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"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." Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV)

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Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas (?)

Hello everyone! Merry Christmas! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas weekend. Ours was full of nice family time but also full of meltdowns and mishaps. Without going into details, we woke up Christmas morning without a Christmas tree (had to be taken down the night before), the little man's hands patched up with Elmo and Cookie Monster bandaids and me with a horrible migraine that kept me from going to church. My hubby was off to lead the Christmas cantata, which the little man and I had to miss. I posted several stories and links on this blog leading up to Christmas that referred to ways we could make the holidays easier for our kids. I guess because the little guy had been doing so well, I didn't think we needed to prepare so much...and he was GREAT while we were with family. It was once we got into the car and got home that the pressure cooker gave and turned what should have been a wonderful holiday into two of the worst days we've had in a LONG time. And I missed church on Christmas for the first time since I can even remember... Hence the title of this post: "Merry Christmas (?)"

Today I was watching the video from the Christmas service at church and felt so sad that we missed it...yet in my gut I wonder how we could have gotten through it considering the night we'd had before. My husband came home and shared that many of the folks at church are worried that they haven't seen me in so long. He says he always has to give an excuse "She's upstairs working with the kids," or, "She's sick at home." This got me thinking... these are not excuses, they are the sad truth. I honestly believe that our weeks are so hard that come Sunday I am done! Our special needs ministry has not been as successful as I'd hoped, not because the kids aren't there, but because our "buddies" can't always be there as planned. The truth is that on most weeks in my life I am just happy to have been able to cook a meal or two and maybe tossed in a load of laundry (which is probably still in the dryer waiting for  me to take out) that I just can't find the time to make the calls and get all of these folks organized. When the "buddies" can't be there, I try to patch something up to give them a special Sunday school lesson and experience "ASD style" (quiet room, multi-sensory, combining physical movement with the lesson, etc). So, yes, I am "upstairs working with the kids," PRETTY MUCH, ALWAYS!

I am so blessed to have a children's pastor who has a true heart for these kids and ALWAYS has a back-up plan that works. I am double blessed that I have a strong enough relationship with my Lord, Jesus Christ, that even when I miss time with the congregation I still have my special time with Him. I am tripple blessed that the little man and I had been celebrating Advent, so he knows the "reason for the season" and he knows we are celebrating the coming of our King: Jesus Christ! We go see the Christmas lights and instead of yelling out "Santa," he yells out "Baby Jesus! Mary... Joseph...Angel!" Yet the culmination of this celebration is just painful... just thinking about it makes my head hurt!

Our "normal" is just so different! Just to get ourselves ready for church on any given Sunday, we have to do all the previewing, explaining each of the things we will be doing. On a good day, when I have the time and energy, we'll look at pictures to get ready. Then I have to figure out what we're going to wear: it can't be too hot because the little man's temperature regulation is an issue and he's extremely sensitive to feeling too hot. I also can't wear anything that is too textured because he hates how it feels on his skin. I can't wear shoes that have heels because the little man's body awareness is so bad that he ends up under my feet all the time and I could really hurt him. I also need comfortable flat shoes in case I have to run to catch him, particularly when walking to and from our car. Once I've figured out the clothes we will wear to go to church, then it's getting into them..that's a whole other story I'd rather not get into. I make sure the little man's had a good breakfast but still have to pack plenty of snacks, juice boxes, Dum Dum lolipops and toys to keep him entertained. I have to take my things in a backpack so I have two free hands to catch him or give him the physical support he needs (no pretty pocketbooks for this mama).

On the way to church, we have to battle about not going to see trains or airplanes, although the little guy has gotten better at "First church, then airport." It doesn't help that there are about 10 signs pointing the route to the airport between our house and church. We also see three different train track lines on the way to church! Once we park the car, we have to get ourselves to the church... that walk can sometimes take up to 20 minutes between his dragging his feet, wanting to throw rocks or stopping to watch an airplane in the sky. Then it's getting in the door of the church building...and getting him into the noisy and crowded sanctuary. Most Sundays we just go right upstairs to the Sunday school classroom; that seems to work, but if he's there for too long without other children then he gets very territorial about the space and can be pretty nasty when the other kids get there. Navigating Sunday school has its own challenges and they differ every week. Once Sunday school is over, we have to walk down to find his Papa in the large noisy crowd. There's all the explaining and excuses when people want him to speak to them or say hello and he's just in total overload. He is pretty good at giving "high fives," though! :-)

On a good Sunday, I will stay for the second service. We have our special place where we sit, right near the exit and where he can see his daddy while he works at the sound booth or down on the stage when he's playing with the praise and worship team. The lull between the two services is heavenly and allows us to sit quietly, have a snack and rest before the service begins. By that point we are on the home stretch... and can usually make it through the praise and worship (if it's not too loud) and until the offering. By that point, all my tricks have stopped working and it's time to go! So, the long walk back to the car begins... though knowing he will go see trains or airplanes are the carrot at the end of the stick to get him moving a little bit faster. Once we're in the car, I take a deep breath, praise the little man for being so wonderful and before I start the car, I review what we learned in Sunday school. Really, it's just my way of recouping before driving. It also helps him feel like "church" is done and now we're moving on. By this point it's about 1:30 pm and I'm spent, yet we have the whole rest of the day to go! Oh, another small detail, my husband and I usually travel in different cars so I always have an "out" if I need to run and he still has to stay while he serves in his ministries...

I find it hard to believe that I am the only one in this situation. How many of you out there find yourselves in this same "boat" along with me? Going to church is quite the endeavor and it can be completely exhausting! When special events, like Christmas, come, it's just so much harder! I'm not one that is big on new year's resolutions, but I do have a special prayer... I pray that this just gets easier. I don't know how... nor do I know what to even ask God to do to make it easier, I just pray that it gets easier. I see other parents who seem to just be able to leave their child with those in charge and walk away actually able to sit and enjoy the service. I know the Lord sees my actions and He will bless my hard work for His kingdom. I know the day WILL come when I can just leave my little man with the folks in charge, I know others will rise up to share the load of ministering to these little ones... My favorite Bible verse is my foundation:
"Faith is being sure of what you ope for and certain of what you do not see." Hebrews 11:1

I pray for you who may be in this same situation, that the Lord will open new doors for you in the New Year and that you, too, will be able to share the load and take the time to feed your soul as part of your church congregation. Some of you may not even be able to go to church on Sundays at all... some of you may have left the church because of these same reasons. I pray for each and every single one of you, that the Lord will bless you and give you strength...and peace!

