Uncle Mark & Being Grateful This Thankful Thursday

Many of you have asked about Uncle Mark and how the adjustment is going and many of you have been praying for him and us as we all adjust. Thank you. So I have written this post, rewritten it, and written it again. It is so not in my character to complain, because there is nothing in life to complain about. Every person who is reading this has at least one eye to read it with, a computer to use, electricity, probably a warm place to sit and read it. Most likely you had a warm meal today too. And if you are really blessed you had a piece of chocolate somewhere in there. =) Complaining should really be illegal, as far as I see it.

And on that note, I just never, ever want this to come across as complaining. I love having Mark here. If he were to have gone to live somewhere else, I would have felt ripped off. He is a treasure. Period. No matter what though, whenever someone comes to live in a home, from newborn to a 70 year old mentally handicapped man, there’s gonna’ be adjustments. Hear my heart……

From the time Dw and I were first married 31+ years ago, we just kind of planned that one day Mark would come live with us. We have expected it, talked about it and yes, we’ve wanted it. We are family.

Infact we built this house with five bedrooms. Of course, we have seven kids at home, so there would be an extra guest room knowing that one day Mark would be in it. Surprise! It was only empty three weeks, how crazy is that??

Mark’s handicap has him somewhere around a 5 year old. Think about most five year olds you know…..He loves attention, even craves it. He loves to talk!! He has never met a stranger. He loves to hear what people say about him. He loves to hear that over and over! (and over!). So if we go somewhere without him, he always wants to know if someone asked about him. I try to remember to mention this to friends, so they can indeed ask about him and then I can tell him that they asked about him.

He was never really required to do many chores around his home, and so he is learning to do little things around the house, like put dishes away. I have had to explain to him that we are a big family and a team and everyone on the team has to pitch in.

He never even got his own drink of water at home so he has had many adjustments. =) On a funny note…..He has had a habit of burping without saying “excuse me”….which just for the record, I cannot stand burping. It just grosses me out. Forgive me bloggy friends, if you can burp with the best of them….it just is something that I have never been into. So I have had to ask him to learn to say “excuse me” when he belches. I told him that he has to be an example to the kids. This has been a repeated learning curve and so recently I said, “Gracious Mark! You burp all the time and how is it that you never learned to say ‘excuse me’??!” He said, “You should hear Mom!” Oh my! My mother-in-law would just croak if she had heard him “tell all”. But yes, I know from first hand experience that he is not kidding. Too funny.
Mark has been lonely for his mom. He cannot talk about her without crying. It makes us cry too. No wonder – he lived with her for 70 years!! He calls her and talks to her and in a couple of months he will be able to go visit her, Lord willing.

He misses his friends in his hometown: Perry, New York. His days would consist of walking downtown and making the rounds of the stores and shops. At most stores he would get a Pepsi and often a candy bar. He had put on alot of weight. That’s not good for him. So when he came I said, “Mark I want you to live to be 100….but you cannot keep eating the candy bars and drinking the sodas to do that.” Each night my mother-in-law would give him a big dessert in the evening too.

Since coming home to our house, he usually eats a tangerine before bed and only drinks Pepsi on Fridays. He hasn’t balked about it, and no doubt he has lost weight!! It is so much healthier for him.

I found a Special Olympics ‘club’ for him and he now goes two evenings a week to play basketball. He has been over-the-moon happy about that. Jerry, Dw’s bud, set him up with some sneakers and sweat pants (I took the pics of him so you could see….he said, “you going to put it on feemale Linn?” (“Female” is how he says “email”.) He also has a new bag another friend of ours gave him to carry his sneakers in and he is soooo proud of it! (Thanks Ben!)

We can tell that he is so thrilled that after all the years of watching Dw play basketball in high school, it is finally his turn!! Sad he had to wait 70 years, huh? To our knowledge he has never had a ‘uniform’ nor has he ever played anything!! We are tickled for him. There is a chance that he can play on the official Special Olympics team from our town…….we’ll see. For now, he practices with them.

