transitions 4

Time and Transition

transition: “a change from one state or condition to another”   “movement, development, or evolution from one form, stage, or style to another” Merriam Webster

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end,” Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV

I birthed this blog the first of August when my youngest entered high school. Now with less than a month before school is out, first year jitters have been replaced with a spirit of perseverance, faith and gratitude.  transitions 1

Lan has evolved from nervous freshman to actively seeking out his friends. He has moved away from the kid sitting alone at lunch to having a steady rotation of friends to eat with and interact. Surprisingly, most of these kids aren’t even in his classes.

Friday, when my husband picked both boys up from the high school, Cam made a telling remark. He said once people saw him with Lan they kept asking, “are you Lan’s brother?” Apparently, Lan’s social vine extends farther than any of us realized.

It was quite the eye opener. For years, Lan has always been the other brother, often falling under the shadow of big brother Cam. Now, in high school, the tables are turning a bit and the light is now shining on Lan.

Lan surprised me today with news that he will receive an award at Thursday’s end of the year awards ceremony. We have no idea what he is receiving an award for. He has worked extremely hard on his school work but an A student he is not. However, Lan’s tenacity to put in the extra time and effort has endeared him to most of his teachers.

A school year fraught with uncertainties looks to be ending on a good note. We have traded Georgia CRCTs (criterion referenced competency tests) for EOCs (end of course exams) so test anxiety ever looms. Yet receiving this award, whatever it may be is progress. It is one more step in the right direction, one step forward in personal accountability, one acknowledgement of doing the best you can, no matter what that best might be.  transitions title

It’s has been quite a year of change. Insecurities vanquished. Challenges met head on. Bullies thwarted. Faith in people… restored.

There has been much personal growth and maturity from fragile bud to longer lasting leaf. Lan made out just fine.

I’m referring to me.

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He is Faithful!

I planted the azalea pictured above nearly fourteen years ago. I was all excited as we had moved into a new home and my love for all things green made landscaping a priority. I planted three azaleas and looked forward to the beauty they would bring through the years.

Well the bounty of blooms promised twice yearly from the “encore” variety didn’t come to fruition. In fact, the plants did very little to expand beyond their original borders. No amount of water, fertilizer, sun or shade seemed enough to make these plants thrive. In fact, one actually died. My dreams for replicating the beauty of the azaleas that grace my mother’s yard quickly faded away. Out of options and ideas, I finally resolved to put my efforts elsewhere.

Well, last year, my azaleas bloomed. Nothing spectacular yet the surviving plants actually showed some signs of life. After a decade! I didn’t know what to think. These plants appeared lifeless for so long I’d forgotten what color blooms they originally promised. I’m sure I contemplated on more than one occasion to dig them up! Surprisingly, the deep magenta color is a perfect match for some phlox I’d planted nearby. The color scheme on that side of the yard looks very well orchestrated. Little do the neighbors know!

Well, a couple of days ago I walked outside to see the shrubs have tripled in width and doubled in height! What were once small dwarf sized shrubs are alive and thriving. At some point along the way, I’m pretty sure I’d prayed that these plants would live and bloom (yes, I even pray over my plants and grass). The funny thing is I’d made that petition to God so long ago, over a decade ago, that I’d completely forgotten all about it.  DSC_0043

However, God does not forget! His timing and our timing aren’t always the same, yet He is always faithful!

I like to think that if His faithfulness can apply to something as “minimal” as my landscaping, what more can God have in store for larger matters? And what prayers I have dared to pray in regard to my children!

So, if you are feeling that God hasn’t heard your prayers, He has. He hears them all large and small.

God is larger than my doubts and fears. God is greater than ASD. Through once forgotten magenta blooms, He cares and shows His love for me.

“Let us hold fast the confession of [our] hope without wavering, for He who promised [is] faithful,” Hebrews 10:23 NKJV

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Camp Sunshine!

Last summer after depositing my oldest son on a college campus for a week-long camp, my youngest child who inspired this blog asked me, “When will I go away to camp?”
My reply was “we’ll see,” all the while on the inside I’m thinking to myself ain’t now waaaayy that’s happening.

Well, it happened.

That’s what I get for thinking in absolutes. God always has other plans.

Lan spent this weekend on his favorite college campus. Camp Sunshine is open for kids who may not be able to attend other camps. I had my reservations, or rather fears, that kept trying to creep into my mind. However, we are trying to foster more independence in Lan and he was more than eager to head off on his own!

For once, he wasn’t going somewhere under the shadow of and watchful eyes of his big brother. When they were younger the boys did most things as a pair. It was usually Cam and Lan. Now as they are older Cam often experiences things that Lan can not.

Lan is always asking when is it his turn?  

Lan’s turn came by the way of a beautiful campus with Lake Hartwell as a magnificent backdrop. He was free this weekend to laugh as loud as he wanted; there was no one around to temper his excitement. This kid was delightfully happy for the time to just be. He was free to be him, idiosyncrasies and all, under the warmth of the sun.

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There was no pressure to conform to the norm, no reason to curtail his excitement. There were no standards to measure him against others. If only he could have this luxury all the time?

