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A Season of Thanks…

The leaves where I live are now just turning vibrant and crisp.

Unlike the seasons, we can’t always predict what twists or turns we are going to have in life. Some of us with the best laid plans think we know what tomorrow will bring, but in reality we never know until that new day dawns.

I can anticipate that those trees will turn colors and loose leaves only to grown green and flourish in the spring. With my child, that pattern of familiarity was often lacking. We have spurts of great growth or gains, and then sometimes things cool off and go dormant. I always pray and hope for God’s best.

Uncertainty could keep me anxious, depressed and nervous. I admit it has done that before.

However, I choose to hope in things unseen and have faith in a God I can’t always see or hear, Who at times has been silent when I’ve called out, but Who has never once left my side.

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven,” Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV

I don’t always know just what season I am in.

I once thought I was in a season of growth only to be cut down to the ground. I’ve also been at my lowest and right on time, an unexpected miracle reminded me that God is ever with me.

I choose to be grateful for gains made and milestones achieved in this season of Thanksgiving. I am grateful for Lan’s great attitude. His “why not?” has kept him moving right along to his own rhythm and time but ever still moving!

a-season-of-thanks-god-autism-and-me-2-112016-devotionalI am grateful that autism has not overcome us.

It’s knocked us around a couple of times but we learned to fight back!

I may not be grateful for every experience I’ve had in life, but I am very grateful for everything I’ve learned from them.

God deals with each of us in ways as unique as we are.

I’m grateful for that too.

Knowing that God will get me through whatever season I am in allows me to face tomorrow not in fear but with a faith that whatever I need, God is more than enough!

Whatever your circumstance, give thanks for gains made and blessings yet to come.

Allow gratitude to define your attitude!

Enjoy a Very Blessed Thanksgiving!!

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind,”
2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV

“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you,”
1 Thessalonians 5:18 NKJV

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Senior Night and Lessons Learned…

Earlier this month we celebrated Senior Night. It was the last home game where each graduating band member, cheerleader and football player was presented on the field with family while the announcer spoke of their future goals.

This was a very big deal for my senior.

Big brother even flew in for the occasion to surprise him on the field and be at his side. Lan posted on Facebook it was one of his “happiest times!”

Celebrating that moment reminded me of all those years I was so preoccupied with the future I couldn’t enjoy my “present.”

I vividly remember stressing about making it through elementary school and his passing a bunch of standardized exams. The same cloud hung over middle school as well. A less than enthusiastic county psychologist and fear for the future kept me in a constant state of exhaustion.

For any parent, looking forward is natural. Yet, if we are always looking forward to be “done” with a phase, we blind ourselves to our blessings in the here and now.

It took me years to figure this out.

These days, I only need the occasional reminder to enjoy my “here and now.”

I could be stressed now about the upcoming ACT, not knowing for sure which schools are best for Lan, let alone figuring out how to pay for them!

We all go through our “somethings” in life that inevitably have the potential to turn us into better (or bitter) people. To say I’ve appreciated every “growing experience” would be a lie because many of them were quite painful.

Nevertheless, I give thanks that God allowed me to not only survive, but in some manner, thrive beyond those uncertain times.

My current “hot pot” causes me frustration for sure; still, I am determined not to allow my challenges to overcome me as before.

Watching Lan deal with autism and his determination not to be defined by it, has taught me how to better deal with my own frustrations. It has most certainly helped me put them in perspective.

golden-2-devotional-8-6-2016Through Lan, God has taught me how to take joy in small victories, not dismissing them while waiting for larger breakthroughs.

Lan has also taught me that hard work pays off and hard times eventually pass.

I learned goals keep us focused on the gains we strive to make.

I now see God’s grace in the little things.

Every day we “hang in there” is cause for celebration.

Labels only limit us when we allow them.

Angels come in all colors, shapes and sizes.

God is ever-present!

Senior night reminded me of family and friends who have been there for us every step of the way.

That evening also demonstrated the better side of humanity when students in the stands cheered loudly as Lan crossed the field.

I give thanks for teachers, counselors and administrators who worked with us to push Lan toward his very best.

I graduated school decades ago, yet I’ve learned more about God and myself these last years of “high school” than ever before.

I suspect I’m not the only one Lan has taught a thing or two…

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong 1 Corinthians 1:26-27 NIV

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Bee Yourself!

Comparison is the root of discontent.

This is one truth I discovered this last decade or so.

We will never fully appreciate what we have if we always compare ourselves to other people.

My solution for this is to stay focused and run my race.

I watched a great example of this during the Olympics. One of the track and field athletes actually lost his heat because instead of looking forward and pressing toward the finish line, he looked to his left and to his right for the other runners. If he had only focused on the goal ahead, he would have qualified for the next race.

This is something my youngest and I are battling at present.

