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Raising Spock

Guest post by Courtney Snailum of the “Passionate Pen”

Two weeks before Christmas, my 9-year-old son asks me, “Mom, can I ask you a question?”

“Sure”, I replied.

“Well,” he began, wringing his hands together and looking down at the floor, “I just wanted to say that at 6:00 am in the dark, I went into your room with the night vision goggles to look at my presents.”

“Oh,” I said, encouraged by his confession. “And how do you feel about that decision now?”

“Well, pretty sad, because they weren’t bright enough and I couldn’t see my presents.”

“Hmmmm, I see. And is not being able to see your presents the only thing you feel bad about?”

“Yep!”10322777_10203703873578610_1280731750506954340_n

Being a parent isn’t easy for anyone. I respect the challenges and situations that every mom and dad have to face when it comes to God’s highest calling, and I would never assume that our difficulties are any more trying than anyone else’s, they’re just different.

Our son, Samuel, has High Functioning Autism (or Aspergers) and parenting him comes with its own set of rules, most of which, we’re still learning.   But much more important than discovering our son’s practical parenting needs has been the lessons that God has taught my heart along the way. It’s learning how, not only to allow God to interrupt our plans, but coming to fall in love with those interruptions.

“’For I know the plans I have for you’ Declares the Lord” – Jeremiah 29:11

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps” – Proverbs 16:9

This journey hasn’t been easy, and it’s never going to be easy. Truth be told, there are many days where I just don’t know if we’re going to make it, and all I have left in me to do is cry out to the Lord for help. But trusting the Lord means allowing Him to write our story, even when we think we could have made the plot better, or we don’t see how He is going to tie it all together.

Holding my baby son, I had already written his story according to my desires: Straight A student, football, college, marriage, and grand babies. But God is the sovereign writer. He directs our steps in spite of what we think is best, then creates a masterpiece that is so much more beautiful than anything we could have come up with on our own.

The days of frustration may sometimes outnumber the days of joy, but they definitely don’t outweigh them. As difficult as Aspergers can be, there is also great wonder in discovering the world through Samuel’s eyes.

We have jokingly come to refer to him as Mr. Spock since he views everything through a literal lens, which has also made him a master loop-hole finder. This has caused us really raise the bar with our communication. Not just with Samuel, but with all of our children as a result. He has a gift of memorization and music that takes my breath away, and is always creating outside of the box.

Next year, we will be embarking on the adventure of homeschooling Samuel after having a very difficult time in public school. This decision started out of necessity, as the classroom is no longer a healthy environment for him, but the more I prayed about it, the more I began to see all of the amazing doors that this move is going to open up to him. We’ll be integrating occupational therapy techniques into the curriculum and will have every opportunity in the world to build and develop him in his unique areas of gifting.

And the best part is, we’re not going at it alone.

They say it takes a village to raise a child, and it’s true. I believe it takes a Church family to raise a child with Aspergers, and we are so blessed to have ours. This is a group of people who have come around my husband and I and prayed with us, supported us, and occasionally taken our children when I just needed to take a walk and gather myself.

1017754_10203643551950607_947508421581739680_nA few weeks ago, Samuel received his first award at the school and we were so blessed to see such a large group from our church show up to cheer him on as the principal called his name.

I don’t know why God chose us to raise Samuel, but I am so thankful. He has an incredible plan for his life and we’re humbled to be given this responsibility. It takes a reliance on the Lord’s strength and careful listening to His voice to know how to tackle each and every challenge, but He has been faithful to give us everything we need to help our son, in the words of Spock, “live long and prosper”.

To read more about Courtney go to the Real Housewives of God’s Kingdom.  I was honored to write about her in one of my first episodes of that series.  Blessings 🙂

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Looking picture perfect doesn’t mean everything’s picture perfect

Guest post by Whitney Kuhn

1425737_10202673563387267_604091435_nI have happily carried the title of wife for just about 6 months now, half a year. It’s a great feeling to be called wife. I am definitely still in the honeymoon season of my marriage, that year of newlywed where when we go out in public, you can still see that just married glow upon our faces. It’s a really fun time. Marriage is absolutely awesome! It truly is the time of my life. Let’s be honest, I’ve only been dreaming about these days since I was about, oh, six years old. And I’ve only been day dreaming about these days with my husband, Jacob, since I first developed a major crush on him in the 9th grade. Yes, we are “that” couple. That couple that met in the wee years of middle school, fell in love in high school, were high school sweethearts, were Prom King and Queen, that couldn’t seem to let go when college days came around. And now, here today, we have the privilege of saying that we made it through all those formative years of our lives, those years where we faced many challenges, many obstacles, a lot of immaturity, together, and now have the honor of being husband and wife for the rest of our lives!

