Tag Archives: garden

Independent!

Yesterday, my youngest who inspired this blog, was promptly deposited two hours away at Clemson University for a week of summer camp! This particular camp caters to kids on the spectrum giving them an opportunity to swim, fish, and enjoy all the beauty Lake Hartwell has to offer.

It was only a year ago when we were picking up my oldest from a university campus, that Lan asked “when will I get to go away to camp?”

“Ain’t gonna happen,” was the only thought that came to mind but I did manage to say, “when you are mature enough to go.”

Fast forward nine months and my husband finally found a camp that I did not have nightmares about counselors losing my child! After speaking to the coordinator in the spring, Lan did a “trial” weekend visit in March and had a grand time. His eagerness to go off on his own without an over-protective mother watching over him wasn’t lost on any of us.

His eagerness had not waned three months later as he bid my husband a hasty goodbye yesterday. I think the hubby was a bit wounded by Lan’s eagerness to see him leave!   blsd crepe myr 3

All of this makes me remember just how far we’ve come from the three-year old that hid behind me as we walked into a grocery store.  Lan is more and more eager to test the waters. He is less wary of strangers in social situations, more apt to say “hi!” He is definitely more willing to join in the fun.

My niece had her sweet sixteen party last month and I wondered if Lan would be sitting there bored all night and asking when he could go home. To our surprise Landon danced the entire night! When my husband called him over to sit for a minute, the other kids pulled him back on the floor. The best part of it was he had a wonderful time mingling, dancing and just being himself.

Having turned fifteen in May, we are seeing more and more of this independence break through. His fears are being replaced with a desire for freedom to find himself and not rely on us dictating his every move.

This also means I’ve got to let go more and allow him to try more, succeed or fail, if he is ever going to grow into the young man I have faith he can become.

I told him this week was an opportunity for him to prove how mature he is. Lan seemed up to the challenge. I think back on prayers answered slowly and oh so subtly.

And yes there have been those “high moments” like that sigh of relief when notified he did pass all of his classes this first year of high school. But some of the greatest miracles have been quiet. And still.

Those things like responsibility and initiative that we’ve harped on for years, we find that they’ve slowly…appeared.

Landon’s independence is the ultimate goal. I would so like to think that he will be just fine on his own when I’m no longer around to watch over him. I’d like to think that his older brother will not have to take on the role of the other parent,” years from now.

We’ve prayed and God has answered our prayers. My faith holds fast that my Father will answer many more.

So the next time Lan asks me when something is going to happen, I’ll do well to remember that with God anything can happen!

And for that I am grateful.

“Jesus said unto him, if thou canst believe, all things [are] possible to him that believeth.” Mark 9:23 KJV

Still!

I watched the dragonfly pictured above sit very patiently in my yard. As the shutter on my camera clicked, clicked, away. Its meal for the moment simply flew toward him and like that, breakfast was served.

God spoke to me in that moment.

My mind is often a wonder with things I think I should be doing to ensure that Lan will meet his “goals.”

We probably could have Lan previewing physical science and algebra II for the upcoming school year. Khan academy is waiting patiently for him to brush up on his math. I’m pretty confident he has not met my goal of reading one hour a day.

All of the “should be” and “could be” scenarios that roll around in my head dissolved as I studied this dragonfly, carefree and confident that what it needed to survive would make its way to him.

This dragonfly so delicate yet determined waited patiently and full of faith that his meal would find him! Why is it sometimes so difficult for us to believe God provides so generously for us as well?

Sometimes we just need a reminder, a real life example, to show us we don’t always need to hustle lest we suffer the dreaded fate of “falling behind.” God is enough.

God. Is. Enough.

God is well aware of my needs. He has met them more times than I can count. Why should I doubt that He won’t continue to do so?

There is no “quota” of goodness that will run out before I do. Our goals, IEPs and long list of “to dos” could be endless and frankly drive me crazy if I didn’t believe that God is enough.

I don’t have to worry. I don’t have to run around to make things “happen.” I have plenty of miracles on record to remind me that I should not be concerned that in this moment I’m not doing anything.

I will be responsible. I can also be still. I will be still and know that He is God. I will be still and allow my faith to please Him. I can honor God with my faith as I wait and expect a good outcome.

