Never Settle for Ordinary

By Audra Thomas

If only we could live life in reverse things would make much more sense. I would like to think that our faith would be exponentially stronger, or would it?  There is a great gift given to us when God allows troubles in our lives. I know that doesn’t sound right, but it is true. How we view our troubles and respond to them truly determines the paths we will walk in life. This is where we start this story, living in reverse, hindsight, measuring the gains of practicing over and over of letting a good God lead us through our troubles and giving us His instructions, and His promises about our kids’ futures.  God can be counted on, he can be trusted.  He tells us In his word, in Psalm 34:8, 

“Taste and see that the Lord is good,” you can put God to the test.  

He also tells us in Proverbs 2:3, 

“Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures. Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and you will gain knowledge of God. For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth comes knowledge and understanding.” Cry out for wisdom and He will be faithful to answer.

Our journey began eighteen years ago when our eldest child was just a toddler and so full of energy. In his latter years in Elementary he was given the award of “Exuberance”, that should tell you something. As first time parents we are always second guessing ourselves and everything we are doing. We don’t yet have a plumb line or beacon of light to direct the way, nothing to use as a measuring stick. All that we have to go on is what do the books say, and how are our peers doing it? What my eyes focused on was my delightful child, when at home, loved to read books, work puzzles, and spend the day in imaginative play. However, when we ventured out into the world around us and came in contact with friends or children his age, it was as if someone ignited a spark and pure electricity started coursing through his veins. This energetic toddler, when met with peers, energized him even more. Most times spent with friends would start out as a pat or hug, then would quickly turn to a push or headlock, and ultimately would end with rolling around on the ground and wrestling would ensue. The reprimands would follow, I lived most of my days anxious about his behavior. My little guy was extremely social and as an only child he needed to be at storytime at the Library, at birthday parties, and park playdates. Most would end with us leaving, someone’s child hurt or upset, my son and myself in tears, and me wondering what I was doing wrong? After a series of days like this, one in particular stands out in my mind as one of the most memorable, and not in a good way.

 I was part of a Bible study group where we met once a week. The beauty was that they offered childcare and for two solid hours I got to take time out to fill up my cup, be with other moms and be in God’s word.  On this particular day when the study was over and I went to pick up my son I was pulled aside by the leader of the childcare and was told that I didn’t need to bring my son back. I was told they didn’t have enough resources to handle his energy and appropriately lead the other children. I remember my heart sinking and just wanting to get to my car before the floodgates of my eyes opened. I was mad, deeply hurt, but most of all I grieved for my child. I sensed in my heart something more was going on with my son but I couldn’t put my fingers on what it was exactly. That day we were asked to not come back to the study was a very defining day for our family. My husband and I will still make reference to it to this day. God was allowing a big unsolvable problem in our lives. One that we could try to think it to death or strategize enough how to fix it, OR we let the problems of our lives push us to beg the Creator of the universe, the very one that knit my child together and knows his innermost being, for answers on how to raise him!  I called my husband that day sobbing about what had transpired.  He was sad too, and without a plan, we briefly reminded each other what we knew to be true about God and our little guy. We voiced a quick “help us Lord ” prayer, just to help ease our troubled souls and minds. It wasn’t long before the words followed, 

“We are raising a square peg and he doesnt fit into the round hole of society.” “Our boy is built differently.”

Oh how true those words would ring true later. We were not sad about that statement but rather embraced it as if we finally understood our assignment. It was our mission to discover or uncover the plans and purposes the Lord had for our boy. God continued to give us peace following those words as we begged God on how to raise our son. How to best love him and how to support him. 

Year after year we spent time with God, praying, listening, time in his word and asking for wisdom. God was so faithful to lead us to books to read, Physical Therapists to see, the perfect fit preschool for our needs that was play based, and then the perfect fit school once we started Kindergarten.  God placed in our paths many families that had walked similar roads and had paved the way for us to walk them too. Our son was eventually diagnosed with Sensory Integration Disorder, which after studying it at length, all of the pieces were adding up and it made sense. I remember many times trying to speak with our Pediatricians about my gut feelings and I was dismissed every single time. I’m so grateful that God prevailed! He set in my soul to keep chasing answers.  As parents we learned great strategies and techniques on how to support our son and help him be successful. It wasn’t easy though, it was costly and took about three or four years where we were seeing success. On the difficult days when it was all so overwhelming and we felt like giving up, God renewed our hope reminding us that he had led us to find these pieces of the puzzle and we needed to keep chasing answers, we needed to stay the course. 