We want Mark to know how welcome he is and that he is one of ours. Last night the kids came home from Youth group and Emma, Graham and Josh were sitting in our bedroom laughing and telling us of some of the stuff that happened (which is another post for another time – hilarious!) so we called Mark to come sit in the bedroom with us all laughing and talking.

So for now, we are settling into a new normal. We are looking for a big van or bus (you think I’m kidding?) for all of us to ride in. We are running Mark here and there along with the rest of the kids. (My mom has helped with some running too! – Thank you Mom! We love you!! xo)

I cannot help but know that our kids will be blessed for having Uncle Mark live with us as they are growing up. So many people are so stinkin’ selfish in life. We pray that this breeds “others focused” instead of “navel gazing”. We pray that they always love those around them who have special needs. That they understand that Uncle Mark could be any one of us. He is a treasure and made in the image of Almighty God and we are grateful that we have the privilege of having him live with us…..long, loud burps and all.

47 thoughts on “Uncle Mark & Being Grateful This Thankful Thursday

  1. Our daughter, Megan, LOVES her Special Olympics sports. She does bowling, soccer, basketball, softball, cheerleading, and plays in the Bell Choir. They also have some fun enrichment activities and parties. She loves being there and hanging with her friends!

  2. Uncle Mark~
    Love your new sweats and athletic clothes. You look very SPORTY! And, what a great bag to carry your gear in. I hope you have a great time playing basketball. I'm not very good at basketball, but I don't practice like you do. When you practice, I know you'll get to be a great team player!
    Hugs from Japan!

  3. What a great post! One of the best things we learned from the time that my Granny lived with us was not to be so stinkin' selfish. It was extremely hard sometimes, but we would all do it again.

    And I am with you on the burping thing. Can't stand belching for fun and definitely want to hear "excuse me."

  4. WOW……what a blessing, but yes a transition none the less. What a beautiful addition- even with the burps 🙂

    Tell him the Wrights asked how he was doing…and we are praying for you all. Hmmmm….could we see a pic of him playing some ball?


  5. Linny – I love this and am so proud of your obedieance – I am sure that this is stretching you in new ways. About a year and a half ago I wanted my G-ma (of who I adored ) to come live with us. My G-ma had alzheimers. We (I) lasted a week – and I am so sad about that and wish I would have done things a bit different – don't really know if that would have worked, but still.
    And PS – I am So with you on the burping. 🙂

  6. Beautifully written. M burps on command and he also will fa*t when he is on a wooden pew at church. No one taught him that, he figured it out himself. Awe the joys of these kids!! Love who they are. Hugs

  7. so happy to hear how Uncle Mark is doing and everyone is adjusting! it is true how many people are so selfish with their lives…..and i'm talking mostly about myself here. thank you for always speaking truth.

  8. This post made me smile… I love that you are taking care of him and that your kids get to experience the blessing of having Uncle Mark as a part of their lives!!

  9. Well I am one of those long loud burpers!! LOL!! Due to an in ability to properly digest fuctose.

    We have also had on and off home care for my grandmother-in-law (90) and full time watch over care when she is in her own home.

    And I say AMEN, she is a blessing to us in so many ways, we are so thankful for everyday we are blessed to have her, though it is not always easly!!

    Nothing can top the blessing of watching your 6 year old make mud pies for her 90 year old grandmother!!

  10. Hi – tell Uncle Mark that a lady from the email asked how he was, and I think he is really brave for trying a new place to live. I'm glad you guys have found an outlet for him to exercise and make friends.

    No, you don't sound like you're complaining. You sound like you're thankful for the lessons that people from all walks of life can offer.

  11. I have something to say about the belching. Its called digestive enzymes and you take it with meals. Our healthfood store carries many brands and its worth its weight in gold! (ask my husband)

  12. Linny, I haven't even met the man but I love Uncle Mark (from his pictures and all that you've shared about him)! I too wish everyone had an Uncle Mark in their lives. And "You should hear Mom" – boy, did that give me a good laugh here!! So funny! You guys are all wonderful!

