Tag Archives: Lord

Personal Best

I learned a new term this weekend, it’s a runner’s term so surely I had never heard it. A precious friend ran a full marathon in honor of Katie, image2 (1)after 26 miles she met up with Katie to push her across the finish line. It was truly one of the most amazing moments to watch. As we hugged afterwards one of her family members threw out the new term, they told her she had a PR. What? She made a personal record, this was her 6th marathon and the fastest she had ever run. She immediately said it was all Katie, our precious daughter had inspired her to perform better.

This made me think about how Katie has brought out PR’s in so many of us. I like to call it our Personal Best. Her life is a marathon every day. When watching her walk in her walker for just 10 minutes you see the struggle, you see the fight. When she cries out to us, trying to communicate I see the frustration and confusion. When we put food in her mouth and she sits there refusing to swallow I see the discomfort. All of these things and so much more are apart of Katie’s daily life, yet she seems so happy most of the time. I truly believe her bond with God helps her see past this life into what really matters.

Before Katie I never learned what it meant to truly push myself. I exercised pretty regularly and worked hard in my career, but looking back those were pretty basic. Today, I see that pushing toward my personal best involves a different way of thinking. It means taking my own wants and needs out of the equation. We all learn this in parenthood, but it is intensified in the special needs world.

Early on in Katie’s life I just didn’t get it, I felt so sorry for myself because I wanted her to be normal, I wanted her to be what I had always dreamed she would. Now I see so clearly that she is so much better than normal. She has taught me to push myself to live this life to the fullest, but not to rely on it for happiness because what comes after is so much better.

image3 (10)Katie brings out the best in those who take the time to know her. Family members are dedicating their careers to helping other kids like Katie. Complete strangers come up to us to tell us how just seeing Katie touches their hearts. So many people donated to our marathon fund to raise $2000 for a local Early Intervention agency. These are all beautiful examples of Katie pushing us to do more with our lives.

The most amazing transformation in my life has been my desire to be the best disciple for God I can be. If my life had gone according to my plan, I am not sure where I would be in my faith walk. My bible study group is just finishing up St. Paul’s letter to the Hebrews and a recent verse spoke loudly to me. “Endure your trials as discipline, God treats you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are without discipline, in which all have shared, you are not sons but bastards.” (Hebrews 12:7-8) Trials are not punishments from God they are lessons that teach us to be our very best. Just as a parent disciplines out of love, God sends us trials because He adores us and wants us to dig deeper. I know this because Katie was once my trial, but I now know she is my greatest teacher in life.

I have so much admiration for my friend who ran for Katie. She loves to run and enjoys pushing hIMG_0757er body to achieve more, but this marathon was different for her. She said when her training got tough she thought of Katie and focused on running because Katie can’t. The 20th mile of the marathon is always her most difficult, but with Katie on her heart she pushed through it faster and stronger than ever before. Without my friend, Katie would never cross a finish line. God pushes us all to look outside of ourselves and to focus on how we can help others reach their personal best. I’m thankful for my friend and so many others in our lives who run this race with us, because very often we need a good push.

 

Changing My Desire

IMG_6555Over the last 12 years of parenting a child with severe special needs one might think I had mastered the art of prayer, but that would be false. In fact, it is an area in my life that I experience great struggle. When I pray I often second guess what I ask of God, if He knows the plans He has for me then who am I to ask for something different. But His plan can be tough and I have a long list of requests. So what words should form my daily prayers?

Way too often I ask God for changes that would make my life easier here on earth. “God, please help Katie learn to communicate!”, “Dear Lord, if you could stop Drew’s temper tantrum, right now, that would be great!” or “Please, make that annoying person in my life a little more bearable!” and my favorite, “I need help with this crazy chocolate addiction, make it go away.” The problem with these prayers are the desires behind them. I’m too focused on what God can change in the world around me, when I should concentrate on my own heart.

Brody-War-Room-690Andy and I recently watched the movie War Room (which I highly recommend)! In the movie Elizabeth’s marriage is on the brink of divorce, but when Miss Clara teaches her how to pray, her change of heart transforms their family. We can fight our battles every second of every day, and we can waste our time trying to change things that are out of our control or we can hit the floor and use the only weapon that really works.

“To win the fight, you’ve got to have the right strategy and the right resources, because victories don’t come by accident.” Miss Clara in War Room

We have to have the desires of Jesus. When my ego is at the center of my prayer I want others to change, I’m too proud to admit that I may need some fine tuning. But if our goal in prayer is asking for help to emulate Jesus’ qualities, then God is happy to oblige. God wants us to look beyond ourselves and love like Jesus does.

“But to you who are listening I say: LOVE your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27-28

And that my friend takes the right kind of prayer, because our earthly egos default to the exact opposite of these words. We all need a War Room like Miss Clara’s, a place where we can adjust the desires of our heart, a place where we can talk to God and listen to His precious guidance for our daily lives.

image2 (9)But what about all those BIG miracles I ask of God? The ones for Katie to be physically spared from the disorder that takes so much from her, or those prayer requests I encounter every week asking for miraculous healings for a one year old with cancer or for God’s saving grace for a dying mother of three. I do believe in modern day miracles. Like saints who have died, but their bodies stay incorrupt. Or the two miracles in which communion hosts physically turned into bloody flesh and when they were analyzed they were scientifically linked to the heart tissue of a man from the Middle East who had been beaten in the chest…Jesus. These miracles like the ones occurring in Biblical times serve a purpose, they are gifts from God to say, “I am here even though you can’t physically see me.” So when we pray for miracles our intention has to be focused only on God’s glory, not the easing of suffering in our own life here on earth.

