Category Archives: art

High Hopes!

“Next time you’re found, with your chin on the ground
There’s a lot to be learned, so look around
Just what makes that little old ant
Think he’ll move that rubber tree plant
Anyone knows an ant, can’t
Move a rubber tree plant”

My hopes haven’t always been high.

I’ve always been a “realist” even as I prayed to God for the miracles I sought. It is only in the past four or five years that I realized I wasn’t setting my “hopes” even remotely high enough.

As I began to see how God was using my son Lan to not only show me what He could do and would do for me, God also taught me to get my hopes up!

One small victory after another made me realize that I didn’t have to have the weight of the world on my shoulders. I somehow managed to let God be God and relax a little and truly trust God for the things I prayed for.

It has been my general experience that God responds to my level of expectation. The things I dare hope and dream for He brings (slowly) to fruition if I hope hard enough and trust that He can and He will.

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:1-5 NKJV

 Hope does not disappoint.

I would rather hope for the best and be proven wrong than wallow in misery faithless.

Yes, there are things I will never understand. Yet, I cannot allow life’s disappointments to rob me of God’s peace when I choose to trust in Him.

Lan is asserting his independence more and more. He has “high hopes” for his future. If I tell him something’s not going to happen he just gives me “the look” learned from big brother that basically says I hear you but I’m not listening to a thing you say.

And that’s not always a bad thing.

I believe my past failures to hope as high as God would have me to do stem from listening to people instead of listening to God. If we are so tuned in to the multitude of “nos” coming from the choir, we will never hear God’s whispered “yes.”

Lan has confidence I never had at his age, partly because he had to work extremely hard to meet his goals. He learned far sooner than I ever did to tune out the “no.”

 I’m grateful to have come to a point where I can persevere and hope for God’s best fully aware that His best isn’t always what I want.

Hope does not disappoint.

“But he’s got high hopes, he’s got high hopes
He’s got high apple pie, in the sky hopes
So any time you’re gettin’ low
‘Stead of lettin’ go
Just remember that ant
Oops there goes another rubber tree plant”

 

**Songwriters: J. VAN HEUSEN, S. CAHN  High Hopes lyrics © BARTON MUSIC CORPORATION

B is for Blessed!

“Next time you’re found, with your chin on the ground
There’s a lot to be learned, so look around
Just what makes that little old ant
Think he’ll move that rubber tree plant
Anyone knows an ant, can’t
Move a rubber tree plant”

My hopes haven’t always been high.

I’ve always been a “realist” even as I prayed to God for the miracles I sought. It is only in the past four or five years that I realized I wasn’t setting my “hopes” even remotely high enough.

As I began to see how God was using my son Lan to not only show me what He could do and would do for me, God also taught me to get my hopes up!

One small victory after another made me realize that I didn’t have to have the weight of the world on my shoulders. I somehow managed to let God…

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Love Is Patient…

Patience is one of those things I used to pray for.

My journey along the autism spectrum definitely tried my patience.

That first diagnosis of pervasive non-developmental disorder exacerbated my lack of patience. When my two-year-old wasn’t developing quite as he should, the psychiatrist’s verdict was wait and see.

Wait and see!?

I didn’t handle that very well.

My compulsion and desperation to “fix” things left me frustrated and anxious.

Trying to juggle our autism purgatory in the midst of everything else going on at the time stripped me of what little patience I did have.

I loved my family, yet my ever growing impatience shortchanged my efforts to show the love choked inside of me.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” I Corinthians 13:4 NIV

Love is Patient B is for Blessed God autism and me devotional 2 2-2016I was neither patient nor kind.

I envied those who didn’t have my particular menagerie of issues, issues that sprang up rather suddenly and without warning.

Yet, God in His mercy made me stronger by forcing me through my fires and leaving me little choice but to learn patience.

Lesson after lesson.

I slowly stopped allowing circumstances to hold me hostage. I eventually learned to stop working toward happiness and to instead relax a little and receive God’s joy.

Time spent waiting for my miracles taught me every situation can be viewed any number of ways. I also learned there are always circumstances we are oblivious of when we are oh so quick to judge others.

Eventually, empathy and compassion grew in me as well.

It was not easy getting to this point.

Neither was it quick.

As our Father is patient with me, I know I should exhibit this trait toward others.

I am not always successful.

But, at least now, I try.

I am learning to recognize my own limitations and allow room for God to do the rest.

In His timing.

Patience keeps us from allowing the unexpected to knock us down and out.

Patience allows us to praise God for the smallest of blessings despite the bigger picture…

My journey along this autism adventure forces me to take a hard look at myself.

I don’t always like what I see.

Love is Patient B is for Blessed God autism and me devotional 3 2-2016Love is patient. Love is kind.

Hopefully, I can become these things as well…

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4 NKJV

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

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.

DSC_0559When 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!!

Believe!

Today my youngest son will attend his first day of marching band camp. To say he is thrilled is an understatement. I will admit I’m rather proud of him and share his enthusiasm. Getting to this point was a long time in coming.

You see, he has watched his brother perform for the past two years all the while longing to be on the field himself.

Freshman year marching wasn’t an option. We had a huge transition from middle school to high school without the familiar safety net of teachers to watch after him. There was no way my little grasshopper among giants could have withstood the onslaught of people, sounds and orchestrated chaos that comes with marching band.

