Sunday, July 22, 2012

Be Thou My Vision

Be Thou My Vision....

"Without God's Word as a lens, the world warps."  
- One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

Today is National Fragile X Awareness Day, 2012.  I thought I had posted on this day for the last few years, but apparently I missed one for here is a peek into what all is happening in the Wilson's home these days...

This has been an amazing summer so far.  If you have been keeping up with us through Facebook or this blog, then you know that God blessed us with two amazing trips without the kiddos.  We had life-changing experiences and feel that we learned what it really means to relax, and that has been so refreshing even since we have been home.  It's like we have lived in constant adrenaline mode since the day Landen was diagnosed on January 16, 2001...and your body and mind just sort of get stuck in that gear to survive and cope.  Of course we have been blessed along the journey with wonderful family, friends, and a sense of God's overall peace in the midst of it; however, we definitely realized that we must make a point to get away from stress and sort of re-sync our minds and souls.    After Hawaii (if you missed that one see post below) we went to a work conference for Mark in San Diego.  The hotel was awesome.  We made some new friends, ate great food, and they had a phenomenal pool.  One day when Mark was in meetings, myself and a few other wives laid out while being served lunch and cocktails...uh, yeah, i could get used to that!  We also visited some beautiful wineries...

One particular thing that I have continually felt the Lord granting layers, in spiritual, digestible nuggets, is something that is very important in the heart of any parent, but especially for the FX parent, is COURAGE.  For many months God has shown me various verses, spoken through a friend, or whispered to my heart a growing sense of confidence that Landen is, can, and will continue to develop in ways that will free our life in many areas.  So often the strain of what we CAN'T do with him weighs so heavily on us that we easily slide into lowering our expectations.  I think it's easy to do that when you have a child with a disability...on one hand you are their greatest cheerleader and you want to prove to the world that they are still awesome, delightful human beings that have so much to contribute to the world...on the other you are constantly learning to see them through the lens of FX in an effort to understand them, to cope, to be realistic.  Every birthday that passes for him seems to feel harder and yet easier all at the same time.  Over time I have accepted his situation, even embraced it.  But I also die to dreams of things that he's not able to do at every passing age marker....afterall, other 13 year olds are studying algebra, trying out for football, starting to notice girls, and hanging with their friends.  Landen is still watching Elmo, can't ride a bike, and can barely write his first name.  But, this is where the little flame of courage that God is fanning in me all the time sparks new hope and new expectations.

Many months ago I pulled out some Scripture verse cards that I had received at one of our womens' retreats a couple of years ago.  They are really neat because they printed each verse with each woman's name inserted into the Scripture that caught my heart's attention reads: "So it's you, Jessica, who is in charge of keeping the entire commandment that I command you today, so that you'll have the strength to invade and possess the land that you are crossing the river to make your own." (Deuteronomy 11:8)  I knew that the Lord was speaking to me about taking courage in and through Him in the midst of many situations in my life that God has given me responsibility for, authority over, or a calling to a deeper faith.  Some of this applies to my ministry life at the church and in the outside world, and some of it is to encourage me to champion Landen into new horizons.  That's the beauty of following Jesus...when He gives Truth, He gives WHOLE Truth that speaks life into so many parts of life.  There is not one thing that He wishes to withhold from us, from me.  He is delighted in me when I can hold up the broken, shattered parts of my life that don't make sense, and ask Him to put them together, forming a masterpiece for which only HE has the complete vision.  And Landen is a part of that.  I know in the depths of my heart that God has put such beautiful, eternal qualities in Landen that are unearthed because we have to search through the lens of FX to see them...his condition essentially summons a spotlight onto what God has made in him, because it can't be explained away by typical and external factors..

One benefit to a greater sense of courage in me is a new found determination I have to get Landen back into more public outings!  Some of you know that he doesn't like to go to restaurants or movies, etc and so we are extremely limited in what we can do as a family.  But I see him growing in his tolerance level, building trust in us again that when we take him somewhere he will actually survive it, lol....and I'm sure he picks up on my decreasing fear over at least trying.  We have a weekly outing to Target...he goes in, pushing the cart, and stays much longer than he used to.  He also will go with us to get frozen yogurt- he likes the independence of the self-serve and getting to choose what he wants.  He has also been to the outdoor shopping area of Market Street in The Woodlands now a couple of times...and that is HUGE for him!  He has a wonderful nanny named Lindsey who loves taking him out too...she is very brave!  haha!  But he does so great with her.  I am so very thankful for her courageous heart to know and love Landen unconditionally, and to help me create new experiences.   My next goal is a movie...we'll see =)
kissin' "Izzy" at Chick fil-A

Another HUGE happening in our life is that Bethany just turned 18!  It's so wild!  How did that happen??!!

