Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Mad Skills

Earlier I found a sippy cup in Caleb's room as I was putting him to bed, and my stomach turned when I saw it because I had no idea how long it had been in there.  Even worse, no idea of what was in it.  Juice that had possibly fermented is one thing, almond milk or a smoothie is something else entirely.

I would like to interject a fun fact about myself: I have a pretty weak stomach normally.  If you're looking for my Kryptonite, well there it is.  Blood or a gross smell usually does it.  You could probably add my "list" of words I hate to the Kryptonite group, but that isn't relevant right now.

So, as I was bracing myself to wash out this cup (that I seriously considered just throwing away), I thought about how if I hadn't developed the "breathe-through-my-mouth-instead-of-my-nose" instinct like I have, then I would probably have a much harder time taking care of little boys.  And that got me thinking of all the awesome Mom Superpowers I now possess.  So here is my list of Mad Mom Skills...or Skillz...depending on how gangster I'm feeling.


  • First, of course, is the one I just talked about, breathing through my mouth to avoid disgusting smells.  If you don't have children, this alternative to being grossed out by stinky things might have never occurred to you.  Then again, if you're a twenty-something young man still living by yourself I'm sure your kitchen has warranted plenty of nose-plugging.  The skill here is doing it without using your hands.  You look like you're breathing normally, but you can't smell a thing.  I do this on a daily basis, especially when changing a certain Caleb Brant's diaper. (For real, the kid is rotten inside or something.)
  • The next one follows the whole smell theme.  If you know me at all, you know I have a super heightened sense of smell.  And yes, this is a curse when it comes to the whole weak stomach thing.  But something cool about being a parent is that the disgusting parts are slightly less disgusting when it's your own child.  So because of our..."adventures", with Joshua, I can now smell poop from the opposite side of the house.  No dirty diaper will go unnoticed if I'm within 100 feet.
  • I've got that whole "eyes-in-the-back-of-my-head" thing going for me already.  It's like I know every sound that is specific to every object in the house.  And what actions are specific to silence, e.g., climbing on the kitchen table, or chewing on a tube of diaper rash medicine.
  • I communicate pretty well with a completely non-verbal 4 year old and a 19 month old who only speaks gibberish (plus a couple unhelpful words).  It's the oddest thing, but it starts when they're infants and you learn to distinguish their cries.  This one means hungry, that one means sleepy, this one means he's angry at the Cowboys, etc.
  • I can wipe a snotty nose faster than a speeding bullet.  
  • When Joshua still used a pacifier, I used my super hero immune system as a shield so I could clean it off when he dropped it.  The moms reading this know what I mean.
  • I can figure out the most complicated of car seat fasteners.  This also goes for high chairs and strollers.
  • I can sleep through a hurricane (or Bobby's alarm and morning ritual at 3:30 a.m.) but the second I hear a little boy whimper I'm wide awake.  Only God knows how my brain tells the difference.
  • I can carry forty pounds of sleeping toddler up a flight of stairs without missing a step, but I can't do a full push-up.  It's a total mystery.
  • And my personal favorite...I've learned to laugh at situations that would make most people want to cry or have a nervous breakdown.  It's a survival instinct, I think.
Well, that's the short list...Any moms out there have any they want to add?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Best. Christmas. Ever.

Apparently I can be a little Scrooge-ish around Christmas time.  I fully embrace the idea of celebrating the night that God came near to us, the birth of our Savior into the world...but I have some hang-ups with the Pagan roots of most Christmas traditions.  Not to mention, the excessive materialism it has ingrained in America's children. I mostly push these things aside to focus on the aforementioned "reason for the season", but sometimes the Grinchiness seeps through.  Plus, this year was the thinnest Christmas Bobby and I have had since we got married so I was kinda bummed about not being able to join in all that materialism I say I hate so much.

See how that works?  We humans can be pretty hypocritical.  It's shocking to me that anyone can point a finger at hypocrisy when we've all been guilty of it on some level.

Anyway, I thankfully married someone who loves Christmas like he's still five years old himself.  It helps in the balancing act of relationships I've talked about before.  So I try and make sure he remembers it's about Jesus and not Santa Claus and he makes sure I remember it's also about joy and child-likeness.  Which brings me to the main reason we've both had a bittersweet past couple of Christmases. 

One of the things we both couldn't wait for after having Joshua was the time when he would be old enough to get really excited about Christmas.  We would laugh and talk about how he probably wouldn't want to go to sleep and he'd get up super early, dragging us out of bed to go open presents.  Well, this year he is four and up until this point none of our expectations of how Christmas would be with small children had come to pass.  We've never been able to get him to open gifts and it usually ended with us opening them, and then trying to force him to sit down and look at them, hoping they would grab his interest.  Which also never worked.  Eventually he would wander over to the new things but our grandiose ideas of gift-opening never panned out.  

So cut to Christmas Eve at Bobby's parents, and neither of us really anticipating anything other than the usual.  Then out comes the drum set LaVonne got Joshua and something amazing happens...he goes right over to it and starts banging away.  He loved it!  He was smiling and happy and actually excited about a present.  And then something else happened...



He started opening everything!




On top of all that, Caleb was really loving all of his stuff too.  We had two little boys running around, taking turns on the drums, fighting over dinosaurs, and ultimately spending time trying out every new gift.
He couldn't even wait to get it out of the box...




