The Colors of Space in the Craziness of Time

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
White space may refer to:
  • White space (visual arts), portions of a page left unmarked
    • Space (punctuation), the space between two words of text
  • Whitespace character, a computer character for the space between words
    • whitespace characters, a character class in regular expressions
  • White spaces (radio), allocated but locally unused radio frequencies
  • White space (management), an area where no one is responsible
  • Whitespace (programming language), an esoteric programming language”

I have been thinking about White Space lately, but not the kind mentioned above.

I’ve been thinking of the kind of White Space that is more like White Noise–that background static that either drives you crazy or that is so common you don’t notice it anymore…or maybe you love White Noise because it drowns out some other sounds you would rather not hear.

The White Space I am writing about relates to T-I-M-E.

That four letter word we never seem to have enough of…or do we?

One of the things I have noticed in the last few weeks (after keeping record of the blessings God pours down on me, unrestrained each day), is that there is actually a surprisingly large number of time-pockets, where things are calm and quiet. I know… dare I even say that? It may be snatched away!

But no, there always is time like this.  This White Space, lingering about waiting to be noticed…to be used, appreciated.

At our house, It looks something like this:

          (The beginning more resembles black space because that is how I feel when it happens…dark & anxious, frustrated and s-t-r-e-s-s-e-d out.)

Sketch gets home from school in a bad mood.  He asks for Veggie Tales, “King George and the Ducky” DVD and so I put it on, thinking it will calm him down.

As soon as it plays he asks for the “Introduction”.

There is no official introduction on that DVD.

Sketch says, “All done King George & the Ducky?” so I take the DVD out.

Sketch asks again for King George and I remind him we just had that on and he didn’t want it.

He asks again.

I give in, trying to avoid the impending tantrum and tell him this is the LAST time I’m putting it on.

The movie starts.  Sketch says “All Done King George? AHHH!”

And it happens.  (I suppose it had to happen, if not now then in 5 minutes..he just has to get it out of his system!)

He starts pushing me, throwing toys, trying to attack in any way.

I (eventually) get him in his room where he will calm down (after he pees on the floor, adding another to-do item to my list).

          (Now enters White Space).  There is nothing I can do at this point.  Sketch is throwing his fit and he is safe in his room.  History proves he will NOT calm down unless he is alone in his room.

But usually, at this point I will still be stressed out about the whole thing, wondering what is wrong? Why is he acting this way?  How long will it last this time? …What could I do differently?  etc.

But worrying steals away the t-i-m-e that has been handed to me to unwind, relax, enjoy.

I could stop myself once Sketch is safe and not be upset any longer.

I could be thankful for the break.  Lately when I have calmed down and refused to stew over what’s happened, that pocket of time has seemed to slow down.  It feels longer than it was.  I thank God for it…for the calm, for the space in time.

In some ways, I’m sure the time is actually longer because less is unnecessarily handed over to the black space.  But I am sure that those minutes of calm, when noticed…are actually longer.

Have you ever sat and watched a clock tick for a minute?  It seems to take forever!  But day after day those minutes tick away so fast we don’t know what happened to them.

Time slows down (at least our perception of it) when we notice.  When we are present in the moment.

Now I know there are those days when it seems like there is no White Space time…when tantrums and crisis come one after the other and there seems to be no end to it. The intensity can be so strong that it seems like the crisis has taken up way more time that it actually did… usually because of what we do with it in ourselves, during and after… the worry, the time sucked up stewing… the drainage of energy leading to less productive time after.

But the truth is that there is White Space coming. It always does, and once we recognize it and are grateful for it’s arrival, the time seems long…once noticed, time stalls a bit. Relief. Rest.

Even if the time-pocket of White Space is short… it is there.

Even if it is prematurely interrupted…it was. And, it will be again. We can always look forward to those pockets.

And I wonder, if there really is such a thing as black space.  I wonder if that black is really more like a dark purple… a royal color.  A color marking that God is there.  He promises to turn all things around for good (Romans 8:28).  He redeems everything, even what seems so dark, black to us.  If God is in it, using it for his purposes, then is it really black at all?

Taking the Cup

“Princess, can you be a big help for me and sweep this pile into the dustpan to put in the trash?”

“No, I’m busy reading and eating.  That’s boring!”

“Dash, can you be a big help for me and put this in the trash?”

“Yes, I can!” He bends down immediately and cleans it all up.

(At this point, those of you who are new to this blog and familiar with autism probably can guess which child is neurotypical, and which is on the spectrum!  Not that Dash doesn’t get a heafty case of the I- don’t- want- to’s here and there, but for the most part, he is a very helpful 8 year old boy! )

For most of us though, like the Princess… when we are asked to do something we don’t want to do, we complain about it or outright say “No, I’m busy!”.

