Grocery trips with Jonathan...They’ve become touchstones, marking victory or defeat, progress or regress. The grocery store is where it all started. Where God crashed into my Jonathan story.  Where new hope was born. Today, success meant Jonathan stayed in the high blue plastic kiddie seat without bolting, slithering or leaping to snatch cupcakes or wander away. The straps are too tiny to put around his broad 17 year old shoulders.  When he did get down a few times, he listened (and obeyed!) when I asked him to get back up. All the way from produce to dairy and back. Hooray! Thank you, Lord.

Triumph at the grocery.  Might seem funny, but it’s a huge gift.  Six weeks of agitated, not-sleeping-at-night-Jonathan aka Mommy-and-Daddy-not-sleeping, even worse during a few “vacations,” topped off by the sudden retirement of Jonathan’s long time caregiver soon after our return. Translation: tag team naps, every bite of every meal managed (“chew and swallow, Jonathan.” (To avoid overstuffing.) ”What do you want?” (Guide communication device use.) Handing clothing to him, prompt him through every step of dressing.  Repeat multiple times daily (We’ve been having issues lately.) Never leave him alone (except in front of Mr. Rogers or Curious George). Don’t feel guilty about leaving him in front of the screen. Take him to the potty every two hours, unless he doesn’t go. Then take him every half hour. Don’t ever leave him alone near food. Ever. Spend time on the front deck for fresh air. Make him pick up everything he throws. Prevent him from climbing over the railings every two to three minutes.  I don’t think I’ve ever experienced this degree of bone weary, tearful exhaustion. I’m not proud of how edgy I’ve felt and acted. There have been some good moments. Like reading aloud to Jonathan when he’s on the potty so he’ll relax and go. (I love the Little House on the Prairie series.) Watching him enjoy the water and sand at the beach. Taking walks at Long Park. He still holds my hand.

School starts tomorrow. Some relief is in sight. And I’m interviewing two possible caregivers for Jonathan this Tuesday. Prayers for wisdom, discernment, and clear direction are appreciated.

What am I thankful for? For starters, I’ve survived to this point. Why? My husband Nick is in this with me. Always. And I have a community. Wise Christian women and the members of our Open Bible Class who love me through all of this, and when I’m too weary to pray, hold me up. Perhaps God has allowed me just a small taste of what it’s like for people who do this without any help, ever. The crushing, unrelenting nature of it. The despair. The bleakness of a future without relief. But by God’s grace and with my friends wise encouragement and prayers, I am more whole at the end of these three “Jonathan-solo” weeks than when I started.

  I’m not sure what Tuesday will hold. Or if I gain new helpers, how this experience will shape things moving forward.  I’m still grappling with how to find the Lord’s presence in the midst of the mind-numbing repetition that is so much of caring for a special needs child.  My friends keep pointing me to Jesus. Placing me in His arms. He has known every sorrow. Borne every sinful attitude confessed or yet to be discovered, on the cross. The answers to my questions are found in His person. In His presence. His presence. With Isaiah, I am undone. This awful tearing, this pain in my soul is creating a deeper, wider place for Him to abide. In that wideness, a place for others who hurt. And this burden, when I’m yoked to the One who loves me, draws me close to His side.  In this I will rest. Today, I will rest.