Immeasurably More

More Hope, More Joy . . . Embracing Life with Down Syndrome

Welcome to Holland May 29, 2014

Filed under: Special Needs — Linda Aalderink @ 2:40 pm

Welcome to Holland

by Emily Pearl Kingsley, a parent of a child with Down syndrome

I am often asked to describe the experience
Of raising a child with a disability,
To help people, who have not shared that unique experience,
Understand it
And imagine how it would feel.
It’s like this
When you’re going to have a baby,
It’s like planning a fabulous trip to Italy;
You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make your wonderful plans-
The Coliseum, Michelangelo’s David, the gondolas in Venice-
You may even learn some handy phrases in Italian.
It’s all very exciting.
After all the months of eager anticipation,
The day finally arrives.
You pack your bags and off you go
Several hours later, the plane lands,
The stewardess comes in and says
“Welcome to Holland”.
“HOLLAND!?” you say. “What do you mean, Holland?
I signed up for Italy.
I’m supposed to be in Italy.
All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy”.
But there has been a change in the flight plan.
The important thing is
That they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place
Full of pestilence, famine and disease.
It’s just a different place.
So, you must go out and buy new guidebooks.
And you must learn a whole new language.
And you will meet a whole new group of people
You would never have otherwise met.
It’s just a different place.
It’s slower paced than Italy;
Less flashy than Italy.
But after you’ve been there for a while
And catch your breath,
You look around and you begin to notice
That Holland has windmills;
Holland has tulips;
Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy,
And they’re all bragging about the wonderful time they had.
And for the rest of your life you will say
“Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go;
That’s what I had planned”.
The pain of that will never, ever go away,
Because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss.
But if you spend your life mourning the fact
That you didn’t get to Italy,
You may never be free to enjoy
The very special, the very lovely things about Holland.

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Run To Jesus! January 27, 2014

Filed under: Special Needs — Linda Aalderink @ 6:10 pm

Run to Jesus!!

On a recent trip to the beautiful Southern USA, we passed through Savannah, Georgia. This was our first time to this beautiful city, but our time was short, so we decided to take a trolley tour of the city. We boarded the vintage looking trolley and enjoyed seeing the many squares and historical sites this city holds. One stop on our tour was Forrest Gump’s bench where he sat with his box of chocolates and shared his life story. This trolley stop was a highlight for me, because I have always loved Forrest.

In the movie, one of the things Forrest Gump did was run. And run! When he was a child, he ran with corrective braces on his legs, yet managed to escape from bullies. As a young adult, he ran to save his fellow soldiers, and later in life, he ran from coast to coast attempting to heal his broken heart. Forrest realized in the many different situations he found himself in, running was the only option for survival. In fact, the more he ran, the better he became at it.

Who or where do you run to when you are afraid or need help?

Sometimes for me, my initial steps are running to family, friends, the internet or food. While these all may have their appropriate place, (well, I’m not so sure about the food J), the best initial step of my run is straight to Jesus. He is the healer of my heart, my best friend and guide, and the lover of my soul. We may grow weary and tired, but Jesus never does.

Run to Jesus.

Today may be filled with medical, behavior or school challenges. And who has time to think about tomorrow or 5 years from now? Uncertainty looms, but there is one thing that is sure – Jesus. He is waiting with open arms for us to run to Him.

He alone is the One who can move us from sadness and hopelessness and bring a change to your circumstances and joy to your heart.

Run to Jesus.

I love how The Message Bible phrases Hebrews 12:1-2:

“Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in.” Hebrews 12:1-2 The Message

 Run to Jesus now . . . begin by praying this verse for you and/or your child:

“The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” Proverbs 18:10

 Together, let’s put on our running shoes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take Time To Praise October 30, 2013

Filed under: Down syndrome,Prayer,Special Needs — Linda Aalderink @ 6:48 pm

CS Lewis

“God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” C.S. Lewis

We all have them. Days when we feel far from God, or He feels far from us. Days when we worry and angst over what tomorrow will bring, especially when we can barely get through the day we are in. Even with grown children, and our special needs son is 27, there are just some fears and concerns that continue to arise, some are new, while other fears have always been there. I think for special needs parents, the uncertainty of the future, our child’s future, is a fear that continues to rise to the surface in us. It certainly does in me.

So what’s a parent to do? I think the answer is in the C.S. Lewis quote – remain near to God. For me, taking time to praise God for who He is has been vital, because when I focus on who He is, I am reminded of how great, awesome and trustworthy He is.  I am reminded of the character traits He exemplifies, and He always has been and always will be firmly in control and aware of my situation. He is the same – yesterday, today and forever.

