MOONPANSIES ATSM FFWRD

Face Forward!

“Don’t let something in the past trip you up!”

I read those words on a church sign driving home last night. Not scripture, but wise words nonetheless.

Sometimes we can allow a loss to make us lose sight of all we have gained.

At other times we would do well to change things up a bit and break away from the familiar and open ourselves up to something fresh and new.

Just because something was, doesn’t mean it always will be.

Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.”  Psalm 30:5 NKJV

In the past, I was plagued with fear. Much of that concerned Lan’s future. He always struggled in school. The constant struggle was something I’d become accustomed to.

This year, through hard work and lots of prayer, has been different.

Yet, I found some old mindsets could still creep in. Doubt. Uncertainty.

I could become fixated on old struggles of just scraping by to earn the required credits.

Freshman biology with the toughest teacher in the school was a struggle. It is still fresh in my mind.

When I met with his guidance counselor last week, I was informed that chemistry was designated as his science for next year when Lan will be a junior.

Instead of looking forward, I was momentarily caught in the anxiety of the past. Lan’s study habits and grades have vastly improved. Yet, chemistry is unforgiving. It is absolute. Abstract.

I asked, solemnly, “Is chemistry required to graduate?”

The counselor’s answer was “No.”

Freshman biology and the physical science Lan is currently taking will suffice for his “required” sciences. He can finish high school taking zoology and anatomy both of which will also help him with graphic design.

If I hadn’t asked, next year could have been very frustrating.

In the past, I wouldn’t have thought to ask if there was an alternative. I would have just accepted the status quo. And struggled.

“you do not have because you do not ask,” James 4:2 NKJV

Sometimes instead of allowing our experiences to make us wiser, we can allow them to encase us in fear. Fear paralyzes. It doesn’t allow us to look forward toward a positive future.  DSC_9566

Now, I’m motivated to explore opportunities as the nation slowly realizes there is a vast need for resources and alternatives in higher education.

One friend who is a university professor informed me there are individualized education programs for college students with special needs. Accommodations for people on the spectrum are increasing.

Instead of my “ideas” about the future, I am learning to trust God and allow Him to reveal His plan for Lan moment by moment.

This isn’t easy for me, but most things that are best for us are never easy. Or quickly revealed.

They require faith.

And in my case, the ability to leave past disappointments, struggles and preconceived notions behind me.

“Face forward.” That’s what Lan said to me last week. Not exactly scripture, but wise words nonetheless.

“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14 NKJV

 

 

 

 

Noel inside

Do Dogs Go to Heaven?

We lost one of our furry family last night. To say it was traumatic is an understatement.

My oldest took it better. He volunteers at our local vet and has witnessed animals euthanized first hand. Lan, who inspired this blog, had no idea what had happened until it was all over.

Lan was out with a friend when my husband and I rushed Noel to the emergency vet. Hours later, we came home without her. He was asleep.

This morning he cried as we expected, just like us. But for Lan, the death of this dog is something more than the loss of a “pet.”

Taking care of our animals really helped Lan come out of his shell. It was his job to feed them. It was his responsibility to let Noel in and out in the morning. She enjoyed Lan’s tendency to over feed her all the while she was stealing the cat’s food!

Ten years later, we have tears. I explained it’s okay to hurt and cry. Lan asked if he could pray for Noel. I figured it certainly can’t hurt anything. He also asked if dogs go to heaven.

I don’t know.

Yet, I figure since God allowed her to take such good care of us, He would take good care of her. If there is a dog heaven, I’m pretty sure she is there.

Given a bit more time to think, Lan asked about our cat. He looked up something online and decided Lucky should live four more years.

He googled cancer after my poor explanation.

He proudly proclaimed that if Noel could talk she would have said “tell Cam and Lan I love them.”

And she would have.

Years before we gained our initial pet menagerie (three dogs and one cat in less than six months!) I didn’t want any animals. I was adamant. I had enough to do with two young kids and Lan’s diagnosis. My husband traveled seventy-five percent of the time.

Pets would just put more work on me.

Little did I know?

Yes, our animals did give me more work to do but we were blessed by the effect they had on Lan.

Lan was interested in his surroundings, wanted to interact more, felt pride in feeding and tending to his animals. He told people about them! That was a very big deal ten years ago!

I didn’t want pets but God knew what we needed.  last happy Noel picture

Lan talks fine now. Noel taught him about respect, love, compassion, death and loss.

Today he said we should “face forward.”

Not bad advice.

I will be ever grateful for our dear Noel and all she did for us. She was indeed very beautiful inside and out.

Sometimes God gives us what we ask for. Then at other times, He gives us just what we need. 

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever. Psalms 106:1 NKJV

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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!!