Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Different Brand of Joy...

Looking for Santa....
It's hard to believe it's already December!  It has truly been a great year for our family and we could not be more grateful.  Both kids are doing well; Landen is enjoying school and Bethany is still homeschooling.  Mark is enjoying his work, and I am still in ministry and absolutely loving it. 

Our entire holiday season has already been a long one, it feels, because Landen began talking up Halloween back in September!  Then fast forward through endless drawings of pumpkin faces, light-up Halloween toys, candy and fanfare, he zipped through Thanksgiving and is in high Christmas gear!  The day after Thanksgiving we went for the second year in a row to the Christmas Tree Farm to find a real tree.  This has become a new tradition for us with my mom and Bob.   As soon as we walked onto the property Landen walked up to a tree and said, "I want this tree."  We took a look at it and it was perfect!  So that decision was easy, and he was free to go off to the slides and train ride.  We really enjoy going there because it is a fun family outing that we can do with him with minimal meltdown potential! 
Landen and Bob
As to the rest of our days, of course, there is never a dull moment..we are busy with work, school, church, and family life.  Bethany is a huge help to me and has grown so much in many ways over the last year.  I don't know what I would do without my "mini-me" to help me with Landen!  Each Saturday the routine is to go to Target- Landen's current favorite place to be (besides the car wash =).  It's one of those "go in, get what you need, get out" kind of experiences, but hey- it's a family affair, it's in public, and it is building successful experiences for Landen, so it's just what we need!  He usually has a running list of the same wish list: marshmellows, a Lunchable, a DVD, Spaghettios, and the current toy request is trains...

The other outing that is still a staple in the Wilson family is going to the car wash. Goodness, that boy loves to watch the car wash in action- from the foamy soap to the spinning scrubbers- he is in hog heaven.  It has become our routine for me to take him through the car wash and McDonald's drive thru before I leave for church on Wed evenings.  It gives him a time of connecting with me, gets him fed, gives him some entertainment, and then he is content with me leaving from there.  The new development is that he recently discovered that there are numerous videos of car washes on Youtube...who knew?  Mom uploaded a video she made of Landen in the car during a car wash and showed it to him, so when he caught on that there are other videos he was totally hooked!  It's hysterical because many of them are advertisements for like Japanese wash systems, so you hear all kinds of languages and things, but he doesn't care!  

Many of you know how much Landen likes to sing- at all hours of the day (or night! ugh).  He and Chloe (our dog) are now doing duets.  In the morning before the bus comes Landen likes to sing along to "Jack's Big Music Show"...i guess there is something about the notes (or should i say the off-notes) that Landen sings that gets Chloe to howling.  Then they sound like they are singing together...like I said, never a dull moment! 

For all the ways the Lord has blessed us with moments of joy, we are thankful.  Though so much of it is quite simplistic and not in a design that we expected, we still see the hand of God.  Somedays I don't see it as easily, somedays I am overwhelmed.  But God has been faithful and rescues me from the pit when I call on Him.  A few months ago I found myself battling a deep wave of grief...I was so despondent I couldn't even listen to music very much.  One morning I searched through the podcasts on my phone and found one by John Piper that caught my eye.  It was entitled "Why Was This Child Born Blind?"  I immediately started listening to it.  His words absolutely met me where I was and lifted me out of the mire.  It was a bold sermon, filled with raw and honest feelings, but also with beautiful words of hope and Truth.  It is powerful for anyone going through any type of suffering.  If you'd like to watch it, click here  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4BgQ69dhFk

I would appreciate prayers for a Bible Study that I am currently working on to present in the spring.  It is called "Broken, Blessed, and Multiplied".  I am excited about having an outlet to hopefully reach others with parts of our story and with the love and hope that God has granted me in the journey. 

Thanks for stopping in to take a peek at our life.  It blesses us to share it with you.  I have been working furiously on my schedule to make time to write, so hopefully you'll be hearing more from me. 

Peace!
jess




Thursday, June 23, 2011

Great Expectations




Wow. I'm really not good at updating our life on here! Maybe because I'm busy with all the details that come with our very unique life!

Here we are at another summer. Landen's first year at Hildebrandt turned out to be a really good experience. His teachers seemed to have gained a strong understanding of his personality and needs. This has helped foster a sense of freedom for him, while allowing him to still follow the very needed routine that his anxiety requires. One thing that helped him transition well each day between home and school was to carry around some laminated "days of the week" cards, so each day he would grab the current day and the next day. It seemed to be his way of understanding where he was in each given week, and anticipate how close he was at any given time to the coming weekend. Now that we are home for the summer, he still uses them.