But our society isn’t as forgiving as camp. It confines us to standards, norms and expectations. It pushes us ever toward goals and what it thinks we should be and how to behave.

I’m not advocating anarchy by any means but I wonder how much more the light inside my child could shine if he weren’t always under pressure to confine himself into someone else’s “box.” How much brilliance and creativity are snuffed out because society doesn’t always embrace creativity in others when it is packaged differently?

We should all be able to shine under the warmth of the sun free from expectations, scrutiny and the wayward glances of others. If only.

But with God we can shine and just be. He created us. There is no defect or deficiency under Him, only love. Love and acceptance of us just as we are.

There is an old hymn, Just As I Am, we used to sing in church when I was a child. I think my favorite stanza is as follows:

Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt;
Fightings within, and fears without,
O Lamb of God, I come I come!

This weekend provided not only an opportunity for Lan to shine at Camp Sunshine but it was also a reminder that we all can “just be” in God’s presence if only we would dare step out of our confines and into His warmth.

Many of us, especially us Christians, are so preoccupied about what we do (or don’t do, or what others are doing!) we fail to simply “be.”

We fail to be content. We fail to be at peace. We fail to be still be in His presence and allow God to simply and amazingly love us.

We should be joyful. We should be grateful. We should be peaceful.

The Son shines on whosoever will dare to step into the light. His light can transform us into the people we want to become if we would pause long enough and simply be with Him!

In His presence, are the answers we seek, faith and hope that renew, and the peace that passes understanding.

Lan knows how to just be and receive love. He knows how to enjoy the present without worry about the future! Lan trusted that his father would provide the overnight camp he wanted. 

I’m going to trust that my Father provides as generously for me as well!

 

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My Brother’s Keeper?

 While I was away this weekend, my oldest son had an epiphany of sorts. I’m not sure exactly what sparked his revelation, but according to my husband he was very suddenly and emotionally distraught about his little brother’s future. 

Now, my oldest has always been mature for his age. I tell you he has more sense than most adults. The only common denominator between both boys academically is their band instructor. The band room is where students often hang out or practice no matter their grade level or academic rank. Music is a great equalizer. Lan, the youngest, does very well in this area despite other academic challenges.

Nevertheless, something occurred to upset my oldest. Both boys were heavily involved in a band festival held at the school last week. I suspect something was said to Cam about his younger brother. Lan could have easily wandered away from an assigned task, said something not quite age appropriate or any number of things. I’ll probably never know. All Lan knows is that he had a great time participating in the music festival. However, per Cam’s suggestion, Lan won’t be hanging out in the band room without his supervision.

I have always told the boys to love one another and be kind to each other because mom and dad won’t always be around. I suspect the oldest has now grasped the reality that his brother may not become as self-sufficient as he is. Cam has readily embraced the role of “third parent” when neither my husband or I are around.   My hunch is Cam’s worry for little brother won’t necessarily end when he leaves home for college.

It has been quite the balancing act juggling the demands of two children who have totally opposite needs. Cam has often been in the background when Lan’s diagnosis has forced us to spend more time and attention addressing it. Lan has often been in the shadow of big brother’s achievements and academic accolades which he has never matched.

My husband and I made a deliberate choice to become parents. My oldest son did not. He shouldn’t be preoccupied with what the future holds for his sibling. Instead, Cam should have the liberty to focus on pursuing his own dreams and aspirations. Cam is a very loving child and through he get’s annoyed with little brother from time to time, he has always shown a love and concern for Lan that I pray will continue long after I’m gone.

We have no way of knowing what the future brings. I am hopeful and trusting that God will just “work it out” as He has done so many things in my life. Still, I am grateful that my oldest son is mature enough and concerned that Lan is well cared for now and hopefully into the future. It is my hope that Cam can spread his wings without the worry of looking back.

I don’t know if Lan will gain the maturity and skills to live independently. I don’t know if I will have the resources to provide for his care years after I’m gone. I don’t know how God is going to resolve this issue. I…just…don’t…know.

So I must trust.  

Such a simple sentence but so often very hard to do. Yet, I will manage by focusing on the present and allow God to order my steps for the future. I don’t have to see the solution, though I admit it pains me greatly. However, we will continue along prayerfully, grateful for miracles yet to come. 

I expect great things for both my boys. Maybe Cam’s experiences with his brother will mold him into the man God intends him to be. Maybe, just maybe, Lan in his own way is looking after him.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV

Weekly Photo Challenge: Perspective ~ Barriers

lilkaraphael:

I get by with a little help from my friends… Sue and I share our faith, a love for photography and nature. Her post today over at Heavenly Raindrops inspired me this morning with hope for the future. I pray it blesses you as well. Enjoy!

Originally posted on Heavenly Raindrops:

A small sand wall formed by the tide

A small sand wall formed by the tide

Sand frozen in time
Layered canyon sea barrier
Tide swiftly washes

When I took this photo, the tide was receding.  An entire section of the shore stood taller than that closer to the ocean, with the sand above separated by the collapse of the wet shore beneath.  The tide had formed a miniature sea wall, like a barrier.

