Category Archives: Faith and Spirtuality

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

 

Evolution!

God teaches me things in the strangest of ways.

Which brings me to cats.

I am not a “cat person.” Even though my house is home to one lucky indoor cat, named Lucky.

Seriously.

I feed the Aristocats on my side porch, “Rocky” and three kittens in exchange for not eating my birds, At least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

“Rocky” is the meanest of three sisters that called my abode home last year. She hissed at us when we put their food out!

I wasn’t surprised when she left for the wild leaving her sisters behind. Out of the original four kittens that once called us “home” I just knew she would never stick around.

One year later, Rocky has kittens in my yard, Shows you how much I know!

Rocky was not an ideal mother. She abandoned the runt. She bullied her litter mate “Gracie.”

Eventually, Gracie tired of her sisters shenanigans and camped out on the porch in spite of her. Gracie even nursed Rocky’s abandoned kitten.

Rocky merely looked on, unimpressed!

I don’t think Rocky was feeling the whole parenthood thing. I think her newfound responsibilities were overwhelming.

We’re not quite sure just what happened but poor Gracie died. Yet, shortly thereafter I found Rocky nursing both her sister’s kitten and the kitten she abandoned!   DSC_2934 (3)

Rocky evolved into a good mother.  I’ve seen her licking unwilling kitties clean!

She matured and does what needs to be done.

Maybe Rocky didn’t understand her role before. Maybe grief for her sister stirred something in her. Regardless, her mothering skills improved.

I think this cat family found a place in my heart because I can relate to Rocky.

I’m not sure I always dealt with Lan’s diagnosis “correctly.” In the beginning, I didn’t have a clue.  But like, Rocky, I eventually got the hang of it.

I’m no longer weary and afraid. The uncertainty and my stress are much much less!

I’ve evolved. I understand my role better. I’m probably a bit more nurturing to my “kitten.”

Looking back, God did the same for me. God engineered my evolution so I can be the mother I need to be.

Some lessons God reveals when we take time to “see” them and “hear” Him.

This isn’t the first time God has used a cat to teach me how less than ideal situations can work out unexpectedly.

And I suspect it won’t be the last.

While We Wait…

There are times in life when we have a dream, vision or even a promise that we are waiting for God to fulfill in our lives. However as we wait for the manifestation we may not always wait with a faith-filled expectation. Our sense of urgency doesn’t always correlate to God’s timing or His deliverance.

Our determination to stay in faith often wanes with the time required for our loved ones to reach their full bloom. Progress isn’t always made when we expect it. We may experience setbacks and false starts. Time spent waiting, disappointments, and unfair circumstances may move us to manipulate situations as our trust breaks.

Or, we can become bitter and angry when we are forced to face the unexpected.

God is faithful in the waiting period. In times of complete silence or when you are at your lowest point is often when God is working on your behalf!  DSC_0376 (2)

The book of Genesis tells the story of Joseph and how he was sold into slavery by his brothers, lied upon, tossed into prison and spent years waiting for the fulfillment of his dream.  Joseph was faithful during his period of waiting. He knew that God was with him. Joseph worked faithfully in his adversity serving others. Joseph was faithful to God through repeated temptation. He didn’t become bitter. Joseph was eventually delivered from a pit into the palace!

Sometimes God allows us to wait through “low” times to prepare us for what is ahead. Waiting develops character and tenacity. Some blessings we ask for we aren’t able to correctly manage…yet. We must not lose faith that God does hear us.

Joseph endured his period of waiting with the right attitude. I can’t say I’ve always done the same. However, I am learning to trust God and His timing more than ever.

God can answer my prayers more efficiently than the meager results of my own misplaced efforts. My prayers aren’t just about me or my kids. We are only pieces in an infinite puzzle that only God can put together. I can’t count how many times Lan’s teachers have said they have learned so much from him.

I don’t always understand what is going on. But I do trust and know that despite my frustrations God provides the blessing when it is needed most.  

I have prayed certain things about my children’s growth and development not knowing what would happen or what to expect. Things haven’t always looked good. Yet, faithfully God and only God turned situations completely around! 

DSC_0379 (2)What God has done for me He can surely do for you. If you trust Him…and are willing to wait.  

“Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord,” Psalms 27:14 NKJV

Progress Report!

My kids have been in school about six weeks now so their first “progress reports” were issued last week. This is the first time Lan has ever started the school year so well. His Cs and Bs have been replaced with As and Bs!  I think even he was surprised by how well he’s done.

