Changing Direction

3DCB6BCC-8891-4C55-8A67-46EB480327A7As we reach the half way mark of our NAPA experience, I want to share what God is teaching me. This trip was all about Miss Piper. The goal was to give her the skills she does not instinctively have and to pattern in her the ability to use her strength. She is forced daily to move out of her comfort zone, asked to do things she does not understand, and told to change directions. I’m realizing a similar pattern to my life and God’s directions.

Piper has grown so much stronger since she was little. She had zero upper body strength and could not sit without falling over until after turning two.  God has blessed her with developing strength, but she does not quite know how to use it. She pushes when she should pull. She straightens when she should bend. She tries to sit when she should stand. These amazing therapists have to pattern the appropriate movements for her. It will take hours a day for three straight weeks to hopefully get her to recognize these new patterns. You can see the confusion in her eyes and her thoughts processing. We are learning to not rush her, give her time to respond, and figure out which muscles should move where.

God is like these physical therapists. He allows us to be put in situations over and over again to learn how to move differently. Often, we do not have the instinct to change directions for our own good. It is hard. It is uncomfortable. If we keep pushing through our discomfort and imbalance, we will be stronger like Piper. We will learn that sometimes changing directions is necessary.

Walk on Wednesday

This week has been rough for my girl. Piper has had to use muscles in her body that have laid dormant since birth. Her cerebral palsy diagnosis is not a life sentence. It is  an explanation that her muscles do not work with her brain. They are on different plains. I am so excited to see new muscles shake and twitch. God gets the glory! He created this beauty and picked her journey. It is one of hope and strength.

Love this video because Toby Mac has a song about soldiers walking on. He sings to hold their heads high and keep moving forward. Thank you @tobymac for giving my girl the strength to keep walking even when she wanted to give up.

 

 

 

Saving Our Turtles (Children)

sea turtle hatchlings

I have loved turtles since I was a young girl. In the humid summers at my grandparent’s lake cottage in Indiana, I would spend hours each day catching and releasing turtles. In my mid-twenties, I paid to be part of an Earthwatch Expedition in St. Croix  to help “Save the Leatherback Sea Turtles”. Something about turtles intrigues me. They have a hard tough carapace, top shell, that looks indestructible, but can be injured. Cartoons depict turtles withdrawing into their shells in times of surprise or fear. Actually, the box turtle is the only turtle that can truly pull itself all the way into the shell for protection.

Did you know that only 1 in 1,000 sea turtle hatchlings survives to adulthood? There are predators, obstacles, and genetic mutations that can cause their demise. Our daughter is diagnosed with cerebral palsy but most likely has an unidentified genetic disorder. We knew about this from birth. Our family refers to her as our “turtle” because she is on her own time line, moving and developing slowly, but we pray she will finish the race strong. She reminds us of the childhood story “The Tortoise and the Hare”. But, I am not going to talk about her today. I want to talk about your turtles. Your children that learn a bit differently. School is hard for them. They want to retreat into their shell, but we can not let them.

Almost daily, a parent reaches out to me in tears or throwing their hands up in surrender. They do not know how to get their child to care about school, work smarter not harder, study, and/or remember to turn  completed homework in to the teacher. This one cracks me up. We all agree that if a person does the work, they should want to get credit for it. Am I right? Your turtle does not think this clearly.

Our children that learn differently need to be explicitly taught to head for the water.
Turtle hatchlings will follow any light, assuming it is the moon, because God instinctively wired this into them to help them get to the ocean after hatching. Often, the lights from resorts or volleyball courts lead them astray. The hatchlings use all their energy to flop toward the wrong light. Our children know they are supposed to turn in completed assignments, do their homework, and study, but the distractions are too great. That light pulling them to what they are good at or what is more fun, is stronger than their instinctive desire to obey their parents and follow teacher directions.

What is a parent to do? Lead your child to the water. Take all of those thoughts that you hear from society about letting your child fail to become a better learner and bury them. You, or a teacher,  have to teach your child, step by step, how to be a learner. Children do not always instinctively know how to get there. We need to coach them through the school journey, but not take out all of their obstacles. Your child needs to learn how to avoid predators and move around driftwood dead ends. The goal is to get your kid  (turtle) to the water. Once he or she is there, I believe they will swim and eventually beat that hare (smarty pants kid that gets straight A’s without trying). Sorry, I am sure these kids are just as dear and loved, but sometimes I get tired of having their accomplishments shoved in my face on social media. No one posts about the time they cried with joy because their fifth grader finally passed a multiplication timed test. I  do not post when my fourteen year old actually  holds a spoon on her own and feeds herself yogurt. We may not post these victories on line, but we should praise our child as if they made the honor role. Each step, each hurdle is significant.

Children with learning differences, ADHD, on the spectrum, executive functioning challenges, and other diagnoses may not be able to find the water on their own. God picked you to be their parent. He knew your child would have trials, tears, anxiety, feelings of not being good enough, or disappointing you. It is okay. Your baby turtle is going to make it to the water, but you need to patient.

As parents and teachers, we need to help our turtles see success as attainable. They are not stupid or lazy. Our kids just see things differently. This is what will make them great swimmers in the future. They will not ride the same current as the masses. It will be their beautiful minds creating intricate swimming patterns that will make all your struggles worth while. Hang in there mamas and papas because your journey will be the memories in your child’s future.