23 August 2012

Nora St.Laurent Guest post - Her Son's Overcoming of V.A.C.T.E.R.A.L.

My son Isaac, now 14-years-old, was born with a few more challenges to overcome than most. He is a bright spot in my life and is and an encouragement in more ways that I can count. I want to share about his first year in middle school when he went to Band Try-outs!

Isaac is brave, my bundle of joy, an encourager and my hero. I hope his story will encourage you as well. 

Today was a hard but good. I went with my youngest son Isaac to watch him try out for band. I’d never been to a band function before and didn’t know what to expect. There were rooms set up with different instruments you could try out with, and instructors inside each room to test you. They had a clarinet, flute, trumpet, etc. I was overwhelmed but I saw Isaac’s eyes twinkle with excitement at the challenge before him.

This was the first time in his life he wanted and/or was physically able to try out for something at his school. My son has V.A.C.T.E.R.A.L. Association. Isaac has had thirty nine surgeries at this point, has four fingers on each hand and a clubbed left hand that’s shorter than the other. Most of the time people don’t even see Isaac as different when they first meet him. He has not let his physical challenges stop him from doing anything.

Isaac made sure we were out of the house at record time so that we would be early. He wanted to give himself plenty of time to check out all the instruments. He wasn’t quite sure which one he wanted to play.

We arrived at the first room and Isaac sat down with the teacher who was going to show him how to play the flute. He would do this in front of a room full of other kids and their parents waiting their turn to try out. The teacher instructed Isaac on how to position his lips just right to make the instrument sing. He tried several times. She was patient as she watched Isaac try to blow into the mouth piece and make noise come out. After a little while she put the mouth piece onto the rest of the instrument and handed it to Isaac.

He told her he couldn't hold it like she wanted him to because he only had 4 fingers on each hand. I watched her face contort as she noticed Isaac didn’t have enough fingers to play the flute. She smiled and said,"Oh, I didn't know."

My son took it all in stride and went skipping to the next room ready to tackle another instrument. We went from room to room trying to play one instrument after another. He either couldn't do the finger placement, couldn't blow into the mouth piece which was the case with the trumpet, or he physically couldn’t hold the instrument up with his left shorter arm.

We got all excited when the teacher handed him a clarinet mouth piece and he made a sound. Isaac’s eyes lit up and were filled with excitement at the fact it was so easy for him to make it sing. It was the best he had done at anything so far.

But then it was time for the finger placement again and he definitely needed all 5 fingers and two long arms to play the instrument. The instructor was kind—said he might be able to do it and let him try to make it work. After Isaac could see for himself that it wasn’t a fit the teacher recommended that he might want to consider another instrument. He was disappointed but not crushed.

Isaac was determined to play something that night. After consulting the band director and telling him all the instruments he attempted to play the director had an idea. He went into the back room and brought out a special instrument. It looked like a very small tuba with a large mouth piece, Isaac’s face lit up with great joy. This was a manly instrument he might just be able to play.

He didn't have to hold this instrument up but could lay it on his lap. It also only had three keys to push so he was covered there in the finger department. Isaac could use the mouth piece just fine and made the instrument sing easily - just like he had done with the clarinet. Isaac beamed as he played the instrument. He was triumphant. He never gave up and the best news was the school had one that they could let him borrow. Praise the Lord!

My son Isaac is the bravest person I know. His outlook on life chokes me up as you can see how he faced the band try-outs. I was terrified and felt bad for him but Isaac found joy in the challenge. As a Mom who has watched him overcome many things he’s faced in life,  I’m inspired by him and how he faces things head on and never gives up on a task until it’s done. I watched him do that as he went from room to room with a smile on his face trying the next instrument to discover where he could fit in and make beautiful music!! I'm choked up even now as I write this I’ve learned so much from Isaac and his attitude toward challenges. He lives life to the fullest and doesn’t let things get him down like I do.
Thanks for sharing with us, Nora, and we will keep Isaac in prayer. He has a wonderful mom and dad!

Great giveaways all month long at TBCN! Leave a comment here, too, for a special OTT-WGH giveaway this week in honor of Nora and Fred!


  1. Thanks for sharing about your son Nora. That was very interesting to read and certainly put a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes! I have to confess I hadn't heard of V.A.T.E.R.A.L syndrome before, so this has been an eye-opener for me as I've now been reading up on it. I wish, and pray, all the best for you and your son.

  2. THANKS Noela, I appreciate your prayers and hope that you were encouraged by Isaac and his determination as much as I am!!

    Nora St.Laurent
    TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!!

  3. My 13 year old has Aspergers and we are currently homeschooling him because he was having a hard time socially. Kids were not giving him a chance, he was eating alone at lunch and was starting to give up. During youth group his prayer request was that the kids at school would know that he was trying and would give a chance. This broke our hearts and it was then we decided to home school.
    He's doing well! I glad your son Isaac was able to find an insrtament and be happy!

  4. THANKS for telling us about your 13 year old son Jennifer. Isaac is 14 now and just started High School almost two weeks ago.

    Now for what happened AFTER THE BAND TRY-OUTS - HERE'S THE REST OF THE STORY - it didn't go as well as the try-outs I'm afraid!!