Now many kids on the spectrum make straight As with little effort. Their “gifts” allow them to be scholastic geniuses. Yet there are other kids like mine who struggle in school. Every good grade is fought for. There is no real “down time” from school. Their work never seems to end.

If I didn’t work full-time my kid would probably have straight As. This is what I thought through the years. In fact, I was angry that I could not “be there” for Lan when I thought he needed me most.

Yet, God had other plans and I do believe I’m seeing the fruit of Lan’s labor.

Since I haven’t been readily available, Lan has learned how to get by without me.  He has to study on his own, learn to organize himself (still working on that one!) and keep track of his assignments. He fights for every grade and works harder than most to achieve satisfactory results.

He has learned to work independently.

We’ve come a long way from those elementary years of playing “catch up” and even the middle school years of “keep up.” There were tears and frustration both his and mine. But they now seem like distant memories finally fading away.

I couldn’t imagine this even as I prayed for it many years ago. This small ray of academic achievement once appeared to be impossible. But with God all things are possible.

My guilty tears were all for naught. I’m very proud of the progress Lan is making without me. God knew I couldn’t always “be there” if Lan was to ever become independent.

At Friday’s football game Lan spent time on the other side of the stadium with his old friends from middle school. It was a far cry from this time last year. I wasn’t worried or preoccupied that I couldn’t see him. He hung out with his friends just like any other kid. I sat in the stands and relaxed like any other parent.

We’ve still got a ways to go but we are both maturing and stretching our wings a bit. Just like a butterfly that has to work its way out of the cocoon, the struggle comes before the flight. Years ago, when I thought my circumstances were terrible, God was in control the entire time. I can see it now.

I’m learning to get out of the way and allow God to work out situations as He would have them.

I guess Lan and I have both progressed this second year of high school. And for that I am ever grateful.

 

***I’ll be “out of the office” until next week. I will respond to comments when I return 🙂

 

Labor Less!

“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 light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV

In my struggle to relinquish my control freak tendencies, I rely on this scripture time and time again. I learned that I don’t have to conquer my corner of the world in my power.

There was a time in my life where I was working very hard to give my children all my attention. I worked long hours. Then on my days off would I try to cram days of lessons in with Lan, never wanting him to fall behind his peers.

These efforts only brought forth fatigue on my part and frustration on his. When I was at a point when I could no longer do this, a funny thing happened. Lan’s grades improved.

I had no choice but to trust God. I didn’t have the time to prep Lan for those standardized tests. All those practice books went unused. I was at the mercy of his teachers to give him everything he would need.

I was tired. My job was wearing me out. I was trying to balance the needs of two kids who are polar opposites. I was attempting to be a real life
“wonder woman” meeting unrealistic expectations I had imposed on myself.

Finally at this point of burn out, I stopped struggling so much and gave it a rest. I prayed more and worked less.  I found the more I trusted God, the more He did for me.

When I finally stopped running myself ragged and was still, I could hear Him.

I found comfort in the fact that I really don’t have to know it all.

When I don’t have an answer, I now trust God first. Whatever I need will find me.

It wasn’t the quickest transformation, but I don’t want to revert back to where I was.

Casting my cares has been liberating. I am sometimes amused, wondering just how God is going to work certain things out.

So, If you are tired, burned out, or at a loss, don’t wait years like I did.  You will accomplish more when you trust God and choose to labor less!

Labor Less!

“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 light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV

In my struggle to relinquish my control freak tendencies, I rely on this scripture time and time again. I learned that I don’t have to conquer my corner of the world in my power.

There was a time in my life where I was working very hard to give my children all my attention. I worked long hours. Then on my days off would I try to cram days of lessons in with Lan, never wanting him to fall behind his peers.

These efforts only brought forth fatigue on my part and frustration on his. When I was at a point when I could no longer do this, a funny thing happened. Lan’s grades improved.

I had no choice but to trust God. I didn’t have the time to prep Lan for those standardized tests. All those practice books went unused. I was at the mercy of his teachers to give him everything he would need.

I was tired. My job was wearing me out. I was trying to balance the needs of two kids who are polar opposites. I was attempting to be a real life
“wonder woman” meeting unrealistic expectations I had imposed on myself.

Finally at this point of burn out, I stopped stuggling so much and gave it a rest. I prayed more and worked less.  I found the more I trusted God, the more He did for me.

