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.

September 5, 2013

Finding strength in the suffering.

I love this picture and quote from Forged Clothing

Sometimes we're tested. Not to show our weaknesses, but to discover our strengths.

I'm not in the military, and I don't know what it's like to do log PT as in the picture,  but I love to apply the principles and beliefs of those who created Forged and who their clothing is in honor of and helps support --to my everyday life as a "Warrior Mom of Autism."

I had occasion to visit with a friend over dinner recently, and something she said has really been tugging on my heart.  When I saw the above picture and quote on my FB news feed, I was reminded of what she had said....  (I love Christian friends who make you think deep thoughts..... Well, deep to me.)  She said something to the effect of, "We want to be like Christ, but we don't think it means we might have to suffer like Christ did...."   I didn't quote that exactly, I don't remember her exact wording.  I just remember being very moved by the implication.  We want to be like Christ -- but not the suffering Christ.  We would rather be like the "Don't Worry Be Happy" Christ as the world tends to portray him at times.  Again, I'm no theologian, but I don't recall God ever saying he came so life would be easy, or that if we did good, the world's fortune and prosperity would come to us; but rather that by following him we would receive faith, hope, love, grace, and mercy.  And that he would see us through --- to eternity.  Many days our "Life with Autism" has been nothing short of suffering for my son, for me, for our family.  Some days the HOPEISM of God's promises is all that has (and does) see me through. 

I'm currently going through Experiencing God Bible study.  One of the pivotal points of the study is coming to a "crisis of belief."  I remember vividly what mine was from the last time I went through this study....  It was during a horrific seizure cycle when Brandon would have atonic seizures. He was falling all the time.  Once when he fell he broke his ankle.  We didn't know that he broke his ankle until I saw him on the trampoline jumping with an ankle the size of a softball.  You've never lived as an autism parent until you have naively allowed a cast to be put on your son who has severe sensory dysfunction.  By the second night, on a Sunday when the doctor's office was closed, my husband and I found ourselves sawing the cast off with a pocket knife and pliers, chip by chip, using anything that would get it off our screaming son who could not handle it being on not one second longer.  During that seizure cycle he was falling against counters, once hard enough to need stitches in his eyebrow.  I know I'm not supposed to swear, but I do swear that the emergency room doctor that morning was an Angel.  How he got eight stitches in Brandon's eyebrow without his eye ending up as a pin cushion, I'll never understand.  During another fall he broke his clavicle.  The third doctor visit and x-ray was the charm in figuring that out.  I kept telling the doctor something was wrong, he was leaning funny getting in bed, but we couldn't figure out what it was.  Arm not broken.  Shoulder not broken.  Ahhh, the joy of having a child who can't even tell you where it hurts...   Finally, clavicle x-ray...bingo! We prayed and prayed.  Oh, how we prayed for those seizures to stop.  For them to not take from our son what was his best and brightest most perfect asset -- his smile.  His perfect white teeth.  Oh, how we prayed for him to not have a seizure, fall, and break his teeth.  For the one thing on his body that could not heal -- to be spared.  I guess I in particular prayed the hardest for that to not happen...  His smile was the only thing that could shatter his autism.  The rare times he would smile, oh my goodness, those were the times you couldn't see autism.  The times I simply saw my Brandon.  And that meant everything to me in our world that was slowing being torn apart by autism.

Then it happened.  I knew what happened the moment I heard the sound.  We lived an arm's length from Brandon, if not an arm locked around Brandon in case a seizure hit.  The one time I wasn't holding him or within arms reach to catch him, a seizure hit and he went face first on my tile floor.  I still have post-traumatic-stress from that.  The sound, the sight, the shock. Neither will go away.  I can't imagine how much more profoundly multiplied that is for those who have been in military combat...  Oh sweet Jesus, be with each of our military men and women who go through that... That was my crisis of belief.   Through my tears I screamed over and over, "Why God, why?  Why would you do that?" Oh, I was angry at God.  Livid.  I hated God in those moments and I didn't understand how he could do that to my son.  How he could let satan win like that!?  But even in that, I remember another question I knew I had to ask, and answer, before I let the anger of my flesh penetrate to my soul.  I had to ask myself, "If the thing that I prayed for the most to not happen, happens, will God still be God?"

I could barely hear myself choke out a whisper of a .......yes. God is still God even if the thing you prayed for the most to not happen, happens.  God is still God when prayers aren't answered in the way we asked them to be.  God is still God in the suffering, the betrayal, the challenges, the silence, the autism, the anything.

