Conquering the Rain!

A few weeks ago, I watched one of the most beautiful sights unfold before my eyes.

It was a dark and stormy night.  Well, not really, but it was a rainy afternoon, which in our house can turn into a dark and stormy night pretty quick!  If you are new to my blog, you can catch up on the rain posts here and here.

On this rainy afternoon though, Sketch blew me away… and it wasn’t even windy!  I had to meet him at the bus at the end of our long driveway.  So he had much farther to travel to get into the house, than when I was homeschooling him.  Plus, now I am expecting our fourth child (a surprise treasure from God, for sure!), and I simply am not able to carry him all the way in, as I had before.

So I spent a great deal of time trying to figure out how to make this work.  I decided to walk up to the bus with Sketch’s frog umbrella.  He loves that frog umbrella when it is dry, and he’s inside!  Not once has he used it in the rain. He always rejects it and while terrified of getting wet, he asks, “Carry?”.  So I thought if he saw me use it in the rain, he’d understand that it will keep him dry too.

When he stepped off the bus, he looked at the umbrella with a smile.  I handed it to him but he didn’t reach for it so I took his two hands and had him hold it.  When he seemed steady with it, I slowly released my hands.

Bigger Smile!

And he was soooo proud of himself!  He held it very tightly, and just seemed amazed at how it was keeping him dry.  He didn’t go in the house when we got to our door, he kept walking around in the backyard, cute as can be…soaking up his victory!

From our back window, this is what I saw:

Isn’t it beautiful?  There he is holding that umbrella as if it were the Flag, as if he were marching!  Maybe it was his victory march for conquering his rain fears 🙂  When I saw him walking around like that, tears came to my eyes…and granted, I am pregnant so maybe it was just the horrormones (as my friend, Kay, would call them), but really, what I was thinking about that made this picture so beautiful to me is what has happened to to get him to this place.

After the post Short, Sweet, and Silly was written, I had to take Sketch in the rain to OT.  He surprisingly didn’t object to leaving the house!  He didn’t want to get wet or deal with rain, but he didn’t let his fears stop him! (Lesson #1) and he asked to “Carry?” which I did.  He didn’t just have me simply carry him though.  When I picked him up, he wrapped his little long legs all around my waist and his little long arms all the way around my neck (almost twice!) and he clinged to me so tightly that I didn’t even have to hold him!  If I let go, he was just there, unbudged!  (Lesson #2)

The next time it rained, he did the same thing. Just accepted the rain and clung to me as if his life depended on it.

And the next time, it was a Sunday and we were at church.  Mr. Incredible got to carry him this time and I got to watch Sketch cling to him in the same adorable way.

It’s just intensely beautiful…because this is just what God wants us to do with our fears.  He does not want us to be held back by them, but to cling to Him through them!

Isaiah 41:10 says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Joshua 1:9 says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

God must have been holding up Sketch under that umbrella, making the safety of His presence known to him.

And he’ll do it for you too!  Do not be afraid!  And as my favorite potty training card says, “You go girl!”

Merry Christmas everyone!

Garments And Crowns

“Put your toe on your nose.  Put your nose…on somebody elses’ noOOoose…

…And you keep it there all day!”  (The Laurie Berkner Band)

My mind has been spinning in a whirlwind of thoughts today…and this song (Pig On Her Head, by the Laurie Berkner Band) is playing on “repeat song” in my head!  I love singing it with Sketch. He gets the biggest grin and I find it exceptionally cute when he actually takes his toe and puts it on his nose as he sings the song .

At age 5, it isn’t so unusual to put your toe on your nose…but I have no reason to believe that age 25, Sketch won’t still put his toe on his nose when he sings this song!   If he does, that would be a bit unusual…that would get people’s attention, I’m sure!

From unusual… to Adorable

There are many things that he does right now that result in numerous gazes of  the people that we happen to come across throughout a day.

