Tag Archives: photography

Progress Report!

My kids have been in school about six weeks now so their first “progress reports” were issued last week. This is the first time Lan has ever started the school year so well. His Cs and Bs have been replaced with As and Bs!  I think even he was surprised by how well he’s done.

Now many kids on the spectrum make straight As with little effort. Their “gifts” allow them to be scholastic geniuses. Yet there are other kids like mine who struggle in school. Every good grade is fought for. There is no real “down time” from school. Their work never seems to end.

If I didn’t work full-time my kid would probably have straight As. This is what I thought through the years. In fact, I was angry that I could not “be there” for Lan when I thought he needed me most.

Yet, God had other plans and I do believe I’m seeing the fruit of Lan’s labor.

Since I haven’t been readily available, Lan has learned how to get by without me.  He has to study on his own, learn to organize himself (still working on that one!) and keep track of his assignments. He fights for every grade and works harder than most to achieve satisfactory results.

He has learned to work independently.

We’ve come a long way from those elementary years of playing “catch up” and even the middle school years of “keep up.” There were tears and frustration both his and mine. But they now seem like distant memories finally fading away.

I couldn’t imagine this even as I prayed for it many years ago. This small ray of academic achievement once appeared to be impossible. But with God all things are possible.

My guilty tears were all for naught. I’m very proud of the progress Lan is making without me. God knew I couldn’t always “be there” if Lan was to ever become independent.

At Friday’s football game Lan spent time on the other side of the stadium with his old friends from middle school. It was a far cry from this time last year. I wasn’t worried or preoccupied that I couldn’t see him. He hung out with his friends just like any other kid. I sat in the stands and relaxed like any other parent.

We’ve still got a ways to go but we are both maturing and stretching our wings a bit. Just like a butterfly that has to work its way out of the cocoon, the struggle comes before the flight. Years ago, when I thought my circumstances were terrible, God was in control the entire time. I can see it now.

I’m learning to get out of the way and allow God to work out situations as He would have them.

I guess Lan and I have both progressed this second year of high school. And for that I am ever grateful.

 

***I’ll be “out of the office” until next week. I will respond to comments when I return 🙂

 

Labor Less!

“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. For my yoke is easy and My burden light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV

In my struggle to relinquish my control freak tendencies, I rely on this scripture time and time again. I learned that I don’t have to conquer my corner of the world in my power.

There was a time in my life where I was working very hard to give my children all my attention. I worked long hours. Then on my days off would I try to cram days of lessons in with Lan, never wanting him to fall behind his peers.

These efforts only brought forth fatigue on my part and frustration on his. When I was at a point when I could no longer do this, a funny thing happened. Lan’s grades improved.

I had no choice but to trust God. I didn’t have the time to prep Lan for those standardized tests. All those practice books went unused. I was at the mercy of his teachers to give him everything he would need.

I was tired. My job was wearing me out. I was trying to balance the needs of two kids who are polar opposites. I was attempting to be a real life
“wonder woman” meeting unrealistic expectations I had imposed on myself.

Finally at this point of burn out, I stopped struggling so much and gave it a rest. I prayed more and worked less.  I found the more I trusted God, the more He did for me.

When I finally stopped running myself ragged and was still, I could hear Him.

I found comfort in the fact that I really don’t have to know it all.

When I don’t have an answer, I now trust God first. Whatever I need will find me.

It wasn’t the quickest transformation, but I don’t want to revert back to where I was.

Casting my cares has been liberating. I am sometimes amused, wondering just how God is going to work certain things out.

So, If you are tired, burned out, or at a loss, don’t wait years like I did.  You will accomplish more when you trust God and choose to labor less!

Pot Luck!

Yesterday, I went to my boys’ annual High School Band Pot Luck Dinner. If you can imagine a high school marching band, plus the concert, symphonic and woodwind ensembles in addition to their families gathered together…let’s just say it was a bit hectic.

Years ago, Lan would have been hesitant to go, anxious and afraid. This year, not so much!

I watched as he hunted for people he knew, talked to a few friends and even managed to hustle his way through the masses to get a plate of food.

Afterwards, we moved to the stadium to watch the marching band give us a preview of their hard work.

