One of my favorite praise songs is Praise You in This Storm. Life is full of both quiet and calm days and it is also full of storms. Yesterday was an overwhelming whirlwind of storms for me as a mommy. As I recover looking back I go to Matthew 8: 23-27 where Jesus calms the storm. I want to share with you about my day yesterday.
I am thankful for a job that lets me attend some of Michael’s therapy appointments at school. Yesterday I attended Michael’s speech therapy and it was such a blessing to be in the other room and watch Michael’s excitement as his therapist entered the room. He was so excited and even attempted her name. I also watched through the window as his teachers kept redirecting him to use his right hand to eat. It has only been out of the cast two weeks. Teaching him to use it more is much easier said than done. While it was a blessing to watch it also tugged at my heart that he had so much trouble using that hand and I watched the other kids just eating away. If you are a mom, dad or parent figure in any child’s life you know that feeling of wanting to take away all the adversity in that little person’s life. That was my day all day yesterday.
As Michael entered the room for his therapy session he was surprised to see his mommy, but it was clear that he knew this time was devoted to his beloved therapist. He engaged in many activities with her and it was great to see him attempting so many words. She was very happy with his improvement and said she sees improvement each week. She then transitioned to a conversation surrounding her thoughts about Michael’s speech issues. She indicated that she didn’t think it was a normal speech delay, rather apraxia of speech. This wasn’t the first time I heard this, as our occupational therapist had mentioned it before he started speech therapy. Our OT also suggested we seek this particular therapist and I am so thankful she did. Whew…another thing on my list of things to learn about. She explained a little bit about it and talked about having to build up to the actual words instead of trying to use the actual word he can’t say. She reiterated that it isn’t baby talk even though sometimes it sounds like it. She even made and laminated some pages to use at home with interactive Velcro pictures to help Michael focus. It will be a long road to speech development. We need to get an iPad, but who can afford one when your paycheck goes to pay for 4 or 5 speech therapies a month, at least 2 OT sessions, and 2 developmental therapy sessions and other appointments with orthopedics. Among the whirling winds in this storm, the calm is that beautiful soul spending 45 minutes with my little boy every week. The calm in my storm is that she is always a phone call, text or email away. The calm in my storm is that she sends us home with things to work on and takes time to move us in the right direction. The calm in Michael’s storm is teachers who are PATIENT and a speech therapist that has instilled a love of learning how to imitate speech sounds. Thank you God for the calm in this very active and sometimes destructive storm.
Note to self…do not attend two therapy sessions in one day!!! J I picked Michael up at 4 and headed to Duke for his occupational therapy. This sweet angel we call his OT has been with us since he was 5 months old and she is a wealth of information. She diagnosed Michael with sensory processing disorder earlier in the month and it has connected a lot of dots for previous behaviors, but it is still such a difficult path we are on. Michael’s sensory processing difficulties aren’t in just one area. They span across several and none of them are textbook cases it seems. This is the age when some of the underlying behaviors really surface because the child is developing their own sense of things and issues seem to manifest easier. What some people refer to as a child having a tantrum for a SPD child is actually a child completely overwhelmed and not able to process the things going on around them. They enter fight or flight stage and sometimes they just can’t do anything but fuss. This is Michael at this time and the episodes are becoming more frequent. He has stopped staying in the nursery at church for some reason. Even if his favorite ‘big sister’ is in there he is still overwhelmed by all the commotion. So, in church we sit each Sunday with puzzles and hope for the best. At this stage it is have him in the service making some noise or stay at home. I choose to take him and offer myself to God and thank him for the blessings and ask him for strength for the week ahead. We have two children to love, one who often times gets the bad end of the deal, and a marriage to nurture. SPD and apraxia don’t go well together. Often times the fact that Michael can’t communicate leads to an episode because he gets so upset that we can’t understand him. She helps us know when it is time to start massaging his incisions to help reduce and break up any scar tissue. She tells me how long to wear his brace. She fits and makes splints out of a flat piece of moldable plastic. Sometimes I refer to her as our miracle worker. As we sat at the therapy table and he tried so hard to pick things up with his right index finger and thumb it was so hard to watch him struggle so much. Again, that feeling in the pit of my stomach and the reality that I can’t change it. All I can do is help him the best I can. The storm rages inside me…in my mind, in my heart, in my stomach. That moment that tears are forming and you are fighting them. The calm in this storm is that beautiful soul holding Michael’s left hand so he has to use his right hand. It is that person we call our OT who accepts nothing but the best from Michael. She won’t let him have an inch and God in this storm I praise you for sending her to us. We know she is a gift from you. Without her we wouldn’t have the progress we have and we wouldn’t have ever known about our speech therapist.