  13. Hi Linny,

    It's been a while since I've commented here…our Chloe Grace is from Chongqing like your Isaiah. Hearing about Uncle Mark just makes my heart happy. I'm so glad he's with your family. I have an uncle that is physically handicapped and requires constant care. He's lived with my parents for 5 years. My parents know and my uncle knows that if anything ever happens to my parents, Uncle J is coming to live with us. My kids get as excited about seeing him as they do about seeing Nana & Papa when we go to visit. It's opened the eyes of my children to see that we all pull together and care for each other and do what needs doin'! And…much to Uncle J's dismay, my kids know all about his diabetes and try as he might, he can't get the kids to sneak him a single thing (but not for a lack of trying!) I'm so glad that everyone is adjusting well. Hugs to you all.

  14. I can see how having mark with you is both a blessing, but also a challenge. thanks for sharing a little window into your world. you and dw are such wonderful, giving people and such a sweet example to me and many others. you are a treasure!

  15. I am so grateful that Uncle Mark has come to live with you all. He is simply a joy and a treasure to be around. I love visiting with him, and his love for children is endless. Thanks for loving him like you do – because it shows to everyone he has the chance to love.

  16. I am laughing a little. I thought I was the last person in America to be disgusted by burping. My husband and son do it all the time, followed by I just couldn't help it. Oh goodness!! For Pete's sake, get a grip. 🙂 You are simply the greatest family in the world.

  17. Hi! I have been following your blog for awhile, and I can't remember how I came across it, but from the first time I read it, you have moved me. I have a heart for adoption. I don't know if I personally will ever be able to, but I pray continuously for those who are able, and pray that, one day, circumstances will allow me to, as well. My living situation and job situation right now are not such that I can adopt. I am moved by your story about Uncle Mark because my older brother, who will be 39 in just a few weeks, is autistic. While many characteristics about him are on target for a 39 year old, he too has a number of 5 year old qualities. I, too, know that one day, he will live with me, and my children will have "Uncle Tony" who will also have that child-like attitude. Bless you all for welcoming Mark with open arms as if he is just one more of your children. The mentally, physically, and emotionally handicapped are truly special children of God who bring so much joy.

  18. I don't hear one snippet of complaining … just explaining. You are blessed to have Mark … as he is blessed to have you. Yes. You are family.

    Definitely sounds like a 15 pass. van is in order. We are on our 3rd Ford Clubwagon 15 pass … and we LOVE them.

    mama of 13

  19. Oh! Thank you for this post! I have been praying and wondering how it is going. You are so right….what a face a Jesus! I just wish I could scoop him up into my own home for a day to get to know him!

  20. Hi, Uncle Mark, I sure do like your basketball clothes! I hope you have a lot of fun with your team. You look pretty tall in your picture so I think that after you practice a little bit you'll be a good basketball player. I'll keep checking the blog to find out how you do.

  21. You wrote a beautifull post. It brings tears to my eyes because of your love for uncle Mark. You realy take good care of him, letting him loose wieght and even finding the basketball team for him. May God bless you and your familie for loving uncle Mark so much

  22. Linny how beautiful. There was no complaining in there.
    it's great that he is active now! He must really enjoy getting out and playing B- ball.
    People with special needs have so much to offer. I wish the world wound recognize that. So many people are missing out on their beauty by not looking at them.

  23. What a wonderful post. He is so lucky to live in such a wonderful home. No doubt that the kids will learn as much from Uncle Mark as he will from them.
    Have a great weekend.
    Angie H.
    Soso, MS

  24. my great grandfather came to live with us when I was a child. I have such fond memories of him and that time. and it did indeed lead me to a life of giving. and while we consider bringing a child into our home that may "grow up" mentally, it is a joy to see how Mark has fit into your family. I hope that our little vika will be that joyful.

  25. I didn't hear a thing that sounded like a complaint. It sounded like a loving home opening up to make room for another soul. That's not always easy. I'm praying for your family. You are truly walking the Christian walk. We know your heart. What a fantastic Idea getting him in a basketball program.