Bobby and I just sat in awe with tears in our eyes, feeling like anything was possible after experiencing the purest joy I've ever known.  The year we'd spent the least amount of money turned out to be arguably the best Christmas either of us ever had.  Here we were, upset over not being able to give all we wanted to, and God gave us this reminder of Himself.  The reminder of His covenant love that began when a common Jewish girl yielded herself as a vessel and gave birth to our ultimate gift in a stable.  I don't believe in focusing on Jesus being a baby (because He isn't anymore) or Jesus hanging on the cross (because He isn't there anymore either), but I do believe in Christmas as a time to remember HOW He came to us.  In the most discreet way, with the least amount of fanfare as possible.  His time on earth began and ended under a mantle of humility.  And this year, I was once again humbled by His mercy and grace that He continues to pour out on the most undeserved.  

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Smallest Cloud

     So, I'm trying to get better at this blogging thing.  I still haven't found anyone to help me with getting it really pretty looking and whatnot, but mostly I'm kinda bad about writing on a regular basis.  It's a combination of not having anything to write about, having too much to write about, not having time, and having time but not having the mental energy to form intelligible sentences.  Plus, I'm my own worst critic so after I post something I feel good about it for about five minutes and then I re-read it so many times I've come up with about twenty things wrong with it.  Which then leads to overwhelming anxiety about ever writing anything ever again.  But then I remember why I do this in the first place and decide to windmill kick my insecurity in the face (a move I can only perform metaphorically...just in case you were wondering).
     
     I also have a hard time evading the rabbit trails.


     Last week Joshua said Hi.  I was picking him up from school and when I said Hi to him (admittedly not really expecting a response), he said Hi right back.  Well sorta.  It sounded like any small child who is just learning to talk and doesn't say everything clearly right at first, but it started with an 'H' sound and followed my inflection perfectly.  He mimicked, which is another huge deal all by itself.  Add on top of that, the therapist who was with us when it happened said he did the same thing earlier that day with the word 'Yay', and I was in total shock.  I spent the whole rest of the day trying to get him to say it again and trying to get him to say pretty much every other word I could think of.  I always talk to him and prompt him to answer or repeat me, but that day I was doing double time.


     "And Elijah said to Ahab, Go up, eat and drink, for there is the sound of abundance of rain.  So Ahab went up to eat and to drink.  And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he bowed himself down upon the earth and put his face between his knees And said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea.  And he went up and looked and said, There is nothing.  Elijah said, Go again seven times.  And at the seventh time the servant said, A cloud as small as a man's hand is arising out of the sea.  And Elijah said, Go up, say to Ahab, Hitch your chariot and go down, lest the rain stop you."  1 Kings 18:41-44 AMP (emphasis mine)


     Here are some things I've learned after reading and re-reading this passage about a hundred times over the last few weeks...

  • Elijah heard the sound before the cloud ever appeared.  God spoke it, so he knew it was a done deal and only a matter of time before he saw it manifest.  Elijah knew His voice, so he had no reason to doubt.  The bible says God watches over His word to perform it...if He speaks it, you can bet it's going to happen.  It's my favorite attribute of His, this unrelenting faithfulness and constantly UNchanging character.
  • Elijah took and maintained a position of prayer even though he knew the rain was coming.  God said it.  He heard the sound.  But he still prayed.  ("Be unceasing in prayer [praying perseveringly];" 1 Thess. 5:17 AMP) AND he prayed until the circumstances changed.  He was so persistent he wouldn't even move enough to go look for himself.  I'm not saying this suggests we lay aside every responsibility we have to lay on the floor in prayer all day, but I do think we can take the same continuous position of prayer in our attitudes, words, and thoughts.  And it makes a difference.
  • He moved to action at the smallest possible evidence of a coming rain.  The servant didn't come back and say that the biggest storm he'd ever seen was rolling in, but Elijah didn't need that to know it was on it's way.  Just a wisp of cloud.  Just the crumb from the Master's table.  Just the hem of His garment.  That's all Elijah needed to hear...
  • Ahab better get going, because the rain is coming.  
     No matter what I do I can't get away from this story.  I know when Joshua said Hi it was my teeny, tiny cloud way off (or not so way off) in the distance.  He hasn't said anything since then, but that doesn't phase me.  I can hear the sky opening up.  




     

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I Can't Wait

     I'm having a moment.  I've been having quite a few "moments" lately, actually.  My guess is that the culprit(s) are these female hormones I am so very blessed to carry around with me.  Apparently hormones sharpen my already stellar sarcasm skills, as well.  Good to know.
     Now back to this moment...
     I'm thinking that I hate autism.  I'm thinking that if autism were a person, I would spend the rest of my life doing prison ministry because I would violently murder it.  I'm just being honest.  It's straight out of the pit of hell and I make no apologies for saying so.  There are some people who have suggested that it is possibly a 'gift', some blessing in disguise.  And while I can see God working things out in myself and my family in the midst of this trial, I would have to wholeheartedly disagree.
     It sounds spiritual and makes us want to pat ourselves on the back for being so positive, but it's just plain not scriptural.  There is this anger that has risen in me over the lack of true belief in the professing church these days.  Not anger at people, but anger at the lie they've believed.  Somewhere along the way the church bought into the secular version of hope instead of God's version.  Unfortunately, I've even seen non-believers demonstrate more faith than so-called believers.  I will concede that God has done some amazing things in the lives of some people with disabilities and diseases.  That in spite of all odds, some are able to accomplish great things and I really do love seeing stories like that because it demonstrates our sheer will as humans to live life to the fullest we can manage.  But, as a believer in Jesus, I think it is our responsibility to believe for and expect more than that.
     I rarely see the people of God daring to believe for a complete and total miracle any more.  I've had people (with good intentions) try to comfort me with all the awesome things people with autism have done.  And in my mind I'm thinking, "That's great.  But he will not have autism for the rest of his life."  The church has such a reputation of hypocrisy and I think this subject might be the worst example of it.  Even though no one looks at it that way.  It's robbed the body of Christ and I'm sick of it.  Stop being led by fear and have the courage to trust God's word!  Have the boldness to stand on the covenant promises that the blood of Jesus bought and say, "I will not settle for anything less than abundant life."  You know what isn't included in abundant life?  Sickness, disease, disorder, lack, fear, addiction, depression...none of it gets to stay.  That is, if you can recognize it all as defeat instead of accepting them as a part of life.  The Bible says we have not, because we ask not.  What have we not been asking for?  I've had it put to me this way as well...What are we not contending for?  If we are satisfied with less then that's what we get.
     I cannot be satisfied with God doing things in Joshua's life despite his autism.  I will only be satisfied with him being totally healed from it.  Period.  End of story.  Sometimes my heart feels like it's being put through the ringer because I'm choosing this path of belief.  Doubt tries to creep in and paralyze me with fear that it won't ever happen.  But every day I choose to stand and contend, I feel more secured by my faith instead of exposed by it.  Instead of vulnerable, I feel hedged in, covered by the shadow of the Almighty.
     The thing that makes me hate autism most is that it has stolen Joshua's voice (for now).  I've never heard my four year old tell me he loves me.  I've never heard him yell, "Momma!" and run to me when I walk through the door.  I can't talk to him about how his day at school went or get him to understand how I love him so much that I will never be the same person because of it.
     BUT.  There are times when, out of nowhere, he will make eye contact with me and hold it for what seems like an eternity.  He stares into my eyes so deeply that I know he wants to tell me something and just can't manage it yet.  I never feel the bond with him stronger than I do in those moments because it's like he knows just when I need it.  These are the times that my faith is reinforced.  It's like he's saying, "Hang in there, Momma.  I'm stuck in here right now, but I won't be for long.  We'll be able to talk soon."
     And I think, "I can't wait, baby."

