Monthly Archives: August 2016

Dwelling in Jobless Security

It’s been a little over three weeks since Andrew lost his job, and quite frankly, I’m tired of talking about it. But, there’s a lot to say yet, some things I still need to share. In case you hadn’t heard, my husband’s company did a large and unexpected lay off on August 8 and 9. Andrew left for work on that Monday morning, and at just after 9am, he called me to say he was coming home, his position had been eliminated. Just like that. After eight loyal years in which he helped the company profits grow by the millions. Done. Reality is his salary was the highest of the people in his position because he had the most seniority. So, he got cut, instead of the single guy who’s been there 18 months. I still feel anger and hurt when I think about it. It sucked.

But as I prayed through that first day, trying to process my new life, I had the oddest sense that God was saying, “If you could only see things from my perspective, you would be rejoicing.” I certainly raised an eyebrow to that whisper. And I’m still not quite sure what to make of it.

So many people have shared encouraging stories with us about times in their lives when God provided for their every need in situations similar to ours. And many people have reassured us that God must have something good or better in store for Andrew’s career. I fully believe all of that. But as we’ve lived out these three weeks, I’ve seen that it’s not just a good destination we are heading for, it’s a good right now, too.

micah_ridingSeveral people pointed me to passages in Psalm 37 when they heard our news. One phrase in particular did that jump-off-the-page thing for me — “dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.” There’s nothing about self-preservation, working to provide for yourself, guarding against disaster, shoring up for hard times.

It’s simple. Dwell. Enjoy.

There’s no need for frantic worry and scrambling about. sophie_ridingWhy? Because God has covered us. I believe in this season we will see the good both right now and in the destination. We hope we will not have to eat peanut butter and jelly every night for a week. But there may be lean times before us. There may be less than desirable work. But there is always God in his goodness, spicing things up.

In just three weeks we’ve already seen an abundance of good poured out in our lives. We have spent every waking hour togetherfam_photo1 as a family. And once we figured out how to do that, it became a huge blessing. I love the friendship that Andrew and I share as we raise our kids. It is sweet to spend some of these fleeting days all together when our kids are so little, just enjoying each other. In addition, we’ve received SO much support through prayer and encouragement that it takes my breath away! On top of that, we’ve seen friends lining up free doctor appointments for the kids when they were sick. Free! Who does that? That’s amazing! (And we have awesome friends!) Envelopes of cash have been left for us at church and mailed to us by friends. What?! Such an amazing church family! Fresh garden veggies shared with us. Yum!! An iPad given to us to replace the one that Andrew had to return to his work. That is beyond basic provision to outright kindness! What’s more, we have been offered a vacation to the beach, expenses paid! Blow-your-socks-off kindness!

Because of this new place in life, I am returning to work as well, part time. When I shared this news with a friend, she came to tears as she reminded me of a conversation we had just a month ago. I shared with her a restlessness in my heart, a need to teach. But I had no idea whom I was to teach. Now I will have the opportunity to teach at risk youth who cannot attend traditional high school for a variety of reasons (truancy, expulsion, becoming parents, etc), through an evening program at our Educational Success Center. I expect these kids will need to be poured into and believed in. I have a heart for these kids.

I cannot look at the last three weeks and just think, “Gee, I hope we are headed for a good destination.” No, because we are in the midst of the good, even now. This is thomas_ridenot to say that our circumstances determine whether or not life is “good,” and they certainly don’t define God’s goodness. I simply want to thank God for his immense kindness to us in the past three weeks. It is so evident how much he loves us and, yes, has good things in store for us, even though it may look different than what we planned. Yes, there is uncertainty. We are in the least secure position we’ve ever been in as a family. And yet, we know we are totally secure. If we placed our security in Andrew’s job before, we were mistaken. In these three weeks we have realized that risks or no, job or no job, we are secure. Because we serve the King of the World. Every last thing on this earth is his. We know we are secure in his goodness and care for us.

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Sophie’s Story: Speech Update

sophie_first_day_16We have two new speech therapists this fall, one at school, and one through our private agency. When I learned that we would be moving to new therapists, I wasn’t overjoyed, because transitions can be challenging and they can use up valuable time in which we could be breezing forward with someone that we don’t have to get used to. However, it has turned out to be more than fine. Sophie has been seen by new sets of eyes who never experienced “silent Sophie.” Our private therapist in particular finds it difficult to comprehend, I think, that Sophie was pretty much nonverbal one calendar year ago. Of course she’s read the initial evaluations and reports, the first sets of goals, the therapy notes. She sees the documentation in front of her, but when she looks at Sophie today, just a little over a year past her original apraxia diagnosis, she doesn’t really see apraxia anymore.

When I shared this with my mom, she asked, “Does apraxia usually resolve that quickly?” No. No it does not. Apraxia is a years long journey for most children who are diagnosed with it.

