Tag Archives: high school

Toy Soldiers!

RCHS BAND 2015 LANDON GODAUTISMANDME 12-2015When I first saw the kids in their band uniforms the first thing that came to mind was toy soldiers. I’ve always been fascinated with them, ever mesmerized by all the Nut Crackers scattered about this time of year. The march of the toy soldiers from the old Disney Classic Babes in Toyland must have really made an impression on me. Somehow toys and life in general seemed a lot simpler then.

Now that I’m a grown up, my “Toy Soldiers” require a lot more than a few turns of a key to keep them going. People always say how parenthood changes you. As a new parent, you nod your head and think defiantly, yeah that’s what you say but none of that will ever apply to me.

Fast forward seventeen years. The children I once thought would never take over my life have inevitably taken over my life. Nearly every decision is made based on its impact on them. My “babes” that were so easily shuttled around and slung on my hip are now at least a foot taller than me and have schedules of their own. Winding them up and letting them go would be easy but life is not like that.

We can’t control our kids. We like to think we can but we really can’t.

Their thoughts are their own. We contribute to their development, but never control it. They are their own unique little beings individually and purposefully made.

Kids can be moody. They have good days and bad just like us. Pleasing their parents isn’t always priority. Children have agendas and interests of their own.  Imagine that!

My children have taught me how to bend without breaking. They have pulled me so far out of my comfort zone I no longer know what that is.  They have shown me how to laugh instead of cry. They have forced me to learn how strong I can be and that my weaknesses don’t weigh me down. They love me with all my imperfections and have taught me how to do the same.

RCHS BAND 2015-16 CamI’ve heard it said God sent His Son to earth not only to save us but to experience every imaginable emotion and pain. I think to some extent our children do that for us. Our kids make us love like we’ve never loved before. They also cause us to pray like we’ve never prayed before.

It would be easier if I could wind them up and they would obey my every command. But what growth would come out of that? For them or me?

In this season of giving, give thanks for the gift of children. Parenting is not easy. At times, it is brutally hard. However, we never have to go it alone. Even when it didn’t feel like it, God was there every step of the way.

God can do the same for you.

Merry Christmas!

Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. Psalm 127:3 NIV

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Take A Break!

Even busy bees need a break.

Take a break featured photo 2 God autism and me 10-2015 devotionalI found this bee napping in my flower pot. He was very much alive, just resting.

We had a chance to rest this past week as my kids enjoyed their Fall Break. And I must admit, I enjoyed it too!

The break relieved me and my husband from our normal sleuthing duties of determining if there is homework, has the homework been done, and you have how many exams this week?!

There was no morning rush to get out of the house on time and with everything essential.

Staying up late to finish homework?  Didn’t miss that either. Band practices that linger into the night?

Pleasantly absent.

Lan enjoyed his “vacation.” He could always study more for sure but at a certain point enough is enough.

The progress report he will receive upon returning to school Tuesday isn’t half bad. It’s not exceptional, but at this point “not bad” is great!

You see, this is a year to“stretch” for Landon. He is accountable for much more such as harder classes, band competitions, the practices that go with them, in addition to those other things we are trying to impart in him to make him more mature and self-reliant.

As he watches his older brother prepare college applications, Lan is increasingly giving thought to his future. He has made it very clear on many occasions he doesn’t plan on living with me and my husband.

We’ve told him that goal will take maturity, growth and much effort on his part. His response has been to act more mature and look at a larger picture he’s never bothered to view before. Trying to get him to this goal has put us all in a whirlwind it seems.

Yet, sometimes when so much is required of us and it feels like everything is swirling around in every direction, the only way to get on top is to stop.

Stop running.

Stop worrying.

Stop relying solely on our own abilities.

We can’t continuously go, go, go if we don’t take time to recoup and recharge.

We often push our loved ones so they can do more and be more but those efforts must be balanced.

BALANCING ACT BLESSED DEVOTIONAL 9-2015There have been times in my life were I wasn’t balanced at all. My sense of urgency didn’t move Lan any farther ahead. In fact, it was when I finally relinquished the control I “thought” I had that we both made huge gains for the better.