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Love and Real Life

"I remember trying not to stare the night that I first met you, you had me mesmerized. And three weeks later in the front porch light taking 45 minutes to kiss goodnight, I hadn't told you yet...but I thought I loved you then."

     It was April 30, 2006 and I was joining a group of people for Joy's birthday at Buffalo Wild Wings.  Penni told me her brother would be there and she was excited about introducing us but, not really wanting to get excited prematurely, I blew it off.  Besides, he probably wouldn't even be cute and if he was he probably wouldn't even like me or think I was cute...that's the really mature, non-high school gist of the millisecond of a thought I had about meeting this "Bobby" character.
     Then...
     In the midst of normal table conversation and laughter, I catch a glimpse of this guy coming through the front door and what do ya know...he is cute after all.  Gorgeous.  Dead sexy.  Something along those lines.  And something really strange happens that I've never mentioned to him before writing this post.  Probably because I thought it would sound sappy and silly and like it came straight out of a romantic comedy, but it is the complete and honest truth.  I felt something almost physically shift and click into place inside me.  I didn't completely recognize it for what it was at the moment because I fought the mere idea of he and I for about a week after that, but eventually I knew it was my "when you know, you know" moment.  It's just that my head had to catch up.
     Later that day I found out that, what do ya know, he thought I was cute too.  Or hot.  Something along those lines.  Either way, we had managed to make a connection through the quick glances and two word sentences we exchanged that day at lunch with ten other people.  In the weeks that followed we figured out pretty quickly that we were gonna get married, it was just a matter of when.  When it was all said and done, we got married less than seven months from the day we met.
     I love our story of how we ended up together because I can look at all the details (most not mentioned here) and see how strategically God placed us in each other's paths.  But the story I love the most is the one that's still being told.  The one that started five years ago and has since taken on an entirely different shape than what we planned.  The one that is still being written every day in our home and through our journey as parents. These days the dreams of young girls have changed from being married to having a fabulous wedding.  Years of planning go into the wedding, but very little thought goes into the marriage itself.  When we first got married I would get really frustrated with people who had been married a long time and wanted to put their cynical two cents in on what marriage really was.  And, really, I still do.  I'm not a fan of bitterness, resentment and overall negativity especially when there's an attempt to infect others with it.  That being said...marriage is really hard.
     Maybe I should say it this way.  If your aim is to stay married for the rest of your lives and not run away when things get rough, then marriage is really hard.  Forever is a long time.  You're bound to hit some bumps along the way.  Babies come along.  Money gets tighter.  Patience wears thin.  Time gets shorter.  Life happens.  Don't misunderstand...I'm not saying any of this with the attitude of, "Well, enjoy being single while you can..."  I'm just saying that I've realized that when you love someone that much, then you'd better be prepared to fight for them.  And when you have someone who is willing to stick with you through the worst kind of crap, then thank God for them every day and don't take them for granted.  Choose to grow as a person.  Compromise.  And extend mercy the way God extends it to us.
     Bobby has been one of the greatest gifts God has ever given me and on this anniversary I am thinking about how I would like to live every day in a way that shows him that.  Five years ago two flawed, imperfect people promised to love each other through every stage of life, even the ones they didn't plan on encountering.  I am so blessed to have been one of them and I can't wait to see how the next five years turn out.  I love you, Bobby, you're the best.

"And we bear the light of the Son of Man, so there's nothing left to fear.  So I'll walk with you in the shadow lands, til the shadows disappear.  'Cuz He promised not to leave us and His promises are true, so in the face of all this chaos, baby I can dance with you."

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Everyday Stuff

      There is a little elf  in my house that keeps checking the dresser drawers for stray edges of clothing that are preventing the drawers from closing.  He then pushes on the clothes until they're out of the way and out of sight and closes the drawer properly.  He gets visibly irritated when the clothes don't want to cooperate right away.  His name is Joshua Allen.  It's hilarious because I have no idea how he decided that wasn't acceptable and also because he is constantly emptying his own bottom drawer until all of his clothes are on the floor.  Regardless, he's beginning to learn more and more where things belong and he's also beginning to put them there on his own.  I know I have the ABA to thank for this.  It's only been a few weeks, but I can already see changes in him.  And although it's difficult to explain those changes to someone who isn't around him on a daily basis, I have noticed them and my faith has grabbed hold as tight as it can.


