Joy no matter what. A blog by Deanne Nelson.

Blogging, Speaking, and Writing | Jesus and Autism | The Nelson Family Journey

Let There Be Light July 8, 2016

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I cannot sleep. I find myself pleading with the Lord God to calm my heart’s greatest fears. My faith is so little right now. And yet I know that my Savior lives, despite the chaos that ensues in our world.

There is an enemy to us all. His name is Satan. He is the one who comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Our war is truly not against one another, but with the dark powers of Satan. He takes great delight in bringing division among and through people. He is throwing our nation into utter confusion and chaos. The current events in Dallas, TX are a result of his handiwork to bring hatred into the hearts of people. He is nowhere near being done with his evil schemes to bring division and death.

Yet in utter darkness, there is always hope. No matter how great the darkness becomes, it can be extinguished with light. Consider a pitch black room, where nothing can be seen. It is impossible to navigate through such a room. One can only hope to grope through, grasping for something to hold on to. But once a single light illuminates that room, the darkness that was once there proves to be powerless and eradicated. The light fills in every nook and cranny of darkness, so that none remains. I see our nation blindly grasping on to anything in order to survive. Where is the light switch?…

Jesus Christ is the one and only hope of the world. He has already conquered the powers of hell and darkness, and no amount of evil on this earth can undo the victory he obtained on the cross. We are all heirs to eternal life, if we trust in His death. Yes, He had to die, so that we could truly live beyond this temporarily life. May Jesus Christ be the light switch that humanity clings to, as only He can shed light on the darkness that seeks to destroy us all.

My husband is sound asleep right now. I am grateful for his peaceful sleep. He is not yet aware that eleven of his fellow police officers have been shot upon, as they showed up to perform the duties of their sworn position. He does not know that five of those have been killed in the line of duty. He will waken soon, probably around 4:30am. He will begin to get ready to start his twelve hour shift as a sergeant for the police department in our town. I would like it if he would just stay asleep longer, in a peaceful place of comfort and safety in our bedroom. Perhaps he will feel ill when he gets up, but then I remember that he shows up for work even when he is weakened physically. Perhaps he will hear of the tragic events of the night and start to consider that maybe police work is no longer what he needs to be doing. But then I remember that he is passionate about serving and protecting his community, and that such news will only serve to make his resolve to being a honorable police officer even stronger. Perhaps if I cry and plead that he take a desk job, that he might consider it. But then he just might ask me why my children and I pray for him as we do, if those prayers for safety and protection are not believed in. He would then remind me that he loves being a police officer, even though many hate him when he puts his uniform on. He will not let fear, violence, or hate control his life, and neither will I.

And so I will stop playing out in my head the ways in which the love of my life should live the rest of his life. He has sworn to protect and serve, and nothing will deter him from doing that. I will simply wait for him to arise any minute, and I will tell him of the tragic events in Dallas. I will kiss him and hold him tightly, say a prayer over him, and send him out in his patrol car for the start of a new day. And as he pulls away, I will know that the light of Jesus Christ goes with him everywhere, and even death has no power over him.

Yes, may the light switch in his patrol car remain bright, no matter what.

 

The Real Gifts December 22, 2014

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It is a chilly winter’s night here in Indian Trail, NC. There is a feeling in the air of Christmas, as it is December 22. My three children squabble daily over who is going to update the ‘days until Christmas’ bear we have in our kitchen. That bear holds two wooden blocks that display the countdown to the big day. We are down to three days, and the excitement in their eyes is magical. What can be better than the awe and wonder in a child’s eyes at Christmas?

Somehow the adult in me had gotten too wrapped up in the whole ‘gift’ part of this celebration…no pun intended! I began to feel heavyhearted that we were unable to give our children as many gifts as they were used to getting, or as ‘good’ of gifts as previous years. As I type that I am humbled and saddened to have fallen prey to the good ole’ American standard of what Christmas has become. After all, we have pretty much lost Thanksgiving, as the mad rush to get to the stores to knock off those Christmas wish lists has taken a higher priority.

But these two beautiful celebrations do go hand in hand. What more is there to be thankful for than the living God coming to our Earth in the form of His precious Son? In fact, a spirit of thanksgiving should never leave our hearts. We should cling tightly to gratitude at all times, no matter what. In the face of darkness and hardship is when we need it most. And every day is a celebration of Jesus’ birth, for without His life, there would be no hope at all in this mess of a world. To look at Jesus is to see the light of life eternal.

It would be this very night that God would gently remind me to consider the most precious and critical gift that the Nelson family had recently received….

It was two weeks ago when my husband Grant would be heading home on a two-lane highway in his patrol car, in the ‘middle of nowhere’ as he called it. He had taken a class for work and had just completed the final test. He called to tell us that he was on his way home and that we would see him in about two hours. Even now I cannot recall the name of the town, despite the fact that he told me more than once. My selective hearing kicks in from time to time and I distinctly recall that day just wanting him home. The class took almost three weeks and it had been an exhausting process for him.

I was surprised when he called back about ten minutes later. His voice was clearly different, as if he was shaking and I could feel it through the phone. He went on to share that he had been traveling along with his cruise control set to 65-70mph. There was no one on the road as far as he could tell. He suddenly noticed a house off in the huge open field to his left. There was nothing else out there, besides trees and land. Something inside of him felt a sudden urge to check out that house. He said it reminded him of a house he knew as a young boy. Before he knew it, he was slowing down to see where there might be a road or path to lead to it.

