When You’re Between Two Paintings

 

Two paintings hang on the wall in our living room.  Our oldest daughter, Taylor, painted both of these masterpieces.  She was only 6 years old when she painted the one on the left.  I can still remember her sweet face and how she beamed with pride as she showed me her very first painting.  She’d only been going to art class for 2 months.  I was amazed at what she was able to accomplish in such a short time.  Taylor was 19 when she completed the painting on the right.  She was all smiles as she turned it around for me to see.  My mouth dropped open and I squealed with delight.  I grabbed it out of her hands and I hung it on the wall in the living room.

One day as I was sitting on the couch admiring Taylor’s artwork I started thinking about all that had happened between those two paintings.  It took 13 years to get from the painting on the left to the painting on the right.  So many things happened that people will never see.  Taylor spent many hours learning how to paint and practicing over and over again.  She painted over mistakes that none of us will ever know about.  I drove her to class every week and I waited 2 hours for class to get over.  I wrote more checks than I can count.  And there’s dad who worked hard those 13 years to pay for the art classes.  And we can’t forget about Grandma.  Grandma took Taylor to art class for an entire year after Mikayla and Hope were born.  She didn’t want me to have the stress of packing them up and taking them with us.  Getting from one painting to the next painting cost our family something.  It wasn’t always easy.  But it was worth it.

In the last two months our family has been faced with two extremely difficult decisions.  We’ve had a lot of sleepless nights.  Anxiety wrapped itself around me and nearly choked me.  My sweet husband and I have had a lot of discussions (um….I mean fights) about what we should do.   I’ve consumed a lot of chocolate.  And finally we’ve found the answer to both situations.  The answer to the first decision is yes.  This yes came with a lot of questions, uncertainty, and fear attached to it. Our family will be going through a lot of changes because of this decision.  But even in the midst of fear we chose to say yes.  The answer to the second decision is no.  This no came with a lot of disappointment and heartbreak.  I wanted the answer to be yes.  I dug my heels in and I wasn’t going to change my mind.  Why can’t Brett see that the answer is yes?  It’s so obvious that the answer is yes. And then the day finally came when I heard God whisper the answer into my heart.  And His answer was no.   I was devastated.

Something happened to me once the decisions were made.  Even though I knew we’d made the right decisions I felt empty and hopeless.  I didn’t go to church for 3 weeks.  The process of walking through the decisions has been difficult.  I’ve had to give up something that I really wanted.  I’ve had to say yes to something that scares me out of my mind.  Life’s going to look different than I thought it would look.  As all of the disappointment and uncertainty were swirling around inside of me God reminded me of the paintings.

He said: You’re between two paintings.  This is the part that no one sees.  This is the part that costs something that no one will ever know about.  This is the part when you feel like your heart has been ripped out and yet you choose to go on.  Trust me during this time of disappointment.  Trust me when My plans look different than your plans.  You’re acting like this is the final painting in your story.  But it’s not.  You’re in the middle of your story.  I know the plans that I have for you.  And they are good.   

This moment with God gave me hope.  God can paint a better picture for my life than I could ever paint.  He’s taken the paintbrush and He’s painting over my mistakes.  He’s painting over the plans that I made.  He’s painting over the disappointment that makes my heart ache.  And I believe one day I will step back and look at His painting of my life.  And the no that broke my heart in 2017 will suddenly make sense.  Because I will see that His plan was better than my plan.  I will see that He painted things into my life story that I would’ve never thought to add.  I pray that if today you are feeling hopeless and disappointed that you will turn to the One who will give you hope.  If life doesn’t look anything like you want it to look turn to the One who is writing your story.  And trust Him.  Trust that His Word is true.   For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).

 

 

Someone Has Anger Issues

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Mikayla, come brush your teeth!

Total silence.  Where is she?

Mikayla, come brush your teeth!!

Still total silence.  I’m tired and slightly irritated.

Mikayla!  Get in here right now!!!!  I’m not gonna say it again!!!!

