The Day I Realized a “Phase” Was My New Normal With My Autistic Child

I thought it was just another pretty day to play in my backyard with my four sons. Little did I know that it was a day that would rock my reality to its very core….

God had blessed us with a break from the rain with sunshine. My 4.5 year-old twins and I were soaking it up in our backyard.   I am always on high alert. I don’t want them to leave the safety of our backyard and wander to explore the front yard (and beyond) by themselves.

One of my twins has Autism, so I am especially vigilant when it comes to him because he is very unpredictable. That day it started off as his usual game where he starts to run off toward “no man’s land.” I shout his name and tell him to stop. Most of the time he runs in place as he turns to look at me. After a moment, he runs back to me, giggling the whole way. Every once in a while he continues to run on, but now in a playful “chase me” sort of fashion. However, this particular time was different, he started running and he didn’t stop. He didn’t respond to my shouts. He didn’t stop. He didn’t hesitate. He just kept running.

IMG_7946When he reached the street, he was in my sights but not close enough for me to grab him. I shouted louder and in a very stern manner. I meant business. He ignored my plea and ran straight across the street without even looking. Then he started running up a very steep slope that is a common area in our neighborhood. He has NEVER gone that far before! I was getting very scared, and I tried to push my body climb up that hill as fast as I could. At the top of the summit is a backyard with an iron fence and a pool. I know this, but my son doesn’t. I start to feel a little better thinking that fence would slow him down and allow me to catch up to him.

About half way up the slope, my heart sank as I saw him open that gate. Suddenly I was screaming his name, praying to God, and willing myself to overcome my exhaustion to get to him as fast as I could. What was I going to find? Was he going to be submerged in water? He cannot swim. Is the pool empty and he falls in and has a head injury or worse?

Eventually I managed to get to the fence. I was out of breath, overwhelmed with my fears coming to fruition, I see my little boy standing next to a pool full of water, staring at the warm steam coming off the surface. I calmly said his name; I didn’t want to startle him. He turned and looked at me for the first time since this ordeal began. I felt a huge relief come over me as he walked toward me. He willingly took my hand and walked with me without argument.

We started walking around the neighbor’s house to their front yard. No telling what the neighbor thought when he came out of his house. He heard me yelling at the top of my lungs in his yard. And then when he sees me, I am out of breath, exhausted, tears streaming down my face, and blood trickling from my temple from a branch that scratched me in my pursuit.

What did my neighbor think of the little boy that was calm and compliantly holding his mother’s hand as I tried to explain the situation between sobs. Did he know what almost happened? Did he understand when I said “he has autism,” that I wasn’t an irresponsible mom who wasn’t paying attention to her child?

Does anyone know what this means for me and my family? This is a game changer.

As I’ve traveled…stumbled down the path of parenthood with my boys, every challenging phase I’ve come across has been just that, a phase. From baby proofing the home, to toddler meltdowns. Time and development have pushed past that barrier and off we go to the next phase!! Until now, I have counted on these temporary lifestyle changes to be just that, temporary. However, a brush with a potentially tragic outcome with my Autistic son, made me realize that with ASD, some phases will never be over.

For the two years that my 4.5 year old son has been diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum, I have done countless hours of reading and research about the issues I might face with my son. Since he is still technically a toddler, I haven’t really been able to apply these potential behaviors to my son. Meltdowns in public? Similar to “toddler tantrums” to the outside observer. Nonverbal? Many young children shy away from talking to strangers. Not listening and responding to people? Have you ever tried to talk to a young child who is deeply enthralled with their favorite TV show? Wandering off without regard for personal safety? Absolutely a concern for all young children. However, consider these behaviors on an older child and everything changes.

For most children, an improvement in speech and communication helps a child to eventually express their frustrations and feelings in more productive ways than through tantrums. Children that learn social cues eventually will effectively communicate with other people and, hopefully, not be misinterpreted as rudeness, disrespect, or worse; aggression. With the exception of my older boys and their video games, they do learn to respond to questions and requests from others. With maturity and training, children begin to understand what is unsafe and how to act accordingly.

According to the CDC and the National Autism Association, 49% of children with autism will “wander” or bolt in this case. Accidental drownings account for close to 90% of lethal outcomes, second is being hit by a vehicle.