Now Grant is an on time and scheduled kind of guy, so even as he was telling this unlikely story, I knew that God had directed his thoughts and actions. My heart was racing with every word he spoke.

He distinctly recalled looking at his speedometer and being at about 30mph when he saw a windy road, but as he approached it, he could see that it very strangely veered off in another direction and did not actually lead to the house. He decided not to turn off the highway after all. With that, he began to speed up again to continue on home when he found himself looking ahead at an eighteen wheel semi-truck barreling over a blind hill directly in his oncoming lane of traffic. This truck was passing another truck coming the opposite direction as Grant, and chose to make this unsafe maneuver coming over a blind hill at a high rate of speed. Grant had to swerve out of the way even at his slower speed to avoid getting hit head-on by this semi. It was in the same instant that Grant said that he realized that if he had been traveling that road as he had been at 65-70mps, then he would have met that truck right at the top of that blind hill and his police car would have been demolished in an instant. There is no way he would have survived that accident. He saw God’s hand of providence save him that day when he was led to slow down in curiosity over that house. There is no other answer for it. What a gift.

What could have been the most devastating and horrible day for our family, turned into one of the greatest and most valuable gifts we could have ever received. Grant was saved and lived to share more days with us. We held on to him tighter than ever when he got home. Sometimes the greatest blessing is to be reminded of the blessings that you already have.

And so as my children and I sat tonight watching a Christmas movie on TV, I had finally surrendered that feeling of ‘not enough’ in regards to Christmas gifts for our children to the Lord. My mother had blessed us financially so that we were able to get each child a nice gift, and that was more than enough. There are so many children who have little to nothing. After all, my children had their dad and I had my husband. Perspective is a powerful thing.

So when our doorbell rang close to 8pm tonight, I wondered who it could be. As I opened the door there was a man standing there whom I had never met. He came bearing gifts wrapped in beautiful Christmas paper and bows. He asked if ours was the Nelson home, and went on to deliver gifts to each and every one of us. I tried to ask his name, or from whom the gifts were given. He would have none of that. He wished our family a Merry Christmas and got in his car and drove away, leaving me speechless and full of tears in his wake. My children were full of awe and wonder at the whole mystery of it all. They danced around our Christmas tree and marveled at the unexpected boxes which now sparkled brightly with their names. It was an event that we will always remember, and it touched us deeply. Nathan exclaimed, “This is the best Christmas ever!”…and Caleb followed with, “God chose us Mom.” Yep…God chose us.

Real gifts come in all sorts of forms. Some cannot be placed under a tree, and some can. In the end, the best gifts of all come from the heart of God. I want to thank the person or persons responsible for the hope and love you poured on me and my family tonight. Thank you for your selfless and giving actions, and thank you for being willing to be used by God to bless another. May the blessings be returned to you in greater measure. We will always be grateful.

And thank you Lord God for the gift of family. Hold the ones you love close tonight, and always.

Merry Christmas to all, and Happy Birthday Jesus.

 

A Week Can Change A Life October 6, 2014

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It was not long after our move to NC in the summer of 2007 when I was introduced to the beauty of a mountain retreat known as Camp Lurecrest. This unique camp has been going strong since the 1940’s, with a clear and simple agenda- to touch the lives of each and every camper with the life changing love and message of Jesus Christ. Their motto further exemplifies this mission…’A week can change a life.’…

My family and I have come to know full well that his motto is true to the core. I first attended Lurecrest for a women’s retreat put on by Garr Memorial Church in 2008, and the seeds planted in my heart for this special place of the Lord have continued to thrive. I would even be blessed with the colossal and profound privilege to be the speaker for two women’s retreats in succeeding years…a gift that I shall always cherish.

In the summer of 2011, my then ten year old daughter Grace would be blessed with an awesome miracle of having her camp tuition completely paid for, in which she could attend her first week at Lurecrest. We did not have the financial means to do it, but God’s provision flowed. We found out moments before the buses were leaving, so we frantically packed amidst giggles of awe and delight, and her journey with Camp Lurecrest began. In the following three summers God would put Grace on the heart of a selfless and generous couple who would extend their love and financial support to her, and she would thus continue her annual week at one of the best places on earth. She indeed was changed with each session, with a growing love and longing for her Lord. She now vows to be a counselor at this camp one day, Lord willing. It fills this mom’s heart with pure joy.

But truth be told, from the first time I felt the presence of the Lord on this majestic mountain venue, I longed for my autistic son Nathan to somehow experience it as well. It certainly seemed impossible on many levels, as there are so many quirks, twists, and turns that can prevent a child with special needs from attending such a camp.

Camp Lurecrest, while being a place of love and acceptance, is also a great place of outdoor fun and adventure. Cabins consist of two college age counselors leading a group of ten or so kiddos for five nights and six days. There are about 180 campers per session. Now there are loads of super cool lake and mountain activities mixed in, with talented speakers to give a life changing message at chapel time, and plenty of worship songs with hand motions and catchy jingles too. Did I mention that every camper starts to be a bit odoriferous by day two! Those campers are having some serious fun and who has time to shower??!!

