Category Archives: Family

The House of Mouse!

Be careful what you pray for.

It is not that I don’t want my prayers answered. However, I’d rather not have a heart attack in the process.  Sometimes we are forced to face our fears when we receive the very things we ask God for.

My husband and I have encouraged Lan to learn his way around Orlando and become familiar with his surroundings. A couple of weeks ago he ventured out to the movies. He went bowling as well. We were happy to see him making his way around his community and finding things to do.

A week later, my husband called to see how he was doing.

Lan was doing great.

He was at Disney World!

Now, I’m thinking he went as part of a school activity or with a group of friends.

Nope!

Lan got bored and decided to take Uber to The Magic Kingdom.

Really!!?

I prayed for Lan to become independent and confident. I’ve asked for this as long as I can remember. However, I was not anticipating such an expensive excursion!

Once I got over the initial shock, I began to worry. My mind was quickly into overdrive, thinking about everything that could go wrong.

He could lose his debit card.

He could lose his wallet.

He could lose his phone.

What if someone tried to abduct him?

Though at nearly six feet, four and over two-hundred pounds, that one may be far-fetched.

Just this summer, the thought of Lan wandering around Disney alone terrified me. Now, he is exploring on his own without busybody parents!

Thankfully, all ended well.

If the photos on his FB feed are any indication, freedom feels great!

It only took Lan two months to make his way to the House of Mouse, easily his favorite place in the world. One family member commented she was surprised it took him that long to get there!

In the grand scheme of things, it didn’t take God long to bring the once shy kid out of his shell and equip him to maneuver the world without someone always at his side.

It probably took me way too long to view Lan as an adult and acknowledge that he can exercise those skills we so doggedly drilled into him.

Some people are goal oriented, and I suspect Lan achieved one of his that week.

What could be better than alone in the House of Mouse, free to enjoy it on his own terms?

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing

This smile is a smile of growth, independence, and someone hopeful for the future.

Priceless!

Our prayers are rarely answered the way we expect, but the reward is no less when God does it His way.

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much

James 5:16 NKJV

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The Road to Freedom!

My “new” college student is managing the usual challenges of being a freshman in a new city. He is learning about his professors. He is learning about digital presentations. He is even learning his way around his community. Yet, there is one thing he had to learn that most people take for granted to make this all possible.

He had to learn to ride a bike.

Something as simple as riding a bike isn’t necessarily simple to someone on the spectrum.

Thankfully, Lan was up to the challenge and his favorite aunt was more than willing to teach him.

It was not without its challenges.

It was probably nerve-wracking for the both of us!

He persevered through those initial falls and gashes.

He persevered through a broken guard and loose chains.

He persevered in the summertime heat.

Lan persevered because he wanted to go away to school and riding a bike made that feasible. What most people view as a recreational pastime is essential to him not only getting to school but also the grocery store, Target and most anywhere without depending on anyone.

Freedom.

Lan wants the freedom to come and go as he pleases.

It didn’t take him long to ride beyond the comfort zone of the school and make it to Starbucks. Now, Lan is just one of many kids riding his bike to school.

Like everyone else.

He is proud of himself and he should be.

He rose to the challenge and past the temporary frustration. He is becoming confident in his abilities to take care of himself.

And I am grateful.

One of the last things he asked me  before I returned home was,  “When can I get my driver’s license?”

I told him, “We’ll get around to it. Let’s just concentrate on the bike for now.”

Well, Hurricane Irma gave him some time away from school and time with his Uncle. A few days later Lan posted this.

He is learning to drive.

This kid has taught me that determination can move mountains. He has taught me not to panic at the first sign of trouble. But most of all, he has taught me to remember he has his own hopes and dreams.

He wants to enjoy life, liberty and pursue happiness.

The road to freedom looks good on him.

For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men— as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God.
1 Peter 2:15-16 NKJV

Decisions! Decisions!

Who, then, are those who fear the Lord?
    He will instruct them in the ways they should choose. Psalm 25:12 NIV

 

Through the years we have come to crossroads where we had to make tough decisions.

When I began this blog Lan’s freshman year of high school, we decided that he would not attend the school he was zoned for.

He was devastated.

Still, he will graduate in two weeks with most of his friendships intact.

We had to decided private school or public?

We had to decide for and against extracurricular activities.

A four-year college or tech school? Lan’s desire to become a computer animator didn’t help matters either.

It seems there wasn’t a week that went by where we didn’t have to decide something…

Such is the season of raising a kids.

It took long enough, but I finally got over my fear of making a wrong decision. I’ve come to learn that God can make even my failures work out in the end.

One of the reasons I hadn’t posted lately was due my mother’s illness.  You can read about that trial here. The last thing Mommy asked me was if I had completed everything necessary for Lan to attend a school that offered him a scholarship.

She had already given her opinion about one school during her illness. It was a great school, but not so great for social growth. I think Mommy approved of our final choice because she passed away not long after.

I believe she decided that Lan would be just fine.

He always said he was moving to Orlando when he grew up. We just laughed it off.

Guess who’s laughing now?

It is probably without a doubt the hardest decision we have made.

When College Decision Day was celebrated at his school, Lan wore his Full Sail University t-shirt. All the college and military bound kids represented their various schools. It was quite the event, pep rally and all!

Sometimes we must decide to take chances when everyone else thinks we’re crazy. If we are ever to reach the heights God has for us, we must decide to be faith filled and fearless. Every hero in the Bible rose to greatness based on the choices he or she made.

Abraham chose to be obedient.

David chose to fight.

Ruth chose compassion.

Each of them was rewarded for following God instead of doing what everyone else in their situation probably would have done.

God calls us to choose.

We’ve decided that autism will not defeat us.

Lan decided that he will excel.

Autism may dictate some of our choices but it doesn’t have to prevent us from pushing through our
obstacles.


Choose to believe and trust God.

I promise, He will amaze you and you’ll be glad you did…

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

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

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

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