One Little Drummer Boy…

When I was a kid one of my favorite television Christmas specials was “The Little Drummer Boy.” Even then, I always pulled for the underdog. The gist of the story is about a poor orphan who was obsessed with only playing his drum. This same boy was distrustful of people. To say he was anti-social would be an understatement. He found contentment only in playing his drum and spending time with his animal friends.  Sound familiar?

However, when his lamb is hit by a chariot the desperate orphan finds his way into the caravan of the Wise Men and seeks to go before the new Savior to find healing for his lamb. This orphan was considered one of the “least” in society. He wasn’t regarded highly at all. Comparing himself to these Wise Men the drummer boy felt small. He had no title or status; he certainly wasn’t wealthy and really didn’t feel worthy to come in the presence of the King.

The three kings who traveled to see the Savior presented expensive gifts such as gold and myrrh. The orphan in contrast had nothing material to give. However this child does give the only thing he has, which is his talent. He plays his drum for the baby Jesus. What appears to be the least compared to expensive gifts of the Wise Men is actually the most. The Savior “smiles at him.”

I tried at times to develop my child to become one of the “Wise Men.” Yet this story prods me to remember that my child doesn’t need to be nurtured into becoming a “king” or someone different from who God created him to be. His own inherent talents, just like those of the little drummer boy are more than enough.

Sometimes our children have talents (or obsessions) that seem minor to us because we don’t understand them or appreciate them as we should. Their gifts aren’t highly regarded in our society. They may be thought of as “less than” by others.

Yet, when we allow them the freedom to pursue some of these avenues, we may find that their “gifts” just like those of the little drummer boy are a blessing and indeed pleasing to God. The little drummer boy was a peasant. He was shunned by society but he had a gift and he honored God with it. When we do the same and not compare ourselves (or our kids) to others (or their expectations) we allow opportunity for their talents or gifts, no matter how quirky or odd to become a blessing.

When we come before God nurturing the gifts He has placed within us, there is no need to look and compare ourselves to others. When we search for God and choose to come before Him, we are free to fulfill the purposes and the plans He intends all along. The peasant drummer boy never imagined he would play before the King.

Sometimes children on the spectrum do things the “professionals” never imagined they would. These kids can even surprise themselves. We must have faith that God has a purpose and a plan even when we can’t see it or understand.

We need only to come before God sincerely or even desperately, with all that we have or nothing at all. I believe when we do this, we too can say “and then He smiled at me…

Merry Christmas!

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope,” Jeremiah 29 NKJV

Christmas Past!

When I received this ornament, I had two kids under the age of two.  My husband’s job kept him gone constantly. I had just started a new job. We had moved cross-country for the second time in less than a year. I was a mental mess!

Worse of all, my father was terminally ill. Daddy would pass away two days before Christmas. My life was out of control.

When I opened the box and saw this ornament, I laughed. It was a very accurate reflection of my life. The kids and I were barely hanging on! This ornament mirrored the haphazard chaos I could not control.

Yet at that same time I had no idea of how many people were praying for me. Many of them I barely knew. God placed it on their hearts to help me in ways I would have never imagined. New co-workers were tremendously kind. Childhood friends provided for me while I was immersed in my grief.

I now view this ornament not as a reminder of when I was barely hanging on but as a symbol of God’s grace. God kept us from falling even as we dangled precariously. It reminds me how God is ever present even when we feel like we can’t hang on.

What I received as a simple gift evolved into a wonderful friendship. Sharon, who gave me the ornament, would become an example for parenting my child. You see, she had already raised a son with special needs. I’m not even sure I was aware of that at the time. Yet, her faith and wonderful attitude would inspire me when I felt drained, lost and thought I couldn’t go on.

God knew who I would need in my time of crisis. My child wouldn’t be diagnosed ASD for another year. Yet, Sharon’s silent fortitude and cheerful smile would later encourage me to keep it together.

God knows who we need and how to connect us to them.