Each time the longing for Nathan to be a part arose in my heart, I would dismiss it. There was no way he could ever handle this ‘typical’ camp.  I convinced myself of this, as Nathan has some social and practical struggles that would make it very difficult for him to succeed in such a setting. But, my heart continued to hope for the chance, but that hope was fleeting, as I would immediately dismiss the thought again. This cycle went on for about three years. There were special needs camps that would fit the bill for him, but Camp Lurecrest was the dream. Was it an impossible dream?

This past summer of 2014, the senior staff at Camp Lurecrest prayed over the possibility of having Nathan attend, and agreed to give it a try. I myself would be there that week, serving as the camp RN, but the greatest concern was that Nathan would find himself at the infirmary doorstep repeatedly needing my help and reassurances. My role and first duty that week was to serve as RN to all campers and staff. I could not be preoccupied with a struggling boy who was miserable to be there. I have to admit that I was not myself convinced that Nathan was going to be able to tolerate camp, but I was ecstatic at the chance to try. The agreement was that my husband would be ‘on call’ to come get him if need be. Nathan was eleven years old now, and he had matured in so many ways. And yet, the challenges of autism remained, and the social struggles can be debilitating in such a setting. My loner of a boy can easily feel overwhelmed and lost at a place like camp, and I did not want him to suffer with endless anxiety. The prayers were being lifted up months before camp would begin.

What I never doubted was that God could speak to Nathan on this mountain. I believed that the same peace and presence of the Lord that Grace and I experienced at Camp Lurecrest, could also be Nathan’s to grasp.  His younger brother Caleb, his only friend, would be coming to camp as well as God once again provided a way.

Our time for camp seemed to come quickly. I had prepared him as best I could, and he indeed asked many of the same questions over, and over, and over. “Will I take a shower next to other boys?”…”Who is going to cook the food?”…”When will I eat?”…”Will there be a night light?”…”What if I get sick?”…”What if I get stung by a bee?”….on and on. We would go through a list of questions just about every day for many weeks. I do recall telling him that I only wanted to see him in the nurses’ station if there was a serious injury with blood involved! I had to take that one back as it caused much concern.

Campers arrived on a Sunday evening, and night one seemed to go without incident, although I was so busy getting medications checked in and such that I did not truly know how he was doing. All I knew was that he did not end up on the infirmary porch in tears, so that was a good thing. But over the next day I sensed trouble brewing. The glimpses I caught of him left my heart aching. He was pacing, a lot, and moved about in an aimless and nervous fashion. I know this ‘walk’ well. He was not participating with the camp activities and was starting to isolate himself from others. His brother Caleb had settled in beautifully and was off and running being a camper. I pulled Caleb aside and asked him to please be sure to grab hold of his brother and include him, but he told me that Nathan would not participate with him or his new friends, despite many invitations to do so. I needed to let Caleb have his time as well. By the following day, Nathan’s pacing had intensified and he was covering his ears continuously to block out the sounds of what should be fun and adventure for a boy his age. He was starting to look miserable, and it was agonizing to watch. He never did end up coming to me, but I tried to speak to him that Tuesday afternoon and he would not even stop pacing to talk with me. He was holding it together as best he could, and if he had tried to relate to me with words how he was feeling, he would have burst. I was so proud of him for doing all he could to not have an outburst, but I knew that the anxiety and fear were taking center stage. He was not experiencing the beauty or joy that the Lord had for him at Lurecrest. He was there in the flesh, but his sweet spirit was in bondage.

I knew that it was not good for Nathan to be under such pressure, and through broken tears I prayed to God for an answer. As I was considering calling my husband to come get him that Tuesday afternoon, I suddenly felt a sure and certain calling from the Lord. The message revealed to my spirit was to pray for one friend. Yes, that was the message. He would only need one friend to make his way through this darkness. He did not need a cabin full of friends, or 180 campers on his side. What he needed was one friend so that he could feel included in the ‘tribe’ of Jesus. TRIBE was the camp theme for the week, with the message being that we all can belong to the tribe of Jesus. Now even one friend for Nathan is quite a challenge, and he had already alienated himself from his brother, who I had assumed would be his lifeline to success for the week. Who in the world would Nathan open up to amidst such anxiety? And who would be patient enough to appreciate and accept Nathan’s quirks? It would take one special kid to be sure, but the excitement and hope for it welled up inside of me. I called on my fellow RN for the week Becky to pray too, as well as some volunteers from the kitchen staff. A dear friend Elizabeth was serving that week as well, and became a prayer warrior over this. We locked arms and prayed that God would reveal this friend for Nathan and that his week would take a complete turn around. I called Grant to pray. I called family in Arizona to pray. One friend was all it would take, and the prayers for it were in full force.

Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning.’…Psalm 30:5.

I knew that Wednesday would be the day of decision. Would Nathan make it through, or would he be headed home? It was painful to consider that he might not embrace Camp Lurecrest. There had been so much hope and anticipation for our family over this week. What would this day bring?

I was in my usual RN station when Nurse Becky came bursting through the doors that Wednesday mid-morning. She was out keeping an eye on the campers when she came upon a sight to behold. She was breathless and her eyes were tearing up as her exuberant words came spilling out…”God sent Nathan a friend!!!!!!!.” She pulled out her phone to show me some pictures and a short video she had captured. My knees became weak as the images poured out. It was indeed my Nathan, with a beautiful young boy, and their faces were painted in tribal garb. The video revealed the two of them chanting and dancing in true tribal spirit. Tears of fabulous joy filled our eyes. My heart was full to overflowing. Becky and I danced around our little RN room like giddy school girls. God had heard and answered, which is never a shock, but it is always a source or pure and total joy.