Strides are being made in communities to minimize tragic outcomes. Prevention is key, but it is not completely effective. The back-up plans include involving the neighborhood in search efforts (like an amber alert), and preemptively giving information to local EMS about an individual. If 911 is called, they have pertinent information ahead of time, so miscommunication can be minimized.

We are called to love our neighbors. I am counting on my neighbors to love my son.

 

 I appreciate my friend, Beth Moore, for sharing her story. Beth is an autism advocate in Tennesse. What can you do to help? Pay attention when you hear about these needs in your state by going to Autism Speaks and sign up to receive emails. You can also inform others about the need and have them sign up as well. If you are in my state of Tennessee, feel free to contact Beth to get more involved in making this change. The truth is, everyone will be touched by someone on the Autism Spectrum. Your children will be in class with them, your coworker may be taking care of a family member on the spectrum, you will be among them in everyday society. You will be fortunate to know these remarkable people, so let’s help them and their families get them the treatment they need.

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Was My Diploma A Waste of Time?? SLM Collective Post

When I went away to college at The University of Tennessee, I didn’t know a soul.  At my mama’s urging, I went through Sorority Rush.  I was hesitant.  I didn’t want to feel like I was “buying” my new friends.  However, my mama’s argument that it would be a good way to meet a lot of people quickly was compelling enough for me to look past my naive notions.

And how glad I am that I did!  On the first day, I met my friend, Becky.  I don’t know if we hit it off so well because we were both from Kentucky or our mutual love of Days of Our Lives.  Nonetheless, as I sat with her on Preference night with tears running down my face, I knew I had a friend for life.  Of course ours were tears of muffled laughter while others surrounding us were much more serious 😉

I am lucky to have a lot of strong women in my life that learn from every day.  Becky is one of those people to me.  I have selfishly been looking for something for her to write about for my blog, so I could share some of her wisdom and wit with my readers.  She posted something on Facebook a couple of weeks ago and it was my aha moment!  As a Stay at Home Mom, it really resonated with me.  Enjoy!

Recently, an older gentlemen asked me what I studied in college. I answered in a humble manner explaining my degrees to which he replied “How does that help you raising kids?”

Awkward silence.

When he asked me this question, I just made a face and shrugged it off. I am not one to engage or confront.  His question insinuated that I wasted my time going to college. I allowed this thought to rent space in my head for a few days. Now, I am thankful he asked me.  It gave me the opportunity to put words to my convictions.

There is so much to say. Where do I start?

Children are sponges.  Ever heard that phrase?  Well it is true.  You pour more into those fast changing little beings with your actions and example than with the lectures you give them.  Want them to be kind to others, be that kind person.  Want them to work hard?  Show them your hard work, past and present.  Want them to have skills and succeed?  You continue to build your skills and help those around you doing the same.

Example to Pursue Learning – I hope I never stop learning.  Of course it may have started in the classroom, but those habits to follow my interests in a meaningful way are still very much alive in me.  Never stop learning, folks!  It doesn’t have to be at an expensive college, but never stop moving your mind forward. It is invaluable for your kids to see those efforts. Who wouldn’t want their children to love learning?  They are more likely to follow that path if you go first.

Discipline to Achieve Goals – School was not always fun and certainly not always easy. I had bigger goals. I set and achieved those goals.  My kids know that I worked diligently to achieve my goals and with hard work, they can too!

Equipping for Employment – I provided for our household while my husband pursued his higher degree full time.  My income bought our first home and helped us save for the flexibility to stay at home after our first child was born.  We worked together on a seemingly endless path to make a better future. I consider it a tremendous blessing for my kids to understand the partnership of hard work and mutual support involved in those early years of pursuing degrees. Unfortunately, that future we build towards is not guaranteed to be easy. I have two friends who became young widows in the past two years. Life can change so quickly and dramatically.  If I had to go back into the work force to provide for my family, then I would be better equipped to do so. It is about creating better opportunities for ourselves and our families.  My kids will understand this more and more as they mature.

Community – The future we were building was for our family, but also for friends, church and community.  We serve in different ways inside and outside our home.  Was my college education part of preparing me for that? Absolutely. If I can teach my children to place a high value on serving my community, then I consider that a huge win. My pursuit of higher learning showed me the larger communities out there to serve in ways that I never would have realized otherwise. I have friends of various backgrounds and cultures. I was blessed to see perspectives outside my immediate circles.  That sense of community holds value in the way that I influence my young children.

