amberhaines
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Blemish is Beauty
September 30, 2011

40 Comments

Lisa-Jo @thegypsymama
Reply September 16, 2011

Yes, I love this. We've been asking the same questions about beauty at my place - how sometimes our ugliest scars are our most beautiful stories http://thegypsymama.com/2011/08/the-unpretty-beautiful/

Amber
Reply September 16, 2011

Yes! Lisa-Jo, I loved it.

Our friend, Matt, works with special needs children, and he's learning so much of them internationally. They're in the process of adopting a little girl from the Ukraine. You can't tell me for a skinny minute that that child isn't beautiful. If you see her picture or see her on video, her soul shines right out and knocks the wind out of you.

Matt and his wife Ginny are dear ones to me whose firstborn they got to know for 99 days. He had Trisomy 18. To say that he was beautiful and made their lives beautiful and my life beautiful (without my ever even having met him myself) is the greatest understatement I've heard.

I figure that if we can see our own blemishes as beauty, then we ought to be able to see others' that way as well. Because it is truth.

Sara Sophia
Reply September 16, 2011

To me this is the story:

Of broken minds of broken bodies---we can be both or either.
Our bodies can break our minds or our minds can break our bodies or some relentless combination of the two.

Or we can be born or grow into things that we don't understand.
Things that seem to limit us and quench us and scare us and bring us to nothing.

SEEM.

Because really? I remember a girl who's Mama tricked her into going to the scary part of the hospital with bright halls that were also somehow the darkest tunnels imaginable. To talk to a doctor about her 80 pound frame. A doctor the girl managed to convince that she was fine and her Mother was the crazy one.

I remember a girl who insisted everything was normal when she didn't have the strength to walk up the path to her grandmothers house.

I remember lying in fields praying for healing and crying the earth underneath the grass into a river.

Healing never comes like we think.
And sometimes its the walking through those dark places that makes us who He always created us to be. Sometimes the dark is the Mercy.

I love Him MORE because of the places He allowed me journey through.
I see Him clearer through eyes with new colored rings of iris.

And you know this.
And you know what comes after the fire.

Praying for you guys always,
S.S.

    Amber
    Reply September 16, 2011

    You make me cry big. I love you so good.

    Thank you for telling truth. Scales fall off our eyes when we write this way.

tammy@meadows speak
Reply September 16, 2011

I have a son, who when younger many tried to label. I didn't want to be in denial but I didn't want to jump too quickly either. Some frustrating days, I was enticed for a quick fix, now or yesterday preferrably, because I was at my rope's end. But as a family, we've worked through it. And I've learned, labels are just information, not the definition of a person.

He's 11 yrs old now and it means I've had to learn him, pay close attention to my parenting, study ways to homeschool him better, research his kinesthetic learning style and more. At times it's exhausting and challenging. But I've learned so much. He has a "pit bull" mentality that's able to take an idea and meditate on it for long stretches. He's bold to speak his mind, to lead. He's energetic, overly some would say, but he also uses his energy to take care of others and animals. I see a Daniel (for that's his name) as the Daniel we named after in the Bible. And that blemish, the one the world sees, I see that blemish could be the VERY thing used for the Kingdom, and I mighty powerful one too.

    Amber
    Reply September 16, 2011

    I Amen this, every bit.

    Seth
    Reply September 17, 2011

    I like this idea that "labels are just information, not the definition of a person."

    Thanks for sharing this.

Tressa
Reply September 16, 2011

The cancer that invaded my body - my breast that fed my babies well. The chemo that took my hair, my eyelashes, my strength. The surgery that will soon remove the cancer (and my breast). Those blemishes that interrupted my life in the past 8 months have given me the privilege of seeing the beauty of God's hand - His grace, His mercy, His fierce love. My body may be blemished, but my soul is overflowing with the beautiful blessing of Him.

    Amber
    Reply September 16, 2011

    Such ministry, Tressa! Thank you for sharing this with us.

Erika
Reply September 16, 2011

Dear Amber, you would LOVE "Expecting Adam". Have you read it?

    Amber
    Reply September 16, 2011

    No. Tell me!

      Erika
      Reply September 16, 2011

      Pure magic of a "blemish in beauty" book. While the details are different from your story with Jude and the author's story with her son, your heart will deeply resonate.