“It happened that there was a man full of leprosy in one of the towns where he was; and when he saw Jesus, he fell prostrate, pleaded with him, and said, ‘Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.’ Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, ‘I do will it. Be made clean.’” Luke 5:12-13

The words “Lord, if you wish” are key. My Regnum Christi devotional says those words portray the lepers true desire…he wants God more than he wants his cure. When I pray for a miracle for Katie, no matter how hard I try, my primary desire is for her to have a normal life, to eliminate her suffering and to ease the extra workload that our family experiences. I have promised God that I would claim His miracle every day for the rest of my life if He healed Katie, but God knows in my selfish flesh that I want it for us more than I want it for Him. My prayer now is that my spiritual life will mature in a way that all I want is His glory, not my own escape.

“Being self-absorbed and not accepting problems and defects is, in itself, an obstacle to being cured of them. Some lose patients in the fight because they want the cure more than they want the one who cures. … Openness to God’s time, detachment from an easy life, and total abandonment into Our Lords hands permits illness to cure the soul.” Regnum Christi

IMG_0113I believe the pain can sometimes be our miracle, it can be our healing. Katie’s suffering has changed my soul, as well as the souls of many others. It may not be the miracle I was asking for, but it’s pretty amazing. I think miracles like the healing of the leper happen to people who have soaked up every ounce of good that comes with the bad, those who seek Him above ALL else, those who want only what God wants, those willing to suffer for His glory. So as I enter my War Room and alter my desires, I pray… “Dear Lord, may my desires be your desires, may I want what you want, and may I accept what you give me with strength and dignity. Please humble me to love others the way you love me always forgiving and always looking for the good!”

The Advocate

I have always been a bit timid when it comes to asking for what I want. I am a major people pleaser and hate to inconvenience others. Asking for something usually goes kind of like this, “could you maybe, possibly, if it’s not too much trouble, please…” And that is only if I get the nerve to ask. This really doesn’t come from a place of kindness, more from a fear of what others will think about me. I don’t want someone to think I am too demanding or unreasonable. Then Katie was born.

image2 (5)When you become a parent you quickly learn that it is your job to demand what’s best for your child. And when you have an 11 year old who can’t talk you better be good at it. My husband and I are her voices. We have to advocate for her. But what does that mean? It means A LOT!

It means we have to know everything about IEP’s and how to make sure her goals and benchmarks challenge her while also allowing for success. We have to research medical procedures and know every possible risk and benefit to make sure what the doctor recommends is best. We have to know about AFO’s and hamstring lengthening surgeries to ensure she keeps walking with assistance. We have to know the latest and greatest assistive technology on the market. We have to know all about wheelchairs and walkers and so much more. And when we know it “all”, we have to demand that Katie gets the very best of it.

We are so tremendously blessed with a team that loves and cares for Katie. A teacher who goes above and beyond to help her achieve her goals. A classroom nurse who takes the time to do everything exactly the way mommy does. Aides who love her like she is their own. A team of therapists like no other, the kind that stay up late at night when they can’t figure out the puzzle of Katie.image3 (4) A family that researches as much as we do so they know how to care for her and make sure she has the best. And friends who are always there with an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on and a night out when we need to escape.

It really wasn’t until recent years that I truly learned how to stand up for Katie’s needs. God gave me a precious friend who was born fighting for what is right. She knows what her special needs daughter needs and will not stop until she gets it. I truly think she is changing the world of special needs. She changed my life by encouraging me to do the same. It’s not just about being assertive, it is about educating myself so I can confidently say, “this is what Katie needs and this is why.”

In this growth of learning how to speak up for Katie I have also learned to speak up for my Lord. A few years ago, I was all too comfortable just leaving my faith out of most conversations. And if someone questioned my religion I was quick to change the subject. That was because I didn’t know the answers. Now after several years of immersing myself in the Bible and my Catholic faith I am quick to shout it from the mountain top.

“Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

That’s a demand from God. He doesn’t say talk about me only in front of your church friends, be careful not to offend anyone who doesn’t believe in me. No, he says be ready to die for me.

“Then they will hand you over to persecution, and they will kill you. You will be hated by all nations because of my name.” Matthew 24:9

Every apostle, except John was martyred for their love for God. Would I die for Jesus like He died for me? I truly hope so. But thankfully in America right now I don’t have to worry about that, but so many people around the world do, right now. Here at home the very least I can do is learn much and share.

It’s easy to sit back and cruise through life never making waves, but we were meant to get out of the boat and stir the water. I believe this can be done peacefully if we ask for God’s guidance. It’s not about being right or making judgments when our beliefs differ. It’s about opening up those lines of communication and sharing something new, while being open to learning from others.

There is so much division in our world today when it comes to God. There are a million different religions with a million different interpretations of the Bible. And when we talk about God sometimes our egos get in the way. We want our beliefs to be right and we want to make sure others see it our way. Being Catholic I sometimes encounter those who think I am wrong for what I believe and that’s ok. But now that I know more I will kindly explain why I believe what I do. image1 (5)Why I pray the rosary, why I go to confession, why I Baptized my babies, and why I believe that the Eucharist is the true body and blood of Jesus Christ. That does not mean that everyone has to believe it, but I should be able to engage in a discussion about God without being defensive. I think these discussions lead to so much growth.

Our voices are powerful. I can silence mine and allow things to just be, or I can use it for God’s glory. I want to challenge you as well as myself to go deeper in our faith to learn why we believe every single thing we believe. God uses us to spread His word and in order to do that we must learn.  Just as Katie needs an advocate so does the Lord. Someone to be His voice and spread His word to the world.

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be firm, steadfast, always fully devoted to the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58