Tag Archives: photography

Time and Transition

transition: “a change from one state or condition to another”   “movement, development, or evolution from one form, stage, or style to another” Merriam Webster

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end,” Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV

I birthed this blog the first of August when my youngest entered high school. Now with less than a month before school is out, first year jitters have been replaced with a spirit of perseverance, faith and gratitude.  transitions 1

Lan has evolved from nervous freshman to actively seeking out his friends. He has moved away from the kid sitting alone at lunch to having a steady rotation of friends to eat with and interact. Surprisingly, most of these kids aren’t even in his classes.

Friday, when my husband picked both boys up from the high school, Cam made a telling remark. He said once people saw him with Lan they kept asking, “are you Lan’s brother?” Apparently, Lan’s social vine extends farther than any of us realized.

It was quite the eye opener. For years, Lan has always been the other brother, often falling under the shadow of big brother Cam. Now, in high school, the tables are turning a bit and the light is now shining on Lan.

Lan surprised me today with news that he will receive an award at Thursday’s end of the year awards ceremony. We have no idea what he is receiving an award for. He has worked extremely hard on his school work but an A student he is not. However, Lan’s tenacity to put in the extra time and effort has endeared him to most of his teachers.

A school year fraught with uncertainties looks to be ending on a good note. We have traded Georgia CRCTs (criterion referenced competency tests) for EOCs (end of course exams) so test anxiety ever looms. Yet receiving this award, whatever it may be is progress. It is one more step in the right direction, one step forward in personal accountability, one acknowledgement of doing the best you can, no matter what that best might be.  transitions title

It’s has been quite a year of change. Insecurities vanquished. Challenges met head on. Bullies thwarted. Faith in people… restored.

There has been much personal growth and maturity from fragile bud to longer lasting leaf. Lan made out just fine.

I’m referring to me.

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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.

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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!

 

My Brother’s Keeper?

 While I was away this weekend, my oldest son had an epiphany of sorts. I’m not sure exactly what sparked his revelation, but according to my husband he was very suddenly and emotionally distraught about his little brother’s future. 

Now, my oldest has always been mature for his age. I tell you he has more sense than most adults. The only common denominator between both boys academically is their band instructor. The band room is where students often hang out or practice no matter their grade level or academic rank. Music is a great equalizer. Lan, the youngest, does very well in this area despite other academic challenges.

Nevertheless, something occurred to upset my oldest. Both boys were heavily involved in a band festival held at the school last week. I suspect something was said to Cam about his younger brother. Lan could have easily wandered away from an assigned task, said something not quite age appropriate or any number of things. I’ll probably never know. All Lan knows is that he had a great time participating in the music festival. However, per Cam’s suggestion, Lan won’t be hanging out in the band room without his supervision.

I have always told the boys to love one another and be kind to each other because mom and dad won’t always be around. I suspect the oldest has now grasped the reality that his brother may not become as self-sufficient as he is. Cam has readily embraced the role of “third parent” when neither my husband or I are around.   My hunch is Cam’s worry for little brother won’t necessarily end when he leaves home for college.

It has been quite the balancing act juggling the demands of two children who have totally opposite needs. Cam has often been in the background when Lan’s diagnosis has forced us to spend more time and attention addressing it. Lan has often been in the shadow of big brother’s achievements and academic accolades which he has never matched.

My husband and I made a deliberate choice to become parents. My oldest son did not. He shouldn’t be preoccupied with what the future holds for his sibling. Instead, Cam should have the liberty to focus on pursuing his own dreams and aspirations. Cam is a very loving child and through he get’s annoyed with little brother from time to time, he has always shown a love and concern for Lan that I pray will continue long after I’m gone.

We have no way of knowing what the future brings. I am hopeful and trusting that God will just “work it out” as He has done so many things in my life. Still, I am grateful that my oldest son is mature enough and concerned that Lan is well cared for now and hopefully into the future. It is my hope that Cam can spread his wings without the worry of looking back.

