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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

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The Road to Freedom!

My “new” college student is managing the usual challenges of being a freshman in a new city. He is learning about his professors. He is learning about digital presentations. He is even learning his way around his community. Yet, there is one thing he had to learn that most people take for granted to make this all possible.

He had to learn to ride a bike.

Something as simple as riding a bike isn’t necessarily simple to someone on the spectrum.

Thankfully, Lan was up to the challenge and his favorite aunt was more than willing to teach him.

It was not without its challenges.

It was probably nerve-wracking for the both of us!

He persevered through those initial falls and gashes.

He persevered through a broken guard and loose chains.

He persevered in the summertime heat.

Lan persevered because he wanted to go away to school and riding a bike made that feasible. What most people view as a recreational pastime is essential to him not only getting to school but also the grocery store, Target and most anywhere without depending on anyone.

Freedom.

Lan wants the freedom to come and go as he pleases.

It didn’t take him long to ride beyond the comfort zone of the school and make it to Starbucks. Now, Lan is just one of many kids riding his bike to school.

Like everyone else.

He is proud of himself and he should be.

He rose to the challenge and past the temporary frustration. He is becoming confident in his abilities to take care of himself.

And I am grateful.

One of the last things he asked me  before I returned home was,  “When can I get my driver’s license?”

I told him, “We’ll get around to it. Let’s just concentrate on the bike for now.”

Well, Hurricane Irma gave him some time away from school and time with his Uncle. A few days later Lan posted this.

He is learning to drive.

This kid has taught me that determination can move mountains. He has taught me not to panic at the first sign of trouble. But most of all, he has taught me to remember he has his own hopes and dreams.

He wants to enjoy life, liberty and pursue happiness.

The road to freedom looks good on him.

For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men— as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God.
1 Peter 2:15-16 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]

A Season of Thanks…

The leaves where I live are now just turning vibrant and crisp.

Unlike the seasons, we can’t always predict what twists or turns we are going to have in life. Some of us with the best laid plans think we know what tomorrow will bring, but in reality we never know until that new day dawns.

I can anticipate that those trees will turn colors and loose leaves only to grown green and flourish in the spring. With my child, that pattern of familiarity was often lacking. We have spurts of great growth or gains, and then sometimes things cool off and go dormant. I always pray and hope for God’s best.

Uncertainty could keep me anxious, depressed and nervous. I admit it has done that before.

However, I choose to hope in things unseen and have faith in a God I can’t always see or hear, Who at times has been silent when I’ve called out, but Who has never once left my side.

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven,” Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV

I don’t always know just what season I am in.

I once thought I was in a season of growth only to be cut down to the ground. I’ve also been at my lowest and right on time, an unexpected miracle reminded me that God is ever with me.

I choose to be grateful for gains made and milestones achieved in this season of Thanksgiving. I am grateful for Lan’s great attitude. His “why not?” has kept him moving right along to his own rhythm and time but ever still moving!

a-season-of-thanks-god-autism-and-me-2-112016-devotionalI am grateful that autism has not overcome us.

It’s knocked us around a couple of times but we learned to fight back!

I may not be grateful for every experience I’ve had in life, but I am very grateful for everything I’ve learned from them.

God deals with each of us in ways as unique as we are.

I’m grateful for that too.

Knowing that God will get me through whatever season I am in allows me to face tomorrow not in fear but with a faith that whatever I need, God is more than enough!

Whatever your circumstance, give thanks for gains made and blessings yet to come.

Allow gratitude to define your attitude!

Enjoy a Very Blessed Thanksgiving!!

“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

“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you,”
1 Thessalonians 5:18 NKJV

Love Is Patient…

Patience is one of those things I used to pray for.

My journey along the autism spectrum definitely tried my patience.

That first diagnosis of pervasive non-developmental disorder exacerbated my lack of patience. When my two-year-old wasn’t developing quite as he should, the psychiatrist’s verdict was wait and see.

Wait and see!?

I didn’t handle that very well.

My compulsion and desperation to “fix” things left me frustrated and anxious.

Trying to juggle our autism purgatory in the midst of everything else going on at the time stripped me of what little patience I did have.

I loved my family, yet my ever growing impatience shortchanged my efforts to show the love choked inside of me.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” I Corinthians 13:4 NIV

Love is Patient B is for Blessed God autism and me devotional 2 2-2016I was neither patient nor kind.

I envied those who didn’t have my particular menagerie of issues, issues that sprang up rather suddenly and without warning.

Yet, God in His mercy made me stronger by forcing me through my fires and leaving me little choice but to learn patience.

Lesson after lesson.

I slowly stopped allowing circumstances to hold me hostage. I eventually learned to stop working toward happiness and to instead relax a little and receive God’s joy.

Time spent waiting for my miracles taught me every situation can be viewed any number of ways. I also learned there are always circumstances we are oblivious of when we are oh so quick to judge others.

Eventually, empathy and compassion grew in me as well.

