Tag Archives: grace

Do My Shoes Match?

As Lan is making it along in his first year of high school he is becoming ever so aware of other people’s perceptions. Somewhere along the line he has matured away from the kid who wanted to wear a sweater in the summer and shorts in the winter into someone with a true desire to be “handsome.” His word, not mine!

I find this kind of comical. Teenagers are often very self-aware and insecure about their looks, dress and a number of other things. Lan has for the most part been oblivious to all of this…until now.

He wants his shoes to match his clothes. He has even taken to swiping some of his older brother’s “cooler” clothes. No big deal for most but I am proud of him for his increased awareness of the people and things around him and his at urge to at some extent blend into the “normalcy” that surrounds him.

I have at times often wondered through the years when some major “turning point” would occur. I’ve prayed about certain things and then forgot that I prayed about them having prayed so much for one thing or another.

Progress begins in steps. Lan continues to make gains, some large and some small.  God faithfully answers my prayers, even those long forgotten.

Simple things like dressing himself appropriately and other social cues that were once so foreign to him are steadily creeping into his consciousness.

I still have a long list of things I’d like to see Lan progress in. I will admit dressing appropriately isn’t even in the top twenty. However, I am grateful for this accomplishment even though I almost “missed it,” not realizing he hadn’t asked me or his father for clothes in months! We always picked his clothes out for him but somewhere along the line he began doing it for himself and doing a very good job at that!

Sometimes our minds are so fixated on the “major tasks” we are trying to carry out that we miss those minor milestones along the way. I am grateful for my blessings, truly celebrating all the gains and successes we have had this year. My every prayer has not been answered, but I have hope and faith that God is not done with us yet!

We are blessed beyond measure even as the ASD hovers in the background. I won’t allow “autism” to rob us of our peace or joy. It only serves as a point of reference for where we were to where we are now.

We are blessed in spite of diagnoses, IEPs, and a few social hiccups.

I’m grateful for gains socially, mentally, and even physically this year. Lan is building up both mind and body going with his dad to “la fitness” as he calls it.  This child who was once weak and so uncoordinated is now hanging tough with his dad on the treadmill, elliptical and bench press. I never could have imagined this years ago!

Lan has friends at school who are nice to him. His new school is no longer a source of anxiety. High school has at least been embarked upon even if not fully conquered.

So much to be grateful for!  Too many blessings to count. God is faithful even when I fail. He lifts us up when we are weak. He has provided us with angels here on earth.

Celebrate this season giving thanks for blessings large and small. I am grateful even for those small things that don’t really matter in life.

I’m grateful his shoes actually match!

Progress Report!

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things [are] noble, whatever things [are] just, whatever things [are] pure, whatever things [are] love, whatever things [are] of good report, if [there is] any virtue and if [there is] anything praiseworthymediate on these things,” Philippians 4:8 NKJV

Last week both boys brought home their mid-term progress reports from school. Lan called me while I was at work with a slight tremor in his voice. His report wasn’t awful but it wasn’t great either. His grade in two major classes dropped and he was well aware I would not be pleased.

He rattled off his grades tentatively and I succinctly told him I knew he could do better and would do better. He wasn’t grounded. I reminded him that as long as he did his very best I would always be pleased with his work.

Now, that is a huge change from the “old me” of just a couple of years ago. Both boys could definitely put a little more effort into their schoolwork but it isn’t a matter of life and death. Having received a bad report in matters of life and death has definitely put things in perspective.

It is two years ago now that my oldest son, the one without an ASD diagnosis, went to the doctor. He had a funky skin rash that began in October. It gradually spread. Nothing would cure it.

In November, my husband took him to the dermatologist, the earliest appointment he could get. The doctor very matter of fact admitted she didn’t know what it was. I appreciated her honesty, but I thought that was rather odd. I got a funny feeling in my gut, the kind you want to dismiss, but just won’t quite go away.

I was expecting them to leave the appointment with prescriptions for antibiotics and a topical cream. Instead, my oldest left with a small plug of skin taken out of his arm. The biopsy was sent off for analysis.

It wasn’t until two days after Christmas I found myself on the phone with the physician who sat with my son and husband in her office as she explained the diagnosis, a diagnosis that affects one in five million people. My husband was wise enough to have her call me as his head was reeling. After the dermatologist ran through the possible scenarios (including chemotherapy) I vividly remember standing dumbfounded in my kitchen trying to decipher the boatload of information that had been dumped on me. I remember crying and walking around in circles but I also remember very vividly screaming as loud as I could “I will not receive a bad report!”

I heard the dermatologist. I respected her opinion. But I wasn’t going to receive that finality in my spirit in regard to my son. And God heard me.

I prayed. I solicited the prayers of family and friends who had their entire churches and Sunday school classes praying for my child. I knew that whatever we had to endure, we would get through it.

Thankfully, we had only to endure a battery of tests. His skin was affected but not his internal organs. His brain was fine. We didn’t get the final “all clear” until February. It was a harrowing ordeal for any parent. I was forced to examine if I’d put so much energy into one child to the neglect and detriment of the other.

So many questions, but God is faithful. We learned some things through our experience. We endured. Matured.