I do not currently earn an income outside the home. A person’s education should not be considered irrelevant base on that fact. I may never get another paycheck in my life.   I have no regrets about the time and money I spent to get those little pieces of paper called diplomas.  The whole experience shaped me for the better into the Mom I am today.

Countless blessings can come from a lifelong dedication to learning for my family and myself.

~ Becky Thomas

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Becoming a Special Needs Mom: Autism…From Diagnosis to ADVOCATE

The SLM blog has been an unexpected blessing to me. At first it was a means to an end…building my platform. However, it has evolved into a place for me to encourage, inform and just laugh. I am also blessed to have some of the most amazing women as friends. Women with inspirational stories and motivating messages. I love that my blog has allowed me to marry the two, so that I can share my platform with some of these fascinating women so they can touch more lives.

When I started asking some friends to contribute, Beth was at the top of the list. She is another one of my girls in my “book” club that doesn’t read books 😉 She is a mother of FOUR boys. When she was faced with adversity, she not only faced it, she took the bull by the horns… 

 

Becoming aA few years ago, I was a stay at home mother of four young boys. Life was crazy and hard. At that time, my boys were 6, 4.5, and my twins were 18 month olds. My job consisted of countless diaper changes, feedings, and messes. Just to keep my mind from melting to mush, I tried to keep up a blog. There is one particular entry that I posted when my husband was on a business trip.

My dear sweet husband went away on a business trip last week. While I do understand that he was working, I still can’t help from being a little envious. The thought of leaving my house and all the work that goes along with it, just to go to an interesting place, stay in a hotel, be around adults and have adult conversation. To worry about just me, for a change. To get myself ready for the day, to watch what I want on TV, and to have some peace and quiet.

From If SAHMs Went on Business Trips

What I didn’t know at the time was that a year later, my life would become much more complicated and stressful. That is when I went from being that mom of four, to adding “special needs mom” to my résumé. About a year after I wrote that post, one of my twins was diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum. It was the hardest thing I had ever been through in my (early) 30 years of life. Being a pediatric nurse, I knew what Autism was. Since it had been 10 years since I was in nursing school, my information was outdated. I had worked with patients at various ends of the spectrum, but it is so different when you are looking at your Beth and sonown child. Your hopes and possibilities about their future begin to blur. I guess if you want to get honest, that really is how it is with all children and their futures. We really have no control over how their lives will be. There was just something so humbling about looking at my young son, who was then only 2.5 years old. He wasn’t talking, he wasn’t communicating, he had serious fits (beyond regular toddler tantrums), and he did all of these behaviors that I just didn’t understand. It felt like the uphill climb you take while raising your kids, just became a very steep and slippery hike. I had worked with families who received life-altering diagnoses. I knew that I wanted to be the type of a family that circles around my son and grows stronger while supporting him. You know, the kind of stories that you read about in “Upworthy” or “The Mighty.” The thing about striving for that is that it takes a lot of work, a lot of faith, and an unwavering commitment to achieve it. I have come to realize that even then, there is no “happy ending.” We are just making that decision everyday to stay strong. It is out of this realization that I became my son’s advocate.  

Over the last two years, I have done a lot of research, talked to therapists and special education teachers, read books, and participated with my son in a research study. All of this was in an effort to understand him so that I could understand his needs. the psychologist that diagnosed him prescribed for him ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapy. Even though it is the most effective, evidenced-based treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorders, I have avoided it.

The reason I haven’t sought this treatment for him is because it is very expensive and my insurance doesn’t cover it. I was very shocked to find that out when my son was denied. For me, it was like denying anyone the medication or therapy that would help any diagnosis. The most simple way to explain this is to say that medical science is further ahead than the rest of the systems. Essentially, the laws need updating to include Autism. Most states have started recognizing that, and consequently, have passed laws to mandate the coverage.