So here are a few ideas to get your praises going.  I use these to refocus my thoughts and fix my eyes on Jesus:

  • A list of “go to” Psalms for praising God: Psalms 8, 34, 92, 95, 96, 100. Just pick one today.
  • Pick one attribute or character quality of God to focus on: God is faithful, friend, provider, helper, protector, worthy, etc. I use Biblegateway.com and find it helpful for doing a search on an attribute of God. There is also a great list on the Moms In Prayer International website. http://tinyurl.com/ofyby2e
  • Choose a good worship CD and push “repeat.” Let the words soak into your heart and mind. And turn up the volume!  Currently, my favorite CD is Chris Tomlin’s Burning Lights. The whole CD is amazing worship, but if you have time for only one song, listen to the song “Sovereign.” Oh, my! I love this! Click here to watch and listen: http://tinyurl.com/k5rep9w 
  • As much as I may try to find peace and happiness on my own, it cannot be done apart from Jesus. Take 5 minutes today and focus on the One who holds us and our precious children in His everlasting arms.

“You are my strength, I sing praise to you; you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely.” Psalm 59:17

 

Book Give Away! May 14, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Linda Aalderink @ 3:34 pm

Hello Friends!

A fantastic website for parents is Not Alone.org.  Recently, they offered to feature Immeasurably More for one of their book giveaways. It’s going on this week!

If you are a special needs parent or know of another special needs parent, please share this post with them. Simply click on the link below,  answer the question, and you are entered for a chance to win one of my books!

Here’s the question . . .

As a special needs parent, where have you found surprising joy or blessing  in your journey?

And the link to the book giveaway and a great website for parents . . .

http://not-alone.org/book-giveaway-linda-aalderink/

That’s it! It’s been an encouragement reading the responses from Day 1. I would love to hear from more of you!

Linda

 

 

Tip Toe Through the Tulips May 4, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Linda Aalderink @ 1:22 pm

Welkom Friends!

IMG_0715

Amanda and me 🙂

We live near Holland and in May each year begins the annual Tulip Time festival. We celebrate our Dutch heritage with parades, Dutch Dancers, great food and, of course, tulips! Lots and lots of beautiful tulips, and they are spectacular this year! One of the highlights for me each year is to be a part of the Dutch dancers. We are one group of 12 people among almost 100 groups. We practice for six weeks prior to Tulip Time, and then perform in a Dutch costume on the streets of Holland every day during the Festival. One of the reasons I love this is because of Amanda. She is in my group, and I get the privilege of dancing right next to her. She is a great Dutch dancer. She stays with the music and completes the entire 15 minute long dance with ease!

Amanda brings pure delight to our group. At a recent practice, she was dancing with a partner new to her. She was heard to be giggling and laughing through the dance. It was contagious and others of us found ourselves smiling and laughing too! I love this. I love Amanda!

Her laughter and giggles are pure and real. True, pure delight. Amanda brings this to every dance, every time.  She brings it to Dutch dance, and she brings it to the lives of those around her.

The goodness of God is all around us. In the beauty of the tulips, the smiles of the onlooking spectators during a dance performance, and the wonderful ability Amanda has to klomp in her wooden shoes while she delights those around her!

I am thanking God for Amanda today. I am blessed to be her friend.

Happy Tulip Time!

 

Happy World Down Syndrome Day! March 21, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Linda Aalderink @ 2:06 pm

3.21

This is a day to celebrate who God made our kids to be. That little something extra – the 3rd 21st chromosome. Our kids are a source of unexpected blessing and joy, of great worth, and created in the image of God. Our family has been forever changed for the better because God chose to bless our family with Zach, extra chromosome and all! And we rejoice in the life God has given us. It is honestly a privilege to participate in this amazing journey. God has gone before us, and prepared the way for us, every day, every step.  As parents and family, God called us to things we didn’t imagine we were capable of, but He has proved himself faithful over and over again.

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth.  His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned,this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. John 9:1-3

What the disciples are asking is: “Whose fault is this anyway?” and Jesus’ response is that it is so we may see the power of God.  That the power and majesty of our Creator may be made known.

Yes, that is what we’ve seen on this journey. God power. God’s amazing work. In Zach, in our family, in our community.

If you have a friend or family member with Down syndrome or know someone in your community, thank God for him/her today. Thank God for revealing His great works in unexpected places and unexpected ways.

I am always loving and learning from Zach’s zest for life. Happy 3.21 to you!

camp sunshine 2010 016

 

March Madness March 1, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Linda Aalderink @ 10:18 pm

March Madness is beginning today. For our family, and specifically, Zach, tonight is a big night. It’s the beginning of the NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball tournament. Zach is the manager for the Hope College Women’s Basketball team.  And Hope is in the tournament and hosting Round 1.

From the beginning, we believed  Zach assisting the team would be a great opportunity for Zach. What we’ve learned, again, is that  this is also beneficial for the team. It’s a win/win — for Zach, the players, coaches and fans. So today, at the beginning of March Madness, I want to share with you an excerpt from Immeasurably More. It is a chapter written by Coach Morehouse, Hope College Women’s Basketball Head Coach:

My Man Zach and Coach Hayes

Zach has been a great addition to our team. He joined Rich Hayes (we call him Coach Hayes), who has some cognitive development challenges and is fifty-five years old. Together they form the dynamic duo. Rich has been with me for 16 years and really took Zach under his wing. To observe those two laugh, tease, and bicker is a thing to behold! They both have helped assist our team in breaking down the barriers between people with and without special needs. If you asked our players, they would tell you that Zach and Rich are just part of the team. They expect and love their involvement in our practices, so much so that when either is gone, the first question (as it would be with a coach or teammate) is “where’s Zach [Rich]?” And you talk about reliable! Both of these guys are at practice 30 minutes or more before we start, pumped up and ready!

