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Open House, Open Mind

Today I went to the high school open house for both my boys. I was pleasantly surprised to meet teachers that were not off put by Landon’s IEP plan. In fact, a few of them assured me they were not only adaptable but readily available and more than happy to ensure his success.

Last year’s open house was fraught with a bit of frustration as Lan’s schedule hadn’t transferred from his county “assigned” school. We met teachers that ultimately would not teach him. And then there were those first year of high school jitters, both mine and his.

Today Lan confidently lead me through the hallways. He hugged a few of his teachers from last year, all of whom were amazed how much he’d grown. He eagerly waved and shouted to kids he knew. He quickly left me to sit on a bench and talk to a pretty girl. Where did that shy kid go?

The beginning of every school year has always been fraught with anxiety and a bit of dread. For me more so than Lan. I’ve worried about bullies, standardized exams, ambivalent teachers and probably a host of other things.

But this year, dare I hope we’ve reached a turning point of sorts…can I finally exchange my fears for a faith that everything will be just fine?

Can I for once just live in the now moment, count the blessings of a wonderful counselor, empathetic teachers, kind students and the new-found bit of confidence and maturity that has finally surfaced in these last few weeks of summer?

No matter what we may face this year, I don’t dare deluded myself into the notion of a problem free 180 days of school. But dare I hope and even expect that previous lessons learned will give us the experience to be proactive instead of reactive; will my prayers and faith precede the proper people or rather angels in disguise to help us along our way?

This year I will share my child’s optimism without the threat of “what if?” looming behind us. This year I look forward to my child branching out and pushing boundaries that don’t include me. This year…I am receptive to new ideas, new ventures and the possibility something good is on the horizon. This year, I will abide in the hope that God has a purpose and a plan for my child and I don’t have to orchestrate/dictate/regulate every detail of his life.

This year…will be a very good year. For both of us.

“Behold, I [am] the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing to hard for me?”
Jeremiah 32:27 KJV

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Camp Hope!

This past weekend I traveled to South Carolina to pick up my youngest from a week of summer camp. This was the very first time Lan had ever been away from home for that long and it was not with immediate family.

I admit to having a bit of apprehension, but he was eager to go. More than that, it appeared Lan was ready to go. The over-protective mom in me immediately imagined a dozen reasons why he would be better off at home when the idea of camp first surfaced. The very idea of sending him anywhere for a week no matter how competent the staff was incomprehensible.

But God has a funny way of making me eat my words. The “ain’t gonna happen” that played in my head actually happened and with stunning results!

My “little man” though he now towers over me, appeared cool and confident when we arrived to pick him up. He had made new friends, other kids were calling for him and he simply adored his counselors.

I realized a few days later when we were back at home that Lan appeared a bit more confident. He stood a bit taller and dare I say even acted more mature.

According to his counselors, Lan was able to show off his art skills drawing pictures for them in addition to a mural of college mascots on one walkway in chalk. His art is something Lan does well and could share with others. It is something he could share and take pride in!

I have often been a stickler for structure and routine, years ago learning structure curtailed chaos and calamity. Meltdowns (mine and his) were minimized when we didn’t deviate from the norm.

However, I now realize that when we dare to open ourselves us to new possibilities and ideas that we once shunned, good things are possible. I’ve learned that for Lan to grow as I pray he will, we are going to have to step out of the comfort zone more often (mine more so than his) and simply see what happens.

Camp Hope actually sparked hope in me for what possibilities the future can hold. I now realize I hadn’t been exactly looking toward the future as much as dreading it in regard to potential opportunities for my child.

Thankfully, the camp counselors once again ignited my faith in people, the kind of people who give kids like mine a chance to be the people God created them to be!

Lan returned from camp confident, optimistic and a wee bit taller than when he left. He readily let it be known that he wants to return next year. I quickly agreed that it is probably a good idea.

I received not only a content teenager on Saturday but a renewed hope and faith for the future as well.  

At the end of the day, Camp Hope made us both “happy campers!”

“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God,” Psalm 42:5 NIV

 

 

 

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Hope!

“Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the Lord”
Psalms 31:24 NKJV

“Blessed [is] the man who trusts in the LORD, And whose hope is the LORD”
Jeremiah 17:7 NKJV

“rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer”
Romans 12:12 NKJV

 

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Independent!

Yesterday, my youngest who inspired this blog, was promptly deposited two hours away at Clemson University for a week of summer camp! This particular camp caters to kids on the spectrum giving them an opportunity to swim, fish, and enjoy all the beauty Lake Hartwell has to offer.

It was only a year ago when we were picking up my oldest from a university campus, that Lan asked “when will I get to go away to camp?”

“Ain’t gonna happen,” was the only thought that came to mind but I did manage to say, “when you are mature enough to go.”

Fast forward nine months and my husband finally found a camp that I did not have nightmares about counselors losing my child! After speaking to the coordinator in the spring, Lan did a “trial” weekend visit in March and had a grand time. His eagerness to go off on his own without an over-protective mother watching over him wasn’t lost on any of us.

His eagerness had not waned three months later as he bid my husband a hasty goodbye yesterday. I think the hubby was a bit wounded by Lan’s eagerness to see him leave!   blsd crepe myr 3

All of this makes me remember just how far we’ve come from the three-year old that hid behind me as we walked into a grocery store.  Lan is more and more eager to test the waters. He is less wary of strangers in social situations, more apt to say “hi!” He is definitely more willing to join in the fun.

My niece had her sweet sixteen party last month and I wondered if Lan would be sitting there bored all night and asking when he could go home. To our surprise Landon danced the entire night! When my husband called him over to sit for a minute, the other kids pulled him back on the floor. The best part of it was he had a wonderful time mingling, dancing and just being himself.

Having turned fifteen in May, we are seeing more and more of this independence break through. His fears are being replaced with a desire for freedom to find himself and not rely on us dictating his every move.

This also means I’ve got to let go more and allow him to try more, succeed or fail, if he is ever going to grow into the young man I have faith he can become.

I told him this week was an opportunity for him to prove how mature he is. Lan seemed up to the challenge. I think back on prayers answered slowly and oh so subtly.

And yes there have been those “high moments” like that sigh of relief when notified he did pass all of his classes this first year of high school. But some of the greatest miracles have been quiet. And still.

Those things like responsibility and initiative that we’ve harped on for years, we find that they’ve slowly…appeared.

Landon’s independence is the ultimate goal. I would so like to think that he will be just fine on his own when I’m no longer around to watch over him. I’d like to think that his older brother will not have to take on the role of the other parent,” years from now.

We’ve prayed and God has answered our prayers. My faith holds fast that my Father will answer many more.

So the next time Lan asks me when something is going to happen, I’ll do well to remember that with God anything can happen!

And for that I am grateful.

“Jesus said unto him, if thou canst believe, all things [are] possible to him that believeth.” Mark 9:23 KJV

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Still!

I watched the dragonfly pictured above sit very patiently in my yard. As the shutter on my camera clicked, clicked, away. Its meal for the moment simply flew toward him and like that, breakfast was served.

God spoke to me in that moment.

My mind is often a wonder with things I think I should be doing to ensure that Lan will meet his “goals.”

We probably could have Lan previewing physical science and algebra II for the upcoming school year. Khan academy is waiting patiently for him to brush up on his math. I’m pretty confident he has not met my goal of reading one hour a day.

All of the “should be” and “could be” scenarios that roll around in my head dissolved as I studied this dragonfly, carefree and confident that what it needed to survive would make its way to him.

This dragonfly so delicate yet determined waited patiently and full of faith that his meal would find him! Why is it sometimes so difficult for us to believe God provides so generously for us as well?

Sometimes we just need a reminder, a real life example, to show us we don’t always need to hustle lest we suffer the dreaded fate of “falling behind.” God is enough.

God. Is. Enough.

God is well aware of my needs. He has met them more times than I can count. Why should I doubt that He won’t continue to do so?

There is no “quota” of goodness that will run out before I do. Our goals, IEPs and long list of “to dos” could be endless and frankly drive me crazy if I didn’t believe that God is enough.

