June 26, 2010

Advanced Communication

When your child cannot speak or communicate fluently, as with our daughter Dani who is deaf and Autistic, you learn to capitalize on the few clues she offers. Like most parents we watch for subtle cues that signal how she feels and uses them to learn her likes and dislikes.

As an example, when Dani walks with one knee locked like a pirate, we know she's in a really good mood. In fact, we call her Peg (as in peg leg) when she walks this way and it never fails to give us a kick. Other hints that indicate she's happy include her cooing like a dove, wanting to be hugged, and a peaceful look on her face like this one at her Day Hab program.

Seeing her perched in this chair proudly wearing her lei warmed my heart the instant I saw it because it revealed she was happy and content. As much as she hates having her picture taken, she's clearly calm as a cucumber in this photo, which is quite a feat considering the fact here at home she cries at the first sight of the camera. To us this picture is a modern day miracle.

Deciphering subtle forms of human communication is a skill common to nearly everyone. A heavy sigh or the tapping of one's foot means they're bored or growing impatient and a wandering eye amidst a conversation most likely means you've worn out your welcome. These and a host of other indicators are but a few delicate forms of communication we each give and receive on a daily basis.

Parents of children with communicative disorders, however, are a unique breed. Drafted into the most challenging and advanced course on communication the day our special children were born, we are forever hunting for better ways to understand and interpret our child. Communication boards, sign language, blinking, pointing, and grunting are but a few things we accept as valid forms of communication. It may make no sense to anyone else on earth, but if it conveys a message to us that's all the counts.

That's why many years ago I adopted the philosophy that says if a doctor, teacher, therapist, or caregiver of Dani refuses to listen or work closely with me or my husband, we drop em like a hot potato. After all, who can read Dani better than her father and me? How many folks have taken the crash course in Dani 101 and passed? No amount of education can override what we have learned these 21 years and anyone who thinks it does couldn't possible have her best interest at heart. Fortunately, we've encountered very few professionals who disregard our input, but the few times it's happened left an indelible mark I'll never forget.

With this in mind I encourage you to trust your instincts and stick by your guns. No one knows your child like you and anyone who thinks they do couldn't be more wrong. When it comes to reading your child you are an expert. You hold an advanced education few others have and your specialty is your child. Listen to your gut, do what you feel best, and years down the line you won't regret it.

June 14, 2010


Reality is for People with No Imagination, the sign read as I entered my chiropractor's restroom. Snickering at the correlating picture of a Dalmatian dressed in a George Washington suit, the cleaver quip sent me thinking that perhaps this is why reality can be so painful. It's the pin that pops a fanciful dream, sending it plummeting to the ground.

Take my 26.5 oz bottle of lotion for example. I no sooner brought it home from the store today when, while putting it on the top shelf in the linen close, I lost my grip and dropped it on its poor little pump head. Thankfully the lotion didn't squirt all over creation, but a tiny and ever-so real dream died as I attempted to piece the pump together. It was broken beyond repair. Now I have to drain the new lotion into my old bottle, which is another flavor, as the perfectionist inside me screams, "But that lotion doesn't match the label!"

A deeper reality has Jimmy and I feeling like pin cushions as life's course shifts from going where we'd hope it to be at this time of life on to a more sober state of affairs. With my father's health slowly deteriorating, the painful sting of his mortality has prompted a deep course of grieving. Perhaps you can relate and find yourself staring in disbelief at something broken in your own life. Whatever your pain, the good news is it's not hidden from God. He knows our discomfort and understands the toll life's reality inflicts on our souls. That's why He calls us to set our minds on things above, because heaven's a reality guaranteed to exceed our wildest imagination. No one can puncture that dream. Jesus made sure of that.

I don't know about anyone else but I'm looking forward to heaven. How about you?

"Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city.

On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

No longer will there be any curse.

The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city,

and his servants will serve him."

Revelation 22:1-3

June 6, 2010

Works Better Broken

The fan over our computer has been on the fritz. No matter what setting we put it on, it turns at a snail's pace. As the weather in Kansas City flirts with the 100 degree mark, the tiny twirl of the air is nothing short of frustrating.

Yesterday Jimmy began taking it apart to get an idea of what kind of switch it needed when suddenly, out of the blue and with its innards hanging out, the fan began to run good as new. I happen to be sitting there at the time and it felt simply scrumptious. "Isn't that weird. I take it apart and it begins to run" Jimmy said standing amazed.

Sometimes life is like our fan, we work better when broken and at the end of our rope. It isn't easy and certainly not fun, but these are often times we see Christ most clearly. That's what happened when the disciples found themselves amidst a tempest. Following Him into a boat one day, without warning a furious storm came upon the lake. They'd been in the boat with Jesus for a time, but only saw Him in a new light when the storm hit. With the boat taking on water and fear flooding their souls, they did the only thing the could do, they called on Christ. That's when they witnessed a miracle and received more faith.

Do you need to see Christ in a new light? Perhaps life's boat is taking on water and panic is flooding your soul. If so, do what the disciples did. Allow the storm to turn your eyes from the crisis on to Jesus. All we will ever need is at His feet and He is always at our side. Nothing is too difficult for Him or catches Him off guard. He is the peace that passes all understanding. Let's praise Him for who He is and all He's done for us.

"Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”
Matthew 8:24-27

June 1, 2010

Swinging Bean

I walked into the kitchen when something caught my eye. "Dear, why is the swing swinging?" I asked staring at the empty but active equipment. "Bean was in it" Jimmy replied, chopping a green pepper without missing a beat.

Cocoa Bean in the swing? Oh, surely not. He had to be mistaken. After all, why would a dog hop onto a swing? Not only is it unstable and unpredictable, but surely the loud whack of it hitting the deck railing on the upswing would scare him half to death.

Well...the thought no sooner passed through my brain when lo and behold motion on the deck caught my eye again. This time I witnessed the event first hand. Bean took a flying leap, landed in the swing, and perched himself on the cushions pretty as you please. Swinging high and low, he was proud as a peach and had obviously done this fine act many times.

I ran for the camera, set it on the sports setting, and snapped away before he could jumped off. He must have sensed I was near by the way he peered into the sliding glass door. Perhaps he suspected dear old ma was attached to the camera suspended in mid-air.

Swinin' Beanie Weanie