Fast forward two years later and my grasshopper is now one of the giants. Now six feet tall, my “little” guy has grown not just physically but mentally as well. He is no longer overwhelmed by the masses of students. He can now manage his classes with the help of tutors.

It was only a few years ago that I couldn’t imagine his participation was possible even as I prayed otherwise. Thankfully, my prayers preempted all “rational” reasoning.

Years ago all the “facts” dictated that Lan was hardly a candidate for marching band.

He was uncoordinated, not very strong and easily distracted. The rigor of long practices with a hundred or so other kids would have been impossible.

But with God all things are possible.

Sometimes we rely so much on reports, grades, IEPs and diagnoses that it prevents us from imagining what God would do for us.

I am slowly learning that the sum of my blessings is proportional to my faith. My only limiting factor is me.

Time and time again God surprises me when things look hopeless. My audacity to dare and believe creates a “yes” when everything else points to “no.”

I’m learning not to allow how I feel to dictate what I believe.

Feelings are fleeting.

God’s Word is eternal.  

If we allow the imperfections in our lives to overcome us, we will never have faith enough to recognize and receive God’s best!

We may allow ourselves to be labeled by autism yet, it is crucial to have faith enough not to be limited by it.

Dependency on ourselves will always leave us wanting. However, God is more than enough when we trust that He can and He will.

beleive 2  God, autism and me 6-15 devotionalOur “situations” don’t have to leave us hopeless. We can instead allow them to direct us to different viewpoints and possibilities.

Listen to your gut.

Listen to God.

It is only what He says that truly matters.

His Word and our faith create the best outcomes.

 Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” Mark 9:23-24 NKJV

Father’s Day!

For all those Dads who manage through with IEPs and special needs,

Whose love lasts long, you look so strong when things around us feel so wrong.

I wish you peace and heartfelt love, God’s greatest gifts from up above

In gratitude for ALL you do, this special day is just for you.

DSC_8006 (2)    Happy Father’s Day!

 

    “But now, O LORD you [are] our Father; We [are] the clay, and You our potter; And all we [are] the work of Your Hand.” Isaiah 64:8 NKJV

 

***Dedicated to one Awesome Dad!  Rod Raphael, you do it well!  We love you!!!

Empty Nest!?

A few weeks ago I was fortunate to visit a college campus with my oldest son who is a rising senior. Lan, who will be a junior when school resumes in August also tagged along. To my surprise he didn’t get bored, asked pertinent questions and even dared to answer a few.

Lan is finally doing well enough with his classes that the idea of college is increasingly a part of his conversations as well.  Would I have imagined this even just a few years ago?

Not hardly.

However these past few years have taught me anything is indeed possible.

It was just two years ago, I practically swore Lan would never go away to summer camp. I didn’t trust him not to get distracted and wander someplace he shouldn’t. I also didn’t trust anyone else to keep tabs on him the way I would. We were dropping his brother off at a college campus and Lan asked when was he going to go away for a week.

“Not going to happen,” was the only response that popped to my mind though I was wise enough to keep that to myself.

Fast forward one year later and I was happily driving Landon to Clemson University for a week of summer camp.

Lesson learned. Never say never.

As I’m searching out options from my oldest child, my youngest is quite vocal about his own college plans. Lan is increasingly asking me and the hubby what he needs to do to prove he is mature enough for college. Thus far, he is doing a great job making his case.

My husband and I have always ironed Lan’s clothes for him, initially out of fear he would burn himself or ruin a fair number of the graphic tee shirts he loves. Only recently did I realize we’ve been doing it out of habit.

Lan finally asked when he would be allowed to do that for himself.

Shortly thereafter, Lan also asked me why he needs supervision using our gas stove. In truth, he is probably the only person in the house who has not left it on!  Another point for him.

Lan can manage the grill on the deck better than I can.

He hasn’t lost the cell phone he received for his birthday as we once feared he would years ago. In fact, he has used it responsively and appropriately. It certainly took him little time to begin texting us a grocery list of things to bring home from the store!

I’m realizing more and more my six foot tall “baby” isn’t so interested in being my “baby” but in trying to find his way in the world.

I once thought there was no way this kid could manage without me even though I prayed for just the opposite.

God has been faithful in so many things. I never doubted God was able. In watching and waiting for God to make Lan “ready” I’m beginning to realize the only person needing to get “ready” was me!  empty nest God autism and me devotional

I’ve got to move out of “protect” mode and into “prepare” mode.

Protecting Lan is something we have always done because we had to. It is an engrained habit. Some changes I couldn’t see because I was not looking for them. Every now and again it’s good to reexamine and reevaluate where our loved ones are and where they need us to be.

I need to mentally progress as Lan has, shifting from “once was” to the “here and now.” The final eye opener was when our oldest son recently chimed in and said “Mom, he’ll be just fine. Just let him be.”

“Let him be.”

Only time will tell the path Lan eventually takes. He is quite insistent in pursuing a career in graphic design. Lan may or may not follow a traditional path or leave for a distant college. Yet, I have faith that whatever the future holds, it will be the best possible path for him.

I’m not preparing for only one child to leave the nest, but possibly two.

How ‘bout that?

But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26 NKJV

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?” Jeremiah 32:27 NKJV