Unfortunately, my state, Tennessee, is not among the 43 that have done this. I recently attended a conference about Autism Law, to learn more about advocating for these changes in my state. The insurance is just the starting point for a long list of needs for the Autistic community. It is a good place to start because if more children were diagnosed earlier and had access to these therapies, then they would be better prepared to enter schools in Kindergarten ready to learn. If they were able to learn language and social skills around the same time that their peers are naturally picking up on them, then they wouldn’t be as far behind other children in developing these skills. The goal isn’t to “cure” children of Autism, but to give them the opportunity to learn how to calm their minds so they can learn and express themselves.

So a year after I wrote my post about business trips for moms, I found myself on one to help myself, and other parents in my state, to advocate for our children. Of course, I still did manage to enjoy some of the things I mentioned from that post, because none of my children came with me!

What can you do to help? Pay attention when you hear about these needs in your state by going to Autism Speaks and sign up to receive emails. You can also inform others about the need and have them sign up as well. If you are in my state of Tennessee, feel free to contact me to get more involved in making this change. The truth is, everyone will be touched by someone on the Autism Spectrum. Your children will be in class with them, your coworker may be taking care of a family member on the spectrum, you will be among them in everyday society. You will be fortunate to know these remarkable people, so let’s help them and their families get them the treatment they need.  

Then they can learn to share themselves with the world too.

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John’s Legacy – Guest Post by Clair

John's Legacy

If you missed Clair’s first post, get caught up here.

October 2015

It’s been over a year since we lost our sweet John in the last moments of his delivery. I was told early on that he probably couldn’t survive without being fully reliant on me.  That scenario proved to be exactly what happened. We will always cherish the hours we got to spend with him after he was born, and the pictures provided to us by a Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep photographer.

God truly blessed our family, and we were able to keep moving and looking ahead. On August 10th of this year, our sweet Lucy Cate was born, an 8 lb. 11 oz. healthy baby girl. As I write this blog, she is snuggled up against me sleeping.

So where am I these days with the loss of our sweet boy? What has God shown me? FAITH

The first time I went to see my grandmother after we received John’s diagnosis and prognosis, she gave me some advice that changed my way of thinking. You see, my sweet grandmother had a healthy baby girl. Later she experienced two miscarriages and the loss of her daughter who was born prematurely due to a fall. I can’t imagine what a difficult time that was in her life. Yet until this point, I had never even thought about her grief. She ended up with four healthy children, twelve grandchildren, and to date, eighteen great grandchildren. What a lucky woman, right? What a charmed life. But when she was not so far from my own age, she was relying on faith to get her through a difficult time.

So back to the advice. My sweet grandmother looked at me and said, “Sometimes we think things are going to go a certain way, and they don’t, and it’s hard. But it’s just like it is.” What some might consider harsh words changed the rest of my pregnancy. It was hard, but it was part of my story. My faith would get me through just like hers did.

I began to look at the many women in my life who had weathered hard times in different ways.  Their faith was something they all had in common. They never stopped believing; they just kept moving. I think we so often want to dwell on what’s happening right now and say, “Woe is me.  My life is so hard!” But have faith. God truly has a plan for you. Look at your parents, your grandparents, and you will see where faith played a role. When you feel stuck in a difficult time, look at the difficult times that others have pushed through and the blessings they found on the other side.

I will look back at this time in my life, and hopefully, be able to bless others with the fact that I had faith. I kept going. When my other children are old enough to truly understand John’s story, I want them to see that their parents trusted in God. I want to pass down this legacy of faith. God has a plan for me. God has my sweet John with him. God is good.

Clair and her husband Rob’s faith through such a heartbreaking time has been such an inspiration to me and everyone surrounding them.  Their faith gave them God’s peace and strength in the midst of a tumultuous situation.  Clair’s grandmother was very wise.  We are not guaranteed a smooth road on our journey; however, through our faith, God can help us not only keep going, but find His peace.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:7

Baby John, Guest Post by Clair

Baby JohnAside from my wonderful family, I thank God daily for the amazing girlfriends He has blessed me with in my life. In particular, I have a group of ladies that I have a book club with from church. Even though we have only read 1 – 2 books in the last four years, I know that God smiles down on our time together. You see we didn’t realize it when we started meeting in my playroom every other week, but God had handpicked this core group of 8 women. Over the years we would all share the bond of infertility, miscarriage or loss. He knew that we could support, love, and pray for each other like no other could.