Like singing to himself… or singing loudly (usually Brooke Frasers songs) Proclaiming  praises to God, without fear.

From offensive… to Inspiring

People just look at him and smile at his innocence.

“What is he singing?” a teacher recently asked.

“It is a song by Hillsongs” I reply.

From isolated… to Opportunity

And of course, his unhindered emotions brings a lot of opportunity to say a word or two to the many admiring onlookers… (you can read about his unhindered joy in a previous post, here). Sometimes though, it isn’t so easy to see the beauty in what is going on.

Sometimes the treasure comes from something less fortunate. Like a fear.

Sketch has been terrified of ceiling fans, which causes many problems when he must pass through a room/store with one hanging in the center of it!  He would just freeze…and stare.  I can only imagine he is wondering if it will fall on his head…  But lately, he has been becoming more curious about them…more daring.  At church in our sanctuary, there are ceiling fans that are painted to match the color of the ceiling.  They fascinate Sketch. He has wanted to go in and sit in there so he can look at them.  At first he’d just stare at the fans, but lately, he doesn’t seem to notice them that much and is more interested in looking at other things in the room.

From trembling… to Bravery

Sometimes it takes a little work.  Sometimes we have to blow off some dust or dirt first, before the treasure is revealed.

Like when we suffer a loss or  when a traumatic event occurs in our lives.  Over time we can look back and see how God used that for our good and His glory.

From tragedy… to Treasure

And sometimes we can’t…

Sometimes we need some help, and our wonderful Counselor is just the person.

He loves to blow the ash and soot off of us when we’re in a fiery trial, to reveal the beautiful creation he’s working on underneath.

 

From ashes… to Beauty

Isaiah 61: 1-3 (NIV)

1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.

If we let him, He will do it...

But there is always that part of the deal where we have something to do… we need to accept what God’s offering. We have to put on the garment of praise. We have to wear the crown of beauty that he placed on our head.  We need to take off that garment of shame and despair and mourning, etc., and believe that we are the Kings’ daughters, as He has said.

Garments

It’s time for a change of apparel, it seems

These garments no longer fit

The dark sweats of shame do not compare

to the beautiful garments of praise


My Savior has wrapped me in new clothes today

They are beautiful, made for royalty

It is hard to imagine  how He intended

These gem-laden garments for me


The crown of beauty is on my head

The oil of joy flowing down

As God claimed me as one of his own

The spirit of despair was cast down.


He’s turned my tragedy to treasure

He took my filthy ash-covered self

Wiped off my face and my head and my heart

He Replaced it with heavenly wealth

 

 

Garment of Praise

Inspired by Beth Moore’s Breaking Free Bible Study

 

 

 

Curiouser and Curiouser

“‘Curiouser and curiouser!’ cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English)”

I am reminded of this line from Alice in Wonderland (by Lewis Carroll) every time I think of Sketch these days.  He never was the kind of kid to get into everything… that is, until now.  This week has been filled to the brim with adventure for him!

Dash & Princess Buttercup, on the other hand, were notorious for this curious behavior.  I had to watch them like a hawk when they were little.  Dash would climb anything to get something that caught his eye, including his twin sister!  Dash would put anything and everything in his mouth,  including door knobs and hinges and any dead bugs or old food that didn’t get vacuumed up immediately.  The twins were sensory-seekers to the highest degree!

But Sketch, not so much. He never went through that phase.  He never put anything AT ALL in his mouth (well, except for his beautifully knitted blue blankey, that he pretty much ate up).  It turns out that that is an important stage in the development of children, as it strengthens oral motor skills for eating and speaking.  To this day, Sketch hardly eats anything.  His diet is limited by his food allergies, but he self-limits himself to specific crackers, cereal, chips and yogurt (only french vanilla!).  Rarely,  he’ll have a little oatmeal. Sometimes apple slices.  That’s it! No exploration through the mouth!