After we leave therapy I check in with our state case worker for the infant toddler program. She has been a calm in this storm since Michael was a few months old. She has held our hand, gave hugs, listened to our concerns, helped write goals that will challenge him, helped us get the therapy Michael needs and she even visited the little man at the hospital when he had his last surgery and brought him a book. Currently she is trying to help us get his OT at Lenox Baker into the state program. Each therapy session is almost $600 for 45 minutes and he needs weekly sessions. With a $1200 OT bill each month there is no way we can swing $2400 must less $3000 for months with 5 weeks! She doesn’t have to spend all this time helping us, but she does. She could just do the minimum that she is required to do…but she doesn’t. She is the calm in our storm. Thank you God for this special person who is doing the work she heard you call her to do.
As we ride home and Michael screams the whole way home because he saw the playground at Chick Fil A because I didn’t communicate beforehand that we weren’t going to play…I pick up the phone and call my sister and give her the latest update on speech that I had given my mom earlier in the day. She listens and asks questions. Meanwhile Michael is screaming in the background. She doesn’t say, “do something for him”. She understands that at this point I can’t do anything else. You see, without our family and close friends this storm might just take over us…especially me. I’m weak. I’m weary. Knowing I can call my family and close friends and have support and not judgment is probably one of the things that calms the storm the most. Thank you God for family and friends who know the battles we are up against. Thank you God for the friends and family who try to educate themselves.
So, for the first morning in months Michael didn’t scream when we went to the car instead of the van. For the first morning in a while he didn’t cry when I left him at school. Thanks to our OT I prepped him continuously before we left the house that we were riding the car. The whole way to school I told him he was going to school and that I was picking him up. Is it a coincidence? Maybe. Maybe, just maybe, I did something right this morning…something that works for Michael. We can only hope. Matthew 8: 23-27 reminds us that we should not be afraid. It reminds us that Jesus is the calm in the storm of our life. I write this blog not to tell you that I’m a perfect Christian or I have it all right. I write this to tell you I am an imperfect Christian who often times doesn’t get it right. I write this to tell you that I live in fear and I am mentally and emotionally exhausted. I write this blog to tell you that with all of this there is one thing I know. Jesus is my Savior and he is the answer. I want to share the prayer written in my NIV Worship Bible by Marantha for this passage.
Lord, if You are able to calm the storm at sea, surely You can calm the storms in my life. I find myself day by day in the middle of the swirling, raging storms of this world—the snarled traffic, the incessant noise, the political unrest, the wars, the fear and the violence. But Lord, I confess that there are other storms—storms inside of me, storms of my own making. I worry and allow myself to succumb to stress instead of trusting You. I get caught up in little spats and feuds with loved ones when You’ve called me to be a peacemaker. I now see so clearly what little faith I really have. Forgive me, Lord. Come and speak to the storms within and without. Come and be my peace (Isaiah 26: 3, 12)
Lord I lift my hands to praise you…through my tears that you hold in your hand…through the fear…you hear my cry…thank you for the reminder that my help comes from You. You might not calm the storm, but through the rain you are there...My strength is almost gone but I can carry on because you carry me...As we face this day let us seek you as the calm in our storm...Thank you God for your mercy...Blessed be the name of the Lord...and ALL God’s people said AMEN!