So if you haven’t been given a break, take one.

When our final days do come, I doubt any of us will wish we spent more time running around like crazy people trying to meet arbitrary goals dictated by people we will never meet.

Instead, take time to appreciate the color of fall leaves.

Live in moments of laughter.

Cast your cares.

Be still.

Rest.

Follow God’s example. If He took time to rest, we should too!

And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Genesis 2:2 NKJV

Exempt!

Junior year has been one of conquests and challenges. Lan conquered the trials of marching band. He not only survived but thrives in the experience.

Yet, challenges loom as well. Lan is in harder classes this year. Thankfully, his teachers wants him to succeed as much as we do.

The most daunting challenge was getting Lan’s class schedule “fixed.”  

Last year, I proactively met with Lan’s counselor to ensure that his classes were appropriate. The counselor suggested anatomy instead of chemistry. Lan has already taken the mandatory sciences required to graduate. We thought it was a great plan.

Well, about three weeks ago we learned Lan was in the “wrong” anatomy class!

When he came home saying he needed scrubs for lab, I knew something was not right. Apparently someone enrolled him into the class for kids pursuing a degree in healthcare.

Panicked, we contacted the school and they changed his class. I figured we would muddle through catching up on the five weeks he missed.

I was not looking forward to it.

Another week later my husband meets with the “new” anatomy teacher. We learn his class is identical to the one Lan just left! The new teacher changed the scope of his class to mirror the other class.

Out of the furnace into the fire.

Eventually, we get Landon placed in an Environmental Science class. I ask him about his teacher. The only answer I get is “She’s cool.”

Visions of late nights, unending homework and struggling to catch up haunt me. I ask if his teacher gave him any work to start on so we can catch up.

He looks at me with a pained face and utters, “She exempted me.”

I nearly shout for joy.

He is responsible for learning the material but she isn’t going to make him to complete past assignments.

Webster’s defines exempt as “being free or released from some liability or requirement.”

Grace and mercy came to mind.

Grace kept me sane as we went back and forth with the school.

Grace kept Lan’s biggest advocate at the school long enough to get this rectified. She informed us yesterday she’s leaving for a promotion.

Grace is what the ES teacher gave my child when others couldn’t be bothered.

Exempt God autism and me 9-2015Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:16 NKJV

I admit that there have been times I didn’t go boldly to the throne.

I may have been drug there.

Hopefully, I’m wiser now.

I never doubted God would resolve our “dilemma,” I just wasn’t expecting a painless resolution.

Merciful.

Our scheduling fiasco was a timely lesson not to anticipate the worst, but to instead acknowledge and receive God’s grace in all situations.

I must also remember to give grace as eagerly as I receive it.

Schools in!

May the Lord make me eager to learn.

Upperclassmen!

The heart of the prudent acquires knowledge, And the ear of the wise seeks knowledge. Proverbs 18:15 NKJV

My kids just left the house for their first day of school. It is the last year they will do so together. This year, there are no first day jitters (for them or me). The transition to upperclassman is quite welcome.

Lan’s head is up with confidence. In fact, I think he is relishing no longer being handled with “kid gloves.” I’ve finally learned I don’t have to micro manage every detail.

Upperclassman God autism and me 8-2015He will be in the same music class as his brother so that should be…interesting!

They have both done well “detaching” their identities from one another. Yet, I hope this year as they share their marching band experience it will leave them closer than before.

We’ve both come a long way from that first day of high school when I started this blog. We have stretched a bit and hopefully grown wiser.

So, for those of you anxious about your school year, here are a few things I learned along our walk along the spectrum.

God can provide exactly what you need. It may not come how you expect it but any void that is lacking God can surely fill. God put the people we needed in our lives years before we really needed them. If you have faith, God will direct your steps.

There are angels among us. We have received favor and help from the least likely of sources. The people you think will ignore your child will later go to bat for him. Teachers, support staff, janitorial and other students all helped us along the way.

Advocate for your child. No one is going the extra mile if you aren’t leading the way.

Your worse fears rarely materialize. I am ever prayerful. I am also ever watchful! We’ve had to navigate a few bullies, but we survived unharmed.

