Monday, January 22, 2007

Why Bother?

I just received an email in my inbox today. It was an appeal from a Catholic pro-life organization for someone to adopt a baby still in utero. He is a twin. His brother is healthy and he appears to have spina bifida as well as hydrocephaly. The mom wants to abort him and keep his brother but the pregnancy counselors working with her feel she will carry the baby to term if she knows that adoptive parents are waiting for him on the other side of the womb. I don't think we're the family for him but I know God has a plan for his life. I know that little one will be saved from abortion and I also know that many people will read that and ask, "Why Bother?" Why bother saving a baby who is destined to die early and live a shortened life of pain and anguish?

Recently one of the young ladies from our local home for unwed pregnant teens came to the house already 8 months pregnant. Her time at the house was short but she knew she was carrying a baby with hydrocephaly. She knew her baby's life would probably be cut short (shy of a miracle anyway) and she wanted to be prepared to parent that little one for as long as she would have him in this world. She carried him (almost) to term and little Ryan was born and died within a week. Her family transported him halfway across the country to bury his little body next to his grandmother. Why bother? Why bother carrying and giving birth to a little one who is going to die shortly after his lungs draw their first breath?

I've been communicating with a mom who has a 15 year old son with multiple handicaps. He has mental retardation, he is deaf and has autism. Kyle functions at about a 3 year old level...and she is homeschooling him. Why bother? Why bother trying to teach him anything since he probably won't make a big splash in this wide world? While I'm at it, why bother teaching my own daughter with down syndrome how to read or add since she might not do anything more than scrub tables in McDonald's for a living?

Today is the annual march on Washington DC in protest of the landmark abortion case Roe V. Wade which pried open the doors for wholesale abortions across our nation. That lawsuit has caused more deaths in our nation than any war we've ever fought. Why has my 9 year old son bothered to drive to the train station with his dad, take a train into a big and foreign city and spend the day in the shivering cold walking and singing and hoping to have his passion recognized by our sleeping country? Why did the 39 people who joined us at our mass yesterday get on an airplane, travel across the country and pay for a stay in a hotel for that same privelidge? Why bother?

Those of us who homeschool children with special needs have to ask this question sometimes daily. Sometimes the answer is "don't bother." We don't bother to try to teach geometry to our children with dyscalcula. We don't bother to pound history dates into heads which can't even remember to chew food once it's in the mouth. We don't bother with what is truly frivolous when viewed with Kingdom eyes. But there is much more with which we *do* bother. We do bother to recognize that each of our children were made in the image and sight of God, carefully knitted together in their mothers' wombs. We do bother to understand that each of our children have a perfect plan and purpose for their lives, no matter how trivial that plan may seem to us. We do bother to pray that their lives will be as full as God intended and that these children will astound us with their wisdom, their love and their simplicity.

I have a friend with a daughter with Miller-Dieker syndrome. She is confined to a wheelchair, cannot speak or feed herself and has severe mental retardation but she can do one thing that makes it all worth it for her mother to bother. She can smile. She can express pleasure - and displeasure. She can probably see angels and hear the Holy Spirit whispering too but we may never know that for sure this side of Heaven. His plan for her life was so simple. God created her in her mother's womb so that she could come into this world and smile. He must have thought that the rest of us were doing a really bad job at it so He made someone who could be completely dedicated to the job. That's love.

Out of love came the wisdom to allow His people to control their own will - to either bind it to His divine will or to tear the fabric of their souls and wander into sin. Out of sin comes death, disease, dysfuntion, disability. We lose our function, we lose our ability and we lose our lives when we bring sin into the world. But God doesn't just leave us there. We may have created the dis - eases of this world but God has used them to bring glory and love and honor into His kingdom. God did not will that children should be born and die. He is not in the business of creating new infirmities to put upon His people. No, He is in the love business. Out of love He fashions souls in the womb - He births new people from the moment of conception and, sometimes out of love or maybe the sheer forcing of our own wills, we actually pull it together enough to let them live out their natural lives.

Miriam can dance. She can dance like a princess in the court of her King. Philip can make babies smile. He works really hard at it. (He can also quote all the lines to Bug's Life from beginning to end and we're still trying to find out God's currently secret plan for that skill...) When Kyle was in a coma and dying of kidney failure people lined up outside his door to say goodbye and share how he had touched their lives. He didn't die, by the way - God chose to keep him around a bit longer. Children save lives. They change people, they touch hearts where no one else can reach. They bring Jesus to people and people to Jesus. Now that's love. It doesn't matter what size or shape or ability that baby comes in they all have a knack for carrying God's kingdom right out of the womb with them. I've written before of the womb as a tabernacle, a dwelling place of God on High, and so it only follows that when the womb is emptied at birth, God spills Himself into our arms and our hearts. *That's * love. *That* is why we bother.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Potty Training!

I had so much success with Toilet Training in Less Than a Day with Betsy and Ruth that I decided it was time for John Michael and David to get with the program. I lost my book in the fire and so the first step was to order a new one. Once the book came in it was study, study, study - that thing is intense! Well, after reviewing The Program, we decided that today was the big day. I equipped myself with a potty seat for each of them, a basket full of underpants, Baby Who Wets and a supply of drinks and treats to please the most stubborn potty bound toddler. I was armed and ready. Now with the girls the whole thing took about a total of 2 hours before they were pretty much completely trained. Ruth needed a little follow-up the next day and that was that - done-o-rama. Nope, not the boys, nu-uh, no way. Little did I know I was trying to train Mr. Leaky and his side kick Bladder of Steel.

Mr. Leaky did manage to put his pee pee in the potty and stay dry for about the first two hours which prompted a call from Bob the Builder himself who expressed his deep personal pride in the acheivement of Dry Pants. Bladder of Steel received accolades from our infamous construction foreman as well. Within minutes of said encouraging conversations Mr. Leaky, well, leaked. This was followed by a loud "No!" and a long harangue about how disappointed Bob the Builder and everyone else in Mr. Leaky's immediate universe would be at the appearance of Wet Pants (hey, it's in the book and it worked last time I tried it!). This is followed by 10 practice runs to the potty from every possible location in the house - a procedure which had been practiced with Doll Who Wets prior to Mr. Leaky's own regimen. And here is where Mr. Leaky earned his name...he leaked....again...and again...and again...and again...and again.

About the same time as Mr. Leaky's 6th again, Bladder of Steel finally exploded - all over the floor. I found him mopping up the mess with my dish towel (which was commended through sighs and clenched teeth since cleaning up one's own mess is a target goal for the day). However, after 5 hours and now 7 pairs of Wet Pants (not counting the 2 on Doll Who Wets) I had had it with potty training. Bob the Builder was very disappointed in Wet Pants, Daddy was very disappointed in Wet Pants, Betsy was very disappointed in Wet Pants and Mommy had HAD IT WITH WET PANTS!! The diapers went back on and we all took a nice, long nap....better luck next time. I just hope Bob the Builder doesn't give up on them as quickly as their Mom did...

Thursday, January 04, 2007

First Tooth!

Nathan got his first today. I have a new digital camera (that's two now stolen from my car!) but haven't hooked it up to the computer yet to play with it pictures. But that sharp little white edge is peeking out of the gums down there. He's been sticking his tongue out over it a lot too...very cute!