The topic of ACTs and SATs is popular among seniors. However, test taking has never been Lan’s strong point. His acceptance into a graphics arts/animation program will not be due to high test scores.

Still, listening to his friends has made him anxious. Comparing their plans with his own is causing frustration for both of us!

I have repeatedly told him he doesn’t have to pursue his goals the way others pursue theirs. I’m trying to make him understand this lesson, one that I’ve had to “learn” myself a time or two.

The temptation to compare ourselves with others is always present.  Often in parenting, the opportunities are endless. Yet, this is a dangerous habit because it is so easy to become disenchanted with what you have based on the briefest glimpse into someone else’s life.

bee-still-devotional-8-6-2016When we allow these comparisons to root themselves in us, they often leach away the peace and contentment that God provides.

The infamous “why my child?” easily pops into mind.

God’s answer of “you can handle it” isn’t usually a welcome answer.

We can sometimes allow the progress we make to be diminished by what we perceive around us. However, what we perceive isn’t always true.

I choose to appreciate my here and now, very much aware plenty of people would be more than satisfied with my particular set of “problems.”

I’m trying to teach Lan, by example, to be grateful for gains. Personal “success” is independent of what others think or do!

Lan may not be the most academically strong student; however, he does have an artistic flair all his very own. When we focus on our strengths and not what we think we lack, we can fully fulfill God’s purpose for our lives.

I’ve learned the hard way that what works for someone else isn’t necessarily going to work for me. My “success” in life won’t come following someone else’s blueprint. God gives us what we need to create our own.

I found peace and joy when I nurtured my own talents. I found contentment when I learned to enjoy being me.

I pray Lan learns this lesson far sooner than I ever did.

For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well. Psalm 139:13-14 NKJV

May He grant you according to your heart’s desire,
And fulfill all your purpose. Psalm 20:4 NKJV

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Solo!

School is back in session and guess who’s flying solo…

B is for Blessed!

Today is the first day of school for my youngest child. Lan begins his senior year without the watchful eyes of big brother nearby.

There was a time I’d be worried sick.

Today, I’m simply grateful.

Today my kid is flying solo!

Class schedule finalized? Check!

IEP (individualized education plan) in place and all participants on board? Check!

No big brother around to chaperone? Check!

Lan is “free to be me.”

And that’s a good thing.

I vividly recall Lan’s first year of high school.  He was tiny compared to the other kids, walking out of class with his hands over his ears because he couldn’t stand the noise.

Three years later, Lan stands head and shoulders above most students and is an eager participant in the hallway chatter!

No longer a freshman or marching band “rookie,” he is making plans to map out his future. Lan envisions a future…

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Senior Year!

Believe it not, my inspiration for this blog returns to high school at the end of the month!  It will be his Senior Year. And boy is he looking forward to it.

Lan got a preview of what to expect last year as his older brother just graduated.

Unlike his brother, Lan is very interested in enjoying every single perk Senior Year brings. He has already given thought to his Senior Night for Marching Band. He has said in no uncertain terms that he is going to prom. He even gave our relatives the date for his graduation when they were here last month to celebrate with his brother!

Lan intends to be just as celebrated and rightly so.  Even I’m amazed at how much he has grown and how far he has come.

I began writing this blog shortly after Lan entered high school. I was worried and nervous about what the future would bring.

I wasted a lot of time worrying. God had it all worked out, even though both Lan and I endured a few growing pains.

We’ve worked through bullies, biology and IEPs.

Lan worked extremely hard to earn As and Bs.

He is looking into colleges. I’m exploring vocational programs.

I can’t for one moment see what awaits us at the end of his senior year but we still press forward yielding little room for doubt.

senior year God autism and me 2 6-2016We may not know what the future holds but Lan is determined to work as hard as necessary to meet all of his goals. I have faith he will accomplish whatever he puts his mind to.

He proved he could handle the rigor of marching band.

He’s made friends.

Lan is no longer the little grasshopper I was so fearful for years ago.

He is now an outgoing teenager, no longer shying away from the fun or the noise.

I know many people who read this blog have kids younger than mine and high school seems so far away. But it is coming, and if there is any bit of advice I can give, it is hold on to hope.

No matter what the teachers, counselors, psychologist, or psychiatrist may think, it is only God who has the final say.

Keep your mind open for miracles.

Trust God.

Go with your gut.

These things have served me well.

When I finally stopped trying to orchestrate every single detail, God brought us the perfect teachers, counselors and even classmates that would bless us along our way.

Lan’s senior year will be unlike his brother’s. Lan’s journey has more curves in it. We can’t see what lies around the bend.

But that’s just as well because we have learned that God is most present we don’t see Him. We will walk forward in faith and trust that He is there.

And God is there for you as well, if you allow Him.

God may not have “cured” the autism, but He has surely “cured” me.

I can rest now.