I will act as He directs instead of grasping at straws, my own flighty ideas or the next great idea that promises to help us along our spectrum journey.

And it is a journey. It had a beginning and I am confident it will have an end. A positive end!

God’s love for us has kept us thus far and will continue. He is faithful. So my faith should be too.

My dragonfly buddy reminds me to allow the sun to shine on me just as it was shining on him.  DSC_2890 (2)

The Son continues to shine. We will be alright. I can be calm. Peaceful.

I can be still.

“Listen to this, O Job; Stand still and consider the wondrous works of God.” Job 37:14 NKJV

“Be still, and know that I [am] God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalms 46:10 NKJV

“He calms the storm, So that its waves are still.” Psalms 107:29 NKJV

 

Happy Father’s Day

For all those Dads who manage through with IEPs and special needs,

Whose love lasts long, you look so strong when things around us feel so wrong.

I wish you peace and heartfelt love, God’s greatest gifts from up above

In gratitude for ALL you do, this special day is just for you.

 

“But now, O LORD you [are] our Father; We [are] the clay, and You our potter; And all we [are] the work of Your Hand.” Isaiah 64:8 NKJV

***Happy Father’s Day Rod! We love you

Let the Music Play!

As parents and caregivers of kids on the spectrum or any special need, we are often motivated, guided, or pushed toward focusing on those target skills our kids are lacking. We are often caught up in therapies, tutoring or trying to catch up to whatever norm “they” deem deficient in our children.

How different would our kid’s lives be if we could instead focus on their positives instead of always trying to compensate for those things regarded as negatives?

My youngest has generally struggled with school. He works hard. Really, really hard just to pass his classes which is especially frustrating as his older brother excels in school. Lan was very disappointed when his brother and childhood friends were off to the Magnet school and he simply could not join them.

However, Lan does have a talent for music in which his brother has been unable to best him. Both boys play piano along with other instruments. Yet, Lan has been gifted with “perfect pitch” something most musicians would love to have. Unlike other things that are difficult for him, anything musical comes much easier with a joy that surprisingly spreads to the people around him.

I started Lan in piano lessons as my version of occupational therapy. When he began writing in preschool, his fingers weren’t quite as strong as they should be. Piano lessons strengthened fingers that struggled to hold a pencil. Best of all, Lan enjoyed the lessons. Now, these same fingers draw intricate cartoon characters with very little effort. By focusing on what he could do, the door opened for another talent to emerge as well!DSC_7293 (2)

The more I hear incredible stories about so many kids on the spectrum and their thoughts, gifts and talents; the more I believe that everyone has something to give. Some people bring positive qualities out in others. Then there are others also on the spectrum blessed with things us “neurotypicals” can only dream of, skills or talents that often amaze and leave others speechless.

If only the time we spend during the school year striving to meet “goals” designated by other people, (I’m still trying to figure out who they are) could be used to cultivate those gems that lie dormant within, I wonder how many “atypicals” could more positively impact our world?

There are people whose gifts go unearthed because as a society we don’t prioritize searching those talents out. Instead we hammer people to conform.

I’ve seen a few miracles in the health care realm. I’m optimistic I’ll see many more with God’s grace and His power. The advances in science and technology lead me to believe there is so much more yet unseen. But we have to look for it!

So until “they” decide to focus on the person and not on an arbitrary set of goals and “normal” is designated for the individual instead of the masses, I will continue to encourage kids to search out and nurture the talents God gave them.  DSC_1350 (2)

If we don’t make searching out God’s gifts within our kids a priority, if we don’t build them up so they can unearth the beauty within and give them a sense of pride in what they can do instead of continually emphasizing what they can’t…who will?

As for me and my crew, we will continue to let the music play.

“The LORD [is] my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, And with my song I will praise Him.” Psalms 28:7 NKJV 

  

 

Look to His Light

 

Don’t let obstacles overshadow your blessings. When you step into His Light you will often find that the smallest of miracles are far greater than they appear.

“I have come [as] a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness,” John 12:46 NKJV

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Fragile!

I’m enjoying a plethora of blooms in my yard before the sweltering heat comes and takes hold of us here in the southeast. However, the slightest wind or harsh rains send petals all a flutter to the ground. As beautiful as the blooms are, their beauty fades quickly and doesn’t last.

