Category Archives: Parenting

Bee Aware!

April is National Autism Awareness Month. Families, friends and other supporters will “light it up blue,” during the month of April to bring awareness to autism and its impact on all of us.

Some people say autism 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 really 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.  How about allowing that frazzled parent to check out ahead of you? Those random acts of kindness are priceless.

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.

Don’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.

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 and a teachable moment for your child, far more valuable than any physical gift.

Many kids with neurological disorders are often excluded from social activities because other parents don’t know what to expect when they arrive. I’ve found through the years children 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, parents appreciate the gesture. I’ve watched firsthand how one child feels as his sibling goes off with other kids.

This is 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?” Now, I no longer question it and whisper a prayer for grace and mercy instead.

This month, think about what you can do to lighten the load for a family near you!

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

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Love is Kind…

“Love is patient, love is kind”  1 Corinthians 13:4 NIV

Thus begins one of the most quoted paragraphs in the New Testament.

However, I tend to gravitate toward the NKJV and that version replaces patient with “love suffers long and is kind.”

I can see why the NIV version is far more popular than either King James Version.

Who wants to readily accept that to love will entail some suffering?

In addition, the emphasis on the “and” further dictates that we can “suffer” yet still be kind, amiable and not relegated to taking out our personal frustrations on the rest of the world.

Everyone is going to “suffer” something.

I’ve noticed that the attitude we have as we deal with “stuff” plays a major part on how well we can suffer through it.

I’ve watched people fall apart (a few times while looking in the mirror) when the load got heavy and no solutions loomed on the horizon. I’ve also witnessed people with incredibly heavy burdens carry them with such quiet strength and dignity you’d have no idea of the issues they faced day after day.

A few people I know who care or cared for a child, sibling or spouse are some the most pleasant people I know. They refuse to allow their circumstances to crush them, yet they were hardly in denial.

Love is Kind God autism and me devoional 2-10-2016They choose to trust God and keep going. They allow God’s love to flow through them.

I watched these ladies love others, give of themselves and perform random acts of kindness all while going through very taxing trials. They extended themselves for others far beyond what most people would expect as “reasonable” given their circumstances.

Through their examples, God teaches me how to keep my joy.

These ladies leaned on the Lord.  And when I say leaned, I mean leaned!

Learning how to be joyful and not remain self-absorbed taught me to not only stretch myself, but how to stretch my two sons as well.

Sometimes a gentle nudge garners a better result than mandating a regimented schedule or forcing an issue until you break a person’s spirit.

If you find yourself acting as the dictator in your family, or any place else for that matter, take the words of Sam Cooke to heart.

“Try a little tenderness.”

Pleasant words are like a honeycomb,
Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.
Proverbs 16:24 NKJV

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

Life Is A Highway…

Life is a highway.

These are the words my youngest posted below a Facebook post last month of him receiving his learner’s permit.

You see, although many of his peers accomplished this years ago, it was a significant milestone for him. Receiving his learner’s permit is just one more step closer to independence.

As Landon and I have both learned over the years, everyone’s journey is not the same.

Sometimes our roads are scenic and full of beauty. At other times, our roads seem dark with nothing noteworthy to draw our attention. Our drive may be mundane as we await the next rest stop. Or, we may find ourselves on the expressway making better time than we ever expected.

There were times when we’ve veered off course a time or two. Then there are others where my GPS (God’s Provision System) seemed to take me in the opposite direction than planned.

I’ve had a few flats.

Got stuck in the mud.

But through it all, the overwhelming lesson I learned while raising this kid is to simply “keep going.”

Years ago, I worried about getting this kid through elementary school. Getting past the next standardized exam.

Then the focus was to make it through middle school. Then high school. Now, this kid is away at college and doing quite well which is something that seemed improbable when faced with the “facts” over a decade ago.

My worries were for naught.

My little seed of faith, prayer and the agreement of my village availed much!

I’ve heard it said it is not the destination but the journey. For years, it felt like the cramped quarters and motion sickness of the journey might keep both Lan and me from reaching our destination.

Now a bit older, and perhaps wiser, I have learned stressed-out travel is not for me! I’ll get there when I get there. If it is God’s timing, I’m perfectly fine with that.

And, thankfully, Lan is too.

We have learned every journey requires patience. The greater the distance to travel, the longer it takes to get there. There is also a greater burden and cost to bridge vast distances between “here” and “there.”

In my case, “there” yielded increased maturity, spiritual growth, and a portion of wisdom while “there” for Lan is a home in Orlando to pursue his own interests in computer animation.

We never know where our path will lead us. We often have a destination in mind, but we can’t always account for delays, detours and even a few false starts.

Still, as we rely on God to direct our paths, we can relax a little. We can admire the flowers along the way. We can look up at the vast mountains and across broad valleys confident that God will get us exactly where we need to be if not necessarily where we want.

May you enjoy safe travels and Godspeed wherever your journey takes you.

Your word is a lamp for my feet,
    a light on my path.  Psalm 119:105 NIV

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 obsessed with 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 before 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 does have, his talent. What appears to be the least compared to the expensive gifts of the Wise Men becomes the most.

The Savior smiles at him.

I tried at times to develop my child into one of the “Wise Men.” This story reminds me my child doesn’t need to detour from who God created him to become. His own inherent talents, 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 or appreciate them. Their gifts aren’t always highly regarded. However, the book of Matthew teaches us to take what we have been given and make the most of it!  Matthew 25:14-30

When we come before God nurturing what we have been given,  there is no need to look toward and compare ourselves to others. We are free in Christ to fulfill the purposes and the plans God intended all along.

Kids on the with autism often surprise adults when allowed opportunities to be who God created them to be. We must have faith that God has a purpose and a plan even when we can’t see it or understand.

I believe when we exhibit faith enough to trust God with our talents and our trials we too can say, and then He smiled at me

Merry Christmas!

And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  Matthew 2:11 NKJV

“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 29:11  NKJV

 

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

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