Zoe's LIfe...Made for God's Glory

Posted by  | Tuesday, December 9, 2008  at 3:54 AM  
This week's topic, developmental disorders, is such a broad topic. We hope to have several guest authors to share their stories with you. Heather, a dear friend of mine (Stacey), is such a great mom with a beautiful family. I hope her story encourages you as much as it has me...

“You are made for God’s glory!” is a phrase we tell all four of our children often. We want to instill a sense of purpose as well as a sense of importance. The world looks at beautiful, perfect, and complete things as meaningful, and we can easily fall into that pattern. What about things which are imperfect or abnormal? Are they any less meaningful or purposeful to God? What about something He created that may be viewed as “abnormal?”

Our firstborn daughter, Zoe, was diagnosed with mild Cerebral Palsy at 2 years old, shortly after our second child was born. Around 9 months of age we began to notice that Zoe’s hands always mirrored one another. Our pediatrician (who has an autistic child) said that if this did not fade by 2 years of age, we would look into it. There was a possibility that it was just a minor developmental delay that would catch up. All of Zoe’s milestones were within the normal range, but on the late end. She didn’t crawl until 10 months or walk until 17 months. At 2, she could not put more than 2 words together. There were times when it was difficult (some times embarrassing, as if I could fix it but didn’t) for me that my child was not the same as other children her age. Right after her second birthday, we took her for an MRI, which showed minor damage in the left parietal lobe of the brain. A pediatric neurologist diagnosed her with mild CP with a rare expression of obligatory mirror movement in her hands, with some dynamic tone in her arms and legs. This explained the developmental delay we had seen and prepared us for a continuation of delays for the future.

I can remember that day well: the day that someone told me that my child was not normal. We jumped into “fix-it” mode by getting Zoe into therapy. Somewhere over the next year I went through a grieving stage while trying to imagine what life was going to be like for Zoe and for us. I carted my newborn to Zoe’s therapy sessions twice a week for Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech. We saw major improvement with her developmental skills in all areas over the next 2 years of continual therapy. During this time I remember wanting to pray for God to heal her, but not sure if I could. I didn’t know if I could handle the answer being, “no.” After mulling it over for a while I came to the belief that I first needed to have the faith that God could heal her. (Did I really believe He could?) I then had to have the faith that acknowledged that God alone had the right to make that decision. (Could I give over my control?) Thirdly, I had to have the faith that God would sustain me regardless of His decision. (If His answer was “no,” would I still praise Him?) So, I prayed (and still pray sometimes) that God would heal her. So far His answer is “no,” but that does not mean He is not working!

In God’s sovereignty, He called me to major in Special Education in college 9 years before Zoe’s birth. I met a fellow student with a sister, Shannon, with Down’s syndrome. Through interaction with her family, God gave me a passion to learn how to best assist children with disabilities. One thing about this family that caught my attention was the way they interacted with Shannon. Her brothers often introduced her as their sister with “super syndrome.” Their explanation was that Shannon had an additional 21st chromosome. To them, this meant that she was not lacking anything, but actually had something extra to make her special. I remember that when Zoe does something that is not “normal.”

Zoe is now almost 6 and I have been homeschooling her for a year and a half. We have learned how to focus on Zoe’s strengths, while still working on her weaknesses. She can’t tie her shoes or fix her own hair and has difficulty with some other self-help skills, but she knows the flags from over 50 states and countries. Her handwriting is atrocious, but she has learned how to read like a champ and has a memory that locks in information. Zoe is developing into a great big sister to her siblings (Karis, 4; Hudson, 2; Sophia, 5 months). We can’t look in the future and see what Zoe’s life is going to be like or what her capabilities will be, but we can continue to challenge her. Some days are more challenging than others (for example, Zoe broke her arm last week and now needs even more help than ever), but most days I simply see her as one of my kids. The most important thing for Zoe to know is that she is a gift from God, created by Him, to bring glory to Himself.

1 comment:

We're Jared, Michelle, and Caleb. said...

Heather,
Thank you for sharing your story. My sister is mentally handicapped. My parents did a wonderful job of raising her - challenging her in every way and still accepting her limitations. I appreciate the reminder that we are all created for God's glory. Most of the time, my sister is a far better representation of Christ's love than I am. She prays for me and my family daily and loves us unconditionally. Thank you for reminding me that she was created for His glory just the way she is!

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