What Makes Me Special?

For those who haven't followed us for a long time, Maxim joined us not quite three years ago at 9.5 years old.  He has cerebral palsey and spent nearly five years in adult institution in Ukraine. 


      Maxim nabbed my heart at first glance.



 My heart changed this day.  It began expanding, swelling.  I saw so much in this little boy.  And the wait would be long.
Four and a half years later kind of LONG
     See those eyes?  I don't see them much any more and most of the time if people are around and he is busy, this face can't be seen.  But what I learned is that sometimes this face is still happening on the inside even when he looks like this another three years later:
     I share this with you to understand that often placing a child in a new environment filled with love is going to take great time, care and patience to peel away the layers of wrong thoughts that wrap and weave through the fiber of their beings.  It's not a matter of simple explanation or showing of a new way.  Their little bodies hold memory, their little spirits were deeply impressed when raw emotion erupted in response to those experiences they never should have known.

     Most anyone these days meets Mr. Sunshine.  His smile is wide and those perfectly aligned front teeth and dapper glasses rest on his handsome little face.  He is a treasure.  Such depth.  And yet pain runs deep too.  And so, well,  sometimes the safest place to be is shallow.  But when its just mom and dad,  there is no need to perform.  For this, I am thankful.

      For a long while I could feel it.  I knew that something more painful was being wrestled with inside of him.  Bits and pieces surface.  The lock of the door sound, shutting doors, thunder in the night, laying in bed are still things he pushes himself through.  He searches to find what he can do well and at times, needs to put another down for not doing as well as him.  I saw performance was becoming the way he could find his worth.  He has tried different angles to feel better, almost trying on personalities.  Maybe if I act tough, maybe if I make fun of someone else, maybe if I disobey and act like I don't care......  And while we talked with him about this, we all know that things in the head must find its way to the heart before belief sets in.  And so prayer and ministry as only God can do has taken time.  

     Yesterday we were reading from Hebrews 5:7-9

     During the days of Jesus life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.  Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once, made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.

    Our conversation turned towards the topic of what is "fair."  We talked about Jesus and I asked them if it was fair that those Jesus came to save nailed him to a cross.  I saw a change in Maxim's face.  I went back to the passage and began again to read through.  Jesus learned obedience from what he suffered.  He offered up prayers and petitions with LOUD CRIES and TEARS to the ONE who could save him.   He began choking up, then looked at me and through tears burst that he has not really believed in God and didn't pray because he didn't believe God really loved him.

    And in God's beautiful way I eased him through his struggles gently reminding him of what happens when he becomes afraid and shallow ways want to cover over the deeper aches.  Maxim when you were very young you heard sounds and felt things you didn't understand, but your body still felt fear and your spirit felt unsafe too.  And then when you went to the institution and you were locked in that room each day, fear kept returning.  And while you didn't like fear and still don't like fear, you have gotten used to feeling fear.  But fear doesn't only make you feel bad, it makes you not able to see who you are.  Right now, you don't get to see or truly feel how special you are and that makes me sad.

     With big eyes and the softest, most genuine question, he looked at me and said, "What really makes ME special?"  

     Maxim,  God gave you special gifts that only you can do because he has a special mission for you to do here on earth.  You live in America, were born in Ukraine and lived in an institution, but you came from heaven.  Because God made you, you first came from heaven.  You give encouragement and you teach and you were made for great faithfulness.  The world was not fair to you just like it wasn't fair to Jesus.  But you can pray to your Father in heaven with great big tears and he will hear you as you ask for more faith, ask for his love to take away your fear.  

     And something began anew yesterday.  A breakthrough.  An understanding that His Jesus suffered too.  An emerging realization that coming from pain and rejection doesn't mark him as deficient.  

So afterwards we went to the park and then the lake and I was able to observe him just a bit differently.  His smile not so cheesy or plastered, his spirit was at rest and joy shined a bit brighter.
And, I really loved this part..... He walked up to a boy on the playground, introduced himself and asked the boy to play tetherball with him.  I was so thankful God sent a sweet boy to the park yesterday.
 And God is so very good.  Today Maxim discovered something.  We began practicing our first Christmas song of the season (which makes Lucia cry everytime! She is such a softy!) and Maxim gave it his all.  As I taught the kids the song we reflected on the words.  They seemed to take on deeper meaning this day.

O Holy Night
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Saviours birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt it's worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born.


And when he sings this song, which he asked to sing for all of us tonight by himself - he clutched his heart at.... "and the Spirit felt it's worth."


This is real life parenting.  Waiting upon the Lord, moving when He says and speaking truth in love we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ. (Isaiah 40:31, Deuteronomy 13:4, Ephesians 4:15) 


Comments

Hope Harder said…
So love Maxim and his huge smile. I read your blog through RR connection and especially loved it because you are only about 1 1/2 hours from us. Then after awhile the link took me to something like an home improvement site. I checked accasionally to see if it changed and it hadn't so I was sad not to know what happened with Maxim. At some point I saw the new link to your blog AND you were adding more kids. YAH! Love your family and your heart for special needs kids. We have adopted 8. Some are grown and gone but we still have 4 special needs kids at home. Also two grown bio kids.
Blessed said…
This is the most beautiful post. I was crying through the whole thing! Many blessings to you all this day!
christieminich said…
I just love it when the Lord ministers to His children! :)
I love real life parenting!
Nicole said…
Thank you so much for sharing this...it's so very sweet. God bless you all. :)
Judy Deaton said…
What an inspiration you are! Love your heart, and what beautiful children you have been blessed with. May God continue to bless each of us with HIS wisdom in raising these beautiful kids from hard places!
Tina- I am in tears reading your blog! I was in Ukraine this summer and visited children at druzhkovka and shakhtarsk who used to be in Torez. My heart just aches for the kids I left behind... Thank you for sharing your story!
My son Jai, too, questions like Maxim has. He has facial differences which have caused him great emotional trauma. Thank you for sharing. I am going to show your post to Jai. I think it may help him to know others feel as he does. He often asks why God made him the way he did and voices anger about it. I keep telling him God has a purpose in this, God loves him, and has great plans for him.

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