A Precious Find

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Choosing Joy

The relentless, constant, unending, repetitive badgering.

The fighting, the yelling the screaming, the crying.

Day after day.

All hell broke loose a few minutes ago.

Sketch had just tried to go jumping on top of the van, again (his new favorite thing to do)

PolkaDot, so tired, was put in her crib. But, her favorite thing to do now is to throw her stuffed animals and pacifiers overboard and then cry because she can’t sleep without them. (Don’t you love that stage?)

I, riddled with aching joints, go to get PolkaDot, and then let Sketch out of  his time-out that he earned by kicking PolkaDot because she was sitting on the floor instead of being held by me.

“Hold the baby?”

Here we go again.  Twenty-four seven, he wants me to hold the baby.

I walk in to the computer room to text Mr. Incredible and see when he’s coming home. We’re supposed to be packing for a trip and getting ready for PolkaDots 1st birthday.

Sketch follows me.  Polkadot is nestled in the chair with me as I tap on the keyboard.

“Hold the baby? Log-in window?”  He demands.  Again.

He is pretty much OCD about all computers being on the log-in window screen unless he’s playing with it.

“Not right now, Sketch.”

He continues to badger.

PolkaDot pulls herself up to her feet, and before I could blink my eyes, she landed with a thud, right on the side of her face.

Screams.

Uncontrollable sobs.

“Hold the baby!  Log-in window!”

I send Sketch back to his room.

PolkaDot continues to scream, her body thirsting for comfort.

This is how it’s been for most of the summer.  Unending.

We’ve had great moments in between the mind-boggling chaos.

It would be so easy to focus on all the bad things.  All the This-Is-Too-Much-ness of it all.

But, to focus on that would be the beginning of an unending darkness.  The “pit of despair” as it’s described in The Prince Bride  .

So I choose after my own tempter tantrum instead, to focus on the the good things; to “Choose Joy” as Sherry Surratt talks about in her article I Choose Joy from MomSense Magazine’s Summer 2012 edition. She says:

“It’s so human to get caught up in what’s wrong, what’s broken, what’s missing and to be crabby about it.  But here’s what I know:  God wants me to choose joy. Contentment is my daily opportunity if only I’ll slow down and notice the good things.”

I really believe this is the secret to handling the impossible:

.         To Believe that all things are possible for those who love God.

        It is too hard by myself, but with God, I can do anything.

.        To Believe that every good and perfect gift comes from the Father.

        It isn’t a coincidence.

.        To Believe that God is there helping me, teaching me to see the positive.

        He whispers in my ear, which way to go.

.        To know that God is showing me,  pointing out to me,  the lovely, beautiful, good things that he as placed all around me.

        He opens my eyes to see.

So I choose be grateful, to be thankful for all that He’s given me.

        When I do that, I see that the weight of all those good things is by far, heavier than all the bad.

Psalm 30:11

“You turned my wailing into dancing;
 you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy”

Somebody Else’s Story

I will never forget the day when Joy told me that God was using me in her story.  That was the highest compliment I have ever received.  No doubt, a treasure found in the dust of life.

“I wanna play a part
Of somebody finding hope
Somebody finding hope in God of Heaven”

Joy isn’t her real name, of course.  But as I thought of names to use for her, this was the one that jumped out in my mind as perfect.

I’m sure right about now she is thinking I’m nuts, but the reason this is the perfect name for her is because one day, she WILL be filled with joy.  One day, the sadness and hurt will be wiped away.  One day she will be completely healed.

“I wanna play a part
Of somebody finding comfort
Somebody finding comfort when their hurting”

Somebody Else’s Story is a song written by John Waller.  (You can listen to it by clicking on the link)  I was listening it in the car this week, and remembered Joy and how she said God is using me to make a difference in her story.

“I wanna be the one
To shine the light of Jesus
Into their darkness”

When God reaches down to the deepest darkest hurts and brings light, dispells shame and heals you there… you just want to share that with someone!  You want to help somebody else.

“This hope in me was not meant to be
Contained inside I’ve got to give it away”

When God brought me Joy to share with, the joy ran…runs deep in my soul.  Somehow the events of the past make more sense…it is somehow ok-er than it was.

“So lead me to that someone I pray
Lord, I wanna bring you glory
In somebody Else’s story”

I was overcome with gratefulness and joy, that God has done such a work in my own life that he can use my story to help others and bring glory to Himself.

That’s what it is all about, really. We are comforted so we can comfort others.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

Whether it is being able to comfort others in having children with special needs and autism, or dealing with life threatening food allergies and asthma, or sharing the hope and comfort God rains down in the midst of Rheumatoid Arthritis with someone else who has it, or healings of tragic events of the past, it is a treasure and honor, an absolute joy to be able to be a part of somebody else’s story and bring God glory.

