blsd qb10

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.

DSC_8006 (2)    Happy Father’s Day!

 

    “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

 

***Dedicated to one Awesome Dad!  Rod Raphael, you do it well!  We love you!!!

home and nest bradford pear blessed devotional 2015

Empty Nest!?

A few weeks ago I was fortunate to visit a college campus with my oldest son who is a rising senior. Lan, who will be a junior when school resumes in August also tagged along. To my surprise he didn’t get bored, asked pertinent questions and even dared to answer a few.

Lan is finally doing well enough with his classes that the idea of college is increasingly a part of his conversations as well.  Would I have imagined this even just a few years ago?

Not hardly.

However these past few years have taught me anything is indeed possible.

It was just two years ago, I practically swore Lan would never go away to summer camp. I didn’t trust him not to get distracted and wander someplace he shouldn’t. I also didn’t trust anyone else to keep tabs on him the way I would. We were dropping his brother off at a college campus and Lan asked when was he going to go away for a week.

“Not going to happen,” was the only response that popped to my mind though I was wise enough to keep that to myself.

Fast forward one year later and I was happily driving Landon to Clemson University for a week of summer camp.

Lesson learned. Never say never.

As I’m searching out options from my oldest child, my youngest is quite vocal about his own college plans. Lan is increasingly asking me and the hubby what he needs to do to prove he is mature enough for college. Thus far, he is doing a great job making his case.

My husband and I have always ironed Lan’s clothes for him, initially out of fear he would burn himself or ruin a fair number of the graphic tee shirts he loves. Only recently did I realize we’ve been doing it out of habit.

Lan finally asked when he would be allowed to do that for himself.

Shortly thereafter, Lan also asked me why he needs supervision using our gas stove. In truth, he is probably the only person in the house who has not left it on!  Another point for him.

Lan can manage the grill on the deck better than I can.

He hasn’t lost the cell phone he received for his birthday as we once feared he would years ago. In fact, he has used it responsively and appropriately. It certainly took him little time to begin texting us a grocery list of things to bring home from the store!

I’m realizing more and more my six foot tall “baby” isn’t so interested in being my “baby” but in trying to find his way in the world.

I once thought there was no way this kid could manage without me even though I prayed for just the opposite.

God has been faithful in so many things. I never doubted God was able. In watching and waiting for God to make Lan “ready” I’m beginning to realize the only person needing to get “ready” was me!  empty nest God autism and me devotional

I’ve got to move out of “protect” mode and into “prepare” mode.

Protecting Lan is something we have always done because we had to. It is an engrained habit. Some changes I couldn’t see because I was not looking for them. Every now and again it’s good to reexamine and reevaluate where our loved ones are and where they need us to be.

I need to mentally progress as Lan has, shifting from “once was” to the “here and now.” The final eye opener was when our oldest son recently chimed in and said “Mom, he’ll be just fine. Just let him be.”

“Let him be.”

Only time will tell the path Lan eventually takes. He is quite insistent in pursuing a career in graphic design. Lan may or may not follow a traditional path or leave for a distant college. Yet, I have faith that whatever the future holds, it will be the best possible path for him.

I’m not preparing for only one child to leave the nest, but possibly two.

How ‘bout that?

But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26 NKJV

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?” Jeremiah 32:27 NKJV

 

BLOOM AUTISM DEVOTIONAL 2015

Bloom!

My inspiration for writing my this blog turned sixteen this month!

As I look back, I realize the progress we have made is miraculous. My tears are no longer out of frustration but from joy.

I’m not sure exactly when I was able to breathe without fearing a phone call from the school. Yet today, my youngest is increasingly independent and learning to solve problems on his own.

He began this school year taunted by bullies and almost removed from his favorite class because of them. Yet, he finished the year on the honor roll earning the opportunity to play in the marching band next year with his brother.

Somewhere among the midst of IEPs, after school tutoring and endless hours of homework, Lan and I both began to bloom.

