March 30, 2008

A Moment in Front of the Camera

I often write about our escapades with Dani and our battle with her disabilities. I do this because I am convinced it helps others who are in the same situation. I also share about my husband and his godly wisdom, guidance, and support through all our years together. I don’t, however, speak much about our son, Drew. Though fun, intelligent, creative, and kind, Drew is actually quite shy, so out of respect I keep a lid on many things I would otherwise love to write about. It’s just something a mother must do.

His college major supports his natural tendency. Like my husband, who is a professional photographer, Drew feels most comfortable behind the camera and has thus chosen a major in film. Avoiding the front of a lens as if it were the plague, his true joy is found behind the camera, which is why getting any kind of a picture of him is akin to striking gold. We happened to hit the jackpot Easter weekend when my husband snapped a picture of him on the deck, as a result I am proud as a peahen (that’s a girl peacock). Why am I happy? Because I treasure something very special about our son Drew. His ability to communicate.

Jimmy and I will never fully know Dani due to her disabilities. She cannot talk or share her feelings and because of this we must wait until we all get to heaven to meet her fully. This privilege, however, has not been stolen from us when is comes to our son, which is why we never take it for granted. I absolutely love talking with Drew to hear how he feels, what he's planning, how he thinks, and what his opinions are. It simply fascinates me to hear him express himself and I thank God for every moment I get the honor to do so.

It's tempting to mute our children by telling them to be quiet or tune them out as we go about doing our own thing. We think they either have nothing to say or what they say is unimportant, failing to understand what a privilege it is that they can express themselves. It is something we often take for granted, at least until it's taken away.

If you haven't stopped to marvel at your child's ability to communicate, take the time to listen to them today. Pay attention to what they say and thank God for their ability to think, reason, and express themselves. It is a gift that enriches life beyond measure. Treasure every word your child says, pray for them without ceasing, and savor the moment, for one day it could all be gone.

Visit Nancy's Website: Olive Leaf Ministries

March 27, 2008

4 a.m. Surprise!

Thump…thump…thump…thump! My heart was racing as I whipped my head out from under the covers. Vibrations on the bedroom floor woke me from a dream that I was trying to find a dressing room in a department store. Asking the sales clerk where I could try on my assortment of clothes, I was shocked to see she led me to a men’s single bathroom! Too stunned to question her guidance I figured it was all she had available, so I entered the room, locked the door, and commenced searching for a clean place to drop my belongings. That’s when the tremors began.

Relieved to be rescued from the men’s bathroom, I opened my eyes to see the source of this predawn quake. It was Dani, at the foot of my bed, marching like a soldier. Scantily clad in only her night top, underpants, and one sock, she was getting dressed for her day at the workshop. Too happy to contain her joy, she decided to join me in my bedroom.

Pulse still pounding, I crawled out of bed and escorted my half naked bright-eyed baby back to bed. “Just a few more hours sissy. Then you can go to work,” I whispered in her ear as I covered her up and headed back to bed.

Now, I gotta say. I’ve been woken up in the middle of the night by many things. Crying babies, a full bladder, Jimmy snoring, hot flashes, the neighbor’s house alarm, barking dogs, and thunder and lightening to name a few, but this is the first time I woke to the beat of marching. Having worked nights at the hospital for many years when the kids where young, I covet a good nights sleep. This, however, was worth the wake. What a joy to know Dani loves work so much she’d get up at 4am to go. It makes my job of assisting her during this time of adjustment a whole lot easier.

Visit Nancy's Website: Olive Leaf Ministries

March 24, 2008

Some Good News and Some Bad...

Dani’s testing was complete and I sat with the director of the workshop to see if she had gotten the job. “Well, I have some good news and I have some bad. The good news is we want to hire Dani. We feel she is very smart and can do a good job. The bad news is she’ll need a lot of one-on-one assistance and since we are hiring a total of ten individuals, she will need to be hired last. We’ll hire Dani, but she won’t start work until the end of summer.”

With her words still ringing in my ear, my mind reflected on the events of the last two weeks. Hives from head to toe, anorexia, weight loss, and utter hopelessness over a mere five week wait for this evaluation; surely an additional five-month delay would prove to be detrimental for Dani, not to mention me.

As panic began to saturate every fiber of my being, I heard myself desperately suggest, “Is there anyway I can bring her here to work a couple of days a week and be her one-on-one until she adapts to the routine?” My question surprised even me, but the director’s response proved to be equally astonishing, “Sure. I don’t see why not.”

