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Count It All Joy?


Suffering...Struggling...Pain...Grief...Despair.  These are not very comforting words.  I would imagine, when you read these words, a smile did not appear on your face.  They are words that describe feelings and emotions that we would rather not feel or deal with.  Yet, they are a part of life.  It's a part of living in a fallen world.  All of us, regardless of our religious beliefs, cultures, and finances, will have a moment in our lives where we will be faced with these emotions.

A couple years ago, my middle son began having tics.  The tics started (or at least that's when we noticed) in February of 2017.  They started out as motor tics with his head and shoulder.  Almost always, the tics would manifest when he was sick or about to become sick. For the first year, we sought help from our pediatrician and two different neurologists in Nashville.  We had various tests ran on him to rule out seizures and another condition called Pandas.  We would always leave the appointments with no real answers or clear direction. As the months progressed, the tics began to exhibit themselves in other ways.  Vocal tics had now come into play.  We would hear lots of grunts and throat clearing.  Motor tics were increasing in number and intensity. Then we would have months where the tics slowed down or we didn’t see them at all.  Needless to say, it was an emotional roller coaster (probably more so for me than my son).

While all of this was happening, we were also in constant communication with his Kindergarten and first-grade teachers about behaviors he was exhibiting at school.  They were not disciplinary issues, but more like troubles with behaviors that support learning-- lack of focus, forgetfulness, disorganization, and staring off into space just to name a few. Both teachers had the same concerns, and we were also seeing some of the same things at home. At this point, we began to consider the possibility of him having ADHD or something like it, but we never pursued outside help at the time.

Fast forward to now.  We were referred to a third neurologist.  This time we would need to go to Birmingham.  We went to visit this doctor about two weeks ago, and I am so glad we did!  She listened to our concerns and was able to finally give us a diagnosis for his tics. On that day, my son was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome (TS).  I literally just took a deep breath after typing that last statement. It's still a lot to take in.  We were relieved to finally have an answer.  Yet it still wasn’t something I wanted for my child.  The day after the diagnosis, I was in a state of grief.  The reality was that I now have another child who has a challenge to battle through.

During our visit, the doctor was very encouraging.  There is a high possibility that he may grow out of it.  The tics tend to peak around age 12 and then slowly go away.  She also told us about a behavior therapy program that would teach my son how to manage his tics.  There are only a few in the nation, and one just happens to be right there in Birmingham.  My husband and I immediately jumped on the chance to get him in that program.  His first visit was a couple of days ago, and I think it is going to be great for him.  We are also having him tested for ADHD in the coming weeks.  Many times children with TS also have ADHD or other underlying struggles that cause them to tic.

So here we are...another challenge to this journey.  I have run into another wall in "Mama's Maze" and now I have to change direction.  I am armed with lots of reading material and educational videos, but the most important weapon I have in this fight is the Word of God. Without it, I could not and would not be able to maintain joy.

James 1:2-4 (ESV) says:
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

I like what this passage says in the Message translation also.  And yes, I know there are many people who do not prefer this particular translation.  However, I think this one is very helpful.  It says:

2-4 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.

Count it all joy?  Consider it a gift?  What do you mean by that?  How on Earth can I have joy, and my world is crumbling around me?  How can I have joy when the pain or grief is so unbearable?  How can I have joy when my children are struggling?

It seems unimaginable that one could have joy in the midst of struggle. Having joy during a test doesn’t mean that there won't be any tears or moments of wavering faith.  Joy is being secure in the fact that you are in relationship with Jesus and no matter the trial or test, He knows what's best for you and you are safe in Him.  This kind of joy can only come from Jesus.  I have joy because, although this situation is hard, I get to go through it with Jesus.  I don’t have to go through it alone.  I get to fellowship with him on this journey.  I get to know him and what his plans are for me.  And when it's all said and done, The One who has already defeated Satan is going to carry me over the finish line.  So, yes, as much as I would want all of this to go away, I can trust that God gets the victory.  Because I am His child, I am victorious too!

My reading material for the next few days.

I like this illustration on TS and the underlying issues that could also be going on.

**If you would like more information on Tourette Syndrome, please visit the Tourette Association of America at www.tourette.org.



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