I recognized the boy from the picture as one of Nathan’s cabin mates, but up until then, he had not made a connection with any of the boys in his cabin. That all changed that very day. The prayers of many were heard and answered, and God chose a precious young boy by the name of Tristan to answer the call. I ran out to find Tristan myself. I just wanted to hug that young man who God chose to be a light. Every camper there of course was special, but this was the one who God hand picked to touch Nathan’s life. What a gift of a child Tristan is! When I found him, he was indeed hanging out with my Nathan. He was a bit shocked to see the puffy, red-eyed camp nurse barreling straight for him, but he accepted my hug and tears with a sweet smile and a giggle. Nathan as well had the most tender smile, as he would simply follow Tristan’s gentle lead. I excused myself so not to embarrass Nathan any further. When I got back to my sleeping quarters, I hit my knees. The words would not even come, but the tears of elation to such a good and mighty God showered the floor beneath me. He sees it all, and cares so deeply.

Over the next few days Nathan became a full fledged Camp Lurecrest camper! With Tristan by his side, he was able to conquer the anxiety and fear. No more pacing, no more hand wringing and fidgeting, no more hands covering the ears, no more isolation. He even got on the boat and rode a tube on Lake Lure! At chapel time, I started seeing his hands following along with the motions during worship. Caleb too had a blast with Tristan, and before long, the three had actually become like musketeers. The victory had been won.

I had come to utterly adore Tristan. I longed to reach out to his family, but did not want to overstep any confidentiality issues. I asked him where he lived, and he told me Charlotte. Charlotte is pretty huge indeed. I prayed fervently for him and his family. I prayed the blessings of God over them, and was continuously thankful for them. Campers come from all over NC to attend, and some from out of state too. Camp Lurecrest is truly a legend! It was more than enough to have crossed paths with such an awesome boy, and I knew we would all never forget him. The prayers for Tristan and his family would certainly continue on.

But God was not done…Not even close.

It would be about a month later when the boys would come racing up to me after church… We attend Joy Christian Fellowship in Matthews. It is a fabulous church with approximately 300 or so attendees on any given Sunday. We love it there. But it is one of many hundreds of churches in the Charlotte and surrounding area. I used to joke that in AZ there was a gas station on every corner, but in NC there is a church…It was clear that the boys had some serious excitement over something. “Guess who was at church mom??!! Guess!! Guess!! Guess!!” Before I could even muster a response, they bellowed out in unison….“TRISTAN from Camp Lurecrest!!!!” I was speechless. It did not even seem like it could be possible. My heart felt like it would explode. We went racing back to the children’s area, but he had already gone. Was it really him??? Could it really be him?? In all the countless churches in NC, could he really be here??

Indeed it was him. Tristan and his family had started to attend our church! In the weeks to come, the boys would get to spend more time with their summer-time miracle of a friend. What an absolute thrill it has been. Each time I see Tristan, I am reminded of the utter goodness of the Lord. God always knew that Tristan would continue to be in our lives. He is the master planner and architect of it all. I finally had the chance to meet his beautiful mother two weeks ago. May she read this and take it all into her heart, as well as all of his family. God certainly has a wonderful plan and calling on Tristan’s life, and we will be forever grateful for him.

Just yesterday sweet Tristan was baptized at our church. The week before he exuberantly raised his hand to accept the Lord Jesus into his heart. Our Pastor, McLean Faw, mentioned that he had never seen a more excited and joyful smile for the Lord on such a young face. Tristan wore his Tribe church from camp yesterday as he stood before our congregation before his baptism. As I sat in my chair taking it all in, it was all like an astonishing dream. I marveled inside as I pictured him with my boys just a few weeks earlier in that very same shirt up on God’s majestic mountain. Once again, the tears of gratitude and joy washed over me. To be present at his baptism was a pure gift.

Only the one true God who created all things could create such a course of events. To God alone be the glory, great things He has done!!!!

And YES, a week can indeed change a life.

 

Here are some fabulous pics of the boys’ time at camp. Tristan is in the red shirt with Nathan. And one includes the boys in cabin 1A. Precious memories. We love you Tristan!!!

 

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Forget the Label July 18, 2014

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Sometimes I can close my eyes and envision my two sons running free down a beautiful and majestic mountain pathway. I can almost smell the cool crisp air and hear their carefree laughter as they experience a place of total tranquility. There are no demands at this place…no progress reports, no test evaluations, no IEP meetings, no forms to fill out, no achievement tests to determine readiness or worthiness….no repeated labels of ‘learning delayed,’ ‘moderate deficit,’ or ‘well below average.’ Autism, PDD-NOS, and ADHD have no power to confine in this scene.

There are filing cabinets full to the brim of such reports and summaries at the Nelson home. There is a cabinet for Nathan, and one for Caleb as well. I used to keep the ever increasing documents that filled these spaces in chronological order. I would neatly organize the folders according to areas of ‘need.’ One folder for speech deficits, another for reading comprehension concerns, a different one for fine and gross motor goals, and so on, and so on. Then there were the folders for the countless hours of medical testing and screenings done in the name of yet again giving my sons a ‘label.’ I used to even color coat the file drawers in an attempt to gain some semblance of order, but I soon ran out of colors.