I don’t have to worry. I don’t have to run around to make things “happen.” I have plenty of miracles on record to remind me that I should not be concerned that in this moment I’m not doing anything.

I will be responsible. I can also be still. I will be still and know that He is God. I will be still and allow my faith to please Him. I can honor God with my faith as I wait and expect a good outcome.

I will act as He directs instead of grasping at straws, my own flighty ideas or the next great idea that promises to help us along our spectrum journey.

And it is a journey. It had a beginning and I am confident it will have an end. A positive end!

God’s love for us has kept us thus far and will continue. He is faithful. So my faith should be too.

My dragonfly buddy reminds me to allow the sun to shine on me just as it was shining on him.  DSC_2890 (2)

The Son continues to shine. We will be alright. I can be calm. Peaceful.

I can be still.

“Listen to this, O Job; Stand still and consider the wondrous works of God.” Job 37:14 NKJV

“Be still, and know that I [am] God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalms 46:10 NKJV

“He calms the storm, So that its waves are still.” Psalms 107:29 NKJV

 

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Happy Father’s Day

For all those Dads who manage through with IEPs and special needs,

Whose love lasts long, you look so strong when things around us feel so wrong.

I wish you peace and heartfelt love, God’s greatest gifts from up above

In gratitude for ALL you do, this special day is just for you.

 

“But now, O LORD you [are] our Father; We [are] the clay, and You our potter; And all we [are] the work of Your Hand.” Isaiah 64:8 NKJV

***Happy Father’s Day Rod! We love you

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Let the Music Play!

As parents and caregivers of kids on the spectrum or any special need, we are often motivated, guided, or pushed toward focusing on those target skills our kids are lacking. We are often caught up in therapies, tutoring or trying to catch up to whatever norm “they” deem deficient in our children.

How different would our kid’s lives be if we could instead focus on their positives instead of always trying to compensate for those things regarded as negatives?

My youngest has generally struggled with school. He works hard. Really, really hard just to pass his classes which is especially frustrating as his older brother excels in school. Lan was very disappointed when his brother and childhood friends were off to the Magnet school and he simply could not join them.

However, Lan does have a talent for music in which his brother has been unable to best him. Both boys play piano along with other instruments. Yet, Lan has been gifted with “perfect pitch” something most musicians would love to have. Unlike other things that are difficult for him, anything musical comes much easier with a joy that surprisingly spreads to the people around him.

I started Lan in piano lessons as my version of occupational therapy. When he began writing in preschool, his fingers weren’t quite as strong as they should be. Piano lessons strengthened fingers that struggled to hold a pencil. Best of all, Lan enjoyed the lessons. Now, these same fingers draw intricate cartoon characters with very little effort. By focusing on what he could do, the door opened for another talent to emerge as well!DSC_7293 (2)

The more I hear incredible stories about so many kids on the spectrum and their thoughts, gifts and talents; the more I believe that everyone has something to give. Some people bring positive qualities out in others. Then there are others also on the spectrum blessed with things us “neurotypicals” can only dream of, skills or talents that often amaze and leave others speechless.

If only the time we spend during the school year striving to meet “goals” designated by other people, (I’m still trying to figure out who they are) could be used to cultivate those gems that lie dormant within, I wonder how many “atypicals” could more positively impact our world?

There are people whose gifts go unearthed because as a society we don’t prioritize searching those talents out. Instead we hammer people to conform.

I’ve seen a few miracles in the health care realm. I’m optimistic I’ll see many more with God’s grace and His power. The advances in science and technology lead me to believe there is so much more yet unseen. But we have to look for it!

So until “they” decide to focus on the person and not on an arbitrary set of goals and “normal” is designated for the individual instead of the masses, I will continue to encourage kids to search out and nurture the talents God gave them.  DSC_1350 (2)

If we don’t make searching out God’s gifts within our kids a priority, if we don’t build them up so they can unearth the beauty within and give them a sense of pride in what they can do instead of continually emphasizing what they can’t…who will?

As for me and my crew, we will continue to let the music play.

“The LORD [is] my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, And with my song I will praise Him.” Psalms 28:7 NKJV