Then I turned 38..Landen got to sing to me...

I love this piece from One Thousand Gifts: "What will a life magnify?  The world's stress cracks, the grubbiness of a day, all that is wholly wrong and terribly busted?  Or God? ...God is not in need of magnifying by us so small, but the reverse.  It's our lives that are little and we have falsely inflated self, and in thanks we decrease and the world returns right.  I say thanks and I swell with Him, and I swell the world and He stirs me, joy all afoot."  

The lens through which I see the world, my world, is so much clearer when I view it through the heart of Christ.  His view pans out to such a bigger picture than whatever earthly stressor is dominating my attention.  And yet it also laser focuses in on the tiniest appearances of His beauty, grace, and handiwork in my life.  For that, I am eternally grateful.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Hawaii: Amazingly Beautiful, Zero Chaos! =)

I am so excited to share about the unbelievable opportunity we had to go to Hawaii last week.  Months ago, Mark had first found out that he had earned an exciting trip for the two of us to go to San Diego this summer, and we were thrilled and thanking God for the chance to have a paid vacation and some needed time alone.  We had not been alone in 6 years!  But a few months ago, our really close friends in Austin, Chris and Tommy, called to tell us they wanted us to go to Hawaii with them in June.  Because they are travel agents, they had the flights and hotels covered.  We were completely overwhelmed with gratitude and began seeking the Lord for Him to take care of our kids.  My mom agreed to keep them for half the week, and a precious friend named Lindsey was able to keep them the other half.  So God completely provided and took care of everything.  We knew our home and kids were in safe hands, so off we went. 

We had known for a long time that we needed some rest and relaxation.  But I must say, until you truly experience it, you don't even realize how much so.  At least, that was the case for us.  For years we had been dreaming of seeing a tropical landscape.  We had been pointing out to each other various beaches and scenes in movies, magazines, etc that we longed to see one day...not knowing how or when we actually would.  Mark would often joke about others who were on vacation, saying "yeah, they're probably on a beach somewhere drinkin' a mai tai....sigh"  Over the last couple of years, I started responding by saying, "I don't know how or when, but one day, you and I are gonna be on a beach drinking a mai tai...God will provide it!"  (and i didn't mean Galveston, lol) 

I didn't do much research on Hawaii before the trip, which those of you that know me, know I research everything!  But I wanted to be surprised.  And I'm glad I didn't, because I was so completely blown away by every sight and sound there.  When we got off the plane and headed out of the gate, we saw that the airport had half walls, with not even windows so you could see the hills and feel the breeze.  So our first site was lush, green mountains ahead of us.  I was so awestruck I started crying.  Haha.  Little did I know that was nothing compared to what was to come!

We headed off to the first hotel...a gorgeous villa at the Fairmont Kea Lani in Maui, fit for a celebrity's stay.  It was gorgeous.  The resort itself was just amazing.  We walked down to the private beach area and it was the first time I had ever seen teal/blue water splashing onto golden sand that felt like the consistency of baby powder! I had also never seen a beach line that didn't stretch in one giant line along a was contained between beautiful rocky cliffs and plants.  Across the water you could see Molokini Island in the distance..I had no idea when we went that we would see other islands in the distance, so that just blew me away!  I love this picture of Mark seeing the water for the first time...

The first night we had an awesome dinner at a restaurant at the resort.  They seated the four of us at a great location where you could look out ahead and see the pools, and palm trees, and water in the distance.  As we were catching up with our friends and dining on exquisite food, I looked up and noticed the sun setting.  All I can say is I have never seen anything like that in my life!  I elbowed Mark and said, "Look!  Oh. my. gosh."  This is one of the shots I took... *note: if you click on the pictures the colors are more vibrant...

The next day we took the road to Hana.  Tommy rented a jeep and we took the top off, so that helped us really take in the views.  I was so overwhelmed by the thick, lush, tropical plants, flowers, and canopying trees.  The views of blue oceans around winding cliff sides and waterfalls were just amazing.  I could have stayed there the rest of my life. 

The biggest adventure on that drive was when we decided to go off the beaten path in search of some waterfalls.  We parked the jeep and made a treacherous hike across rocks and streams, till we came upon this site...

One of our dreams was to swim under a waterfall, so that's what we did! Ice cold but so refreshing and wonderful!
Moving on, we stopped at one of the famous black sand beaches.  This was one of my favorite sites.  The color contrasts of the plant life, blue water, and black rocks was beautiful.  I especially loved the arched rock formation out on the water...just the type of thing we had been wanting to see sometime! Here are some of my favorite pictures from that beach...

