Tag Archives: Devotional

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

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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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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

College Search!

We have been busy in our household helping our senior with his college applications. Lan has been quite interested himself in the application process. He stated, “When you’re done with him then we can get started on me.”

I easily recall wondering if this kid would be able to graduate high school. Now, these many years later, he is thinking about college.

Lan has always struggled in school. Though very bright, he can’t always verbalize what he knows. Years ago, when people would ask about possible plans for the future, a wave of dread would come over me. Now, I’m just waiting to see what happens next.

I learned from a close friend who happens to be a college professor that more and more colleges are incorporating transition programs and assistance for people with learning and developmental disabilities. I did a bit of research and actually found a few. Yet, many of the programs were in the Northeast part of the country. We live in the southeast. The idea of just sending my “baby” twelve or more hours away doesn’t sit well.

I eventually stopped worrying about it and decided God will make a way.

STAND TALL blessed devotional 10-2015Well, last night I came upon this article, “Students with special needs get own program at University of Georgia.” 

Now UGA is only about forty-five minutes from me. The article also mentions another school with a similar program that is only an hour away. It looks like there is a realistic pathway for Lan to “go off to college,” after all.

Years ago I never imagined the programs now available in higher education for kids like mine.

But God knew.

Sometimes when we are overwhelmed and it looks like situations are hopeless we must trust God for the answer.

I’m learning this more and more as Lan tackles things that were once impossible. The leaps and gains he has made have been miraculous. I suspect the progress made would never have come about if we held on to every negative word spoken over us.

I stopped looking at the statistics and looked for God to make a way.

A poor progress report can no longer push me into a state of panic. I keep telling Lan he is smart and can do whatever is required.  I truly believe Lan does better because we expect better.

What if that same principle applies to God?

I’m not sure what the future holds but I’m holding fast to God and expecting great things.

How about you?

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 NKJV

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6 NKJV

Who Do You See?

A tiny bud precedes the bloom.

Kid’s are no different. On the spectrum, off the spectrum, I’ve seen kids time and time again who don’t outwardly exhibit the potential that lies deep within them.

Some people can’t see hidden potential because they believe others who tell them to “stop looking.”

As I celebrate the approaching Easter season I am reminded that few people acknowledged Jesus Christ for who He was until after His resurrection. He often spoke of His death and resurrection but even His disciplines did not fully understand the reality of His words.

After His resurrection, Jesus’ disciples did not readily recognize Him. They were looking for Who He was instead of seeing Him for Who He had become

I have been guilty of this with my child.  spriring bradford pear 2015 bloom devotional

We can see someone close to us for so long that we become blinded to the changes or potential within them.

I always thought of college in regards to my oldest son, Lan’s big brother. Yet over the course of this year Lan has spoken more and more of where he wants to go to college. If I had listened to naysayers, doubters and even my own dull thoughts I would not now have started vetting majors, schools, and financial aid for him.

I now see through Lan’s growth and the wisdom of others that Lan isn’t who he used to be!

Faith allows me to now glimpse with spiritual eyes the potential God has for him. Technology that exists today I never could have imagined when we received our first diagnosis. Back then, through prayer, I pushed and prodded for the best. Yet, I couldn’t “see” what God could do with our situation.

Now, I push and prod with faith for the new thing God will do next!

Is life along the spectrum perfect? Hardly.

But neither is it perfect on any path that I’ve ever been privy to.

I am willing to look a bit closer, think a bit broader and allow my mind to embrace whatever possibilities come our way! In doing so I not only celebrate the resurrection of my Savior but the resurrection of my spirit!

There was a time not many years ago that I felt dead. I went through the motions and “kept going” because I didn’t have a choice to stop.  People depended on me.

Now, I depend on God. Completely.

I once felt spiritually barren, dry and defeated. Maybe even killed. Yet, God in His grace stirred up a hope within me.

God’s faithfulness fueled my personal “resurrection” and allowed me to see His goodness instead of mourning “what is not.”

As spring breaks forth, I challenge you to look at your loved ones a bit differently. Don’t view them from the same unchanging perspective.

Dare to really see them as God sees them and perhaps dare to pray “Why not?”

“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

 

 

 

 

Anticipation!

“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 years past, now would be about the time of year my brain went into overdrive striving, trying and failing to prepare my youngest for the slew of standardized exams necessary to proceed to the next grade level. Despite all of my worry, there was absolutely nothing I could do to help Lan with those exams.

It was simply out of my control.

As I grow older (and hopefully wiser), I realize how very much in “life” is out of my control. When I was younger I was taught if you “do the right thing” you will end up with a “good result.”