I used to pull out some of those reports every now and again through the years, just to get a glimpse of where we have been, and possibly how far we have come. And yet, those reports never give such an insight. They always say the same thing, year after year, time after time, and there is one word that plays itself in repeated fashion over and over ad nauseam… DEFICIT.

Today I had both of my boys tested per homeschool annual requirements. This would be an equivalent to an End of Grade type of testing in the public schools. I suppose it was pretty silly and presumptuous of me to believe their scores would somehow have sky rocketed in only three months of a homeschool setting, but a mom should never stop hoping or believing. As I sat going over their scores afterward with the proctor, the usual terms and summaries came to the surface again. Both tested below expectation for what a child of their age should be capable of, while some areas were greatly below average. I am ashamed to admit that such reports still bring the sting of bitter tears to my eyes. I am not sure why.

As we drove home from testing today, I looked in my rear view mirror at my two beautiful sons. They were smiling and laughing at each other while discussing critical details of The Lego Movie, which they have now seen four times. When I asked them how they thought they did with the testing, Nathan blurted out..”We did GREAT mom!” And his smile was so radiant that I knew he truly believed it. It was then that the Lord God put a fresh and new perspective in my heart and mind. It was ok to lay the labels aside, and embrace a new vision and word for my boys. What the world calls a deficit, God calls dynamic. What the world calls lacking and below standard, the Lord God calls ‘more than enough!’ He sees through different eyes, and He gave me a glimpse of His vision, and it was utterly breathtaking.

Yep, I can see Nathan and Caleb running free and totally unencumbered down newly blazed trails in this life. They will not fit the norm, but who really cares. May they never sit still and stagnant long enough for any labels to stick to them.

When we got home I put those results somewhere in the ole’ file folder, in no particular order or placement of color. They are just words on a paper. God’s purpose and plans for my boys cannot fit in any such folder.

Thank God that He makes us all to be unique and special, and that His label for us is LOVE.

AMEN.IMG_20140516_111842020_HDR (2)Here are Nathan and Caleb after stamping their names in hieroglyphics.

 

IT IS!!!!! May 27, 2014

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We began the homeschool journey at our home a little over a month and a half ago, and I can say that I have felt unqualified and inadequate to teach my incredible boys for approximately…. a little over a month and a half! I find myself daily questioning every decision I make as their ‘teacher.’  They might not be learning as they should, but I have learned at an expert level how to beat myself up. Yes, I am definitely my harshest critic.

The Lord God knew the state of my fearful heart, and He certainly knows how to quiet such fears and bring peace. I was in need of a touch from the Lord as I was struggling with this new role,  and He sent that touch from the mouth of my beautiful son Nathan.

It is a challenge to determine how much knowledge and information Nathan truly takes in and understands. There are some topics that he will speak of in unlimited amounts, such as Disney Infiniti for XBox 360. But there is also a vast amount of information that seems to go to some secret place in his beautiful mind where it is securely locked and sealed. The more I try to get him to divulge and share in conversation on such things, the tighter that lock seems to become. Communication and conversation deficits are steady struggles in the world of autism. This can be discouraging at times, and I sometimes wonder if what I am sharing with and teaching him isn’t lost in space somewhere. For example,….

It was easily over a year ago when I tried to engage Nathan in a conversation about prayer. He has for many years now given the same type of rote and repetitive prayers. I recall trying to explain to him what an honor and incredible gift it was to have an audience with the Lord God who created the entire universe, and that if he searched his heart, he might find many new and beautiful words to speak to God. Now true and heartfelt prayer is a deep and abstract concept, so I had no way of knowing if Nathan truly grasped what I was trying to teach him. His prayers did not change, so I presumed it was a lesson lost. But I also shared with him to end a prayer with a sure and mighty AMEN, as the word amen literally meant ‘it is.’ I assured him that God heard his prayers, and that if any of us pray according to God’s word and His will, then the Amen at the end was the final and absolute confirmation…yes, IT IS. I get all excited over such things, but I still smile as I picture Nathan just looking at me with those uncertain and doubtful eyes, followed by silence. And with that the conversation was done. When Nathan is done talking, he is done talking. But boy do those wheels in his fabulous head keep turning. It would be over a year when confirmation would come that he indeed laid hold of some of that momma/son chat.

I had decided the other week that I would go over some topics in grammar with both boys together to get a gauge for where they were at. One lesson I chose was about contractions. As I was going over it, I began to write some words on our white board that could be united to form a contraction. My list included: have not, we will, you are, and it is. I left the column next to these phrases blank so that the boys could fill in what the new word would be. And so down the list we went…haven’t, we’ll, you’re,…and then we came to ‘it is’. Before Caleb could muster a response, Nathan shouted out an exuberant…”AMEN, ‘it is’ means Amen!”

I could hardly catch my breath when I heard him speak this. His face was lit up with pride, as he knew he had nailed it. IT IS…yes, that means Amen, or didn’t you know that???!! Thank you for the reminder Nathan, and thank you for never ceasing to amaze me.