When I finally stopped running myself ragged and was still, I could hear Him.

I found comfort in the fact that I really don’t have to know it all.

When I don’t have an answer, I now trust God first. Whatever I need will find me.

It wasn’t the quickest transformation, but I don’t want to revert back to where I was.

Casting my cares has been liberating. I am sometimes amused, wondering just how God is going to work certain things out.

So, If you are tired, burned out, or at a loss, don’t wait years like I did.  You will accomplish more when you trust God and choose to labor less!

Pot Luck!

Yesterday, I went to my boys’ annual High School Band Pot Luck Dinner. If you can imagine a high school marching band, plus the concert, symphonic and woodwind ensembles in addition to their families gathered together…let’s just say it was a bit hectic.

Years ago, Lan would have been hesitant to go, anxious and afraid. This year, not so much!

I watched as he hunted for people he knew, talked to a few friends and even managed to hustle his way through the masses to get a plate of food.

Afterwards, we moved to the stadium to watch the marching band give us a preview of their hard work.

Lan watched from the forty yard line. I am well aware that if he could, Lan would be on that band field in a heartbeat. I don’t doubt he could do well in the marching program. The problem is the time marching band consumes would wreak havoc on his academics.   DSC_0956 (2)

Lan has had to work extremely hard putting in twice the effort of the average student to come up with that B or C at the end of the semester.

Do I feel a bit guilty that he can’t march with his brother? Definitely. Especially because I know that it would bring him so much joy.

However, right now he needs to work on getting that academic balance just right. Lan has expressed a desire to go to college.

Now some people would say we are dreaming. But that’s okay. I don’t have a problem with dreams. Joseph had a dream for his future and didn’t lose hope despite years of obstacles. (ref. Genesis Chapters 37-42)

I have faith for what God can do.

And apparently Lan has faith for his future too! Just today, he mentioned that even though he likes Clemson, he is thinking about Clayton State.

When I questioned him, he told me, “Don’t hate on my choice of Clayton State,” somewhat annoyed!

Now, as my dear friend laughed and I’m thinking to myself “just who does this kid think he’s talking too?”  I almost miss the point that Lan is giving college more and more thought!

I have dreams for my kids, but our dreams and their reality aren’t necessarily one in the same. Yet, I am proud that Lan isn’t letting anyone, including me, deter him from what he envisions for his future.

Thankfully, we don’t have to rely on luck when thinking about the future. Faith is far more dependable! DSC_1084 (3)

Lan continues to surprise people. Including me.

Who knows what the next two years of high school will bring? Lan may very well find himself performing on that field after all.

And if he does, I’m confident luck will nothing to do with it.

“But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” Hebrews 11:6 KJV

Who’s Your Favorite Ninja Turtle?

Many kids on the spectrum have a fascination, obsession or favorite something from time to time. I’ve seen my child gravitate to Legos, Marvel super heroes, Power Rangers and some other things I’m sure I’ve forgotten! Yet, one that has never faded is his fascination with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

I’ve probably purchased over a hundred turtles in the last ten plus years. I would have never imagined they could come in so many variations!

We have movie videos, television shows, toys, you name it. You’d think I’d be sick of them by now.

But I’m not.

These turtles were one of the very first things Lan cared to actually talk about. In those early days I was hungry and desperate for any words he would offer. If they were about green turtles, so be it!

As the years went by and Lan ventured to talk to strangers, he would ask them about their favorite turtle. I never thought he would get much of a response from most people.

I was wrong.

I’d forgotten there were now adults in their twenties and thirties who grew up with the turtles. They have recollections of going to see those first TMNT movies. A few even have their original toys stashed in an attic or basement.

From teachers and karate instructors to family and friends, people would answer Lan’s questions about their favorite turtle and then ask him about his.

And he would answer.

Energetically, with more than two-word sentences!

It’s amazing how God can take something so simple really, and do the miraculous with it. At that point I’m sure there were several people who doubted Lan would ever hold a regular conversation.

But God!

God can take what we have and in His hands, change it into something so much more. Something seemingly trivial in the grand scheme of things can become a gateway to answered prayer.

I really hadn’t given it much thought before.  Mutant ninja turtles certainly were not my intended topic for this post, but for all they’ve done to help pull my man out of his shell

I’ll be ever grateful.

We’ll check out the latest movie this weekend. And if you were wondering, Lan’s favorite ninja turtle is not Raphael. I thought since we shared a name it would be his favorite when he was younger.