Be involved! If you can’t be involved then don’t be a stranger. If your first time at school is due to a problem, rarely will things go your way.

Cut yourself some slack. If your child falters in some area it isn’t the end of the world. Stressing out only makes it worse.

Be willing to change. What worked one year won’t necessarily work the next. Kids grow and change just like we do. Don’t waste time trying to reclaim yesterday.

Utilize your resources. Lan has been the only student in tutoring class many times. On the upside, it got him one on one instruction!

Learn to step back. You will never know what your child can do if you don’t allow him to succeed and fail. This was hard for me. Still, Lan learned to thrive and not just survive!

Lan learned to work smarter.

My faith stretched farther.

My youngest wasn’t the only one learning these past two years.

And for that, I am grateful.  

God, autism and me Upperclassman 2 8-2015If 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

March On!

Lan completed a daunting band camp last week. To say he was thrilled is an understatement. Last week’s practice involved twelve hour days that quite frankly I wasn’t sure he would endure.

However, older brother said Lan managed just fine and didn’t once complain about the scorching temperatures. I guess all those years of karate strengthened his body and God miraculously managed the rest. Lan was probably the only kid disappointed that the rigorous camp did not continue into the next week!

Years ago, camp with a hundred or more students would have been unthinkable. Now, many years later, it’s no big deal.

I think as we pray for the changes we desire that will help our kids succeed, we often feel disappointed because we don’t always see the changes.

Still, just has the calm surface of a lake hides the activity beneath, our loved ones can change mentally and emotional as we are none the wiser. When we don’t see the changes we seek, it doesn’t mean they aren’t taking place. Just as we don’t always “see” God, it doesn’t mean He is not in our midst.

MARCH ON 2 GOD AUTISM AND ME DEVOTIONAL 7-15Talents and interests we may be completely unaware of may actually become a catalyst for change. I probably didn’t realize just how much Lan enjoyed music until a few short years ago. Now his musical interest has given him the opportunity to become a participant in something larger than himself and to do so successfully.

Marching band is an enjoyable physical outlet that forces Lan to stay focused on the expectations of good grades and study skills required for his participation. More and more, he is beginning to realize just how capable he is.

I’m not sure if Lan will follow a “traditional” path of high school and then straight to college. Nevertheless, I hope his love for music and art will find him a place where he can not only develop his talents but even get paid for them.

Do I have concerns about his future?

Most certainly I do.

However, I am learning to step out of fear and look forward to whatever God would do with Lan and through him.

Could I have imagined his current success all those years ago when school left us both in tears?

Not even close.

Yet, prayer and faith have opened doors we never would have dared knocked on before.

As God has been faithful in so many things, I must trust Him with our future.

Prayerfully anticipating whatever lies ahead, Lan and I simply march on!

I returned and saw under the sun that—
The race is not to the swift,
Nor the battle to the strong,
Nor bread to the wise,
Nor riches to men of understanding,
Nor favor to men of skill;
But time and chance happen to them all.  Ecclesiastes 9:11 NKJV

Looking in From the Outside…

When Lan was younger, I often worried about him. Not merely about his development, but also his loneliness.

He and his brother shared common friends in elementary school. But as their friends grew older, their interests drifted toward those things middle school kids do. However, Lan’s interests remained with Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers or whatever he deemed cool at the time.

Lan’s longtime friends looked out for him in school for sure, but they didn’t “hang” with him.  Very few called to ask if he could come over or go places with them. This became more apparent as his older brother accepted invitations from kids while Lan remained at home.

I think we can all relate to being an “outsider.”

Maybe you’ve been the new guy on the job or moved cross country without knowing a soul. There may be times you don’t get the joke. Yet, most of us can eventually move from the outside in.

Being an outsider can hurt. It often lasts longer than expected. When Lan was first diagnosed with that vague “pervasive developmental disorder” I certainly felt alone.

Who could understand my wants and fears while watching other kids move along carefree?

God understood.

His child was viewed as an “outsider.” Jesus didn’t talk like everyone else. He saw things differently. He broke the rules. Even as part of a larger plan, I can’t believe any parent is “okay” watching their child suffer or hurt.

