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Down syndrome, Truth

How God’s glory can show up in the midst of change

Two weeks ago I texted my Mom to share with her that I had finally made some phone calls in regards to the kids’ schooling for next year.  I ended my text with #imabigkidnow

This might sound strange, but she knows me well:  I dislike making phone calls.

Yes, I am an adult.  But somehow picking up the phone to call someone regarding a business related issue always makes me feel like a kid again.  A kid being taught how to have proper phone etiquette.  Phone calls when I was in middle and high school brought me to tears and my parents would have to force me to pick up the phone, even if it was just to call and ask a friend over.  Needless to say, texting has been one of life’s greatest inventions for me.

We’re planning to put our oldest two girls into a public school, so I needed information on how to go about registering them, etc.  That phone call was completed, and then I moved on to Mason.

Oh, Mason.  How this little boy’s life has blessed me in more ways than I ever imagined!

 

And yet life with a child who has Down syndrome is still such an unknown to me.

Mason turned 3 in April, and I knew that this fall he would be eligible for some type of educational services, but I wasn’t sure what that would like.

So that day when I decided to be a grown up, I picked up the phone to try and sort things out.  I ended up in a phone interview being asked questions like: “Does your child know his colors and shapes?”  “Does your child answer who, what, when, where and why questions?” “Can your child count to ten?”  

No.  No.  No.

Even though I realize these things every day when I interact with Mason, it doesn’t usually bother me.  Until a professional starts asking me questions and then I realize that Mason is behind.  He’s not like other kids his age.

Mason with bucket

After I got off the phone — our appointment set for the beginning of August to assess Mason’s development and determine his needs — I burst into tears.  Gut-wrenching sobs that had me doubled over in the kitchen.

IEP’s (Individual Education Plans–I’m learning this lingo too) are our new normal.  Special education is a regular part of our vocabulary, and our daily life.  My kid is the one who needs extra help to function.

I realized as I was crying that afternoon that putting off that phone call wasn’t just about my dislike of calling adults.  I didn’t want to face the reality of Mason’s needs.  I was happy and content with the progress he was making in therapy.  We had a good rhythm.  Everything was comfortable.

Getting him enrolled in public education as a 3 year old was going to drastically change our lives and I wasn’t ready for the change.  Not emotionally or logistically.

It’s that way with any kind of change that I haven’t initiated.

Unless I choose the path, it’s easier to keep things going as they have been.  When the course changes against my will, I eventually learn to embrace it but not without a battle of tightly holding onto what once was or what I hoped would be.

Mason in sand

Shortly after Mason was born I sat through a sermon on John 9, where Jesus encounters a man born blind.  Jesus’ disciples asked Him, “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”  

Jesus’ response:  “It was not that his man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.

And then Jesus gave the blind man sight.  The Jewish leaders questioned the man about Jesus, about his healing, and even brought in the parents to confirm his identity.

In each encounter, the blind man gave credit to Jesus and the works of God –His glory– was displayed in this man’s life.

I struggled listening to this sermon that day.  My son had a disability.  Like the man born blind, his life would be filled with challenges.  He might even be made fun of or excluded from his peers.

Unlike the blind man though, his Down syndrome wasn’t going away.  And so as I wrestled with the story of this man being healed, I asked God to show me Himself through Mason’s life.  To display His works, not through healing, but somehow through the disability.

Here we are three years later and my prayers are being answered.

Mason brushing teeth

God’s glory shows up in the quiet places of my heart when I struggle to accept changes that hurt.  He gives me the gift of Himself to comfort and reassure me that He is in control.

His glory is being revealed to me in the progress that Mason makes each day in his development.  I recognize that any new ability Mason achieves is only by the work of God enabling him to grow.

His glory is being made evident to me by the way that my heart is changing as I embrace the life that God has given.  There was a time when I begged God to have the tests come back negative, giving us a ‘normal’ son.  Now, I’m thankful for Mason’s Down syndrome.  Can I just tell you that is a miracle that God has worked in my heart?

No, God didn’t cure my son, like he healed the blind man that day.  But God’s glory is being revealed.

Mason with feet on table

I may not ever know all the ways that God is using Mason’s life to glorify Himself, but I’m thankful that He’s giving me glimpses of it now.

Change, grief, loss, sorrow, struggles–they all have a purpose.

God making Himself known and revealing His glory.