Trust Him.

Christmas could be bittersweet. However I choose not to revisit my grief. Instead, I celebrate the birth in Bethlehem that saves us from the sting of death!

I now look back on Christmas past grateful for what God did then and faith filled for what He will do in the future.

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated, “God with us.”  Matthew 1:23 NKJV

Merry Christmas!!

Growth Spurt!

It doesn’t seem that long ago that I had to pull the boy hiding behind me into the grocery store. Lan would hide behind my legs and didn’t dare look forward or at the people inside.

Yet, Friday night at the last home game of the season, this same boy now tall and lanky talked with the other teenagers, danced on the side lines and mingled quite energetically with the marching band.

My baby boy isn’t quite so little any more.

It isn’t just his size I’m referring to as he teeters just a bit shy of six feet tall.  His confidence has grown immensely. He’s looking for people he knows in any crowd so he can wave or speak to them. He mingles enthusiastically at the football game not at all deterred by the people. Instead of hiding behind me he is more likely walking away as quickly as possible to keep me from cramping his style.

The small trembling kid once so easily startled, shy and afraid stands tall, asks questions and wants to have is voice heard.

Lan seeks the independence his brother enjoys and is finding a confidence all his own.

He challenged one of his classmates in band and is now third chair with his eye on the second. The young boy who once hated school now actually cares about his grades and takes pride in doing well.

I’m not quite sure what happened and when but my baby boy has grown.  DSC_6826 (3)

And he’s not the only one.

I’ve grown more trusting in God’s ability to handle whatever hiccups come our way. I’ve grown more confident in Lan’s abilities as he takes it upon himself to initiate more of his school work without prompting from me or my husband.

I’ve grown out of the need to have my hand on everything. I can trust others to get the job done and if it isn’t the way I would have done it that’s fine too.

I’ve become less anxious as I’ve seen that the worst case scenario rarely happens.

I’ve grown more thankful as God continues to answer prayers for good breaks, good friends and faithfully provides opportunities I could never have come up with on my own.

Sometimes the most growth occurs when it appears that nothing is happening at all.

A lot of times we pray for things and think that nothing is changing. Everything looks the same. We wait for the answers we have hoped and prayed for to manifest. Sometimes we wait so long it feels like God has forgotten us.

But God is faithful.

I have found the answers I’ve sought in unexpected people, places and things. God has allowed me to grow in my expectations of Him. I can now recognize the unconventional ways in which God has answered some of my prayers.

Lan has grown taller, stronger and more confident. I like to think something has “clicked” as he tackles more challenges with determination instead of fear.

I’ve grown mentally tougher and spiritually stronger as our walk along the spectrum has forced us to enlarge our vision and look for what “can be” instead of settling for “what is.”

We’ve still got a ways to grow both him and me, but thankfully, we are never alone in our journey.

God’s got us.

And for that, I am very, very grateful.

“But grow in grace, and [in] the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him [be] glory both now and for ever. Amen” 2 Peter 3:18 KJV

Good Breaks!

While most of the nation has barely been in school a month, my kids are on their “fall break.” They have nine days of mostly school free time. Families that haven’t headed down south to Florida or up to the mountains are accommodating kids who just want to “hang out.”

This was easier years ago when my kids were much younger. Both boys had the same crew of friends and things were far less complicated.

But as they grew older the boys paths and friends diverged. Cam’s friends were kind enough to tolerate his little brother but for the most part Lan’s interests no longer coincide with theirs. His childhood friends are now interested in those things average teenagers do…Facebook, texting, socializing with other teens.

A while ago, I can’t even remember when, I prayed that Lan would find a friend who actually “got him.” His brother has a tight posse of boys he talks to and hangs with. A circle of friends he can relax with and just be himself.

Lan hasn’t had that for years. Until now.

A couple of months ago a kid from Lan’s graphic arts class walked into the grocery store as we walked out. This kid just came up to Lan and they just start talking very enthusiastically. They went back and forth very engaged in their conversation.