    Not everything went well in the band when the school year began. We had to change his class because of bullying situations in Band. Isaac was then changed to Choir. Did that for two years and had some other bullying situations at the end of 8th grade during lunch and then waiting for the school bus to take him home.

    The team in the new high school is working with us closely. Isaac wanted to take on the challenge of High School so we've let him. It's only been two weeks but he's doing well. They have made special arrangements to work with his medical issues and school work is fun for him right now.

    I'm willing to do whatever it takes to see him thrive and if things get crazy again like they did at the end of Middle school, we might end up home schooling the high school years ourselves. I don't want him to give up either. We are in this faith walk day by day Jennifer!!

    Praying for you and your son as you enter this home schooling adventure!!


    Nora :o)

  5. When I first met Isaac, about ... what, Nora, 8 or 9 years ago, he amazed me. No one treated him any differently than any other kid, and Isaac doesn't think of himself any differently. He's my hero, too! And so are you, Nora.

  6. Nora, I have admired what you and Fred do about bringing us the bookclub and the drawings but this interview about Isaac is so heart warming. He knows who he is and is determined to have others know him too. Strength, honor and tenacity! I think he has received these qualities from his strong mother and father. Yea Isaac! You are a hero!!
    Darlene Keith

  7. OK, lump in throat and tears in eyes time here. Even though I had read Nora's testimony about her little man before, I am always touched by it. What a persistent little fella, and I can only imagine the great things he will accomplish as a young adult. Thank you for sharing this heartwarming story of Isaac, and what a perfect name y'all picked out for him, too!

  8. What a wonderful example in this story. It is so easy to give up after so many unsuccessful attempts but Isaac proves that success is just right around the corner. I love Nora and admire her for running both her online bookclub and face to face bookclub at the same time being a wife, mother, and grandmother.
    Sharen Sammons

  9. ANE MULLIGAN - Thanks for stopping by and sharing my friend. I THANK GOD HE BROUGHT YOU IN MY LIFE every day!! I ALSO THANK YOU FOR YOUR FAITHFULNESS to do what the Lord asked you to.

    The other day I shared here that Ane Mulligan asked me to run a book club. I said, "Ane are you serious. I don't read! Didn't I tell you that?"

    You said so kindly and gently to me, "Nora, pray about this. I really think you are the one to run this book club. Get back with me!" You had a smile on your face I'll never forget.

    You have been an encourager, a prayer warrior, a mentor and dear friend. When God asks you to do the impossible He sends you an Aaron - like He did Moses who was winning he couldn't do the task God asked him to do like I did!! Grin! Ane you are my Aaron!! I have to stop writing before these tears in my eyes cloud my vision and I can’t type anymore. Grin!

    DARLENE - Thanks for your encouragement and prayers for us and our family. One of the bright spots about The Book Club Network as been the MEMBERS there. I delight in working with the authors on their questions and showing off their books, book trailers but you all make the discussion time FUN AND INTERESTING!!

    I appreciate you Darlene!!

    DIANA - Thanks again for having me here today. I had not realized when I did this interview that you all would have me here ALL WEEK!! WOW!!
    What a treat.

    ISAAC is a bright light in the darkness. I also have two other Precious Children I’m proud of Luke who will be 18 in October and Hilary who turns 21 tomorrow and I have an amazing Husband how is my best friend and cheerleader.

    OHMYGOSH!! We've had an interesting journey through the 39 surgeries Isaac has had!! It's only though the Grace of God that we've had PEACE in the middle of the STORMS!! AND it’s only been through the prayers of His people, their encouragement, their willingness to hold us up - like they held Moses arms up when he just couldn't hold them up any more that we've been able to make through this faith walk.

    THANK YOU SO SO SO MUCH!! Words can't describe my gratitude!!

    Nora :o)
    TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!

  10. Oh, Nora, I tear up every single time I hear this story, and each and every time, Isaac burrows a little deeper into my heart!! Cannot IMAGINE how wonderful it must be to call him your son!!

    Thanks, Carrie, for featuring this incredible little boy and his even MORE incredible mom on your blog -- what a blessing to your readers!


  11. NORA thank you so much for introducing us to your "baby" Isaac. He is so precious and he looks adorable with his horn. I'm so glad he has a good teacher that went out of his way to make Isaac happy. :) Tell Isaac he has a fan club over at OTT-WGH cheering him on!

  12. JENNIFER...thank you for sharing your story about your son, it breaks my heart to hear how badly he was treated. I am so proud that you chose to home school him. When my oldest son was in 7th grade he was so sick he was put on home bound for a while so when he started 8th grade I chose to home school both of our sons and I NEVER looked back. My oldest graduated this year and will start pre-nursing on Monday. I promise your son will flourish being at home with you, no one can understand or take care of a child like Mom. I'll be praying for you and your son.

  13. Isaac certainly does have a fan club over here, TERESA! NORA, I hope we haven't worn you out-you'll get a break tomorrow as OTT celebrates our own lovely TERESA'S birthday, so everyone come by and wish her a happy one!

    NORA had to go to work everyone, but will be back by later to respond to your thoughtful comments.

