I just looked at the last blog post I did and couldn’t believe it was six months ago! I’m always thinking of things to say, and they are constantly gelling in my head, but I never seem to get to the computer to actually draft a blog post. I really enjoy keeping my few readers up to date, but it’s been hard to write for some reason. Life is a roller coaster and emotionally-speaking so am I. Ugh. This grief thing is not fun.
That said, I will say that we are doing ok. People always ask, so I’m putting it out there. Through God’s grace and mercy we are surviving, and I’m just glad the year of “firsts without Csaba” is over. On to year two now.
What drew me to writing a blog post today though was not for an update of sorts. I was compelled by some messages Tom received from a mom whose youngest daughter knew Csaba at school last year.
The backstory is that Tom recently did a pro bono inspection for a family who wanted to move from a relative’s basement to a new home. The only connection between them and us, at first, was the desire to help out another local family via our church’s compassion ministry. I have to say how amazing it is to donate (expecting nothing in return) our time and resources to others and, amazingly enough, still get something out of it. Really, that’s the beauty of service to others…that God does indeed work all thing together for good (Romans 8:28).
The payment in this case was some precious memories that came out after the inspection was completed. Actually, the memories are more bittersweet, as I will explain…
Csaba started school at LA (abbreviated for privacy reasons) in August of 2013. He started as a third grader even though developmentally he was still performing at a first grade level and his IEP showed an IQ of 71 (which, for comparison purposes, is about 2 points above the average for down syndrome). Honestly I don’t know how many people knew this about Csaba, and maybe some of you are surprised. I held this information close to the vest as I didn’t want people’s pity (ironically enough, as that seems to be the norm these days) and I certainly didn’t want Csaba being treated as “different”. In retrospect, my intention was simply to protect my little boy. School is rough for an average kid, but it can be simply unbearable for a child with special needs.
In spite of my desire to protect him though, Csaba was different. And kids knew it right away. After Csaba passed away, I heard all sorts of stories about him and his time at LA. Many of them were good memories, and they warmed my heart. I believe that kids with special needs have a “fast pass” to God that allows for a purity of heart and unmuddled belief. Csaba had that. He was always a happy exuberant kid, with a passion for Jesus at 10 years old that rivals mine at 40-ish. Those are the stories I love hear. It all made me so proud.
But there is some heartbreak too. Let me share an excerpt from the aforementioned message Tom received from the mom he did the inspection for…
I [just] realized that that you are Csaba’s father. I had no idea, what a small world. My daughter, who was with us yesterday, used to attend LA and when she was there Csaba was a new student. She knew him well and spent a lot of time with him. She was also new that year and realized that he was sitting alone at recess. She and her best friend friended him and would try to eat quickly to get to the playground to spend time with him so he wasn’t alone. She was not at LA when we heard the news as I homeschool now but she was so upset as were so many. I am so sorry and have kept your family in my prayers even though I have not known you. You are such a blessing to so many, including my family.
And then just today, Tom received this message from the mother’s older daughter:
I want to start off with this quote: “When God brings people together, then it’s always for a reason. Instead of worrying about the reason, it’s better let time unravel the reason for you and till then you should enjoy the beautiful now and the person God brought into your life.” God is always involved with all aspects of our lives. He influences the people we will come into contact with and how we come into contact.
This may not make sense now, but it will in a minute.
I want to tell you a short story about my little sister, J (the little girl with black hair that was playing with the dogs). J is 10yo and went to LA last year for 4th grade with her best friend & neighbor K. Anyway, My Mom went to J’s parent/teacher conference one day last year with Mrs. D. Mrs.D proceeded to tell her about how J and K befriended a little boy in 3rd grade who they saw sitting alone during lunch and recess because he was new to the school and didn’t speak english well. The girls told Mrs.D they wished the 4th and 3rd graders had the same lunch and recess times because it meant that this boy sat alone for 15 minutes before the 4th graders were released. Mrs.D proceeded to tell my Mom that “She wishes her own children will do the same thing if presented with the same situation.” This little boy was your son, Csaba.
Whether it be Gods will or your guardian angel, Csaba, they both wanted you to meet 1 of the little girls that made a positive impact on your son’s life here on earth. They became Csaba’s 1st friends at LA.
Needless to say, these messages affected me profoundly. Tom made the mistake of reading the first one to me in a restaurant and I proceeded to dissolve into the “ugly cry”. He pretty much regretted doing that, so the second one was read to me at home (thankfully). Now, I have to confess, I already knew about Csaba’s challenges in finding someone to play with at recess. We had talked about it and, ever the cheerleader, I would encourage him to seek out other kids (namely boys) who had no one to play with either. Or I would tell him to join in a game and hopefully they would include him. I fear I forgot how unforgiving school kids can be. I wish I had listened better.
ok, my point..?