Sometimes I feel just as fragile. I have the best of intentions. But sometimes my “to do” list just doesn’t get done. My mind sometimes swims through a list of things to do and should have done. Regret for lost time can intrude upon my progress and leave me feeling as helpless as my roses in the storm.

Or there are times when I’m okay but my children seem a bit battered and bruised. The struggle to meet or exceed expectations can wear them down.  Keeping them “up” and encouraged while trying to adhere to the same advice I give them is sometimes…hard.

We all go through times when we feel weak, weary and just need some relief. I’ve sometimes felt vulnerable and ready to wilt under changing demands and looming uncertainties

The picture posted above reminds me of the frailty of life.  We are often just as weak and helpless, susceptible to life’s storms.

Or are we?

The temporary highs in life are beautiful but they can’t last forever. Just like those frail blooms. It is the strong and pointed stems that support the fleeting beauty. The petals are soft but the thorns are sharp. Those painful thorns stems facilitate survival. Those stems support the blooms.

I think on this as I think back on how God has supported me through the years. It hasn’t always been pretty, but His love has never failed. Some situations were sticky. A few, quite painful. Yet through them all, God lifted us up and displayed His beauty often at times when I felt I was past done!

We don’t have to be strong all the time. We just have to be willing to be supported by Him. This will often leave us in a few prickly situations that can be painful. Some may even draw blood. But when we are supported by God, our strength then comes from Him!

When I feel fragile, it’s okay. I’m not dependent on my strength at all. God is supporting me, my trials, concerns and even my dreams. I don’t fear when one bloom fades. Trusting God eases my mind, pushes away my fears and reassures me that I don’t have to “feel” okay to be okay. There may be times when I look like I’m fading fast, but God holds me up!

Even when I’m spent, with Him lies the potential for future blooms.

“And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness…” 2 Corinthians 12:9

 

Lessons Learned!

“Those who are planted in the house of the LORD Shall flourish in the courts of our God,” Psalms 92:12

Tomorrow marks the last day of the school year. I began this blog in August upon Lan’s entry into high school. He was nervous. I was scared.

Ever thankful for God’s blessings along our way, I was still anxious and filled with trepidation about this new reality.

Well, we made it! One year down, three to go.

Lan’s last exam is today. He is doing well and should pass it without any problem. We are still waiting on test results from one EOCT (End of Course Test) for biology which is required to earn credit for the class. I am ever hopeful for a good result.

Since this blog practically began with his first day of school, I figured I’d share lessons I’ve learned this year.

Lesson number one, God really IS in control.

At the onset of the school year the huge crowds of kids were overwhelming. The para-pro assigned to assist Lan to his classes (the campus is large with several buildings) actually met my husband years ago.

I’m sure my husband had no idea of the role this gentleman would play in our lives. I am convinced the prior association worked to our advantage. The gentleman not only did his “job” but went above and beyond keeping us posted on how our guy was making out throughout the day. We deliberately sent Lan to this school because we knew the principal and counselor well. The para was an “extra” God through into the mix!

Lan didn’t require his help for long and after two weeks navigated on his own. Yet, I am forever grateful. It was one less thing I had to worry think about.

In addition, Lan had the same geography teacher who taught my oldest son last year. My husband established a great relationship with her then having no idea it would benefit us this year. God does order our steps!

Lesson number two, my kid is capable!

Lan’s teachers watched him come out of his nervous shell and become quite out-spoken! During the last IEP meeting, his math teacher played a video of him before the class explaining an algebraic problem and the steps to solve it.

My husband and I were floored. I’m convinced this kid has an alter-ego. His confidence increased under the care of supportive teachers. I suspect his charming demeanor didn’t hurt either.

Most significantly, Lan made new friends. Real friends. I often thought about him sitting alone at lunch. And for a while, he did.

But slowly, very slowly, he would mention who he ate with at lunch. One friend from middle school would join him on “odd” days when they shared the same schedule.

A new friend from the magnet school starting eating with him also. An upperclassman we know joined in “to watch out for him.” More kids from band class were eventually mentioned. Just last week, Lan told me he skipped eating lunch to sit with his friends and talk instead. How about that?