He also loves to keep up with the calendar on the computer. Right now he is highly anticipating his sister Bethany's 17th birthday on Saturday. Birthday parties are his favorite occassion, whether they are his or someone elses! If there is cake, candles, and singing Happy Birthday involved, he is all over it! I posted this video on FB from his own birthday party in January...it's pretty funny...he sang the birthday song along with everyone and wanted us to sing it over and over. He gets the biggest smile on his face, then bows over and over, saying "thank you, thank you"! Those are the moments that bring us so much joy. Here is the video..(sorry it's oriented to the side...can't figure out how to fix it! lol)
video


The most beautiful part of that video though, is the presence of some of the friends and family that share life with us and support us so much. We could not do life without them!

Earlier this year we had a really neat experience. Mark was driving both kids to Walmart, and the radio was on. I was off with some friends eating dinner. Mark said the radio was playing "I Can Only Imagine", a song about longing for heaven and anticipating the joy of being in the presence of the Lord for eternity. He said Landen started singing along, and seemed to know most of the words! He called me on the phone immediately to tell me, holding back tears. I don't even own that cd, i almost always have my ipod playing in the car, so we don't know how he knows it so well. I even asked around to others that have babysat him and no one had exposed him to it. Since then, we have played the song on the computer and listened to him sing along a few times. It completely blows us away! Bethany said to me, " I wonder, since Landen can't understand a lot of things, if this is a way that God is revealing Himself to him." I think she is absolutely right.

We learn so much from this little guy. If only he knew how much. He is our constant reminder that we live in a broken, fallen world, that we are not in control, but that truly living is celebrating the smallest victories. I am finding that there is a surprising freedom in that. The fact that he is so easily amused and entertained by the smallest things teaches us to live in the moment. Every night he gazes at the moon. He makes me stop what I'm doing and look up. Every day when I come home from having gone somewhere, (even if it's only for a few minutes), he makes a really big deal and runs to me, hugging me and saying "Mommy (or Daddy), you're home! You came back! (as if we wouldn't =) We are inspired to be constantly refined in our sense of gratitude, which I know also reflects how God wants us to perceive the journey. I think of 2 Corinthians 6:10 "Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything."

I feel God asking me to live with more expectancy. More faith that He can accomplish more with Landen's life than I anticipate. At the end of the school year they told me that Landen is going to have to go to yet another new school next year. Budget cuts have removed 3 separate middle school's special ed programs, so they will all be joined into one. Of course we were not happy about that news, because change for him is so daunting. But I was comforted greatly by the sweet words of the teachers and therapists that worked with him this past year. They all spoke about how much happiness he brought into their lives in the time they got to spend with him. And I can't even begin to say enough good about his bus drivers...they were ANGELS! They loved on Landen so unconditionally. Every single day they expressed to me their affection for him. That was such a blessing to my heart. I am praying he gets the same ones next year! He's gonna need all the familiarity he can get as he transitions to the new school.

I was given an encouraging word from a very wise woman at a worship leaders' conference I attended in Atlanta last year. This dear lady Anne prayed with me and told me that she felt God was walking Mark and I on a journey that resembles the act of Communion...a life that must first live with thanksgiving, then is broken, blessed, and multiplied, just as Christ was broken physically and His Last Supper foretold so through the breaking of the bread and the pouring out of the wine. After I left Atlanta, I couldn't stop thinking about those words, "broken, blessed, multiplied".... a holy rhythym, a pattern, a heartbeat to live by. I must be willing to be broken as Christ was in order to be blessed with His character, His hope, His effectiveness. I can only do that in a posture of daily surrender.

Then something else amazing happened. This year at the same Atlanta retreat, a sweet friend came up to me and told me I must read this new book that she just could not put down. I have been reading it and have discovered it to be confirming Anne's words. It is a fantastic book called "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp. It is beautifully written, raw, honest, Truth-seeking. The author crafts a rich lesson as to how the process and symbolism of Communion demonstrates our need for thankfulness in life..in all things: the broken and the blessed, the empty and the filled.

I read and receive those words with hope. I will live with great expectation. I will give thanks for the blessings only the Lord can give.





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