Oh wait, let me digress a moment. I recently read the book “Wonder“…about a 5th grade boy who, after being homeschooled his whole life, chose to enter public school in fifth grade. The catch was that this boy had a face that was severely deformed. The book narrates from viewpoints of several main characters (various friends, a bully, a sister, etc.) and really delves into their thoughts and resulting actions. This book is fifth grade reading level, but I wanted to preview it before I read it with P over the summer. It made an impact on me all the same because I of course thought about my boys’ special needs the entire time. While neither of my boys is/was deformed physically, their brains are/were deformed (or, for lack of a better word, mentally disabled) by Fetal Alcohol Syndrome from their birth moms’ abuse. It’s not reparable. It’s what they will (and did) live with their entire lives. Sadly, It’s a heartbreaking reality of many kids born in Eastern European countries. And my boys were no exception.
Aaaaaaanyway, my point in this blog post (that is becoming more like a stream of consciousness) is fairly short and sweet. Even though my initial reaction was extreme heartbreak for my son, I saw it as a teachable moment for me. I believe firmly and avidly that the kindness that my kids show to others (especially those who are “different”) has a direct correlation to how I raise my kids. I am forever grateful to the girls who be-friended my son during his time at LA. It’s kids like that who will make this world a better place. I wish more boys had done that though, and maybe that’s a challenge to those reading this who have boys. Teach your sons to have compassion, to seek out those who are having hard times, to be-friend the lonely. If they are at reading level, have them read Wonder (I’ve heard at some schools it has been required reading…which is awesome). Hey, it really is ok if boys are tough and sensitive at the same time! ;)
But most importantly (and I know this has been said ad nauseum pretty much everywhere) BE the person you want your kids to emulate. If you demonstrate constantly what real love and compassion is, then it’s very likely your kids will follow suit. I mean, who knows. You just might have a talk with a teacher someday who says she “wishes her own children will do the same thing if presented with the same situation.”
Boy, have I been off my blogging mojo lately. It’s funny, there are months where all I think about is what to blog about…with much of it showcasing recent photos I took. But for some reason I just haven’t felt the desire. I suppose just like many things in life it ebbs and flows.
Anyway, can’t believe 2011 is over! It went fast and was filled with many ups and downs. I’m mostly proud of how the kids have been developing and growing. C has really taken to first grade and seems to be learning a lot. There are struggles associated with his mid-line brain condition, but he is a rock star and pushes through. We’re proud of him.
E is three and I have to say, she is currently trouncing the terrible two’s. Two’s were a cake walk compared to what we deal with now. She is quite stubborn and has attitude to spare sometimes. But she can also be quite sweet and kind as well. It’s the “Jekyll and Hyde three’s”, I guess. That’s what I’ll call them. There is really no other way to describe her. Love her to pieces though and she is amazing with her vocabulary now.
Tom is doing super well with his inspection business, it is growing by leaps and bounds and we are in awe that this is all happening during a so-called “recession”. We have been using this blessing to get out of debt and use cash for EVERYTHING. That means we are not on the bandwagon for ipad’s for the whole family (it boggles my mind that KIDS are receiving $500+ ipads to play games and watch movies…so ridiculous IMHO). Anyway, we are still living somewhat frugally so that we can start building up a large savings account. Security is a beautiful thing.
As for me, 2011 has also been about learning lessons. I am realizing (and treasuring) the genuine friends I have in my life. It wasn’t an easy year, but it was a revealing one. For that I thank God for helping me persevere and stay strong, even though at times I wanted to just curl up in bed and never leave my house. But I did learn a lot about true friendship, and that you can’t “earn” it. As a generous person, this was a bitter pill for me to swallow. I think 2012 will find me much more judicious with my generosity so that it doesn’t come back to bite me as it did this past year. More importantly though, I look forward to knowing the new friends God has (and will) put in my path through church, bible study, and MOPS. God is good, all the time. :)
There is another endeavor I am excited about as well…I want to make 2012 the year I go back to work! But since I am totally spoiled by being a stay-at-home mom, I plan to work from home. The plan is to slowly immerse myself into the world of professional photography. I still have much to learn and there are some classes to take, but ultimately I hope that my past design experience transitions into some amazing photographs. I now own a Canon camera, so I’d like to start saving money for new lenses that I can use for years to come. I’ll keep you posted!
Oh and I can’t forget our newest family member! We adopted a Basset Hound named Petunia (funny name at first and even funnier when you hear Tom yelling it when she runs off ) from a local rescue this past November. We love her and she adores the kids!
Don't be fooled, she's ecstatically happy here...
So here’s to a brand new year…
and I pray that you look ahead with hope, and not behind with regret.
It’s that time of year again. The time where you realize Christmas is just around the corner and (gasp) you need to save up money for Christmas presents. Admittedly, that is generally my way of thinking…presents and decorating before giving much thought to the reason we (Christians) celebrate Christmas. It’s funny, because I don’t think of myself as one who “forgets” that Christmas is about the birth of Jesus Christ. I mean, we go to Christmas Eve services at our church, we read the Biblical “Christmas Story” to our kids, and there is always a nativity scene proudly displayed in our home. Isn’t that enough?!