(All quotes are lyrics from John Waller’s song, Somebody Else’s Story)

Struck Down But Not Destroyed

‘Twas a dark and stormy night… well, it was the night that Hurricane Irene blew threw New England.  As lightening struck randomly outside, it seemed to have struck very specifically inside. Right through to my joints, introducing a whole new texture to the dust in our lives.

I woke up in the middle of the night to feed Polkadot, and when I tried to move, I realized I’d been struck by lightening.  At least, that’s how it felt.  My joints were on fire.  The next day I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with bursitis in my right shoulder, and the other achy joints were kind of dismissed as tendonitis due to repetitive motion from dealing with a new baby…basically, it was a coincidence that they were all hurting at once.

Over the next few days, the “achy” joints became excruciatingly painful as well.  I was unable to do anything without the electrocuting pain bringing me to tears. It seemed like I was crippled over night.  It was clear, that this was more than it initially seemed.  Over the next few weeks, after many calls to the doctor, and much labwork, I have been diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis.  RA is a life-long autoimmune condition that has devastating potential as it damages the joints and possibly internal organs as well.

So here we are, a brand new baby (now 8 weeks old!) and 3 other kids, 2 with Autism/Adhd, posssibly Tourettes not to mention the food allergies of anaphylactic proportions!  If it didn’t hurt so much, it would almost be humorous.  At some point, enough is enough.  At some point, the options are to give up completely, or to rely on the God who holds all things together…especially my joints!

It’s funny what people think at times like this.  Said aloud or thought silently, they are there non-the-less… Questions.

“How could this happen?  You did not need this!  What are you going to do? How are you managing with your family? How could God let this happen?  You have enough on your plate already!”

The questions have run through my head as well, which is probably why that “look” is all I need to hear it in someone else.

It’s ok though. To ask the questions, that is.  They need to be asked, after all!  Better to wonder where God is in this than to NOT wonder where he is!

And the questions don’t scare me. As I said, I’ve thought them, and God has supplied the answers, the comfort. He’s sung the songs over me at night, whispering to me in the morning.

I remember one day specifically when the lyrics of 2 songs collided beautifully in my mind.

One was Tommy Walkers, “I Have a Hope” (lyrics are listed below).  We’d sung it in church right after the pain had started. The song is one of the most uplifting songs out there, reminding me that God has a plan for me that is good (despite my circumstances) and that He can turn this darkness into light.  He is giving me a new beginning, not a painful end!

The other song was “The Voice of Truth” by Casting Crowns.  I woke up one morning to that song playing in my mind, loudly in my ears as if God were placing headphones on me!  The chorus says:

“But the Voice of truth tells me a different story
the Voice of truth says “do not be afraid!”
and the Voice of truth says “this is for My glory”
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of truth”

The lyrics to those two songs intermixed in my mind for the next few days. As I would be thinking of how scary this is, not knowing what was happening to me, and if it would ever end, “Do not be afraid!” would remind me that “I have a destiny that is yet awaiting me.  My life’s not over, a new beginning’s just begun”.  And then the chorus would come “I will yet praise Him, my great Redeemer. I will yet stand up and give Him glory with my Life. He takes my darkness and He turns it into light I will yet praise Him, my Lord my God.”  And that would remind me that “This is for my glory” and I WILL choose to listen and believe the Voice of Truth!  “Though trials may come, I have this hope!”

How’s that for cool?  The God of the universe is entering my world through music, strengthening my faith, encouraging me to believe Him.  To believe that His promises are still true, regardless of my circumstances and as a matter of fact, because trials do come in this life, they are there to encourage me!  Why would God bother with promises if we never had need of them?

And finally, the big question looming out there that no one wants to ask is:  Why did He give us a surprise baby to care for  and then allow this?

That one is easy.  Polkadot is such a Joy to have here with me, and amidst the worst pain, when she smiles at me, that smile strikes straight through that pain, into my heart and reminds me that God has been so good to me!

So it has been not of my own strength, but because of His presence, His words, His body, even… that I have not been destroyed in this.

The body, our local church, has been wonderful in all this. Encouraging me, praying fervently, helping with things that I can no longer do. And the part of the body closest to me, My wonderful Mr. Incredible, has used his super-strength now for 3 weeks, being my arms to reach and lift things, my hands to open packages and containers. He’s been my fingers, tying my shoes, and basically he has been my whole body, doing most everything for the kids.