I’m thinking to myself “who is this!?”

His mom seemed as surprised as I was. Apparently, the young man mentioned Lan to his mom before and she suggested they get together some time.

Well today was the day.

This young man came over and the two of them scarfed down pizza, chips and soda. They played video games for hours. With each other.

Just like “regular” kids.

But this time Lan was free to just be himself.

There was no pressure to conform. He wasn’t self-conscious about saying the wrong thing or what someone else would think. He just chilled out with a friend who accepts him as he is.

Lan’s friend has a few “quirks” of his own. In fact, they share some of the same “quirks.” They had a blast!

There have been years of school breaks that have come and gone without Lan having a friend exclusively his own. His brother would go off to hang out with his BFFs and Lan no longer complained to tag along.

But I always knew Lan longed for a friend of his own. Someone who didn’t tolerate him but could celebrate him!

Sometimes I pray to God for so many things I forget the prayer until the answer is staring me in the face. Literally.

And boy did God deliver!

This young man lives five minutes from our house. He is well-mannered. His mom and I hit it off. We are both on the same parenting page.

Sometimes we are so fixed on meeting IEP goals, surviving “common core” and juggling all the other aspects of life, it’s nice to  every once in a while catch a good break!

It wasn’t anything I orchestrated. God just delivered!

This time when Lan’s teachers ask about his Fall break, he will readily say he had a good one!

And I will too.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”
Matthew 7:7 NKJV

 

Evolution!

God teaches me things in the strangest of ways.

Which brings me to cats.

I am not a “cat person.” Even though my house is home to one lucky indoor cat, named Lucky.

Seriously.

I feed the Aristocats on my side porch, “Rocky” and three kittens in exchange for not eating my birds, At least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

“Rocky” is the meanest of three sisters that called my abode home last year. She hissed at us when we put their food out!

I wasn’t surprised when she left for the wild leaving her sisters behind. Out of the original four kittens that once called us “home” I just knew she would never stick around.

One year later, Rocky has kittens in my yard, Shows you how much I know!

Rocky was not an ideal mother. She abandoned the runt. She bullied her litter mate “Gracie.”

Eventually, Gracie tired of her sisters shenanigans and camped out on the porch in spite of her. Gracie even nursed Rocky’s abandoned kitten.

Rocky merely looked on, unimpressed!

I don’t think Rocky was feeling the whole parenthood thing. I think her newfound responsibilities were overwhelming.

We’re not quite sure just what happened but poor Gracie died. Yet, shortly thereafter I found Rocky nursing both her sister’s kitten and the kitten she abandoned!   DSC_2934 (3)

Rocky evolved into a good mother.  I’ve seen her licking unwilling kitties clean!

She matured and does what needs to be done.

Maybe Rocky didn’t understand her role before. Maybe grief for her sister stirred something in her. Regardless, her mothering skills improved.

I think this cat family found a place in my heart because I can relate to Rocky.

I’m not sure I always dealt with Lan’s diagnosis “correctly.” In the beginning, I didn’t have a clue.  But like, Rocky, I eventually got the hang of it.

I’m no longer weary and afraid. The uncertainty and my stress are much much less!

I’ve evolved. I understand my role better. I’m probably a bit more nurturing to my “kitten.”

Looking back, God did the same for me. God engineered my evolution so I can be the mother I need to be.

Some lessons God reveals when we take time to “see” them and “hear” Him.

This isn’t the first time God has used a cat to teach me how less than ideal situations can work out unexpectedly.

And I suspect it won’t be the last.

While We Wait…

There are times in life when we have a dream, vision or even a promise that we are waiting for God to fulfill in our lives. However as we wait for the manifestation we may not always wait with a faith-filled expectation. Our sense of urgency doesn’t always correlate to God’s timing or His deliverance.