Except for yesterday, when he took one of his picture symbols that is laminated, and peeled off the plastic cover.  Next thing I know, he is leaning over in his car seat looking like he is going to empty the contents of his stomach all over the car.  He took his hand, put it deeply in his mouth, and pulled out that clear plastic he put in there while I was driving.  He nearly choked and I had no idea!

Sketch is becoming curious in other areas as well.  He shares a room with his sister, and there is a long gate that separates their room so Sketch won’t go jumping on Princess Buttercups bed while she is sleeping.  Sketch is now 5 and 1/2 years old, and never once tried to open the gate.  He was fully capable of doing it, but he just never tried.

Until Sunday when he just decided to let himself out and explore the house while we were all still sleeping.  Well, the Princess wasn’t sleeping.  She was very upset  about the whole event and started crying, which woke us up.

Although we were a bit concerned about what could happen with this new found ability of his, we were also so proud of him because he took the initiative and tried it. He was curious enough to actually do it.
.
I guess he is getting a bit bored of his usual activity of lining up our dirty laundry through any clear path we may be fortunate to have in our house.

There were many more events this week that show how curious Sketch is becoming.  He snuck in his sisters “nook”, which is off limits to the boys, and giggled!  He watched me pour water into the filter Brita filter like it was the most interesting thing he ever saw (I guess he never noticed that before?). He has been getting out of bed after being tucked in, opening the gate and coming down stairs, giggling and incredibly proud of himself.   And yesterday, he opened an emergency exit door at Chuck E. Cheese and set off the alarm.

And speaking of alarms… the big news of this curious week was took place on Sunday, at church.  Sketch decided to “lift and pull” the fire alarm in their Sunday School class. The entire church had to be evacuated until the firemen came to turn off the alarm! That was quite the event. Whether he was curious about what would happen if he lifted and pulled, or whether is was simply following the directions posted on the alarm, we may never know. But… it just goes to show, he is becoming “curiouser and curiouser”.

And we just love it.

It means he is trying new things, and the more he tries the more he’ll learn.  The more he’ll learn things aren’t as scary as they seem sometimes, and that new things can become wonderful fun things.

God loves new things. He is in the business of doing new things, making us new creations…growing us.

Isaiah 43:19 says, “See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”

I just imagine Him watching us explore the new things He is doing.  I imagine He is very excited when we step out into the streams he’s placed by us, curious about what it may bring, what we may learn about Him or what may happen if we dip our toe into it–will it be freezing cold or refreshingly comfortable?

Like Sketch getting curiouser and curiouser about the things around Him, I want to get curiouser and curiouser about God and what He’s placed around me.

Sometimes new things are outside our comfort zone.  Like Sketch, we can be a bit hesitant to try some of the new things He has in store for us.  But, just as I know that new things are good for Sketch, in many ways, I also know that the new things God gives us and opportunities He brings our way are also things He knows are good for us.  They help us to grow and to bring us pleasure , and also to reveal to others a little of who He is.

In my last post, I wrote about how Sketch hates the rain.  He now has some froggy rain boots and an froggy umbrella to help him stay dry, and he has been playing with them in the house.  Today is supposed to be a rainy day…I wonder if he’ll be curious enough to try them out in the rain?

Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head!

I’ve just got this vision playing in my mind, that takes place about 20 years from now.  I am 60 years old, carrying my 25 year old Sketch,who won’t step foot in the rain.  I’m wondering how that is going to work?

I am sure he’ll come to tolerate the rain a bit better by then than he does now, but at this point, his total disgust and fear of the rain is getting worse, not better!

Today I was coming home from taking him to OT, and the darkened skies opened wide, spilling it’s heavy rains to the earth.

When we got home, Sketch wanted just one thing:  to be in the house where it was dry.  There was just one problem with this what-should-be easily solved problem. He has to get though the torrential downpour that is blocking his way between the car and the house.