I may have been struck down, but they are here to help me up.  I may have been struck down, but I have not been destroyed. As a matter of fact, in my weakness, God is making my faith strong…

2 Corinthians 12:9-10: But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I HAVE A HOPE by Tommy Walker

I have a hope, I have a future
I have a destiny that is yet awaiting me
My life’s not over, a new beginning’s just begun
I have a hope, I have this hope

God has a plan, it’s not to harm me
But it’s to prosper me and to hear me when I call
He intercedes for me, working all things for my good
Though trials may come I have this hope

Chorus
I will yet praise Him, my great Redeemer
I will yet stand up and give Him glory with my life
He takes my darkness and He turns it into light
I will yet praise Him, my Lord my God

My God is for me, He’s not against me
So tell me whom then, tell me whom then shall I fear
He has prepared for me
Great works He’ll help me to complete
I have a hope, I have this hope

Goodness and mercy, they’re gonna follow me
And I’ll forever dwell in the house of my great King
No eye has ever seen all He’s preparing there for me
Though trials may come, I have this hope

Bridge
There’s still hope for me today
‘Cause the God heaven loves me

Polkadot Arrives!

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After 9 long months, Polkadot is here! She arrived on July 22, 2011, weighing in at 7lbs 4oz and 19 1/2 inches long!  She is an absolute treasure and gift to our family.   I hope to resume regular posts soon!

“Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart”. Psalm 37:4

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!

My Little Engines that Keep on Goin’ / Empower Me

“Chug, chug, chug. Puff, puff, puff. Ding-dong, ding-dong. The little train rumbled over the tracks. She was a happy little train for she had such a jolly load to carry.  Her cars were filled full of good things for boys and girls.”

Sometimes my kids remind me of the Little Engine that Could (By Watty Piper).  If they have their mind set on something, they keep on trying until they get what they want.  “I think I can– I think I can–I think I can–I think I can… I thought I could. I thought I could. I thought I could.”!

With Dash, he often will set in his mind that we are going on some fun adventure, that has not been planned or discussed with us.  He will ask every couple minutes to go to the Apple Store, or the park.  If he doesn’t get the response he wants, he will create a schedule with times on it, just to make sure his parents understand!  He may even make extremely real-sounding announcements over his built-in intercom (voice), and make sounds that are very much like a timer going off!  The schedule would look something like:

9:00 Breakfast
9:30 Get Dressed
10:00 pack up snacks
10:30 Go to the Apple Store

With Sketch, he often will want some sort of snack, and he will try to get it by asking for it with one word and a cute expression. Eyebrows are raised and an excited look is on his face, when he says, “Goldfish?” a little more loudly than normal.  Usually, we will ignore this because we want him to be motivated to speak in sentences, not get away with the minimum.  So, after he says it a few times with no response, he will ask even more loudly and with more words, “Goldfish, please?”  and then later, “Mommy, Daddy!  Can I have Goldfish please?” He just keeps on trying (if he doesn’t get frustrated first) until he gets what he wants.

(I guess persevering and badgering are very similar…except, with badgering there is a lack of respect that goes along with it, making it a very unattractive behavior problem instead of a positive character trait!)

For my Princess Buttercup, well, she just didn’t give up trying to get a baby sister.  She has begged and begged at home for years.  It was ALL she wanted for Christmas or her Birthday.  Finally, exhausted from being asked so much for a baby, I told her we were probably NOT going to have any more babies! It just wasn’t going to happen. So if she really wants one, she’s just going to have to pray about it!  (oops!).

Apparently, she had been praying.  The Sunday School teachers said she’d been putting that in as a prayer request for 2 years!

This year, on her 8th birthday she tried again, “All I want for my birthday are the same things I always want: a baby sister, a doll house, and a dog!”

So, we decided to give her the doll house, sponsor a child who is a girl a little younger than her for her sister, and said no to the dog (Sketch is allergic!)

And, sure enough, her persevering paid off.  The day after her 8th birthday, God made it known to us that yes, in fact, we WERE going to have another baby.  We don’t know yet if it is a boy or girl, but the Sunday School teachers are without a doubt, that it is a girl for Tori!!!

Persevering is not always so easy though. I don’t know about you, but for me when the huge mountain comes and there are no larger trains to help me up it, I just want to give up.  Sometimes, where there is blow after blow & hurdle after hurdle set before me, I will get discouraged and stop trying. But when what we are fighting for is right, and is what God has set us out to do, we should not give up, no matter how bleak it looks.

It is a good thing that the Little Blue Engine did not give up.  If he had, then “all the little boys and girls on the other side of the mountain” would not have had their “wonderful toys to play with and the good food to eat.”  The Little Blue Engine kept on going because of the joy set before him:  the kids on the other side of the mountain.

Because of the joy set before Him, Jesus gave the ultimate example of perseverance.  He continued on even to death on the cross.  The joy set before Jesus, was you and me.

