Thursday, October 10, 2013

Unanswered Prayers

Garth Brooks has a song called, "Unanswered Prayers".  It is about a man who didn't get what he was praying for -- he got something better!

I often feel like our journey with Anna is like that song.  We pray and pray for something that we think will help us or that we think we need, and it just seems like we wasting our breath at times.  But then, each time our faithfulness is rewarded in the most amazing way -- God's way.

Anna started Kindergarten this fall.  She is going to the local public school where her brother and sister also go.  There is a special education program at this school that Anna is a part of, as well as trying to integrate her into the general ed. classroom as much as possible.  Before that she was in the pre-school class for children with disabilities at the other elementary school in town.

I have posted about Anna's school saga and her behavioral issues on here before.  I have mentioned her stubbornness and her tendency to act out when she does not get her way.  I have mentioned her low test scores and evaluations.  And, I have posted about how gut wrenching these things are because we just don't know what to do or how to help her.

For well over a year now we have been pleading with God to help Anna.  We have been praying that he would calm her spirit when she is acting out.  We have asked that she would want to show to us how capable and brilliant she really is.  We have been praying that her speech would improve so she could communicate her wants and needs to us better. We have been begging that she keep her glasses on her face!

And it seems like these prayers have been falling on deaf ears...

The start of school was rough.  Lots of tears from her, which led to lots from me.

After a week or so, we finally got the drop-off routine down so that she would happily walk into school (or at least not plop and flop and scream in the doorway).  But, still, each transition to a new location or activity is not without a fight.  Often more than one teacher is required to get her to move.  Her screaming is loud and disruptive.  She really injured the nurse (not on purpose or maliciously -- but as part of her flailing and tantrum).  And, she won't sit for any school "work" without crayons being thrown and papers being torn. (Oh - and she threw her shoe in the toilet - you can laugh at that one!)

In short -- it is a mess.  Not for lack of trying or loving or anything else.  And certainly not for lack of crying!  Good grief I am tired of crying!

I asked the ladies at Bible study to pray for Anna as I was really beginning to feel discouraged. I really was needing some kind of answer.

The next week we had a meeting with Anna's teacher and her CST case worker.  It was with much love and pain that they suggested that we send Anna to a different school that was for children with special needs.

Ugh!  That one hit like a ton of bricks.  It wasn't quite as bad getting the initial diagnosis, but I was feeling it.  I really wanted Anna to be able to "fit in" at a public school. And to hear that it wasn't working was heartbreaking and a reminder that Anna is different.

But, at the same time, it was like a huge burden was being lifted because I knew that this was the answer to our prayers that we have been waiting so long for!  God wasn't going to miraculously "fix" Anna.  He was going to send us somewhere where we would find the help we need.  It's not what I was planning or expecting, but I know that God is leading the way and we can let go of our worries. (And hopefully stop crying for goodness sake!)

After visiting a couple of schools, and much prayer for guidance and wisdom, we think we have found the perfect one for Anna.  You should have seen her when we went to visit  - it was like she came alive in there!  It is an environment that is focused on Anna and her needs - and she has nothing they haven't seen before.  We are so excited for her to start!  And, I can't wait to be able to share what wonderful techniques we are going to learn to be able to help her.

I am so thankful for Anna's teacher and case worker for being able to recognize and admit that Anna's situation was not working.  I know they wanted it to work as badly as I did.  Everyone - at both schools - love Anna and want to see her succeed.  They definitely have her best interests in mind.

It has been mentioned/suggested that Anna should have been at this special school since pre-school instead of in our public school program.  I thought that myself for a bit, but I can't allow myself to go down that road of "what ifs" and "if onlys".  We can't change the past. We have to focus on the the present and pray for the future.  And, maybe it is true that Anna would have benefited from the program at the special school.  But, I am certain that is not where God wanted us- if for no other reason than I have become good friends with her teachers. =)   I think a lot of value has been gained in our community by Anna being in our local schools.  All the kids (in both elementary schools) know who she is, and this is raising awareness about Down syndrome.  Who knows, besides God, what kind of impact that will have down the road.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you. plans to give you hope and a future." - Jeremiah 29:11

So, don't lose faith (or - as Anna would say, "Stand Strong!" - thanks VBS songs!)  Those unanswered prayers are being heard.  Chances are, God has something even better planned!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Quick Catch-Up: The Days of Our Lives....

Having a child with Down syndrome will change your life - not stop it.  Sure, we have our challenges with Anna, and have to do a few things differently.  But, for the most part, we are just a normal family doing normal things. 
Whatever "normal" is?  

It's October!
It's Down Syndrome Awareness Month!
It's Crazy Around Here!

But crazy in a good way -- as in, we have a lot going on, but we are having fun and enjoying it. =)

So, to catch up...

The kids are back in school.  Charlie is in 4th, Paige 2nd and Anna started Kindergarten.
First day of school!!
Charlie is busy playing football.  He has also joined Cub Scouts for the first time this year.  We may be completely over stretching ourselves with activities and 4th grade homework - but we are giving it a go, and seeing what we can handle.

Paige has taken up field hockey this fall.  We all love it! It is so much fun to watch, and she loves playing.  And, after several months of asking politely, Paige is starting piano lessons this week.  I am very excited for her because I think she will really like them.  She is also queen of the rainbow loom.  =)  (But who isn't these days? )

Anna has started Kindergarten. It has been a rough start, but things are looking up! I have a lot to say on this topic -- so I will defer it to another post.  I know you are excited! =)

Jonathan is enjoying his new job -- and so am I! =)  Have I mentioned that I am the lunch lady at the kids' school this year?  Laugh, mock, do as you please - but I love being able to see my kids each day, and so do they.  That, and it is only an hour/day so I still have time to get done all the other bazillion things on my to-do list!

Oh -- and we bought a camper!  That's right - we are officially a "glamping" family now.  In fact, I will be starting a new blog to record our adventures. Look for it!

Dinner in our new "vacation home" 

So, now that I have my Christmas letter done in October, I can officially get ready for Halloween! =)

And these are the days of our lives....

Monday, October 7, 2013

Happy Down Syndrome Awareness Month!!

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month!

Ok, so I know I am about a week late in getting the word out there -- but better late than never!  =)

Be sure to check back as I have a few things to say/share about Down syndrome and LOTS of Anna updates!

In the meantime, find your favorite chromosomally enhanced friend and give them a big hug!  If they let you...Anna might take a swing instead - lol! It's all part of the Anna we know and love.