At first he wouldn’t even come near the car door.  When I opened it, with the umbrella in hand, he backed up away from the open-to-the-dreaded-rain door.  He was not ready to face his fear head-on….or, head under, as the case may be!

“Come on, Sketch, I’ll carry you!  See?  I have an umbrella to keep you dry. It will be ok!”

“Are you all done? AHHHHH!”

“Sketch, it’s ok, I’ll carry you in and keep you dry!  Then you can get your blue blanket (his favorite thing)”

“Ahhh!  All Done!” Sketch screams and cries in objection.

It took about 5 minutes of convincing him that it is safe, and worth it, to let me carry him in.  He screamed all the way… I’m sure the 4 steps to the porch and 4 stair-steps up to the door seemed to be more like 4 miles long, with each inch looming with the potential disaster of getting wet…of having “spots” on his shirt…of his shoes having a darker shade of leather than they did before…or…here’s the worst…wet hair!

But, it didn’t happen.  I kept him dry, just as I promised…all the while getting my own feet wet from walking in puddles since I couldn’t see the way while carrying him…my back was spotted with rain drop stains, my shoulders sore from attempting to coordinate the umbrella and Sketch at the same time.  But Sketch, he was ok.

Except, he didn’t think he was.

If I thought he was screaming before, it was just a minor whimper in comparison to what came next.  Now that he’s in the house and dry & safe, he lets loose with the high pitch alarm sounding scream…the one usually reserved for severe pain or terror!

Ignoring his screams, I sit with him by the fire place to get warm and dry.  I grab a extra-comfortable quilted blanket with a rainbow colored sunburst in the center, and wrap it around us both.

He giggles.

I squeeze, and he giggles in relief, again.

I just hold him and warm him and give him squeezes of pressure & hugs that make him feel safe.  (I really don’t mind this part at all!)

We cuddle by the fire, feeling safe from the dangers outdoors.

Sometimes we have a storm in our lives, or a dreaded event, or something we just don’t like.  And we have to endure it to get to the promised land of comfort & safety. And just like I carried Sketch in the house, God offers to guide and protect us as well, while we “walk through the valley of the shadow of death”  We don’t need to fear any evil, for “your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

And even though we may be absolutely dreading the path we have to take, and it takes all we have to make that first step out of the door into the arms of God (who’s holding us under a really big umbrella), God is there and He carefully takes us to the other side.  God takes the rain on his own shoes and back.  “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

And once we are safe… we may still feel a bit traumatized by the whole thing.  We may still want to throw our fit and scream:  “Did it really have to happen THAT way God???  Couldn’t you magically get me here from the car while avoiding the rain???”

And God comes, and takes us by the warm fire of his presence, re-assures us with his Word, and wraps us with the Holy Spirit like a blanket, and comforts us.  And we relax. And we may giggle at how silly we were about the magic tricks, or the situation we dreaded so much but just turned out to be no big deal in comparison to God. “Everything is possible for him who believes.” (Mark 9:23)

Often at the point of finally relaxing, we want to just move on. To get up and start doing things that need to be done.  But I encourage you to follow Sketch’s example and to not do that.  Treasure the moment. Stop by the fire place and rest, soak in the love of our incredible Savior.  Rest in the presence of God, absorb the Words of God and soak in the comfort of the Holy Spirit.

It’s still raining outside here in Maine, and maybe it is still raining where you are too. Maybe you are about to take that first step out of the car to make the journey to the other side, and to you I say:

Fear not, the God of the universe is waiting to take you safely over, hand-in-hand, or perhaps by carrying you all the way.


Sensory Overload

We just returned from our first visit to a local amusement park. After Tuesdays’ adventures we were a bit hesitant, but since we were given tickets as a Christmas gift, and they were only good for the current season, we decided we better try it before they expire. We were pretty sure that the twins would have a blast, but Sketch was the big question mark.