That girl knows when momma means business.  She stumbled into the bathroom with her yellow angry bird tucked under her arm.  She squeezed his wing and he said “Someone has anger issues!”   And there you have it.  Truth straight from the bird’s mouth.  That crazy bird says all kinds of phrases.  But at this exact moment he decided to focus on my anger issues.  Really?

Life as a parent to little sweethearts who have special needs isn’t easy.  Our girls talk all day long.  They perseverate on a certain question or phrase and they say it a million times a day.  I constantly deal with behavior issues (the girls and my own).  My brain usually turns into a pile of goo by 3 p.m. When bedtime rolls around I’m exhausted.  I want little girls to show up when it’s time to brush their teeth.  I want people to stop talking.  I want my bed.  I have a right to be impatient at bedtime.  Right?

It’s been several months since my encounter with that angry bird.  Every time anger begins to rise up within me I hear his words ringing in my ears. Someone has anger issues.  And that someone is me.  Anger is my enemy.  It sneaks in and it steals my joy.  It makes me bitter instead of better. God is gently and consistently reminding me that anger and impatience are not ok.  Together we’re going to conquer my anger issues.  He’s making me painfully aware of how often I allow anger to control me.  Countless times in the last few months I’ve felt anger rising up within me.  And each time He gently shows me that I’m allowing anger to control my life.

I collapsed into bed on Christmas night.  I began scrolling through facebook.  It looked as if everyone had a picture perfect Christmas.  Anger began to bubble up within me.  Christmas is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year.  But this day wasn’t wonderful.  We were at my parents house and Brett spent most of the day in a room with our little sweetheart who couldn’t maneuver her way through a meltdown.  Our problems don’t disappear just because it’s Christmas.  Sure wish they could disappear for just one day.  Why do some families get to enjoy Christmas and our family just tries to survive Christmas?  It’s not fair. Someone has anger issues.

We pulled into the drive thru to get the girls some lunch.  Chaos ensued.  The girls started screaming their orders.  Why are you doing that?  I asked you what you wanted when we were at Walmart so you wouldn’t do this.  Sigh.  Then they started fighting with each other.  The guy taking our order couldn’t hear us and we couldn’t hear him.  I really get tired of this.  Why does this happen almost every time we eat out?  It must be nice to be one of the families who eats inside of the restaurant.  But look at us.  We can hardly maneuver our way through the drive-thru.  Great.  Now I have a headache.  Someone has anger issues.

Why do I have to attend IEP meetings every year?  Lots of parents don’t even know what an IEP meeting is.  I used to be one of them.  Someone has anger issues.

Why is everything hard for our girls?  Why do they have to struggle every day to do things that come easily to most children?  Someone has anger issues.

Life was already hard enough before anxiety came and pulled the rug out from under me.  I have enough to deal with.  Why does anxiety have to be thrown into the mix?   Someone has anger issues.

Yes, it seems like I’m continually dealing with the issue of anger in my life.  God is lovingly and patiently helping me find my way back to a life of joy. A life of being thankful for what I have instead of angry about what I don’t have.  Thankful for the sweet moments with our girls that God highlights and wants me to remember.  Like the moment when we were walking into Walmart and Mikayla’s little hand reached for mine.  And I heard the Lord say “She may always want to hold your hand.”  I smiled as we walked hand in hand.  Mikayla and Hope may never outgrow their need to hold Mommy’s hand.   I will hold their hands for the rest of my life and enjoy every moment.  I believe that as I begin to focus on what I have instead of what I don’t have I will see my anger issues disappear.  And joy will return to my life.  And it all started with a silly angry bird who spoke truth into my life.

Putting My Trash Out For Everyone To See

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I was cleaning the basement and I found a few boxes that needed to be thrown away.  I tossed them onto the ever-growing pile of boxes that’s been in our basement for longer than I care to admit.  As I tossed the last box on the pile I decided it was time to carry them upstairs and get rid of them.  If they are hiding in the basement I’ll never get rid of them.  It was too windy to burn them.  There was no way they would all fit in the trash can for the next trash pickup.  So I decided to put them on the front porch.  If I’m forced to look at them every time I drive up the driveway then I’ll actually get rid of them.  I’ll just add a few of them to the trash each week until they’re gone.