It’s funny. People hear our story and how long we’ve been together, and they automatically think that we’ve got it made! They automatically say something along the lines of “I hope that I can find someone someday, and have exactly what you guys have.” We look picture perfect on the surface. And believe me; I am beyond touched by this reaction by others. But I have to admit something. It’s not all fun and games in marriage. I know, I am saying that even after only six months of marriage. But it is true. 425324_10201450881060973_2072547055_nMarriage is a blast, but marriage is also pretty hard. Our marriage is far from perfect. I think this is a hard thing for couples to admit to others, especially couples who are in the church. It is hard to admit, because we want to set the ultimate example for those around us. We don’t want to disappoint or let people down. Truth is nobody has marriage down perfectly. Nor will anybody ever have marriage down perfectly. This is because everyone has weaknesses. We are all imperfect, and we carry that into our relationships, and our marriages. Weaknesses are normal. That being said, we must have grace, forgiveness, and genuine understanding for one another. Colossians 4:6 (NIV) says, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

Maybe hearing that marriage is hard is discouraging, it shouldn’t be! The challenges1461095_10202673578227638_1377933885_n make us stronger, and together. They help us grow and be better. As we are being made better with the help and example of our Heavenly Father, we are growing closer to Him, and as we are growing closer to God, we are growing closer to each other. It is a beautiful thing. In the NASB version of the Bible, Psalm 32:8 says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.” And Philippians 2:5 says, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.”

Believe me, we have our differences. My husband and I argue. In fact, we’re pretty good at arguing. Yeah, we’ve only been married half a year, but everyone argues, whether you’ve been married for a year, or 50 years. Arguing is normal and healthy even. It means you’re communicating with each other, and being open and honest. It’s good and healthy to share your emotions with your spouse. It’s how we do these things that will make a marriage healthy, or unhealthy. It’s a matter of learning how to argue right.

Some lessons I’ve learned so far in marriage:

Lesson 1: Good communication is how I communicate.

It is the nonverbal that takes place in conversation and communication383537_10201450894821317_1698823439_n that is perhaps more important than the verbal part. This is something that I have to work on and remind myself of everyday. My facial expressions are so important. This is something I don’t naturally and automatically pay much attention to. It is my weakness, but it is so crucially important. The way I carry myself in communication is very important.

Lesson 2: It’s okay that my husband likes to be alone sometimes.

This does not mean, I repeat, this does not mean he doesn’t love me1456647_10202673598468144_1799676549_n (or you) anymore. I must respect my husband. As his wife, I have to choose to support my husband, in everything. I have to choose to respect his space, to support his decision to make plans to do something that may not include me. This is okay, and this is healthy. Marriage is a new adjustment in life, an adjustment where a couple goes from seeing each other just sometimes when they make time in their single lives and personal schedules, to married life, where the couple sees each other all of the time. We have the privilege of waking up in the mornings together, of going to sleep next to each other every night. That being said, we experience each other’s company a lot in marriage. It is all going to be okay if he decides he wants to be alone every once in a while, it does not mean he loves me less, but it is something that I, as a wife, should embrace, respect, and support. I heard this quote once, that “blessed are the flexible, for they will not be bent out of shape.” My husband may make plans without me sometimes, it is not the end of the world if he does this, and how I react, or don’t react rather, speaks volumes to my respect for him. I should always be embracing the differences between my husband and me.

Lesson 3: Be reasonable.

74911_10202673600268189_1903000353_nI’ve learned how selfish I am after entering into marriage. I’ve realized it has honestly been all about me, and now it’s supposed to be about him? It’s so important to learn to be more selfless within marriage. Old ways won’t open new doors. I cannot automatically jump into defense mode when a disagreement arises between my husband and me. I can’t point a finger; it is not attractive by any means, and it means I am thinking about myself before him. I have to own my crud, and with no excuses. He will own his too, but I should be more concerned about him and his feelings, not myself. Change is definitely a process, and it comes little by little. Selfishness can be no more; there isn’t room for that in my marriage.

Lesson 4: Be the girl, let him be the man.

I have found myself trying to hide my emotions in a sense, in hopes of not 527336_10200462602394624_1599895718_ncoming off as too emotional, causing my husband to perhaps be overwhelmed with being married to such a girly girl. But he needs me to be the girl, so he can be the man, not having to worry about having to make up for my lack in the relationship. Sometimes it is hard for me to say how I feel, in fear of being rejected. He wants to know how I feel, and not later, but right now. He wants to know that even though I may be annoyed about him leaving the toilet seat up, that he is still my knight in shining armor, that he is the person that I look up to more than anybody else in the world. He wants to know how respected and appreciated he is.

Lesson 5: Look ahead.

575513_10201450901341480_1369569634_nLike I said before, it is normal to carry weaknesses, to have struggles, and to remember baggage you have carried in the past. Don’t look back though; you’re not going that way. Don’t dwell on past hurts or baggage. What good is that going to do? Look ahead, the future is bright! The future is exciting. Ephesians 2:10 (NIV) says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Like I said before, looking picture perfect doesn’t necessarily mean everything’s picture perfect. We’ve already faced some challenges, and it’s only the beginning. But, I’ve got to say, the challenges and new revelations that marriage brings only make it that much more sweet and more worth every single moment that we share, with God as our center. I can only imagine how much sweeter it gets over time. Thank you Lord for marriage!

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