On being forged into a warrior mom

If I could summarize our journey from Hell to HOPEISM, it would be in my faith, which I call HOPEISM. It has been my weapon of choice to get me through each battle I have had to fight in my mission to win our war called life with autism and seizures. Vaccine injury to be more specific. It would also be in committing to heart, soul, & mind the words and motto's from Forged, NDCQ, the Lone Survivor, and Levi Lusko in his book, "Through the Eyes of a Lion." I will be forever grateful to the inspiration, encouragement, and mental fortitude found through all of them collectively. Because of that, I am not allowing this tragedy of vaccine injury that has come into our lives to be an obstacle to being used by God. I am instead turning it into an opportunity to be used like never before!


This blog is dedicated to Brandon. His life has been forged by difficulty, obstacles, & all too often because of seizures - pain, blood, broken teeth, & broken bones. Yet through all that he has shown such fortitude. The bravery, strength, & resilience of a true warrior. He taught me that having strength through adversity means that even if you lose every battle, like the Lone Survivor, you never quit fighting until you win the war. That in the words of "NDCQ," you keep "dreaming," keep "daring," & keep "doing." As Team Guppy has yet to be able to escape vaccine injury, we have no choice but to as Levi Lusko writes, "Run toward the Roar." God has indeed given us such incredible power in enduring such impossible pain.

Some days the HOPEISM in that simply takes my breath away.

March 12, 2011

Desperate for Respite




I love the logo for my friend's new non-profit organization, Desperate for Respite.  I love the colors of it, the brightness, and how it's so very perfect for the purpose for which it provides.

I have stared at the float thingy (can't think of the proper name for it, so "thingy" will have to suffice for now as I'm too lazy to google, "name of life saver round floaty thingy") for a while now, and only right now has it "clicked" for me the story it tells.

Why I love that logo so much.

It's because it RESCUED me.

And if by divine intervention, this picture of my son, and the word "RESCUE", is on the actual website for Desperate for Respite, http://desperateforrespite.com/home.




It reminds me of when that ring buoy (yes, broke down and googled the proper name for it) was thrown to my family by a church, to rescue us.

It was nearly 10 years ago as best I remember.  Autism has made the past a bit fuzzy in parts, but suffice it to say it was a while back.  My husband and I had moved to Texas for his job, and we didn't know a soul.  We didn't even know about our youngest son's autism at that point.  All we knew was that we were a yuppie family with two perfect children and we had life safely tucked in our pocket.

Funny how just like that, autism can rip a hole right in the bottom of that pocket and make all those perfectly planned dreams disappear!

With a diagnosis of autism sinking in, and no family near, no friends, and no church, our "yuppie" was quickly turning to "yucky".

We met a few people, tried a few of their churches, and it became glaringly apparent how fast we were drowning in the sense that we were indeed alone in this battle!   If a church asks you to leave because of your child, you might as well just give up, right?  Eventually, we found a church that did its best to accommodate the needs of our son, but try as they might, they were simply not equipped, and we were not yet fully equipped ourselves, to help equip them!

So, we turned to the ever-accepting, always-equipped "Home Church".  And did that for a few years until I stumbled upon an e-mail from one of the few "autism" friends I had met. Actually by that point, "autism" were the only friends we even had. Funny how your kid touching, mouthing, and breaking everything in typical people's houses, doesn't ever garner a return invite. Or phone call.  Or anything.  Ever again.

Anyway, my friend was as "Desperate for Respite" as I was, and had found a church that had a free respite night once a month.  She cautiously asked me if I thought it was legit and if we should try it out.  "Free" and "Respite" are not in the autism dictionary we learned the hard way.  So to actually see both words in the same sentence was unheard of.  They probably wanted a kidney or something in exchange.

We'd have given up both!

A church had dared to throw out a "ring buoy" to "rescue" families who were drowning.

Wow.

I'll never forget calling the number to sign my son up.  The woman on the other end of the phone asked me which month I wanted to sign my son up for.  I replied, "All of them."

I'll never forget showing up that night with my son.  The woman on the other end of the counter asked me for any special instructions.  I proceeded to give his life history. Telling her what autism was.  That he would strip, etc. What to do for all the "if's" of autism.  She finally politely cut me off and said, "We are prepared.  We will take care of him... Go."    Not only was a church willing to step way out of their comfort zone to serve in such a way, but they actually stepped further out in being trained and prepared for the disabilities they might be serving.

Double Wow.

I'll never forget what we did after we finally decided to make a run for it and leave before they changed their minds.  Nothing.  We were finally set free but had forgotten how to fly.  So we drove two miles down the road, pulled over in the Home Depot parking lot, and sat there waiting for the call that Brandon had stripped or something autistic like that, and we needed to go get him.  I think finally after an hour we realized they weren't going to call us.  So we must have gone to McDonald's drive thru or something equally as romantic as that. We most likely took a nap right there in the car.  Again, the fuzzy spots of the past autism creates.

And I'll never forget when we returned to the church to get our child.  We came back early so we could sneak in and perhaps stop them from sacrificing our son to some gods they worshipped or something.  We were so desperate for respite that we never even checked out what kind of church we were taking him to! And I think at that point in our lives, we didn't care what kind of church it was! 

But what we saw instead, was a room full of loving people laughing and caring for a whole host of differently-abled children.  And a man standing in the far corner of the room where a wall telephone was, alongside our son who was handing him the receiver part back and forth.  Back and forth.  Back and forth.

That man we later learned, was the Pastor of the church.

Triple Wow.

