Tag Archives: mental health

Bee Aware!

April is National Autism Awareness Month. Families, friends and other supporters will “light it up blue,” during the month of April to bring awareness to autism and its impact on all of us.

Some people say autism awareness is great and all but there isn’t anything the average person can do about it.

I beg to differ.

If you have a loved one with any special needs this advice isn’t new to you. However, you may want to share these tips with more than a few well-meaning people you know. One person really can make a difference.

If you can’t say anything nice, etc., etc.

Comments like “I don’t understand why that kid is crying,” or “they need to do something with that kid,” are unnecessary and can be very hurtful. Your casual observation about a situation you know nothing about can be the salt in a wound of someone barely holding on.  How about allowing that frazzled parent to check out ahead of you? Those random acts of kindness are priceless.

Money is good but time is priceless.

Offer to babysit for that parent, especially that single parent who has no one to help them. There is no need to panic fearing they will leave you helpless with their child. An offer of a couple of hours during nap time or in the evening can provide that parent (or grandparent) time to think, get a coffee or effortlessly run to the store. These are things most of us easily do and take for granted.

Don’t compare.

Everything doesn’t work for everybody. I’ve yet to meet many parents who have left any stone unturned trying to find the best therapy for their child. Most parents are already under a lot of stress.  A special needs child can amplify that. Don’t suggest the parent isn’t doing all he or she can possibly do.

Just don’t.

Be inclusive.

Instead of worrying that a child may disrupt your plans for the “perfect”birthday party, think about how inviting that child can be a blessing and a teachable moment for your child, far more valuable than any physical gift.

Many kids with neurological disorders are often excluded from social activities because other parents don’t know what to expect when they arrive. I’ve found through the years children tend to be a lot more accepting than adults.

I challenge you to ask.

Simply asking if a child might enjoy attending lets that family know you are thinking of them. Even if the child can’t attend, parents appreciate the gesture. I’ve watched firsthand how one child feels as his sibling goes off with other kids.

This is hardly a comprehensive list, but at least a few points to think about.

I’ve learned a lot on this journey with autism. I used to be that lady standing in the grocery line wondering “why is that kid screaming?” Now, I no longer question it and whisper a prayer for grace and mercy instead.

This month, think about what you can do to lighten the load for a family near you!

If 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

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Life Is A Highway…

Life is a highway.

These are the words my youngest posted below a Facebook post last month of him receiving his learner’s permit.

You see, although many of his peers accomplished this years ago, it was a significant milestone for him. Receiving his learner’s permit is just one more step closer to independence.

As Landon and I have both learned over the years, everyone’s journey is not the same.

Sometimes our roads are scenic and full of beauty. At other times, our roads seem dark with nothing noteworthy to draw our attention. Our drive may be mundane as we await the next rest stop. Or, we may find ourselves on the expressway making better time than we ever expected.

There were times when we’ve veered off course a time or two. Then there are others where my GPS (God’s Provision System) seemed to take me in the opposite direction than planned.

I’ve had a few flats.

Got stuck in the mud.

But through it all, the overwhelming lesson I learned while raising this kid is to simply “keep going.”

Years ago, I worried about getting this kid through elementary school. Getting past the next standardized exam.

Then the focus was to make it through middle school. Then high school. Now, this kid is away at college and doing quite well which is something that seemed improbable when faced with the “facts” over a decade ago.

My worries were for naught.

My little seed of faith, prayer and the agreement of my village availed much!

I’ve heard it said it is not the destination but the journey. For years, it felt like the cramped quarters and motion sickness of the journey might keep both Lan and me from reaching our destination.

Now a bit older, and perhaps wiser, I have learned stressed-out travel is not for me! I’ll get there when I get there. If it is God’s timing, I’m perfectly fine with that.

And, thankfully, Lan is too.

We have learned every journey requires patience. The greater the distance to travel, the longer it takes to get there. There is also a greater burden and cost to bridge vast distances between “here” and “there.”

In my case, “there” yielded increased maturity, spiritual growth, and a portion of wisdom while “there” for Lan is a home in Orlando to pursue his own interests in computer animation.

We never know where our path will lead us. We often have a destination in mind, but we can’t always account for delays, detours and even a few false starts.

Still, as we rely on God to direct our paths, we can relax a little. We can admire the flowers along the way. We can look up at the vast mountains and across broad valleys confident that God will get us exactly where we need to be if not necessarily where we want.