Our determination to stay in faith often wanes with the time required for our loved ones to reach their full bloom. Progress isn’t always made when we expect it. We may experience setbacks and false starts. Time spent waiting, disappointments, and unfair circumstances may move us to manipulate situations as our trust breaks.

Or, we can become bitter and angry when we are forced to face the unexpected.

God is faithful in the waiting period. In times of complete silence or when you are at your lowest point is often when God is working on your behalf!  DSC_0376 (2)

The book of Genesis tells the story of Joseph and how he was sold into slavery by his brothers, lied upon, tossed into prison and spent years waiting for the fulfillment of his dream.  Joseph was faithful during his period of waiting. He knew that God was with him. Joseph worked faithfully in his adversity serving others. Joseph was faithful to God through repeated temptation. He didn’t become bitter. Joseph was eventually delivered from a pit into the palace!

Sometimes God allows us to wait through “low” times to prepare us for what is ahead. Waiting develops character and tenacity. Some blessings we ask for we aren’t able to correctly manage…yet. We must not lose faith that God does hear us.

Joseph endured his period of waiting with the right attitude. I can’t say I’ve always done the same. However, I am learning to trust God and His timing more than ever.

God can answer my prayers more efficiently than the meager results of my own misplaced efforts. My prayers aren’t just about me or my kids. We are only pieces in an infinite puzzle that only God can put together. I can’t count how many times Lan’s teachers have said they have learned so much from him.

I don’t always understand what is going on. But I do trust and know that despite my frustrations God provides the blessing when it is needed most.  

I have prayed certain things about my children’s growth and development not knowing what would happen or what to expect. Things haven’t always looked good. Yet, faithfully God and only God turned situations completely around! 

DSC_0379 (2)What God has done for me He can surely do for you. If you trust Him…and are willing to wait.  

“Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord,” Psalms 27:14 NKJV

Progress Report!

My kids have been in school about six weeks now so their first “progress reports” were issued last week. This is the first time Lan has ever started the school year so well. His Cs and Bs have been replaced with As and Bs!  I think even he was surprised by how well he’s done.

Now many kids on the spectrum make straight As with little effort. Their “gifts” allow them to be scholastic geniuses. Yet there are other kids like mine who struggle in school. Every good grade is fought for. There is no real “down time” from school. Their work never seems to end.

If I didn’t work full-time my kid would probably have straight As. This is what I thought through the years. In fact, I was angry that I could not “be there” for Lan when I thought he needed me most.

Yet, God had other plans and I do believe I’m seeing the fruit of Lan’s labor.

Since I haven’t been readily available, Lan has learned how to get by without me.  He has to study on his own, learn to organize himself (still working on that one!) and keep track of his assignments. He fights for every grade and works harder than most to achieve satisfactory results.

He has learned to work independently.

We’ve come a long way from those elementary years of playing “catch up” and even the middle school years of “keep up.” There were tears and frustration both his and mine. But they now seem like distant memories finally fading away.

I couldn’t imagine this even as I prayed for it many years ago. This small ray of academic achievement once appeared to be impossible. But with God all things are possible.

My guilty tears were all for naught. I’m very proud of the progress Lan is making without me. God knew I couldn’t always “be there” if Lan was to ever become independent.

At Friday’s football game Lan spent time on the other side of the stadium with his old friends from middle school. It was a far cry from this time last year. I wasn’t worried or preoccupied that I couldn’t see him. He hung out with his friends just like any other kid. I sat in the stands and relaxed like any other parent.

We’ve still got a ways to go but we are both maturing and stretching our wings a bit. Just like a butterfly that has to work its way out of the cocoon, the struggle comes before the flight. Years ago, when I thought my circumstances were terrible, God was in control the entire time. I can see it now.

I’m learning to get out of the way and allow God to work out situations as He would have them.

I guess Lan and I have both progressed this second year of high school. And for that I am ever grateful.

 

***I’ll be “out of the office” until next week. I will respond to comments when I return :)

 

Faith Hope Courage

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