         These pictures are one example of those changes.  Eye contact.  Focus.  Smiling.  All things I would have been hard pressed to get together in one photograph a couple months ago.  It's something else I've learned:  To take every positive thing and milk it for all it's worth.  Don't let cynicism come in and diminish the little things because they aren't the biggest thing.  We take every bit of progress we get around here and celebrate it to the fullest.  Things I would have taken for granted him learning to do if he had always been typical, I get excited over.  I have this feeling like at the end of everything, I will have been given the greatest lesson in gratefulness ever.  Which even kinda makes me grateful.

     Yes, that IS the same duck in both pictures.  Or "Guck" as he has been fondly named by Caleb.  He's only learned a couple words so far so he hasn't quite gotten all of his sounds down yet.  Guck is Caleb's favorite toy because he has a silky ribbon around his neck that he can rub while he sucks his thumb.  There is something about the children in this family and "silkies".  Joshua and my niece, Ryleigh are both the same way, only they prefer blankets and Caleb prefers Guck.  We almost lost the little guy in the mall the other day and I just knew if we didn't find him I was going to have to go on a hunt for a new one.  Thankfully someone had picked him up and set him on the counter in the store we were in, so crisis averted.  Of course, your 18 month old dropping his stuffed duck in a store is a lot cuter than your 18 month old causing you to accidentally steal something from a store, which happened the previous trip to the mall.  All of this brings me to my point about Caleb...he keeps you on your toes.  I think it has something to do with him being close to the ground and having cheetah-like speed.  He's also hilarious and keeps me laughing all day.  I can only imagine how much more entertaining he'll be once he starts really talking.
     Kids have a way of making you take note of where your priorities lie.  Just like Joshua is learning where things belong (and don't), I think I am too.  Don't misunderstand...My kids have always been at the top of my list, but there are other things that I've let fall to the back burner that I maybe shouldn't have.  I'm sure it's understandable...life is full of things that put a demand on our energy and cause us to shift our focus accordingly.  But we can't get to where we let everything else go forever.  I've had a vision for my children, but I've lost a little bit of the vision for me.  Thinking of it spiritually it brings me back to Song of Solomon where it says, "...they made me the keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept."  Sometimes we get so busy doing 'stuff', that we don't take care of our own stuff.  I take my responsibility as a mom very seriously, so I don't want to minimize what is required of me for my children, but if I'm not moving forward on the path God has specifically for me also, then I'm not going to be doing the best I can for them either.
     Anyway, enough rambling.  Just a little bit of the everyday to get the blog going again :)
     

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"I Love..." Mondays: Friends

     It's still Monday.  I could swear I'm sitting here on Tuesday night but it just isn't true.  Today was Joshua's first FULL day at Autism House and he did great.  The kid is just a natural school-goer.  Apparently the routine of it all sits very well with him because he has even been in a better mood once he's home.  The first thing they have been working with him on is sitting at the table and doing his 'work'.  He started off only sitting for seven minutes at a time and now they already have him worked up to thirty.  He isn't a huge fan of the arts and crafts but he's gotten better and more compliant with that too.  I am just thrilled and so excited he's adjusting so well. It is absolutely answered prayer.
     Monday is becoming a real Monday to me now that I have to get up and get Joshua to school.  It's turned back into that day I dread because it means I have to set an alarm clock.  But it is also now a day that has one specific task connected to it and that's an "I Love..." post.  Today I asked myself what do I really, really love?  If there's one thing you should know about me, it's that I love my friends.  Well, I mean after knowing that I love my husband and my babies but I'm pretty sure y'all know that by now.  So, friends it is.  Here are some things I love about my friends.

  • Laughing.  I LOVE to laugh and could probably write a post about that too but no one makes me laugh like my girls so it's hard to separate the two.  I think I am friends with some of the funniest people ever and each of them have their own specific brand of hilarity.  If you can make me laugh, you've got me.
  • Inside jokes.  Yes, I know it goes along with laughing and yes, I know they can be very annoying when you aren't 'in' on them...BUT.  There's something to be said for laughing so hard about something that you continue to laugh about it for months or years to come, even when it's a little out of context or no one else around you has any clue what is so funny.  
  • Memories.  Which is really all inside jokes are.  It's a connector, reminding you that you've shared your life with someone else.  The good parts and bad parts.  
  • Girl talk.  I grew up being more of a tomboy, which is a trait I've somewhat retained, but I've always loved some good girl talk.  IF I knew I could trust all involved to not let it leave that room.  You've got something good if you have someone you can talk to about anything, everything, and nothing.  
  • Food.  To go along with the girl talk.
  • Reliability.  It's so important in a good, long-lasting friendship, but a little hard to come by.  People you know you can call if you need something, no matter what.
  • Getting to be real.  My favorite part in a friendship is when you pass the super polite/nice stage and start picking on each other.  If I can make fun of you without offending you, then we're friends.  If I can tell you the pair of shoes you just picked up in the store are hideous, then we're friends.  If I feel comfortable enough at your house to rummage through the fridge and pantry, then we're friends.
  • Nicknames.  I'm realizing that most of my friends right now have one.  And the ones that don't are probably about to get one.  
  • Honesty.  "Am I being a jerk?"  "Yes, you are." 
  • Secrets.  And not the "mean kind", Joy says.  I love having people who know me.  The past, the present, the deep stuff, and the...not so deep stuff that's just fun to giggle about.
  • The distance-doesn't-matter friends.  When you can keep in touch on the internet and phone or even maybe not talk for months and then pick up right where you left off, you've got something special.
  • No-reciprocation-needed Favors.  I can buy your lunch and you don't have to pay me back.  You babysit my kids and I don't have to pay you.  Doing things for each other just because you care about each other and that's what family does.  Because really...
  • They're like family.  A hand-picked, dysfunctional, unconditional-loving, loud, hungry, hilarious family.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

It's happening.