Merry Christmas everyone!
The little man's Christmas train...the Bethlehem Express!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

David Phelps: "Oh Holy Night"

I've written so many times on this blog about one of my favorite Christian artists, David Phelps. I can't help but share his rendition of one of the most beautiful Christmas songs. I hope you enjoy it!
Be blessed!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Another Fantastic Story about Christmas and Autism!

Hi all! These great stories just keep rolling in!!! Here is another GREAT one! Be blessed!


From the Autism Support Network: Enjoying the Holidays with an autistic child

Great article from the ASN! Acceptance is a big part of finding peace in parenting a child with an autism spectrum disorder.  I often talk about how important it was for us to learn what worked for Nathan rather than making him fit our mold. Here's some food for though (read below). Blessings!

Enjoying the holidays with an autistic child

Lisa Jo Rudy

Question: How can we possibly enjoy the holidays with an autistic child?
Answer: From Dr. Cindy Ariel:
Holidays are often filled with stress. It takes work to make a beautiful and fun holiday for yourself and those around you. There is a lot of pressure to make the holidays perfect and fun, and to enjoy yourself while you're doing it. This is a tall order in any situation, but when you add to that the stress of having a child with special needs for whom you also want the holidays to be perfect and fun, it can become more overwhelming than ever.
Everything needs readjusting in your family life these days, and of course you are left with the emotions of it all. It is on you to make warm experiences for your family and new traditions that will help them to feel good about these family years. It's a huge adjustment. It's important at this time to sit back for a few minutes and backtrack just a little. What is it about the holidays that you've always enjoyed? Special foods? Pretty decorations? Certain activities? The gifts? All of it? Whatever it is, start there.
Focus on a few things you know are important to make sure you have prepared around this time. Of course, some things may need modification so that it is possible to enjoy them with your child with special needs. For example, if there is a danger of them hurting themselves on fragile decorations you may have to put them higher up and out of reach, or get new ones that are not so fragile. Some special foods may not be be served. These modifications often bring us disappointment but if the goal is a nice family holiday, it's important and we can adjust.
Make the demands on yourself realistic and don't try to do so much that you feel only frustration. Make realistic lists and work on things one at a time. Looking at a whole month of this holiday season is less overwhelming if you take it in small pieces. You may also have to lower your expectations of what you can really do, but at least what you do will be less stressful and make the holidays special.
Now for tackling the gifts. Again, you may have to step back and change your expectations. Think about your child and what will put a smile on his/her face. Maybe they can't handle the new games that every other kid is playing this year, or the current popular book series, or new sports equipment. But they may be thrilled with a cushy new ball, a big soft beanbag chair to flop on, a favorite food (within their dietary constraints), or even an hour away from all the noise and confusion to walk in brisk weather or slide in the playground. It's not what you hoped, but this part is not just about you. It's about how you can give everyone in your family some warm holiday experiences, and feel good about them and yourself in the process.
These may not be the holidays you once had, or dreamed of for your family. But you can still offer your family the love and warmth and smiles that the holiday glow that many of us carry within us is really all about.
From Dr. Robert Naseef:
Whenever I talk with parents, no other question is pregnant with quite so much emotion. No matter what tradition you celebrate - Chanukah, Christmas, Ramadan, or Kwanza - this can be a difficult time of year. Images of warm cozy family life fill our heads. It's a time to be close, to give thanks, and to look forward. It's a time to celebrate the lives of children, a time that families get together and assess where they are, notice changes and remember losses. There are many dimensions to the holiday season as visions of our own childhood holidays dance in our heads, but there is a special twist when your child is not developing typically. How we handle these times can set us up for a depressing winter season, or it can be an opportunity for growth and love. To grow, we have to acknowledge the often painful loss of the child we dreamed of and the challenges of having a child who is very different from what we imagined. After all, what parent doesn't look forward and envision an excited child having fun with new toys?
A thoughtful mother told me how she was enjoying the holidays this year as opposed to watching her son ignore his toys while she wept. She had learned to be realistic, now that her son who has autism is four. She wanted to buy him that first remote controlled car for four-to-six year olds, but instead she bought him some toys labeled 12-18 months that she knew he would enjoy. She also knows she will enjoy him this way, and she has the hope that he will develop from where he is, especially by becoming interested and having fun interacting with the rest of the family.
This woman loves her son dearly and has learned through her tears and grief to dream new dreams. She is now looking forward to being on the floor with him and following his lead in play. This process of letting go and moving on takes time, but most people do get there. Children with special needs have so much to teach their parents and the rest of society, particularly about accepting our differences and living in peace and harmony.
Holiday time is exciting for children, and children with special needs are no different. About 10-12 percent of school-aged children have disabilities and will receive holiday gifts this season. As opposed to wishing and pushing for a child to be normal, acceptance of the child where he or she is encourages further development. This brings us to an important lesson that all children can teach us in this current season for giving. More than the new toys, it is their parents’ time and attention that is so exciting and wonderful for children. It is the fuel for their development into kind and giving little people. In the consumer-driven rush this holiday season, let's not forget what’s really important. Let's connect with mind and heart to our families and friends and all whose lives we touch. Let's spend quality time together. As Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote many years ago, "The only true gift is a portion of thyself."
Robert Naseef, Ph.D., and Cindy Ariel, Ph.D., are the co-editors of "Voices from the Spectrum: Parents, Grandparents, Siblings, People With Autism, and Professionals Share Their Wisdom" (2006). On the web at www.alternativechoices.com.
Courtesy of Lisa Jo Rudy About.com, A NY Times Company.