Lan watched from the forty yard line. I am well aware that if he could, Lan would be on that band field in a heartbeat. I don’t doubt he could do well in the marching program. The problem is the time marching band consumes would wreak havoc on his academics.   DSC_0956 (2)

Lan has had to work extremely hard putting in twice the effort of the average student to come up with that B or C at the end of the semester.

Do I feel a bit guilty that he can’t march with his brother? Definitely. Especially because I know that it would bring him so much joy.

However, right now he needs to work on getting that academic balance just right. Lan has expressed a desire to go to college.

Now some people would say we are dreaming. But that’s okay. I don’t have a problem with dreams. Joseph had a dream for his future and didn’t lose hope despite years of obstacles. (ref. Genesis Chapters 37-42)

I have faith for what God can do.

And apparently Lan has faith for his future too! Just today, he mentioned that even though he likes Clemson, he is thinking about Clayton State.

When I questioned him, he told me, “Don’t hate on my choice of Clayton State,” somewhat annoyed!

Now, as my dear friend laughed and I’m thinking to myself “just who does this kid think he’s talking too?”  I almost miss the point that Lan is giving college more and more thought!

I have dreams for my kids, but our dreams and their reality aren’t necessarily one in the same. Yet, I am proud that Lan isn’t letting anyone, including me, deter him from what he envisions for his future.

Thankfully, we don’t have to rely on luck when thinking about the future. Faith is far more dependable! DSC_1084 (3)

Lan continues to surprise people. Including me.

Who knows what the next two years of high school will bring? Lan may very well find himself performing on that field after all.

And if he does, I’m confident luck will nothing to do with it.

“But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” Hebrews 11:6 KJV

Class Conflict!

On Friday, my youngest child who inspired this blog informed me that his class schedule was changed. He was no longer with the same Spanish or World History teacher.

I tried to figure why two weeks into the school year his schedule (especially his schedule) would change. His Spanish teacher is adored by students and Lan is no exception. His history teacher uses lots of visuals (ideal for Lan!) and I was remiss to lose him.

I assured him his father and I would look into it. So, this morning my husband dropped the kids off and went straight to the office.

Apparently, the Spanish class has a few kids with disciplinary “issues.” The Spanish teacher noticed Lan covered his ears during their disruptive outburst. She was concerned the current mix of students may be too much for him.

I most certainly applaud the teacher for noticing the displeasure/discomfort the other three students were causing him. His teacher suggested Lan be moved to a quieter class. However, my husband’s question to the counselor was why should our child should lose the benefit of great teachers at the expense of the offending party?

I’m sure removing one student is a lot easier than removing three, but to do so gives the trouble makers the advantage.  DSC_7748 (3)

Soooo….when my husband met with the counselors they called Lan up and asked him which class he would prefer.

To the counselor’s surprise, Lan told them he wanted to stay with his original teachers. He told the counselors, “I can just ignore the bad kids.”

Both counselors were surprised. There was a time where disruptive kids would have made him shut down and unable to focus. Apparently, he has matured to the point where he can tune the disruptions out (as best anyone can) just like the other students in his class.

To say that I am proud and grateful is such an understatement!  I prayed this morning  and resigned myself to “God’s will.” I thought it would be better if Lan’s schedule was changed back with his original teachers but if God chose to move him I trusted that God would work it to our benefit.

I guess I have moved (just a bit) from trying to regulate/orchestrate every detail of Lan’s life. I’m hardly a passive parent. Even letting my husband go and “handle it” without my “supervision” is a giant step for me. Yet, if my wishes didn’t work out, I figured God has a better plan. This hasn’t always been the case.

In the end, the counselors agreed that Lan would stay with his original teachers as desired. The “problem students” would be moved elsewhere to make the classroom less volatile.

In the end, I trusted God to work out the best outcome without complaint, demands or frustration on my part.

It appears Lan matured even more than I ever imagined this summer. And maybe, just maybe, I have too.  

“The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Psalm 18:2 NKJV   DSC_7549 (2)

 

Sophomore Year!

Unlike most of the country, my kids have already completed their first week of school!

Last Monday, Lan began his second year of high school. It was fortunately without incident. No wrong bus transfers, rescheduled classes, and no dread of “starting over” in strange and less than friendly surroundings.

This year Lan knows more people. His teachers are “on board” with our IEP and we are both much more comfortable, without the harried nerves surrounding last year.

