My Lesson In Generosity

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I recently learned an important lesson from my 2-year old son. It was Little Man’s birthday and we had invited my parents and grandparents over to celebrate. He is two years old. How did this happen? Two years gone by seems like a few weeks. Two years ago this time I was great with child, with anticipation of baby boy number two. And now, he’s here and growing up and walking and talking and I can’t imagine life without him. And the truth hits me afresh. The thing that every mother at the grocery store a few steps ahead of me in life tells me,

“It goes by so fast. Enjoy it.”

The whole evening big brother, Little Dude, was really struggling with the attention being on little brother. In my mind, He was putting forth his most loud and in-your-face efforts at getting attention. He was off. He really needed to be pushing furniture around for some heavy work. Ugh. Why didn’t I write him a social story? Where was the one I wrote for this same occasion last year? Why don’t I save these things? I blamed myself.

When it came time for Little Man to open his presents, Little Dude fell apart. I was torn. My sweet firstborn who needs so much, his needs pouring out in front of me. My sweet second born, who needs so little, contentedly opening presents with grandparents and great grandparents while mom and dad try to calm down big brother.

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And then, Little Man opened the trucks. A Brudder jeep and a monster sized police truck. With lights. And music. And Little Dude could hardly handle it. It was all he could do to keep himself away from his brother’s brand new, shiny, birthday toys.

And the amazing thing? His brother knew it too. And so, my toddler, my baby, picked up his brand new police car, the gift he had just received, and handed it to his brother. “Brother’s turn with police car” he said. Then he went to his jeep and played happily. He acted like it was no big thing.

It was one of the biggest things I’ve ever witnessed.

The whole evening changed.

The tension faded in an instant. The building frustration in our older son crumbled under the grace of his brother.

Joy. Two children completely content because of one generous act. Brothers playing side by side. A gift received and given back. Generosity changed everything.

I praised Little Man for being such a good sharer. I sat back and tears welled up in my eyes. My eyes trying to recover after witnessing such a miracle.

My baby saw a need in his brother that I had missed. The need for someone to extend grace rather than judgment. The grace to see beyond the diagnosis and all it’s symptoms and causes. The grace to understand when someone needs a little sharing. A little understanding. A little act of kindness.

Sometimes as a parent of special needs I feel needy too. I see my son’s needs and I feel insecure. I feel like I need to take what I can get. I watch other’s open the gifts of life and it’s all I can do to keep it together. I receive a gift and feel I need to cling to it like it’s my saving grace.

My little son recognized the power of sharing a gift. Of taking what he received and passing it on.

Because it’s not so much about what is given, as it about how it is given. The attitude of the giver.

Generosity. I can pour love into another’s wound instead of being sucked in. I can see beyond a child who cannot appropriately express his feelings and see that he needs someone to notice his heart and not his symptoms. I can give grace that saves the day because I have received grace that has saved my life.

Maybe I am blessed because others around me might need a taste of those blessings too.

As Christmas approached, I needed this reminder from my child. That one night in December, the generosity of God came in a child. A Father’s humble gift. That child was our saving Grace, yours and mine. The gift that was given in humility, like it was no big deal but is the biggest most profound thing that happened on this globe.

Don’t miss it. It’s for you. Receive it. See a need. And give . . .

Isaiah 9:6 . . . For a child has been born—for us!
the gift of a son—for us! – The Message

1 John 4:9-11 . . . God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. (NLT)

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Why I’m Glad I Didn’t Get My Way

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When Preston was four, he went through an amazing early childhood program. I was a little nervous at first, but came to love this program. His teachers said it would be his “bloom” year. And they were right.

This school was where he needed to be. When my LIttle Dude entered the program he had very little original speech. He was highly talkative and very verbose but he only spoke in lines from movies or TV shows. Everything he said was scripted and sounded scripted. By the end of the year, he no longer relied on scripted speech and his conversations lengthened and became more natural sounding. He was even starting to show interest in relationships with his peers. This seemed miraculous to us!

My husband and I commented many times on how this program had done so much for our son. By the time the school year came to a close, Preston’s growth was so amazing that I couldn’t imagine him going to school anywhere else. We knew that socially he wasn’t ready for Kindergarten even though academically he was WAY ready. I was nervous about a mainstream classroom preschool class and wondered about the challenges of that program. The early childhood program was so safe, so visually based, so perfect for him. I asked (begged) the school district to let him stay. I really wanted to give him one more year in this safe and enriching environment.

That was my best plan. It didn’t work out. We found our “Plan B,” a local park district program where he could have an aid in the classroom. Today, I can say with confidence that my best plan then would have held my little boy back in this season. I was trying to hold onto an old thing when God was trying to do a new thing. I am so glad I didn’t have it my way.

Little Dude entered a mainstream Pre-K class this year and struggled at first. It was a long, tough transition. I wondered if this was really right for him. He kept trying. I realize now it was the perfect amount of pressure. Not enough to break his desire to try but enough to push him and help him see how much he is capable of. I have to say, even though this year has been challenging for him, I have seen him grow more this year than even last year. He is needing his aid less and less. He is forming relationships with other kids and demonstrating some pretty amazing social skills. And I realize now that this was God’s best, and I almost kept him from it.

My plan would have been less of a transition, less struggle, less hard. Yet my plan would have yielded less growth, little progress, and few lessons learned.

We are faced again with a few options for school next year. So as I approach decision time again, I do so with new perspective. Open to God’s best, I will try to lay my plans at the feet of the one who made my son and knows the right path. I chose to accept his best regardless of the circumstances he brings. I place my son into the protective hands of the one who decides when programs or therapies get old and when it’s time for a new work in my child’s life. After all, I am not writing my son’s story. I am only a small piece. So I peacefully give our plans to God, the Author of life.

So what about you? Do you feel like your plans aren’t working out? Do you feel like you are holding onto an old way of life because it’s safe? Has something served it’s purpose for a season? Do you sense God is moving you to something new in your life? Perhaps time to let God lead you to the next chapter in your life …