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God’s Eye…

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Matthew 6:26-27   

  1. Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
    Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heav’n and home,
    When Jesus is my portion? My constant Friend is He:
    His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
    His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

    • Refrain:
      I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free,
      For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me. 
  2. “Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,  rbn blg 2015
    And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;
    Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;
    His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
    His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.  

Lyrics by Civilla. Martin, 1905

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Frozen!?

Last year when I was dredging around in the ice, I was mesmerized by the beauty 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 created.

My pear trees were coated in ice. To say it was a Winter Wonderland is such an understatement yet, there it was. An event that had been hyped and feared by us southerners was very much a reflection of the beauty within our own personal storms.

I took hundreds 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.

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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 seeing 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 layers of “ice” so thick; one would fear that the bud would be crushed beneath the weight of the ice.

Yet, in the quiet after the storm, the sun came out and melted the ice.

The layers did not evaporate quickly but the tiny drip, drip, drip signaled they were leaving. This process mirrors how I’m dependent on the warmth of The Son, to melt away layers of a diagnosis that threatened to freeze the potential lying dormant in my child.

The ice of autism isn’t holding us hostage. I’ve learned to find beauty in what others consider a storm. I’ve allowed The Son to melt layers and break the barriers that would threaten the potential bloom.

It isn’t important that the ice doesn’t melt all at once…I’m just grateful 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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Take a Break!

This week my kids are out of school for the break. So, earlier this week my husband and I took the kids to Lan’s favorite restaurant. This place is easily an hour away from our home and it takes a concerted effort on our part to get there.

The kids loaded up in the back of the car eagerly. We laughed and were silly and had a grand time. On the way back home, my oldest son stated he was glad we did it and that we should do it more often. Once I got over the shock that he actually enjoyed hanging out with his parents, I thought more about what he said.

I really should take a break more often.

I am guilty of trying to maximize my time and efforts as much as the next person. I have become a fairly decent multitasker. This ability has probably pushed me to do more than necessary at times when I really should have been recharging instead of using up all of my energy.

I don’t know if it is the fast paced culture I’m living in or my own self-delusions that leave me thinking I should always be accomplishing something, but I am feeling God’s nudge to let go many of my own efforts and to rely instead on His.

There is a difference in being busy and being productive. Sometimes “busy” becomes a habit that isn’t producing much more than anxiety, stress and physical ailments that stem from trying to do a week’s worth of activities in a day.

I am glad I heeded the prodding of the Spirit to “do lunch” instead of tackling my “to do” list! The time spent produced laughter and joy, strengthened family ties, and provided clarity of mind. I could have used that time; instead, to tackle some things I needed to get done but the time wouldn’t have been nearly as productive.

Many of us caring for people with special needs or family members suffering with a long-term illness often burn ourselves out because we don’t rest when we should.  Sometimes we are so stressed and feel mentally compressed that we tackle everything head on when sometimes bit by bit is actually more efficient.

I will take my oldest son’s advice. I am long overdue to take a break from stress, over scheduling, and unrealistic expectations.  I’m going to take breaks more often, getting over those things I allow to hold me hostage and even myself. Only then can I enjoy this life to the fullest. What about you?

Are you overdue for a break?

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-29.

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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

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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!!

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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

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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