Read more: http://www.autismsupportnetwork.com/news/enjoying-holidays-autistic-child-938927781#ixzz1h1m4fyuk

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Love Came Down- Devotional from DaySpring

Preparing for the holidays is primarily a preparing of the heart.
Because what comes down is love, and the way to receive love isn't to wrap anything up - but to unwrap your heart.
Advent - this is the season of preparing that prepares us for any season of life - because we are preparing our lives for Christ to enter in - which prepares for us the life without end. Is that the ultimate purpose of this life - the preparing for the next life?
Is this why Christmas, Advent, unlike any other time of year, glimmers with a glimpse of heaven - because it's the time of year we're fulfilling our purpose, preparing for Christ and His coming again? The Christmas tree's been lit for weeks, a beacon, a preparing, an anticipation. Why is it easier to make Christmas cookies than to make our hearts ready for Christ?
Is getting ready for Christmas as simple and difficult as simply sitting stilled before the cradle of Christ?
And yet. Love came down and "He came to His own people, and His own people did not receive him." (John 1:11)
Love came down - and his own people did not recognize Him.
Love came down - and His own people did not want what He offered.
The Messiah came down and He wasn't received as the Messiah - and Love comes down and who receives all the moments as His love?
-Devotion excerpt by Ann Voskamp, author of the blog A Holy Experience and the New York Times Bestseller One Thousand Gifts: A Dare To Live Fully Right Where You Are.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Heavenly Peace by Nicole Johnson

Another FANTASTIC meditation by Women of Faith. So appropriate for this blog. Enjoy!

Sitting in front of the Christmas tree in the dark is one of the simplest and best gifts of the holiday season to me. The house is quiet and still and the lights seem brighter as the ornaments pick up the sparkle.
Unfortunately, quiet and still aren’t usually the words I associate with Christmas. It’s my own fault but frankly it is one the busiest time of the year for me. It is full of wonderful things that I love to do, like baking and shopping for just the right gift, but somehow in the middle of all the “wonderful,” I just plain lose the wonder.
Amid the hustle and bustle that is Christmas these days, the child in the manger is often lost in the shuffle or even trampled in the clamoring of shopping. Santa Clauses on the street selling cars or advertising this week’s special, spur us on toward stuff and away from the sacred. But not tonight.
Silent Night is playing in my head as I sit quietly. This beautiful and simple hymn gently beckons me to stillness as I peer into the manger. No rushing here, no clamoring, just a holy infant, so tender and mild, ushering in the opportunity for the world, and me, to sleep in heavenly peace.
And isn’t that what we need tonight? Far from sleeping in heavenly peace, many are in the clutches of sleepless nights over lost jobs, lost houses, lost 401ks, and lost Christmas dreams. Such difficult times do not promote sleep or peace, but both can still be found for those who seek. Maybe not in the kind of gifts that come wrapped in shiny paper, this divine gift comes to us wrapped only in the swaddling rags of humanity—as a gift that can bring heavenly peace to earthly hearts.
Far from the mall and closer to the manger, the real hope of Christmas is rekindled in my cold, consumer-driven, perfectionist heart. I unplug the tree and invite the holy child to lay down his sweet head in the straw of my heart and head to bed with heavenly peace.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Advent has begun!

The wonderful Christmas season has begun. Every year since Nathan was born, we have taken the Advent season as a time for family devotionals and sharing together. We start on December 1st and continue until Christmas Day. It is a beautiful way of sharing together and getting ready for the grand celebration of Jesus' birth.

Last night we began Advent night #1. We watched a beautiful DVD about the Nativity and talked about the angel Gabriel (also the topic from Sunday school last Sunday). We are focusing on the verse "Your king is coming" Matthew 21:5... even though that verse is found in the context of the Triumphal Entry, it serves as a wonderful way of helping Nathan understand that we are waiting for the "arrival" of our King, Jesus Christ.

It always amazes me how Nathan can be so hyperactive and as soon as I put on the Nativity DVD he sits on the couch in awe. I sit with him and highlight the scenes and characters that we are focusing on that night. Last night it was Gabriel and Zacharias. I use our own family pictures to help him make connections: Zacharias was Mary's uncle, like Nathan's uncles Scott and Dave. It really is a beautiful way to share... and looking at the pictures helps Nathan preview all the family members we will celebrate Christmas with. It's a win-win!

I found these great inexpensive craft kits that we could make together as a family. Last night we made our angel Gabriel and practiced our verse. I hope to take pictures of Nathan each night to document Advent this year. Trying to get him to sit still for the camera was quite an adventure but ended up being a whole lot of fun! Unfortunately for the craft angel, Nathan had a blast whipping it around like a fan towel at a NBA game... and it held up! Here is a sequence of pictures I was able to take... hope they bring a smile to your face, too! Blessings!

Getting ready for Christmas!

Hi everybody! Sorry I have been gone for so long... I was actually taking some of my blog posts and expanding them into a book for an amateur book publishing contest through Women of Faith! Very exciting! We'll know in the spring who the winner is!!! To me it was just a wonderful blessing to see on paper the AMAZING things God has done for me and for my family to prepare for this journey and once we were on it.

Women of Faith just sent out a fantastic email this week that I wanted to share with you. All the credits are listed at the bottom. Enjoy and God bless you!

C – Center your heart on the deeper meaning of the holidays. This will help everyone become easier to get along with because the heart of the holiday will remain intact.
H – Hear what your friends and family are voicing as their stress, and listen carefully to them—a gift that will lower their stress.
R – Reach out as a family to help others in order to keep the proper perspective on what is really important in life.
I – Invest in memories, not material goods. Make time for family baking, tree decorating, or board games.
S – Speak your love in words. The best gift you can give is for a person to hear their value and worth from your lips.
T – Take time for romance. The greatest gift you can give your children is a happy marriage.
M – Make time to reach out to extended family. Visit or call grandparents, aunts, and uncles.
A – Assume nothing; ask those who are celebrating with you what their expectations are, and communicate the plan clearly so people feel informed.
S – Stay flexible. Don’t be a Christmas boss, ordering family around. Instead slow the pace, gather consensus, and give options so that you create an environment of connecting and sharing.
Excerpted from Simplify Your Holidays © 2008 Marcia Ramsland. Published in Nashville, Tennessee by Thomas Nelson. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Lump of Clay

Just recently I received a catalog for the fall recreational activities available at a local organization for children with special needs. Adapted swim, music therapy and a kids' clay/pottery class piqued my interest. Swimming and clay were my two picks, since each of these activities provide the best sensory input/experience. Music therapy may be a bit too much for my little one's sensitive ears but we're looking into it! The little man's school is concerned that he is not involved in more small group activities with other kids his age. They are also concerned that school is the only time he is away from his family, which may be negatively influencing his behaviors at school due to separation anxiety. Well, I actually don't know of very many other 3-year-olds who spend extensive periods of time away from their family other than when they are in school or daycare...but that may just be me digressing again! We are trying to find more supervised group activities for the little guy to do. Guess what, though? For his age group, all the available activities require... yup, you guessed it: PARENT OR FAMILY PARTICIPATION. Talk about frustrating! We DO want to find more opportunities for the little man to swim and/or play in the water because he loves it so much and it is excellent physical and sensory exercise. We're working on it...