In an instant my world took a breakneck turn. After weeks of allowing myself to entertain the idea of being foot loose and fancy-free once Dani went off to work, I was instead reeling from the notion I would be joining the workforce with her. How long would this last? When will I find time to write and work for my ministry? Why Lord? Why must I give even more? I had a litany of questions for God and by sunset I was struggling with second, third, and fourth thoughts as I questioned what I had gotten myself into.

Then Easter came. The Holiest of holidays marked by Christ’s ultimate sacrifice and I found myself humbled by the reality of how little was actually being required of me. After all, it was His sacrifice that has set me free. Free to live full and complete in Him; none of which involves suffering or death. A simply short-term inconvenience, that’s all this is. Couldn’t I do this small thing for my child after all Jesus has done for me?

Yes, Lord. I can do this for her and I commit to do it with peace, joy, and gladness, for I know this is how You would respond. Help me to share Your goodness in all I do so I may be a blessing to those I meet and work with at her workshop. Thank you for Your sacrifice that was perfect and complete. You have risen! You have risen indeed! I choose to rise to the occasion as well.

Visit Nancy's Website: Olive Leaf Ministries

March 22, 2008

Back To School...Intermediate Dog Training

A quick review of the basics. No jumping...and you get a treat.

Three Students Total:

Ecclesiastes' 80lb German Shepherd friend from puppy class.

Ecclesiastes' petite 13lb girlfriend. They met in puppy class and still love each other to bits.

Pooped on his first day back to school, my 7 month old sugar cookie weighed in at 67lbs.

March 18, 2008

Dani's Day of Testing

I could hardly sleep last night knowing today would be Dani’s long awaited first day at the workshop. She’ll be going in for a day of testing to see which job best suites her and our family is absolutely thrilled!

We’ve watched her become more and more despondent over the last two weeks as she waited for what’s seemed like an eternity to begin work. She quit eating, lost 7lbs, moaned and groaned continually, became one humongous hive, and had me so worried I took her to the doctor twice. On our second visit the doctor confessed he couldn’t find a thing wrong with her. That’s when we knew stress was getting the better of her and it was time to begin treating her mind!

Since Dani is such a visual person, I decided last week to driver her by the workshop. Maybe seeing the place would reignite her optimism. Slowly we drove past the building as I lifted my camera and snapped a picture and though it made me feel a bit like a private detective, there was nothing secretive venture that day. The mission was clear, my daughter needed hope and she needed it pronto.

Arriving back home I quickly printed off the picture and placed it above the calendar on her bedroom door. We placed a smiley face sticker on Tuesday March 18th, her testing day, and marked off the days to the current day. “Look Dani! We only have four days until you go to work! Isn’t that fantastic?” Though not enthusiastic at the time, her demeanor slowly began to change as we marked off each passing day, and by yesterday she was smiling, happy, and eating just like the good old days. Hope had been restored! The picture and calendar had done the trick.

Now I must go get us both ready for this big day. Dani slept like a log but I am nervous as a cat. I suspect some dear prayer warrior prayed peace over her and forgot to cover me. At any rate it's time to keep the faith and move forward. I’ll keep you posted.

Visit Nancy's Website: Olive Leaf Ministries

March 10, 2008

Broken and Beautiful

Last week was one of the worst weeks I’ve ever had. Dani’s hives hit an all-time high, which in turn flared her Autism to the max. With Jimmy back to work traveling full-time, I had no help and by the end of the week I was ready to pull my hair out. Things seemed to go from bad to worse and with Dani coming down sick, Saturday proved to be the icing on the cake.

Jimmy had a photography class to attend, which meant I had to take Dani with me to Ecclesiastes puppy graduation. She didn’t feel well, but it was his graduation and I didn’t want to miss. Fully aware it might not be a good idea I gave it try, and it wasn’t a good idea at all. We ended up bolting from class twice so she could go the restroom to vomit.

Last week was simply the worst. It was so bad I couldn’t help but wonder why I didn’t break. You know, go over the deep end and do something drastic like run away. I was literally pushed to the proverbial edge, yet somehow never broke. Furthermore, I knew I wouldn’t and the notion of this perplexing fact amazed me so much, that after some prayer and pondering, I came to a conclusion. I didn’t break because God was breaking me.

You see when we snap or go over the deep end, it’s because we are attempting to handle the pressures of life in our own human strength. As each trial mounts atop our shoulders we become more and more unstable and begin to melt down mentally, physically, and emotionally. That’s when we do drastic things like run away, have an affair, overspend, overeat, or end it all.

