Squeezing Jack

“You need to squeeze him. Make him a little uncomfortable.”

This is what one of Jack’s therapists told me during a session. We were discussing why he had plateaued and wasn’t saying new words.

It made sense. Why would he need to speak if all his needs were being met with a point or whine? He had no motivation to change or grow.

So we started squeezing. Instead of handing him a drink or snack, we began asking him to say the word. He wasn’t a fan of this new method. To be honest, neither was I. A lot of frustration. A lot of crying. And I’m not just talking about Jack.

But slowly…we began to see…the squeeze was causing change.

This quarantine has felt a lot like a squeeze, hasn’t it? The longer it lasts, the more discomfort we feel. The grip is tightening with every passing week. For some it is pushing up fear and anxiety, for others sadness and despair. If you’re a parent of young children like me, perhaps the combination of lockdown and homeschooling has you questioning if any fruits of the spirit are evident in your life.

What will we do with all this discomfort? Will we fight it, kicking and screaming? Will we give up and surrender to depression? Or will we grow?

“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” James 1:2-4 The MSG

I’ll be as happy as everyone else when we can stop social distancing. When my kids can spend the night at grandma’s and I can shop at Target. But I don’t want to get out of this prematurely. Because when the Corona dust settles I want the lessons I’m learning to stick.

In the last nine months Jack started saying almost 100 new words. There are many reasons for this and I don’t want to discredit amazing therapists or the power of prayer. But I have to ask myself, “What if we didn’t squeeze?”

Accept the squeeze friends. The growth is worth the pain.

Find the Rizpah Within

Rizpah. Ever heard of her?

She’s currently my favorite person. You can find her in 2 Samuel 21. Instead of typing out all 14 verses of her story, I’ll give you a recap: There was a famine in the land. When King David asked the Lord about it, he learned it was because the previous king (Saul) had murdered the Gibeonites.

But Saul is dead so it’s up to David to make things right. So he talked to the Gibeonites. They didn’t want money and they didn’t want war. They asked for seven of Saul’s sons. David agreed and gave them the men. Two of those men were sons of Rizpah.

The Bible tells us the Gibeonites executed the seven men on the mountain at the beginning of the barley harvest. In verse 10, Rizpah gets burlap and spreads it out on a rock. This is where the story gets good for me…

“…She prevented the scavenger birds from tearing at their bodies during the day and stopped wild animals from eating them at night.

Talk about a brave mammer jammer. She got on a rock and defended their bodies. We don’t know exactly what she used to fight off the birds and wild animals, allow me to assume she used a stick.

I imagine she raised her stick and screamed, “Not today vultures!” during the day. Maybe she lit the stick on fire and ran around in circles to scare off hungry animals at night.

She stayed there the entire season. Ya’ll, the ENTIRE season. If you do a bit of research, (which I did because I am a teacher and book nerd) you find the barley harvest started in April. Scholars and commentators agree the harvest season was over typically over in October. I’ll let you do the math.

At this point you may be wondering how a crazy, grieving mother relates to you?

Many of you need to find your inner Rizpah. Because many of you have birds swarming around your head and animals attacking your heart every.single.day.

Not literal birds of course. Your attackers are invisible. They are the lies rolling around in your head and they are the most dangerous. Depression, worry, and anger. Maybe your animals are comparison, insecurity.

You need to pick up a stick, a shoe or maybe even a flame thrower, and you need to knock those birds away. Fight off the fear trying to grip your heart, the comparison keeping you from reaching your dreams, or the anxiety wanting to paralyze your life. Tell those birds, “Not today. I’m choosing peace.”

Remind yourself about the powerful God you serve. Read His word, memorize His word and speak it out loud.

Rizpah couldn’t control what happened. She could control how she reacted. She planted herself on a rock and defended what God had given her. Even when it was scary.

Find the Rizpah within.


It’s likely you read the title and weren’t sure what it was. You probably wouldn’t know unless you are an educator or a member of the ASD community. Turns out I’m both of those now. ASD stands for Autism Spectrum Disorder.

My son was diagnosed with high-functioning autism in January. I keep telling myself nothing about him changed. He is the same child he was the month before. The only thing different is a label.

And my heart.

Even though we knew he would land somewhere on the spectrum, it still stung like fire to hear a professional say it out loud. The teacher part of me wanted the diagnosis. The mother part of me did not.

The teacher part of me is glad he will have the resources and accommodations his special needs warrant. The mother part of me cries when I think of the journey we are now officially starting.

I’ve hesitated writing this for many reasons. My thoughts and feelings have been swirling for a few weeks. I feel scattered more than normal and I don’t want that to bleed into this. I needed time to process.

I didn’t cry when the pediatric pyschologist gave the diagnosis. I didn’t cry when I told my husband, coworkers and friends. But the tears wouldn’t stop the day I took him to the dentist.

I like my dentist. I really do. He’s always patient and kind with my children, and this appointment was no exception. But Jack wouldn’t cooperate for a simple cleaning, so x-rays were out of the question. He gently explained we would need to see a pediatric dentist who was more equipped for “these kind of kids”.

These kind of kids.

The tears started coming and I couldn’t stop them. All I could do was nod. He’s right. My kid is one of “those kids”. And while I don’t think he meant any harm, his choice of words rattled me.

That’s when I got on the slope. You know, the slippery one. The one where thoughts start spiraling downward and life seems darker than it really is. The good news is I didn’t stay there. I spoke to myself out loud and told hope to rise up. Then I scrolled through my phone to find an old message from a friend.

I had messaged her the day of the evaluation. I told her a diagnosis wasn’t going to change Jack. He would be the same kid tomorrow as he was today.
She responded: “And God will be the same tomorrow as He is today. The results of this evaluation will be no surprise to Him.”

Her words brought me comfort that morning and again after the dentist appointment. Her words are still bringing me comfort because they are truth. God is still the same. He is near and has an unlimited amount of grace to offer me on this journey.

This diagnosis isn’t changing Jack. It’s changing me.

I’m learning to speak faith to my heart when it gets caught up in feelings.
I’m learning to rest my mind when it feels overwhelmed.
I’m learning to trust even more in the God who will be the same tomorrow as He is today.

Hope is rising in me.
I pray the same for you.