     I've been listening to myself a little closer lately and I'm beginning to realize how much like a mom I sound.  Not just because of typical sayings, but perceptions too.  When I hear a story, when someone wants to make plans, when I consider politics...everything has a mom undercurrent in my brain.  I'm only bringing this up because it's so unlike me.  Well...it's so unlike the pre-children me and the basest form of me.  But I'll get back to that part later.
     The thing I've heard myself saying the most lately is, "It's happening."  Let me use a hypothetical/probably-already-happened-before situation to illustrate.
     I am attempting to get the boys ready to leave the house.  It's finally time for me to put Joshua's shoes on him.  He resists.  I continue to chase his foot around with a sock.  He whines and continues to refuse.  I say something like, "Joshua, we are going to put your shoes on before we leave the house.  It's happening.  You can throw a fit all you want, but the shoes are happening."  Occasionally this is followed by another saying, "Those are the rules."  It also works for Caleb trying to squirm away every single time I change his diaper.  I've tried explaining to him that until he learns how to use the potty this is just going to be a fact of life he has to get used to, but he's not swayed by my logic.  Either that or he's 17 months old and has no clue what I'm saying to him.  It's one or the other.
     I would like to point out though, that I'm not as strict as that scenario might have led you to believe.  There have been plenty of times I've decided to let him win the shoe battle and concede to just putting the shoes on before we get out of the car to go into whatever the destination may be.  Many of you may be thinking that I should be consistent with my discipline.  And you're right.  But if there is one thing I have learned so far in having a special needs child, it's that parenthood doesn't always go the way you envisioned it before you actually had children.  Before I had kids, I was in the, "I'll never let my kids..." group.  Before Joshua's delays set in I was also in the highly populated, "If he was mine, I would..." group.  But that was before the immaturity and arrogance got slapped out of me by reality.  I don't have the luxury of teaching typical discipline, and yes, it IS a luxury.  All the things I thought I would solve with a butt whippin', can't be solved that way anymore.  I could spank Joshua until someone called CPS on me (which, for the record I would not do), he still isn't going to sit still in a chair (without entertainment) in a waiting room.  I've also figured out that while he does understand the word 'no' to an extent, he doesn't always obey right away or without prompting and it almost never sticks in his mind that he isn't allowed to do it anymore.  All he knows is you don't want him to do it right now, ten minutes from now is a whole new situation.
     What I use mostly in my child-rearing now is patience.  Not always and not to perfection, but more than I ever imagined was possible in my "my-life-is-just-about-me" days.  I also rely pretty heavily on my easy-going nature.  You might want to take everything that's not a toy away from your toddler and tell him 'no' all day long, but I don't have the energy for that.  If it's not going to cause him bodily harm or bring harm to the actual object, I say let him have it.  If Caleb is fussy and all he wants is to carry my hairbrush around the house, I'm giving the kid the hairbrush.  If he wants to dig silverware out of the dishwasher while I'm trying to load it, I'm going to hand him a clean plastic spoon so he can run off with it like he stole it from Bed, Bath and Beyond.  I've figured out that the more they think they're not supposed to have it, the happier they are that they do.  Sounds like most adults I know, as well.
     Back to this not being me.  I mean, I know none of us think we will ever say the things our parents said to us and then we all eventually do.  But I guess I'm just thinking about things like the patience and how before I had kids, I had none.  For anyone or anything.  Joshua came along and all of a sudden the patience was never-ending.  Like I brought it home from the hospital with him.  It's stretched a little thin since then, but any time I make myself take a breath and a step back, I find it again.  I think it's powered by gratefulness, which is another thing I didn't possess as much of before kids (and Bobby).  I struggled for so long with finding any worth in myself that it was difficult being grateful for life in it's simplest form.  Air in my lungs, a roof over my head, etc.  But I was always grateful for the people in my life.  So when the people I love more than anything else came along, thankfulness began to spill out everywhere.  I think I was shocked at what I'd been given compared to what I thought I deserved.
     It's like with Joshua.  When he was born and wasn't breathing, those few minutes of silence were gut-wrenching.  All I wanted for the rest of my life was to hear that baby cry.  So when he did, I promised myself I would never be angry or impatient with his crying because it meant he was breathing.  And it still works every time.  Now that he is four and non-verbal, I've had people tell me, "Well when he finally starts to talk you'll be wishing he would stop."  And, yeah, I get the joke...but all I can think is, No...I won't.  I am going to let that little boy talk and talk and talk some more.  And when he's asked me twenty questions in twenty minutes I will still be thanking God that I can have a conversation with my baby.
     And with Caleb.  I think I get extra excited over every little 'first' because he's starting to do things that Joshua hasn't yet, which takes weight off of me with every milestone.  I guess what I'm trying to say is that all of this has made me more appreciative, more patient...more willing to hope and believe.  Being a mom has made me a better person.  If I'm being honest I would have to say that I never liked the idea of me being a mom becoming my identifier.  I didn't want that to be all my life was.  But now I'm realizing how it's impossible for it to not be.  It's so in me.  It literally IS what I am.  I know this must sound strange, but I just didn't expect to ever be Ok with feeling like a real mom.  I wanted to have children, and stay at home with them, and be a really awesome mom...I just didn't want to be a MOM-mom.  I don't even know how to explain that but there it is.  And guess what??  I'm a MOM-mom, now.  My life is my kids and I couldn't have it any other way.
   