      "Expecting Adam" sits very comfortably on my top ten all time favorites list.

        diana trautwein
        Reply September 17, 2011

        Amen to this recommendation. A wonderful, life-giving book.

        Although I never received a 'label' for any of my three kids, one of them was particularly intense - prone to violent outbursts of anger and self-doubt. I did not mother her perfectly (that's an understatement), but here's what I did know, even in the middle of my confusion and frustration and worry over her: the deep sensitivity in her soul would serve her well some day, if I could somehow, by God's grace, manage to show her how remarkable she was (is), help her keep her emotions directed and contained just a little bit, and be patient. Today she is mama to 3 boys (one of whom deals with some of the same issues), a full-time special ed teacher with blind students and one of the most loving, tender-hearted, steady people I have ever known in my life.

        Those very things that were so hard for both of us when she was young have been refined by grace and by time and by the loving support of a remarkable husband. I cannot tell you how this child (and all my kids and grandkids) has blessed my life and my husband's life. Hang in with your beautiful boy and believe in the power of love - yours, Seth's, God's.

          Amber
          September 19, 2011

          Diana, I'm not sure if you can know how encouraging this is to me right now. It's like when we hear of marriage that are healthy - when we hear of children who struggled and Mamas who struggled with them, and then who are better because of the struggle, it girds me with hope.

          Thank you for encouraging me. I believe you.

Amy
Reply September 16, 2011

I love this. A lot of my work has been with the elderly and with those who have special needs and seeing how my clients' strengths work themselves out and how they change the lives of others around them for the better has definitely been one of the most inspiring aspects of it.

I've gotten to see how a proundly disabled young woman with an infectious smile could show her parents the delight in every little blade of grass, every ladybug, every flower in their small yard. And I got to meet a young man who struggled with autism but who learned to read by reading the Bible for his grandmother who couldn't see. And those are just a couple. Or the gentleman with dementia who could barely recall how to speak, but he remembered how fiercely he loved his son. Their norm might be different from my own, but they all have something beautiful there.

joann
Reply September 16, 2011

you know, my second born has mystery to him. we don't know things about him yet. it's very stressful. but, things have gotten better for us.
I don't think though, that I really understood the Gospel until I dealt with that. Until I dealt with the unmanageable and found it unmanageable, I was pretty good on my own. My bible study leader said it best yesterday, "Pain is not your enemy, and comfort is not your friend".

So, you are blessed.
So am I.

xoxox.

    Amber
    Reply September 19, 2011

    "I don’t think though, that I really understood the Gospel until I dealt with that."

    Yes, Joann, I get this. Jude's struggles have revealed to me my own, how patiently God shows me that I'm not in control.

    We are blessed, and I don't just understand that with my head. I feel it with my heart.

Janna
Reply September 16, 2011

I understand your hesitation to write about this, Amber. It took me a long time to talk about it, and I still exercise caution regarding those I discuss it with. I was only 22 when Sam was born and he was my first child, and this was twelve years ago. We were late to the label finding game, and of course much of that is because the label is relatively new but also because it took two more children for us to be able to see the striking differences. I didn't have a momsense yet about what was "normal." We have so been there in the younger years, and know exactly what you mean by him controlling days. I have an online friend who recently adopted a little boy from China and she wrote about his diagnosis here: http://littlebootsliturgies.blogspot.com/2011/08/finding-moses.html

Her story is different from ours with the adoption factor, and though I have struggled with blaming myself at times, the truth is my son was born different. I don't know why. The good news is that we have seen growth and maturity and the meltdowns do decrease with time, but he's still just as special as ever. And I too look forward to the "fiery artistic man" that he will be. One more link for you, what he wrote a month ago, with no prompts from his teacher, in answer to the question: Who is Jesus?: http://rainbowdull.blogspot.com/2011/08/unedited.html

    Amber
    Reply September 19, 2011

    Janna, when I read what Sam wrote about Jesus? Whoa. He's an amazing guy. Sam and Jesus both.

    I'm still not sure how I'm going to write about much of this. Probably only in slivers. But I know community is here. I know you get it.

