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What is the Purpose of Christmas?

This is a video journal I did for Christmas! 

Merry Christmas! 

-Austin

 

 


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All I Need for Christmas is Jesus

Photo Credit: outreach.com

Photo Credit: outreach.com

I simply cannot explain these feelings that have been welling up in my soul lately as we approach Christmas. While Jesus is the reason for the season, like a flower blooming petal after petal, a swarming of love and adoration for Christ has covered me like an abundance of sweet honey reserved just for the best. Jesus Christ is our best. He is the greatest gift we could ever receive. Not just for Christmas, but for all time.

All I need for Christmas is Jesus.

Teaching my children why we celebrate Christmas is very important. While decorating for the holidays, giving and receiving gifts comes with tradition, the main focus is on Christ and His coming to earth in the form of man. (starting off as a baby of course). Lately I have being drawing closer to Him asking that my eyes be opened like never before and that my ears be tentative to my surroundings. Having a little talk with Jesus is like chicken noodle soup for the soul. That’s just my opinion.

I remember some years ago that I would become overwhelmed with the Christmas season approaching. It was more emotional than physical. I would become saddened and somewhat lethargic. I say this because my eyes were set on the wrong things and I was always “thirsty”.

I’m not one to do the Christmas shopping in my house for the most part. Thankfully it has always been my husband because no one would get anything most likely had it been left up to me to go out in the chaos and mass of people rushing, shoving, cursing and just flat-out been mean-spirited. Plus, I don’t have that kind of patience. Having 5 babies back to back kept me busy so it just became easier for my dear husband to do. I digress but for a moment!

My thoughts always went back to my childhood. While I had a pretty decent life growing up, I always felt something missing.

Jesus wasn’t there. 

Feeling confused and happy at the same time was just weird. Plain old strange and yet I managed to get through another holiday season. I could not wait for the holidays to pass.

Recently, my heart was on a couple of senior citizens who were in need of some items that they needed. It was an article I caught in the newspaper that came from the aid of the Salvation Army. I told my husband about it and that I wanted to sponsor the people’s needs. While my eyes glazed over the many people young and old with a wish list, I wondered even more about those lost. The lost who needed Jesus; the very One who is our ever-present help, comfort and aid.

I began to cry. Not just because some cannot afford material needs and wants, but that many go lacking without a Savior.How often we walk daily without Him. As Christians and sinners alike ,but first as human beings, we find ourselves at times trying to do things on our own. We try to make things happen within our own power and might. We fix our eyes on higher prizes and treasures beyond our means. Some are just desires to want, want,want. Fleshly things. Things that will pass. Treasures that will not go with us on a U-Haul when we leave this old world.

Getting caught up over-shopping and over-spending will give anyone a headache and then possible regret for debt than may take a while to pay off when we “rob Peter to pay Paul”. That’s a saying I got from my Mom. Maybe you’ve heard of it before.

Nevertheless, we need peace and true joy. It can only be found in Christ Jesus. He will make us whole. He can satisfy our deepest needs. Will you invite Him into your life? Will you  allow God to direct your life, your finances, your will, wants and your plans that they will align with His?

While I am not attempting to take away your joy of shopping for your friends and loved ones, I just want to provide you with the opportunity to receive the greatest gift of all this year as we bring 2013 to a close. Health may have fallen, bills may be behind and loved ones may have turned their backs on you but know that there is a risen Savior who is waiting to receive you today.

I want to share with you a song I heard on the radio yesterday. I don’t drive much if I can help it but when I do, I tend to listen to uplifting music to carry me throughout my day. This song about had me in tears. No matter what we are going through, we must know that we cannot do anything in this life without the Lord no matter how hard we try. I know for myself that I cannot walk without Him holding my hand. This song has become one of my favorite and it lingers within me to the point of praise.

All we NEED for Christmas is Jesus Christ. If we trust God, He will provide all that we need and bless us with our wants. By His grace we have what we have. May we be thankful for the little and great. Be blessed one and all. You are loved, cherished and prayed for.

“Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you  not of more value than they?” But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6: 26, 33 NKJV

To God be the glory now and forevermore,

Terra


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What’s His Name?

Collinson,_Holy_Family

Holy Family (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

The other day, our son told us about his day. He said his teacher talked about Christmas sharing it as her favorite holiday. She then held up a picture. “It was a picture of Mary and what’s his name and Jesus,” Jonah said. We all laughed. What’s his name?

I guess Joseph is somewhat forgettable. There is no mention of him after he and Mary find Jesus teaching in the Temple when Jesus was twelve. The Bible doesn’t offer any explanation as to what happened to him. The evidence of his death comes when Jesus tells John, “Here is your mother.” (John 19:27 NIV) Since Jesus was the oldest son and responsible for Mary, He asks John to take care of her. Even as He was dying, He was thinking of someone other than Himself. That’s our Savior!

Does the absence of Joseph make him unnecessary? Hardly! I think Joseph had an extreme effect on Jesus. We forget that God spoke to Joseph through an angel on more than one occasion. This was not common in those days. There were only a chosen few who heard from God. Three times the angel appeared warning and guiding Joseph. Since this was not common, we can surmise that Joseph’s faith was increased. He was chosen by God to raise His son and I believe God chose Joseph because He knew Joseph’s heart.

Investing in the lives of others rarely gives us fame and fortune. We don’t get praise or admiration. In fact, it often causes us pain and heartache. Spending time loving the unloved may not give us much but it gives someone else the opportunity to experience Jesus. Ministering to others is not about how it makes us feel but how it helps someone else. It points them to God. And that’s okay with me. I’d rather be “What’s his name?” so God’s name can be known.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Gal. 6:9 NIV)

Proverbs 31 PM


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Proverbs 31 Women Are Worth Seeking

Proverbs 31 PM

Who can find a virtuous wife?
For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil
all the days of her life.” Proverbs 31:10-12 (NKJV)

Proverbs 31 is a gracious gift from God. It was included in the Bible for a reason, and it is not only for the well being of women. Men and children will also gain wisdom and understanding by reading this proverb. The benefits of finding a virtuous woman are well spelled out, so men would do well to seek a wife with the assets found within the description of this fine lady. (Children will gain a deeper appreciate of their mother)

 In verse 10 the question is raised, “Who can find a virtuous wife?” Even in those days it was difficult to find a woman with integrity, skill, virtue, and wisdom.  However, they did exist back then and they do exist in the present age, although you may have to look a littler harder and wait a little longer to find this special woman.

Her worth and value is compared to rubies, stressing that she is far beyond the worth of these gems. Trust in a marriage is a strong and desirable trait, so having one by your side with whom you confidently credit with reliability and credence is worth seeking.  She is indeed a treasure to be found!

A husband’s heart is put at ease when he can rely on his wife’s virtue and strengths, while also trusting her with the most sensitive of confidences. He fears no evil intent and knows his welfare is her heart’s desire. Sadly, Samson did not marry a Proverb’s 31 woman. Delilah sought out the secret of his strength for she had evil intentions to use his secret against him. ( I am a single woman and Bride of Christ.  It is for Him I live to honor and serve. It is His confidences I seek to gain.)

The woman described in Proverbs 31 is a hard worker who rises early and keeps her hands busy. She does not eat the bread of idleness. She is also girded with strength and extends her hand in charity to the poor and needy. 

The outer beauty found in women has been a snare to many men. Proverbs 31 ends with a warning and reminds the reader that beauty is fleeting.  It is the inner beauty of a virtuous woman that last an entire lifetime.  It is seen in the eyes, a smile, and even in a slight movement or gesture. 

Charm is also attractive, but it can be used to deceive. A woman who speaks words of wisdom, gives sound advice, keeps secrets, and offers sincere and kind words to those in need, is most likely a Proverbs 31 woman.  It is she I am striving to become! 

Dear One,  how are you working towards righteousness and wisdom?