Once we were in the middle of the park, with rides in action all around us, Sketch became quite panicked. He was completely overwhelmed at all the flying objects around him. I could almost hear his thoughts through his expression of sheer terror and hands covering his ears (and as much of his head as possible), “Mommy! Watch out! The trains are flying though the air! What is going on? It is going to get us! Come over here, Mommy! It isn’t safe! That awful noise is too loud! What does it mean? I think it means danger. Mommy, come! Now!”

And for a little 5 year old boy who has never seen anything like a roller coaster, or any other amusement park rides, it was pretty overwhelming. I mean, why wouldn’t that coaster fly off the tracks suspended in figure 8’s high in the sky? How is he supposed to know that the coaster is attached to the tracks? How can he understand the laws of physics that are at work, or the engineering done to make it safe? For most kids, they probably just take it for granted, that the coaster is “stuck” to the tracks and that it is safe.

Needless to say, Sketch did not go on the roller coaster. But, he did go on some of the kiddie rides. His first was a little contraption somewhat like a merry-go-round that was disguised as whales swimming in the water. Princess Buttercup had the honor of sitting with Sketch on his very first ride. Sketch was in front of the whale car and Princess Buttercup was in the back seat of the same one. The ride began, and the whales spun in a circle (relatively slowly) around and around. For more than half the ride, Sketch didn’t look so good…he was looking..a bit… woozy? He called for me as he went around, I could see his lips form the word, “Mommy?” as he looked at me outside the gate.

He was very brave though. He walked in the gate with Princess Buttercup and didn’t require me to come with him, although he obviously preferred it. The ride seemed to last forever for Sketch. Toward the end of the ride he seemed to be getting comfortable with it and started signing to himself and singing songs. He even smiled. Then the ride was over. Sketch came out and wanted to go again! We showed him another ride where the kids could sit in a gigantic tea cup and spin in tight circles like a sit-n-spin, as the contraption moved around like a merry-go-round. Sketch got on with Dash & Princess Buttercup and the twins made sure to maximize the spin-factor… But, Sketch handled it well and wanted to ride it again!

I think over all, he decided that this new scary stuff is actually more fun than scary. Trying new things is not what Sketch is known for. But his curiosity and those colorful, fun-looking, lit up rides convinced him to try it. What was initially a complete sensory overload became a huge blessing for him. At the end of the day, he was not too happy to leave the park behind in exchange for his well-known bed.

Sometimes God has something new for us, and it looks overwhelming. Unsafe, even. We may find ourselves thinking, “We might get hurt if we do that!” We don’t understand how it all works, but God has it all planned out. Once we step out in faith, and get on the ride, we discover a treasure we never would have known about. A treasure we now cannot imagine living without. Often stepping into the unknown involves vulnerability. We may not fear flying off the coaster tracks, but fear being hurt emotionally by other people. But stepping out and experiencing that treasure of relationships, by serving and loving others like Jesus did, opens the door to a whole different perspective on the world that we won’t want to exchange for the way things have been, in the safety of our routine. It is a sensory overload experience that turns into a blessing we will never forget.

Visual Blog: Collage of Thoughts on God & Autism

Anticipation

Autism Strikes, part 1

Autism Strikes, Part 2

God is Here

Treasures from God

Running Away

It is always very traumatic when a child is missing, or runs away. Especially when that child has a disability, or is fascinated with water.  Both of my boys have given me a taste of that trauma on various occasions!

CHRIS

It is Maple Syrup Sunday in Maine… 2007.  The twins are 4, and Robbie almost 2.  A friend had come over to help me with the kids since my husband was away on a retreat with church.  She was playing with Tori upstairs, and I was playing with Robbie and Chris downstairs.  Chris kept running off to his room to repeat a song, and then come back.  At one point, he ran but didn’t come back.

I got that sinking sick feeling…the door wasn’t shut all the way… I run outside. There is still snow on the ground.  I search around our house, calling for him, but there was no answer.  I go to the end of the driveway and look down the street in each direction.   I panic.