   
   

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

"I Love..." Mondays: Southern Charm

     Well, I missed a few weeks of "I love..." posts so I wanted to make sure I got this one done.  Even if it's Tuesday.  Today it's all about the south.  I was born and raised right here in Southeast Texas and I love everything it's contributed to who I am now.  I decided to make this about the south and not just Texas since I've learned that some people consider us TexasProud folks obnoxious, but I'm pretty sure that's just because they are jealous.  Half the time other parts of the south don't even want to include Texas as part of the south.  Nevertheless, I'm including all of the south in the awesomeness.  To start off let me just say that as fiercely proud of being from the south as I am, that never includes the confederacy.  Sorry, I don't get down with slavery.  And I might have a little redneck in me, but you won't see any confederate flag tattoos, bumper stickers, t-shirts, etc. coming from this girl.  And you might want to consider what you're representing if you have any of these things in your possession.  Just a thought.
     Ok, on with the awesomeness.
  • My first love has to be the simple fact that the south is so proud.  I don't mean proud as in arrogant like you might find some other places, but proud as in a pure appreciation.  I feel privileged like I'm part of a culture that is steeped in community, joy and love.
  • Sweet.  Iced.  Tea.  'Nuff said.
  • Football.  Without getting into specific teams, I just want to point out that we produce the best football players, with Texas leading the way.  Football is an essential part of southern culture.  I can't imagine my childhood without memories of adults in the living room screaming at the television at basically every family function.
  • Southern food and all that it brings with it.  It's more than cholesterol and calories, it's community and family as well.
  • Friendliness and manners.  We have the nicest drivers (Houston and Dallas notwithstanding) and strangers still wave "Hello" to each other.  People say, 'please', 'thank you', 'yes ma'am', 'no sir' and smile when they make eye contact.  I pray we aren't a dying breed.
  • Whataburger, Sonic and Dairy Queen.  The Trifecta of southern fast food.
  • You can basically wear flip-flops year round.  And that's because of...
  • The weather.  I can't say I'm a fan all the time, but it's one of those things that makes home, home.  Horrible heat and humidity.  "In the south we mature quicker...I think it's the heat."--Blanche Devereaux
  • Camouflage.  To specify...men in camouflage coveralls that just got done hunting or doing something extra manly.  Which brings me to...
  • Manly men.  We have to have the largest population of truly resourceful men.  Car broke down?  Fallen tree across the road?  Need someone to take the fish you just caught off your line?  Have a slab of beef that looks like it belonged to Fred Flintstone you need cooked?  They can do it.  "We can skin a buck, we can run a trot line..." comes to mind.
  • Blue Bell ice cream.  And the fact that southerners are so loyal to it.
  • Rodeos conjoined with fairs.
  • Cicadas.  Which, by the way, are NOT locusts.  Just so we're clear.
  • Our drawl.  But not the way the rest of the country tries to stereotype anyone with that accent as a moron.  That's like saying everyone from England is a genius.
  • In addition to the accent, we speak figuratively more than literally.  There's a saying for everything and  it doesn't matter if it doesn't make any literal sense.  Not only that, but we have whole words and phrases that just don't exist in the rest of the country.  "Y'all" is the obvious and my favorite.  But we also have "fixin'".  Not a shortened form of 'fixing' like someone would use to say they were repairing something, but 'fixin' as in, "I'm fixin' to run to the store for some boudain and roux, y'all want anything?"  We've been known to catch a whole 'mess' of fish and pass 'smooth' out.  One of the first times Bobby and I went to the mall together he asked me where he could find some "pajama britches" and I almost fell on the floor.
  • We really appreciate a true raconteur.  I think my husband is one of the best I've ever met.
  • All soft drinks are a "coke".  "What do you want to drink?"  "A coke."  "What kind?"  "Dr. Pepper."
  • Big trucks.  Ridiculous...and also dead sexy.
  • Bonfires.
  • Back roads.
  • Four-wheeling.     
  • The countryside at dusk.
     Ok, that's all I got for now.  Anything else any of y'all southerners want to add to the list?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sailing through the storm

     This is morning number four in what I'm calling The Great Routine Shift.  Joshua seems to be adjusting surprisingly well considering how different this is for him.  I, however, am not.  I am having a hard time going to bed earlier.  I've always been a night owl, and NEVER a morning person, so this will take some getting used to.  But with that being said, I am so excited for this new season.  I am so glad Joshua is finally getting some substantial help and that he really loves it.  In addition to the scholarship I talked about in my last post, we also found out this week that our insurance is going to start covering the ABA now, before the school is even finished being in-network with them.  This is AMAZING news because it means that now we will only have to be using the scholarship to pay for our co-pays, so it will last a lot longer.  Like, almost a year longer.
     It is finally starting to feel like we are transitioning out of the place where nothing goes our way and doors keep getting shut.  The clouds are beginning to open and I can see the tiniest ray of light starting to peek through.
     I heard this song yesterday and it reminded me so much of me and Bobby.  The details in the beginning aren't exact but the general message of the song feels so familiar.  We are coming up on our 5 year anniversary, and trust me, it has been a FULL five.  But there's no one I'd rather be facing the minefields and storms of life with than this awesome husband and father that I still can't believe God blessed me with.



Thursday, October 20, 2011

Generation Rescue

I shared this on Facebook a week or so ago, but I wanted to post it here as well. I think it's a perfect summation of what the newest wave of Autism Awareness is focusing on and why. It's also an amazing organization if anyone is looking for a new charity.