The clay class sounds interesting. Had I not taken pottery/clay classes before I would think it was a terrible safety hazard to offer this as an option for kids on the autism spectrum. When I look back and remember my high school clay pottery class... I LOVED IT!!! To this day I still have the hiddeously clunky and heavy creations I so lovingly put together. I loved the class so much I just kept making more and more pieces. My poor family was bombarded with my "works of art." I do have to say some of my pieces were quite nice and quite practical...the others ended up becoming colorful paper weights. Anyway, the wonderful thing about clay is that it is an extremely "forgiving" medium to work with. If you don't like your first creation, you just re-mold it into something new! For kids who have difficulties "committing" their artwork onto paper because of the anxiety of its permanence, clay is the way to go!

One thing about clay: it is hard! Not difficult, but hard in consistency. You have to knead it for long periods of time in order to get it warm enough and make it softer. For kids on the spectrum all that squeezing offers great sensory input! Pulling and ripping the clay apart can also be extremely therapeutic, not just sensory-wise but also to relieve stress, anxiety, anger and frustration! Most therapeutic is the initial process of preparing the clay. You have to throw the clay really hard onto the table or surface you are working on. You MUST do this over and over before you can even begin to work with the clay. All that banging squeezes any air bubbles out before you start creating your piece. Those tiny little air bubbles can wreak havoc in the kiln (oven) when the clay is baking. Even the tiniest of air bubbles can cause your piece to explode, shattering not only your work but every other project that is baking in the kiln along with it.

Hmm... that got me thinking... I've frequently referenced the "hits" our family has taken on this journey. Even way back when we were waiting to have a child we took some pretty hard hits. At the beginning I always asked myself (and God) "WHY?!?!?" Yet after every one of those occasions I've looked back and seen why. I can truthfully and honestly say that more often than not I ended up feeling thankful for those hits, because when things got really, really bad and even bigger trials came, I felt I had the resources I needed to make it through.  I'd like to think it's like that lump of clay. Each of the hits are just preparing it to be molded and to withstand the heat in the oven before it can become a beautiful and useful vessel. Our lives are just like that lump of clay! Whatever the "hits" don't work the bubbles out of our systems can cause us to explode under pressure... and cause damage not only to ourselves but to those around us as well!

The Bible has so many references to clay using the imagery of God being the potter and us being the clay. In Isaiah 64:8 the prophet writes, "But now, Oh Lord, You [are] our Father; we [are] the clay and You our potter; and all we [are] the work of Your hand" (NKJV). In Jeremiah 18:4 we read, "And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make" (NKJV). Most poignant to me is the passage in Isaiah 29:16 which adds, "Surely you have things turned around! Shall the potter be esteemed as the clay; for shall the thing made say of him who made it 'He did not make me'? Or shall the thing formed say of him who formed it, 'He has no understanding'?" (NKJV). This is why I refuse to see my little guy as "missing a piece." I truly believe he was made just like God intended him to be. God makes no mistakes! All those hits we took early on as a family just prepared us for what was to come and to help us be the best parents possible to this amazing little boy!

BUT... before I could become a useful vessel to honor my Lord, I had to surrender my "lump of clay" and let Him make me into who I am and who He wanted me to be. "But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor," 2 Titus 2:20 (NKJV). I choose to hand my life, my lump of clay, over to the Master Potter for Him to make me into a useful vessel that will bring Him honor. I will also keep in mind that surrendering to Him is for my good, but also for the good of those around me (remember the air bubbles in the kiln?). On those especially tough days with the little man, I will remember that he, too, is a small lump of clay who is in the process of being molded. He has been entrusted to us for a while to make sure his "clay" is kept moist and malleable, not dry, brittle and useless. It is our job as his parents to do everything in our power to get him ready so when his time comes to take the hits of life he won't shatter but hopefully give himself to the Lord to become a useful vessel to His honor as valuable as gold.

Be blessed!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Reflections through a kaleidoscope

As many of you know, we are a spanish-speaking family. When I tell my spanish-speaking friends about this blog I have "issues" with its name. See, the international symbol for ASD is a jigsaw puzzle... in spanish the word for that is "rompecabezas" which literally means head-breaker. Hmm... that does not quite work for me, so I use the word for a different type of puzzle: "laberinto" which means labyrinth. It's funny because when we were brainstorming ideas for our walk team name and logo, several team members had reservations about the visual portrayal of a puzzle that is missing a piece.

This got me thinking... as Christians we believe God has a perfect plan for everything (Jeremiah 30:17-20). Our children came to our families and homes as a part of God's master plan. A puzzle with a missing piece implies that our children are not complete and that we are on this endless search to find "the missing piece." I have issues with that! I don't think my son is incomplete! I think he sees the world differently than we do, like a kaleidoscope! So this journey we are on is more of a labyrinth, since we are faced with so many unexpected turns, obstacles and walls along the way. We as families are not "incomplete," we're just on a more complicated path than most.

I am frequently astounded by my little man's visual skills. He truly has a gift for the visual, though he struggles with language and social skills. This makes me wonder about the way kids with ASD view the world. I can only imagine what it must be like; Dr. Temple Grandin calls it "thinking in pictures"... only sometimes more like a picture viewed through a kaleidoscope. The world can be a crazy and scary place and when you have an altered view, I can only imagine it feels even worse!

Well, I have decided to stop thinking of my son as "missing a piece." I have decided that this journey may be a labyrinth, but God is waiting for us at the end with His arms wide open! I have decided that my life, my son's life, my family's life is not a web to sort out or a bunch of broken pieces to put together. It is a tapestry woven with every bit that each of member of our "team" has contributed! Right now it may look like an indiscernable compilation of intersecting strings but in my heart I can see the Lord holding the masterpiece in His hands, knowing in the end it will be one of a kind!

I have named this post "reflections through a kaleidoscope" because that is what this blog has become. Each post is a reflection of what I am learning on this journey. Right now it looks fragmented and confusing, like the view through a kaleidoscope, but it is a beautiful view when you stop to admire the combination of colors and designs. I am walking by faith with Jesus holding my hand. I may not be able to see straight but that's not for me to worry about... all I have to do is hold on tightly to His hand, trust in His promises and know that this is the life He chose for me (Psalm 121). One day I will be on the other side looking back and I WILL marvel at the perfect, one-of-a-kind masterpiece who is so aptly named "a gift from God"!

