Post from 2008
As I have shared before, although I am a mother at heart, I am not able to physically have children (at age 32, I had to have a total hysterectomy a couple years ago due to severe endometriosis and severe PCOS). My husband at the time did not want to adopt. I am at peace with his decision for now. PLEASE NOTE, I am not sharing this for pity. I want to share my story to show how GREAT God is. So here is my Mother’s Day Story:
It was the FIRST Mother’s Day after my hysterectomy. I had MANY thoughts that day:
I was NOT going to have a rough time sitting in the church service because I had waited such a long time before deciding to have the hysterectomy. I was TOTALLY at peace with this decision, WASN’T I? My doctor had told me I needed the surgery a year before I actually agreed with him and scheduled the surgery. I’d prayed and prayed. This WAS the right decision. I couldn’t stand the pain anymore. Was I just being a wimp, or had I made the right decision??? No, I saw the pictures from 2 prior surgeries of the irrepairable damage and scar tissue. I was ABSOLUTELY SURE I had tried all I could do prior to scheduling the hysterectomy. I had taken fertility drugs month after month, purchased and FAITHFULLY used an ovulation kit for years, took Lupron injections per doctor’s advice, as much as FDA would allow, to give us more time to try…NOTHING HAD WORKED. The fertility clinic had even told me I was not a viable candidate for IVF. I KNEW THAT IT WAS NOT GOD’S WILL FOR ME TO HAVE CHILDREN!!! Ahhhhh. peace overwhelmed me with the reality that it was NOT my fault that we couldn’t have children. It was simply a fact that we must live with and MOVE ON.
The peace took me through the singing portion of the church service. BUT when the flowers started being passed around to all mothers, an overwhelming despair hit me all over again. I MUST NOT CRY, I MUST NOT CRY, I MUST NOT CRY!!! I just KNEW everyone was thinking “poor Teresa”, “pitiful Teresa”, “maybe someone will give Teresa a flower”…(as if everyone in the service was thinking about me) the LAST thing I wanted right then was a FLOWER. Don’t make eye contact! As a deacon tried to hand me a flower, I QUICKLY got up and left the auditorium. I found myself going downstairs and before I realized what I was doing, I was standing in the nursery. WHY I AM IN THE NURSERY, I DO NOT KNOW, I thought to myself. I had avoided the nursery for months and never signed up to be a nursery volunteer. Miraculously, I was NOT crying! I told the nursery worker to head on upstairs and get her flower, I’d take care of the nursery for her. She was SO excited, she just ran right out to get her flower. I sat down to regroup. I felt better as I focused on my surroundings. At this moment, I met a little boy named Tristan. At the time, he was 6 years old. I had never noticed him before. I quickly realized that Tristan was different than anyone I had ever met. He sat down beside me and said “shoes off”. Hmmm…my shoes were on, so I took them off. He grinned ever so sweetly and said louder “SHOES OFF!!!”. He seemed at that moment the happiest person in the world! After about 20 more comments ranging from “SHOES ON” to “SHOES OFF”, the nursery worker was back with her flower. She immediately started talking to me about the upcoming Vacation Bible School, of which she was the director. During this conversation, and for the rest of the service, I observed Tristan’s behavior. Assumingly because he was not the CENTER of attention, he was knocking over rocking chairs, tossing toys around, doing whatever he could to hault our conversation and get our attention. Something about Tristan really intrigued me. The nursery worker proceeded to tell me that Tristan is autistic. He was also adopted from birth by a couple at our church. This was my first encounter with a child who has been diagnosed with autism, so I was very surprised at how active and sweet that he was. I realized that maybe stereotyping is NOT useful when it comes to something like autism.
I left the service that day with Tristan dwelling on my mind. I started praying that God would lay it upon someone’s heart at church to start a Special Needs Program. I realized Tristan was too old for the nursery. He simply was BORED in the nursery since no one really had a program in order to keep him busy. They just sat around holding babies and watching toddlers and Tristan play in the floor (and after all, isn’t this why we volunteer to work in the nursery???).
I generally put this out of my mind as the weeks passed, but I did still remember to pray about Tristan’s needs and the possibility of a Special Needs Ministry at our church.
A couple months later, I was at the nursing home when our pastor told me he would like a few minutes of my time after the service. I often play the piano at the local nursing home for a ministry our church does, including a service of singing and our pastor also preaches at this service. I waited for the pastor after the service and we walked out to our vehicles together. He told me that for a few months, God had laid it on his heart to pray about the development of a Special Needs Ministry at our church for children. He said that for the past few weeks, he realized God wanted him to ask me to help him pray about this ministry. I readily agreed and Tristan again came to my mind. I assumed this was the end of the conversation, so as I turned to go to my car, I heard him say that he felt the Lord wanted ME to be the Special Needs Coordinator and Sunday School teacher!!!! OKAY, SHOCK, I was AGHAST, UMMMM NO, NO, NO! I had NO IDEA how to be a teacher to kids with special needs like autism. I at once told him I thought he was HUGELY mistaken in whom God wanted for this ministry. He smiled and simply asked one thing of me: PRAY ABOUT THIS FOR ONE WEEK BEFORE GIVING HIM MY ANSWER.