And thank you Lord God for the assurance that with your guidance and love, I can indeed teach my sons.  We can all teach one another, as our words certainly do leave a lasting impact, whether we realize it or not. Each day is an opportunity for a new ‘lesson.’ Make it a worthy one.

 

2 Corinthians 1:20

20 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.

Here is a very recent picture of my sweet boy.  He teaches me more than I could ever teach him.

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Ready, Set, GO….. April 21, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — gdnelson5 @ 10:18 pm
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Back in September of 2011, the Lord poured out a message that He wanted me to share with some precious women at Camp Lurecrest in NC. He wanted the ladies to know that His many promises were true for the here and now, and that if they truly laid hold of them, then their lives would be full to overflowing with the goodness of God. The scripture passages that came to mind were found in the gospel of John, chapter 21. Jesus told His disciples to cast their nets back into the water, despite the fact that these fishermen had not caught any fish all night. When they obeyed the Lord, there was such a colossal catch of fish that their nets could not contain them all. I was compelled to write scriptural promises on little foam fish, knowing that each fish would be for one of the women. I did not have a head count to go by, so I just kept writing scriptures as the Lord would reveal them. Sometimes I would question a scripture, but the Lord would remind me that only He knew what the women needed, and not I. By the time the retreat rolled around, I had a bucket full of foam fish with promises from the sacred word of God. Would there be enough? Would each woman get the scripture that she needed to hear at that time in her life? I trusted that He was in control and had it all taken care of. And so the night the scriptures were handed out, it was such a blessing to watch the ladies respond to their ‘catch.’ There were many tears of joy, as the promises of God are totally life changing. As I began to end our session for the night, the ladies called out to me to take a fish too. I had not thought of one for me. I had not even considered that God had a word for me as well. I can still recall the tingling in my heart as I looked down into that play bucket, to find one sole fish left to be caught….mine.

Fast forward to 2013. I readily admit that one of my biggest struggles in the flesh is to trust the Lord wholeheartedly in regards to my two sons. I say I have rock solid faith in this area, but then I worry over their future, their schooling, their delays and deficits…and on and on. Both boys are on the autism spectrum and have spent all of their lives getting extra ‘help’ and services to assist with their special needs. My oldest, Nathan, is more affected, and I have spent many tearful nights trying to plan the next thirty years of his life! I am getting better, but surrendering my parental fears at the foot of the cross is a daily battle. Praise the Lord for His mercy and long suffering!  So you can imagine my total disbelief and shock when I felt the Lord telling me to homeschool both of my boys about six months ago. Let me first explain that I am that mom that would NEVER even consider homeschooling. There was NO WAY that would be for me, or them. And so I brushed off this ‘calling’ quickly and figured the devil was messing with me! But as the days and weeks passed, I was hard pressed to get quiet with the Lord and not hear this same message. He was whispering it to my heart, and I was busy telling Him why it was impossible. The boys had always had an arsenal of educators and therapists who knew what they needed, from early on. And we eventually moved to NC from AZ so they could attend a private school with trained staff that educated children on the autism spectrum. As our situation changed, the boys started attending public school, but with continued therapies and resources. Nope, I must have been hearing the Lord all wrong. No way could they go from so much assistance, to ME.

Delayed obedience is the equivalent of disobedience…..

So as I was putting off what the Lord had directed me to walk forward in, I found myself in a precarious position at work. I had expired on one of my mandatory certifications and could not practice as an RN in the ED until I had it renewed. It was humbling, as such a thing had not happened to me in twenty-two years of nursing. I was baffled at how I let it slip. I signed up for the next available class, which would take place in Winston-Salem, about one and a half hours from my home. Of course, I had to grumble about such a circumstance, as I knew I would be going back and forth for the two day course. I refused to see any good thing come from such a turn of events. I plugged my ears to the voice of God with all of my grumbling.

The class turned out to be excellent and I met some truly amazing people. I was taken to lunch on the first day and one special woman had decided to pay for my meal. I tried to decline, but she insisted. As we sat and ate, our conversation quickly turned to the subject of homeschooling. Yep, that was the subject! I cannot recall how it even came up, but I would come to learn that Trisha, that is her name, had spent many years homeschooling her autistic brother. As she spoke of her experiences with him, it was like a lightning bolt was piercing my heart. I could not hold back my tears. I knew that I knew that Trisha and I had an appointment that day, and if I had to go to Winston Salem to be guided back into obedience, then that is what was needed. Trisha would return the next day of class with many resources to show me on how to get started. Until then, I had been totally overwhelmed at even the thought of where to begin. There is so much information out there now…curriculum, co-ops and parent groups, online courses, unschooling, etc., etc., etc. I felt totally lost to even take a single step forward. But here was Trisha walking those steps with me, and it felt so very good. I would come to learn that Trisha loved the Lord, and that she felt the Lord speak to her heart on my behalf. She would tell me that He told her to bless me with lunch, and to be by my side that first day. Here is what she shared, “God told me to invest in you Deanne, because you were fertile soil that He had plans for.” Imagine being told such a thing. I could feel God’s love enveloping me, and it has not let go. He never gives up and He never lets go.

In the days and weeks to follow, more and more people and situations came to our lives, to further convince both Grant and me to proceed with homeschooling. It felt like a whirlwind, but fear would never take over in this area again. God knows what our boys need, and He has spoken. We are listening and obeying.

