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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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Sunday, January 1, 2012

If at first you don't succeed...

Happy New Year, Everyone!!!
OK, so I tried it: the EXACT opposite of what I described in my last post... Today, Sunday January 1, 2012 I got dressed up in some nice clothes, put on some make-up (other than colored chapstick), actually put on some jewelry and my cute heeled boots, got ready my nice new pocketbook and tried to look pretty for Sunday service at church. Nathan wore a nicely pressed button up shirt, his new pants and new shoes (Etnies toddler shoes, who donate a portion of the proceeds to Autism Speaks!). A picture perfect family ready for Sunday worship! Bruno was playing with the praise and worship team today, so I knew I'd be on my own without any help, but, with God' help I was determined to stay and sit for the entire service! I packed my nice new bag (no backpack!) with the usual: snacks, drink boxes, toys, iPad, diapers, etc (it was so heavy I could have used it as self-defense!)... and off we went!

We found a great parking spot right near the church building, so no long walk, YIPEE! That was the first sign that God was with us!!! We went in and sat right down in our usual spot. Nathan had his snack before service began. We got his iPad and headphones all set up, so when worship started I was actually standing and singing! Folks were coming by saying how nice it was to see us (some didn't recognize us, how sad!) and other commented on how nice we looked... Nathan was so polite, made perfect eye contact and responded to each and every single person so appropriately people had tears in their eyes! I felt SO blessed! For a few minutes I felt like I was "in church," not just "at church," and it was a WONDERFUL feeling!!! I was just like everyone else: worshiping, singing, clapping and swaying to the music with joy in my nice Sunday clothes! I could actually dedicate 100% of my brainpower to Jesus, and not worry about anything else. Notice I said "for a few minutes." Well, we ALMOST made it through the first song...

I'll interject here to share that I got some really great books for Christmas. I've been reading a bit of each of them every night while also spending some time reading Scripture and praying. Most of the books I've been reading are written by parents of kids with ASD or other disabilities. I find comfort in their words... and can relate to so many of their experiences! I have to say, the more I read,  the more I realize how easy we have it in comparison to other families. Yes, our life is hard, but some families sure are struggling. I am truly blessed!

One of the books I've been reading is "Finding God in Autism" by Kathy Medina (see the book's reference and website on my list of recommended books). Last night as I read, these words touched my heart and I wanted to share them with you today: "When we change the way we think, God changes the way we feel about our life and our child (with ASD). Peace comes to us. Then strength comes" (p. 28). The Scripture she quotes in this section reads: "The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is for life and peace" Romans 8:6. Hey, that's right up MY ally!!!

Another great book I've been reading is "The Well" by Mark Hall from Casting Crowns (yay! I DID get it for Christmas!!!). No coincidence, last night's chapter, Chapter 7: Twist, The Hole of Talent, spoke of exactly the same thing! Mark quoted a passage in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 and highlights the word "decide." He says: "much of the Christian walk is an act of the will. We can have faith, but we must still step out and obey, We have to decide to obey... We can decide... That's a big word" (see Ch. 7). He is referring to the conscious effort we must make, just like Kathy says we have to change the way we think, we must DECIDE to make these changes and God does the rest...

Back to our experience at church today: for those first few minutes, for almost the whole first song during worship today, I felt "normal"! After that first song, the rest of our experience was pretty tough. I have no idea what the sermon was about and I came home looking (and smelling) like I'd wrestled with a giant octopus--BUT for those first few minutes we looked and felt normal and it was GREAT!!! Of course, we had to go straight home after. I HAD TO jump right into the shower, pop a few ibuprofens and just sit in my comfy sweats, hair pulled back and no niceties... back to my usual "look." It was only 2:30pm and I was wiped... I looked and felt like I'd run a marathon! BUT I HAD to stop and write before my went on with my day because I wanted to make a conscious effort. I wanted to purposely make a mind and attitude change... I decided to relish in those first few minutes of the service. I praised God for allowing me to put aside my fears and dress up nicely and stop looking like a pity party. I wanted to thank Him for allowing me to feel "pretty," and for allowing me to smile just by looking at Nathan in his adorable outfit. God granted me that wonderful, though short, moment of just feeling normal...and that's something that many, many families of kids on the autism spectrum aren't able to say!

As that common phrase says: If at first you don't succeed, try and try again. I will keep trying! With God's help, I will keep trying to make Sundays a success for our family. With God's guidance I will make a more conscious effort to look as happy as I really am on the inside. I know I can't make my life "normal," we will always be different and have many adjustments to make, but if just for a moment each week God will allow me that moment then that moment is enough! I DECIDE to change the way I THINK so God can change the way I FEEL and give me PEACE!

Be blessed!
A silly picture Nathan took during the service,
trying to stay distracted and calm using Mommy's phone... :)
For more information about Etnies Autism Speaks shoes:

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