not include God.
So, where are our hearts?
My son, give me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways
How do you benefit from devotional time with God? Have you found a way to daily come into His presence?
“God, please bless me, greatly.”
All my prayers begin like this now. A dear friend leant me a book The Prayer of Jabez and it has completely changed how I pray.
Honestly, I’ve always been so hesitant to ask God for some things. I feel that I am not worthy or that some things are selfish or not in keeping with God’s will. So I just won’t mention them. Being bold with how I talk to God wasn’t in my make up.
And then I read this little book and changed my mind.
About seven days after I started praying Jabez’ prayer, I realized that I wanted to ask God for specific blessings for my girls. That morning, curled into a ball on the couch, I asked God, “Let Adela excel in her school work and be wise in her choice of friends. And, please let Micaela learn one great thing today.”
As soon as I said it, I felt an amazing stirring, like my soul was sighing. I don’t know if I was praying in God’s will or simply pleasing God with my heartfelt honesty, but it was a beautiful feeling.
Micaela did several new, little things that day such as movements to songs and isolating the movement of her index fingers. Adela came home and read her weekly reader book. Nothing crazy miraculous, but my heart would not let me forget that feeling I felt when I had asked bold things of my Heavenly Father.
Something in my heart has changed. Deep down I believe in the power and deep love of God and that He has spread it over my life. I am not waiting for a trickle of blessings to descend from Heaven but believe that His Miraculous grace surrounds all of me.
And boldness comes easy.
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.
Have you found you boldness when praying to God?
Once upon a time, I had a hard heart towards parents with different children. From children who threw tantrums to those with learning disorders, my mind turned judgmental towards their parents. Though I never spoke these horrible thoughts aloud, I am ashamed that they lived in me.
God totally weeded this out of my mind and heart when Micaela joined our family. It is one of countless ways I have seen God use the trials that come with being a mother of a Special Needs child.
Our trials can be dark and desperate times in our lives, but we have an opportunity to use them in the best possible way. When we ask God to open our hearts and minds to what we are living through, we will find that he is using our challenges to bring about beautiful changes in our world.
As we go through these hard seasons or as we evaluate them from the other side, we need to be intentional about using them to grow.
Trials help us:
I smiled as I wrote this list. I don’t mean to make our trials sound desirable, but I wanted to bring a little hope to one of you today. I remember the moments where I sat viewing the desperate chaos of my world and wondering if it would ever be okay again. And it was okay, it was better than okay.
We all need to let ourselves be molded by The Potter if we are ever going to become His work of art.
Those who are at ease have contempt for misfortune as the fate of those whose feet are slipping.
What have you learned through your own life struggles?
That tiny pouting lip almost undid me. Micaela looked so confused. So upset. The technician silently plastered the glue and electrodes, looked at his monitor, and re-positioned the wires connected amidst her mop of curls. Micaela sobbed. My arms shook from keeping her in place. I turned my head to cough.
We were both miserable.
The technician finally finished placing the wires. He wrapped her little head in gauze and said, “Okay. We’ll run the test for 45-60 minutes. Remember, we need her to sleep for at least 15. I’ll observe from across the hall and then come in to do the flashing lights at the end.” He started to leave and then turned back. “Oh, and don’t forget, she can’t move. Keep her as still as possible.”
And, with a flip of the light switch, he was gone. In the dim light Micaela continued to squirm and scream. Oh, God, I prayed, how is she possibly going to sleep after this?
I made comforting shushing noises, and prayed. Calm and peace entered me. It would be okay. I just needed to keep her in place. I put warm hands on her shoulders. The minutes ticked by. Every time Micaela seemed to settle, she would start up a fight again. Half an hour felt like an eternity and we were no closer to settling into unconsciousness.
I started to panic. We needed her to sleep. We needed answers. We waited four months for this EEG. God, please. Please help us. In my mind, I pictured all the friends and family that were praying for us, right then, right at that moment. It reminded me that God was there in the room with us and it was all in His hands. The panic melted away into calm once again.
Micaela’s eyelids flickered. Her body relaxed. Her breathing slowed. She was asleep.
I looked at the clock. We had exactly 15 minutes left.
By the time the EEG finished my arms were shaking from exhaustion but my heart was elated. God heard our prayers. And, He was working to our success before we even made it to the exam room. Micaela arrived sleep-deprived because I wasn’t able to get on the road to Albuquerque until late the night before. And then, at exactly 4am that morning, a framed painting fell off the wall breaking with a crash and waking Micaela. Funny, I was so sick that night that I wasn’t going to wake her up even though the EEG instructions said to wake her at 4am. God made sure things happened like they were supposed to.
And, I know, I would not have had the strength or peace to keep Micaela restrained for so long if God were not keeping me close to Him.
Sometimes miracles are big, huge, events, but other times, the miracles are the incredible series of little pieces falling in place to answer a prayer. That was us this week.
Because Micaela fell asleep, her neurologist found the part of the brain that has been causing the seizures and the information will help us establish a treatment plan for her. I am so thankful.
Thank you for those prayers. Sometimes we pray for others, not knowing if those words are heard, but I want you to know that God heard you and your acts of love helped us through a very difficult time.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Have you ever witnessed something miraculous in answer to a prayer for someone else?
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"...and God was already there with me."