Jamie
Reply September 16, 2011

oh please oh please write more about this -- i am right in the middle of this with my 4.5 year old son. he was our first, and he was so different from the other kids his age -- but i was so uncertain. is this the way all kids are? is it because he's american, and they're japanese? is he overstimulated by the language? is it because he's in the terrible twos? did i do something wrong? have i made him this way? his brother is so so different, and i've often thought (sadly), "is this what its like to parent a more normal child?"

we are far far from home and discovering all this (my oldest was 10 months when we moved to japan), and so there is much that i am concerned about, but have zero idea where to go for help, besides the internet and books. we have no diagnosis, and aren't sure if we should get one. sometimes i think its all in my head. i've learned a ton from "your spirited child" book -- he has all the qualities, and then some. but i was just praying about him this morning, because i want to be able to look at our time together, at the blemishes and the rough patches, and say "THANK YOU Jesus! it was totally necessary and part of your good plan (for the world and for me!) for him to be EXACTLY as he is!" ... right now, i find my heart crying out, "WHY did you make him like this? its too hard for me!" struggling along to get to the other side...

    tammy@meadows speak
    Reply September 17, 2011

    Jamie, I've lived in Japan and Germany and had a child born in each country. Remember, the cultures are vastly different. In Asian cultures, there's a strong emphasis on studies and lots, lots lots of work. The parent's may work 7 days a week in most cases, while the students go long stretches of school (even on Saturdays) and then are involved in after school activities, to then go home and study til late at night. And the pressure is intense on these kids. But for American kids, there's great liberty for expression which is disturbing to us when we're trying to live in different cultures. I had to find balance, to allow their expression within respectable boundaries. I want my kids to be able to speak their mind but also teach them how to take care with their words and actions. We can learn from others while also finding what works for our own family. I hope you find your balance and not feel shame for being "different".

      Jamie
      Reply September 17, 2011

      tammy, thanks for your reply to my comment. what's going on with my firstborn is quite different than just a cultural thing, but we have struggled as he's grown up to know what of his acting out is stress from being a third culture kid, and what is his personality. now with another little boy in the house, things have become a bit clearer. that said, though, i feel like japan is a great place to raise kids! i think most people have an understanding that "kids are kids" and don't expect them to be like adults, which i felt more pressure about in america. how great that your kids have been able to experience other cultures! what was your birth experience here like? two of my three have been born here!

        Amber
        Reply September 19, 2011

        Jamie, the thing that I finally learned was that God speaks to us Mamas in a very special way. You know your child.

        When I finally realized that I wasn't making it up, that Jude's body was receiving information differently than most, I finally decided that it was okay to bring information to him in a different way, and that's exactly what he's needed.

        I discipline him differently. I feed him, clothe him, and teach him differently. This doesn't make him a sick person. It doesn't make him less of a person either. My gracious, if anything, he's more! He's amazing, so discerning, and someone who goes all the way.

      Amber
      Reply September 19, 2011

      Wow, Tammy, what perspective and life experience you have! Please give your words here as much as you can. I love it.

Tiffany
Reply September 17, 2011

Hi Amber...I've been reading your blog for some time now and it's time for me to comment :) thank you for being so brave...in so many ways. You are a treasure and a welcome relief in this sugar coated world.
I wanted to share a link with you concerning healing...I've become a firm believer in the power of healing through the nourishing foods God has given us. I've seen wonderful changes in my own family through diet change, as I'm sure you have as well. Although I haven't been brave enough to start the process described in this link for our family, I really believe it is a gift from the Lord and possibly the answer or part of an answer to lots of different things going on in all of our bodies.

http://www.gutandpsychologysyndrome.com/gaps
-diet/

You can also like them on FB and that has been
so informative and full of personal testimony.

Keep up the good work mama. You inspire me :)

    Amber
    Reply September 19, 2011

    Oh my goodness, Tiffany, I'm just now seeing this, and YES! I totally agree. Jude is GF/CF, and I can't explain how well that helps his body cleanse. He's able to process so clearly. The supplements are HUGE, too.

    I don't know this link, so I'll definitely check it out.

    THANK YOU for this encouragement.

Arianne
Reply September 17, 2011

I'm so glad you shared so people can pray for you and give such epic support. It's so good to feel less alone, and you're giving people here that gift. <3

    Amber
    Reply September 19, 2011

    I couldn't have done this without you, Airs. Sometimes we just need a little nudge. Ha! You're good at that - a nudger.

Carolyn
Reply September 17, 2011

I was so different than my siblings that while I was growing up that I was treated as one big blemish. I am happy to say that as a family we have grown past much of that. I'm learning to treat my scars as beauty marks - maybe I'll put a little glitter on them while I'm at it.