That hasn’t always proven true.

Bad things happen to good people. Good things happen to “bad” people.

There is seemingly no rhyme or reason as we all navigate very distinct paths in life.

Some “stuff” like autism, cancer, ALS and Alzheimer’s come upon us out of nowhere and debunk any illusion that we control our own lives.

The problem I had with this is that I expected to control my life. I sought to plan, plot and otherwise chart my destiny. And I expected to do so with minimal obstacles in my path to “success.”

Little did I know how years later my entire illusion of “life” would crash and burn. There was a small window in my life where I had to process two births, two deaths, two cross country moves, a new job and finally that pervasive non-developmental disorder diagnosis which was the equivalent of “wait and see.”

Wait and see!?

That’s what the psychiatrist said as we left his office with more questions than we arrived with.

Worry became second nature. What if this? What if that? What in the world are we going to do? I felt broken trying to hold together the fragments of my life that kept shifting away from me. Only when I gave up and surrendered to God could I breathe again and live.

Not exist, but live!

Now the uncertainties that would haunt me as Lan talks of college (college!) are where, how and at what cost? How is he ever going to survive the “real” world?

My answer now nearly fourteen years later is again, “wait and see.”

However, I now “wait and see,” with optimism. I anticipate a good result without the logistical nightmare of trying to “fix” everything that is imperfect in my life.

Just like in the old days with those exams, I couldn’t help Lan. Yet, God did place in our lives wonderful teachers, tutors and support staff that could!

anticipation 2015 atsm blog.jpg panzy 2I’ve seen God place the right people in the right positions to advocate for our child. God provided solutions for high-school years prior in elementary school!

I simply sit back in amazement over how far God has not brought us! Why would He remove His favor from us now? 

I am no longer constrained by fears for the future.  I trust Him and let go.

So I “fret not” and “fear not” over my lack of “control.” God does a far better job with “me” than I ever did.

Fear is anticipating the worst.

Faith is anticipating the best!

can control which one I allow to dictate my thoughts and actions.

Which do you choose?

Snow Day

Well… it didn’t actually snow.

The above picture was indeed taken on a rare snow day here in Georgia just not this year. But the result was just the same. School in our county was cancelled on Tuesday of last week due to the frigid cold. That added an extra day to my kids’ Winter Break.

There were shrieks of laughter, shouts of joy and happy dances of elation for the gift of an extra day off. As I lay on the couch convalescing, I thought to myself there’s a lesson in this.

My kid’s had just been given a day off and planned on taking full advantage. The party was on! They were making snacks, singing songs and playing games most gleefully together. They were not thinking about possible consequences to such good news such as having more work to do in less time or an extra day possibly added to their school schedule. They simply celebrated the time given to them.

I, however, when given a day off tend to quickly load it with things to do, lists to complete and obligations to fulfill. Even when I am “doing nothing” I am often haunted by the things I should be doing.

I will readily admit IEPs, the challenge of meeting objectives, setting goals, supervising homework and trying to prepare for (predict?) the future can leave my brain a jumbled mess even after the clock has long stopped. As a parent trying my best I often feel overwhelmed and under productive as a tinge of guilt tries to impart in me that I should be doing, more, more, more!

But I’m a little wiser now. I allowed myself to hear God as my children rejoiced at their good news.  You need a “snow day.” You need a day with Me without the guilt, the hurry or a list of “to dos” hanging over your head.  Let it all go and come to Me.

I have been able to put some things down from time to time and run to Him, but now I’m realizing that lately when I’ve turned to Him I’ve come with another set of petitions, prayers or concerns different from the ones I cast down. It isn’t that God doesn’t want us to come to Him. He actually invites us to bring our burdens to Him.

Yet, I am learning more and more it’s good to simply come to Him empty-handed and wanting nothing in return but His presence and the peace it offers. I can go to Him and allow my thoughts to stop racing, my head to stop spinning and simply be still.

I haven’t taken an entire snow day just yet but it is coming! In fact, I am making them a priority in the New Year! The peace I find in His presence will inevitably transfer over to my family and we will all be better for it.

My mental and spiritual health are just as vital as making sure homework gets done and helping Lan prepare for End of Course Tests that will culminate his school year. I just have to remember that and have enough discipline to seek my Father, often.

So if you are like me, probably stressing more than you should and finding more and more things you think you need to do…stop!

Turn to God and listen to Him. Take some time to be still. He will tell you what you need to do to succeed on the path He has allowed before you.

Sometimes the best success comes from doing less!

Snow days aren’t just for kids. Sometimes grown-ups need one too!

“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.” Matthew 11:28-29 NKJV