When we make the choice to give our lives to Christ, we need to understand and accept that it might also mean we have to suffer as He did.  Perhaps not in the way he did, but still experience some level of suffering.  Like the quote, I don't think He allows those times to expose our weaknesses, but for us to realize what strength we can find in Him. That gives me such joy. And it's that joy that I respond with when satan snickers and sneers at me with each time Brandon has a seizure, each of the times his teeth were shattered and his smile ruined.  Joy in knowing that even though I do not understand it at all, nothing happens without God knowing. There is a purpose and reason in everything.

While I would like "Life with Autism" to be a bit easier -- I do realize that I am who I am more from suffering I've been through than from the good times I've enjoyed.  Brandon is the warrior he is because of the battles he's survived.  If suffering draws me closer to God, then that's where I want to be.  Gulp.  I don't want to live in ease which leads to complacency.  I don't want to just get by.  I don't become stronger there.  I become stronger through the things that draw me closer to Christ.  And if that means suffering...... Aye...

That's where your faith is tested.  I don't speak for anyone who has gone through the training that picture portrays, but I would imagine those who made it through, didn't do so without a bit of suffering.  A whole heap of suffering.  But to get what they wanted, to pursue their "prize" so to speak, they had no choice but to go through it, and be all the better for it.  That's where I want to be.  In the pursuit of the prize of drawing closer to Christ.  And I just don't think you can get there, truly there, without a bit of hands on suffering.  In that picture above they are doing "Log PT."  I was reading online about that, and there is a famous log they used (not sure if they still do) that was named Old Misery.  She's a 300 pound beast.  It seems those who fail to work together as a team in lifting the "lighter" logs, are sent to Old Misery to work together lifting that as punishment.  It says that carved in Old Misery are the words, "Misery Loves Company."  I guess the "company" is in who misery defeated or who defeated it!  In who passed the testing of resolve.  Who was made weaker by Old Misery in perhaps quitting, or who discovered strength they never thought they had, in surviving it.

Some days there are many aspects of my son's autism that illustrate that.  His "Old Misery" - not in punishment but in terms of "cross to bear" is his seizures, his GI Disease, his communication barriers, being non-verbal, his immune disorder, methylation issues, etc.  Yet what those things bring out in him, and us, are determination, courage, strength, endurance, perseverance, patience.  Those men doing that training in the picture, don't get to become what they're training to become without great cost.  Without great suffering.  But I bet if you would ask each one who endured, who maybe survived Old Misery and much, much, more, if it was worth it, if they were changed for the better, made stronger, and for some who are Christians, stronger in their faith --- they would agree they were.  They may have hated every exhausted, cold, wet, sandy, blistering minute of it, but they were made stronger for it.  There is no way they could be prepared to do what they might have to one day do -- if they didn't go through the suffering in training first.  I'll never know what having to lift Old Misery or any of those logs felt like, but I do know that at times it's felt like I was made to carry my own 300 pound beast of a cross.  My Christianity is no different in that respect. I am training to be more like Christ and it isn't going to always be easy or fair or without suffering.  But it will be worth it.  God promises that.

I'm not sure what my crisis of belief will be this time around in Experiencing God.  Perhaps it will be in resolving how much I hate the suffering parts of "Life with Autism" with how much I love the joy and HOPEISM parts I've experienced in "Life with Autism." Whatever it will be, all I can do is each morning keep on singing the song, "10,000 Reasons" by Matt Redman....

The sun comes up, it's a new day dawning
It's time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

You're rich in love, and You're slow to anger
Your name is great, and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find

And as far as "Misery loves Company" part?  For me I am so very thankful that in my "Life with Autism" --- through any suffering I must endure, I have the most awesome sisterhood of Warrior Mom's (and a few Dad's) one could ask for.  To laugh with, cry with, be my snarky self with, pray with --- and grow stronger through the trials with.  The men in that picture, those who endured, who got through it, are brothers for life because of the suffering they went through together.  Equally strong yet in a different way, is that sisterhood of Warrior Mom's and Dad's.

To any of my sisters (and brothers) in Christ going through times of suffering, the lyrics of this song are for you...

The Servant Song, by Marantha Singers

Brother, let me be your servant
Let me be as Christ to you
Pray that I might have the grace
To let you be my servant too.

We are pilgrims on a journey
We are brothers on the road
We are here to help each other
Walk the mile and bear the load.

I will weep when you are weeping
When you laugh I'll laugh with you
I will share your joy and sorrow
Until we've seen this journey through.

When we sing to God in heaven
We shall find such harmony
Born of all we've known together
Of Christ's love and agony.

Brother, let me be your servant
Let me be as Christ to you
Pray that I might have the grace
To let you be my servant too.

When suffering is unavoidable, the joy of the Lord becomes my strength.

I just love the HOPEISM of that.


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