We have had a few “blips” along the way. However, Lan learned from them and wasn’t defeated. He is no longer upset I didn’t allow him to attend the school he is zoned for. He’s found friends at his school. I asked him recently how he felt about this first year of high school. I finally got the reaction I’d hoped for, “I like it.”

 Lesson number three, Iet go a little.

I am a micro-manage mom. I’m ever working on that, trying to allow both kids room to succeed and fail.  DSC_6962 (2)

Some lessons you only learn the hard way. Lan’s improving grades boosted his confidence. When he fails to study or prepare, he now feels the pain.

His social skills improved because I’m allowing more freedom to learn what works and what doesn’t. At the awards ceremony he didn’t sit with me or my husband. He founds his friends. At the band banquet my husband laughed that Lan quickly left him in a cloud of dust and had a ball.

Without me hovering, he can relax and figure it out. Lan will get the chance to relax for an entire week of summer camp at Clemson University. Last year when he asked about going away like his brother, I was like “not happening” in my brain. Well, a year later he’ll be off on his own adventure.

Sometimes I want to intervene but God says no, let Lan figure it out. And let Him guide my child.

I can’t always be there for Lan. But God can. I trust Him Who can do more for my child than I am able to provide.

Lesson number four, sometimes I just need to get out-of-the-way and let God be God. DSC_6420

 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

 

Late Bloomers!

I love my garden. The cooler days of fall have left me longing for fresh winter blooms as my summer selections faded.  However, last week I noticed fresh new blooms on one particular hydrangea plant.

My hydrangea have the potential to bloom through spring and into summer but usually give one large show in May and then swiftly fade away. Yet on one plant there are five fresh blooms in September!

I had not done anything in particular to this plant to facilitate such a thing and I wonder if that is why it bloomed. It may sound crazy to some but God talks to me in the strangest of ways and I believe my perfect powder blue blooms are there to ease my doubts and fears about those things so completely out of my control.

Sometimes parents try to manipulate and prod their children to perform based on outside expectations. In my own experiences with autism I am very guilty of this as well. However, God holds the perfect timing for everyone and everything right down to when flowers bloom.

Some flowers bloom early and are killed off by frost. Their timing isn’t just right and they fail to enjoy the full luster of their season. Others bloom later than expected and instead of becoming lost in the multitude of blossoms, they are showcased all by themselves, standing out that much more because they did not conform to an expected schedule.

My singular blooms wouldn’t have caught my attention if mixed in along dozens of others just months ago. Yet, in their solitude I can appreciate each and every one. I can appreciate them so much more because they were not expected.

I am now at peace that my many personal expectations will not be met on my time-table but on God’s instead. I have finally learned His timing is always perfect and it makes the miracle that much more. More amazing! More appreciated! More marvelous!

My new blooms remind me that timing is relative. I don’t have to get myself frantic and panicked when my kids (or other things for that matter) aren’t moving along when expected, especially on someone else’s schedule. Schedules can be arbitrary.  Growth charts, developmental analysis and mainstream medicine don’t have the Ultimate say in my eventual outcome.

Only God’s timing, which is always perfect timing, is all I really need.

Autism has taught me that, though I admit I can sometimes forget. God gave me my late bloomers to remind me that He is in control and that oftentimes the most pleasant surprises come when you aren’t expecting them at all.

I’ve seen my fair share of miracles and am yet hopeful for even more! At times when I’ve feared my kids were losing ground or were at a standstill, their eventual and accelerated growth was even more so celebrated!

We are all too some extent liken to plants in God’s great garden. Some people bloom quickly only to fade away just as fast. Some are slow to mature only to later bring sustained and dependable beauty. And now and again there are those few plants over to the side that don’t appear to have that much going on, but when you least expect it and out of their scheduled “season” will shine and stand out among the rest!

I have relinquished to God my expectations of time. Autism has tempered the “control freak” that once consumed me.  I cast my cares over to God and allow Him take them from there.

I can now pray, prepare and wait with expectation instead of frustration.

My faith has not failed me and God’s grace remains unending. I have a confidence and peace that I cling to as I travel this adventure in autism.

Just like my flowers, I am surprised at my miracles that “bloom” unexpectedly and out of season, yet their sweet reward makes me appreciate God’s grace that much more!