Be blessed!
The little guy and Mama, Oct 2008

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


I wrote this a few days ago but hadn't gotten around to sitting on the computer until now. I hope this is a blessing to your life!
October 30, 2011- After a week's drought from writing I've decided to write about two really cool things that made my week last week. They both had to do with two pretty cool kids with ASD and the life cycle of pumpkins. HUH?!?! Yup, you read right: PUMPKINS!
My little man has been studying the life cycle of the pumpkin at school. Now considering how much time he's been spending in "safe space" (i.e. time out) and/or having "interventions" for his behavior lately it was an incredibly pleasant SHOCK to hear that he was learning anything at all! But God is good and my baby IS learning! The little man brought home a large strip of red paper titled "Pumpkin Life Cycle." I asked him what it was and he said, "see, fly, punkin'" A bit confused I asked him again and he pointed at each of the shapes: see...fly...punkin'. HE WAS SAYING "SEED, FLOWER, PUMPKIN!!!!!" WOW!!! How cool is THAT?!?!? That paper is now on our refrigerator door and every day he reminds us of each of the stages, though now he's been able to work at it and say "seed, flowa, punkin" I'm SO proud! ;') That was cool moment #1.
Cool moment #2 happened at school while I worked in a first grade classroom with a little girl with ASD who has been having a REALLY hard time at school (sound familiar?). I felt honored to be able to witness this little girl who's had such a rough start to the year beam with pride as she colored, cut and pasted images of...guess what? The life cycle of the pumpkin! Her teacher, aide and I just cheered as she allowed us to offer suggestions and even help her fix each of the paper squares to fit onto a strip of paper. Her teacher made it "just right" so she could wear it as a headband/hat for the rest of the day! This was the FIRST time since September that I have seen the child be flexible, make steady eye contact, let someone help her and even dance for joy when her work was finished!
These two things got me thinking about kids like this little girl and my little man. Both of these kids have ASD and although they are incredibly bright their school experiences are so "colored" by their behavioral difficulties (did you know that was the case for Albert Einstein, too?). The joy of seeing these two kids beam with pride in their work is why I do what I do, why I've been at it for over 15 years and why I love it so much! These two kids are like the pumpkin seeds: they were planted, watered and cared for but something went awry along the way. When educators in their lives became blinded and overwhelmed by their behaviors, it's as if they'd thrown a tarp over the small pumpkin plant sprouting from the eart, stunting its growth. Without light or air, these little plants will wither and never give fruit! In contrast, when cared for, nourished and allowed to breathe and grow with the correct guidance, these little plants could end up producing record-breaking sized pumpkins (remember Albert Einstein?).
This reminds me of the many, many places in the Bible where plants and seeds are described and/or used as analogies (see list at the end of my post). Our spiritual lives are like these seeds: it is not enough to plant the seed and expect it to magically grow. We need to nourish that sproutlet! The stressors of life so often cover the light and air that we need to grow in Christ. Like the joy I felt in seeing these two amazing kids beam with pride at their accomplishments, I can only imagine God's joy when He sees us grow and give fruit against all odds! My prayer is that I can be a witness to many more of my little man's accomplishments and moments of pride. I pray that his school life no longer serves as that tarp that covers his air and light, stunting his joy and his growth. I pray that the stressors in MY life don't drown out the blessings and spiritual nourishment that God wants to pour out over my life and my family. I pray the same for you: that your seed grows into a beautiful flower and gives plenty of healthy fruit...
Be blessed!
Then he took some of the seed of the land and planted it in a fertile field; He placed it by abundant waters and set it like a willow tree. And it grew and became a spreading vine of low stature; Its branches turned toward him, but its roots were under it. So it became a vine, brought forth branches, and put forth shoots. Ezekiel 17:5-6

The seed shrivels under the clods, storehouses are in shambles; barns are broken down, for the grain has withered. Joel 1:17
For the seed shall be prosperous, the vine shall give its fruit, the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew— I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these. Zechariah 8:12

He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper. Psalm 1:3

For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit. Jeremiah 17:8

Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. John 15:2

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Come to the Well

My favorite Christian band, Casting Crowns, released its new album this week. It is titled Come to the Well, based on the passage of the woman at the well meeting Jesus in  John 4.  I have been anxiously anticipating the release of this album and I can't wait until Christmas, when I know some loving family member (hint, hint) will get me the devotional book that goes with it (written by Mark Hall, lead singer of Casting Crowns). My favorite thing about this band is that they are ministers first and musicians next. Each and every single one of their songs has words that cut like a knife down to your soul... and they have no qualms about saying things like they are, openly criticizing the overly religious and exhorting Christians to build relationships with Jesus Christ. Check out their website... they have wonderful short video Bible studies perfect for your daily devotionals!!!

I have been engulfed in this music since its release on Tuesday morning...and I've been moved by so many of the songs! They have stayed with me even after I'm done listening and have helped me come face to face with my Lord in the quietness AND craziness of my days. As you may have read in my earlier posts, I have been going through a process of searching God's peace during a very troubling time. I am sure many of you parents of kids on the spectrum can relate to the battles we often have to fight with the school system to get our kids what they need. We are dab smack in the middle of one of those battles and my worst fear, that the little man would be the one to suffer the most from the process, has come true...but I trust that God has a plan!

Being in "the business" of public special education (and specializing in working with kids on the autism spectrum) has given me a different insight into my son's education and his needs. It has also "colored" my expectations of my son's educators, much to their dismay. As a Christian, my professional experience has not always been a good thing. I have felt like I had to control everything and make it just right for the little man at school. By bringing in specialists and by fighting and relying on my own strength I just wore myself out... and my family was paying the price (particularly my wonderful husband). I have felt physically, emotionally and spiritually torn between my duties as a mother/wife and my duties in my professional work. That has suffered, too, in my quest to get my son what he needs.