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness. She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her: “Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all.” Proverbs 31:26-29 (NKJV)

“The Lord confides in those who fear him; He makes His covenant known to them.” Psalm 25:14 (NIV)

“The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant.” Psalm 25:14 (NKJV)

“The secret of the Lord is for those who fear Him, and He will make them know His covenant.” Psalm 25:14 (NASB)


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HEARING VOICES

By Neil Anderson

August 8

ICB NOTE: This post is unintentionally misleading in a small but important way. The author is NOT suggesting any and all voices in ones head are demonic, but rather that any voice which does not line up with Scripture is demonic in origin.

Psalm 29:4 
The voice of the LORD is powerful, the voice of the LORD is majestic
 
The concept of hearing “voices” is openly espoused in the secular media. The main character in the popular movie Field of Dreams hears an inner voice while standing in his cornfield at night. It’s loud, direct and very spooky! At first he’s a little freaked out by the voice, but he is intrigued enough to test the voice’s advice. It leads to a grand adventure that culminates in meeting the ghost of his deceased father, reconciling with him, and saving the family farm from foreclosure. Was the movie just an entertaining fantasy or is Satan subtly promoting “nice” little spirit guides that will resolve all our problems?
 
According to New Age brain/mind researcher Willis Harmon, many people hear voices, but few are willing to admit it to anyone but their closest friends. “It’s just one of those things we don’t talk about,” said the president of the Institute of Noetic Sciences in Sausalito, California. “I’ve talked to businessmen, scientists, educators, well-educated professional people, and not only is it reasonably common, it’s cherished. It’s invited” ( Los Angeles Times, June 1989, part V, p. 1).
 
New Age proponents like Harmon are trying to give credibility to a phenomenon that was once understood as mental illness. Psychiatrists prescribe antipsychotic drugs for schizophrenics and others who admit that they hear voices. A common bit of advice among recovering alcoholics is: “Don’t pay attention to the committee in your head.” People seldom share the mental struggle going on inside them for fear that people will think they are going crazy. But I have counseled hundreds of troubled people who were hearing voices and every one of the voices was demonic. The only exceptions are legitimate cases of multiple personality disorder. You need to know that inner voices which don’t line up with God’s Word are the suggestions of a real devil that must be countered and dispelled by the truth (1 Timothy 4:1).
 
Prayer: Lord, I reject all voices in my mind, real or imagined, and accept only the authority of Your Word and Your Spirit.


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In Praise of our Father When Times are Hard

How is your day going today? Good, ok, maybe just plain bad?

It is easy to praise God when all is well, no problem to lift up your voice and worship. How about when your day is awful? How about if you are having the worst day ever…or at least since the last time your day was this horrible? Can you worship now, or give God praise?

If you are having a bad day, no matter how bad that day is…the Lord of all creation, He cares for you and is with you. Yup…the ruler of heaven and earth is concerned about how you feel. Amazing isn’t it? All that goes on in this world and the Lord God knows all about your bad day. Hmmm…

So instead of feeling helpless, instead of trying to lift yourself out of this blah feeling, this rotten day…offer up praise to your Father in heaven. Pray to Him and thank Him for your day, all of it. Yes you read that right…thank God for even the bad things. Thank Him in advance for lifting you up and restoring you to a better place in Him.

Doing this is not easy, in fact it is very hard. Doing this has a reward…you will feel better. As hard as it is to do this, you need to…right now.

I know…I just did it myself. God will hear you and lift you up when you honor Him first.
Thank you Lyn….


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A Call to Commit: Crush the Idols

So many who come to faith in Christ seem to want to return to where they were before. Why? They think it was better or “more fun” to live in slavery to sin. As I have shared before I call this place a “Christian’s Spiritual Egypt.” Obviously I am referencing when Israel wanted to return to slavery in Egypt instead of continuing to the Promised Land. They thought they’d be safer and more comfortable there. So a Christian (I am not referring to all believers) thinks their old life was better and they want to return. They want to return to their slavery to sin. That comes from a lack of trust in God which is exactly what the Israelites were suffering from at the particular time I’m referencing. My message here is to those Christians who are on the fence. I pray the Holy Spirit draws you close before you fall back into the vicious cycle of an utterly sinful life.

