Tag Archives: hope

Camp Hope!

This past weekend I traveled to South Carolina to pick up my youngest from a week of summer camp. This was the very first time Lan had ever been away from home for that long and it was not with immediate family.

I admit to having a bit of apprehension, but he was eager to go. More than that, it appeared Lan was ready to go. The over-protective mom in me immediately imagined a dozen reasons why he would be better off at home when the idea of camp first surfaced. The very idea of sending him anywhere for a week no matter how competent the staff was incomprehensible.

But God has a funny way of making me eat my words. The “ain’t gonna happen” that played in my head actually happened and with stunning results!

My “little man” though he now towers over me, appeared cool and confident when we arrived to pick him up. He had made new friends, other kids were calling for him and he simply adored his counselors.

I realized a few days later when we were back at home that Lan appeared a bit more confident. He stood a bit taller and dare I say even acted more mature.

According to his counselors, Lan was able to show off his art skills drawing pictures for them in addition to a mural of college mascots on one walkway in chalk. His art is something Lan does well and could share with others. It is something he could share and take pride in!

I have often been a stickler for structure and routine, years ago learning structure curtailed chaos and calamity. Meltdowns (mine and his) were minimized when we didn’t deviate from the norm.

However, I now realize that when we dare to open ourselves us to new possibilities and ideas that we once shunned, good things are possible. I’ve learned that for Lan to grow as I pray he will, we are going to have to step out of the comfort zone more often (mine more so than his) and simply see what happens.

Camp Hope actually sparked hope in me for what possibilities the future can hold. I now realize I hadn’t been exactly looking toward the future as much as dreading it in regard to potential opportunities for my child.

Thankfully, the camp counselors once again ignited my faith in people, the kind of people who give kids like mine a chance to be the people God created them to be!

Lan returned from camp confident, optimistic and a wee bit taller than when he left. He readily let it be known that he wants to return next year. I quickly agreed that it is probably a good idea.

I received not only a content teenager on Saturday but a renewed hope and faith for the future as well.  

At the end of the day, Camp Hope made us both “happy campers!”

“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God,” Psalm 42:5 NIV

 

 

 

Advertisements

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

DSC_9862 (2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hang In There!

I had the luxury today of spending time in my garden. I didn’t have to do anything but enjoy a welcome visitor. As I enjoyed the pleasant breeze, my friend pictured above struggled to hold on!

Yet, he didn’t particularly seem to mind as he went about observing me as much as I observed him. He knew exactly what to do to keep stable, grounded and not subject himself to wavering in the wind.

I thought about that for a moment. This last couple of weeks left me feeling like I was just holding on. With standardized testing, finals and all the other stuff that comes along with two teenagers and the end of the school year, I felt at risk of losing my grip (and maybe my mind) at any moment!

Like the dragonfly, I should have been quick to hunker down and hold on to my support. God has proven faithful more times than I can count. Yet, sometimes I find myself in the scurry mode of trying to do, do, do when I should just cling to Him and rest instead.    DSC_7885 (2)

When we have done all we can, I think many of us find ourselves at a loss and look for more to do. Instead of looking to do more, I’m convinced there are times God doesn’t want us to do anything at all but cling to Him.  When we are mature enough to realize we have done all we can and allow Him to do all He can, situations we have no control over lose their control over us!

I’m finished with the hustle of the school year for ten glorious weeks. Many of you who read this blog have a couple more to go. Even if it isn’t the end of school you’re counting down, we all have something that we are waiting on or hoping for.

I urge you to hang in there with all that you have! Your strong winds will eventually pass. Peace will come once again. Often when things look grim up to the end, God is faithful! He makes possible those things many fear are impossible.

When it looks like the end, praise God for what He has done. When it does not look good, thank Him for what He is doing. Look back and remember where you were and thank Him for getting you where you are now. Sometimes there isn’t anything more to do but hang in there with a faith that refuses to fade.

 “But [as for] you, brethren, do not grow weary [in] doing good.” 2 Thessalonians 3:13 NKJV

“There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.” Hebrews 4:9-11 NKJV

**A very special thanks for those of you who prayed for us and a good conclusion to this first year of high school. Lan passed ALL of his classes! With much prayer, hard work, the help of teachers who tutored him and lots of “tough love” he ended the semester with a 3.00 g.p.a. We’ve come a long way with many miles to go, but we hang in there!

Beauty in the Muck

There have been times in life that I was so busy anticipating potential dangers, that I failed to see the beauty right around me. Last week while working in my garden I was keeping such a keen eye out for snakes (I loathe snakes) that I almost missed the beautiful butterfly in my midst. Sometimes when we are so focused on one negative, it blinds us to the greater number of positives right in front of us.

As the parent of a kid on the spectrum, I have on occasion caught myself anticipating what “could happen” all the while oblivious to what is happening.

Lan will complete his first year of high school in just a few weeks. We are now in the midst of “test anxiety” though trying hard to keep it at a minimum. Failure to pass these exams will mean a summer of trying to restore these credits. “Credit restoration” would play havoc with summer travel plans let alone the struggle of shuttling him back and forth to school.

Lan’s teachers are proud of his work in class. He does better than many of the neuro-typicals in his classes. Yet, Lan has never excelled at standardized testing. Challenging for most, to a kid with attention deficits these exams are a very steep uphill battle.

As an ever recovering control freak, I fight my fears realizing his exams and other things lie well beyond my control. Instead of focusing on the pessimistic what ifs, I am ever searching and sometimes struggling to count my blessings now.

I am grateful this first year of high school has been a success. We had no traumatic events as I’d feared the beginning of the year. Lan’s teachers have been receptive and accommodating. Many students are quite kind to him and often act on his behalf. Lan has made a few friends. He has thrived under the direction of his band teacher. Lan is no longer nervous about the huge crowds and even learned to maneuver them well. As of last week, he no longer meets the requirements for speech therapy services.

