Tag Archives: self-help

Take a Break!

This week my kids are out of school for the break. So, earlier this week my husband and I took the kids to Lan’s favorite restaurant. This place is easily an hour away from our home and it takes a concerted effort on our part to get there.

The kids loaded up in the back of the car eagerly. We laughed and were silly and had a grand time. On the way back home, my oldest son stated he was glad we did it and that we should do it more often. Once I got over the shock that he actually enjoyed hanging out with his parents, I thought more about what he said.

I really should take a break more often.

I am guilty of trying to maximize my time and efforts as much as the next person. I have become a fairly decent multitasker. This ability has probably pushed me to do more than necessary at times when I really should have been recharging instead of using up all of my energy.

I don’t know if it is the fast paced culture I’m living in or my own self-delusions that leave me thinking I should always be accomplishing something, but I am feeling God’s nudge to let go many of my own efforts and to rely instead on His.

There is a difference in being busy and being productive. Sometimes “busy” becomes a habit that isn’t producing much more than anxiety, stress and physical ailments that stem from trying to do a week’s worth of activities in a day.

I am glad I heeded the prodding of the Spirit to “do lunch” instead of tackling my “to do” list! The time spent produced laughter and joy, strengthened family ties, and provided clarity of mind. I could have used that time; instead, to tackle some things I needed to get done but the time wouldn’t have been nearly as productive.

Many of us caring for people with special needs or family members suffering with a long-term illness often burn ourselves out because we don’t rest when we should.  Sometimes we are so stressed and feel mentally compressed that we tackle everything head on when sometimes bit by bit is actually more efficient.

I will take my oldest son’s advice. I am long overdue to take a break from stress, over scheduling, and unrealistic expectations.  I’m going to take breaks more often, getting over those things I allow to hold me hostage and even myself. Only then can I enjoy this life to the fullest. What about you?

Are you overdue for a break?

“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 is light.” Matthew 11:28-29.

Evolution!

God teaches me things in the strangest of ways.

Which brings me to cats.

I am not a “cat person.” Even though my house is home to one lucky indoor cat, named Lucky.

Seriously.

I feed the Aristocats on my side porch, “Rocky” and three kittens in exchange for not eating my birds, At least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

“Rocky” is the meanest of three sisters that called my abode home last year. She hissed at us when we put their food out!

I wasn’t surprised when she left for the wild leaving her sisters behind. Out of the original four kittens that once called us “home” I just knew she would never stick around.

One year later, Rocky has kittens in my yard, Shows you how much I know!

Rocky was not an ideal mother. She abandoned the runt. She bullied her litter mate “Gracie.”

Eventually, Gracie tired of her sisters shenanigans and camped out on the porch in spite of her. Gracie even nursed Rocky’s abandoned kitten.

Rocky merely looked on, unimpressed!

I don’t think Rocky was feeling the whole parenthood thing. I think her newfound responsibilities were overwhelming.

We’re not quite sure just what happened but poor Gracie died. Yet, shortly thereafter I found Rocky nursing both her sister’s kitten and the kitten she abandoned!   DSC_2934 (3)

Rocky evolved into a good mother.  I’ve seen her licking unwilling kitties clean!

She matured and does what needs to be done.

Maybe Rocky didn’t understand her role before. Maybe grief for her sister stirred something in her. Regardless, her mothering skills improved.

I think this cat family found a place in my heart because I can relate to Rocky.

I’m not sure I always dealt with Lan’s diagnosis “correctly.” In the beginning, I didn’t have a clue.  But like, Rocky, I eventually got the hang of it.

I’m no longer weary and afraid. The uncertainty and my stress are much much less!

I’ve evolved. I understand my role better. I’m probably a bit more nurturing to my “kitten.”

Looking back, God did the same for me. God engineered my evolution so I can be the mother I need to be.

Some lessons God reveals when we take time to “see” them and “hear” Him.

This isn’t the first time God has used a cat to teach me how less than ideal situations can work out unexpectedly.

And I suspect it won’t be the last.

While We Wait…

There are times in life when we have a dream, vision or even a promise that we are waiting for God to fulfill in our lives. However as we wait for the manifestation we may not always wait with a faith-filled expectation. Our sense of urgency doesn’t always correlate to God’s timing or His deliverance.

Our determination to stay in faith often wanes with the time required for our loved ones to reach their full bloom. Progress isn’t always made when we expect it. We may experience setbacks and false starts. Time spent waiting, disappointments, and unfair circumstances may move us to manipulate situations as our trust breaks.

Or, we can become bitter and angry when we are forced to face the unexpected.

God is faithful in the waiting period. In times of complete silence or when you are at your lowest point is often when God is working on your behalf!  DSC_0376 (2)

The book of Genesis tells the story of Joseph and how he was sold into slavery by his brothers, lied upon, tossed into prison and spent years waiting for the fulfillment of his dream.  Joseph was faithful during his period of waiting. He knew that God was with him. Joseph worked faithfully in his adversity serving others. Joseph was faithful to God through repeated temptation. He didn’t become bitter. Joseph was eventually delivered from a pit into the palace!

Sometimes God allows us to wait through “low” times to prepare us for what is ahead. Waiting develops character and tenacity. Some blessings we ask for we aren’t able to correctly manage…yet. We must not lose faith that God does hear us.

Joseph endured his period of waiting with the right attitude. I can’t say I’ve always done the same. However, I am learning to trust God and His timing more than ever.

God can answer my prayers more efficiently than the meager results of my own misplaced efforts. My prayers aren’t just about me or my kids. We are only pieces in an infinite puzzle that only God can put together. I can’t count how many times Lan’s teachers have said they have learned so much from him.

I don’t always understand what is going on. But I do trust and know that despite my frustrations God provides the blessing when it is needed most.  

I have prayed certain things about my children’s growth and development not knowing what would happen or what to expect. Things haven’t always looked good. Yet, faithfully God and only God turned situations completely around! 

DSC_0379 (2)What God has done for me He can surely do for you. If you trust Him…and are willing to wait.  

“Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord,” Psalms 27:14 NKJV

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!

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