It was so cool to learn about how volcanic activity had formed the black rock when lava flows hit the water over many years' time.  It made me think of how beautiful it is when nature's chaos transforms into something so beautiful over the years, and actually becomes a sanctuary and place of inspiration to those that encounter it...hmmm...sounds like what the Lord does in our lives too! =)  It is so confirming to my heart to see the way God moves in His creation and in us, making all things new and beautiful in time, and more captivating than without the changes and transformations!

There were so many other amazing sites on the Road to Hana, but this post would be quite long if I were to record them all! 

The next day we snorkeled out at Molokini Island.  It was so beautiful.  We took a really neat boat called Four Winds and the crew did a great job showing us around and serving us lunch.  The water was so clear, the fish beautiful and the reefs so colorful.  We had never done anything like that before.  Here are a couple of shots...

Another day we had lunch at a famous place called "Mama's Fish House" was situated near the water at a beautiful beach, so we got some good pictures there too...

We also loved the green hills everywhere around the island.  It all reminded us of one of our favorite shows, "Lost"...

We took another snorkeling trip, this time to the island of Lanai.  It was beautiful too, and was the first time we ever saw sea turtles =)

The guide told us that he wasn't sure if we would see dolphins, so I didn't get my hopes up....but because apparently God was in the mood to show off even more than He had already, literally dozens of them appeared out of nowhere!  They were jumping and spinning and moving so much it was hard to capture pictures, but I did get a little video =)  (note: the pauses are when i snapped a picture)
Such a wonderful experience seeing so much of God's awesome creatures in their own environment! 

We also went ziplining one day at Kapalua...Chris and I were SO scared at first!  My heart was beating so fast before that first line...i mean, throwing yourself off a mountain side is just so counter-intuitive!  But we made it and the views and wind in our face was worth it! 

On Thursday evening we moved to another great hotel, the Hyatt Regency Resort.  It had amazing views of the beach, an awesome pool with waterfalls and water slide that the four of us totally enjoyed like kids!  Haha it was soooo fun!  I wish I had pictures of each of us on that- it was really funny watching each other come out of the chute at the end! 
We also witnessed the absolute best sunset ever here.  Mark and I were walking along the beach and noticed the sky colors begin to change.  The pictures I got with my Canon Power Shot just blew my mind.  I didn't touch these up in any way!  God's painted sky just as He created it!

That was our view to the right side, here is the view to the left...

More beauty developing as the sky continued to transform....

We went to our first luau at the Hyatt.  It was great fun.  Loved the real hula girls and guys, the food, the scenery, and getting to share it with our amazing friends.  And, we finally had Mai Tai's on the beach!!!

I also loved the penguins that were at the hotel...I wished Landen could have seen precious!
We had such a phenomenal time.  We can't wait to go back!  (There are more pictures on my Facebook page if you're interested)  All of the food was outstanding and the people there were so inspiring.  They really do live with an "Aloha spirit" that we seem to lack on the mainland.  I would love to take Landen and Bethany one day.  I feel that the culture there would embrace Landen with open arms.  Thank you to our wonderful friends who let us share the joy of such an unforgettable experience!

Chris and Tommy
Meanwhile, Bethany and Landen had a great time with Lindsey and my are some pics from their week...
running errands with Lindsey
Bethany and Landen
on the way to Nana's house
with Lindsey =)
on carousel at Kemah

Next stop: San Diego!  Mark will have a couple of work meetings/award ceremonies, but we should have some decent time together.  Will post pictures from that trip when we get back...=)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Happy 13th Birthday Landen!

helping Mom make his birthday cake =)

Today Landen turns 13! 

It's so hard to believe!  I have a hard time even saying 13 in relation to him.  I know, despite the fact that he is so young in mind and heart, that he is in fact, growing up.  Everyday I walk that balance between meeting him where he is at mentally, rejoicing in the smallest victories that he achieves (that perhaps even a pre-schooler down the street can do in their sleep)...and also giving him more room to grow and believing that we can help steer and equip him to have a productive life now and in the future. 

A couple of months ago I was getting Landen off the bus, and like he often does, he jumped up on me, wrapping his legs around my waist tightly and hugging my neck, saying "I love you Mom" over and over.  Of course I often chuckle in my mind when he does that, thinking "any neighbors or others that are witnessing this are probably wondering why a near teenager is holding on to his mom like that"...HA..but i was struck in that moment with the beautiful reality that he just doesn't care..because of his condition he is dependant on me and loves me openly and unencumbered.  That is a picture of how we too must embrace the Lord in complete humility and faith.  He holds us in our brokenness and carries us in our pain. 

We are so proud of you Landen. We are thankful for your sweet and caring spirit. We are grateful for your hugs and child-like dependance on us that teaches us about child-like faith in Christ.

"I will give you assured peace in this place."  -Jeremiah 14:13