Finding Rest When You Can’t Sleep

Now that I am actually getting some, I have some new perspectives on Sleep.

First, let me tell you that I have been an un-apologetic co-sleeper for most of my children’s young lives.  My husband and I both loved having all 3 of our kids tucked in and around our bed each night.  This is not the life for everyone and not what this story is about but is part of our story and I have wonderful memories of those days…But there comes a time in every child’s life when it is time to move on to their own little space in the world of sleep.   

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For my first 2 children, this transition was gentle and mostly peaceful.

 But Autism is a different story and a great night’s sleep in not always a part of it.

For the past 15 years, there have been hundreds of times that my husband has recited this bible verse over us as we prayed for our family at bedtime.

… For the Lord gives sleep to those he loves… (Psalm 127:2)

… And if I am honest, I resented that statement for years.

“Don’t you love me, Lord”?

Through the watches of the long, dark nights, I would often ask this.  Of course, as a good Bible-Girl I already knew the truth.  OF COURSE HE LOVES ME!  Then why will you not grant us a peaceful night’s rest?  I would hold my chattering, shaking, and restless, agitated boy and plead with God for rest.  Some nights were better than others, but I did not sleep thought the night for 15 years.

DSC_0084-001We tried every natural remedy known to man.  Melatonin, herbs, oils, sound machines, weighted blankets, occupational therapy, massage and lots of prayer.   I need to tell you that I am someone who functions very well on very little sleep.  At least there was that, I reasoned.

But as I look at the verse from Psalm 127 again, I see something different. When I read it in it’s entirety, it looks a little different to me.

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.  Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.  It is vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. Psalm 127:1-5

This verse is reminding me that every attempt I make to save myself is in vain.  But rest comes as I find my portion in God and his great love for me.  I am also realizing that God has, indeed given me both sleep and rest.  In all my nights of murmuring before God, I was forgetting that I did sleep… sometimes only minutes at a time, sometimes hours, but it was enough.  Enough that I never actually suffered some of the terrible side effects of sleep deprivation.  Instead of being resentful for what I don’t have, I am so thankful for what I have been blessed with.

I have been blessed with strength and joy, even after those hard nights.  I get new mercies every morning and can choose to walk in them no matter how long the weeping of night endures.  Joy does come and I am thankful for it.christmas eve 003-001

Six months ago, we did finally decide to seek professional help.  It was a hard decision to make for this all-natural, daughter-of-a-hippy gal.  Our son has been on sleep medication since then, and while it was not a magic pill, it did help all the other things we were trying seem to be more effective.  I am happy to tell you that he is sleeping in his own room, in his own bed from 9:30 pm to 6:00 am for most nights.  After 15 years, I have had to work on sleep training myself but I am getting longer and longer stretches of sleep every night.  We occasionally have hard nights still but we have a lot of appreciation for the good ones.

If sleepless nights are part of your story, I want you to know that you are not alone.  Not because there are lots of us mamas in the same boat, but because your Creator, who holds your every moment in his hands, promised that he would walk with you through the long, dark nights and offer you peace and rest, even when sleep is hard to find.DSC_0476-001

Counting My Blessings

Children are a blessing and a gift from the Lord.  Psalm 127:3

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When I was a little girl, if you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have told you this. “ I just want to be a good wife and have lots of kids.”

So after practicing on everyone elses children  for nearly 20 years, I married in November of my 27th year and was thrilled to be pregnant by Christmas!  

 

Our son was born 6 and a half months later. After a traumatic birth and 32 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, bringing him home was

like a lifelong  dream come true.

Eighteen months later, our daughter was born and Twenty-four months after that we were blessed with another son.  We were on a roll and having a blast!

scan0020Just before turning two, our youngest was diagnosed with Autism.

 My perfect world crumbled and we leaned into Jesus in a whole new way.  In light of what was going on, we prayed about taking a break from having kids but felt like God was calling us to trust him in every area of our lives.  We had not used birth control up to that point.