My friend, Clair, went through a devastating and heartbreaking time last year when she was pregnant with her son, John. The strength and wisdom that she displayed was simply inspiring to everyone around her. I am so honored that she is sharing her story of how God sustained her through such a difficult time. The below is what she shared on her personal blog last year. On Thursday this week, she will share her insights she has gained in the last year.

Monday August 4, 2014

I have been considering returning to the blog for a while now, obviously I took an extra long break because I’m just not the best about blogging. A few weeks became a few months and then it just seemed too long. But, as many of you already know, we are expecting baby number three in just a few short days. While I’ve been pretty private about things for the last few months, lately I’ve been feeling like I should share my thoughts on the impending arrival of John.

John is due on August 24th, but we are expecting him to arrive this week. We found out in March that this sweet boy has Trisomy 18. At the time, they couldn’t tell us anything about how long we might have him with us. The timeline was anywhere from losing him sometime during the pregnancy to him living for years, but we always knew that most likely we were looking at a very short time with him. Now, it seems that the time to meet John has arrived. As of now, he’s still hanging on, but with some pretty serious issues that they found a few weeks ago. From what we understand, they do not expect him to live long at this point.  We are just hoping to say hello before we have to say goodbye.

After months of processing this information I know this…if there is one job I have as a mother to my boys, it’s to teach them about Jesus. It’s to help guide them so that one day they accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. It’s to help them grow into strong Christian men. It’s to help get them to Heaven. And now, with John, I’ll skip a lot of those steps, but I know he’s going to be in Heaven.

Do I want him to be here with me? Absolutely! Am I going to be so sad to lose a child, a person that I’ve loved and felt and carried since I found out about him in December? Of course. We pictured our lives with three boys under 4. We were preparing for the madness of a new baby along with two toddlers. I can still imagine these three boys growing up together, and I know it’s not going to happen. But something even better is waiting for John. He gets to skip all of the growing pains and mistakes of life. I get to see him again. I have years of hard work ahead to help mold my boys and hopefully to help lead them to make the decision for Christ. John is already going to be with Jesus. I can’t possibly ask for anything greater for my child.

Obviously, I don’t know exactly how Heaven works, and I won’t know until I’m there. But I like to think that John is going to meet my grandfather, who he’s named after and who I’ve always wanted to meet. I like to think that Celia, my aunt, who I’ve missed for the last three years, will be there waiting for him. She absolutely loved babies, and she loved me. Now she can love my sweet boy when I can’t be there. Not that he will even need anyone else there at all because John will finally be whole in the arms of Jesus, and that is the best love of all. I wish I could keep him here with me, but I’m excited for him to be with Jesus.

I know that the next few months are going to bring a wave of emotions. I know that I will have happy times and sad times. Good days and bad days. I know that I need prayers more than I ever have. But on the days when things are really tough, I can remind myself that he is in a better place than I can even imagine.

Am I Worthy of Redeeming Love?

Am I Worthy of Redeeming LoveA woman in her 30s that battled infertility for years who cried herself to sleep wondering if she would ever have a baby in her womb. 

A girl of barely 20, unmarried and pregnant who cried herself to sleep wondering how she could care for the baby growing in her womb.

Two strong women and one unlikely friendship.  

But God…God knew that these two women from opposite sides of the motherhood journey could grow to be close friends and gain a wealth of compassion.

I am so honored to have my friend, Courtney, guest post for me today.  I met Courtney a few years ago when I was a preschool teacher.  We started at the preschool at the same time.  She is such a sweet girl with a beautiful heart, and we became fast friends in spite of our 15-year age difference.  I about died when I found out that I was starting my freshmen year of college when she was starting kindergarten.  Talk about feeling old!!

By the time I met Courtney, God had blessed me with children, but I was getting ready to go through IVF again with my totsicles.  I am so blessed that Courtney was brought into my life for a fresh reminder that every single life that God conceives is an absolute blessing.  Whether it is planned, unplanned, or through fertility treatments.  Every.  One.  When I was in the thick of the infertility struggle hearing about an unplanned pregnancy was devastating to me.  Now I have the benefit of Courtney’s friendship and my 20/20 rearview mirror clarity to have a clearer perspective on God’s plan.  God’s plan is always perfect even if it “messes up” our plan…

Every mother has the day she found out she was pregnant etched into her memory. Some, like Steph, had a hard, long journey to get there. I’m sure that day she, as well as many others, felt joy, excitement, and pure happiness. I can only imagine that she felt some type of redemption. This one test was her redemption that made every single obstacle worth it.

