Tag Archives: peace

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!

 

Snow Day

Well… it didn’t actually snow.

The above picture was indeed taken on a rare snow day here in Georgia just not this year. But the result was just the same. School in our county was cancelled on Tuesday of last week due to the frigid cold. That added an extra day to my kids’ Winter Break.

There were shrieks of laughter, shouts of joy and happy dances of elation for the gift of an extra day off. As I lay on the couch convalescing, I thought to myself there’s a lesson in this.

My kid’s had just been given a day off and planned on taking full advantage. The party was on! They were making snacks, singing songs and playing games most gleefully together. They were not thinking about possible consequences to such good news such as having more work to do in less time or an extra day possibly added to their school schedule. They simply celebrated the time given to them.

I, however, when given a day off tend to quickly load it with things to do, lists to complete and obligations to fulfill. Even when I am “doing nothing” I am often haunted by the things I should be doing.

I will readily admit IEPs, the challenge of meeting objectives, setting goals, supervising homework and trying to prepare for (predict?) the future can leave my brain a jumbled mess even after the clock has long stopped. As a parent trying my best I often feel overwhelmed and under productive as a tinge of guilt tries to impart in me that I should be doing, more, more, more!

But I’m a little wiser now. I allowed myself to hear God as my children rejoiced at their good news.  You need a “snow day.” You need a day with Me without the guilt, the hurry or a list of “to dos” hanging over your head.  Let it all go and come to Me.

I have been able to put some things down from time to time and run to Him, but now I’m realizing that lately when I’ve turned to Him I’ve come with another set of petitions, prayers or concerns different from the ones I cast down. It isn’t that God doesn’t want us to come to Him. He actually invites us to bring our burdens to Him.

Yet, I am learning more and more it’s good to simply come to Him empty-handed and wanting nothing in return but His presence and the peace it offers. I can go to Him and allow my thoughts to stop racing, my head to stop spinning and simply be still.

I haven’t taken an entire snow day just yet but it is coming! In fact, I am making them a priority in the New Year! The peace I find in His presence will inevitably transfer over to my family and we will all be better for it.

My mental and spiritual health are just as vital as making sure homework gets done and helping Lan prepare for End of Course Tests that will culminate his school year. I just have to remember that and have enough discipline to seek my Father, often.

So if you are like me, probably stressing more than you should and finding more and more things you think you need to do…stop!

Turn to God and listen to Him. Take some time to be still. He will tell you what you need to do to succeed on the path He has allowed before you.

Sometimes the best success comes from doing less!

Snow days aren’t just for kids. Sometimes grown-ups need one too!

“Come to Me, all [you] who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest, 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.” Matthew 11:28-29 NKJV

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!