I'll stop there with the "Wow's"  simply because I'm not sure what four "Wow's" would be called...

If we were not already Christians, we would have accepted Christ just by the example of that church, those volunteers, and that Pastor.

We joined that church because of their example of bein' what they're Preachin'.

We were a family in need of love, acceptance, tolerance. We were drowning.  They threw us a ring buoy. We grabbed it. And they pulled us into their fold and rescued us.

Which sounds a lot like what the mission of the church should be.

I know it's God's mission.

Simple as that.

Churches don't need to make it any more complicated than that.

God sure doesn't.

"Grab the ring buoy I am thowing you.  Accept it.  Hold on to it and I will pull you into my Kingdom..."

Simple as that.


Which brings me to the present....   And my friend's mission.

Families are still so very desperate for respite.  Churches are called to not merely serve who they want to serve, who they feel they should serve, or who can give back to the church because they were served.  No.... I may not be the most theological person in the world, but I think I do know that the purpose of the church is to serve who God puts in their path, when they put them in their path, and for as long as they are in their path. Not when they're better prepared to.  Not when they get enough of a particular group to justify the cost of serving them. Not when it's safe or easy to serve them.

Oh how it pains me to hear otherwise in churches today!  So very many churches!

How we seem to make so very many excuses for not doing what we are called to do!

We're not prepared.  Ask for help to get prepared.

We not equipped. Ask for donations to get equipped.

If it ever seems harder than that, try being the individual with a disability or their family who cares for them without help.

What if we're sued?  So what?  How many people in Jesus' day were persecuted?  Jailed?  Did that stop the cause of Christianity?  Did even death stop Jesus?

It costs too much!  The cost of not doing what you are called to do is greater.

We have a new mission, a new direction, a new focus!  God's mission is the same today, as it was yesterday, and as it will be tomorrow.


I get goosebumps just thinking of the possibilities of what my friend and her group can accomplish for the Kingdom and for our community by simply saying, "You know what?  There is a need.  We have a ring buoy. We're throwing it out there and we are going to rescue some drowning families. And maybe, just maybe, in doing so, we ultimately pull them into God's Kingdom as well..."

No, not goosebumps.

Tears....


If you are a church, professional, or are breathing, - please consider donating to my personal fundraising term for them, simply being, "The Rescue Fund".






And you know, if you tilt that picture a click or two to the right, with my son's straws, you have the ultimate mission of that group as well.....

Desperate for Respite:  http://desperateforrespite.com/home

Go ahead, donate to them!  I Double-Dog-Dare you to!

Your donation will help put a "D" at the end of the word in that picture above!

What better mission for anyone to do for another person.  What better mission for any church or group to help support in their community!




By Michelle M. Guppy
I do not write on behalf of Desperate for Respite, I just write about them without asking first....
   (smile)

3 comments:

Tonya said...

Michelle...you do write on behalf of Desperate For Respite. This is what DEFINES what we're doing.

Ema, John and I are all bawling!

I love you! I love Brandon! I love your family! Thank you for sharing your heart!

The best part is that picture was taken at the Spring Break Respite of 2008! My first respite. Six kids, 19 volunteers and a church that said, "Go for it!". That changed the course of my life forever!

Life Preserver / Life Saver - and our colors are Red, White and Blue. :)

It still amazes me how 4 short hours, once a month can do so much! GOD IS AWESOME!

Craig said...

Michelle,

One of our members Renee Farrow sent me your link over facebook & I was touched by your story. What a great picture of your son. My name is Craig Johnson & I am the Director of Ministries at Lakewood Church in Houston. My son Connor is 7 years old and has Autism as well. Through God using Connor two years ago we launched what is called The Champions Club at Lakewood Church. These are state of the rooms where kids are actually being developed while their parents go to church. We have a physical therapy room, a sensory room, an educational room, and what we call a spiritual therapy room with a faith based special needs curriculum that we have developed. This curriculum we hope to publish for churches across the country in the next few years. They also learn sign language, communicating through songs & scripture & much more. We service close to 200 families now since launching the champions club. We are finalizing details but in August we are about to launch one of the first Charter public schools for Autism in America. It will start out pre K through 3rd grade(really it's based on ages and needs)and we will look to expand ages over the next couple of years. This will be like a private school for a public school price. It won't cost the parents anything and we know how huge that is for all of us parents who have tried to financially give our children the best care and development. I will have to tell you sometime the amazing journey of how we got here. Anyway, I wanted to just say how proud I am of you, your family & your son & share what we are doing. Thank you for sharing the need, I will definitely make a donation. Lastly, I love what Desperate For Respite is doing and we at Lakewood could probably partner with them if they wanted a site for their monthly drop offs fully staffed by our excellent special needs team at Lakewood or we would be interested in following after their example & launching one ourselves. Either way I was inspired by your story & I identify with your challenges as my family has faced the same challenges and a night like this would be fantastic in showing how much we care & love these wonderful kids and families. Maybe you can introduce me to the team at Desperate For Respite & lets see how we can partner together. Our pastors Joel & Victoria Osteen because of their relationship with us and our son Connor have a huge heart for special needs kids & families. I love what your church is doing as well. It would be great to partner with them more in the future. Anyway, thanks so very much, hope to hear from you soon.

Craig

Shannon said...

I live in NW Houston and am so happy to see this. Michelle, your post brought tears to my eyes! I crash nightly out of exhaustion. Craig, I wish your church was closer to me. I am Cypress and it sounds so wonderful. We go to a nice church but they do not have a special needs ministry for young children. My son will be four soon and has autism and a syndrome.