The lyrics of some of Casting Crowns' new songs like Already There, Face Down, My Own Worst Enemy, and Listen to Our Hearts have reminded me that:
1) God has the perfect long-distance view of this journey I am on and each step has a purpose in His perfect plan.
2) God is constantly there, waiting for me to "make" time for Him.
3) I don't have to force myself to find the words to say to Him in prayer. He sees my heart and knows my love for Him, even when I can't find a way to show or tell him.
4) I can't fight this fight alone. I can NOT make it on my own!
AND 5) I feel closest to God when I humble myself before Him...completely...and face down.

Last night during my quiet time with my God, He brought together in my mind images from my last post coupled with the cover of Come to the Well:
I wish I was an artist so I could depict the vivid illustration He put in my spirit. Face down in total humility before the Lord I raised my hands and physically handed Him my load. My hands were dirty and my clothes were tattered...my power, strength, experience and knowledge are just not enough!

My post now comes full-circle to why I love Casting Crowns' music so much. Their lyrics are constant reminders that we should ALL be prostrated before our Lord in the utmost reverence and humble disposition. Only by rendering ourselves to Him and giving Him our load will we be free and see that He is carrying us...and we find peace. I truly believe that Christians should spend more time in this position and less time judging others. "Jesus Friend of Sinners" is another awesome track on the album that touches my heart. Jesus did not come for the pristine churchgoers who are more like the Pharisees He chastised. He came for the sinners...those He befriended and invited into his inner circle by saying "Follow me."

But I am digressing. In closing I will leave you with the catchiest hook on the entire album. The title song reminds us to "leave it all behind and come to the well." Only when you humble yourself, hand your baggage to the Almighty and leave it behind will you be able to draw and enjoy from the well of Living Water and find your peace in the midst of this puzzle.

Have a blessed day!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

In the Shadow of His Wings

Hi all! It surely has been a interesting week for us but I am glad and thankful to report that the little man is doing MUCH, MUCH better at school.  Please keep the prayers coming.

My mom has been away in Chile doing "her thing" for what has seemed like eternity. At least in this day and age of technology there are so many ways to stay in touch even though she is miles and miles away. This is an email she sent me while she was gone. She knew we were going through some serious trials with the little guy and his school and wanted to remind me that we are under God's eternal protection.  I tried to track down the author of the email but have not had success... if anyone sees this and can give the author credit, please let me know. I'd like to give credit where credit is due. I do know the picture is listed as "photographer unkown." It truly is a beautiful scene! The text in the email read:
"Reminds me of Psalm 91:4- He will cover you with his feathers, he will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection."
Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass... it's about learning to dance in the rain.
There is absolutely nothing to fear about tomorrow; for God is already there"

In my search for the photographer of this amazing picture I stumbled upon an article in a newspaper in the UK. It featured two pictures of a mother swan with her babies.
The article, in the dailynews.co.uk had the following caption: The mute swan and her fluffy cargo were caught on camera by Richard Meston on a visit to Bicton Park Botanical Gardens near Sidmouth, Devon. 

Mr Meston, 32, said: ‘The cygnets had been splashing in the water around their mum. They looked like they were starting to get tired and one by one started to scramble up on their mum’s back. She didn’t mind at all and even gave them a nudge up.’
The father of three from Bournemouth added: ‘After they got settled in, she covered them with her wings protectively like a cushion and went on her way.'

I find these images much more poignant because although the picture of the colorful bird shows its protection of the babies under its wings, the image of the mother swan shows how God not only protects us but He CARRIES us during those hardest times. Just like the mommy swan, He sees our struggles, picks us up and carries us when we begin to get tired. He is our ever faithful daddy whose love never fails. Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30 "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." I pray you, too, will find your comfort and peace under His wings!  

Have a blessed day!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Ketchup to my Fries

Yes, I am a self-proclaimed "foodie," but I must confess one of my guilty pleasures in life is french fries. I LOVE fries!!! Take away all sweets but don't mess with my fries! I love the crunchy salty ones the best...YUM! But, as delicious as fries are to me, there's one thing that ALWAYS makes them better: ketchup! Ketchup and fries have been going together since...well, let's just say it's been quite the relationship between those two!

It is so interesting to me that my little guy LOVES fries and ketchup: together AND separately. No doubt, though, fries and ketchup are his preferred food on this planet. I was thinking about this and came to the conclusion that my husband and I are like fries and ketchup. Confused? Well, I'd like to think that by myself I'm pretty good (like fries) but it is my husband who, like the ketchup to the fries, makes me better. He is "the ketchup to my fries!" The little man loves us both separately but no doubt that when he's with his mommy and daddy he is in heaven!

Not a lot of people know, or remember, how my hubby and I ended up here. We grew up together as kids (not really liking each other much) and stayed connected for years through the church. In the early 90's I found my best friend, my BFF...and that was him! This August we celebrated 14 years of marriage. We've sure had some ups and downs but through it all he has held my hand and pulled me through. He almost lost me right after I gave birth, but God allowed me to stay here on earth to enjoy a lifetime with my best friend and our little bundle of joy...yet joy was not quite what we felt after our new addition came along. He was fussy, cried more than most babies and seemed to have inherited the most annoying traits from every possible family member! He was a tough baby, not one you could just leave with a sitter. Well, there went our private time for each other! When the "A bomb" dropped (diagnosis) we were both relieved but terrified of what was to come and what it would do to our marriage!

My husband is the BEST daddy I know!!! He has sacrificed so much and works so hard for our family. He is 200% dedicated to the little man's care and manages to take care of me in the process. I sometimes jokingly ask him to show me the "S" on his chest. Surely only a superhero can handle everything he does: provider, caregiver, homemaker (yes, it's true!), financial planner, handyman, car mechanic, sound engineer, plumber, electrician and official bug squisher! And that's only a portion of what he does! He is a good man, a good God-fearing Christian man who carries my load so I can be the best mommy possible to our little guy.

I am so blessed to have such an amazing man, not just as my husband, but as my best friend. In this crazy puzzle we live in we often get so overwhelmed by caring for our children that the most important people pay the price. I guess that's why the divorce rates are so high in families who have children with special needs. My husband is the ketchup to my fries because he makes me a better person and a better mom. I am usually too exhausted to show him, yet day after day he is there to hold my hand and pull me through while carrying all our loads!

I know it was God, alone, who brought us together. He joined us in this beautiful union and chose us to be this little guy's mommy and daddy. I know I have not held my end of the bargain on many, many days and I just pray that God continues to strengthen the bond between us as we walk this crazy journey together.