My story of redemption began the day I found out I was going to be a mom. The day that I found out I was going to be a mom was an incredibly hard day. It breaks my heart to say joy, excitement and happiness were not any of the emotions I felt at the time. I was barely twenty, had an incredibly rough past and wanted a new start that year. Charlie, my now husband, and I both sobbed while holding the “positive” test in our hands. I’m not exaggerating when I say I took eight of them before I actually believed I was indeed pregnant. We were devastated, scared and simply broken. In the whirlwind of emotions that we were experiencing, not a single one of them was joy.

Although Charlie and I knew long before this pregnancy test that we were going to get married one day, getting pregnant now, was not a part of our plan. We saw our future together from the beginning, but we had so many things we wanted to do. I lined up a new summer job, and an amazing mission trip opportunity to finally go to Africa was in the works. My heart was in Africa, I felt so called to the orphans and babies there, I wanted to be Jesus to them. I wanted to love on some babies, not have one of my own! Yes, it is possible to be a follower of Christ and still mess up. I missed the mark big this time…but God.

You see in the midst of the hurt, in the midst of telling our parents and fearing the wrath of God through them God gave us such grace. Our parents gave us such grace. Was there disappointment? Did it hurt more than words to tell my parents that their first grandbaby wasn’t conceived in wedlock? Was I tormented with the shame every time I saw someone that found out? Yes, yes and yes! I lived in Small Town, USA and everyone knew everyone and everyone’s personal business. I knew it wouldn’t be long before people figured out why we got engaged so quickly and why we planned a wedding so fast.

Charlie and I didn’t get married because I was pregnant. I loved him with all of my heart, and I knew this was the man God had for me to marry. This pregnancy just sped up the timeline. Did I have the wedding of my dreams? Nope. I certainly didn’t feel worthy of wearing white or worthy of my dad walking me down the aisle, but that didn’t stop him. That my friends, is unconditional love. That is redeeming love. The kind that draws a dad, who isn’t one to stand out in front of a crowd, to stop in the middle of a choir special in a Southern Baptist church and walk off stage in front of 500 people. He walked down the middle aisle to sit with his broken baby girl who was alone and broken. The fear that he faced didn’t stop him from holding on to me as I sobbed while they finished singing “Through the Fire.” He refused to let me be alone in my own brokenness. The whispers of everyone in the room wondering what was going on or the ones who knew and looked at us with such judgment, they were not stopping my dad from getting to me. I dare say that’s the kind of love that Jesus has for us.

I fought with depression during the pregnancy and after my sweet Anna Claire was born…But God.  Even though there was so much hurt and brokenness that took a great deal of time to heal, I never looked at her as a mistake. I never blamed her. I never felt like she wrecked my dreams. Jesus was there through it all; he never left me. He never left us. Our plans were derailed, but God took our brokenness and began shaping way more than we could imagine. Our precious Anna Claire was a living, breathing version of God’s redeeming love. True beauty from our ashes. The second year of marriage brought another positive pregnancy test, and another round of hurting, anxiety and fear. This time the process wasn’t as hard to swallow, but we had no idea how the heck we were going to afford another baby. We were barely doing it then…but God. He never left us.

Honestly, I wondered if I would ever be able to have joy finding out I was pregnant. I met Stephanie at our preschool, and I was blown away by her juggling 3 kids and working part time. I was struggling with a 2 year old and being pregnant again. I only spent a few days in the classroom with her, but I loved every moment. I felt so much compassion from her every time I nearly broke down talking about our situation. She even recommended I read one of the best books I’ve ever had my hands on, Unglued by Lisa Terkhuerst. God used her and that book to speak volumes. I didn’t know about her infertility struggles right off the bat, but once I did I felt the surge of guilt all over again. My own insecurities ruled my heart instead of God’s redeeming love.