The boys’ last day of public school was Friday April 18th. They enjoyed a week of Spring Break, making today, April 21st, our first official day at The Nelson Academy! On the agenda to start was Bible, because our boys are going to know God’s Word, and how to look up scripture. They indeed will hide God’s Word in their hearts. It was a trial and error kind of day, but we made it through, and the boys LOVED it. Their final words tonight before falling off to sleep were, “We love homeschool mom.”  And I love it too.

Don’t put off what the Lord is tugging at you to start. You do not need to have all the answers. You do not need to have a map laid out. You simply need to take the first step, and He will lead the way. So get ready, set, and GO.

And remember that foam fish I pulled out of the play bucket back in 2011??…God’s promise for me was Isaiah 54:13…All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children.

I have it hanging on my rear-view mirror. It is a promise given by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and He NEVER breaks a promise. He indeed is the true teacher, and source of all wisdom. He is the principal and superintendent of our school!!!

AMEN

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True Sufficiency…My Miracle December 7, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — gdnelson5 @ 9:07 pm
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I did not used to be grateful for having a normal and healthy right arm. In fact, I went through over forty years of my life without giving my right arm a second thought. It is true that we sometimes do not truly embrace and savor something until we either lose it completely, or get a bitter taste of what life would be like without it. No, I was not in danger of losing my right arm, but I was experiencing a drastic decline in how my arm and hand functioned. It is only now that I have a heart full of joy and gratitude for something that I had always had before! Sometimes the only way to gain lasting joy and peace, is to suffer and endure through trials and pain. It is  in such a place where total reliance and trust in God is developed. Yes, in loss we can come to find that Christ alone is more than sufficient to fill our every need.

It was a typical shift in the ER back in mid April of this year when an elderly man was brought in by his family for weakness. I was the triage RN that night and quickly brought this gentleman through as he appeared to be having a stroke. His family had managed to get him in a wheelchair initially, and I was wheeling him back to a treatment room. Two other RN’s and myself were assisting him to the ER cart when his legs gave out and much of his weight came down on me. I strained myself to keep him from falling, and in the same instant felt a crushing surge of pain shoot down my back. I knew that some damage had been done.

For the days to follow I had expected back pain, but felt certain that it would resolve in time.  I have been an RN for twenty years now, and find that each year some new aches and pains develop  (I am so NOT young anymore), but I too believe I have many good years left!

It was approximately eight to ten days later that I developed some nagging right upper arm and shoulder pain. I did not connect this to the injury initially. I figured I had just strained something in the shoulder and again waited for resolution, but such resolution did not come. What started as a nuisance-type pain evolved into relentless pain that was sharp, shooting, burning, and intense. By July I had taken enough Motrin to medicate an elephant, and my symptoms were only increasing.

Now, I try to keep my grumbling and complaining over things to a minimum, as nothing good ever comes out of all that negativity, but by this time I was sufficiently sleep deprived and all around grumpy. My poor husband took the brunt of my frustration, as I became both mentally and physically exhausted. He would listen to my moanings by day, and put up with my constant tossing and turning at night in my relentless pursuit to find a comfortable position for my dreadful right arm.  The pain always hit a crescendo at night. There were times when it felt like someone was burning the inside of my shoulder and arm with hot coals. It was then that I would simply sob and curl up in a ball. Would this pain ever end?? Fear started to creep in. By the end of July, my right arm started to lose sensation and my right thumb and index finger went painfully numb.

Through all of this, I was pleading with God for healing. I knew I had faith for healing, as I believe with all of my heart that God indeed is all powerful and able to perform such a miracle. But as the days turned into weeks, and the weeks into my months, my flesh indeed grew weary. I started each day in physical pain, and I ended each day in physical pain… but the pain drove me to my knees continually. I was asking God for guidance, wisdom, direction, peace…I found I was talking to him more than I had in months. I became totally reliant on Him.  The paradox there is that we all are totally reliant on Him: we just don’t realize it until we physically cannot cope like we are used to coping. I found that I could not write or type as I once did …I could not perform my job duties to the same ability as I once did,..I could not DO. Boy, I sure feel like I always have to be DOING. Suddenly, I had to be still, and in that stillness, I turned to God’s precious word.

In the book of 2 Corinthians chapter 12, the apostle Paul speaks of a thorn in his flesh. We are not told specifically what type of trial or hardship Paul had to endure, as the focus should never be on the trial, but Paul repeatedly asked God three times to remove this burden from his life. God’s answer to Paul is one that has resonated to countless hurting and broken hearts over the generations….  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.   Those words were like healing salve to my aching flesh. God’s word has a way of picking us up out of our pit, and opening our eyes to the hope and purposes of God.  Paul chose to live for Christ, and in so doing, persevered through many sorrows and gave us all a picture of true faith. True faith never gives up and shines ever brighter right in the midst of battle. Paul’s greatest miracle was not a healing or deliverance, but a resolve to trust his Lord no matter what.  As I read God’s word through his suffering servant, I heard a gentle whisper in my spirit that He was sufficient in my pain as well. My healing might come, and it might not…but His sufficiency was already well established. In my weakness, the door was opened for His perfect power. What a truly awesome God.

