Tying into last week’s posts, I have additional “war stories” to share today as I reflect upon John’s home program. Despite breaks here and there, when I think about John’s program the first thing that stands out is the patterning… ALL the patterning! This is one of the Institutes’ distinctive techniques, and it involves at least three adults moving John’s head, arms, and legs in a certain sequence with a certain rhythm to give tactile input to John’s brain teaching him over and over again what it feels like to crawl. At times, we patterned John 12 times spread throughout the day with each session lasting 3-5 minutes.
|Patterning March 2010|
After our first trip to the Institutes in which we were given John’s initial home program, we realized we would be coming home and asking for a great deal of help. Something you should know about me: I am a first-born, Type A, “recovering” perfectionist. I like to be self-sufficient. I do not enjoy asking for help or feeling I am inconveniencing anyone. Of course, much of this changed when I was on bed rest with the twins from 15 weeks on and had to depend on others for pretty much everything. Definitely preparation for what was to come!
Just when we thought the extreme need for help had come to an end after months of meals from our friends and church during and following our time in the ICU after the twins were born (not to mention cleaning, ironing, grocery shopping, etc), we were returning home from the Institutes in December 2009 when John was almost a year old yet again needing to ask for help. I dreaded this task. I felt we had already been given far more than we deserved. I wondered how we would ever find enough people to give up their most precious resource, their time. And I certainly didn’t want anyone to feel obligated to help because they felt sorry for us.
Silly me. As usual, the Lord showed up. He once again put on flesh and provided an abundance of “patterners” through the most amazing friends, neighbors, therapists, and complete strangers. These people possessed the common threads of compassion, selfless service, belief in John, and a willingness to be on this bizarre journey with us. I cry thinking about each person the Lord provided over the past 3.5 years. I cry realizing how the Lord became incarnate to me personally in each session, as people streamed in and out of our home, with each sacrificial hour given to our family.
We asked for help out of our weakness, due to John’s limitations… And God gave us a community. Where we had felt alone and isolated, God brought a patterning family into our home. When we feared John would not be accepted or known, God provided friends who have loved him more than I thought possible from individuals who are not his parents.
I have thanked this team, but what always surprises me….yes, even 3.5 years later…. is how they claim to have received more by working with John than they have given. I do not believe them, but I am grateful!!
We all have weaknesses and limitations, even if they aren’t as apparent as John’s. The blessing comes for those of us who have the eyes to see how God uses our weaknesses and needs to bring us together. Strengths so often divide… but challenges can bond. And in bonding, we end up stronger. The program was a gift not only in the provision it brought in its season but also in the community it built around us.
In a world that champions optimizing our strengths, I think Christ wants us to take our weaknesses to Him and allow Him to optimize them. Redeem them. Turn them into greater strength than we could know on our own.
“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
-2 Corinthians 12:9-10
This post is dedicated to all of our patterners from Virginia Beach and Atlanta. We love you and are eternally grateful. Thank you for believing in John and loving us so well.