I like things to be neat and tidy so I cringed as I put the boxes out on the front porch.  I was putting my trash out for everyone to see.  And I’m feeling the same way right now as I type these words.  It makes me uncomfortable when I think about everyone knowing what I’m going through.  I’m putting my trash out for everyone to see. Sometimes we have to drag our problems out of the basement so that we’ll actually deal with them.  When we’re forced to look at them we have a greater chance of getting rid of them.  I risk being judged.  But I choose to tell my story anyway because my story matters.  My story may look a lot like your story.  I hope it helps you to know that you’re not alone.  Your story may look nothing like mine but I pray that the words I’m getting ready to share will touch your heart in some way.  I’m glad you’re here to join me in my story.

Anxiety.  I really hate that word.  I hate the way that it makes me feel.  It slowly started creeping into my life 2 years ago.   I tried to ignore it.  Then I prayed for God to take it away.  I looked up scriptures about anxiety and I told myself to be anxious for nothing (Philippians 4:6-7).  I went forward at church and had people pray for me. And yet it continued to torment me every single day.   I was having trouble falling asleep and staying asleep.   I was experiencing fatigue that was so severe that walking across the house was difficult.   My mind would frequently go blank.  I couldn’t concentrate and I was extremely irritable. Every day I had moments when I felt  like I couldn’t breathe.  I lived like this for a year.  I finally decided it was time to call the doctor.  Tomorrow.  I’ll call the doctor tomorrow.

That evening a picture came across my facebook newsfeed. The top half of the picture was a pill bottle and it said “What they say you need”.  The bottom half was a picture of a Bible and it said “What you really need”.  The picture sent a message that was loud and clear.  If you’re a Christian then all you have to do is read the Bible and your anxiety will go away.  As I sat on my bed and continued to look at that picture I was reminded of the voices from the past.  The voices that said if you’re depressed or have anxiety then you need to pray more and read more.  Christians aren’t supposed to have anxiety.  If you go to the doctor for medication then you aren’t trusting God to heal you.  I allowed that picture to condemn me.  As I fell asleep that night condemnation covered me like a blanket.   The next morning I didn’t call the doctor.  I chose to continue suffering.

As 2016 unfolded I believed that this year was going to be a better year.  But then a series of events took place that added a great deal of stress to our life.  Our insurance company quit paying for the girls therapies.   We had to begin the process of finding a way for the girls to receive their therapies.  We decided to stop homeschooling and enroll the girls in public school.  I attended several meetings to set up their IEP for this school year.  The girls behavior problems escalated and we decided to attend PCIT (Parent-child interaction therapy).   I spent 10 hours filling out paperwork for our family to start the PCIT.  I jumped through all of the hoops to get us on their schedule only to find out we would have to wait 8 months for our first appointment.  I secretly wondered if our family would survive the long wait. I was relieved when everything was in place for the PCIT and for the girls to start school in the fall. I finally felt like I could rest and that my life was going to get better. But it didn’t.

I started having panic attacks. They would come in the middle of the night, at a graduation ceremony, or even at church. I found myself fleeing from social situations because my heart was pounding and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I would drop the girls off at their class at church, go sit in the sanctuary, and then flee from the room as soon as the worship music started. The sounds of the instruments and the crowd were just too much for me to handle. I didn’t go to church for 3 weeks. Then one morning I woke up, took a shower, and went back to bed because the fatigue was so severe. I did this 3 days in a row. On the third day Brett came into the bedroom and he sat down beside me.  He told me that he loved me and he couldn’t stand to see me like this. He asked me to go to the doctor.  I agreed to go because it was clear that the anxiety was no longer just affecting me. It was affecting my entire family.  The next morning I called the doctor and made an appointment.

As I told the nurse my symptoms she smiled and she told me that I’m not alone.   The physician’s assistant also told me that I’m not alone.   As I walked out of the doctor’s office I felt foolish.   I waited 2 years to see a doctor.   I’d let the anxiety get so bad that I couldn’t even get out of bed.  I’d allowed the fear of what people would think of me become more important than my health and my family.  And I regret it.