On a warm June evening, my husband and I prayed together, affirming our trust in God in the area of our family.  We committed to letting Him control the size of our family and believed that we could rejoice in what he gave.  

This journey has been very different from the one I thought I was embarking on.

The next month, I thought for sure I would be pregnant… I wasn’t.

“Next month it will happen”, I told myself….  It didn’t.

Nor the month after that….

Next month turned into next year… and then the year after that.

The cycle of tears and pain through those years is something that I hid from most.  

I rejoiced with dear friends through pregnancies with babies number 4, 5 & 6.

I got lots of advice…

“Take these supplements.”

“Try this position.”

“It will happen when you stop trying.”

“God must know that you already have your hands full.”

We did not feel that going to doctors for fertility treatments was how God was calling us to trust him…. so we waited and prayed.

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My youngest son will be twelve soon and

I have never gotten pregnant again.

I will be 44 next month.

I have come to a place of peace and acceptance that I am not likely to have more children.

But I sometimes wish I could drown out that last little spark of hope that glows every month.  It has been 124  months of hope and disappointment and I am weary of the roller coaster ride.

But I want to take this opportunity to share with you some of what I have learned.

1. I am so thankful for the children I have.  I am truly rich beyond measure, especially when I consider the thousands of women who have never been able to bear children of their own.  I know now how little control I really have in this area and I feel so blessed to have been entrusted with my little troop.

2.  I can be over-the-moon happy for someone announcing their pregnancy and feel devastated for myself all at the same time.  I have learned that they are not competing emotions. Wanting to be blessed with what others have does not mean I cannot be happy that they are blessed.  I don’t have to resent that you have 10 children even though I could only have three.

3.  God is good and his love endures to all generations!  While I may not understand his plan and may sometimes like to share with him how I would handle this if I were God, my heart always comes back to knowing that His plans for me are good and there is no better place to put my hope and trust.  His grace is enough for even the most painful seasons of disappointment and I am thankful for that.
I am learning to find my contentment and peace in this journey.  Sometimes it gets easy, other times if feels heart crushing.  But it’s ok.

 When I am broken is when my Creator holds me the tightest.

 When I let go of all hope is when I find true hope in Him.

 He holds my world in his hands and I will trust in his Goodness.

If this journey is one that you are sharing, I want to remind you that you are not alone and that His Grace really is sufficient for us.

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Finding Hope When Autism Hurts

scan0006I have always been an optimist. A “glass half full, look on the bright side, nothing bad is going to happen”, kind of person.  So when our son was diagnosed with Autism at his second birthday, it was good friends and the hope for better days that got me through it.  You see, I was certain that God would heal him.  In fact, I told myself that Jonah would be healed by his third birthday.

We have had quite a few birthdays since then.

We have also had a lot of therapies, supplements, diets, exercises and conferences. All that promised to make a difference in his diagnoses.   None of those things are bad, but we had to quit chasing a cure.

Still, I hoped.  I heard that things could get easier as he got older.  I held on to this hope.  But “Hope differed makes the heart sick.” (Proverbs 13:12) and my heart is aching.

We have had some hard days of late.  As Jonah gets older we are seeing some unsettling behaviors increasing.  He is also getting bigger…. and stronger!  I recently got my first “Autism Bruise”.  Not the figurative kind.  The real life, black and blue, hurts like the dickens kind.  During an overreaction to being scratched by the kitty, Jonah flailed and screamed until I got kicked in the leg trying to comfort him.

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I can no longer put my hope in brighter days ahead.  In fact, it is a painful reality that things may get worse before they get better.

And then, the Great Comforter comes softly and whispers to my soul,

“I am your only HOPE”.

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. Psalm 43:5

You see, there never was any real hope outside of Him.   And my hope in Him is not for what he can do for me, though I believe very much in His power to heal.  My hope is that through Him, I can find strength for today.

Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you Psalm 33:22

It is His steadfast love that I need to walk in.