“How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”- 1 Kings 18:21

In this passage of scripture Elijah is establishing to the people of Israel this same message that I’m trying to give to you: You can’t truly serve more than one god. You need to either choose the One True God or you can choose the worthless gods who will do nothing for you. I’m talking about money, popularity, power, sex, relationships, etc. Those are all idols when you put them before serving the Lord.

Elijah isn’t the only one who spoke this message in the Bible. Jesus told us that we can’t serve two masters. We’ll hate one or the other (Matthew 6:24). Sin is rebellion against God. And that is ultimately hatred towards God. Also, God can’t go against his own character. If you choose to live in slavery to sin, God will be forced to withdraw His presence, His Holy Spirit from you. We saw that happen to Israel’s first king, Saul.

“Now the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul…”- 1 Samuel 16:14

Saul chose to disobey God and lead a life of rebellion. He paid the price for it. God doesn’t change, so He is required to do the same today because He is just.

Sin is so deceiving and it sneaks up on you like a predator. You begin to tolerate one little thing and that gives a foothold for the enemy. Sin then slowly takes over your life. Finally, you feel trapped and you can’t get out. No matter how much you want to and how much you try you can’t. I’ve been there. Then, if you don’t confess your sin to the Lord and repent, you begin to love your sin and you’re back to where you were before Christ. Finally, you’ll begin to plunge deeper and deeper until you are destroyed by your sin unless you turn back to Christ. That is the downward spiral of sin.

“How come every time we buy into an idol, we’re the ones that get devoured?”- Jefferson Bethke

Because as Jefferson Bethke states in the video I just quoted, “An idol takes, it never gives.” When you’re so wrapped up in what people think of you that you’ll do anything to gain their acceptance, you are a slave to acceptance. You have now put that before God. It’s the same way with anything else. Popularity isn’t bad, unless you turn it into an ultimate. Money isn’t bad until it’s turned into an ultimate. What are your idols?

“This day I call the heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live”- Deuteronomy 30:19

Life is found in Jesus Christ. Death is found in sin and the ways of the world. It’s as simple as that. Your choice. No one else can make it for you. God’s not going to force you to choose life, but he wants you to. If you turn your heart away from God and choose to be disobedient and serve your idols, you will surely be destroyed (Deuteronomy 30:17-18). Choose life (that is: Jesus) today.

You know who you are. If you are on the fence and are falling into the idol trap, you haven’t gone too far. The grace of God can reach you. No matter what you’ve done you can be made new. If you repent and turn back to your faith in Christ, you will be saved. God promises us that. If you have been ensnared by sin, pray to God and repent now. Don’t wait. Do whatever measures it takes to crush your idols.

Make this declaration:

“As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD”- Joshua 24:15

Here is the video of Jefferson Bethke that I quoted. This poem is inspired by what true manhood is, but I believe everyone can get something out of this.

God bless you!

-Austin


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Do We Love as Jesus Commanded?

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. (Prov. 17:17 NIV)

I once heard the story of a fallen television evangelist. At one time, he was very popular and believed he was following the Lord. One day he was on top of the world. The next he was living a nightmare. He found himself in jail. He was ashamed and alone. The world looked at him and shook their heads. Those who once walked beside him had distanced themselves from him. No one wanted to be associated with him, except one man.

The man who visited him in jail was a rather famous man. He had a good reputation. He was respected and accomplished although he might deny that because of his humility. He was an evangelist, author and advisor to many powerful people. Most recognized his name and many admired his work. He was the one who went to the downcast man. He was the one who risked his reputation to help a fallen brother. Why would he risk everything he had built to come to the aid of a broken man? Why would he be associated with such a sinner?

He did it because he loved his brother in the Lord. When he looked at the fallen man, he wasn’t disgusted by his behavior. He wasn’t ashamed to be associated with him. He went to him because he cared more for his brother than he did for his reputation. He wasn’t worried about what others thought of him. He cared and wanted to love him as God commanded.