I’ve been taking anxiety medication for 4 months.   I’m finally able to sleep and fatigue no longer torments me.  I still have moments each day when I feel like I can’t breathe.  And I’m still irritable.  Ask my sweet husband.    So even though I’m on medication I still have some anxiety symptoms.  The boxes on our front porch didn’t disappear overnight and neither has my anxiety.  But each week a few boxes disappear and the pile gets smaller.  I trust that as time passes my anxiety symptoms will decrease and hopefully one day they will disappear.  But right now I recognize and celebrate each victory along the way.  Last Sunday was a victory.  Brett patted my thigh during the sermon.  He could tell I was having a hard time and he was telling me he was proud of me for coming to church and not fleeing from the sanctuary.  I’m learning that victory isn’t just at the end of the race.  But it’s in each step that you take from the beginning to the end.

God heals.  I know that with all of my heart.  But He doesn’t always choose to heal in the way that we want Him to.  I wanted my healing to come in an instant.  I pray and then God makes all of my problems go away.  Isn’t that what we all want?  But it’s not always what God thinks is best for us.  Sometimes God chooses to walk us through our problems instead of around them.  God is choosing to walk me through this one step at a time instead of instantly delivering me from it.   I will learn lessons through the journey that I wouldn’t have learned if I’d been delivered from it.

I don’t understand anxiety.  It knocked me down like a freight train during a time when I felt like things were finally falling into place for our family.  I wasn’t sitting around worrying.  I was hopeful for the future.  But anxiety knocked me down anyway.  11 years ago I became mom to 2 little sweethearts who have disabilities.  And I now understand something that I never understood before.  People who experience anxiety need to be shown grace instead of judgment.  We have no idea how many meltdowns a mom and dad have watched their child have that day.  Or what the test results said.  Or how many times a mom has heard her child say the same phrase over and over again.  Or what kind of battle took place when a child had to put his clothes on.  Or if the mom and dad we see at the store have been sitting beside their daughter’s hospital bed wondering if she’s going to live or die.  There are so many people in this world going through some really hard stuff.  So let’s pause and think before we hit the share button on facebook.  Let’s make sure that we’re showing people grace instead of judgment.

Mikayla and Hope Go To Camp

It’s been an exciting summer.  Mikayla and Hope went to church camp for the first time.  My friend Joni asked if she could take them to camp.  The girls spent 3 days at camp and I spent 3 glorious days resting at home.  Thanks to several friends I have pictures of my girls at camp.  I don’t have any idea what to write about camp since I wasn’t there.  So Mikayla and Hope had to help me out.  So here’s what happened at camp through the eyes of Mikayla and Hope.

Mikayla:

Played games

Ate snacks

I got wet

The zip line was fast

The water slide splashed me in the eye

Ate grapes, watermelon, and strawberries

Hopey pushed me

I painted

Hopey:

I went on the water slide and the zip line.

I got points

I ate candy, crackers, oranges, grapes, and carrots

I eat the sandwich

I made a craft

I slept at their house (a.k.a  Joni’s house)

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Sensory Processing Disorder: A Day At The Dentist

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Mikayla and Hope were irritated with each other from the moment we stepped into the dentist’s office.  I was hoping they would call one of them in quickly so they could get away from each other.  They called Mikayla back for her cleaning and Hope started playing a game on her iPad.  Wow.  This is going smoothly. But after only a few minutes Hope became restless.  And she started talking.

It’s my turn!

No it’s not your turn.  They will come out and say your name when it’s your turn.

She went back to playing with her iPad.

It’s my turn!

Have you heard anyone say your name?

No.

Then it’s not your turn.

She played her iPad some more.

It’s my turn!

No.  It’s not your turn.  They will come get you when it’s your turn.