His first homework assignment was a letter to his literature teacher introducing himself. The letter gave information about his interests and goals for this year. I was pleased to see that he thinks his family is “nice and protects him from mean people.”

If you ever doubt your children understand what you do for them or how you feel for their plight…don’t!

I was almost overwhelmed to see the words on the page. Detailed thoughts, expressed and understood, another “accomplishment” to be grateful for.

The paragraph about his goals was inspiring as well. Lan wants to boost his g.p.a.  which I am very glad to hear in addition to improving his trombone performance. He ultimately wants to gain the “first chair” position in his band class. Lan has embraced the idea (with a little prodding, of course) of being a “leader” as one of the few sophomores in his class.

I noticed how his goals have evolved and matured. It makes me think that mine should as well.

Sometimes we get so set in one mindset that we fail to progress and stretch our thinking. Old ideas are often just that. Old. Stale. “Stuck” in the past.

Our familiar ideas and concepts sometimes fail to hold up in the here and now we are currently immersed in.  I’ve found we can let the blessings we have prayed for go unrecognized because we are too stressed and uptight to see them. Our minds are often stalled in “then” even as God is directing us to the “when.”

I am surely guilty of this on more than one occasion. Sometimes we all get stressed to the point that we don’ remember how to relax.

Thankfully, Lan doesn’t have this problem. He is relaxing in the confidence that comes from a year of high school under his belt and he is looking forward not stuck in yesterday.

Lan is both excited and optimistic about his future. His enthusiasm reminds me that I should be as well.

“Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, [and] rivers in the desert.”  Isaiah 43:19 KJV

 

 

 

Open House, Open Mind

Today I went to the high school open house for both my boys. I was pleasantly surprised to meet teachers that were not off put by Landon’s IEP plan. In fact, a few of them assured me they were not only adaptable but readily available and more than happy to ensure his success.

Last year’s open house was fraught with a bit of frustration as Lan’s schedule hadn’t transferred from his county “assigned” school. We met teachers that ultimately would not teach him. And then there were those first year of high school jitters, both mine and his.

Today Lan confidently lead me through the hallways. He hugged a few of his teachers from last year, all of whom were amazed how much he’d grown. He eagerly waved and shouted to kids he knew. He quickly left me to sit on a bench and talk to a pretty girl. Where did that shy kid go?

The beginning of every school year has always been fraught with anxiety and a bit of dread. For me more so than Lan. I’ve worried about bullies, standardized exams, ambivalent teachers and probably a host of other things.

But this year, dare I hope we’ve reached a turning point of sorts…can I finally exchange my fears for a faith that everything will be just fine?

Can I for once just live in the now moment, count the blessings of a wonderful counselor, empathetic teachers, kind students and the new-found bit of confidence and maturity that has finally surfaced in these last few weeks of summer?

No matter what we may face this year, I don’t dare deluded myself into the notion of a problem free 180 days of school. But dare I hope and even expect that previous lessons learned will give us the experience to be proactive instead of reactive; will my prayers and faith precede the proper people or rather angels in disguise to help us along our way?

This year I will share my child’s optimism without the threat of “what if?” looming behind us. This year I look forward to my child branching out and pushing boundaries that don’t include me. This year…I am receptive to new ideas, new ventures and the possibility something good is on the horizon. This year, I will abide in the hope that God has a purpose and a plan for my child and I don’t have to orchestrate/dictate/regulate every detail of his life.

This year…will be a very good year. For both of us.

“Behold, I [am] the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing to hard for me?”
Jeremiah 32:27 KJV

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

 

 

 

Hope!

“Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the Lord”
Psalms 31:24 NKJV

“Blessed [is] the man who trusts in the LORD, And whose hope is the LORD”
Jeremiah 17:7 NKJV

“rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer”
Romans 12:12 NKJV

 

Independent!

Yesterday, my youngest who inspired this blog, was promptly deposited two hours away at Clemson University for a week of summer camp! This particular camp caters to kids on the spectrum giving them an opportunity to swim, fish, and enjoy all the beauty Lake Hartwell has to offer.

It was only a year ago when we were picking up my oldest from a university campus, that Lan asked “when will I get to go away to camp?”

“Ain’t gonna happen,” was the only thought that came to mind but I did manage to say, “when you are mature enough to go.”

