Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The "Not so" picture perfect family...

I have a lot of fun memories of growing up - family trips to see Grandparents, camping trips, 4-H fairs, games and more, however, that isn't all I remember from growing up. Many people would say I had the perfect family - and well, I did have it pretty darn good! Two amazing sisters, a mom and dad who loved each other and us well but....perfect it was not.

Not to share "dirty laundry" but to share reality - I struggled with my middle sister - she was the middle, I was the youngest and to say we clashed - that was an understatement. We fought A LOT and about EVERYTHING!!! I am not even kidding you...stupid stuff, big fights. In fact, I remember my Dad even went to meet with our pastor because seriously, he thought we hated each other. We didn't. We just didn't fully appreciate one another until later on in life - when she was out of the house and many miles separated us! Ha ha ha. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder - it's true! It seriously worked for me! When my sister went to college - I missed her LIKE CRAZY! The very same one who drove me NUTS, who rubbed me the wrong way, who was ALWAYS bossy, yep I missed her! I missed hanging with her. I missed her sticking up for me. I just missed her! Yet - we weren't perfect - like I said and am sad to admit - we fought more than not. However, we did love each other and we did learn to forgive each other.

The reason I share this - in today's day and age of social media, we see a lot of cute, adorable, fun family pictures (much like the one above). We think - wow, that family, they have it all together and maybe in some sense they do - but no family is perfect, no family is without conflict, no family is without strife, and regrets.

Let me tell you about this picture be honest, I kind of wish we hadn't taken it. Not because I don't LOVE my family...I do! However, appearances say wow - look at them! They went to the movie, everyone was happy and loved it. We DID go to the movie, we DID enjoy it but then....the "after" the movie happened. I am not going to share all the details - suffice it to say, over a very STUPID thing - three of us blew up. I say us - cause YEP I was a chief offender. Reality is - I can have a short fuse, especially when I have my mind made up how something is going to go (like a fun family night out) and it doesn't end up just the way I had it planned. This blow up maybe in terms of other times wasn't as big but it did involve yelling (me), slapping doors (me), losing cool (me)...don't get me wrong, there were other players as those who witnessed it can tell you but hey, I can only share about me and I can only change me....

Thankfully - what I just shared was NOT the end of our evening...although it was a chunk of it. Tempers settled, forgiveness was granted, laughter was the end of the evening and restoration was made. I say all this to family is without their flaws, we all have a bit of ugly and not pleasant. My family - we are still navigating through a bunch of that....finding how having adult children in the home works, adjusting to a mom who is not only working full-time but also going back to school and it exhausted, navigating this journey of church planting, and having a special needs teen in the house with major emotions and hormones... However - we DO have this going for us - we are grounded in the Word, we know how to forgive, we know how to restore the relationship, and most of all - this mom, she is learning that every day I have to tell my kids "I'm sorry" and guess what? We are even working on NOT saying "It's okay" because it is NOT okay, it may be reality but it is not okay - instead we are working on saying "I forgive you and I know you are human".

Colossians 3:12-13 tells us " Therefore God's chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also forgive one another."

I don't always put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience or acceptance...I am pretty sure God knew we wouldn't so he made sure to include FORGIVENESS. So - my family, we aren't perfect, we have some ugly, but we do do forgiveness and for that - I am thankful!

The reason I share this is not to pat myself on the back, believe me I am in NO WAY proud of how I acted last night or a gazillion other times I have lost it with my family. I share it because sometimes, I think we need to see other families as REAL and understand that we aren't the only ones with baggage and ugliness and conflict....or as a sweet friend of mine always said "we all have our own kind of crazy". It's true. My Dad was constantly telling us girls growing up - "It isn't how you act but how you react". I acted in crazy last night - but at the end, my reaction was "I'm sorry, I forgive you, and I love you"....My encouragement to you is this - be a family that knows how to forgive, how to say I am sorry, and give yourself the gift of starting out those things - compassion, kindness, humility, acceptance, gentleness, patience, acceptance...and forgive others and yourself...