However, when photographed from a close up perspective, the wall looked as large as that of the Grand Canyon, with the shells on the surface above mere spectators of the imposing scene below.

The wall was actually only about a foot high and was really no match for the next high tide. 

Varied perspectives in photography intrigue me, particularly close shots.  I like the details in things, especially in nature.  Things that others sometimes miss.

I also try to appreciate people others dismiss. …

View original 234 more words

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Beneath the Ice

A couple of weeks ago when I was dredging around in the ice, I was mesmerized by the beauty that was so clear in the midst of our “storm.” Sure, it was messy, inconvenient, cold and even brutal. However, I was able to focus past all the media hysteria and acknowledge what a beautiful picture God had created.
I have these pear trees in my yard that were coated in ice. To say it was a Winter Wonderland is such an understatement yet, there it was. An event that had been surrounded by so many fears was very much a reflection of the beauty that lies within our own personal storms.
I took bunches of pictures but was continually drawn to the buds on my trees that were encapsulated in ice. Those buds looked practically ripe to begin blooming. Yet the icy beauty that covered them kept them isolated, frozen and helpless.  february 2014 ice storm 127
The buds trapped in ice reminded me of our kids who can appear to be trapped by autism. The beauty is within these children; the potential is there. There is just this layer of “ice” that dares to keep us from reaching that potential. It is almost as if the child gets frozen behind the layers of autism. Some kids may have more layers than others. Some children may appear to be under a layer of “ice” so thick; one would fear that bud would be crushed beneath the weight of the ice.
Yet, in the quiet after the storm, the sun came out and began to melt the ice.
The layers did not evaporate immediately but the tiny drip, drip, drip signaled they were slowly dissolving. This process mirrors how I’m dependent on the warmth of The Son, to melt away layers of a diagnosis that can freeze the potential lying dormant in my child.
The ice of autism isn’t holding us hostage. I’ve learned to see beauty in what others consider a storm. I’ve allowed The Son to melt those layers and break the barriers that threaten the potential bloom. It isn’t important that the ice doesn’t melt all at once…I’m just grateful that it melts.
Whenever those icy diagnoses, amended IEPs and “layers” come our way, I won’t allow them to linger. I have faith that the Son is still shining on us and everything will eventually be okay.

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Jesus and mii

We have one of those Wii gaming systems that the kids have enjoyed for years. I was reluctant to get one at the time but soon learned that the Wii Fit activities actually helped improve Lan’s hand-eye coordination and balance. So in moderation, it has actually been quite beneficial in addition to entertaining.

I was playing with it today, trying to exercise my coordination and balance before I began my “real” exercise. One of the upsides to the Wii is that it allows Lan to create various characters to join us in this little universe as we play. These characters are called “miis” (rhymes with me).  Ever the artist, Lan has created “miis” to resemble everyone from classmates to historical figures.  And yes, he even created a mii to resemble Jesus.

Now some would think that is kind of blasphemous but when the child said “we want Jesus with us all the time, don’t we?” who was I to argue? Apparently Lan understands some Biblical concepts far better than many adults.

Well today as I was struggling with one exercise in particular, the only mii “companion” remaining with me on the screen was the mii of Jesus. I was struggling and struggling to accomplish one particular task on the screen and I just could not manage to do it before the timer went off. Time and time again it would be just the two of us left. I would love to tell you that I did finally manage to beat the buzzer with “Jesus” at my side but that was not the case.

However, my little exercise did reiterate to me that no matter what “trial” I am going through, even when I am unsuccessful in my endeavors as long as Jesus is with me, I’m okay.

I figure if God could speak through a donkey, gaining some spiritual enlightenment through a Nintendo game wasn’t that far of a stretch. You see, last week with all the snow and ice down here in the south I had a few cold and hard disappointments that really got to me. I had to pray continually not to let anger consume me and not to lash out at the offender. I knew I should let God handle it but I still wanted to do something and say what I was really thinking.  Thankfully, I did not and have since mentally walked away from that particular situation. But it was not easy.

My lesson today affirmed that I don’t need others to always treat me fairly. Sure it is nice and appreciated, but it isn’t a necessity in this particular situation. We will all run into circumstances where someone else will turn against us or disappoint. I was allowing this “situation” to dominate too much of my thoughts and the simple reminder that Jesus is all that I truly need really clarified my thinking.

My baby boy once again provided a venue for mommy to re-learn yet another lesson. It can easily be said that kids on the spectrum see things differently that the average person. However, I am learning that my child sees some things far more clearly than many “neuro-typicals.”  He doesn’t leave Jesus at church or just at prayer time. He wants to have fun with Jesus, talk to Jesus, run with Jesus, laugh with Jesus and allow Him into more than just compartmentalized times or venues that are deemed “proper.”

How liberating it is to love, laugh and trust like a child. With Jesus, we actually have the freedom to do this. Sometimes, as adults we forget this fact with all the “important” things we have running around in our minds. But thankfully, our children can often show us the way if only we expand our minds and open our eyes to see…

“But blessed [are] your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.” Matthew 13:16 NKJV

“Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven,” Matthew 18:4 NKJV