May you enjoy safe travels and Godspeed wherever your journey takes you.

Your word is a lamp for my feet,
    a light on my path.  Psalm 119:105 NIV

One Little Drummer Boy…

When I was a kid one of my favorite television Christmas specials was, “The Little Drummer Boy.” Even then, I always pulled for the underdog.

The gist of the story is about a poor orphan obsessed with playing his drum. This same boy was distrustful of people. To say he was anti-social would be an understatement. He found contentment only in playing his drum and spending time with his animal friends.

Sound familiar?

However, when his lamb is hit by a chariot the desperate orphan finds his way into the caravan of the Wise Men and seeks to go before the new Savior to find healing for his lamb.

This orphan was considered one of the “least” in society. He wasn’t regarded highly at all. Comparing himself to these Wise Men the drummer boy felt small. He had no title or status; he certainly wasn’t wealthy and really didn’t feel worthy to come before the King.

The three kings who traveled to see the Savior presented expensive gifts such as gold and myrrh. The orphan in contrast had nothing material to give. However, this child does give the only thing he does have, his talent. What appears to be the least compared to the expensive gifts of the Wise Men becomes the most.

The Savior smiles at him.

I tried at times to develop my child into one of the “Wise Men.” This story reminds me my child doesn’t need to detour from who God created him to become. His own inherent talents, like those of the little drummer boy, are more than enough.

Sometimes our children have talents (or obsessions) that seem minor to us because we don’t understand or appreciate them. Their gifts aren’t always highly regarded. However, the book of Matthew teaches us to take what we have been given and make the most of it!  Matthew 25:14-30

When we come before God nurturing what we have been given,  there is no need to look toward and compare ourselves to others. We are free in Christ to fulfill the purposes and the plans God intended all along.

Kids on the with autism often surprise adults when allowed opportunities to be who God created them to be. We must have faith that God has a purpose and a plan even when we can’t see it or understand.

I believe when we exhibit faith enough to trust God with our talents and our trials we too can say, and then He smiled at me

Merry Christmas!

And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  Matthew 2:11 NKJV

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope,” Jeremiah 29:11  NKJV

 

The House of Mouse!

Be careful what you pray for.

It is not that I don’t want my prayers answered. However, I’d rather not have a heart attack in the process.  Sometimes we are forced to face our fears when we receive the very things we ask God for.

My husband and I have encouraged Lan to learn his way around Orlando and become familiar with his surroundings. A couple of weeks ago he ventured out to the movies. He went bowling as well. We were happy to see him making his way around his community and finding things to do.

A week later, my husband called to see how he was doing.

Lan was doing great.

He was at Disney World!

Now, I’m thinking he went as part of a school activity or with a group of friends.

Nope!

Lan got bored and decided to take Uber to The Magic Kingdom.

Really!!?

I prayed for Lan to become independent and confident. I’ve asked for this as long as I can remember. However, I was not anticipating such an expensive excursion!

Once I got over the initial shock, I began to worry. My mind was quickly into overdrive, thinking about everything that could go wrong.

He could lose his debit card.

He could lose his wallet.

He could lose his phone.

What if someone tried to abduct him?

Though at nearly six feet, four and over two-hundred pounds, that one may be far-fetched.

Just this summer, the thought of Lan wandering around Disney alone terrified me. Now, he is exploring on his own without busybody parents!

Thankfully, all ended well.

If the photos on his FB feed are any indication, freedom feels great!

It only took Lan two months to make his way to the House of Mouse, easily his favorite place in the world. One family member commented she was surprised it took him that long to get there!

In the grand scheme of things, it didn’t take God long to bring the once shy kid out of his shell and equip him to maneuver the world without someone always at his side.

It probably took me way too long to view Lan as an adult and acknowledge that he can exercise those skills we so doggedly drilled into him.

Some people are goal oriented, and I suspect Lan achieved one of his that week.

What could be better than alone in the House of Mouse, free to enjoy it on his own terms?

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing

This smile is a smile of growth, independence, and someone hopeful for the future.

Priceless!

Our prayers are rarely answered the way we expect, but the reward is no less when God does it His way.

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much

James 5:16 NKJV

Orientation!

Orientation, “to acquaint with the existing situation or environment,” Merriam-Webster

This academic year for my “baby” begins not just with a move to the next school but rather the next state.