We are no longer closed off from others but rather optimistic instead of dreading what lies around the next corner.

Lan’s symptoms haven’t disappeared. However, we now manage them instead of stifle them.

Here are sixteen things God has taught me via autism.

How to improvise

How to find hope in all circumstances.

I am not in control. God’s got this!

How to open my mind up for the improbable

How to open my faith up for the impossible

Love and encouragement produce more than strict regimens

It’s okay not to be okay

I don’t have to be perfect

Perfection doesn’t exist on this earth

What once worked won’t always work.

With God, I am stronger than I ever imagined

My child is tough, resilient, and aware of everything!

How to bend without breaking

Sometimes you just have to make your own way.

Angels are among us in the guise of teachers, counselors and others

God’s not done with us yet!

You see, the photos of the flowers featured here “should” have bloomed nearly two months ago. My lilies have always bloomed around Easter no matter what. Yet, here they stand blooming far later than usual, lovelier and stronger than ever before.

God autism and me devotional bloom 2015We can do the same.

Sometimes we give up our joy when we don’t meet expectations created by others. It is easy to close up and fail to discover the gifts God places within us. We can’t acknowledge our talents let alone nurture them if we always focus on the “negatives.”

I challenge you to “open up” to possibilities you may have never considered before. Explore alternatives you may have once dismissed. Dare to reach out to new people and see if God doesn’t reveal fresh solutions to old problems!

With every passing year, my lilies grow taller and stronger. The dormant bulbs weather the frozen ground. Their strong stalks withstand spring storms. Their colorful blooms don’t wilt under the sun.

And that is exactly what God wants for us.

Like lilies, we go through seasons of dormancy where it looks like nothing is happening. But under the warmth of the sun, there is always the potential to produce something beautiful. Unlike the lily, we make the choice either to bloom or withdraw from the Son.

I choose to trust God.

Lan chooses not to be defined by a diagnosis.

What about you?

Choose to Bloom.

Mother Mary mother day 2015 autism

Mother Mary…

 Mother Mary 2  mother day 2015 autism

Can you imagine being an unmarried virgin receiving the news “you are going to conceive the Messiah?!”

I suspect at some point Mary struggled with her responsibility.

I’ll readily admit I’ve at times struggled with mine.

Yet, Mary was faithful and nurtured the potential within her child. John 2:9 describes one of the first miracles Jesus performed. He turned water into wine. In verse four Jesus says “my hour has not yet come.” However, Mary had other ideas. She told the servants, “Whatever he says to you, do it.” Upon His mother’s insistence, Jesus had the servants fill pots with water which He later turned into wine.

It is our responsibility to speak to the potential in our kids as well. This may mean IEPs, tutors, therapy, doctor’s visits and whatever it takes to pull out the potential we know is there. Many doubted Mary and will doubt us as well. However, that’s hardly reason to give in based on our own weaknesses and give up on what God can do in spite of them.

Mary’s had God’s grace for her assignment. God gives us grace as well.

Mary was forced to witness her child tortured and vilified for the sake of the world. She could not help her child; the crucifixion was something Jesus had to do alone.

The struggles our children face upset us as well. Yet, we are available for our children and God is available to us!

Grief over what could have been can often keep us from believing in what can be. Circumstances can appear hopeless. There are often reports and diagnoses that confuse and condemn. Yet, we have been chosen to stick it out and stick with Him.

A mother’s love will do that…follow through until the end. Mary witnessed her son’s crucifixion but was rewarded with joy in His Resurrection.

Sometimes we may feel like our path is overwhelming, unbeatable or even insurmountable. Many of us stay stuck on the “first day” or the death of our dream when faced with a diagnosis and the realities of parenting that lie before us. Yet thank God, there is nothing too hard for the Lord!

If Mary teaches us anything, it is to hold fast until the end. What looks like the end isn’t necessarily so. Hang in there with your child, cling to what God has promised you!