With that, what else could my soul need?

I know that there will still be days that my heart aches with the overwhelming task in front of me. I need to continually re-center my hope solely in Christ alone and the work he finished for me. I will need to ask for his grace as I fail to keep my eyes on the prize of His Glory alone.

But in this moment, I find my Hope is renewed and I have the strength for one more day.  That is all we are promised…. And that promise is enough for my aching heart.HopeClick on photo for purchasing options.

The Path

The Path

“I am the Lord your God,
who teaches you what is best for you,
who directs you in the way you should go.”
Isaiah 78:17

If, Like me, you find yourself on an unfamiliar path… Trust in Him who promises to teach and direct us in every moment that we are willing to listen and learn.

I Shall Not Be In Want

117 Every evening we have a little ritual called

“Family Time”

We all snuggle up in Jonah’s bedroom and tuck him into bed. He then declares “time to say your prayers”. He prays the same prayer every night. It is one that he learned from a 321 Penguins video.
Among other things, he thanks God for the “really cool spaceship in the attic”. We don’t actually have a spaceship in the attic but it’s ok. I don’t think his Heavenly Father minds and neither do we.

Then, all together, we recite Psalm 23
The LORD is my Shepherd; I shall not be in want….
We continue on though the whole chapter but today my heart stopped on that first verse.

Other versions say it this way.
I have all that I need. I lack nothing.
It is because the Lord is my shepherd that my heart can find contentment in any circumstance.

We live in a world that constantly tells us to want more. More money, nicer clothes, better car….
But what about good things like a better marriage, another child or healing from Autism?

I am not saying that we should never want anything.  But my heart is learning that to be in a constant state of wanting is exhausting.
To rest in the strong arms of a Good Shepherd who knows all my needs and desires is all my soul really craves. To find contentment in any circumstance because He is with me and his presence is enough.
Enough to fill the empty spaces that the wanting leaves behind.
You find me grateful this evening for a Savior who holds my heart and allows every desire to be filled in Him.

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Greetings

Our Son is special.  He is beautiful and loving and different.

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For the past seven years, a lovely woman at church has faithfully greeted him every week.  She puts up her hands and does a “high five” and then they keep going, counting by fives till they get to one hundred.  Then they do a “whoo Hoo” and a happy dance!  After years of this little game, he looks for her every week, Sometimes interrupting her as she speaks with big, important people.  She never waivers.  She is always ready for their greeting.  She knows that it is what he needs.

On Wednesdays, He and I drop my daughter off at youth church.  He holds my arm as we walk through the lobby.  Most kids of that age are a little uncomfortable with him.  Not sure what to do so it’s easier to do nothing.  A few weeks ago, a young man of 15 walked right up to us, looked my son in the eye and said “ Hi Jonah”.  I was so blessed.

I have a sister who is also special and different.  She is physically and mentally disabled.  I live far away now but sometimes when I call home, my mom will put her on the phone.  I always sing the same childhood song over the phone:DSC_0275

The steadfast love of the Lord

never ceases

His mercies never come to an end

They are new every morning,

new every morning

Great is thy faithfulness oh Lord, Great is thy Faithfulness

  Sometimes she sings the abc’s while I sing. Sometimes she just babbles.

Sometimes she hangs up.

But every once in a while she will belt out the words and sing with a heart that rings as clear as a bell!

Many of my friends make a lovely effort to greet my Son.  He doesn’t always respond.  It still means so much to me.  Not because he is “special needs” but just because he is special.  The same way that all of us are special…  The children of the Most High God.

In Acknowledging one another we can give glory to the Creator.

So find someone who might be lost in the shadows.  Make an effort, even if it is uncomfortable.  Teach your children to Greet the young and the Aged and the disabled.  Make a habit or a High five or a song with someone who needs a little extra stability in their life.  You may or may not make a lifelong friend.

But you will find your reward in Eternity.

This post was also Shared on Sunday Social Blog Hop.