Because of our new therapist’s questions, I’ve reflected a lot on Sophie’s speech development over the past year. She definitely DID show some major indicators for apraxia last summer when she was diagnosed. She could not produce any intentional sounds. She certainly couldn’t sequence sounds. Her receptive language was leaps and bounds beyond her expressive language abilities. There’s no denying its presence at that time. But now, she really shows very few signs of apraxia anymore.

Children with apraxia struggle a great deal with sequencing sounds. They can repeat the syllables “po” “ta” and “to” but to say the word “potato” causes a great deal of difficulty. Sophie has no trouble with this word, or with magazine, restaurant, octopus, and many other multiple syllable words. Really the only remnant of apraxia that we can see is that she is still unable to plan certain motor movements, such as sticking her tongue out, clenching her jaw shut, making her lips move in more complicated ways (think, fish face), and moving her tongue up and down or side to side. Those are motor planning issues. And they do affect the clarity of Sophie’s speech to some degree.

According to our new therapist, Sophie’s current speech issues most closely resemble a condition called dysarthria, which is a speech disorder associated with brain injury, stroke, and more serious disabilities such as cerebral palsy, Huntington’s, Lou Gehrig’s disease, muscular dystrophy, MS, parkinson’s, etc. Fortunately, Sophie has had multiple MRIs, among other tests, and so we feel confident that she does not have any of these disorders, nor dysarthria itself. Her therapist also specified that she would not diagnose Sophie with this disorder, but that her issues resembled it. She actually feels that most of Sophie’s current issues are connected to her hypotonia (low muscle tone). There are 8 muscles in the tongue alone, and coordinating those muscles when they are low in tone will require extra effort, not to mention the other facial muscles, and muscles of the upper torso that work to form our speech. So we have a fresh take on Sophie’s speech problems and new ideas for how to help her progress.

I’ve been left wondering many things. Has Sophie’s muscle tone been the issue all along? Was she misdiagnosed? Or has her apraxia resolved at a miraculous rate? These are questions that we may never really be able to answer. And if you know me, you know that I’m not really too concerned about answers. I’m just so pleased that Sophie is doing so well with her speech. In my heart I just believe that whatever Sophie’s speech disorder was or is, God has been so good to her and to us in the lightening speed at which she has developed speech in this past year. We remain thankful and ever aware of his goodness to us.

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Sophie’s Story: The Tea Set

sophie_tea_3 While Sophie is on summer break from preschool, we’ve been working on potty training. I’m realizing it’s as much a training for me as it is for her. I think she’s going to be one of those kids who always needs accountability for a while. With the start of school closing in, I’ve been much one diligent in my efforts. So, we have this sticker chart, because Sophie loves sticker charts, and we needed a way to moderate the number of prizes she could get. Let’s just say, our past efforts at potty training have gotten too pricey. So, when she gets 10 stickers, she gets to go to the Dollar Tree and pick out a prize.

Today we reached the 10th sticker, and she was elated to go and get her prize. Some visits to the Dollar Tree take an eternity because she cannot decide which trinket she wants to bring home. Today’s visit was very prompt. We walked in, and she spotted a little plastic tea set and said, “This is it. Let’s go pay.” And so we did.

sophie_tea_2

She didn’t want to wait in line and tried to force her way in to the belt with all of her 36 inches and 35 pounds of strength. Fortunately, the man ahead of us was a kind grandfatherly sort of fellow. He cheerfully said to my little line ditcher, “Hello, how are you? What’s that you’ve got there?”

Sophie answered (to my great surprise because she rarely dares to speak to people she doesn’t know well, out of anxiety, or because she is ignoring them), “It’s a tea set!”

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He matched her enthusiasm, “A tea set?! That’s wonderful!”

“It’s wonderful!” She replied.

He then turned to me and asked, “How old is she? One and a half?”

One and a half? She’s 35 pounds! At first I really wanted to be upset. But, I have prepared for these moments and promised myself that I would be gracious towards others. So, I replied, “No, she’s four. She’s on the small side, I guess.”

Without missing a beat, he said, “Oh! Yes, well, I was going based off of her speech.”

Again, I had the opportunity to be upset and hurt. Because I know how much progress we’ve made in a year. But, I promised that I would be gracious, and now I had an opportunity.

“Well, she actually has a speech disorder. One year ago she was not able to say one single word. So she’s made a lot of progress this year, and we’re really proud of her.”

His response blew me away: “Oh! Well, praise the Lord!”

“Yes,” I agreed, “that’s what we do.”sophie_tea_1

“What’s her name?” He asked me as he prepared to leave the line for the door.

“Sophie,” I answered.

“Sophie, it was nice to meet you,” he said with a wave.

“Tell the nice man to have a good day,” I instructed Sophie.

“Have a good day!” She beamed.

God orchestrated an opportunity for me today, while I’m up to my eyeballs canning green beans, to go to the store and meet this man. Some people wonder why bad things happen, like a speech disorder, a disability, an illness. But I don’t wonder. I know. It’s for moments like this where I can share our story so that a perfect stranger has a chance to glorify God with us.

 

You can watch a video of Sophie enjoying her tea set which will always remind me of this beautiful encounter: sophie_tea_video2

 

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