Waiting For A Miracle: A Christmas Letter From 2010

We Wish You a Merry 2010 Christmas…

ffSurprise! It’s been a long time since you’ve heard from us! Rather than bore you with an abridged version of the past five years’ events (that was the first draft of this letter), I will do what I do best. I will share with you my feelings about this holiday season. Because everyone wants to know what I think, right???

I love this time of year! We take down the boxes of Christmas decorations and sift through the carnage of last year’s quick clean up. After all, as February approaches even I feel pressured to get the holiday decorations put away! There are always broken ornaments, torn crafts, and tangled garland to be repaired or tossed.

Emily and Marcus have come to love unpacking the decorations. “When did I make this one, Mom?” “Is this one of the ornaments your Nana made?” “Why are we keeping this? It’s ugly!” We unpack everything and lay it out on the dining room table…where it sits for several days. “When are we going to decorate the tree,d Mom?” the children lament! But, it’s not just procrastination and daily life that delays the tree trimming. In the days after unpacking, I sort and reflect upon all these “things” that I’ve held onto all year. My mantra has become: Simplify. So, in the name of simplifying, I sort and purge. And it feels great to let go of some things! I’ve actually decreased the number of storage boxes we need by keeping what matters most!

Every year, the last task is the same. I delve into the box that contains cards, pictures, and letters sent from family and friends during previous Christmas seasons. This task takes longer each year, because, unlike the decorations, this stack grows every year! The goal of this task is simple: collect addresses and update information. However, the task turns into a lovely trip down memory lane. I delight in comparing Christmas photos of all of your children year to year. It’s fun to read letters from the past. I think about how all your lives have been filled with the joys of travel and new beginnings, but also, the challenges of life and difficult changes. It brings me closer to the true meaning of Christmas.

The meaning of Christmas to me was simply stated on a card one of you sent our family. It reads,

“Tis the season of miracles.”

In the fall of 2000 Sean and I were told our unborn son would have spina bifida. Our family, friends, co-workers, friends of friends, and even strangers flooded us with cemotional, spiritual, financial, and tangible support. We had never felt so much love for us! One thing that I’ve held onto for the past 10 years is something said to us by two different friends. One said, “God will perform a miracle with this little boy.” The other said, “By the time he’s ten, he will be a miracle.” Marcus will turn ten this year on Christmas Day.

Becoming a family with a disability (yes, one family member’s disability becomes something the whole family learns to manage) has taught me patience and perspective, among other things. I have learned that every step any child takes is a miracle. Every milestone reached no matter how delayed is a miracle. Each recovery from surgery is a miracle. Every person introduced into our lives touches us in miraculous ways.

I’ve been hanging on to the words of those two dear friends for 10 years as if waiting for the BIG one. All the while, miracles were happening every day in the life of my family. It’s a miracle that I wake up each morning next to a man who loves me unconditionally. It’s a miracle that my children have a father who dedicates everything he does to the needs of his family. It’s a miracle that both my children are incredible students academically and socially. It’s a miracle that Emily was born to us first, as her independent and nurturing spirit help our family every day. It’s a miracle that Marcus got an “A” in PE because he takes the initiative to modify skills so that he is able to participate to the best of his ability. It’s a miracle that even though he is always the last runner, he keeps running and is proud that he is getting faster. It’s a miracle that Sean has remained gainfully employed by Verizon since 1996 enabling him to provide for our family. It’s a miracle that I chose teaching as a profession so that I can dedicate time to my family. It’s a miracle Marcus is able to have free medical care at Shriners Hospital for Children in Tampa. And, this is where you come in, it’s a miracle that God provided then and continues to provide so many people who support our family in so many ways.

ddI don’t know if I can express how important all of you have been to the simple miracle that my family is still together. Disability rips families apart. It cripples families emotionally. It devastates even the most financially secure. We know it is by the Grace of God that our family survives and thrives despite the disability that has come to be part of our identity. We thank God for the blessing of the many miracles He has worked in our lives including the miracle of you and your family being part of our lives!

As Marcus turns 10, I finally realize that the “miracle” I’ve been waiting for has been here all along. Christmas is a time to celebrate the tremendous gift God gave to us through the miracle of Christ’s birth. I hope you will carry the spirit of this miracle with you so that you will see the miracles around you every day of the year.

Our door is always open, guest room is always ready, and we are always happy to have visitors!

With love and wishes for many miracles in 2011,

Sean, Terésa, Emily, Marcus & Finnegan

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 ...and a Happy New Year in 2011!

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This is Me

This is me.  I’m a wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, neighbor, teacher, & volunteer. I’m many things just like you are. I’m who I need to be at times and who I have to be at times.  But, one thing is constant. I am me. And, one thing is certain. I have grown to like me.  =)

Since I find myself here today, I think I’ll do what is likely expected. I’m going to write. Write about what, you ask? Yea, I’m asking the same question. This is new for me, and I don’t know how to start. I do, however, know this… talk don’t cook rice. It never has, and it never will.

Rice

I discovered this quote several years ago and immediately began using it in my 5th grade classroom. The image above (borrowed from the internet, thank you) isn’t the verbiage I learned. The quote I use is, “Talk don’t cook rice.” It’s better that way. I honestly don’t recall the first time I said it to the kids in Room 25, but I’m fairly certain I used a silly accent and delivered the quote with sarcasm prefacing it with, “Confucius say…”. Several of the kids understood right away. It took others longer. Some are probably still wondering.

It the spirit of this Chinese proverb (whether Confucius actually said it, or not) I begin this blog. I’ve been saying I’ll do it. People have encouraged me to do it. But, since talk don’t cook rice, you find me here today.

Now that the rice is cooking, I’m at a bit of a loss. What’s next?

I’m an intedownloadlligent, college educated woman who can hold her own in intellectual circles. I’ve had the good fortune to travel around the US and to other countries expanding my cultural experiences. I’ve been an educator in various capacities over the past 23 years teaching and learning from children whose labels could fill a bowl of alphabet soup. I am the mother of a 16-year-old son and a 17-year-old daughter, both of whom have dual-exceptionalities and come with their own set of letters. I love to do research, therefore I believe I know a great number of things about a vast range of topics. (I hope you picked up on the sarcasm there.) I do, for sure, have opinions that my friends, family, and co-workers would agree I will share with you freely and without you ever needing to ask. (There it is again.) I am living my life doing the best I can with what I have at the present moment to equip my family with what they need to live their unique lives.

Nothing fulfills me more than using myself to enrich the lives of the people around me!

I believe, without a doubt, that God has a plan for me.  The unique circumstances of my life mingled with my talents, skills, & strengths can not be an accident.  I live my life with a fiery passion for certain ideals (use of handicapped parking spaces is of particular interest to me – right, friends?) and have been blessed with the drive to apply myself and see positive change.  Nothing fulfills me more than using myself to enrich the lives of the people around me!  Whether it’s finding the right medical care for my kids, helping my husband write those difficult emails to coworkers, sponsoring an organization at my school to celebrate high achieving kids, supporting a fellow parent of a special needs child in understanding the IEP process, watching a struggling student’s eyes light up the instant he or she finally “gets it,”or giving someone an hear to listen and arms to hold them when the circumstances of their life are just too much to bear in the moment…it’s an amazing feeling to know that I do make a difference.

This is me. I am finally here. I hope to make a difference to you by sharing my experiences, my knowledge, my heart, my perspective, my trials, my celebrations, my hopes, my heartaches, my humor, my self.

Enjoy the journey,

Terésa

Me