In the muck of IEPs, core curriculum and teenage angst, I can appreciate how far we’ve come when I take time to look for the beauty.

I was once so accustomed to looking for potential snakes (bullies, indifferent teachers, additional diagnoses) that I failed to see let alone appreciate the beauty that God poured before me. Now, I am ever grateful and continually search out the beauty in life.

If you feel mired down in your muck, I challenge you to look up from where comes my help. We don’t have to walk this journey alone. We don’t even have to orchestrate every step along the way.

God is willing, available and more than able.

“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. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:29-30 NKJV

“To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” Isaiah 61:3 NKJV

 

He is Faithful!

I planted the azalea pictured above nearly fourteen years ago. I was all excited as we had moved into a new home and my love for all things green made landscaping a priority. I planted three azaleas and looked forward to the beauty they would bring through the years.

Well the bounty of blooms promised twice yearly from the “encore” variety didn’t come to fruition. In fact, the plants did very little to expand beyond their original borders. No amount of water, fertilizer, sun or shade seemed enough to make these plants thrive. In fact, one actually died. My dreams for replicating the beauty of the azaleas that grace my mother’s yard quickly faded away. Out of options and ideas, I finally resolved to put my efforts elsewhere.

Well, last year, my azaleas bloomed. Nothing spectacular yet the surviving plants actually showed some signs of life. After a decade! I didn’t know what to think. These plants appeared lifeless for so long I’d forgotten what color blooms they originally promised. I’m sure I contemplated on more than one occasion to dig them up! Surprisingly, the deep magenta color is a perfect match for some phlox I’d planted nearby. The color scheme on that side of the yard looks very well orchestrated. Little do the neighbors know!

Well, a couple of days ago I walked outside to see the shrubs have tripled in width and doubled in height! What were once small dwarf sized shrubs are alive and thriving. At some point along the way, I’m pretty sure I’d prayed that these plants would live and bloom (yes, I even pray over my plants and grass). The funny thing is I’d made that petition to God so long ago, over a decade ago, that I’d completely forgotten all about it.  DSC_0043

However, God does not forget! His timing and our timing aren’t always the same, yet He is always faithful!

I like to think that if His faithfulness can apply to something as “minimal” as my landscaping, what more can God have in store for larger matters? And what prayers I have dared to pray in regard to my children!

So, if you are feeling that God hasn’t heard your prayers, He has. He hears them all large and small.

God is larger than my doubts and fears. God is greater than ASD. Through once forgotten magenta blooms, He cares and shows His love for me.

“Let us hold fast the confession of [our] hope without wavering, for He who promised [is] faithful,” Hebrews 10:23 NKJV

Camp Sunshine!

Last summer after depositing my oldest son on a college campus for a week-long camp, my youngest child who inspired this blog asked me, “When will I go away to camp?”
My reply was “we’ll see,” all the while on the inside I’m thinking to myself ain’t now waaaayy that’s happening.

Well, it happened.

That’s what I get for thinking in absolutes. God always has other plans.

Lan spent this weekend on his favorite college campus. Camp Sunshine is open for kids who may not be able to attend other camps. I had my reservations, or rather fears, that kept trying to creep into my mind. However, we are trying to foster more independence in Lan and he was more than eager to head off on his own!

For once, he wasn’t going somewhere under the shadow of and watchful eyes of his big brother. When they were younger the boys did most things as a pair. It was usually Cam and Lan. Now as they are older Cam often experiences things that Lan can not.

Lan is always asking when is it his turn?  

Lan’s turn came by the way of a beautiful campus with Lake Hartwell as a magnificent backdrop. He was free this weekend to laugh as loud as he wanted; there was no one around to temper his excitement. This kid was delightfully happy for the time to just be. He was free to be him, idiosyncrasies and all, under the warmth of the sun.

DSC_3073

There was no pressure to conform to the norm, no reason to curtail his excitement. There were no standards to measure him against others. If only he could have this luxury all the time?

But our society isn’t as forgiving as camp. It confines us to standards, norms and expectations. It pushes us ever toward goals and what it thinks we should be and how to behave.

I’m not advocating anarchy by any means but I wonder how much more the light inside my child could shine if he weren’t always under pressure to confine himself into someone else’s “box.” How much brilliance and creativity are snuffed out because society doesn’t always embrace creativity in others when it is packaged differently?

We should all be able to shine under the warmth of the sun free from expectations, scrutiny and the wayward glances of others. If only.

But with God we can shine and just be. He created us. There is no defect or deficiency under Him, only love. Love and acceptance of us just as we are.

There is an old hymn, Just As I Am, we used to sing in church when I was a child. I think my favorite stanza is as follows:

Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt;
Fightings within, and fears without,
O Lamb of God, I come I come!

This weekend provided not only an opportunity for Lan to shine at Camp Sunshine but it was also a reminder that we all can “just be” in God’s presence if only we would dare step out of our confines and into His warmth.

Many of us, especially us Christians, are so preoccupied about what we do (or don’t do, or what others are doing!) we fail to simply “be.”

We fail to be content. We fail to be at peace. We fail to be still be in His presence and allow God to simply and amazingly love us.

We should be joyful. We should be grateful. We should be peaceful.

The Son shines on whosoever will dare to step into the light. His light can transform us into the people we want to become if we would pause long enough and simply be with Him!

In His presence, are the answers we seek, faith and hope that renew, and the peace that passes understanding.

Lan knows how to just be and receive love. He knows how to enjoy the present without worry about the future! Lan trusted that his father would provide the overnight camp he wanted. 

I’m going to trust that my Father provides as generously for me as well!