Because we were learning these things about our child, we were able to love him how he needed to be loved. We were able to advocate for him throughout his early elementary school years. The teachers were so kind, loving and most importantly patient and willing to work with us. I believe because we prayed so heavily on where to send him to school, God blessed our son with favor in teachers. He truly had some of the best that not only worked WITH him, but loved him. These days were not without headaches and hard times. I remember his whole Kindergarten year, my husband leaving work to go pick him up from school every afternoon to get a report from the teacher on his behavior in class that day. No one will truly know the amount of time I spent in prayer for this child because I was so anxious for him, I just wanted good things for his life. After the futile cycle of punishing him when he got home, only to repeat it again the next day, another defining day emerged that we will remember forever. 

My husband was headed up the twelve steps it took to get to our son’s room, another day, another punishment, my husband agonizing because we are all so weary and didn’t want to live this way everyday. My son was starting to say things at night when we would say our prayers and we would pray and ask God to help him make good choices, he would say “I’m just a bad kid.” That would absolutely break my heart because it was the furthest thing from the truth. This day God stopped my husband at the top of the stairs and said to him 

“He’s not the problem, you are, I didn’t create schools, 

DO NOT ROB THIS BOY OF THE ENERGY I GAVE HIM, 

HE WILL NEED IT ONE DAY FOR THE PLANS THAT I HAVE FOR HIM!”

Instead of walking in that room and giving a punishment, my husband pulled our son up in his lap and told him how much he loved him and that with God’s help we were going to figure this out. That day helped us to further embrace the call of the plans that God might have for our boy. We asked and he was faithful yet again to cast a vision for our son’s life. After all, he did design him!

Fast forward to our son’s Middle and High school years, he informs us that he has a burning desire to be a Navy S.E.A.L. The desire never faded; it only intensified over the years as our son was scaling huge mountains with his sights set on attending the Naval Academy. Taking the path of attending a service academy is not for the faint of heart. Trying to achieve the grades and ACT scores to get in is grueling. God was faithful once again as we cried out for wisdom on how to lead our first born, not only to get into college, but the Naval Academy! 

God provided mentors, a retired U.S Army Colonel, who spent many lunch and coffee dates pouring into our son. He provided the best tutors for Calculus, and he highlighted a study schedule for us to adopt after one of our many visits to the Naval Academy. Our son did not end up at the Naval Academy, but at Virginia Military Institute instead, where he is thriving. I know this is exactly where he is meant to be. He pushed through the Rat Line his first year, which was seven months of boot camp. It was intense, I encourage you to look it up. He is now in his Third Class year and has earned the rank of Corporal and is part of a specialized group called the Naval Special Warfare Prep group. A month ago he showed up for the NSWP group and was told, tomorrow we are going to run a marathon! Our son had never trained for, much less ever run a marathon. It took a lot of energy as you can well imagine to finish that. After he completed the run, our son called us and told us what he just did. We were amazed and congratulated him. After we hung up the phone we instantly went to the words God spoke to my husband that day, “Don’t rob him of the energy I gave him, he will need it one day”, today was one of those days! This was a moment in time that it all made sense. We felt deep in our souls such gratitude because only we know the hard and struggle and the deep ways God met us. He spoke wisdom to us and now we were watching some of those plans unfold before our very eyes.  God is using the great amount of energy he gave our son, only he knew how he built him and what he would need one day. Last time I checked, Navy S.E.A.L.S need a ridiculous amount of energy and fortitude. What if we had tried to squelch the energy that God gave him,  and make our son fit into that round hole? What if we never invited God in and just tried to figure things out ourselves?

God is weaving a beautiful story that requires our partnership with him. He requires us to take an active and intentional role as parents. God can be trusted to give us wisdom if we ask. He wants us to know him better. He wants us to know the promises he has for our lives and to be ready for them. We need to let the hardships of life lead us to the throne every single time, and not as a last resort but as our first stop when hitting roadblocks in raising our children.  My husband and I certainly did not have all of the answers, or would know  how it would all turn out. We do know the Creator of the Universe and we know we can trust his plans! He created our children and laid out every single day of their lives. Not one day or problem has been missed by God. They have all been illuminated to him. 

In advance…. trust Him!

In the hardest of times… trust Him!

When His plans come into fruition… rejoice in Him!

If I could go back in time and talk to myself twenty years ago, I would tell that young mama who was wrestling with fears, doubts, insecurities, and disappointments to stay the course, borrow hope, trust God quicker and chase faster after him regarding parenting. God is not holding onto secrets. He wants so desperately to reveal to us great and mighty things.