JENNY McCARTHY » Generation Rescue | Jenny McCarthy's Autism Organization:

'via Blog this'

Sunday, October 16, 2011

...but now I see.

"His disciples asked Him, 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?'  Jesus answered, 'It was not that this man or his parents sinned, but he was born blind in order that the workings of God should be manifested (displayed and illustrated) in him.'"
John 9: 2-3 AMP

     I LOVE this verse.  There are many times when I will go back to the gospels just to revisit the miracles Jesus did while He was on the earth, to remind myself that He never turned anyone away.  You won't be able to look through any of the four accounts of His life and find an example where someone came to Him with a need and He left them empty handed.  Even when He was rebuking the disciples' lack of faith, He couldn't stop from doing the will of the Father.  To me, this particular passage is evidence that it is ALWAYS God's will that we be healed.  The man wasn't born blind so that he would stay blind...so he could learn a lesson (although I'm sure he did).  No, when he was born blind, God had already set the plan for his healing into motion.  Through his healing, a world that had only known of God's awesome power and supreme authority as master of the universe was now going to be shown His character of compassion, mercy and unconditional love for His creation.  Jesus was saying if you want a picture of what the workings of God are, here you go...healing, deliverance, redemption.  This man was now a living testament of God's amazing grace. 
     Of course, before Jesus came along, he lived a long life as a blind beggar.  The Bible says he was blind from birth, but by this time, he was already a man, old enough to give his own account of what happened to the Pharisees.  We also know from scripture that his parents were devout Jews.  It makes me wonder...How many years had they mourned over their son's disability?  How long had it taken for guilt to consume them, assuring them that this was punishment for their sin?  If that was the first thing the disciples asked, then presumably, this was a common belief among the Jews.  Imagine Jesus coming along and revealing that they had carried that shame all that time for nothing.  I also noticed that the man says that before this happened no one had ever heard of someone who was born blind receiving their sight.  I don't know why, but it hadn't occurred to me that those kinds of miracles hadn't been done before Jesus.  Did his parents even pray for him to be healed?  I mean, if you've never even heard of God healing blindness, then how would you know you could ask for it?  It's interesting, because none of this mattered.  God had determined His glory was going to be shown through this man.  He was beginning to display His new covenant.  Heaven on earth.
     We have been in a real trying place in this journey with Joshua.  It's like the fire is getting turned up and it makes me wonder if maybe that means a breakthrough is right around the corner.  We had a major one last week and I haven't stopped thanking God since.  One of the hardest parts of all this is how difficult it is financially.  It is so sad to think that we now know so much more about treating and even healing Autism than we did even ten years ago and yet it's so expensive there has to be thousands of children falling through the cracks.  I have promised that one day when I am able I will do what I can to make sure parents won't have to choose between paying their necessary bills and getting their children the help they need.  Anyway, we had applied for a scholarship for Joshua's ABA and after thinking that we would never even hear back from the people, I got a phone call saying that we had been approved for a large sum of money.  The lady told me that we "just happened" to get our application in at the right time because they only have money to give at certain times of the year.  Not only that, but usually they use it to help families cover what insurance will not.  She told me that they would most likely work it out so that it would even cover our copays when the insurance finally kicks in.  I cried.  I'm crying again just thinking about it.  Jesus is so faithful.  EVERY time I've thrown my hands up and said, "Ok, it's all on You because we can't make this happen," He has come through above and beyond.  He's NEVER early, but He is always right on time.  This was just the extra boost I needed to remind me that this isn't forever.  One day we are going to reach the light at the end of this tunnel and be testaments of His amazing grace too.  The road is a hard one, and not one I would have chosen, but I know it isn't leading us to nowhere.  I know that even though there are eternal things being developed in me and my family right now, the ultimate purpose will be revealed when we get our miracle.  His glory will be seen.  And no one will be able to deny it.

"And when the burden seems too much to bear, remember the end will justify the pain it took to get us there."--Relient K

Monday, October 3, 2011

"I Love..." Mondays

     So my computer crashed and it seems I have already gotten out of the habit of posting.  On top of my computer, Bobby's computer has been less than reliable on the internet connection situation for a while even though his is much newer than mine.  Anyway, it's working at the moment at least and I now have something to blog from because I do not consider an iPhone or the iPad to be viable options.  Sorry, Apple, I just don't.
     Now to explain my title...I've decided to start having a regular post about various things I love.  It would've been, "I Love..." Sundays but the aforementioned computer wasn't cooperating last night.  So, to start I thought  I might give a few different things I love as a sort of getting-to-know-me post.
   