The next school year God placed Anna Claire in Stephanie’s class. I wasn’t returning because over the summer I had my spunky Cailey and was on maternity leave. I had no idea that Steph was going through her final battle of infertility while Anna Claire was in her class. I only knew that once again I was fighting some major demons of Postpartum Depression. I had nothing in me to love on my girls or anyone around me. I felt so alone, empty, and worthless. I didn’t speak a word of this to a soul. All I knew is that every Tuesday and Thursday Anna Claire would light up to see Ms. Stephanie, and her love radiated from her every single time. Even though I didn’t realize it, God was using Anna Claire to love Ms. Stephanie unconditionally while she was fighting for her own baby. God broke down some major walls Stephanie and I built up. They all came down with redeeming love, long before we even realized it.

Courtney & Charlie :)

Courtney & Charlie 🙂

My Anna Claire is almost five now, Cailey is 2, and Stephanie loves on them every time she gets a chance. I never planned to have baby at 20, or at 23 but God’s plan is always better than we could even imagine. Charlie and I have been married for over 5 years now and can say that we are more in love and in tune with God than ever before. All because of redeeming love.

How can you allow God to use redeeming love to break down some walls in your own heart? My hope is that one day I will be able to look down at a pregnancy test and see a positive and feel never ending, undeniable JOY. I have no doubt that one day redeeming love will win, and I won’t have any negative or shameful emotions.

Moses, the Nursing Mother

I am honored to have my good friend, Jessie Weaver, guest post this evening.  She has been a great friend and prayer partner for almost ten years.  Thanks Jessie 🙂

Enjoy!

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Breastfeeding has been a very sweet part of my relationships with my kids. I know it’s not that way for everyone, or even many. But for me, it’s been relatively easy (at least until the kids hit 9 months or so). And it feels like something I thrive at!

I can supply all the nutritional needs of a human being! I make milk! I make babies fat! My own body gives my children what they need—for free!

I can’t deny that it does begin to wear on me after awhile, though. My precious David has always been a major Mama’s Boy. His whole infancy, he just wanted to nurse. All the time. And he continued to nurse until he was 20 months old. (About when I got pregnant with Joshua, which I think is probably why he stopped.)

By the end of our nursing experience, I was pretty over it. He no longer needed those nutrients, although they didn’t hurt, of course. But I was tired of being screamed at every morning as he cried for “GAGA!” 
I was tired of being exposed in public as he pulled on my shirt.

The nursing relationship is very give, give, give, and you don’t get a whole lot from it, except some good snuggles and bursts of oxytocin.

In Numbers 11, Moses is plain fed up with feeling like a nursing mother. I can’t blame him, really, given that he was a pretty old dude responsible for what was probably more than a million people.

In this chapter, the “foreign rabble” traveling with the Israelites have begun to wish for Egypt—the food, in particular. Then all the people start complaining to Moses, wanting the vegetables they left instead of the manna God was providing miraculously every day.

In his complaint to God, Moses says, “Did I give birth to them? Did I bring them into the world? Why did you tell me to carry them in my arms like a mother carries a nursing baby? How can I carry them to the land you swore to give their ancestors? … I can’t carry all these people by myself! The load is far too heavy!” (vv. 12, 14).

No one can nurse a baby forever. Children are meant to detach from their parents.

It’s beautiful that God gives us leaders who are willing to carry us along like infants for a while, too. But leaders, just like parents, can’t carry that burden forever. Before God even took care of the “meat issue,” He assembled a pack of leaders for Moses to rely on, to ease his burden as a “parent” of these people.

Read Numbers 11 and see what happened to the Israelites and foreigners who succumbed to their whining and desires. It’s not pretty.

There comes a time for children to stop nursing and for Christians to stop being weights for their leaders.

Of this passage, Matthew Henry’s Commentary says, “We should not indulge in any desire which we cannot in faith turn into prayer, as we cannot when we ask meat for our lust. What is lawful of itself becomes evil, when God does not allot it to us, yet we desire it.”

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Jessie WeaverJessie Weaver is a freelance writer and editor and stay-at-home mom to three kids: Libbie (6), David (4), and Joshua (2). She and her family live on a private high-school campus in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Her devotional, Parenting Parables, leads moms through 30 days of quick writings and some journaling to help them see God in the everyday moments and think about the Bible in new ways. You can grab it for $2.99 for Kindle or on PDF. You can also find her on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram.