Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Super Boosted

Do you remember being at the roller rink as a kid, holding hands with someone, and having them "Super Boost" you forward? We did just that for our older daughter, Lauren's 8th birthday in May. The other day, I was thinking about how much fun it was to watch Lauren and her friends slingshotting each other through the rink. They would hold on to each other's hands, then gain speed, and whip each other fast forward! There is always that slight fear when they first let go, that slight wobble, then, "Phew!" when I know they're A-OK and fully balanced again. I was having just as much fun watching my adult brothers and sisters Power Boost each other along the rink like we did two decades ago! I was helping Taylor along the outside of the rink watching everyone whizz by us that party day, totally content where we were. The other day I was also thinking about those Super Boosts.

I thought to myself, "God really is my Super Booster." He has me hold on tight for a while to get the momentum building, to make sure I've got that firm grasp I need on Him. Then, when He knows I'm ready, He Super Boosts me to the next level of life. I get my bearings again as I move through a little fear of this new unknown. Then, He just kind of watches me along the edge until I'm growing a little too content, grabs my hand making sure I'm holding on tight again. Then...Whammo! I'm propelled forward again. I think that's just how it is when we get to walk with God. He knows when to coast with us, when to grab our hand to build the momentum, and when to slingshot us forward.

I don't think we'd enjoy life as much as we could just coasting along the outside of the rink. I don't think we'd enjoy life as much as we could just holding on for dear life gaining momentum without the thrust forward. I think we get to enjoy life at its fullest understanding God is right there taking us through each step and each season of life while giving us just what we need to be thrusted forward. Are you ready to be Super Boosted?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sink or Swim

"Run in such a way as to get the prize." 1 Corinthians 9:24

Taylor has been taking swimming lessons for about three years now. This past year we had her in lessons year round. The payoffs have been tremendous! I can now sit at the edge of the pool with friends rather than jump in each time the "socializing" begins. (OK, so that's the real reason most moms have their kids in swimming lessons, isn't it???) Anyway, all kidding aside, it has been one of the most rewarding things to watch her accomplish. She can actually put together the "big arms," "face in," and "big kickers" all at once! She may not be the next Dara Torres, but she certainly deserves a gold medal in my book.

Many times I've watched as Taylor has truly gone in circles or left to right rather than straight forward like anyone who can see does. She has to work twice as hard to go from Point A to Point B every time. She has no idea how much harder she's working than anyone else. Aren't we like that so often? Sometimes, we put it all together and go straight from Point A to Point B. Other times, it takes us twice as long, and we may get extra tired, but we still get there! We have to give ourselves grace to go the distance and trust that we'll get there with God's guidance. Taylor does have someone with her at all times. (I don't take my eyes off her even when I'm out of the pool, and I'd jump in a heartbeat if I had to!) We have someone too...He's directing us and getting us there if we let Him.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Membership's Privileges Continued

The privileges we've received with Taylor are terrific. Now imagine the privileges of knowing the God of the Universe! Imagine that the owner of everything...truly everything...wants to give it all to you! Everything Good and Great! God says it's ours when we belong to Him. Of course, with everything comes responsibilities, but let's dwell for a second on the gifts we receive from the Ultimate Giver. We get mercy, grace, Love...perfect Love, forgiveness forever, eternity with Him, relationships, successes, wisdom, perfect joy, perseverance, humility, patience, goodness, kindness, endurance. OK, that's just a 2-second list. Imagine the 2-mile list, the eternal list. God has given us benefits to membership in His family. I'd never be able to explain all these benefits, and they can be recognized every moment of every day if we are willing.

Membership Has Its Privileges

Though we are members of a club most do not voluntarily sign up for, I cannot tell you just how many times we've been shown favor truly because of Taylor's disability. It is hard to ignore her cane and the sympathy one has for a child with a disability. It is harder to ignore her personality. This is her God-given ability, at just six years old, to connect with people...all people!

The latest instance came March 29th. Taylor wanted that dolphin party, so the family headed to San Diego for the day. Taylor was so excited to get there, and she mentioned she really wanted to meet the dolphins...or the trainers. So off to the Shamu Show we went. After explaining to Taylor the extent of the show, we waited for most of the groups to exit. It is always much easier to wait a bit before tromping through the crowd, lest we be trampled. (We move MUCH slower than most people much of the time.) Just as we were heading for the exit, I noticed a trainer talking with a group of people. Tay and I headed down to wait for a chance to meet Vicki soon to be joined by Lauren. Not only did we get to meet her, Taylor had a few questions for her regarding Shamu, his personality, and his behaviors.

As Taylor, Lauren, and I were heading back up the bleachers to meet back with Mike, Vicki gives me the sign to come on over to the "Trainers Only" gate. I realized quickly we were gearing up for something spectacular! I emphatically called to Mike, and all of us entered the gate. We were feet away from the tank behind the show which held six orcas. Not one, two, three...six...and they were right before our eyes! Our eyes met theirs. It was truly surreal! We got to pet them, and Taylor got to feed them. It was absolutely remarkable and breath-taking to feel these magnificent creatures.