It’s still Thursday here in Maine, and this is the day that Jesus had the last supper with his disciples.

“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it…”  (Matthew 26:26)

I am (still) reading Ann Voskamps book, “One Thousand Gifts”.  She highlights this verse, the part where he “gave thanks”.  I didn’t really get the full impact of that before, but Jesus knew what God was asking him to do… to go through the pain and torture of the cross, and all that happened leading up to the cross.  Knowing this, he took the bread that was his body to be broken and he “gave thanks”.  Later in the garden of Gethsemane “he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matt 26:39) And He accepts the cup. He does what His Father asked of him.

It is simply amazing.  He did it because of his passionate love for us.  Because He knew it was the only way to save us.

Can you imagine if he had said he’s too busy?

How many times are we asked to do something we don’t want to do and we complain about it?

And how many times did we do what was asked, and later find out how it blessed people in ways we could have never imagined?

About 4 years ago, I knew that Sketch (then age 2) probably had autism like his big brother.  I was overwhelmed with the twins, Princess Buttercup & Dash (then age 4).  I was daily carpet cleaning Dash’s room for toileting on-purposes and dealing with all the insanity that came with a 4 year old with extreme ADHD and autism, and his twin sister, and a 2 year old who was always sick.

It was too much, I told God.  Too much to let Sketch have autism too!

And it was too much, and it still is too much.  But this was the cup that God was handing me.

I had clenched fists in my strong-willed “No!” to Him, initially.

But as He lovingly and graciously dealt with me, and as He opened my eyes to the fact that He could do so much to bless others through my children, through my too-much…

As He convinced me that He could do more good by allowing this than He could do by healing him…them…

As He adjusted my glasses to see all the others… The other families out there who also had too much, but didn’t have God…

He simultaneously caught and broke my heart.

How could they survive?  How could they go another day without knowing the One who loves them, will provide for them, who will guide them, who will move mountains for them and ultimately save them?

How could they live another day without the Promises that I cling to?  Without which, without Who… I would die?

And then I knew… I knew that Sketch would have autism too, and I knew that I had a task that I needed to “give thanks” for and drink it down.  To say, “Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

To somehow reach out to these Others and share my God with them.

It was a very hard lesson, one that I have to keep learning, keep reminding myself of, keep striving toward.  Keep re-agreeing to say “yes” to and to see not the too-much, but the blessings that He’s given through it.

Joy: Recognizing The Gifts Given In Autism

The daily stress of raising children on the autism spectrum with sensory processing problems, communication problems, behavioral issues, etc. leaves us drained.  Being worn out, and having repeated bad experiences…you know, the ones where you have to leave early because of a childs’ inability to cope (read: massive tantrum requiring physical removal of kicking & screaming child) leaves one hesitant to try those things again…and over time, chronic negativity sneaks it’s way in.

Soon eyes fail and the rose-colored glasses that emphasized the beauty in the moment become grayed…smudged, and the gifts are lost.  The moment is lost, leaving the fear of what may happen…the trauma of what did.

I started reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  It is a wonderful book with a beautiful challenge:  to see the gifts God has filled the earth with, and to name them, to write them down.

Her challenge is to make a list of 1000 things you are thankful for.  Those things are really gifts from our Creator.

By remaining in the moment, looking for things to be thankful for; as we recognize the gifts, time slows.

Joy increases.

Negativity is hammered out by thanksgiving hammered in, resulting in increasing joy.

I have taken the challenge, and I hope you will too!  I have posted my first 20 gifts that relate directly to my children with autism/adhd.  I hope you are encouraged to find the gifts God has showered on you, and in the middle of it, discover joy.

Ephesians 5:19b-20 says, “Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

My first Twenty:

1. A child melting like chocolate into my arms

2. Uncontrolled giggles from unknown reasons

3. Understanding surpassing anxiety

4. Siblings playing, pretending together

5. Children singing, instruments strumming, praises to God

6. Glimpses into their mysterious mind

7. The sweet smell of freshly shampood hair

8. Smiles peeking under umbrellas

9. Sing-songy voices telling stories unknown

10. Children slipping off to sleep

11. Messy fingers undiscovered through fun

12. Color spreading staining paper, as tiny fingers create

13. Bright shiny  crescent shaped eyes, wet with laughter

14. Moments of fully entering his world, as Jesus entered mine

15. Treasures glowing amidst the spectrummy storms

16. My boy, eyes beaming as he gazes into the eyes of another child

17. A shining face appearing amongst a rainbow of balls

18. Discovering genius amidst silence

19. Hands uncoordinated, striving hard to create shapes with scissors

20. Eyes casting Jesus as struggles are remedied, help received

I would love to hear your thoughts, and the gifts you have discovered!  Please let me know you were here with your comments!

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