Family Roles

“Sketch, we are going to Whole Foods in 5 minutes.”

“No!  No Whole Foods?”

“Yes, we need to go while the others are at the track.  In 5 minutes you need to get dressed.”  I give him a warning; time to let the idea sink in.  I set the timer, which usually helps a bit, but not this time.

“Beep! Beep! Beep!”

“Sketch, let’s get dressed.”

“No! Are you all done?” He starts kicking me with his ever-stretching 7-year-old legs.  I back up, he comes toward me to hit and kick until I leave the room.

He slams the door.  Repeatedly.

As if on cue, I connect the eye hook so he can’t continue to slam the door.  It’s what he wants. His door is broken (I wonder why?) and won’t latch anymore.

As I close the door, I see him dart to the bed, his almost toothless grin spreading ear to ear.  He is having fun. I hear the tell-tale signs that someone is jumping on his bed behind that closed door.

I know I am playing the exact role he wants me to play. I know that he is “winning”.   But, it just isn’t worth it.  I can’t physically move him anymore; I can’t make him come to the store.

So, I choose my battles, and this isn’t it. This time.

I think about how he doesn’t play a part in the family.  He is in his own little world most of the day unless he wants something.  He doesn’t do any chores or tasks; he doesn’t help out on any regular basis.

Dash (9, autism/adhd) used to be the same way.  Now he plays a big role in the family: proudly helping with recycling and trash, watching PolkaDot and letting me know if there is a problem, going to the store and helping with loading the groceries and bringing them in from the car.   He also has chores, which he does not want to do.  And he will gripe, groan, grouse and growl until our ears ache from it.  But he does do it–especially when computer time depends on it.

Sketch still does nothing.  Partly, this is because we have always been so busy with Dash (who has the most severe case of ADHD I have ever seen) keeping him safe, making sure he doesn’t jump out a window or anything, that we never had time to spend teaching Sketch or helping him have a role or chore.

Now, Dash is doing splendidly!  Now, it’s time we focus on pulling Sketch up through the crack he’d fallen through.

There is so much potential that we see with Sketch.  Last week I took him to the grocery store with me because we were out of his favorite snack foods. He did a surprisingly good job (I would say, smashingly good job, but that may put a whole different picture in your minds : )  getting some of the grocery items off the shelves, loading the items onto the belt for purchase, and putting the bags in the car. He really seemed proud of himself!

But he does not see this as his “role” in the family. There have been many times when he’d refuse to go to the store even when it was to get his beloved Stoneyfield French Vanilla Yogurt. He’d rather do his own thing in his own world and not have to bother with the workings of the family.

However…

It really caused a blockade for us this time. We couldn’t have the dinner I’d planned, because the main dish was still sitting in the refrigerator section at the store.

The next day I took PolkaDot to Whole Foods, and Sketch went to the track (after the use of Mr. Incredibles super-powers, to get him there) with the others.  I had told him that we need him to play his part in the family or we just can’t function. We can’t get things done without him.  I told him he is very important and that we need him.

The idea that we can’t function without Sketch playing his role reminded me of the Body of Christ, and how we all have a part to play in the Body in order for it to function.

But so often we sit on the chairs and watch others do the doing. We don’t get involved, we don’t find our roles.  We sit in our own little worlds and do our own thing…just like kids with autism so often do.

We all have to do our part in order for the Body to work right, no matter how small (in our eyes) that part may be. Sometimes the result of our lack of participation is not as obvious to us. After all, “No one is ever told what would have happened.” (Aslan’s sage observation from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis)

1 Corinthians 12: 12-26

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.  For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

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A Way in the Desert

Where am I? It’s so cold and windy here…and dirt is everywhere!

Why is it so dark?  Maybe I still have my flash light…oh, there it is. Good, it still works.

Now, how do I get out of here? Maybe if I just keep walking I’ll find the way out…or, at least something familiar.

What is this? Something is sparkling in the dirt–the wind must have uncovered it. Let’s see… Hu? Oh wow! A jewel, like a sapphire!  It looks like there is something engraved in it.

Where are my glasses? Here they are. Ok, let’s see…Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving.  I remember! How could I ever forget that lesson.  Giving Thanks for everything, Yes, that is how I can get through stressful times, by searching for the gifts God has placed in my life and truly being thankful for them. Yes… recognizing the gifts He’s lavished on me really helps keep my mind on Him instead of my problems. I definitely do not want to forget that hard-learned lesson. Hum… I think I’ll just put this in my bag so I don’t loose it.

Philippians 3:13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Last year was not what I would call a good year, and sometimes I think to would be nice to be able to walk through it leaving behind all the hard things that happened–actually forgetting, and grabbing on to the treasures. I bet my bag would need to be bigger than I expect.