Every child has some special need. Some needs are just more obvious than others. Some are revealed early in life. Others won’t manifest until years later. God equips us to do what we have been called to do. Mary was chosen to be the mother of Jesus. We were chosen to parent the children God has blessed us with as well.

“Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me.” Mark 9:37 NKJV

Now as Jesus passed by He saw a man who was blind from birth. and His disciples asked Him, saying “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. John 9:1-3 NKJV

 

THORNS GOD AUTISM AND ME DEVOTIONAL 2015

Thorns!

We all have our fair share of thorns in life. Even the apostle Paul who spread the news of Christ’s resurrection and the promise for a new life was literally afflicted with a thorn in his side.

Some “thorns” manifest in the form of physical or mental illnesses. Others appear when we are forced to deal with a tragic loss. A sudden diagnosis of cancer, Alzheimer’s and even autism can become our personal thorns that distract us from all that is beautiful in life.

In my garden, I don’t get “stuck” by thorns as much as I used to. I have learned to watch for them. I handle my roses with care. I now wear gloves instead of bemoaning about cuts and scratches. I can now appreciate the beauty of the flower without concern for the thorns that go with it.

At one time I focused solely on my thorns. More than a few things in life did not turn out the way I “planned.” I’m confident I dismissed some wonderful moments because I chose to fixate on my problems instead of the grace God gave me to deal with them.

I’m a bit older now and hopefully wiser. My thorns don’t occupy my mind as much. They are still there, but I enjoy life. I am practical and tackle tough situations with care, yet I do so looking up from where my help comes from.

I’ve learned to treat autism this way. I’m quick to acknowledge the gains my son has made. I choose to focus on the good things instead of being blinded by areas that need improvement or whatever “skills” society deems he may lack.

I now seek the beauty in our days. Lan and I continue to learn how to manage our thorns. Choosing to keep them in perspective, our thorns for the most part are often an afterthought!thorns autism devotional 2 2015

Our thorns may shift or completely change from time to time. And as much grief as some of them can bring, like Paul, God may choose not to deliver us from them. 

What if our thorns keep us humble? What if our thorns teach us dependence on God? What if our thorns are necessary for our greater good?

Some would argue God would not give us the trials that cause so much pain. And I can agree with that.  My argument, instead, is what if God uses our thorns, not allowing them to break us but build us into the people we were meant to be?

We may shed a bit of blood in the process.

However, Christ shed more that we can be healed from our hurts.

We may never know why some thorns are thrust upon us. But, that doesn’t matter.

Like Paul, I’ve learned God’s grace is sufficient for me.

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”  2 Corinthians 12:7-9

Devotional autism blog on the outside looking in 2015

Looking in From the Outside…

When Lan was younger, I often worried about him. Not merely about his development, but also his loneliness.

He and his brother shared common friends in elementary school. But as their friends grew older, their interests drifted toward those things middle school kids do. However, Lan’s interests remained with Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers or whatever he deemed cool at the time.

Lan’s longtime friends looked out for him in school for sure, but they didn’t “hang” with him.  Very few called to ask if he could come over or go places with them. This became more apparent as his older brother accepted invitations from kids while Lan remained at home.

I think we can all relate to being an “outsider.”

Maybe you’ve been the new guy on the job or moved cross country without knowing a soul. There may be times you don’t get the joke. Yet, most of us can eventually move from the outside in.

Being an outsider can hurt. It often lasts longer than expected. When Lan was first diagnosed with that vague “pervasive developmental disorder” I certainly felt alone.

Who could understand my wants and fears while watching other kids move along carefree?

God understood.

His child was viewed as an “outsider.” Jesus didn’t talk like everyone else. He saw things differently. He broke the rules. Even as part of a larger plan, I can’t believe any parent is “okay” watching their child suffer or hurt.

Not even God.

