The following was presented at the PVBC Men's Fellowship Breakfast on 09.26.2015.
When my son, Ian, was born with Down syndrome, our family was introduced to a new vocabulary and acronyms. Our son was now labeled as requiring “special needs”. He would be enrolled in the local regional center and assigned a caseworker. He would receive IEPs or individualized educational programs at least twice during the school year. All of this was mandated by the IDEA or Individuals with Disabilities Education Act that outlined and addressed his special needs. Definitely a mouthful and earful!
I am very appreciative and am thankful for the many programs that have helped my son, allowing our entire family to come together to assist Ian with activities that do not come as easily as his peers. Special needs translates into greater attention to details, looking for ways to present information that can be more readily assimilated by the recipient. And if this is the definition, then the term special needs applies more to myself than to my son. As believers in Jesus Christ and the head our households, we men have many shared special needs. God has answered my needs in loving and sometimes unexpected ways. He has given me His greater attention and opened my heart to understand how to lead my family. I don’t have all the answers and I fail far too many times than I succeed. But by God’s grace and mercy, He continues to transform me into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. I would like to share some of the lessons that I have learned from the other man in my home, my son Ian.
Patience-Don’t Just Stand There, Do Nothing!
Some activities take Ian a bit longer to learn and assimilate and we have learned to modify our daily activities to accommodate him. We may have to repeat something several times and alert him to any changes in activities at least 15 minutes before the event. Simple requests may have to be reinforced several times before it is assimilated. It is difficult and at times, definitely tries my patience. But am I any different? I have failed so many times to obey the seemingly simple action of trusting and obeying God. And yet, God is still patient with me. Patience is not my virtue. I multi-task my multitasking. While this may be a valuable asset at work, it does not facilitate a healthy marriage. As the head of the household, and especially as a husband, I have learned to be faster and slower at all tasks. There are situations which require immediate attention-an injury or accident. But there are many more situations which require taking a step back. We have a phrase in medicine when someone is undergoing a seizure, “Don’t just stand there, do nothing!” In other words, after you make sure the patient has a good airway and is not in a location where they may hurt themself, let the seizure run its course. I have a horrible tendency to always want to intervene and attempt to fix every situation and problem. While this may be done with noble intentions, sometimes, it is best to go slow and let God handle the situation, letting Him teach and help me, rather than me doing it for Him. If you do a word search in the Bible, the words patience and wait appear over 100 times. I think God is trying to teach me something.
Communicating God’s Word-There’s a Blog for That!
I wanted to share the life lessons I have learned in a meaningful manner with each family member. Every weekday I share a devotional email blog, which I have written, with my family. This same blog is posted on the PVBC website blog page. These blogs reflect upon events in my life and everyday events and the life lessons learned. One constant theme recounts how God has shown me that what happened to me many years ago has changed to mean different things to me at different stages in my life. They serve as a springboard for discussion in private moments, specifically tailored for each family member. With my son, I explain to him what God wants us to do now. With my daughter, I show her the direction God wants us to take in life. With my wife, we reflect upon on how God has brought us to this position in life through His grace and providence. You may not write a daily devotional blog but all of us have a rich resource and trove of life experiences that we can use to share God’s lessons to our family.
Seize the teachable moments-IV Sedation for Your Patients
There are many teachable moments that arise and I turn these teachable moments into devotional blogs, one of which I will now share with you.
Several months ago, as our family was driving past a dental office, my daughter saw a sign that was advertising:
IV Sedation for Your Patients
My wife, a pediatric dentist, utilizes IV or intravenous sedation for some dental procedures. However, my daughter was unfamiliar with the terminology. So she asked us, “What does IV sedation mean?”
Seizing upon a teachable moment, my wife replied, “What do you think it means?”
With a thoughtful pause, she answered, “Four sedation?”
It took a moment for my daughter’s answer to sink in but at the same instance, both my wife and I burst into laughter, much to my daughter’s confusion! I shot her a big smile and reassured her, “Sweetheart, you’re too clever for us!”
When we see letters or symbols, they may represent different things depending upon one’s background and the situation. The letter “A” may represent academic success or may be worn as a shameful symbol of adultery. An outline of a fish may represent your occupation or hobby or it may signify your faith in Jesus Christ.
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us — for it is written,
“Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.”
The greatest crime in history is symbolized by a tree, pounded into the ground in the form of a cross, executing the greatest man who ever lived, Jesus Christ. But the greatest act of love is also symbolized by this same tree. For by it, God accepted the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ, as payment for our sins, and raised Him from the dead. He now reigns in Heaven and someday, He will return to rule this world.
The Cross-a symbol of shame, a symbol of faith, hope, and love.
We need to seize the teachable moments.
Trusting God-Memorizing the Krebs Cycle Again
Ian was born 1 month prematurely and he spent his first 2 months of life in the neonatal ICU. It was a long and difficult lesson in trusting God with hours of anguish and questioning. Sometimes we attempt to force God to adopt to our needs. But we need to learn to trust God with His time schedule, not ours. Whatever decisions I make, I want to make sure my family knows that I sought God’s direction first.
This past summer, my daughter Malia had a difficult introduction to high school. She took biology honors. Even before the class started, she was discouraged. The teacher that was widely acknowledged as the easier and less challenging teacher had completely filled her class. Malia had no choice but to take the class from a teacher that had a reputation of being a tough grader. As if to fulfill her already negative expectations, she did not get a good grade on her first test. I told her I would work with her everyday and would not give up on her. But I also challenged her to dedicate her efforts to God. Regardless of the grade and outcome, God would bless her efforts. If she were honest in her efforts, she would be honoring God as a student. God would not give up on her. It was a difficult 6 weeks but in the end, she did well. Our entire family learned an important lesson in seeing how God will provide when we trust Him.
In 1 Corinthians 1:25-31, the Apostle Paul wrote…
For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
1 Corinthians 1:25-31 (ESV)
The world tells me that my son has special needs. God has used my son to teach me that I, too, have many special needs. God knows how weak I am and by His grace and mercy, revealed to me how He can take any situation for His glory. God sees my special needs and responds, not with IEPs or caseworkers, but with His Son, Jesus Christ.
The male leader of the home has solemn responsibilities. His life needs to be a reflection of trust and obedience to God. We, men, have special needs. Our entire family is watching us, observing us, seeing how we will react when we have to make choices that are not always black and white. Brothers, we are men, husbands, fathers, and grandfathers; let’s continue to support one another in prayer and fellowship.
Brothers, love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.