Not even God.

I don’t doubt God was with us even when it didn’t feel like it. I’ve learned feelings can be deceptive. I don’t allow them to smother my faith!

Yes, Lan and I were a bit melancholy that first year of high school. I was standing in faith that God would bless him with one “good friend” his freshman year. Despite my prayers, that didn’t happen.

I now realize that first year “alone” was a blessing in disguise. Or, more accurately, a lesson in disguise.

I initially feared Lan would be taken advantage of in high school. I didn’t want him blindly following others just to be included. Instead, that first year taught Lan he could live on the “outside” and still be okay.

I also learned that lesson.

My normal doesn’t have to mirror everyone else. We can deal with autism. Our lives may be a bit different from the “norm” but then again what is normal?

God was with us.

We were never really alone. We didn’t break under the pain. Crack?

Maybe.

However, we are still in one piece and Lan is lonely no more!

Lan spent yesterday at an arcade with his best friend. They met this school year in a visual arts class. They both have their quirks. They “get” each other. They have a shared love for “Hero Up!” and its superheroes. There is no need to “conform” when they are together.  DSC_2934 (3)

God is good like that. His timing is perfect.

So whatever you are going through, remember you don’t have to go it alone. God is the Father we can run to! Better yet, God carries us until we find the strength to walk again.

It is often the loneliest times that make us stronger.

And should you see someone peering in toward you, show a little love! Act on that urge to take the new guy out to lunch. Stop and say hello to the new neighbor. You don’t have to move out of your comfort zone.

Sometimes, all God really wants is for us to let someone into ours.

“A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother,” Proverbs 18:24 NKJV

 

Face Forward!

“Don’t let something in the past trip you up!”

I read those words on a church sign driving home last night. Not scripture, but wise words nonetheless.

Sometimes we can allow a loss to make us lose sight of all we have gained.

At other times we would do well to change things up a bit and break away from the familiar and open ourselves up to something fresh and new.

Just because something was, doesn’t mean it always will be.

Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.”  Psalm 30:5 NKJV

In the past, I was plagued with fear. Much of that concerned Lan’s future. He always struggled in school. The constant struggle was something I’d become accustomed to.

This year, through hard work and lots of prayer, has been different.

Yet, I found some old mindsets could still creep in. Doubt. Uncertainty.

I could become fixated on old struggles of just scraping by to earn the required credits.

Freshman biology with the toughest teacher in the school was a struggle. It is still fresh in my mind.

When I met with his guidance counselor last week, I was informed that chemistry was designated as his science for next year when Lan will be a junior.

Instead of looking forward, I was momentarily caught in the anxiety of the past. Lan’s study habits and grades have vastly improved. Yet, chemistry is unforgiving. It is absolute. Abstract.

I asked, solemnly, “Is chemistry required to graduate?”

The counselor’s answer was “No.”

Freshman biology and the physical science Lan is currently taking will suffice for his “required” sciences. He can finish high school taking zoology and anatomy both of which will also help him with graphic design.

If I hadn’t asked, next year could have been very frustrating.

In the past, I wouldn’t have thought to ask if there was an alternative. I would have just accepted the status quo. And struggled.

“you do not have because you do not ask,” James 4:2 NKJV

Sometimes instead of allowing our experiences to make us wiser, we can allow them to encase us in fear. Fear paralyzes. It doesn’t allow us to look forward toward a positive future.  DSC_9566

Now, I’m motivated to explore opportunities as the nation slowly realizes there is a vast need for resources and alternatives in higher education.

One friend who is a university professor informed me there are individualized education programs for college students with special needs. Accommodations for people on the spectrum are increasing.

Instead of my “ideas” about the future, I am learning to trust God and allow Him to reveal His plan for Lan moment by moment.

This isn’t easy for me, but most things that are best for us are never easy. Or quickly revealed.

They require faith.

And in my case, the ability to leave past disappointments, struggles and preconceived notions behind me.

“Face forward.” That’s what Lan said to me last week. Not exactly scripture, but wise words nonetheless.

“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 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 3:12-14 NKJV