I run inside to tell my friend I am leaving to find Chris, and she stays with Robbie and Tori.

I am sure that Chris went to Farrington, his favorite road, so I head that way, running, watching… So many more cars have been driving on our road today because the farm is at the end of the street.  There is no Chris.

I stop and panic a bit more severely as I consider that my son could have been kidnapped, hit by a car, or lost in the snow with no shoes or coat…or, dead.  I feel like I am going to start  having dry heaves, but I have to keep going… to find him.  I knock on my neighbors door.  They just had a baby.  I wake them up and they come to help search for Chris with their new born baby girl.

A police car starts to drive down the road, slowly.  I call after it, I wave and yell and he doesn’t stop!  I jump in my car and chase him down the road, honking my horn.  Still, the police car does not stop.  He goes down to the farm, on the gravel road, now on the muddy mess of a path to the sugar shack.  Finally he stops.

I jump out of the car and call for him and finally he turns and  acknowledges me.  I tell him my son is missing and I need help finding him.  He says he got a call that there is a little boy here, and out comes Chris, in the arms of a neighbor.  The wife of the guy who plows our driveway every winter, but we’d never met.  I am in tears, barely able to speak. Chris is safe.

The police man thought it was a little funny, and asked what was going on and I explained to him that Chris has autism.  He didn’t say much after that.

It turned out that he had run up Farrington Road, after all.  He must have gotten cold, or sore feet or something because he just walked into another neighbors house without knocking.  There was a baby sitter there because the parents were at the sugar shack helping out.  They call another neighbor and one sitter watches the kids while the other takes Chris to the sugar shack, thinking he must be visiting and got lost.  Once at the sugar shack, the can’t find his parents so they call the police.  Mrs. Parsons takes care of Chris and gives him ice cream and pancakes and washes his muddy feet.  Thank God!

ROBBIE

Robbie also has run away a couple times.  Most often, I have seen him run off or can see where he is running if I missed the exit.  One time though, I didn’t see it, or have any idea which way he went.  I ran out to search, not knowing which way on Buck Street I should go first.  A car drives up and the man asks me if I am looking for a little boy.

“Yes!   Have you seen him?”

“He is down the street headed for North, would you like me to drive you to him?”

I didn’t even care of the dangers of that at this moment, I just needed reach Robbie before he got to North Street, because people always speed on that road and it is very dangerous for a little boy.  I hop in the car.

“I saw him running but I didn’t know if I should grab him, or look for his mom.  I figured I’d see a frantic mom and know who it was.”  he says.

He drives me up the road and I see Robbie right in the middle of the street running and signing to himself and flapping and as happy as can be.  Relief.

Then, a car turns onto Buck street.  Robbie is going up a hill and there is no way that car can see him.  Panic.  The car turns into the driveway at the corner of Buck and North, and Robbie is ok.  I thought he was going to be hit by that car, but he was safe.  He was safe.

The man offered to drive us home.  I agreed, since I was too shaky to walk.  I go to get Robbie and he won’t come with me. He is mad that I am stopping his fun.  He fights with me, twisting and turning in my arms.  He scratches at my face.  I hold him tight and put him in the car and we are safely driven home.  Thank God!

YOU

So, how about us?  Sometimes we run away from God to explore and see what is out there, like Chris, not knowing the dangers that lurk around.  Sometimes we run away like Robbie, determined to run and fight when called back, also not aware of the dangers.  How about you?  Are you running?

Jesus is.  He is running after you.  After all the people out there who are hurting, looking, running away and exploring, after all the people that don’t know him, after all the people who are searching.

If you stop and turn around, you may see him chasing you.

If you are lost, perhaps he is right there trying to get your attention.

He knows where you are.  His love for you fuels his quest for your life.

He longs to rescue  you, just as we would do anything to find and rescue our children.

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