Friday, June 2, 2017

Tyler's Story - the next chapter

In 2012, I wrote about Tyler's Story...this morning as I was reflecting on this amazing young man and where God has brought him, I thought it time to write about the next chapter in his life being as June is his birthday month. If you didn't read the first part of his story here  is the link to it Tyler's Story,

When I left off, Tyler was 11 and had been diagnosed with a pronounced learning disability, struggled with reading, being bullied and more...but that was not the end nor will this blog be the end because that is the beautiful thing about our Creator God - he is constantly writing our story!

Tyler will be 16 this month - how is that even possible? He is now reading at a second almost third grade level, he has mastered many math skills, finished his Freshman year of High School on the Honor Roll, took Ag Mechanics, talks about cars and engines like all the time, and still has a heart for animals!!!

After struggling with being bullied, not getting the services we felt he needed in school, and just needing to learn in a different way - we made the decision to home school him for his 7th and 8th grade years - it went AMAZING! He was able to do all his school work in the mornings due to one on one teaching, could learn through hands on and visual methods, and his confidence sky rocketed! I had no idea how it would go but God knew and it was the biggest blessing of our lives.

When we moved to Delta last summer, Tyler asked if he could go back to regular school. Scared and uncertain this Mom had to trust that an Almighty God loved my boy even more than I did and that He could care for and protect him even when I couldn't. So - Tyler went to High School and he did very well.

In High School, the IEP meetings are a little more intense because suddenly you realize - our goal needs to shift from focusing solely on his educational needs to now also including thoughts and goals for what life is after High School - because 4 years goes by quick! I will not lie here - there were some pretty intense meetings this past year - BUT GOD. Remember, God is writing this young man's story...God brought into our lives - my life in particular - an amazing woman, a special education teacher at the charter school where I work - that was able to review, guide and direct me in some very specific areas of Tyler's IEP. Since she wasn't his teacher, it was easy for her and I to be open and honest. In addition to helping me with Tyler's needs, she was also the push I needed to pursue something that has already been in the back of my mind for several years - being a Special Education Teacher. Again, this is part of Tyler's story because without Tyler - I would not have been as passionate about helping not only these students, but also their families.  Tyler kindly refers to this amazing woman, Natalie, as his "lawyer". He is confident that should he find himself in a bind or in need of anything - she is the one to call! We are so thankful to her for being a vital part of our Tyler's story!

There are many types of special needs children - physical, mental, emotional disabilities to name a few. Yet, in our #lifewithTyler we have found that having a child who in many ways appears "normal" is unique and even difficult. Tyler is now 6 ft tall, looks like an average High School student, and in some ways acts like one, however that isn't all there is to him. He processes life on more of a 10 yr old level, expresses himself largely through touching things and people, still struggles to read much of what is around our daily life, etc. This becomes hard for him as well as us as parents because unless you are around Tyler or know his story and his disabilities - you don't get why he acts and behaves the way he does. This past year we had many times when he was in trouble or misunderstood because people simply don't know how to react to a 6 ft 15 yr old that acts like a 10 yr old - I get it, I have to daily remind myself and I KNOW him! Ha ha ha.

Even through these times though - God is faithful. He has given Tyler such a sweet spirit and kind heart! Tyler loves people and animals. He loves encouraging his friends, making all of us laugh, and serving alongside of us in ministry. He lets things role off of him fairly easily - occasionally there is an exception - and just goes on being the fun amazing guy he is! He works hard at school - most days coming home so exhausted that he crashes for 2 or more hours because when your brain is processing things at less than half the speed of the average teen - it is physically draining. Yet - he presses on and continues working through it!

This next school year, Tyler will be attending Vision Charter Academy where both Joel and I work. After a year at this school we fell in love with it and are so excited for Tyler! VCA focuses on an Individual Learning Plan for each and every student that is specifically designed with their interests, goals, learning style, etc in mind. The class sizes are small and we have the opportunity to pick which classes he takes at home and which he will take on campus! He will continue to receive the special education services he needs but also be able to take some general education courses with assignments being fitted to his learning style. I can't wait to see how this chapter of Tyler's life unfolds!

Tyler Bay - we are super proud of you! Happy Birthday month buddy!!!