Now, I am sure, had we been a "regular" family, we wouldn't have gotten such a gift. I also realize how uncomfortable I used to be with such blessings because of Taylor. I now realize this is how she gets to experience a glimpse of what we see every moment of every day. Because she is disabled, we do receive special favor at times. No longer do I get uncomfortable or embarrassed or feel the need to explain why we got the special attention. I realize this is the only way Taylor can even come close to understanding what we get to see each day. I thank God for my sight, for being able to see these blessed moments when others shine their compassion on my daughter. I am grateful I get to see their tenderness and the tenderness Taylor instills in them.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Happy 6th Birthday, Taylor!

Last night, we enjoyed dinner with my in-laws. As we talked about my father-in-law's recovery from a stroke suffered about 3 1/2 months ago, it dawned on me that today would be Taylor's 6th birthday. Now, don't get me wrong. I've known we'd be celebrating her birthday today with cupcakes and ice-cream and tomorrow at Sea World (per Tay's "Dolphin Party" request), but the days leading up to Taylor's birthday have always been a little awkward. I celebrate our little girl's precious arrival day, and I also grieve the life I thought we'd have together. The day Taylor was born six years ago, we had a new beginning, literally. We put aside many of the dreams conjured up during pregnancy and knew they were no longer reality. That has been why I've had such a tough time each year with this particular day.

I realized last night, at Bev's kitchen sink, that I was filled with awe and joy over this life with Taylor. I am constantly in awe of her. I am constantly in awe of Lauren. I am constantly in awe of Mike and our growth together. I had no idea where we were headed six years ago, and literally couldn't move past the moment. Today I can't believe how far we've all come. I am so grateful for where we've come and look forward to where we're heading. Our dreams may be different than what I had imagined, but they are far greater and greater appreciated than what I had imagined as well!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Taste and See

"Taste and see the goodness of the Lord."

When Taylor was an infant, we would spoon feed her and have to tell her everything we were putting in her mouth. Imagine if you will, being force fed food having absolutely no clue what was going in your mouth. Sometimes, well oftentimes, she would spit out the food entirely no matter where we were. Other times, she would suffer through a mouthful, and still others, she would endure a few more bites or even ask for more.

It was never "fair" when we didn't tell her what was coming her way or when. We'd expect her to just open up and taste it all. Again, the same reactions...great, horrible, or maybe I'll try it again. The worst was when we were in a hurry and trying to make her eat quickly, chew quickly, swallow quickly, or I'm ashamed to admit...give another bite before she was even finished with the previous one.

It struck me one day that many non-Christians probably feel this way about Christianity. (It helps that I've read unChristian, a book about the non-Christian's perspective on Christians and Christianity.) We are so passionate about what we love and want everyone to experience it as well. We can try to force feed too much too fast. We can keep forcing the same "dining choices." Or we can keep trying a little bit at a time and see how it's "digested." We might even hear after our message is "spit out," that later the same message had been received. I think we need to be conscientious about who we're asking to "Taste and See" and what the response is. We can never give up, but we do need to be aware.

Welcome to Holland

This is a poem I was given when Taylor was first born. What a perfect description of life with a handicapped child. I also feel it is applicable to every person who is dealt a set of circumstances over which there is no control but to look for the tulips and windmills...that is, everyone...

Welcome To Holland
by Emily Perl Kingsley
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......
When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."
"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."
But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It’s just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away...because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.
But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Visually Impaired Skiier/Spiritually Impaired Christian

So Taylor went skiing last weekend in Big Bear with her BRIGHT orange...and I do mean Cal-Trans bright orange...ski vest announcing to everyone that she is Visually Impaired and that the two ladies with her were her Visually Impaired Skiier Guides. It really is a sight that can't be missed. The vests literally scream out, "Look out below!!!"

It was our second visit to the slopes and the wonderful adaptive ski school at Bear Mountain. The volunteers who work with handicapped children and adults to make skiing accessible to all are amazing! Inspiring to say the least! The first time I saw Taylor heading down the mountain last year, my eyes swelled with tears. I wasn't quite prepared for the swirling emotions and was thankful the tears stayed at bay or they may have turned to icicles right there on my cheeks!

This year watching Taylor and her helpers made me think of all of us who could easily be wearing a huge sign advertising our "Spiritually Impaired Christianity." All of us have times in our lives we feel low, areas we need to work on in our walks with God, times we can be guides to others, and times we want to reach a new peak. How often do we ask for help like Taylor received as the skiier? How often do we help others in need expecting nothing in return like the volunteers? How often do we look to the Bible or other people asking for help when we need it? The resources are there, we need to be honest about where we are and where we can go.

I actually took Taylor down the slopes for the second half of the day, and I am not much of a skiier. It also made me think of how often we can ask for help without thinking of the source. Why not go to the BEST...our Lord! He wears that bright vest every day announcing His guidance and saving power... his vest just happens to be scarred hands, feet, and sides. Are you getting the best advice possible and then reaching out to the people He places in your midst?