Someone asked me last year how it was going with special needs individuals helping out with my program. My response: I can’t imagine going to practice without My Man, Zach and Coach Hayes. They make both me and my team better. In no way are they a burden; they’re a blessing!

Thank you, Coach Mo. Let’s GO HOPE!169

 

 

It’s A Book! My Guest Blog Post for Ellen Stumbo January 30, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Linda Aalderink @ 2:08 am

This past week, I had the privilege to write my first guest blog post.  Ellen Stumbo is a writer, editor, and blogger. Her published work includes articles in Focus on the Family, Thriving Family Magazine; and Lifeway, ParentLife Magazine. Thanks, Ellen, for this great opportunity to share about the Immeasurably More story.

Check it out here:

http://www.ellenstumbo.com/its-a-book-linda-aalderink/ 

 

 

 

It’s the little things . . . December 12, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Linda Aalderink @ 9:13 pm

Tis the season to get swept away in all the busyness and seemingly endless “to do” lists of shopping, baking and party planning.  It is too easy to get wrapped up in all the “doing” and forget the purpose or the meaning of what we’re doing. So a couple of days ago, I received a note from a friend saying this:

“Yes….it is the little things in life that truly matter…
I sent out 117 Christmas cards….like I do every year.  Today I received a text from Zach thanking me for the card….so sweet!
He is such a wonderful young man! He brought a smile to my face :)”

My friend is absolutely correct! I love the example Zach is to me and to others. I wrote about this in Immeasurably More, and it’s worth repeating. It’s not what I, as Zach’s mom, have taught him. It’s about what Zach teaches me and the example he lives out every day showing me what is truly important in life. Relationships. Thoughtfulness. Taking time for others.

Our family, friends and community have much to gain through friendships with a person with special needs. I hope you have a Zach in your life because if you do, I know your life will be richer indeed.

“A friend loves at all times” Proverbs 17:17a

Focusing on the little things in life,

Linda

 

 

Praise and Thanksgiving November 20, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Linda Aalderink @ 6:03 pm

“You’re my God, and I thank you.  Oh my God, I lift high your praise.

Thank God – he’s so good. His love never quits!”

Psalm 118:28-29 The Message

I love the changing seasons in Michigan. Each one has its own delight. Each one is beautiful in its own right. And each season has drawbacks  (ie slippery roads, blinding snowfall are tops on my list).  I am now looking forward to the freshness and sparkling beauty of freshly fallen snow. Yes, it is beautiful, just not when it covers the roads! Each season gives a multitude of reasons to praise and thank the Creator of it all.

Our lives move about in seasons as well. As a mom, we can look at Spring as the season we are giving birth to our children, training and teaching them to love others and Jesus. Teaching them the basics of life – I am personally thankful that potty training is behind me! Next is Summer, and the busyness and fullness of student-life, teenagers, friends, sports, driver’s ed and on and on. Oh, life is so busy and yet wonderful as we watch our children grow, physically and emotionally. We continue to teach, guide and pray for them to become responsible, loving and serving adults. And then Fall. Beautiful, beautiful Fall. First the full, HD color of the trees everywhere, then the leaves begin to gently float to the ground. For a Fall mom, the season I am currently in, our children have become adults, ready for new challenges and more independence. College, careers, marriages, grandbabies and eventually the nest empties. A season that when we are in Spring or Summer, we believe could never be good, and yet when Fall arrives, God prepares a mother’s heart, and we enjoy  new found freedoms and opportunities. It’s different, it takes some time to adjust and at times is a bit too quiet, yet there is something just right about this season too.

Winter is a season ahead of me, if the Lord blesses me so much. It has been a privilege to watch and enjoy my parents in this season of life. At every opportunity, delighting in conversations and visits with children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Oh, and 61 years of marriage!

As Americans, we have the privilege of celebrating Thanksgiving this week. A season to be especially focused on all we have to be thankful for, and it’s a lot! We live in a great nation and so often take our freedoms and abundance for granted. May we today give thanks for the smallest things in our every day life. The things we just expect to have every day –  clean water, fresh air, food in the refrigerator, electricity, freedom to worship and dedicated individuals who serve in our armed forces to keep us all safe and free. And that is just the beginning of the list . . .

Whatever season you find yourself in today, give thanks. Spring. Summer. Fall. Winter. Whether a season of great blessing or a difficult hardship, give thanks today. God’s love endures forever.

So here’s a challenge. Take 5 minutes and write down all you are thankful for, the big, the small, the often forgotten. I just did this and was amazed how quickly 5 minutes passed. Wow, God you are good! Now get a piece of paper or grab your laptop and GO!

With a grateful heart,

Linda