There was another man in the Bible who went to the downcast and rejected. His name was Jesus. He was contrary to the religious leaders because of the company he kept. He went to the prostitutes, adulterers, tax collectors and social outcasts. He approached the possessed and oppressed and offered them freedom. He wasn’t willing to follow the crowd. He only followed the voice of His Father. And He was condemned for it.

Each day we are confronted with a decision. Will we go to the outcasts and love them or will we follow the crowd? Even in the Christian realm, we are faced with this choice. Most times we base our decision on popular opinion. We don’t know the whole story and so we follow the crowd. We don’t want to stand out among our peers. We don’t want to upset the balance. We certainly don’t want confrontation. And so, we take the path of least resistance. We follow the loudest voices instead of following the still small voice of God.

“By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35 NASB) 

Lord Jesus,

Forgive me for looking the other way when there is a need. Forgive me for living the safe life instead of stepping out in faith. Forgive me for choosing my comfort over the needs of this world. Show me what to do. Show me where to go. Show me whom to serve.

Amen!


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Fire: Keeping the Flame Ablaze

During this summer, I have spent some time clearing out a worship spot at my house in the back of our woods. I must say, I really enjoyed doing it. I wanted a spot that I could go and spend time with God in solitude. I gathered old down trees to use for seating, found various pieces of old furniture to place back there, and Tiki Torches to help keep away bugs. In the middle I built a good-sized fire pit for bonfires. The other evening I went out to that spot to spend some time with God. My brother was with me and we were trying to light the fire. The pit had quite a bit of wood in it so if we ever got it lit, it would be a very big and nice fire. The problem was we couldn’t get the fire lit.  Granted the top pieces were a little wet, but the rest of the pile was dry, so we didn’t think it would be much of a problem. We had pieces of cardboard to help start the fire, but it didn’t work. We lit some of the dry leaves in the midst of the sticks, but it didn’t work either. We even found some straw to light to help with the process, but all it did was burn. It didn’t stay lit and the fire died quickly. So finally after much frustration, we got the gasoline. Now, I realize this is not the smartest choice nor safest, but I wanted a fire! Luckily nothing bad happened! So we light a few more pieces of cardboard and paper just enough to keep it a flame for a few minutes. Then we doused the places we didn’t have lit with some gasoline so with the fire caught it, it would light up. The finally we applied the gasoline on the flames that were going and instantly, the fire went ablaze. We experienced the thrill of getting our fire lit and the fire was glorious…for about ten minutes. But soon, that gasoline had burnt away, the wood had never really caught a flame, and the fire died out again quickly. Now I realize that there are better ways to light a fire, and if I did some other things I could have probably got that fire going. However, I’m glad I tried to light the fire the way I did because God used it to teach me something.

When the fire began to die out again, I was getting kind of irritated. Then I felt God speak to my heart saying, “I need people who will tend and stir the fire, not just light it.” I immediately knew what God was saying to me. In order to keep a fire going, you have to constantly add fire to the pile, you have to stir the fire to keep the fire going, and you have to watch it. Gasoline is a nice help, but it is only a temporary fix. It only lasts for a moment. It looks glorious and the flames are huge, but they don’t have much life. God doesn’t need followers who will be like the gasoline. Who will become very passionate and devoted to God one day, and have a devotion to Him that dies at the end of the week. He wants followers who will fan the flames. Who will keep the fire going, even if that means taking longer steps in doing so. Followers who will spend the extra time in prayer, reading of His Word, and living out the life He calls His people to.

I think you would be very hard pressed to find a church, if you asked them, would not want to see people come to know Christ. I mean, that’s just a ludicrous thought. The Church may have many different denomination and beliefs of theology, but I don’t really think there are many people in the Church who do not want to see souls saved. In fact if there are any, I really think those people need to evaluate their life and see if the are in step with the Spirit. But all too often the Church tries to witness to the world with gasoline. With big and glorious displays of various ministries, emotional appeals, etc. Those of you who serve the Lord know exactly what I’m talking about. But those things don’t last. People who come to the Lord on those terms won’t last unless that fire is cultivated. Unless their flames are stirred and wood is added to the fire. If the Church and Christians want to set this world on fire, we first have to cultivate the fire in our own hearts, then also be willing to take the time to minister properly and effectively to help keep the fire lit the hearts of others as well. Jesus told His followers that they will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon them and they will be His witnesses. The Holy Spirit gives Christians the power to witness to others about Jesus powerfully. God is the source of that fire. I pray that believers everywhere will submit to the Holy Spirit and allow God move in their hearts. I also pray that Christians all over the world will fan into flame the gifts of God and take the steps necessary to keep that flame going. When the fire rises true and proud, the world around us will catch fire too. Don’t use the gasoline. Cultivate that fire.