It was not easy getting to this point.

Neither was it quick.

As our Father is patient with me, I know I should exhibit this trait toward others.

I am not always successful.

But, at least now, I try.

I am learning to recognize my own limitations and allow room for God to do the rest.

In His timing.

Patience keeps us from allowing the unexpected to knock us down and out.

Patience allows us to praise God for the smallest of blessings despite the bigger picture…

My journey along this autism adventure forces me to take a hard look at myself.

I don’t always like what I see.

Love is Patient B is for Blessed God autism and me devotional 3 2-2016Love is patient. Love is kind.

Hopefully, I can become these things as well…

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4 NKJV

College Search!

We have been busy in our household helping our senior with his college applications. Lan has been quite interested himself in the application process. He stated, “When you’re done with him then we can get started on me.”

I easily recall wondering if this kid would be able to graduate high school. Now, these many years later, he is thinking about college.

Lan has always struggled in school. Though very bright, he can’t always verbalize what he knows. Years ago, when people would ask about possible plans for the future, a wave of dread would come over me. Now, I’m just waiting to see what happens next.

I learned from a close friend who happens to be a college professor that more and more colleges are incorporating transition programs and assistance for people with learning and developmental disabilities. I did a bit of research and actually found a few. Yet, many of the programs were in the Northeast part of the country. We live in the southeast. The idea of just sending my “baby” twelve or more hours away doesn’t sit well.

I eventually stopped worrying about it and decided God will make a way.

STAND TALL blessed devotional 10-2015Well, last night I came upon this article, “Students with special needs get own program at University of Georgia.” 

Now UGA is only about forty-five minutes from me. The article also mentions another school with a similar program that is only an hour away. It looks like there is a realistic pathway for Lan to “go off to college,” after all.

Years ago I never imagined the programs now available in higher education for kids like mine.

But God knew.

Sometimes when we are overwhelmed and it looks like situations are hopeless we must trust God for the answer.

I’m learning this more and more as Lan tackles things that were once impossible. The leaps and gains he has made have been miraculous. I suspect the progress made would never have come about if we held on to every negative word spoken over us.

I stopped looking at the statistics and looked for God to make a way.

A poor progress report can no longer push me into a state of panic. I keep telling Lan he is smart and can do whatever is required.  I truly believe Lan does better because we expect better.

What if that same principle applies to God?

I’m not sure what the future holds but I’m holding fast to God and expecting great things.

How about you?

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 NKJV

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6 NKJV

Homecoming!

Unlike Marie who quickly made herself at home in my yard, many of us have a hard time “fitting in.” You don’t have to be on the spectrum to experience this.

I am habitually wary of most new surroundings or people until I eventually “settle in.” It doesn’t usually take that long, but it is long enough for those who don’t know me to find me a bit aloof until I compose myself.

Last week was Homecoming at the boys’ high school. Lan has casually mentioned the dances the last two years but this time he was intent on going.

Freshman year took all of our collective energy to survive.  Slowly, Lan began to thrive sophomore year. He made great gains, yet for those two years Lan was more of a spectator than a participant.

This year Lan’s participation in marching band has upped his confidence. He is no longer afraid of the upperclassmen since he now one of them. He wants to mingle and socialize more.

Our question for him was, “Are you mature enough to go to the dance?”

He quickly assured us he was.

The hubby and I had to think on it for a bit.

Bullying is no longer a worry, nonetheless, I’m remiss to put my child and his enthusiasm into any situation where he can be taken advantage of or become someone else’s entertainment.

Thankfully, big brother was also going. It was now or never. I’m sure Lan was forced to listen to fifteen minutes of dos and don’ts as my oldest drove them the short ride there.

I was nervous but Lan won’t learn how to interact in various social situations if we never give him the chance.

The older the kids become, the more I realize I can’t keep them in a safe bubble, as tempting as that may be. It would only do them a disservice and keep them from becoming all they can be.

Anxiously waiting, I finally heard the garage door go up and both boys came rushing in. I asked Lan if he was mature while he was there.

He gave me a sly grin and nodded. Then added, “Most of the time. I kinda of got a little crazy at the end.”

The oldest child/third parent quickly chimed in, “probably something to do with the dance circles he instigated.”

Dance circles? Do I even want to know?

Lan behaved himself well enough to satisfy big brother.

And I was very happy for him.

Lan has progressed beyond looking in from the outside to becoming an active participant in high school. He has overcome his fears and gained confidence in what he can do.

This year Lan feels like he belongs.

Isn’t that what most of us want? To belong somewhere?

Anyplace that is safe, familiar and you can take pride in evokes feelings of home.

Marie homecoming Godautismandme devotionalIt may not happen for us as quickly as it did for Marie, but it can happen.

When we allow faith to fill us instead of fear, we can be “home” no matter where we are.

The curse of the Lord is on the house of the wicked, But He blesses the home of the just. Proverbs 3:33 NKJV