To each of you who have continued praying for Dale and our family, thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers. You really have no idea how heartwarming it is to know that folks we've never met and may not meet until Heaven are mentioning us before the throne of God. I know you have your own lives with your own worries and concerns, yet you take time daily or weekly or occasionally to pray specifically for us. Thank you so very much for that. Please know that I pray for you as well; I ask God to bless you in return for the blessing you've been to us.
Dale is........Dale! He has good days and bad days and sometimes he has great days. Before Thanksgiving, Dale was walking really, really well. Since then, he has gone back to his three-step-pause approach to getting around. Of course, if he's more comfortable in a location like home or my classroom, he does better. My husband, Chad, got to be at our home game last night (we won!). He, Dale, and I were sitting on some chairs lining the court on the other side of the gym from my classroom, eating dinner. When Dale finished, he stood up to walk back to my room. Chad wouldn't let him go at first, thinking that Dale couldn't make it and might fall and hurt himself. I said, "He can do it. Let him." Chad looked at me as if to say, "Are you sure?" I simply nodded, and Chad gave Dale permission. Dale did his usual hunch forward and try to walk thing but soon realized that walking upright is really the best way! I was so proud of Chad for staying in his seat and just letting Dale walk away. Then, when Dale was just halfway across the gym, Bro. Hanson began half mocking/half encouraging him to take more steps. He was counting, "One, two, three---oh, don't stop now!" Mind you, Bro. and Mrs. Hanson were with the youth group at the ocean the day Dale drowned; he stood in the hallway outside the PICU that Friday night and apologized with tears in his eyes for not keeping Dale safe. This couple has been so wonderful in their concern for Dale and willingness to do anything they could to help us since his accident---so we knew Bro. Hanson was not being mean! :-) Dale began laughing so hard, it was difficult for him to keep walking. Bro. Hanson was mimicking Dale's walking (hunched forward, legs wide, elbows cocked), and Dale was just laughing. Even Mrs. Minge, our preacher's wife, said, "If I were you, I'd go punch him (Bro. Hanson) for that!" We didn't mind; it's nothing more than we've been trying to show Dale ourselves, that he needs to stop walking weirdly and try walking normally! Sometimes he listens; sometimes he doesn't. Eventually he reached the classroom where he stayed for some time before making his way back to my seat again. I love the fact that Dale still tries, even knowing he may fall. I don't think God is done with him yet!
To folks who don't know Dale's story or to new students in our school, Dale looks like he's mentally retarded, like he was born this way. We've had to (gently) correct some misconceptions about his condition and let people know that God's hand is on our son. God's plan is at work here. How many people actually get to see God's hand in motion? What a privilege we have, and you as well who keep following Dale's progress, to see our God working in our daily lives! Dale's physical abilities may never get any better and he struggles sometimes with remembering lessons taught or where he was in a sentence, but there are times his mind is as sharp as a tack. The other day, we were in Wal-Mart getting some quick groceries. I let the girls choose soup cups for their lunches the next day. Dale didn't want one, so I told him he could just have a sandwich. He said, "Can I at least have some of the turkey on it?" I looked at him like he was crazy and said, "Dale, we don't have any turkey at home." He responded with expressive hand motions, "Mom, isn't that the point of going shopping?!"
Dale turns 14 tomorrow! I reminded him of this today, and Dale just sat there like, "Wow, I didn't know I had another birthday coming." What was that I was just saying about Dale's mental capacities........never mind! Praise the Lord for Dale's still being alive and (sometimes) alert. We have a wonderful God!
You'd think by now, having reached the ripe old age of _______ years (you didn't really think I'd fill in the blank, did you?), I would realize and accept the fact that you can't plan life. Oh, we certainly try---we grow up thinking, "I want to be a _______ when I grow up"; we may dream of achieving corporate success or owning our own business someday; we put together a profile of the perfect spouse and proceed to ignore all those who do not fit our specifications.....completely oblivious to the fact that they will not be getting a perfect spouse in return; we even try to plan when we will have children, what gender they will be, and what they will be when they grow up. Good heavens! We're trying to be God, aren't we?!
I went to bed Tuesday night trying to work out in my head just how I would fit a new student into my class. I'd been informed the day before we began Christmas break that I'd be getting another girl---yea!!! We needed more girls to even things up a bit. Since we'd been on break, I had yet to get a desk and chair for the newcomer; I'd not added her name to my grade book for any subject; I hadn't even received official paperwork from the office stating that she would be coming. So I was fretting a bit Wednesday morning over where to have her sit and what she could be working on since her curriculum hadn't yet arrived. Plus, this was the first day back after Christmas, and I was already feeling jittery about getting up on time after sleeping in so much, getting the kids out the door on time, and making sure I was mentally ready for the day---yeah, right! I walked into class, greeted the students who had arrived a bit early, and got them started on putting the desks and chairs in order. My new student arrived, and I told her to just sit at the TA's desk for now. She complied and things were going well until........
Five minutes after the school bell rang, Bro. Minge knocked on my door, opened it, and ushered in a young girl and an older woman. I smiled and walked toward them, completely unsuspecting of what was about to happen. He said, "Good morning. This is Min-Yoo. Remember I told you about her?" I stupidly said, "NO." (Well, he hadn't! We had been discussing in staff meeting some foreign students who would be visiting our school for a month or so, but none of them had been in my grade level. Min is actually in fourth grade, but our fourth grade teacher's husband just accepted a job in Germany, and their departure is imminent. Bro. Minge has two new teachers now for fourth grade---one teaches Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday; the other teaches Thursday and Friday. He didn't want the new teachers to come to school on their first day and be handed a foreign student as well, so he gave her to me!) Bro. Minge just kept talking, "She'll be in your class for about a month, and....." looking around the room, ".....it looks like I need to get a couple of desks for you." I nodded my head, still in shock, trying to look welcoming and like I knew what I was doing! One of my regular students hadn't shown up yet, so I gave her his desk. Another lady came in with a camera to document Min's first day at this new school; of course, they wanted a picture with the teacher, so I got my picture taken. I was told she only spoke a little English but understood more; as it turns out, she speaks more English than I thought but stumbles over words sometimes. She can read and write English and actually has fit in to our class quite well. Amanda (my TA) and I wound up copying off a couple of week's worth of curriculum for her and my other new student. Needless to say, Wednesday was absolutely exhausting!!! About noon I started to get tired; I had gotten little sleep the night before, and it was starting to take effect. Around two o'clock, I switched to survival mode.......just finish the lessons, keep smiling, and wait for the bell to ring. I'm not kidding! I was completely drained, mentally, emotionally, physically. I said goodbye to my students, listed the next day's assignments on the board, turned off the light, drove home, and went to bed. I didn't even get to church Wednesday night; I was sooooo tired. Thursday went much better with the students listening and participating well, lessons finished in a timely fashion, and some extra time for me since the kids had art in the afternoon. Friday was really good; we had chapel which is always great, multiple tests which the kids did really well on, and the home game after school. Here it is Saturday, and I haven't done a thing except rest!
God is so good to us, isn't He? He never gives us more than we can handle while still presenting us with enough challenges that push us to our limits so that we have to admit we can't do life without Him. That's the key, yes? God never gives us more than we can do, but, since we can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth us, our abilities are endless---but only if we do all things through Him. It just all keeps coming back to God........and that's precisely how it should be. It's when we take our focus off God and start thinking we can do things just fine ourselves that we become overwhelmed and frustrated. "Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace."
Have a wonderful week, and keep your eyes on Christ!
Psalm 119: 18 "Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law."