Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Rest... then Risk.

The Summer was great for us – we really needed the time together. When the kids finished school we went to Niagara Falls for a few days. We came home and then left several days later to spend the 4th of July weekend to see family and friends in the Hershey area.
 We came home again and then took off again for Plymouth, MA. I enjoyed seeing the history around “Plimouth Plantation”, but the kids seemed to be more excited about the cannon tower and the cow-incident. We got some excitement when Sasha’s chin got a little too close to a cow’s head next to the fence. The little bump just scared her.

A week after we got back from camping in MA, we left again for Soulfest. It was great to be with thousands of other families praising God while having a lot of fun together. We wrapped up our summer with a few trips to our beloved Camp Spofford. Kenni went to her week first, then Sasha and then Ash and I went together on a father/son retreat in Mid-August.

When the kids started their new year of School, so did I.. and Amy. Amy had been planning to start back one class at a time in pursuit of her Master’s of Science in Nursing. She loves nursing and loves being on her floor. It’s strenuous, but she loves her coworkers and the working environment. However, considering the rigors of the nursing floor – Amy’s got her sights set on either a management position or a teaching position in the years ahead. We’ll see.

As for me, I’ve decided to continue on to complete my Master’s of Divinity. The classes are all extremely practical and they line up one right after the other. At this point, it looks like I'll finish in May 2015. I’ve been doing a lot of praying and soul searching about where God may lead us to serve next. Honestly, I’m having a hard time with that because we’d love to stay right here in Middletown where we’ve invested the last 7 years of our lives.  That said, we know God may have other plans for us. Now, we’re praying for the right fit to use the best of what we have to honor God in the most effective way.

We would appreciate your prayer for guidance for us as well. The last year has been a whirlwind for us , so ‘the waiting posture’ is nice in some ways, but neither Amy nor I like not knowing what the plan is.

I’m wrestling with the whole idea because I know none of us want to leave our community, yet there doesn’t seem to be an existing opportunity that fits us. I’ve begun to talk to an organization about planting a church, but I’m unsure if that’s the best thing for us.

Some of my hesitation is not wanting to move. Some of my hesitation is insecurity…and some of it is the weight of the responsibility we’re headed toward. However, I know God has called us to obedience and to risk it all for His Glory. So, with God’s help, that is where I’m committed to lead my family.

What’s your journey like? Is there anything you’d love to do, but are hesitating for some reason? Feel free to comment and share so we can be an encouragement to each other.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Progress with Ash

A few months ago, we met a wonderful therapist who has a practice not far from us. I’ll call her, Jan. Jan specializes in kids with traumatic backgrounds and attachment disorders. You may recall a post some time ago explaining our struggles with Ashebir.

When Ash came home with us he was almost four. We were his fourth ‘home’ and that took a toll on his heart. For maybe the last year, Amy and I couldn't decide I Ash was making emotionally and cognitively… After a few very difficult days with him, we agreed to pursue professional help (well, actually I finally came to grips with the fact that I couldn't “fix him” on my own)… Anyway, our Jan has been extremely helpful. It seems that Ash is making progress, but Amy and I agree that what’s been most helpful for us, is that we’ve learned how to respond to him in a more appropriate way.

I used to think that if I just love him and provided proper discipline - in the same way as we have done with our other three - he would just “get better”. For a long time, I was reluctant to get outside help I thought that somehow that was admitting defeat. I didn’t ever want to have to depend on a “professional” to help me parent my kids. That thought was arrogant.

After a few sessions without Ash, Jan helped Amy and I walk through a few “attachment sequences” with Ash. With Jan’s coaching, we are learning to help him process and respond appropriately to life.

The insight from Jan and the book by Dan Hughes that she’s had us read has been incredibly helpful. Now, when we’re home and some interaction causes him to “flip out” and become totally “dis-regulated” we've learned to help calm him and most importantly increase his sense of safety and security.

During these outbursts, he can be a danger to himself or to one of his siblings. I sit with him in my lap and just hold him so he doesn’t hurt himself or anyone else. I have to admit, I was skeptical… however, now when Ash calms down he almost always, turns around in my lap and gives me a hug. The other day, he flew off the handle so I sat with him, talked to him in a quiet and soothing way while he tried to resist… but several minutes later he was calm. The hard thing about this right now, is that he’s not as receptive to Amy’s pursuit of him. She’s making progress with him but, it’s hard at times.

Until recently, I just didn’t understand the critical nature of attachment to a child’s emotional and spiritual well being. Now I do, and I’m so thankful for the help that we’re getting. It might be slow, but it’s progress.