A friend has told me that the way to get through the seemingly impossible times, the way to be content in the worst of situations when there seems no end, is to recognize and think about all the good things that are going on around me instead of focusing on the negative things. The secret is to acknowledge the gifts, the Giver.  They are always there, as He is always there.  It is hard sometimes to shift our gaze from our troubles,

“But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.” Psalm 3:3

but when we do, He lifts us up our of our constricting place, and sets us in a spacious one.

When hard pressed, I cried to the LORD;

he brought me into a spacious place.

The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid.

What can mere mortals do to me?

The LORD is with me; he is my helper.

I look in triumph on my enemies.

Psalm 118:5-7

I’ve decided to pick eight treasures that I was given last year, eight gems engraved with a word of remembrance that I want to make sure I take with me into this next year.

1) On the Emerald is engraved the word Time.  I want to remember to be present in the moment, appreciating the White Spaces when they come and being thankful to God for the breaks, no matter how small.  Refusing to give in to the temptation to re-live or stew in the dark space–the stressful events that can easily suck away more time than it should, if we let it.

2) On the Amethyst is engraved the word Hope.  I want to remember that His promises are true regardless of my circumstances… that no matter how bad things get, I have a hope and a destiny waiting for me. Because of that, I can take the cup that God hands me, and see the blessings that He’s given through it.

3) On the Rose Quartz is engraved the word Persevere. I want to remember that I can “keep on keeping on” when things get hard just like Jesus persevered.  He kept going, even to his death, all because of his love for me, so that I won’t “not grow weary and lose heart.”

4) On the Sapphire is engraved Thanksgiving.  Remember to search for the treasures God pours down on me, and be thankful for them.  Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

5) On the Diamond is engraved Provision.  Remember that everything I have have, comes from God alone.  All things, not only income and possessions, but my HELP comes from Him as well.  Psalm 121:2 “My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.”  He provides for me according to His riches, not mine.

6) On the Aquamarine is engraved the word Remember.  Remember all that He has done for me from trading places on the cross-putting on my filthy rags and giving me His righteous royal robe, to remembering His promises are always true regardless of the circumstances I see before me, to remembering his Word, and keeping it in the forefront of my mind.

7) On the Ruby is engraved the word Desires.  I want to remember that our loving Father sees the desires of our heart, and He loves to give that desire to us, even when we’ve long given up hope for it.

8) On the Topaz is engraved the word Purified.  I want to remember to lay down my “sufferings” at the foot of the cross, and let Jesus purify me and strengthen me though the trials, instead of fighting tooth and nail against it.  1Peter 4:19 “Those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good”  I want to remember that God’s plans for me are much better than I can ever imagine, and that he promises to use the fires of life for good.

I don’t know about you, but it seems to me, that at least sometimes, God makes the “way though the desert” by laying treasures out like bread for a bird along the path.

This year, I believe God is saying to me,  “I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19

Happy New Year everyone!  What Treasures will you bring along with you through the year?

Psalm 65:11 “You crown the year with Your goodness & even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.” (NKJ & NLT)

Faith looks to God alone; laughs at impossibilities; dances in anticipation of tomorrow. (The Lewis Awakening of 1858)


The Gift and the Giver: Merry Christmas!

A couple weeks ago, Dash was in such a hurry (and believe it or not, fighting with his sister) that he left on the bus without his bookbag (insert quivering lip of Dash here).  Knowing how much this would upset him, I drove the bookbag over to the school at my first opportunity.  Dash had just arrived and he & his (wonderful) Ed Tech (we’ll name her  Ms. Best) were just about to call me when I walked in the doors. He saw me come with his bag and his face lit up with the biggest smile and arms open WIDE. For a minute, I thought he was going to give me a big hug…but no, that was for his beloved book bag. “My book bag!” he said as he grabbed it.

Oh well… His smile defied his actions and hugged me anyway.  Pretty amazing to be able to give someone that much happiness with just one small action, one gift.

I was thinking about this and how Dash seemingly noticed the gift more than the giver of the gift, and thought about how often we do the same thing with the Giver gives us gifts. He wants us to seek Him first, not his gifts.

But when God gave us the ultimate gift, Jesus, He gave us a gift work seeking.

James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights…”  Today being Christmas Eve, as I read this I think of the lights on the Christmas tree.  May the lights shining down on the gifts below, remind us of the Father who’s give His perfect gift in the form of a baby on Christmas morning.

While looking for that verse in James, I found a couple other verses that are worth pondering as we open gifts this Christmas.

The first is Deuteronomy 26:11 “Then you and the Levites and the foreigners residing among you shall rejoice in all the good things the LORD your God has given to you and your household.”

The second is 2 Corinthians 9:8:  And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”

This Christmas, let us rejoice in the Giver, the Gift, and rejoice in the good things God has given us, so that we will abound in every good work.

Merry Christmas everyone!  May our smiles and lit-up faces hug our Savior this year!



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