Sometimes He does that in miraculous ways like giving sight to the blind or anonymously meeting a need.

Other times He reveals His glory in the quiet, small places of our souls.  Meeting us in the midst of our hurts and joys, in the changes that we struggle to accept, to show us He is at work and we are not alone.

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13 Comments

  • Reply Jerusha Webb

    Thank you so much for your blog! On March 1st of this year I delivered my fifth child, a little boy named Brody. We were shocked to learn that he had down syndrome. Being Christians of course my husband and I knew he was a special gift given to us, but it was still quite hard to accept. My husband blames himself. This post really was a blessing to me and I can’t wait to sure it with my husband. I love your blog and your insights are very helpful and encouraging to me. I am scared about the future but I know God will be glorified through this! Thanks again!

    July 29, 2015 at 12:48 pm
    • Reply Lauren Washer

      Oh, Jerusha! I remember those early days so well. God’s strength is amazing, but allowing myself to feel the hurt of not receiving what I had anticipated in my child was helpful as well. I read through the Psalms right after our son was born and it was certainly a balm to my soul. Yes, the future is scary; I struggle with this a lot. And as much as I didn’t believe people early on, it does get better. I hesitate to say that because it was hard to swallow at the time, but it really is true. Blessings to you and your precious family!

      August 5, 2015 at 5:00 am
  • Reply For Your Weekend

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    August 1, 2015 at 6:15 am
  • Reply Lynn K

    Our youngest was diagnosed with autism when he was 3. I know the confusion of IEPs and Special Education terminology and the constant worry that you are not doing enough. It has taken me a few years, but I also have developed gratitude for my son’s disability. It has made our entire family closer. We are more compassionate to the underdogs. It has forced us to rely on God. Our son is 15 now and he is a wonderful, caring, pure-hearted person. I am so grateful God made him the way his is.

    August 1, 2015 at 9:34 am
  • Reply Jodi

    A beautiful reminder. Thanks for this post.
    It is also good to know that I’m not the only adult who feels that way about making phone calls!!

    August 1, 2015 at 4:31 pm
  • Reply Amanda MacB

    Thank you for this beautiful and powerful post. My youngest is 4 1/2 and was diagnosed with mild CP at 2 1/2 and autism in addition to that at age 4. I wrestle so much with the healing stories in the Bible, and your words spoke to many of my own thoughts and feelings.

    August 1, 2015 at 6:45 pm
  • Reply lindley

    Hi Lauren!
    I cannot believe how timely this post was for me! We just had our IEP for our little boy this past week. It was gut-wrenching in many ways–but mostly because I know my husband and I are his advocates and we felt clueless in the meetings. I related SO much to your story (about making those phone calls) and just had to share. We came off a church leaders retreat this weekend and I was expressing the pain I had with the IEP meetings to friends–realizing that 1) they don’t completely understand, but were trying to and 2) as I expressed, I just thought this fear of the unknown is not from the Lord! He knows!!! He’s gone before us!!
    And then when I read this post, knowing your feelings and also knowing our God—I just felt so incredibly thankful and the tears came flowing!!
    Thank you—-so glad I’ve found you!

    August 2, 2015 at 5:42 pm
    • Reply Lauren Washer

      Lindley, thank you for sharing! Yes, fear is not from the Lord and I’m learning to fight it with Truth that is from Him! We still have the IEP meeting coming, but in our initial meeting the other day, I was encouraged by how God gave me strength to relax and not struggle at all. Glad to connect with you!

      August 5, 2015 at 5:02 am
  • Reply Marty

    Such a beautiful, beautiful post. I was there, where you are, many years ago. My son, Joshua, is now 29 years old. I have seen God’s glory displayed IN his life and BY his life…time after time after time. Thank you so much for this post. Love it so much. 🙂

    August 2, 2015 at 9:26 pm
  • Reply Cori

    I clicked over from Emily Freeman’s blog. I hate making phone calls, too. 😉 I’m in the midst of change, very different from yours, but I’m wanting to see God on the other side. Thanks for the reminder to see Him now. Even in the struggle when there’s no three point lesson being revealed. And your son is beautiful!

    August 3, 2015 at 9:23 pm
    • Reply Lauren Washer

      Thank you. Yes, God is never absent. Sometimes we just need to train ourselves to look more closely, keeping our eyes fixed on Him.

      August 5, 2015 at 5:03 am
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