"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor; for if they fall, one will lift up his companion... Again, if the two lie down together, they will keep warm... Though one is overpowered by another, two can withstand him. A threefold cord is not quickly broken." Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NJKV)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

No burning bush...but pretty darn cool!

Hi all!  So, as you all saw my last post was pretty deep... one of the hardest posts I've written so far. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will know that I am always stressing the need to spend quality, intimate time with the Lord in order to find peace in this crazy journey. I spent some quality time with my God last night, asking Him for guidance and protection over my beautiful boy. This morning, the first song that came on my iPod was "Sin Dolor"(Without Pain) by Lilly Goodman. I've said in my previous posts that I'm not one to talk about visions or burning bushes, but this was pretty darn cool!  Once you read the lyrics you will understand.  I hope they will be a blessing to you in your own walk through the puzzle.

General message of the song in English:
Without pain, there is no gain. Everything worth fighting for in life has a price, even if we stumble along the way. What good is it to win, if it was so easy to reach your goal? You don't want to go through struggles, but sometimes they serve as means to awaken gifts hidden inside of you... and move you out of complacency that keeps you in your comfort zone. Remember these struggles will only push you further towards your goal. I know sometimes we have to take the hits in order to grow and be able to mature, otherwise we won't know how to manage what is to come... and even though the pain in that moment is so cruel, God will not leave you there longer than what you can take!

Have a blessed week!

Lyrics in Spanish:
No, sin dolor no hay ganador. Todo cuesta un valor por el que hay que luchar, a pesar de tropezar. ¿De qué importaría ganar si fue tan fácil llegar a la meta? ¿y al final, que más habrá? No quieres pasar dificultad pero a veces servirá para despertar el don que dentro hay. Y salir de la comodidad que te aferra a ese lugar y a la meta con firmeza avanzar. Sí, lo sé, a veces hay que ser golpeado para poder crecer y alcanzar un poco más de madurez, porque no habría forma de saber manejar lo que vendrá. Y aunque el dolor en esos tiempos puede ser tan cruel, pero Dios no nos dejará permanecer allá mas tiempo del que podamos soportar.
Video on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbdQVmqrANg

Monday, October 10, 2011

Running in Mud

As I previously posted, we had our fundraising walk for Autism Speaks a week ago this Sunday. After our yard sale and a few more donations, our team has raised almost $6000! Thank you to everyone who contributed!!!!!

The walk was fun...the kids had an AMAZING time! I was really pleasantly surprised by how much they enjoyed themselves.  It was also so refreshing to be surrounded by people who understand our lives and sport so many of the same 'war wounds'.  Interestingly enough, our team kids (well, the boys mostly) had the most fun being able to run aimlessly in the muddy sandy track. It seemed like the messier and dirtier they got, the more their joy and laughter multiplied... exponentially... and it was contagious! Before we knew it, the adults were hopping and skipping and our dirty shoes were no longer a big deal. We trekked happily across the finish line!

Running in muddy sand really is NOT a pleasurable experience to the average person. It is messy, dirty, uncomfortable and it requires exerting much more strength (and breath) than walking on dry ground. Be prepared to take MUCH longer to get to your destination than you imagined.  One thing is for sure, though, you will get there with really tired, but stronger, legs!

I frequently say that my life feels like I'm running in mud. Life with a toddler is exhausting but life with a toddler with an autism spectrum disorder...well, let's just say it's like running in mud--while juggling! My husband often says that it feels like 10 years since our little man was born. I really can't remember ever feeling like he is growing up too fast. My friends don't quite understand this feeling, but I think it's just like the feeling after walking around that sandy, muddy track. We've gone the same exact distance as everyone else but we seem to be twice as tired. At the end of each week, we feel like we've run a marathon... in the mud.

I know this process is making me stronger, yet I can't say that I've reached the point of finding joy in this "mud" that is slowing down the pace of our lives. Each new day I just pick up and keep running, always only getting part of the way than I'd hoped to cover.  Looking back does no good, except sometimes to see the huge pits, ditches and puddles we've made it through... that does provide some momentum for the journey!

When I originally wrote this post I was neck high in one of the nastiest points in our walk through our little man's early education. Although nothing has changed, today I am thankful that the long weekend has allowed me to catch my breath, enjoy some real quality time with my boy and recharge for a new week full of battles. But... I am tired and I am weary.  I am tired of psyching myself up to hear the worst only to still have my heart shattered by more bad news about his days at school. It's the same exact feeling I get each Sunday when we try, unsuccessfully, to get the little guy to be a part of Sunday school. I try to pick up the pieces of my broken heart and put them back together but it's like picking up some muddy sand: it dries out and slips through my fingers, taking with it my hopes and piling back up on the ground, drowning out the light at the end of my tunnel.

I dream of the day when I don't have to cringe during school pick-ups, bracing myself to hear the events (or "episodes") of the day. I desire to have my son included at our church, like the other kids are... but that's just not our reality right now. I know our "normal" is different. This path takes strength and persistence just like it did to walk over a mile in that mud. Just like the adults at the walk, groaning and moaning about their dirty, wet and uncomfortable journey, I just can't help but grumble each time I hear that my child is having meltdowns more often than not when he is not with us. How does a parent get used to constantly having their heart broken? I don't think I know that yet...

A beautiful sister in Christ from our church has a son with ASD. He is now about to transition to adulthood... she has asked that a few of us get together to chat and try to support each other. She confesses that she does not profess to be an "expert," but would like to share the wisdom she's gathered from her own journey. In my own suffering, I see this beautiful person digging a tiny hole through the pile of sand blocking out my light... she is on the other side of this path and is reminding me that there are people there to see me through. God sends His angels to remind us that we are not alone.  Time and time again, this is how He lifts me up, cleans me off and places me back onto steady ground.  I believe this is what David referred to when he wrote in Psalms 40:1-3. I sang this Psalm so many times in my youth, yet it is not until now that it rings so true in my life.  This is my prayer today and I share the passage with you: "I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth— Praise to our God; Many will see it and fear, And will trust in the LORD."

Be blessed!

Our Team "Peace in the Puzzle"

Monday, September 26, 2011

And so it begins...

Hi All!!!  It is time for me to take my own medicine because we are in the midst of a really tough situation with Nathan at school right now.  When God has you in a situation but doesn't open any other doors you realize there is something to be learned, done or taught in the process.  I believe in my heart that we are where we are to effect some change in our preschool to benefit others in the future.  We will stand strong!