Hebrews 12:1-3

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

What an encouraging verse!  Let us “not grow weary and lose heart.”!  Keep on keeping on is how the VeggieTales defined perseverance… just keep on getting up we trip, or stumble on a hurdle, or fall down exhausted…

1 Cor 9: 24-27

24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should.

This verse along with Hebrew 12, was the inspiration behind the poem I posted the other day, as a “downpayment” for this post.  To view the poem, click on the link: Empower Me




Short, Sweet, and Silly

It’s raining it’s pouring

Robbie will be roaring

He won’t go to the car

it’s way to far

to get there while it’s storming


It’s raining, it’s pouring

The inside is getting boring

It’s time for OT

I need a trick up my sleeve

to get him in that building

Right now, all is calm at home.  Robbie is having a blast playing with Banangrams and spelling the names of his favorite places.

But, it is raining and pouring again…and it’s Wednesday.  Being aware of what struggles are coming as far as getting Robbie in the car, and in the building for OT, then in the car again and in the house, is trying hard to ruin the mood. The playful, fun mood…

And I don’t want the silliness to end. So, I’m not going to let it. I am going to enjoy the next half hour of Robbie playing Banangrams and potty training his doll.  Why miss it to worry over what’s to come when there is silliness at hand?

I think that today, I will choose to take the advice of Paul in Philippines 4: 4-9

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

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. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Garments, Mirrors and Beauty (continued)

I decided the poem at the end of the last blog was not quite finished after I posted it.  Here is the final version:

Garments, Mirrors, and Beauty

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


So now I accept his healing touch

The reflections too much to bear

Unworthy, I am but made worthy by Him

It’s time to exit this lair


He’s unbinding the bondage while binding my heart

breaking the links of the chain

With gentle love and skilled hands

He is healing my pain


From trembling to bravery

from fear to boldness

I step out anew on this day

I trust Him with what He has done

And I’m hearing the words that he says


“All beautiful you are, my darling

there is no flaw in you”

Your words pierce through my heart

“Show me your face, let me hear your voice”

I look in the mirror- I fear falling apart


“For your voice is sweet and your face is lovely”

I believe what you say, I am ready to start

Adopting the way that you think

transforming my mind, renewing my life

no longer will I hide or flee


All yours, I am

Now courageous and strong

Conquering strongholds within

Free to be who you fully intended

when you carefully crafted me


 

Like the Rays of Sun on a Clear Day

Sketch has a very active bath time.  When he takes a bath, he likes to slide his little body from the back of the tub to the front as quickly as possible, and watch the water swish and flow like waves in the tub.

Did I mention he loves to keep the water running the entire time, too?  What a mess!

Water  streams over the edges of the tub  like a powerfully driven waterfall, creating a mini ocean on the tile floor in the bathroom.

No place is dry, all the floor space has been touched by the overflowing bath water.

Sometimes the bath is Sketchs’ “happy place”.  When he’s in his happy place, watch out!

He’ll laugh and giggle but that does not even begin to express the depths of emotion he feels.  Because his little body can’t contain all that joy all at once, he adds to the giggles with squeals while jumping up and down on his tippy toes, gaining unbelievable heights. He flaps his arms with intensity that sometimes I wonder if he will fly, or maybe he can jump so high because his arms are helping him get air under his feet!  It’s like he’s trying to release some of the excess emotion, trying to keep his skin from exploding from the build up.

Sketch just lets it all out, unrestrained.  All the joy comes out one way or another, because he feels it, and he can’t contain it all. With the lack of social awareness, he just let’s it escape however it happens and doesn’t worry about what people think.

Unrestrained joy. Like rays of sunshine on a clear day, beaming from it’s core, not hindered by pollution or anything else.

You know how bright that would be?

Do we allow that amount of joy to be in us?  Or do we not experience it anymore?  Have we NT’s found some way to stifle the joy so we act “socially acceptable?”

I have heard that long ago, in biblical, times people expressed grief and joy much more extravagantly than we do now. People tore their clothes in grief, or danced naked in the streets (somethings are probably better off not done!).

We have a God who has exceeding joy, exceeding and indescribable love for us.  He doesn’t restrain his emotions. (Zeph 3:17).

We have a God who made us in his image.  So, I’m thinking Sketch has it right… He is not inhibited by social rules, he just is… He impacts everyone he comes in contact with.  No matter what their mood prior to seeing him, they are smiling and laughing with him. Maybe he is revealing a bit of Gods’ exuberance toward us in his joyful ways and happy dances. What if we took note of that, and really understood the depths of love and passion God feels for us…maybe we would flap too?

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19

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