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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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Orientation!

Orientation, “to acquaint with the existing situation or environment,” Merriam-Webster

This academic year for my “baby” begins not just with a move to the next school but rather the next state.

Now, towering over six feet tall, the time has come where he stands alone.

Our week-long orientation begins today as he acquaints himself with his new academic environment. However, new school, new home and new people present plenty of opportunity for anxiety, especially so for anyone on the spectrum. Lan confessed to just a few while I’m praying hard not to fuel my own!

I choose to remember God got us this far by grace. Something more is in store. I could not envision this day just four years ago when he began high school. Lan and I have come a long way and if you’re living in the land of ASD you can too. Here are my words of advice for anyone raising special needs kids:

Enjoy the journey. I regret not doing this more. Don’t obsess over academic standards. Faith is more productive than fear. Fear of failure doesn’t encourage a child nearly as much as faith for growth yet unseen.

Laugh. I didn’t do that enough either. Don’t make the same mistake.

A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

Try something new. Karate, piano and band were gateways for growth. If something doesn’t work you can always quit. This is a great way to uncover hidden talents!

Go with your gut! There was one teacher I didn’t care for but I allowed Lan to stay in the class. Big mistake. When we fall backward, God can catch us up, but learn to heed your God/gut instincts so you won’t have to.

Call in the reserves! People will help you if you ask. You can’t receive the relief you need if you brave it alone. Many people are affected by autism and other disorders as parents, grandparents, siblings, and friends. People can be kind and caring. They will help you. An hour of “free time” can equip you to manage your challenges. Take it!

Believe God for the impossible! Never stop searching for solutions. Resources you need are often hidden like treasure; but trust God and they will find you.

Don’t give up! Life can wear you down. Just keep it moving! The fastest person doesn’t always win, rather the one who doesn’t give up.
Run your race.

We can’t always outsmart ASD. Setbacks will knock us down. Still, there are times when we recognize the God/good in life that can leave us amazed!

As I become “oriented” to my new role of long-distance mom, my last prayer for parents is that you fight when necessary and rest when you can.

I’ve learned life’s hardest challenges can produce the greatest miracles.

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.  Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11 [Full Chapter]

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

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