My job has also been quite tough and last week was especially stressful. Politics, politics... it is NEVER the kids that push me over the edge!  In all, I am thankful for God's peace: staying calm, only crying a little bit and remaining objective towards achieving my goal!

Unlike similar situations in the past, I am at peace.  It must be that "tough skin" I was talking about in my last post.  I have my ducks in a row, my home team is lined up and we're ready to take this on head-on!!!  I have an amazing couple as my faith partners and prayer warriors. It never ceases to amaze me how God always moves them to act right when I need it when they live miles away and we barely speak. Just yesterday, as I finished firing my emails to the "powers that be" getting ready for another crazy week, I get an email from my friend sharing this link... another family on this path. And there it was: I'm not alone and God is with me!  I share this wonderful website with you: http://thepacepack.com/index.html

I am happy to report that our new special needs ministry, CLJ Buddies, started this past Sunday and was successful!  I am so thankful to God and continue to pray that this will all move smoothly. So far we have 11 people interested in working with us! And God continues to give me peace.  Please send me a message if you want more information!

I am also happy to report that our walk for Autism Speaks is this Sunday and our team has raised almost $5,000!!!!  Praise God!!!!  I can't take any of the credit because one family did the most amazing job at fundraising that I've ever seen!  I am so proud to be on their team! If you are interested in making a donation, please feel free to visit our team page: http://www.walknowforautismspeaks.org/greaterboston/peaceinthepuzzle

This is not my most eloquent post, nor do I have any witty prose to share with you because I am spent. Our God is an awesome God and He is there to pick us up when we fall down... and when we feel most lost and alone is when He is right by our side.  When the world is crumbling around us we are in His pocket of protection and stand firm holding on to His promises.  This, too, shall pass.  I choose peace, determination and faith. Who's with me???


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Old Shoes

Ok, so we all have them...our favorite broken in old shoes that our feet just slide into as if they were a custom-made second skin... You know the ones!

I LOVE my old shoes!!! I have loved and worn them so much that they are no longer wearable. Yes, it is very sad. I hate change! I liked how these used to fit! They were perfect! I didn't even have to lace or buckle them anymore... they beckoned to be worn like slippers made in Heaven!  But those same comfy familiar old shoes now actually hurt my feet. I keep trying to convince myself that it may be my mind playing tricks on me.  "Maybe my feet are just swollen," I try to reason, or "it was just more humid today"...they were still my same old friends! Yet each time I attempted to wear them I felt that same pinch, poke or rub from the worn down materials, telling me they were ready to move on to retirement.

So it's time find a new pair of shoes...not pleasurable but necessary. After what seemed like an endless endeavor I found some I liked. They're not bad... they're actually pretty good! Then it happens: the blisters! A couple of bandaids later I realize these new shoes actually feel pretty darn good, maybe even better than the old ones ever felt...and suddenly my feet have made new best friends!  Those of you who are regular readers of my blog probably know where this is going, but here's a curve ball: sometimes those new shoes don't stop hurting for a long time.

One of my favorite secular singers, Sade, has a beautifully poignant song called "Pearls" that I'd like to dedicate to every mom of a child with special needs. Listen closely to the words. The lyrics are so multidimensional that it may stir a potpourri of emotions and feelings about yourself, about all mothers who struggle, about families in Africa...it may even make you see your life from a different angle and put things into perspective.  I purposely chose a video that has peaceful images unrelated to the song. I'd like for you to create your own mental images as you listen:
Hearing Sade belt out that prayer from what seems like the innermost parts of her being stirs my soul every time I hear the song! Did you catch the part that says "Hurts like brand new shoes"?

This week our little man went back to school. Last week he started with a new "teacher" at home. All that was familiar to us is changing at it "hurts like brand new shoes." I've been reflecting on this. Much like the woman in the song we also "live a life we didn't choose" but "it's a force stronger than nature that keeps (our) will alive."  Now, don't get me wrong, I am NOT saying that having a child with special needs even comes close to what these women in Africa must endure to ensure the mere survival of their families. I just like the lyrics and can identify with certain parts of the song.  Let's all keep praying for the terrible famine in the African Horn. How many of us have found ourselves crying out to God in that moment of despair? "WHY?!?!?" is the default response when things don't go our way: bad things happen, plans change, etc.

Or lives are like those old comfy shoes. We'd stay in that same comfort zone forever... why even think of change? As parents of kids on the autism spectrum, it is SO easy to fall into that trap of just staying home where everything is safe, no one is judging or giving unsolicited advice, things are familiar and so much easier to control! But we inadvertently feed into our kids' rigidity and social disconnection, making it even harder to try something new and different or attend social events in the future.  I admit I fall into this trap quite frequently. Thankfully I am blessed with a husband who repeatedly gives me reality checks and pushes me to try things outside of my comfort zone. And guess what? More often than not, our little guy has loved it and so have I! When he hasn't loved it, we've at least tried something new and can chalk it up to experience! I am reminded to the beautiful book Dancing with Max by Emily Colson. She shares her experience of reaching that point in her life with her son, Max and describes the freedom and joy they discovered together.

When we get too comfy, God tosses little things in the way to get us to move, to change. But just like those old shoes you keep going back, convincing yourself that it's fine and that "things will go back to normal." Until the situation, much like those old shoes, becomes unbearable. God will keep sending louder messages until you have no choice but to dump the old and try the new. I'm sure you've heard the term "thicker skin." Well, thicker skin is officially/technically called a callous. Do you know how callouses develop? They are a result of repeated irritation, a sort of skin's defense mechanism of growing extra layers to.. guess what? PROTECT that same spot from harm the next time it's irritated. Hmm... you still asking "why?"

I can't say that our "new" right now will become "the" comfy place to be... we are still in the "oh, this is not so bad" stage.  I know there will be blisters, things that rub the wrong way and readjustments to make. But like the woman in the song, I will cry out "Halleluiah" to "the Heavens above" even when I feel like "there is a stone in my heart."  I'm "living a life (I) didn't choose... and it hurts like brand new shoes" but my song doesn't end there because I am trusting in God's promises: Hebrews 10:36-391 Kings 8:56Hebrews 6:13-20 .

Even if ultimately those "new shoes" don't end up as cozy as the old ones... be sure that God will toss in some "gel inserts" to help cushion your walk until your next new pair of shoes!

Have a blessed day!