I don’t know if Lan will gain the maturity and skills to live independently. I don’t know if I will have the resources to provide for his care years after I’m gone. I don’t know how God is going to resolve this issue. I…just…don’t…know.

So I must trust.  

Such a simple sentence but so often very hard to do. Yet, I will manage by focusing on the present and allow God to order my steps for the future. I don’t have to see the solution, though I admit it pains me greatly. However, we will continue along prayerfully, grateful for miracles yet to come. 

I expect great things for both my boys. Maybe Cam’s experiences with his brother will mold him into the man God intends him to be. Maybe, just maybe, Lan in his own way is looking after him.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV

Out of focus!

My mother gave me a very lovely camera for Christmas. As it arrived shortly after Thanksgiving, I didn’t hesitate to begin shooting with it. I have in a short time learned a bit about photography. There is far much more to it than simply “point and shoot.”

Different lenses when used for the same “shot” yet yield different results. Some differences may be subtle while others are quite pronounced. One image may be crystal clear whereas taken with another lens it will be little more than a blur. Fooling around with cameras and lenses over the Christmas break highlighted for me that I need a better view of what’s really going on. I need to focus!

Lan “survived” his first semester of high school. It was a bit touch and go a few times, the highlight of which was “bad kids” attempting to steal his backpack the last few days of school. He squeaked by on finals, with us learning after the fact that much of the information he needed to study wasn’t in the book! But we made it.

He made it.

Now if only we can refine our “focus” so that he can thrive and not just survive.

My new camera provides an auto-focus mode. This means I have to think less about the image I want to capture and just let the camera do its thing. The auto mode will capture the image. It just may not take the best picture possible.

I think I may have been on “auto” with Lan this previous semester thinking what once worked before would continue to do so. Not so much! I’m learning at this juncture “auto” isn’t going to cut it. I’m going to have to handle the details myself.

I learned that professional photographers rarely rely on the “auto” mode. Instead, they purposely arrange the details such as lighting, aperture, setting and a bunch of other stuff I don’t yet understand. This yields a far superior result than the “auto” mode. In fact, professional photographers rarely trust leaving the details to others. That is another lesson in itself!

In the last few days of the semester, I learned Lan’s medication wasn’t working. Of course, he didn’t bother to mention this!  I only asked  when a few things just weren’t adding up. So he saw the doctor over the break.

Come to find out that his dose of medication was incorrect because the physician’s office in September documented him weighing far less than he actually does! At this recent appointment the physician thought the child had gained forty pounds!  My boys eat a lot but neither one of them eats enough to gain forty pounds in three months even if my grocery bill says otherwise. Alas, one problem belatedly solved.

Secondly, my husband spoke with his school counselor who informed us Lan should have been receiving handouts of all the information covered in class that was not in the book from his teachers.

I didn’t know this. I had no idea a large part of the information covered in some of his classes was not in the book. More than one teacher, unaware of the details of his IEP, failed to provide this information for him.  It now makes sense why those hours he spent trying to find the answers in the biology book for those study questions were less than productive.

In this year, I am going to take a more detailed approach toward what is going on in regards to school. I’m going to ask more questions, and not take for granted that every instructor is doing what he or she is supposed to.

A better picture requires more effort. I will work on the “composition, subject and setting” for Landon more so than I did last year. But that’s okay. I’m more than willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that this next semester is as close to “picture perfect” as possible.

Setting. Lighting. The correct equipment. These are necessary to get the desired result.  I can’t expect to capture a “landscape” image using a lens best suited for a microscope! I can’t rely on my “auto” mode to get the job done.

Lesson learned.

I thought the camera from my mother would introduce me to a new hobby. God used that gift to open my eyes to so much more!

“Open my eyes, that I may see Wondrous things from Your law,” Psalms 119:8 NKJV

 

Turning Leaves

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 pray and hope that once again there will be renewal and continued growth.

This 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 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 have 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 he is still moving!

I 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 wherever I am and whatever I need, He is more than enough!

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

Allow gratitude to determine 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