That experience allows me to put my “bad reports” whatever they are in perspective. Two years later and that time is still so fresh in my mind. I don’t want to ever forget it. I learned things aren’t always as they seem. God doesn’t want us to have faith in what we see or hear but instead in His power.

During that trying time I thought about all the miracles God had done for my family. I thought about the positives, the joys and undeserved blessings. I meditated on God’s grace toward us every time a negative thought would try to break me. It wasn’t easy, but a very deliberate decision on my part. God is pleased when we look at Him instead of our obstacles.

Numbers 13-14 teaches of how eight of the ten spies Moses sent out brought back a “bad report.” They could not see the potential in the land promised to them by God, only the enemies who possessed it. Furthermore, they gave a bad report to the other Israelites causing them to long for Egypt, the very place they had been in bondage.

How often do we look back to the familiar, even when it is to our detriment, because our present obstacles look insurmountable?

Only Caleb and Joshua, the spies who gave the “good report,” made it into the Promised Land with the descendants of those who died. God was so displeased with the Israelites’ lack of faith; He caused them to die in the wilderness. These are the same people who witnessed miracles that freed them and walked through the Red Sea! These were the same people who ate manna from Heaven! These same people would not allow the miracles of their past to fuel the faith for their future.

I don’t want to make that same mistake.

So, we may have hit a bump in the road with grades but I’m by no means accepting it as the “end all” for either child. I have faith in what God can do with them and in them. I have witnessed miracles with both my children. I may not have all the answers but I am confident that I don’t have to.

I look at the neatly typed papers from the county office and see them for what they are…merely progress reports. Not a definition of my parenting skills or a proclamation of my children’s future. I once would have been infuriated with less than the best. I am now… patiently waiting. We are all progressing toward God’s plans for us.

I am not going to analyze, criticize, and run all of us ragged as I used to.  Instead, I think about the great gains Lan has made thus far this year, successes I didn’t anticipate so soon. I’m proud of how Cam has been able to handle his classes along with the rigors of marching band. I focus on the good.

God’s got it, whatever my “it” is at any given moment.  Only His report truly matters!

Focus!

As the mom of a son with an ASD diagnosis I am constantly telling him to focus. At times when he is running around all loosey goosey and flying free as a bird I have to remind him to concentrate on the task at hand. Sometimes when we are so fixated on getting our kids on their proper path, we as parents fail to do that very thing.

I have at times been so frazzled with all the different scenarios and possibilities that are years in the future I have failed to focus. When I allow room for half a dozen priorities and possibilities to simultaneously rattle around in my head I don’t accomplish that much. The time I could have spent being productive leaves me instead with half a dozen half done things. I have since learned that my key to sanity is to focus.

We have been programmed by modern society to think that we should be able to do all things all the time. I’m a good multi-tasker but there comes a time when I need to cut away the extraneous things that engulf my attention and concentrate on the task at hand. The misguided notion that I should be the ideal spouse, mother, friend, employee and whatever else all at the same time is now ludicrous to me. I could do a dozen things all at once but not nearly with the precision or accuracy that I would have them done.

When I finally learned to focus on what the Spirit was prompting me to do instead of what I thought I needed to do, I found a peace and productivity that had alluded me before. Focusing on what God would have me to do in that moment instead of worrying about what could be or what should be gave me the grace to actually accomplish some things.

My God/gut instinct has never failed me. It is only when I’ve been headstrong trying to do too many things all at once that I have regretted my choices.

When I’m not flustered I can concentrate on keeping my child organized and orderly. Our kids take their cues from us. If I’m a mental wreck he picks up on it, more so than most, because he is a sensitive child. Lan tunes into emotions and sensitivities with a tenderness not seen in most people.

I have learned I need to keep it together if we are to both progress. I haven’t always been successful in doing this but I’m much more so than years ago! I’m no longer having those mental meltdowns that trigger his tears! And yes it did take years, prayer and maturity on both our parts but we are definitely in a better place now as we journey along.

I have learned to focus on the present. It has been said that half the things people worry about never come to pass. That amounts to a lot of wasted energy. I’ve decided that I don’t have a lot to spare so I’m keeping what I have for when it’s really needed!

I determined my inability to focus was often founded in fear. Fear of what the future could hold for my child. Fear of failure as a parent. When I decided to rely on God instead of feeding my fears I gained peace that allowed me to abide instead of strive in vain.

“And the LORD He [is] the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed,” Deuteronomy 31:8 NKJV.

“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

When my kids were young and got into trouble I would ask them, “have you lost your mind?” One day a very repentant Lan surprised me, “Mom, I found my mind,” when he determined what should be his proper behavior. I guess I can say I found mine too.

When you focus on your blessings your problems don’t loom as large. Focus on God and your test become testimonies. Focus on His faithfulness, not on your own shortcomings.

I’m always prodding my child to focus, stay on task and stay the course. I’m so blessed that our Father does the same for me.

Overwhelmed? Stressed? Depressed? Ask God to allow you to focus on what really matters. Take it (whatever it is) one step at a time. Don’t stress. Remember you are blessed. And then focus!