After 30 minutes of listening to Hope say “It’s my turn” the hygienist came out.  She had finished Mikayla’s cleaning.  She explained that Mikayla’s molars have deep pits.  She said that she could put sealants on them to prevent her from getting cavities.  She had some extra time and could do it while we were there.  I told her to go ahead.  She went back in with Mikayla and Hope went back to her same routine.

It’s my turn

No.  It’s not your turn.  They’re still working on Mikayla.  When they get done with Mikayla then it will be your turn.

It’s my turn.

Have you heard anyone say your name?

No.

Then it’s not your turn.

30 minutes later the hygienist brought Mikayla out and a strange odor filled the room.  She said Mikayla did fine with the sealants until they tried to do the ones on the top.  She gagged and then she vomited.  It was all over the front of her dress.  And it was in her hair.  They had cleaned her up but she gave me a moist towel so I could work on her some more.  She said she would be back to get Hope as soon as she cleaned the room.  I left Hope in the waiting room while I took Mikayla in the restroom. I cleaned her up the best I could but she still smelled.

When I got back to the waiting room I was very happy to find that Hope was the only person in the room.  Maybe we’ll get out of here without anyone having to smell the vomit.  Mikayla started eating the sucker they gave her.  Hope got upset and started yelling because she didn’t have a sucker.  Then she went back to the routine she’d been doing for the last hour.

It’s my turn

They’re cleaning the room.  They will come and say Hope when they’re ready for you.

It’s my turn.

Did you hear anyone say Hope?

No.

Then it’s not your turn yet.

20 minutes later the hygienist came out.  It’s finally Hope’s turn.  Hallelujah.  Mikayla and I start playing a game on her iPad.  I’m feeling very thankful that we’re still the only ones in the waiting room.  Then the door opens and a lady comes in.   A couple more people come in.  Then another.   I wondered if their noses were picking up the scent of my smelly little sweetheart.

After 2 hours had passed I was really needing to go home.  Hope finally came out.  I walked up to the window to make their next appointment.  Mikayla took her Despicable Me umbrella and hit Hope with it.  Then Hope took her My Little Pony umbrella and hit her back.  I told them to stop it.  They didn’t.  You stand here.  And you stand over there.  Don’t touch each other.  But they did.

The receptionist asked if I would like to make their appointments on 2 different days next time.  Yes.  After the way today went I would like to bring them on different days.  The receptionist apologized for it taking so long.   The computer was being slow.  Hope started eating the sucker they gave her and it made Mikayla mad.  They started hitting and kicking each other.  I suddenly felt as if I couldn’t breathe.  A panic attack began to take over my body.  I told the receptionist that I had to leave.  The printer finally spit out the appointment paper.   As my trembling hand reached for the paper the tears started to come like a flood.   As I turned to leave I didn’t look at any of the people in the waiting room.  I felt ashamed. What kind of mom can’t control her own children?  As soon as we got outside Hope started yelling because she dropped her sucker.  It’s stuck to the front of your shirt.  Peel it off and let’s go.

I cried the entire 25 minutes that it took to get home.  Why does going out in public have to be this hard? As soon as I got home I told Brett I was going to bed.  I didn’t care that it was only 3:30 in the afternoon.   I went in the bedroom, put on my nightgown and crawled in bed.  All I wanted was to forget that this day had ever happened.   And there’s no way I will ever write a blog post about it.  That’s for sure.  But here I am writing about it.  Crawling into bed and trying to forget the day wasn’t the end of the story.  A few days later I found a card in our mailbox from the ladies at the dentist’s office.  They each wrote me a personal note of encouragement.

Just a note to let you know we think you are great!  I hope your day got a little better.  

I enjoyed seeing your girls.  I can tell you go above and beyond taking excellent care of them just by looking in their mouths.  What a wonderful mother you are.

I was stunned.  They didn’t look at me and see a bad mom.  They looked at me and they saw a good mom having a bad day.   As I closed the card God whispered in my ear.  He said That’s how I see you.  I look at you and I see a good mom having a bad day.  And He loves me.  Even when my attitude stinks and I’m impatient He still loves me.  He gently reminds me I need to work on some things.  And I nod my head and agree.