    JULIE, it's always a pleasure to see you here! I'm only 4 chapters into a fabulous book, but it already has me--hook, line, and sinker! A Love Surrendered-YES!!

  14. SHAREN, thank you for your lovely comment to NORA! Yes, she does alot and has alot on her plate, but always manages to have a lovely "grin" for us all. We add our admiration of NORA, FRED, and ISAAC, right along with yours, SHAREN!

  15. Nora, I certainly would be honored to meet your Isaac. Wow! what zest he showed for finding the right instrument for him. Knowing me I would have given up. Nora, thank you for this post about Isaac. I definitely see a poor me attitude that I have in life that needs to take a hike. I think we could all take lessons from Isaac. Praise God for him and for his parents too. God chose you and Fred to raise this amazing special young man!


  16. JUDY, you are definitely a strong lady who has been through many tremendous trials herself, and still trusts God and blesses and encourages others. That speaks volumes to me! You have the same amazing qualities as Isaac--persistency and determination! Bless you, my friend.

  17. Wow, what an amazing testimony! I haven't met Isaac, but I already love him. :) What a great kid!
    Prayers and blessings to you and your familie, NORA!

  18. JULIE – You are a blessing and an encouragement to me. Isaac has had to face more challenges than the average bear and has faced them head on!! He doesn’t think of himself as any different then anyone else. He’s a real jokester. I will tell you a quick story. We were at a restaurant in Augustine Florida. The place had little doors to the outside where you can FEED THE BIRDS!! OHMYGOSH!! Isaac gets the idea on the way out that he’ll put catsup on his fingers and tell the lady that one of the birds bit him.

    The Lady takes one look at Isaac and the red on his hand and is ready to call 911. Especially when she only sees FOUR FINGERS on his hand!! OHMYGOSH!! It’s about then we realized what Isaac was doing. OHMY that child!! ALL of us started to LAUGH and LAUGH – even the lady!! Grin! He has a good sense of humor and knows how to have fun!

    JUDY – I was as THRILLED as Isaac was about being able to try out for the Band. I don’t think of him as disabled and either did he, so I didn’t realize how many fingers you needed for things. OHMYGOSH!! Boy was I embarrassed that I didn’t think ahead or release this BEFORE we got there.

    But you know it’s BEST I didn’t know, if I had calculated everything Isaac wouldn’t have had the experience and have the FUN he had that night. Going from room to room!! Loved the smile on his face and the enthusiasm he had - Priceless!! You are a Blessing Judy!!

    SHAREN – you are a delight and I LOVE having you in my face to face book clubs. You see things I often times miss and because you are an avid reader I value your insight. You have an experience I’ll never have because you’ve read all your life. I enjoy laughing with you too!! You are a blessing thanks for your encouragement and prayers!

    DIANA, TERESA, CARRIE and MARIAN Thanks for having me her ladies. Happy Birthday Teresa tomorrow!! It’s been such a blessing and encouragement. Thanks for your prayers and support. We’ve told Isaac that he may not do things like everyone else, but you’ll know what works right for you. I don’t do things the same either, you should see me dial the phone at work, not pretty but it gets the job done and the correct numbers pushed on the pad!! LOL!!

    Nora :o)
    TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!

  19. Oh, NORA, what a hilarious story! Just too cute! I'm so glad he has such a positive outlook on life, and alot of that has to do with the way you have raised him, and your attitude towards his "disability."

    We have so enjoyed having you on the blog this week, NORA; it has been a such a blessing to us. Thank you for sharing both your testimony and your son's. We'll still be seeing alot of you over at TBCN, and give Isaac a BIG hug from all of us girls at Overcoming Through Time-With God's Help!

  20. Hi everybody!!! I am off Mackinac Island and in Newberry, my home town. It isn't the same without my mom here, though. God bless you NORA for the love and determination you show your son! ISAAC sounds like an awesome teenager!

    Waving at JULIE, DIANA, TERESA, MARIAN, ANE, JUDY, and DARLENE too. Am wiped out. Hugs all around!

  21. Hugs back at you!! Sounds like you'll need to rest up when you get back!! Grin!

  22. CARRIE, get some rest, gf. I know how you feel; don't have any desire to go back to AZ w/out my mom there. Hugs back atcha from all of us!

  23. What an inspirational story. Thank you for sharing!

    Amy C
    campbellamyd at gmail dot com

  24. I quite agree, AMY! Nora has a very special little guy!

  25. Your son sounds like a very special young man. Sounds like he is a blessing to you. I wish him well in the future. You are doing great with this website. I enjoy it. Maxie

  26. Forgot my email Mac262@me.com Thanks, Maxie

  27. Nora, thank you for sharing you are such an inspiration to me. Issac is the best example of how God can use us with the gifts we have we just have to find our gift. Issac you are stiring up the gift God has given you without a doubt.

  28. JENNIFER, congrats! You are our surprise giveaway winner for NORA's week and have won a copy of Love's Reckoning by Laura Frantz!!

  29. CONGRATS to you JENNIFER!!! This book officially releases on September 1 but I have a copy just for you already! Blessings!


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