I don’t doubt God was with us even when it didn’t feel like it. I’ve learned feelings can be deceptive. I don’t allow them to smother my faith!

Yes, Lan and I were a bit melancholy that first year of high school. I was standing in faith that God would bless him with one “good friend” his freshman year. Despite my prayers, that didn’t happen.

I now realize that first year “alone” was a blessing in disguise. Or, more accurately, a lesson in disguise.

I initially feared Lan would be taken advantage of in high school. I didn’t want him blindly following others just to be included. Instead, that first year taught Lan he could live on the “outside” and still be okay.

I also learned that lesson.

My normal doesn’t have to mirror everyone else. We can deal with autism. Our lives may be a bit different from the “norm” but then again what is normal?

God was with us.

We were never really alone. We didn’t break under the pain. Crack?

Maybe.

However, we are still in one piece and Lan is lonely no more!

Lan spent yesterday at an arcade with his best friend. They met this school year in a visual arts class. They both have their quirks. They “get” each other. They have a shared love for “Hero Up!” and its superheroes. There is no need to “conform” when they are together.  DSC_2934 (3)

God is good like that. His timing is perfect.

So whatever you are going through, remember you don’t have to go it alone. God is the Father we can run to! Better yet, God carries us until we find the strength to walk again.

It is often the loneliest times that make us stronger.

And should you see someone peering in toward you, show a little love! Act on that urge to take the new guy out to lunch. Stop and say hello to the new neighbor. You don’t have to move out of your comfort zone.

Sometimes, all God really wants is for us to let someone into ours.

“A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother,” Proverbs 18:24 NKJV

 

what do you see blsd 2015

Who Do You See?

A tiny bud precedes the bloom.

Kid’s are no different. On the spectrum, off the spectrum, I’ve seen kids time and time again who don’t outwardly exhibit the potential that lies deep within them.

Some people can’t see hidden potential because they believe others who tell them to “stop looking.”

As I celebrate the approaching Easter season I am reminded that few people acknowledged Jesus Christ for who He was until after His resurrection. He often spoke of His death and resurrection but even His disciplines did not fully understand the reality of His words.

After His resurrection, Jesus’ disciples did not readily recognize Him. They were looking for Who He was instead of seeing Him for Who He had become

I have been guilty of this with my child.  spriring bradford pear 2015 bloom devotional

We can see someone close to us for so long that we become blinded to the changes or potential within them.

I always thought of college in regards to my oldest son, Lan’s big brother. Yet over the course of this year Lan has spoken more and more of where he wants to go to college. If I had listened to naysayers, doubters and even my own dull thoughts I would not now have started vetting majors, schools, and financial aid for him.

I now see through Lan’s growth and the wisdom of others that Lan isn’t who he used to be!

Faith allows me to now glimpse with spiritual eyes the potential God has for him. Technology that exists today I never could have imagined when we received our first diagnosis. Back then, through prayer, I pushed and prodded for the best. Yet, I couldn’t “see” what God could do with our situation.

Now, I push and prod with faith for the new thing God will do next!

Is life along the spectrum perfect? Hardly.

But neither is it perfect on any path that I’ve ever been privy to.

I am willing to look a bit closer, think a bit broader and allow my mind to embrace whatever possibilities come our way! In doing so I not only celebrate the resurrection of my Savior but the resurrection of my spirit!

There was a time not many years ago that I felt dead. I went through the motions and “kept going” because I didn’t have a choice to stop.  People depended on me.

Now, I depend on God. Completely.

I once felt spiritually barren, dry and defeated. Maybe even killed. Yet, God in His grace stirred up a hope within me.

God’s faithfulness fueled my personal “resurrection” and allowed me to see His goodness instead of mourning “what is not.”

As spring breaks forth, I challenge you to look at your loved ones a bit differently. Don’t view them from the same unchanging perspective.

Dare to really see them as God sees them and perhaps dare to pray “Why not?”

“Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
Mark 9:23-24 NKJV