The next day I took the girls to appointments at the eye doctor.  Guess what?  They were complete angels.  They didn’t yell at each other.  They didn’t touch each other.   I told them I was proud of them and I wanted to buy them a prize for being so good.  They wanted ice cream sandwiches.  I don’t understand why life can be so different from one day to the next day.  Or from one moment to the next moment.  But perhaps next time I feel tempted to carry shame out of the doctor’s office I’ll remember the ladies who looked at me and just saw a good mom having a bad day.  I’ll shake the shame off and walk out the door with my head held high.  And I’ll trust that tomorrow will be a better day.

What Great-Grandpa Taught Us About Love

When Brynna was little she dragged the card table to the end of the driveway and put a “flowers for sale” sign on it.   She walked around the yard, picked flowers, and tied them together with purple yarn. Great-Grandpa showed up to buy some flowers.  He reached in his pocket, pulled out $20, and purchased a small bouquet of clover. And before he left he reached into his pocket again, pulled out $20, and he gave it to Taylor just for standing there and looking pretty.

Great-Grandpa passed away in April and then 8 weeks later Great-Grandma left us as well.  He was 94 and she was 91.  They were 4 weeks away from celebrating their 73rd wedding anniversary when Grandpa passed away.  It’s hard to imagine life without them. Great-Grandpa was always the life of the party and Great-Grandma was his sweet, quiet companion.  Right now we feel like our hearts have been ripped out.  A friend told me the other day that it doesn’t get easier it just gets different.  Yes, life is different now.  Two very special people are missing each time we have a family get-together.  Great-Grandma and Grandpa won’t be at anymore birthday parties or Christmas Eve breakfasts.  And it hurts. A lot.

We visited Great-Grandma the week before she passed away.  Brynna took me over to a cabinet in the dining room.  She smiled as she showed me the clover that Great-Grandpa had bought all those years ago.  He had taken his clover home and hung it from the handle of the cabinet.  The clover was special to him.  So special that he put it on display for everyone to see.  Brett was at Grandma and Grandpa’s house the day before Grandma’s funeral.  He saw the clover and he brought it home to Brynna.  He knew it was special. That dried up clover holds a memory that Brynna shared with Great-Grandpa.

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We went to church on Sunday.  I still felt numb from the funeral and just didn’t feel like being there.  During the worship service I couldn’t sing because I had a lump in my throat and tears trickling down my face.  I began to think about the high price that Great-Grandpa paid for that clover.  Why did he do that?  He paid a high price because he loved Brynna.  She was worth it.  And he saw Taylor standing beside Brynna and he gave her the same gift.  She didn’t do anything to earn it.  But he gave it to her anyway. Because he loved Taylor.  She was worth it.

The tears continued to flow down my cheeks as I realized that Great-Grandpa’s love is an earthly example of the love that Jesus has for each one of us.  He paid a high price for our sins by dying on the cross. Why did He do that?  He did it because He loves us.  We are worth it.  We don’t have to do anything to earn His love.  He gives it freely to each and every one of us.  All we have to do is accept His love and share His love with others.  That’s all that really matters.  Loving Jesus and loving others.

As we watched things leave Grandma & Grandpa’s house it made us pause and really think about life.  Things just really don’t matter.  We spend a lifetime accumulating things that we can’t take with us when we leave this earth.  The most important thing that we can leave behind is a legacy of love.  We can create memories that can be passed down through the generations.  Perhaps one day Brett and I will celebrate our 72nd wedding anniversary.  And we will gather around his Grandma & Grandpa’s table and Brett will tell our kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids about the time that Grandpa Jimmy paid $20 for clover.  And we’ll laugh and remember the greatest lesson that Grandpa ever taught us.  He taught us how to love.

 

The Case Of The Missing Coats

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The insurance paper had the words “not medically necessary” printed on it.  Mikayla and Hope’s speech and occupational therapy will no longer be covered by insurance. I felt totally helpless.  What do we do now?  One person said we should do this.  Another person said we need to do that.  And another person said we need to do something else.  How do we decide where to go from here?  I’ve not slept much.  I’ve worried and I’ve cried.  I’ve wondered what God is doing. I’ve prayed and asked Him to direct our steps and to show us what’s next for our girls.