Abide.

And I look forward to Senior Year.

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 3:13-14 NKJV

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May Daze!

The month of May is typically a whirlwind in our home. Our go, go, go schedule is usually augmented by celebrating Mother’s Day, a birthday, end of school activities in addition to Memorial Day.

Added to that list this year is a graduation.

In just a few days when my oldest graduates high school, the inspiration for this blog will become a senior.

And Lan is counting down the days!

Milestones like graduation make me pause and reflect.

This one is no exception.

I began this blog the start of Lan’s freshman year filled with fear and a host of other emotions.

The larger campus, louder kids and usual chaos of high school was challenging for him to say the least.

God autism and me May Daze 4 5-2016My little grasshopper who had to wait for halls to clear before leaving class now stands quite tall and maneuvers the masses with ease.

Freshman year was grueling but we made it.

Sophomore year proved he could be an honor student.

Junior year stretched him with marching band but Lan achieved his goal while maintaining good grades.

We had more than one hiccup or two, but they were readily resolved.

Bullies.

Incorrect class assignments.

Working out that IEP!

Still, there were far more blessings along the way.

Great principals.

Angels in the guise of school counselors.

Teachers that dared to pull out the best in him.

Classmates that cared.

Parents who had my back!

I can’t tell you the time or date but somewhere in these last three years Lan began easing out of his shell.

I am dazed amazed thinking about where he is now compared to where he once was!

This is a kid who struggled, really struggled, in elementary and middle school but is now an honor student.

I no longer cry fearful for his future. My trust in God has never been stronger.

I would never tell anyone to just dismiss the “experts” but I most definitely will say listen to God first and foremost!

Nothing is impossible with God.

God’s miracles correlate to the measure of our faith.

When things looked hopeless, God made a way.

May Daze 2 God autism and me 5-2016 devotionalNo longer in a fog and gripped with fear, these three things are crystal clear…

God’s faithfulness is unfailing.

The things that felt like they were squeezing the life out of me were actually molding me for the better.

I don’t need all the answers to enjoy this life. With God I am equipped for whatever comes my way even when I feel inadequate.

If you are feeling hopeless about the special needs person in your life, don’t.

We don’t always know what the future may hold but we most definitely know Who holds the future…

 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Romans 15:13 NIV

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Be Aware!

April is National Autism Awareness Month.

Some would say awareness is great and all but there isn’t anything the average person can do about it.

I beg to differ.

If you have a loved one with any special needs this advice isn’t new to you. However, you may want to share these tips with more than a few well-meaning people you know. One person can make a difference…

If you can’t say anything nice, etc., etc.

Comments like “I don’t understand why that kid is crying,” or “they need to do something with that kid,” are unnecessary and can be very hurtful. Your casual observation about a situation “you know nothing about” can be the salt in a wound of someone barely holding on. Your off the cuff remark while standing in line at the grocery store cuts to the core.

Instead, offer a smile or a nod that indicates it’s not the end of the world instead of frowning in disapproval. That gesture can mean the world to someone who wants that meltdown to end more than you do. Even better, allow that person to check out ahead of you so the parent can tend to that child.

Money is good but time is priceless.

Offer to babysit for that parent, especially that single parent who has no one to help them. There is no need to panic fearing they will leave you helpless with their child. An offer of a couple of hours during nap time or in the evening can provide that parent (or grandparent) time to think, get a coffee or effortlessly run to the store. These are things most of us easily do and take for granted.

God autism and me Be Aware devotional 2 4-2016Don’t compare.

Everything doesn’t work for everybody. I’ve yet to meet many parents who have left any stone unturned trying to find the best therapy for their child. Most parents are already under a lot of stress.  A special needs child can amplify that. Don’t suggest the parent isn’t doing all he or she can possibly do.

Just. Don’t.

Random acts of kindness are always appreciated.

A call or a text can do wonders for someone who may very well feel isolated and alone. A gift card for dinner or a coffee are good too. Something small to you can be the greatest blessing. If in doubt, ask God what you can do. I’m quite confident you will receive an answer!

Be inclusive.

Instead of worrying that a child may disrupt your plans for the “perfect”birthday party, think about how inviting that child can be a blessing.

A lot of kids with neurological disorders get left out because parents just don’t know what to expect. I’ve found kids tend to be a lot more accepting than adults.

I challenge you to ask.

Simply asking if a child might enjoy attending lets that family know you are thinking of them. Even if the child can’t attend, the parents will appreciate the gesture. I’ve watched firsthand how one child feels as his sibling go off with other kids.

Hardly a comprehensive list, but at least a few points to think about.

I’ve learned a lot on this journey with autism.

I used to be that lady standing in the grocery line wondering “why is that kid screaming?”

autism awareness month 2 2016Now, I know.

And for that I am very grateful.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5 NKJV