I want to interject a quick thought. Sometimes our brothers and sisters in Christ may question our walk with the Lord or our faith if we are experiencing a fierce struggle in life. Indeed there are times when we have allowed sin to darken our choices and we reap the consequences thereof, but God’s word demands that we not judge one another. But many times we will simply face a storm of life. We know from scripture that God’s glory and strength are best revealed in our weaknesses…so let us only see the great sufficiency of Christ, and not the insufficiency of one another.

The months of August and September were especially challenging and hard to endure physically. My right thumb remained painfully numb, as if a constricting tourniquet was wrapping itself tighter and tighter around it. I would find myself negotiating which symptom I would like gone more..the shoulder and arm pain, or the numb thumb… Eenie, meenie, miney, mo… I sought medical treatment finally (we RN’s like to wait things out) and went through repeated visits, opinions, and diagnostic tests. I utilized prescription medication, a steroid injection, chiropractic care, and physical therapy. It was determined through MRI testing that I suffered from two herniated cervical discs in my neck, and that this was the cause of all of my symptoms. Upon the realization that I had a neck issue going on, I quickly had flashbacks to that fateful work injury in April. Yes, the lightning bolt of pain that shot through my back impacted my neck as well.  I was told by an orthopaedic MD and a neurosurgeon that such symptoms will usually resolve in one to two months from onset, but since mine had far surpassed that time, that surgery on my neck might be my only option. I was also told that the nature of my herniations was such that a laparoscopic procedure would not suffice, and that I would need an open fusion of my cervical vertebrae to include placement of rods and screws. Yep…that did not sit well in my heart. Let the praying persist….

The month of November brought new hope and strength. The treatments during physical therapy showed the first signs of improvement. It is hard to explain the elation I experienced at the moments when I first felt some long awaited relief. The PT would place me on a cervical traction device, where twenty-two pounds of weight would literally be pulling my neck bones up and apart. It was during those precious minutes when I could feel the outer edges of my thumb again, and my arm would come back to life. Sometimes the sheer relief would bring tears to my eyes. It was recommended that I obtain a home cervical traction device, but the expense was too great for us. Our medical bills were mounting as well. The traction was wonderful, but as soon as it was done, my symptoms would return. Then God poured a blessing into my life. I was at work and a coworker overheard a discussion about my neck and asked if I ever used traction. She then went on to share that she had a traction device from years earlier that she never used anymore. She actually offered it to me!  I knew then that God was about to open a floodgate. It was during this time as well that the pain in my shoulder and arm began to relent. The full night’s sleep that had eluded me for months as well was in my grasp again. Yes, colossal things were on the horizon.

AND THEN,

My family and I visited a church in Matthews called Joy Christian Fellowship in mid-November. Immediately upon entering the service, I felt a strong and powerful presence of the Lord. The worship was so beautiful and honoring to God. I found myself totally enthralled and lost in worship to the Lord. I can still close my eyes and feel the love I experienced in that moment. I reached my arms up to the Lord as far as I could extend them, and I can vividly recall a sense of being lifted up even higher. He was lifting me up ever closer to Him. There is nothing like being in the presence of the living God. It wasn’t until we were about half way home in the car after the service that it hit me like a mach truck that I could actually feel my thumb!! I just started laughing out loud with the realization. In the midst of being in God’s presence, I had finally let go of thinking about my injury and pain. It had been on the forefront of my mind for months, but today my mind was solely set on the Lord. To think that I had been pleading for almost seven months for this miracle, and to not even notice it when it happened! I still laugh. God’s presence is so enormous that it literally vanquishes our every need in the flesh. For the next few days I would tip-toe around my miracle..constantly checking to see if my pain would come back, or if the numbness was returning. At times I would feel moments of tingling down the arm and wonder. But my heart was soaring at the dream that this trial could possibly be over. No pain and numbness, no surgery, no loss of my ER skills, no long and painful recovery….could it truly be real??!! The tears of pain and fear were over…but was it truly real??!!

Nothing could keep me from returning to Joy Church, and so this time my husband Grant joined us as he had the day off. It was Sunday, November 17th. As I sat in between my husband and my thirteen year old daughter Grace, I found myself in the throes of that wonderful worship again. As songs were being lifted in awe and praise to the Lord, the pastor McLean Faw interjected with some words that literally pierced my heart. He simply stated that someone had been dealing with issues in the discs of their neck, and that the Lord God was healing it in the name of Jesus. With that the power of God brought me to my knees right where I had been standing. A river of tears flowed from my eyes at that moment. It was like the tears were washing away all of the piercing pain…all of the sleepless and restless nights…all of the fear and worry over the treatment and outcome…all of the anxiety over medical bills and finances…and my body felt completely whole. There would be no looking back, no waking up and wondering. It was all washed away. Pastor McLean Faw did not even know me, but he certainly knew and heard from God and spoke His anointed word of healing and hope to my and my family’s heart. And with that, the worship continued with all focus on the King of Kings and Lord of Lords…Jesus Christ.

The apostle Paul summed it up best yet again...For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all...2 Corinthians 4:17

Whatever you face, whatever you must endure…HE is sufficient.

I am doing extremely well, and am full of gratitude to be healed. I thank God multiple times a day for the use of my right arm and hand, and include a praise for the use of the left as well!!

Always remember to be grateful to the Lord God for what you DO have, and trust Him for what you don’t. Give Him the glory He so rightly deserves every single day, no matter the circumstances you are in. This is how lives are changed for all eternity.

AMEN

 

 
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