Right now we see two options.  We can move to the state where Brett works.  His commute would be shorter and more services would be available for our girls than we have in our state.  Or the girls can get the therapies they need if we enroll them in a school that’s 50 minutes from our house.  To be honest, neither option sounds very appealing to me.  I don’t really feel like relocating.  I’m not opposed to the school but I don’t like the fact that it’s 50 minutes away from our house.

I decided that I want to talk to someone who has worked at the school and I also want to talk to a parent whose child goes to the school.  A friend from church volunteered at the school several years ago.  We’ll be meeting with her soon and getting her thoughts on our situation.  But I don’t know anyone who has a child in the school.  But I do know God and I’ve prayed for Him to direct our steps to the right places and the right people.  Last night He directed my steps in a rather unique way.

It was 37 degrees when I pulled into the church parking lot.  I pulled up to the door and let the girls out so that they wouldn’t have to walk in the cold.  I didn’t want to mess with putting their coats on since they only needed to take 3 steps to get inside.  I told them I would bring their coats in with me so they would have them for our walk back out to the van after church.  I parked the van.  I grabbed the coats and my purse and walked into church.

As worship service was getting ready to start I took my coat off and I put it on the seat next to me. Wait a minute.  Where are the girls coats?  Oh great.  I left them in the restroom.  I ran to the restroom.  No coats.  I went to their classroom.  Maybe the girls were carrying them and I just don’t remember.  Nope. No coats in the classroom either.  I walked up and down the hallways.  No coats anywhere.  I saw Amanda and Kathy standing at the check-in station;  I asked them if anyone had turned in a couple of coats.  They said no one had.  Amanda told me to go into the worship service and relax.  They would find the coats for me.

I went into the service.  I began to sing but I wasn’t able to relax.  There’s nothing in this world that makes me crazier than not being able to find something. Amanda and Kathy had enough to take care of without having to look for my girls coats.  So I prayed.  I asked God to help them find the coats quickly.  And then I heard a still small voice that said “You didn’t bring them in……they’re still in the van.”  I grabbed my keys and I went out to the van.  Sure enough both coats were in Mikayla’s seat.  I realized what had happened.  I parked the van, opened the hatch, and grabbed the coats. And then I noticed I’d done a terrible job of parking.  I was way too far away from that line and way too close to that one.  So I put the coats in Mikayla’s seat, got back in the van, and straightened up my bad parking job.  Then I got out of the van, forgot to grab the coats, and went into church.  The case of the missing coats was solved.

I was feeling like a complete fool as I walked towards the kids classes.  But I had to let the ladies know that they could stop looking for the coats.  I found Kathy and I told her that I hadn’t actually brought the coats into the building.  We laughed about my brain malfunction.  I told her that I hadn’t been sleeping much.  She asked me why I hadn’t been sleeping.  I told her that we’re needing to make decisions about Mikayla & Hope’s future.  I told her that sending them to a school almost an hour from our house may be the only way they can get the therapies they need.  She told me that she has a friend whose daughter will soon graduate from the same school.  She’s sure she would be glad to talk to me about the school.  Ok, Lord.  This whole missing coat fiasco makes sense now.  I went back into the worship service just in time to sing the last half of the last song.  And all I could think about was how good God is.  He directs my steps no matter what.  Even during a moment when I felt like a complete fool He directed my steps towards Kathy.  He knew that Kathy had a friend who can help me.

I learned a valuable lesson last night.  Searching for the answers to our girls futures is much like searching for their missing coats.   I ran all over the church trying to find their coats but I couldn’t find them.  It was when I stopped and asked God for His help that the coats were found.  I can run all over this earth searching for services, therapists, and schools and not find them.  But if I just stop and ask God to help me He will answer.  He delights in every detail of our lives.  He even delights in me during those moments when I’m looking for something that was never lost.