Well, as you can imagine, one week later, I knew without a doubt that God was calling me to this ministry. I had researched the topic and contacted several people from various churches that already had such a ministry. Everything just fell into place, as things often do when GOD IS IN CONTROL of the situation. I presented a very detailed plan to the deacons and as the new Sunday School year began, I found myself with Tristan as his teacher!
I remember last year (2007) on Mother’s Day, I actually sang the “special” for the service. I sang a song I had written in honor of my mother called “A Mother’s Love is a Special Gift”. That’s how well I was holding up in this service, NO CRYING, and NO LEAVING THE SERVICE EARLY!!!!! AND when the flowers were passed out, Tristan’s dad brought me a flower and told me that he and his wife realized I had a mother’s heart toward their son and that I deserved the flower. That was just such a wonderful moment for me. This flower was given to me in gratitude, NOT PITY. I realized AGAIN how much God loves me. FOR a YEAR, God had fulfilled my mother’s heart by letting me serve God at church with our Special Needs Ministry. I found that I looked forward to class. I LOVED the time spent with Tristan. We bonded immediately and it was so obvious to me that God had planned it all!!! He’s clever like that, you know. I had learned a whole new language in the year we spent together. (He has his own language to communicate). My thoughts that day were fully centered around thanksgiving to the Lord for His blessings and for the surprises that come along that make us realize just how much He really loves us.
SO HERE I AM, MOTHER’S DAYS 2008…I realize as I type this that I didn’t have even ONE “poor pitiful me” moment during the entire service! I contentedly sat in the service with Tristan beside me. I realized again how blessed I am to have this special child in my life. I have had the privilege of seeing him grow for the past two years. From our first class together, I had held his little hand while we prayed…simply because he is SUPER ACTIVE, so to make sure he is not running around the room getting into anything while I have my eyes closed praying, I held his hand…BUT Tristan now insists on holding hands any time someone prays! It has actually became such a sweet thing for him to reach for someone’s hand as soon as he hears “Let us pray”. More recently, I’ve been trying to help him grasp the concept of bowing our head when we pray. WELL, when I tell Tristan to bow his head, he promptly puts his head down on the table with nose touching! LOL…I was so tickled the first time he did this. I quickly assured him he was NOT in trouble and that bowing our head is not the same as putting our head down in school. Nevertheless, now every time I start to pray in our sunday school classroom, with nose touching, Tristan puts his head all the way down to the table! I’m still trying to figure out how to help him differentiate on this one. Tristan wanted to put the sunday school money into the envelope, but could not easily pick up the coins from the table. His motor skills is one area he needs individual help. I showed him how he could scoot the money to the edge of the table, then pick it up as it is halfway off the edge. He figured it out from the first time I showed him. Now he does it almost without even thinking! I play the fiddle and this instrument is now one of the objects for which Tristan has became very intrigued. I played it for him one day, so now if I don’t bring it to class on wednesdays, he lets me know immediately that it is missing. He tries to say “fiddle”, but it sounds more like “diddle”. When he sees a fiddle in a book, he points to the area in the room where mine sometimes sits and says “diddle!!!”. These are just some of the victories I have been privileged to be a part of in Tristan’s life.
Below is a pic of dear Tristan…this was taken last year during a “parents day out” event.
Tristan is not the only child in our church with special needs. I have been praying for awhile about another child in our class and look forward to learning how the ministry can serve his family. This little boy is a classmate at school with Tristan. We’ve already had opportunities to help him, but I know God has more in store for him and Tristan, as well as any other child who becomes a part of this ministry.
If you would like to start praying for this Special Needs Ministry, please start praying about incorporating the program into our church’s AWANA program. This is something I’ve been contemplating and praying about lately. LO AND BEHOLD, this past wednesday our director of AWANA shared with me that he, too has recently started praying about how to incorporate this ministry into AWANA. I am just CONSTANTLY AMAZED at how God works and even lays on our hearts things to pray and ponder!
I hope everyone had a WONDERFUL Mother’s Day this past sunday! If you know anyone who is a “mother at heart” like me, start praying for ways God will use them. Above all, let us all pray for VICTORY in our Christian walk, regardless of circumstance.
God HAS A PLAN AND WE ARE PART OF HIS PLAN!!!