Being broke, on the other hand, is when God lovingly and methodically tears down our old self in order to build us anew. It is just as painful, but it involves great purpose and benefit. In His hands we are pealed, stripped, poked, and prodded, then molded into a new creature designed for His perfect work and will. The most wonderful thing is that though He breaks us, He never leaves us broken, which is why I love Mark Schultz’s song entitled, “Broken and Beautiful.” How true this is. There is nothing more beautiful than a child of God broken, rebuilt, and renewed in Him.

Dear sister if you feel as though you are going to snap, take it to God. Never attempt to handle things on your own or you will eventually crack. Instead, allow yourself to be broken under His skilled hand. Give Him all your wants, desires, fears, and disappointments. If you are angry, tell Him. He already knows. If you don’t understand what He is doing in your life, share that with Him as well, then ask Him to reveal His will for your life. If you are tempted to do something drastic or extreme, you are working in your own power and need to give it all to God. Trust me, you can do it!

Isaiah 43:1 “But now, this is what the LORD says — He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”

Visit Nancy's Website: Olive Leaf Ministries

March 8, 2008

Graduation Day!

Ecclesiastes graduated from Puppy Class today. We'll have two weeks off before beginning Intermediate classes, then back to work again. Rest up pup!

Visit Nancy's Website: Olive Leaf Ministries

March 7, 2008

Follow Him

John 12:26 “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”

When I decided to get a dog I prayed for one that would be endlessly devoted to our family. He needed to be gentle, selfless, and even-tempered. I chose a male Labrador because, if there is any difference between the two, females can be more distant and independent. When picking from the litter, I chose Ecclesiastes because he fit the bill. He was a submissive yellow male Lab at sixteen weeks, and continues to love each member of the family immensely. He rarely chooses to be alone, which during this puppy stage is quite handy. He doesn’t realize it, but his desire to be with us serves as a constant baby monitor. Someone always has an eye on him and it’s fabulous!

His dedication frustrates me a bit though. I always feel bad when he lays at my feet asleep and gets up to follow me out of the room. It doesn’t matter if he’s fast sleep, if I walk out of the room for a moment, he will follow. I’ve tried saying, “You can stay there Ecclesi, I’ll be right back,” but he follows anyway.

His dedication frustrates me for another reason. It puts mine to shame. When he’s chewing a bone, eating, or playing with a toy and leaves it all to follow me, it's convicting. I invariably ask myself, “Do I stop what I am doing to follow God when He begins to move? Or, do I watch Him go ahead as I remain in my comfort zone?” The truth, dear sister, is in order to serve God we must follow Him, which involves countless interruptions, changes, and moving beyond our comfort zone. A true servant of God seeks to be with Him no matter the cost or inconvenience. She sticks by His side watching His every move and gladly moves ahead with her Lord and Master. Her desires are second to His and as a result, she receives honor.

There is no question that God brought Ecclesi into my life for reasons far beyond that of being a companion. Though cute, furry, and fun, he's a four-legged reminder of the servant I must strive to be. Who would have thought a canine could be so convicting.

P.S. – Shortly after this was written, Ecclesiastes chewed up the remote control to our Bose stereo! Apparently his built in baby monitor was working at the time.

Visit Nancy's Website: Olive Leaf Ministries

March 2, 2008

A Must Read

I just finished a wonderful book by Jennifer Rothschild entitled, "Self Talk, Soul Talk, What to Say When You Talk to Yourself." Oh how I wish I could have read this in my earlier years. It is simply fabulous. Honest and transparent, Jennifer shares her struggles with negative and degrading inner dialogues that often plagues her. She shares how to counter these destructive thoughts, which is based on Philippians 4:8, “ Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.”

I suppose I love this book because misery loves company. Finally, a book that deals with the true issues we face in life, yet so rarely talk about. Pointing out the wise words of Solomon, Jennifer uncovers the power our inner dialogue has over us. “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” (Proverbs 23:7 NASB) How utterly true! What we say to ourselves deep inside ultimately determines who we become. When we think negative thoughts, we pull ourselves down. But, when we meditate on God’s truth and recite it to ourselves repeatedly, we bloom and grow beyond measure.

It’s taken me a while to finish this book because I was so busy highlighting sentences, tabbing pages, writing on note cards, and turning to my Bible for further study. My once pristine "Self Talk, Soul Talk" book now looks more like a workbook, all because I don’t want to forget a thing.

If you battle low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy, this book is a must read. You can visit Jennifer’s website to read an excerpt and purchase your own copy at Enjoy!

Visit Nancy's Website: Olive Leaf Ministries