But he chose Donatello. Go figure?!

Who’s your favorite turtle?

“But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise,” 1 Corinthians 1:27

 

Class Conflict!

On Friday, my youngest child who inspired this blog informed me that his class schedule was changed. He was no longer with the same Spanish or World History teacher.

I tried to figure why two weeks into the school year his schedule (especially his schedule) would change. His Spanish teacher is adored by students and Lan is no exception. His history teacher uses lots of visuals (ideal for Lan!) and I was remiss to lose him.

I assured him his father and I would look into it. So, this morning my husband dropped the kids off and went straight to the office.

Apparently, the Spanish class has a few kids with disciplinary “issues.” The Spanish teacher noticed Lan covered his ears during their disruptive outburst. She was concerned the current mix of students may be too much for him.

I most certainly applaud the teacher for noticing the displeasure/discomfort the other three students were causing him. His teacher suggested Lan be moved to a quieter class. However, my husband’s question to the counselor was why should our child should lose the benefit of great teachers at the expense of the offending party?

I’m sure removing one student is a lot easier than removing three, but to do so gives the trouble makers the advantage.  DSC_7748 (3)

Soooo….when my husband met with the counselors they called Lan up and asked him which class he would prefer.

To the counselor’s surprise, Lan told them he wanted to stay with his original teachers. He told the counselors, “I can just ignore the bad kids.”

Both counselors were surprised. There was a time where disruptive kids would have made him shut down and unable to focus. Apparently, he has matured to the point where he can tune the disruptions out (as best anyone can) just like the other students in his class.

To say that I am proud and grateful is such an understatement!  I prayed this morning  and resigned myself to “God’s will.” I thought it would be better if Lan’s schedule was changed back with his original teachers but if God chose to move him I trusted that God would work it to our benefit.

I guess I have moved (just a bit) from trying to regulate/orchestrate every detail of Lan’s life. I’m hardly a passive parent. Even letting my husband go and “handle it” without my “supervision” is a giant step for me. Yet, if my wishes didn’t work out, I figured God has a better plan. This hasn’t always been the case.

In the end, the counselors agreed that Lan would stay with his original teachers as desired. The “problem students” would be moved elsewhere to make the classroom less volatile.

In the end, I trusted God to work out the best outcome without complaint, demands or frustration on my part.

It appears Lan matured even more than I ever imagined this summer. And maybe, just maybe, I have too.  

“The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Psalm 18:2 NKJV   DSC_7549 (2)

 

Sophomore Year!

Unlike most of the country, my kids have already completed their first week of school!

Last Monday, Lan began his second year of high school. It was fortunately without incident. No wrong bus transfers, rescheduled classes, and no dread of “starting over” in strange and less than friendly surroundings.

This year Lan knows more people. His teachers are “on board” with our IEP and we are both much more comfortable, without the harried nerves surrounding last year.

His first homework assignment was a letter to his literature teacher introducing himself. The letter gave information about his interests and goals for this year. I was pleased to see that he thinks his family is “nice and protects him from mean people.”

If you ever doubt your children understand what you do for them or how you feel for their plight…don’t!

I was almost overwhelmed to see the words on the page. Detailed thoughts, expressed and understood, another “accomplishment” to be grateful for.

The paragraph about his goals was inspiring as well. Lan wants to boost his g.p.a.  which I am very glad to hear in addition to improving his trombone performance. He ultimately wants to gain the “first chair” position in his band class. Lan has embraced the idea (with a little prodding, of course) of being a “leader” as one of the few sophomores in his class.

I noticed how his goals have evolved and matured. It makes me think that mine should as well.

Sometimes we get so set in one mindset that we fail to progress and stretch our thinking. Old ideas are often just that. Old. Stale. “Stuck” in the past.

Our familiar ideas and concepts sometimes fail to hold up in the here and now we are currently immersed in.  I’ve found we can let the blessings we have prayed for go unrecognized because we are too stressed and uptight to see them. Our minds are often stalled in “then” even as God is directing us to the “when.”

I am surely guilty of this on more than one occasion. Sometimes we all get stressed to the point that we don’ remember how to relax.

Thankfully, Lan doesn’t have this problem. He is relaxing in the confidence that comes from a year of high school under his belt and he is looking forward not stuck in yesterday.

Lan is both excited and optimistic about his future. His enthusiasm reminds me that I should be as well.

“Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, [and] rivers in the desert.”  Isaiah 43:19 KJV