Now, towering over six feet tall, the time has come where he stands alone.

Our week-long orientation begins today as he acquaints himself with his new academic environment. However, new school, new home and new people present plenty of opportunity for anxiety, especially so for anyone on the spectrum. Lan confessed to just a few while I’m praying hard not to fuel my own!

I choose to remember God got us this far by grace. Something more is in store. I could not envision this day just four years ago when he began high school. Lan and I have come a long way and if you’re living in the land of ASD you can too. Here are my words of advice for anyone raising special needs kids:

Enjoy the journey. I regret not doing this more. Don’t obsess over academic standards. Faith is more productive than fear. Fear of failure doesn’t encourage a child nearly as much as faith for growth yet unseen.

Laugh. I didn’t do that enough either. Don’t make the same mistake.

A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

Try something new. Karate, piano and band were gateways for growth. If something doesn’t work you can always quit. This is a great way to uncover hidden talents!

Go with your gut! There was one teacher I didn’t care for but I allowed Lan to stay in the class. Big mistake. When we fall backward, God can catch us up, but learn to heed your God/gut instincts so you won’t have to.

Call in the reserves! People will help you if you ask. You can’t receive the relief you need if you brave it alone. Many people are affected by autism and other disorders as parents, grandparents, siblings, and friends. People can be kind and caring. They will help you. An hour of “free time” can equip you to manage your challenges. Take it!

Believe God for the impossible! Never stop searching for solutions. Resources you need are often hidden like treasure; but trust God and they will find you.

Don’t give up! Life can wear you down. Just keep it moving! The fastest person doesn’t always win, rather the one who doesn’t give up.
Run your race.

We can’t always outsmart ASD. Setbacks will knock us down. Still, there are times when we recognize the God/good in life that can leave us amazed!

As I become “oriented” to my new role of long-distance mom, my last prayer for parents is that you fight when necessary and rest when you can.

I’ve learned life’s hardest challenges can produce the greatest miracles.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11 [Full Chapter]

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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Bee Yourself!

Comparison is the root of discontent.

This is one truth I discovered this last decade or so.

We will never fully appreciate what we have if we always compare ourselves to other people.

My solution for this is to stay focused and run my race.

I watched a great example of this during the Olympics. One of the track and field athletes actually lost his heat because instead of looking forward and pressing toward the finish line, he looked to his left and to his right for the other runners. If he had only focused on the goal ahead, he would have qualified for the next race.

This is something my youngest and I are battling at present.

The topic of ACTs and SATs is popular among seniors. However, test taking has never been Lan’s strong point. His acceptance into a graphics arts/animation program will not be due to high test scores.

Still, listening to his friends has made him anxious. Comparing their plans with his own is causing frustration for both of us!

I have repeatedly told him he doesn’t have to pursue his goals the way others pursue theirs. I’m trying to make him understand this lesson, one that I’ve had to “learn” myself a time or two.

The temptation to compare ourselves with others is always present.  Often in parenting, the opportunities are endless. Yet, this is a dangerous habit because it is so easy to become disenchanted with what you have based on the briefest glimpse into someone else’s life.

bee-still-devotional-8-6-2016When we allow these comparisons to root themselves in us, they often leach away the peace and contentment that God provides.

The infamous “why my child?” easily pops into mind.

God’s answer of “you can handle it” isn’t usually a welcome answer.

We can sometimes allow the progress we make to be diminished by what we perceive around us. However, what we perceive isn’t always true.

I choose to appreciate my here and now, very much aware plenty of people would be more than satisfied with my particular set of “problems.”

I’m trying to teach Lan, by example, to be grateful for gains. Personal “success” is independent of what others think or do!

Lan may not be the most academically strong student; however, he does have an artistic flair all his very own. When we focus on our strengths and not what we think we lack, we can fully fulfill God’s purpose for our lives.

I’ve learned the hard way that what works for someone else isn’t necessarily going to work for me. My “success” in life won’t come following someone else’s blueprint. God gives us what we need to create our own.

I found peace and joy when I nurtured my own talents. I found contentment when I learned to enjoy being me.

I pray Lan learns this lesson far sooner than I ever did.

For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well. Psalm 139:13-14 NKJV

May He grant you according to your heart’s desire,
And fulfill all your purpose. Psalm 20:4 NKJV