Monday, September 25, 2017

Typical Siblings, Much Fruit

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control...
Galatians 5:22 ESV

Do you think about how your child’s disability has affected your family? If you are anything like me, you think about it fairly often.

Thinking about Liam’s disabilities is a necessity when we try to plan activities.  I have to think of how he will react to stimuli, how his wheelchair will fit into places, and where/if we will be able to change his diaper if we are someplace for more than a couple of hours. I feel sad when we can’t do things as a family because they aren’t accessible or would be upsetting for Liam.

When my little girl plays pretend with her friend and they discuss their siblings’ disabilities, my heart aches and swells at the same time. When my eldest discusses medical interventions and therapies as easily as some kids discuss movies, I feel a conflicted pride and sadness. 

If you were to draw a wheel depicting our family, Liam would be in the center. The family only operates well when his needs are met and he is content. If any of the spokes break or fall off, the wheel cannot turn. When Liam is sick or unhappy, we all go into a sort of “survival” mode and everyone works to help him. Perhaps your family is similar to ours in this way?

Last week our family attended an Autumn event for children and families with special needs. At the end, we were invited to go into the orchard and pick 6 apples to take home. The orchard was a very young one. We would be the first people to pick fruit off the rows of small trees. As we approached the row of tiny trees, I expected to find only a few apples. I was so surprised to find that the small trees were bursting with beautiful red apples. After each person in our group picked 6, there were still trees full of apples left. 

When I think of how Liam’s disabilities affect my children’s lives, it’s usually the hard things that I am thinking of. It is easy to see all of the ways that families without disabilities have an easier life. I forget that God is growing these girls for HIS purpose. He is using the circumstances in their lives to glorify him. Through their love for the Lord, their love for Liam, and the circumstances that Liam’s disabilities bring into our lives, God is pruning them into the very trees that he needs them to be. He always has their eternal good in mind and is working toward that.

My girls are like those little trees in that new orchard. They are young and people may approach them expecting only small things, but through the Lord, they are full of fruit. I see this in so many ways in their kind, generous, and sympathetic personalities. I see it in the way that they notice a child who has hurt feelings and extend kindness. I see it in the way that they acknowledge the elderly and hold doors for others. I see it in all of the little ways that they care for their brother and put his needs ahead of their own on a regular basis. God put this precious boy and these precious girls into this family with His good plan in mind. The same is true for your family.

The Message says, 
“But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.” (Galatians 5:22)
Dear Heavenly Father, Please be with our families. Strengthen our children and guide them so that they can grow beautiful fruit for you.  Amen.

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