“Therefore, I remind you to keep ablaze the gift of God that is in you through the laying on of my hands.” ~2 Timothy 1:6

“Fire must be kept burning on the altar continually; it must not go out.” ~Leviticus 6:13

May God be with you.

-Joey


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Are our challenges … gifts? An Interview: A Deeper Look into the Challenge of Speech Apraxia

Caleb-ILoveYouToPieces

(Precious Caleb)

Q: Will you tell us a little bit about your son, Caleb?

A: Caleb turned three on April 12, 2013. He gives the best hugs and kisses. He has a sweet personality.  I truly think our dog Bella is his best friend in the world. And he really likes bubble gum. Though, I’ve had to restrict that now because I found it in, our daughter, Camden’s hair.

Q: What was it like when you first saw something a little different in Caleb?

A: He was about six months old and laying flat on the living room floor. I realized he wasn’t even trying to sit up or crawl. Speech wasn’t even on my radar. At that point, we were trying to fix all his motor issues, which were most important at that time. I began to get scared, thinking, “My kid is different.  What’s not exactly right and how am I going to fix it?”

Q: What was it like when you discovered Caleb had Apraxia of Speech (http://www.apraxia-kids.org/)?

A: Caleb’s Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) diagnosed him with Apraxia on April 9, 2013. She showed me Caleb’s scores. There was so much he couldn’t say that was typical for his age. In that initial moment there’s no blame, it’s more, “Why? What?” But then as you start thinking more and more, you become obsessed. All of your thoughts are encompassed around, “What did I do to cause this?” Did I hold him too tightly as a baby? Did I take some kind of Tylenol or eat feta cheese while I was pregnant?

I was devastated … helpless. Caleb deserves everything and I can’t fix this for him. Then I became overwhelmed. I was realizing the journey was not going to be short-lived. This is going to be hard work. That night with Shaefer, I just sat on the couch and bawled. But my crying was followed by motivation. “Alright fine, you know what? I’m going to empower myself, learn everything about this. The kids are going to wake up in six hours. We’ve got to be ready.”

Q: Can you describe Caleb’s disorder?

A: It’s a neurological, expressive communication disorder. Basically, the brain is unable to tell the mouth/muscles how to move in order to form words. When Caleb wants to speak, his brain does not tell his mouth, tongue, lips, etc., how to move to make those sounds come out.

Q: After you discovered his disorder what did you do to assess that? Therapy? Related services?

A: Apraxia is commonly diagnosed (by a SLP trained in childhood Apraxia of Speech) at approximately three years of age. I’m finding that there aren’t a lot of professionals that are trained in this type of disorder. I’ve seen kids improve much faster with a therapist trained in Apraxia, as opposed to one that is not. Intensive speech therapy is typically required three to five times a week. Some go every day.

Caleb also has Developmental Delay, which is a gross and fine motor delay. So he has PT and OT for that. There is a relationship between motor delays and Apraxia, but researchers haven’t discovered why.

Q: You’re finding out, I understand, that there is not a lot of awareness for this disorder?

A: Yes. Even physicians or professionals in the Speech Language world haven’t heard of it. So that’s part of my role, advocating for it. It’s not easy. It’s time consuming.

Q: How did that change how you view all of this?

A: It was frustrating at first because you think, “Wait, my kid has something that nobody knows anything about!” Everybody acts like it’s this terrible thing, but that’s just from lack of awareness.  There are few people out there with Apraxia knowledge and they are hard to find. It’s a daunting task to know that you’re the link to making your child functional in society.

