PICTURE THIS

We had our family picture taken yesterday. Our church is doing a new church directory and each family was asked to schedule a time with the photographer over the past three days and come in for a sitting. I always feel like our family portrait is a little pathetic with only the three of us in it. “Family” to me is the Naranjos, Sanchezes, Robbie, Bob and I, so we’ll be missing a huge chunk of the family in this picture. We did have a family portrait done of all fifteen of us in July of 2008 before the Naranjos left. It’s a tight squeeze getting us all in, and quite the trick getting everyone looking at the camera and smiling at the same time, but it is fun and a fond memory of family time spent together.

This wouldn’t be the same, but I did the best I could to prepare us for the big day. We always do the color-coordination thing, and this time the colors were black and red. Robbie was excited about his new red shirt. I tried to prepare him, as well, for the sitting by telling him over and over, “Now Robbie, when the photographer tells you to smile, you have to smile real big, okay?” and I would flash a big grin to show him what I meant. I doubt if he had a clue what I was talking about, but he understood the word smile and that Mom was acting goofy, so he’d grin back and then try to hug my head.

The best laid plans, though… I had scheduled our appointment for around two o’clock because that is normally Robbie’s best time of day. He usually sleeps all morning because of all the seizure medicine he takes and then is awake in the afternoon. Wouldn’t you know it, though – Robbie stayed awake all morning and then about the time we wanted to get him ready, he fell asleep. We tried everything to perk him up and get him excited to go, but he pretty much ignored us and tried to go back to sleep. By the time we were loading him into the car I was getting worried. “This is going to be a big bust,” I fretted to Bob.

“He’ll probably perk up when we get there and he sees other people,” Bob replied hopefully.

He was right. Robbie did perk up a bit, but his smile wasn’t as quick and easy as normal, and he was having trouble sitting up in his wheelchair. It was obvious he was very tired and not too excited about being there. There were a few people ahead of us and I hoped he could hang in there until our turn arrived. At last the photographer called us over and our sitting began.

Robbie would not smile. No way, no how. In fact, he pretty much glared at the pretty young photographer, which is so unlike him. Normally, Robbie is so smiley and loves meeting new people – especially pretty young girls! He kept trying to slump in his chair and Bob and I discreetly tried to hold him up and lift his face to look at the camera. The whole thing was becoming a disaster. She took five or six photos of the three of us anyway, and I resigned myself to having to settle for picking the best of the worst for the picture that would go in the directory and be our free 8 x 10.

Finally she asked if we would like to try to get a picture of Robbie by himself. I had hoped for that, but the way it was going, a good outcome looked doubtful. Well, maybe with us standing in front of him, we thought, instead of behind him we could get him to smile. We moved behind the camera and then did everything we could think of, other than stand on our heads, to make that boy smile. Nothing worked until finally Bob got right in his face and started in with his little play routines that he does with Robbie. At last! Robbie’s face lit up and a big smile broke out. Bob jumped out of the way of the camera and success! After that, Robbie continued to smile and we got several good shots.

“Quick! While the mood lasts let’s try to get another one of the three of you!” the photographer said. We hurried back to our positions behind Robbie and we finally got a nice family portrait of the three of us. Whew! She took a few more of Bob and me as a couple and individually and at last our session ended.

Of course, there is a down side to all that. I ended up spending too much money on those nice photos, whereas if Robbie had never smiled we would have probably walked away with only our complimentary 8 x 10. I am happy, though, with how it turned out and I know we will enjoy our new portraits and the memories of that day for many years to come.

Dealing with Robbie sometimes is like dealing with a one-year-old. You can explain something until you’re blue in the face, but he’s just not going to get it. Like a toddler, he wants what he wants now, and nothing else will do. In this case, he just wanted every one to leave him alone and let him to go to sleep. I knew once he saw the pictures he would love them. One of his favorite things to do is to look at family photos, and we have several hanging near his bed and recliner so that he can look at them whenever he wants to. I catch him looking at them all the time, and smiling and nodding his head, and even “talking” to them. Yesterday, though, he just wasn’t getting it that if he just went along with what Mommy and Daddy wanted him to do, he would be so happy in the end with a new family photo to enjoy.

We’re a lot like that sometimes when the Lord is working in our life and we don’t understand what He is doing. We get upset when things don’t go the way we had planned or hoped for. We can’t see the big picture, as He does, and so we don’t know the good things that lie ahead of us if we would simply trust Him and obey. Like a little one, we fuss and complain, and maybe even throw a little temper tantrum because we can’t have it our way.

I can be pretty inflexible sometimes when I have something all planned out and someone else tries to come along and change my “perfect” plans. I have had to learn to step back and think about it and maybe even let go of some of the control that I have so tightly grasped. I egotistically wonder how anyone could have a better plan than me! Ha! I have learned that there are better ways of doing things than my way. Other people are just as smart or creative or talented or skilled as me – or more! And another shocker is that even if my way is the best way, it’s not the only way. It doesn’t hurt me to step aside and let someone else shine. It’s taken a long time for me to learn to surrender control and I have had to go through some humbling experiences at times to learn it.

It took me a long time to learn that I could trust other people with control of my little projects, but thank goodness I learned at a much younger age that I could trust God with control of my life. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” I can’t see the big picture, but He does and if I can trust Him enough to faithfully and obediently follow Him even when I don’t understand what He is doing, I know He will never lead me wrong and that a better future lies ahead of me than I could ever dream.

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The Bible tells us, “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:17) Wisdom begins with understanding, and understanding His will begins with knowing His Word. The principles of how He wants us to live our lives are all there. True wisdom also includes obedience. “Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me…Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding…” (Deuteronomy 4:5, 6) If we understand but do not obey, the Bible tells us we are simply fools. “The wise in heart will receive commandments: but a prating fool shall fall.” (Proverbs 10:8)
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We may not understand the specifics of our Father’s will in our lives, but as trusting and obedient little ones, we need to simply take His hand and walk along side, step by step. He will lead us into a better future. Robbie was having a problem understanding and cooperating with his parents yesterday. Robbie is retarded. What’s our excuse?

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