Fast forward nine months and my husband finally found a camp that I did not have nightmares about counselors losing my child! After speaking to the coordinator in the spring, Lan did a “trial” weekend visit in March and had a grand time. His eagerness to go off on his own without an over-protective mother watching over him wasn’t lost on any of us.

His eagerness had not waned three months later as he bid my husband a hasty goodbye yesterday. I think the hubby was a bit wounded by Lan’s eagerness to see him leave!   blsd crepe myr 3

All of this makes me remember just how far we’ve come from the three-year old that hid behind me as we walked into a grocery store.  Lan is more and more eager to test the waters. He is less wary of strangers in social situations, more apt to say “hi!” He is definitely more willing to join in the fun.

My niece had her sweet sixteen party last month and I wondered if Lan would be sitting there bored all night and asking when he could go home. To our surprise Landon danced the entire night! When my husband called him over to sit for a minute, the other kids pulled him back on the floor. The best part of it was he had a wonderful time mingling, dancing and just being himself.

Having turned fifteen in May, we are seeing more and more of this independence break through. His fears are being replaced with a desire for freedom to find himself and not rely on us dictating his every move.

This also means I’ve got to let go more and allow him to try more, succeed or fail, if he is ever going to grow into the young man I have faith he can become.

I told him this week was an opportunity for him to prove how mature he is. Lan seemed up to the challenge. I think back on prayers answered slowly and oh so subtly.

And yes there have been those “high moments” like that sigh of relief when notified he did pass all of his classes this first year of high school. But some of the greatest miracles have been quiet. And still.

Those things like responsibility and initiative that we’ve harped on for years, we find that they’ve slowly…appeared.

Landon’s independence is the ultimate goal. I would so like to think that he will be just fine on his own when I’m no longer around to watch over him. I’d like to think that his older brother will not have to take on the role of the other parent,” years from now.

We’ve prayed and God has answered our prayers. My faith holds fast that my Father will answer many more.

So the next time Lan asks me when something is going to happen, I’ll do well to remember that with God anything can happen!

And for that I am grateful.

“Jesus said unto him, if thou canst believe, all things [are] possible to him that believeth.” Mark 9:23 KJV

Still!

I watched the dragonfly pictured above sit very patiently in my yard. As the shutter on my camera clicked, clicked, away. Its meal for the moment simply flew toward him and like that, breakfast was served.

God spoke to me in that moment.

My mind is often a wonder with things I think I should be doing to ensure that Lan will meet his “goals.”

We probably could have Lan previewing physical science and algebra II for the upcoming school year. Khan academy is waiting patiently for him to brush up on his math. I’m pretty confident he has not met my goal of reading one hour a day.

All of the “should be” and “could be” scenarios that roll around in my head dissolved as I studied this dragonfly, carefree and confident that what it needed to survive would make its way to him.

This dragonfly so delicate yet determined waited patiently and full of faith that his meal would find him! Why is it sometimes so difficult for us to believe God provides so generously for us as well?

Sometimes we just need a reminder, a real life example, to show us we don’t always need to hustle lest we suffer the dreaded fate of “falling behind.” God is enough.

God. Is. Enough.

God is well aware of my needs. He has met them more times than I can count. Why should I doubt that He won’t continue to do so?

There is no “quota” of goodness that will run out before I do. Our goals, IEPs and long list of “to dos” could be endless and frankly drive me crazy if I didn’t believe that God is enough.

I don’t have to worry. I don’t have to run around to make things “happen.” I have plenty of miracles on record to remind me that I should not be concerned that in this moment I’m not doing anything.

I will be responsible. I can also be still. I will be still and know that He is God. I will be still and allow my faith to please Him. I can honor God with my faith as I wait and expect a good outcome.

I will act as He directs instead of grasping at straws, my own flighty ideas or the next great idea that promises to help us along our spectrum journey.

And it is a journey. It had a beginning and I am confident it will have an end. A positive end!

God’s love for us has kept us thus far and will continue. He is faithful. So my faith should be too.

My dragonfly buddy reminds me to allow the sun to shine on me just as it was shining on him.  DSC_2890 (2)

The Son continues to shine. We will be alright. I can be calm. Peaceful.

I can be still.

“Listen to this, O Job; Stand still and consider the wondrous works of God.” Job 37:14 NKJV

“Be still, and know that I [am] God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalms 46:10 NKJV

“He calms the storm, So that its waves are still.” Psalms 107:29 NKJV