Q: Were you ever angry? Angry in general? Angry at God?

A: I haven’t been. Or at least not long enough to dwell on it. In an early interview for a study at Vanderbilt I was asked, “Would I change this if I could? Would I take away his challenges?” I sat there and eventually said, “I don’t want my child to have this. I would love it if he didn’t. But no, I wouldn’t take it away. God is putting this in our lives for a reason.”

I have found myself angry at people who ignore him or treat him like he isn’t intelligent. They’re just not aware. They can’t see his disability for what it is. So I’ve made it my goal to try to empower them with knowledge. I love people knowing what his challenges are so they can understand him and support him. Labeling his challenge isn’t a problem. Labels help us know how to help.

The purpose of our struggle is so much bigger than us. Hundreds of people have already come into our lives because of this. These people see our good days or our bad days. Caleb isn’t the only one learning from this. Shaefer and I are learning, Camden is learning … everyone around us. Yes, I would take away his challenges, but I would not take away the lessons and the things that God is trying to teach us.

Q: Do you think this may have strengthened other areas of Caleb’s life that wouldn’t have been
otherwise?

A: Caleb is constantly meeting a new therapist. At his school, there’s always a student coming in to work on something with a special needs child. They’re observing him, they’re talking to him, and they’re wanting to record the sounds he does make. Can he run? Can he jump?

I’ll take him to a kid’s birthday party from his class. He doesn’t want to sit with the group. He wants to look around, typically migrating by himself. Caleb can’t build relationships because others don’t understand him yet. I don’t think he’s introverted, I think he has to work his way into the group. He’s having to work on that almost daily.

So he’s constantly being tested or on the spot, which I think in the end will build character. He’s got to either choose to do what is before him or cower in the corner. It’s probably helping him overcome some social issues that may have been more prevalent, had he not had all these people in his life.

Q: I hear you saying, basically, he’s going to be really good under pressure in the long run?

A: Yes, because he’s constantly under it. He can choose to either be good under pressure or to crumble. And I don’t see him choosing to want to crumble.

Q: It sounds like he not only is good under pressure, but he will be really good at finding alternate
routes to whatever end result he is pursuing?

A: Yeah, he does. When he tries to get me to, “Come Momma,” I sometimes think he’s saying, “Bubble gum, Momma.” I’ll respond, “No you can’t have bubble gum.” So he’ll grab me and pull me into the living room, which is what he wanted initially. He’s finding another method to get my attention, whereas he used to just walk away.

In the car today he was trying to tell me something. I had no idea what he was telling me. In the rear-view mirror, I saw it in his face when he gave up. There’s not a, “tell me in another way,” when you’re snapped into a car seat. It’s frustrating.

Q: What is the progress that you’ve seen?

A: According to research, it is going to take years to talk intelligibly. But he is making such great accomplishments. Since April 12, the day of his first Apraxia Speech Therapy, I’ve been there every day with him. I have a notebook that I keep of things the therapist does and says. I think his progress has improved because we’re now working with him at home, in the structured method. He’s putting these things together–consonant, vowel, consonant. He now has about 32 words, but most of them are approximations. On top of that, he knows about 150 signs, which is fantastic for him. He’s improving his sequencing. We probably have five new phrases just in the last month. The word “no” is very constant now. Which I’m realizing, how blessed was I because I had the only child that didn’t say, “no”?

I saw a Facebook posting, “Guess what my son did for Mother’s Day! He said, ‘I love you’ for the first time.” Though, I do want to hear that one day, I’d rather him be able to tell me what his favorite color is. We long for him to tell us something we don’t already know about him. That’s our desire.

Q: How has this affected your faith?

A: It pulled me closer to Him, honestly. I became more committed to my quiet times, getting back into The Word. I had to have Somebody that understood and loves me more than I love myself to make me stop blaming myself. I had to find something to power my energy into so that I wouldn’t focus on the wrong things. So I chose to focus on God. This isn’t about me. It’s so much bigger than me.