My beautiful niece is going to be 18 next week. She has sensory integration issues as well as some other "issues". She is learning to deal with it. She is growing beyond it and becoming a young woman who can choose her own labels, if she feels the need for labels at all. The journey has been hard, but God has been there through it all. When I look back over the last 18 years, I don't think about the melt-downs and the hardships. I think about her waking me up by screaming "Play! Play! Play!" early of a Saturday morning when she was tiny. I remember her covering herself from head to toe in mashed potatoes at Luby's Cafeteria. "Eat it or wear it" is our motto. I think about how when I call, she practically screams into the phone, "AUNTIE CAROLYN!!!!" as if a phone call from me is what she has been waiting for her whole life! The journey has not in any way looked like we thought it would when she was born, but it has been a journey worthy of taking. God has been faithful.

I wonder if my niece or I actually needed "healing" for some of those things. I'm wondering if God ever saw them as illnesses or problems. It might have been all in our perception.

    Amber
    Reply September 19, 2011

    Carolyn, what's funny is that while Seth and I were filling out a bajillion papers on Jude's behalf, we were having to answer so many questions that made us giggle because

    I AM SO SENSORY! I struggle in ways that don't control my life in negative -socially unacceptable ways, but they are very present. I totally get it. And honestly, I think part of it is gift.

    Jude and I are very similar. We sometimes just express things differently.

    I love hearing about your niece here. It really is encouraging to call this a journey.

Dana
Reply September 18, 2011

"...because I know it’s possible that even one reader here is having questions about her own child, and she’s feeling crazy, and she’s covered in guilt because she doesn’t know how to handle..."

Oh, yes, yes, yes!

My son started to display "differences" just a few months after birth. What has followed has been many challenging months, visits with too many doctors, a hospital stay, countless therapy sessions, and more questions than answers.

He's now two and we've seen tremendous progress over the past several months, but he's still not like his peers. His therapists and doctors have recently suggested that these challenges are the result of sensory integration "issues". While it seems like my Jack's sensory issues have manifested in a way different than your son's, the impact on lives and hearts is perhaps very similar.

But my goodness, how my Jack is so perfectly made and just what I needed! I wouldn't trade in my blemished beauty Jack for a more perfect-in-the-eyes-of-the-world version. God's work in Jack's life is so evident, and my husband and I have been taught such a fierce love through him. Such beauty is emerging in the midst of the questions and challenges.

Thanks for sharing your story, Amber.

    Amber
    Reply September 19, 2011

    Dana, I wish you lived near me so we could hang out. This attitude is exactly what I want.

Kelly @ Love Well
Reply September 18, 2011

I read this on Friday night as I half-watched the new show "Alphas." Interesting intersection. People who are different are often gifted to see life in a way those of us who are more ordinary cant' even imagine. Our world would be dark without them.

In my own life, beauty shines brightest in the dark. I think that's how God's glory works.

    Amber
    Reply September 19, 2011

    You are always so wise, Kelly.

    Thank you for this.

Amy R.
Reply September 19, 2011

Amber - I haven't read your blog in quite awhile, but came back today through Matt's blog. I am thankful that I did. I need to see the beauty in a lot of my blemishes, and my little ones.

Amy R.
Reply September 19, 2011

My oldest has Sensory Integration and Aspergers - just wanted to let you know I'm saying a prayer for yours today.

Teri @ StumblingAroundInTheLight
Reply September 19, 2011

Our first was born a perfect, beautiful, flawless boy...for five pristine days....
And then our lives imploded. We refused to believe the worst-case-scenario diagnosis, we avoided labels, we denied prognosis, we turned away from the gawking stares. Weeks of improvement, heights of hope; months of downward spiraling, depths of despair. Such is the roller-coaster of living with chronic illness, with disabilities unrelenting, degenerative.

Twelve years of roller-coaster terrors, of begging, pleading, deal-making prayers...
So. Many. Surgeries. Seasons where we've lived, lifetime in weeks, despair and hope mingled in the death-defying colorful painted hallways of children's hospitals.

And now he is sixteen. Walking, talking, miracle Glory-of-God before me. The fear hovers close, but for now, we trust, we run, we laugh, we rejoice.

Here's his story...
http://freeagentmommy.typepad.com/blog/2011/02/the-caleb-miracle-part-one.html

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