I thought it was enough…until I saw the movie“God Grew Tired of Us” (seriously, this is a must watch documentary if you want a better understanding of the horror that is happening in Sudan, and it was produced by Hollywood peeps…surprisingly). In summary, the movie follows the Lost Boys of Southern Sudan, Christian men oppressed and threatened with death by the Northern Sundanese (Islamic) Government. They are forced out of their homeland to wander parts of Africa, often settling in refugee camps that offer very little in the way of good farmland, clean water, and food sources. The movie follows a few of these Lost Boys as the American Govt. offers to relocate them to America in an attempt to better their life. In one scene (and one that has stayed with me), a Lost Boy ponders the celebration of Christmas in America. He wonders, why is there a tree? It’s pretty, but how does it represent Christ’s birth? And of course he’s also confused by the giving of gifts and consumerism…once again wondering what any of it has to do with Jesus Christ. I was deeply convicted by this. He could have easily been talking about my focus, and I was ashamed.
And THEN, I get an e-mail yesterday from Gospel of Asia, which had a link to a video from “Forgotten Christmas” (incidentally, if you go to their website there is an opportunity to get a free Christmas catalog where 100% of the funds received from it go to help those in need). Knowing that just 1% of the 460 BILLION that is typically spent on Christmas consumerism could give clean water to everyone in Nepal, Sri Lanka, and India, really gives me pause.
Here’s the video:
Pretty convicting, especially for those of us who are Christians.
I’m still thinking of what Christmas will look like for our family this year, but I can tell you it will not revolve around gifts or shopping malls. I’m even hesitant to put up a tree! And I would love to see the money we would normally spend on presents and decoration go to a worthy cause, to reach those who have yet to hear about the true meaning of Christmas. I’m going to pray about all of this because, honestly, I love Christmas. I love the decorating and the shopping. I have given in to the hype for a long time and it’s hard to re-wire my thinking.
I pray it becomes clearer to me as Christmas gets closer. I know I’ll likely start here though.
You want to know how a huge God-thing is happening? It’s when a woman of God meets with tragedy and the blogosphere lights up with prayer and well-wishes in the span of a day. It’s when friends, near and far, rally around and sing her praises as a friend, a mother, a sister, a wife. It’s when she has friends who care deeply for her and lift her up in prayer when she needs it most. That, my friends, is the work of God’s love…being lived out here on this earth.
No, that woman is not me. I praise God that I have not met with tragedy.
That woman is Joanne from the blog the Simple Wife. She is also an author of several books, some of them co-authored with her husband. Being the blogoholic that I am, I stumbled across her blog awhile ago following various threads that blogs often have. She is an amazing woman of God, someone I would be privileged to have as a friend. On Tuesday she was running on her treadmill and suffered a stroke. Her 12 yo daughter found her lying next to the treadmill, unconscious. Fortunately medical responders were there in less than 15 minutes and she was taken to the Hospital. I had no idea Joanne lives here in Colorado, but found out when I read that she is currently at Littleton Adventist Hospital…the very same hospital where I gave birth to my daughter 2.5 years ago. That made my heart ache for her more, knowing that she lives so close to me. There are recent posts on her condition on her blog, that have been written by her husband to keep her bloggy friends updated on her status. But please remember to pray for her too, even if you do not “know” her. I can’t imagine what her family is going through, especially her two beautiful girls.
That said, I have been reflecting on many things…knowing that I can be here now, posting on my blog, but be gone tomorrow. That’s life. There are no guarantees. I am content in knowing where I will go should the unthinkable happen, though. As a Christian, I know that my belief in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior guarantees that my next breath, after my last one on this earth, will be in Heaven. I can’t express the peace this affords me. But what about the time I am here on this earth? Am I doing enough?
One thing that has hit me like a ton of bricks is the fact that Joanne has a legacy. Should she leave this earth now (and I pray she doesn’t), she would leave so much inspiration behind. She would leave so many amazing friends who are reminiscing daily about their interactions with her. She would leave behind a devoted and loving husband who has no trouble seeing her as Christ sees the Church. She would leave behind two girls who adore her and who have benefited from her attentiveness and ability to home-school. She would leave behind books about how to become more of a Godly woman.
All I can do is reflect on how short of much of that I fall.
As I sit here typing away I realize that I would be blessed to have half as many people rally around me if I suffered the same fate. I would be blessed to know that so many people around the world are praying for me. But what have I done to earn that blessing? As of yet, I struggle to think of a one. Do I hold myself accountable to Godly people? Do I spend time in God’s Word? Do I pray regularly? Do I grieve with those who are grieving? Do I give of myself unconditionally and without prejudice? Am I demonstrating Christ’s love through my actions and attitude? Um, truthfully I can’t say a resounding yes to any of those questions…and I’m sick about it.
So where does that leave me? What do I do now? I need to pray…to the one and only true redeemer, God. Changes need to occur. Joanne’s life, and current struggle, has brought me perspective. There are some things that I am resolved to change. I’m done being the mediocre Christian who “just gets by” on the grace of God. I have no illusions of grandeur, but I do want to leave a legacy. A legacy of being Christ-like. A legacy that my children will be proud of (and hopefully emulate). A legacy where, at my funeral, Christ’s love is evident to the ones who are there.
And, most importantly, I want God to say, “well done, good and faithful servant”.