Q: How does this affect Caleb’s relationship with God?

A: I think Caleb feels God’s love through all the others’ around him loving him. I see these people giving him this special love that can only come from God. It’s almost as if it’s channeled down through them. Camden is getting that same exposure. But the only difference is that Caleb has extra people in his life working with him on his challenges, so there’s more opportunity for love.

Q: How has this changed you and/or your family?

A: Concerning Shaefer, he deals with this differently. After reading a lot of blogs, I realized that husbands can’t figure out why the mother is so bothered by it. It’s something they maybe think they can just fix. So, Shaefer and I had to come to an understanding that it affects me in more of an emotional way than him.

Concerning me, at first I wondered how other moms are busy with typical children. We have to go see the Developmental Pediatrician, his regular Pediatrician, his Speech Language Pathologist, run to an IFSP or IEP meeting, etc. That was maybe a bit of resentment, wondering why others have two typical children and I don’t. But by the grace of God I’m able to push those thoughts away.

Concerning Camden, we’ve tried to teach her that God made all of us all differently. If she sees someone in a wheel chair, hopefully we’ve instilled that this is the route God gave them to walk. They use that chair instead of their legs. But there’s nothing wrong with us for being different.

Q: How’s Caleb’s relationship with Camden?

A: She’s a super-supportive lil’ big sister. If he’s signing in the back seat while I’m driving, she communicates it. She tries to give him speech therapy. She’ll say, “If you say ‘candy’, I’ll give you some candy.” Knowing he can’t, but still trying. Of course she gives him candy in the end. It’s very sweet. I said that Bella’s his best friend but I think Camden is truly his best friend because she “gets” him.

Q: Has Camden ever said anything to you that really just struck you?

A: Her awareness of how much time having a special needs child takes was evident because she said to Shaefer’s Nana, “When Caleb can talk better and walk better Mommy will have more time for me.”  This of course devastated me so I moved all of his therapies outside of the house. It was an internal struggle to figure out how to expose her less, but also teach her that this is how God made her brother. No matter how much I want to, I can’t shelter her from all of this. I want her to know so that she can tell others. Camden can be that voice for Caleb.

Q: What has God taught you conceptually as you reflect upon your experiences up until now?

A: Everybody has their own challenge. Ours happens to be a special needs child. But we’re not special because of that. Somebody else’s family may have the death of a loved one that haunts them. Another family may have someone who’s chronically sick or financial struggles. Whatever our challenges are, we deal with them. We learn from everybody’s challenges. That’s how we grow.

Q: That we’re not alone in our struggles?

A: Exactly. God gave us the verse, “…In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” [John16:33] He didn’t tell us this was going to be an easy life. But everything we have is a gift. Caleb and his challenges are a gift. Even though I don’t always view it that way, hopefully one day I will.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add? Anything toward awareness in general?

A: If you’re wondering about a child that seems different, or if you’re wondering what the braces are on Caleb’s feet/legs, just ask. It’s more beneficial to ask instead of wondering or judging. If you ask you’ll gain understanding and empower yourself with knowledge.

In my mind, I think Caleb will be “typical” one day. I don’t know if that’s false hope or if I haven’t mourned the loss of a typical child. Most likely Caleb will not live with us until he’s forty because he should be able to be functional in the world. So maybe I don’t have to mourn that. But in my mind, I’m mourning the loss of a typical boy who can tell me right now at three, “I want ice cream. I like chocolate, not vanilla, Momma.” I need to mourn some of those experiences.

Q: It almost seems like a daily acceptance?

A: That’s right. In my marriage, it’s a constant conscious effort to put Shaefer before me. He does the same thing so that’s why it works. Maybe with Caleb it needs to be a constant conscious effort to accept, learn, and empower. Because being sad, negative, or mourning is not helping him. BOO-YAH!

**A hearty “Boo-yah!” isn’t the “typical” response in any of the interviews I’ve conducted. However, of the many things I’ve learned from this extraordinary family, here’s one of them:
do we really want to be “typical”? Probably not.

Twitter:  AliciaMSmith7