  26. What a blessing I receive each time I read your blog. What a wonderful family you have. Tell Uncle Mark that he looks really cool in his sneakers and sweat pants. I would love to send him a t-shirt from the college I work at. How can I get it to you?
    Blessings from Monticello, Arkansas.

  27. Uncle Mark us a special dude. I feel so bad that I was sick and didn't get to take him to Town with us. When I get back, it is a date!

    Thanks for sharing your big family with us. Ashley wants to do a week-long switch with Lib to see what it's like to live in a big family – aren't they a hoot!

    Love to all. THanks for all the prayers.

  28. Oh, Linny, just love hearing about your family of "non-navel gazers". You crack me up.

    I'm just catching up on your life due to some craziness in our own. You are right that having Uncle Mark in your home will polish the rest of the stones living there. (Although there may be days you think you've been polished enough.) We had the privilege of caring for my mother-in-law after an accident that left her broken in many places and completely bedridden. She lived with us for 5 months (no burping but I had to bathe her, care for her potty needs, dress her, etc.). It was SO hard but blessed our family in many ways. I think that is when we all realized we could care for a child with significant special needs.

    I will pray for you to have wisdom, strength, energy and patience as you care for your beautiful family that now includes Uncle Mark.

    Much Love,

    P.S. Happy belated birthday, Graham!!!

  29. What a great post! I am so happy for Uncle Mark : ) And happy for the sweet lessons his living there teaches all of you. We all need an Uncle Mark! And let him know we think he looks great too, and we think it's great he gets to play basketball. Awesome!

  30. What a sweet, sweet post. And what beautiful lessons your children are learning. It is so easy for Americans to love from a far (mission trips, the soup kitchen etc), but how much harder, but oh so enriching when we embrace others and invite in them to live life alongside us.

    God bless your wonderful heart and the gentle reminder for us to take a small break from our navel gazing!


  31. Linny…thank you for EVERY SINGLE WORD of this post. I just love Mark and that he has your family/HIS family in which to thrive!

    For many years I was guardian of a man with mental handicaps (that is the field in which I work to this day) My children ADORED him and he played with them as a peer although he was in his 60's. He died recently and we miss him SO very much. My childrens memories of him are PRECIOUS…he played games, cars and laughed at cartoons and wanted to eat TOO MUCH ice cream with them…they LOVED him for who he was and NEVER seemed to notice he had any differences. I praise God for his miracle in Uncle James AND in Uncle Mark.

  32. I love this post because it speaks to my weakness and shows me what you can be able to do with God's help. Bringing in Children and being their mom is EASY for me but what you are doing is not easy. God Bless Uncle Mark- I already adore him and have from the beginning but having that dear man live with me would be very difficult for me. What you are showing me is the power of God- I may be called to do this someday and thenk you for being a great example of how the Lord can challenge you(me) and see you(me) through the difficult times.

    You Rock Linny!!

    I love serving the Lord but he has kept me in my comfort zone. What will he ask next of me? I need to be ready to serve and trust him!

    Seriously- You Rock!

  33. This post touched a place in my heart. My younger special needs sister lived with us for four years and while there were some adjustments that had to be made, the blessings were abundant.

    Special needs people engender a special kind of love, both for the individual, as well as for those that include your loved one in mainstream life as they are able.

    We loved the folks we met through Special Olympics. It's a neat community to be a part of. Arm yourself with lots of tissues when you go to a sporting event! The athletes try so hard, have so much fun, and encourage each other so well– I always cried my eyes out.

  34. Dear Linny,

    So,so blessed to read about your family's accommodations for Uncle Mark. Our Tavin participated in Special Olympics, and it opened up a whole new arena of opportunity and potential for him. It blesses me to read about a family that so represents God's kingdom.

    with loving thanks from,

    Lisa, privileged to be mom of awesome kids and wife of a great guy.

  35. BEAUTIFULLY written! I know first hand the challenges any special need can present and the blessings they can bring as well! May God bless you for stepping up to this challenge/reward!

  36. Bless Mark's and your heart! You are the best. I want to be like you when I grow up. ;o)

    Obviously, he's a true blessing and so are you.

    My boys, visionally impaired, enjoy their special olympics activities.

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