  • I love my family.  I know it's a given, but I still had to say it.  These three boys are my heart and I can't imagine this life without them.
  • I love Joy Murphy.  We haven't been friends since childhood or anything, but it definitely feels that way sometimes.  We met five or six years ago and I have had the privilege of learning to navigate the winding and bumpy road of wifedom and motherhood with her.  She is a loyal, compassionate, honest person, who loves and extends mercy in a way only a true Jesus-disciple could.  If I didn't have her to vent to and laugh with, especially in this season of life, I might have gone crazy by now.
  • I love food.  I, however, am not a foodie.  I would like to say that I am, but as anyone who knows me well could tell you, I'm too picky for that.  BUT, the food I do like, I like a lot.  I could probably eat pizza, for example, every day of my life.
  • I love having a killer sense of smell.  Sometimes it's a curse, but it always makes me feel like a superhero.
  • I love music.  And I don't mean, in the general, sure-everyone-loves-music kind of way.  I mean, I truly LOVE music.  As an art form and as one of the deepest avenues for communication.  Nothing can speak so pointedly as quickly as the right song in the right situation.  I'm convinced Heaven will be filled with it in ways none of us can imagine.
  • I love fall weather.  It's my favorite season even though in southeast Texas we only get a few weeks of what you could call true autumn.  We mostly just have summer and winter with a transition and the transitions are what the rest of the country call spring and fall.  But it's my favorite, nonetheless.  Football, hoodies, bonfires and a good excuse for some gumbo.  I dare you to come up with something better than that.  Hint:  It doesn't exist.
  • I love talking.  Let me rephrase...I love socializing.  Hmmm, let me rephrase again...I love socializing with one or two people at a time.  Maybe three or four.  I do not love big crowds, an anxiety I have to overcome when I attend a Frederick family gathering.  And it is a real anxiety.  Maybe not as much with family, but in public, absolutely.  Strangers in general tend to trigger a slight panic, so I typically become pretty awkward with new people.  I'm a small group kind of person.  Being able to have real conversation is my favorite way to unwind.
  • I love the Bible.  And I don't mean I'm saying I love the Bible because I'm supposed to because that's what good little Christian girls say.  I really love it.  I can't pretend like I've been quite the student of it recently like I have in past years (years before a husband and children...not that they're an excuse), but it really doesn't get old to me.  Sure there are times I just simply don't feel like reading it...but when I do it anyway, I'm never disappointed.  I have to watch myself because I'm a bit of a nerd so I can get caught up in the history and knowledge of it all and be totally enthralled because I genuinely love learning...but that isn't the part that's fulfilling.  It can be interesting and even entertaining, but it's not feeding you unless it's revealing things to you.  Things you don't get by just reading what it says or even memorizing what it says, and where it says it.  I can know about God, or I can know God.  I want to know Him.  How would I ever have a real relationship with Bobby if I didn't ever sit down and spend time with him and hear his heart?  That's why I love the Word.  It's the Father's heartbeat.
     So there are a few to get you started...What are some things you love?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Today...

Most of the time my days are pretty uneventful.  Today was in the 'most' category, but I did take a little mental inventory of things and thought I might share some of the highlights of this ordinary day.

  • Today the phrase, "Oh, look at that good-lookin' poop!" came out of my mouth.  I giggled and considered how strange that might sound if someone happened to be ear-hustlin' (my friend's phrase for eavesdropping that I've stolen) my conversations with my four year old.
  • Today Joshua "kissed" me.  He hasn't done this in weeks.  And yesterday (yeah I know I'm cheating) he chose between two movies by pointing/tapping the one he wanted.  I know it doesn't sound like a big deal but for him it is.  He pulls us to things he wants and even brings things to us, but he has never pointed at anything.  This time, he was holding three (he likes to play in the DVDs) and I grabbed one and asked him if he wanted to watch it and then he tapped one in his lap.  It's small, but it lifted me up a little.
  • Today I cooked chicken parmesan for dinner for about the fourth time and still overcooked the chicken. I'm always so scared it's going to be raw in the middle that I leave it in too long.
  • Today I shaved my legs.  Yep, that's headline news around here.
  • Today I got to drive to the store after Bobby got home and it's been so long since I was out in public, I felt like I was on vacation.  I might be making a trip out to Hardin to see my Happy Murphy soon.
  • Today I realized that Jessie May McGillicuddy is going to be in Texas tomorrow!  And then I peed my pants.  Not really.  But I was THAT excited.
  • Today I had a revelation while reading Matthew.  It's probably one of those things that is only a revelation to me, but it felt like a light got flicked on and I saw something new in a place I'd been a hundred times.  It reminded me that the Word is living and always speaking, and how badly I need it every day.  
  • Today (Ok, this is the serious bullet) I found out that Canada has laws for infanticide like they do abortion.  They have almost no restrictions on abortions, so if someone wants one they can very easily get one.  But if they don't, they can almost just as easily kill the baby and, by merely citing some form of distress over having a child, they can literally get away with it with zero jail time.  To this day, only one case of infanticide in Canada has resulted in jail time.  I cried.  I wanted to vomit.  And I begged God for mercy and for this nation to realize that this is the next step after free-for-all abortion laws.  This isn't some communist, dictator-run country.  This isn't a developing, poor country.  This isn't some tribe out in the bush of Africa.  This is Canada, one of the countries we consider to be most like us.  I am honestly still so distraught over it, I just want to curl up into a ball and weep.  The injustice is heart-breaking.
  • Today I looked at myself and praised God for the privilege to come boldly to the throne of grace.  And remembered that it's His mercy alone that covers all my crap.  
"The saying is sure and true and worthy of full and universal acceptance, that Christ Jesus (the Messiah) came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am foremost."  1Timothy 1:15 AMP

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Gardisil contaminated...Shocker.

     I found this article this morning...if this doesn't start opening some eyes, I honestly don't know what will.  This kind of information coming out into the public is an awesome thing, but, oh Lord, does it make me angry.  There are too many children being affected by too many diseases, not just autism, but juvenile diabetes, cancers, and rheumatoid arthritis as well.  When is the public going to quit believing the supposed "research" of companies and organizations that profit from the manufacturing of these vaccines?  The fact that this article shows they didn't do very much research on the effects, short-term or long-term, before pushing the vaccine should tell us something.  It is the same for nearly every vaccine we use today, including especially every new brand of flu shot that comes out each year.  It's even been alleged that the H1N1 strand was hyped as a marketing ploy...and I'm just crazy enough to believe it.  We, as a society, need to start opening up our minds to the possibility that these vaccines are just plain not as safe as we are led to believe they are.  Period.  Educate yourself and learn about your rights as a parent to refuse or delay immunizations.



Lab finds HPV DNA in Blood of Gardasil Recipient 2 Years Post-Vaccination - AGE OF AUTISM:


Monday, September 12, 2011

...to him who believes


Mark 9:23-24

23 And Jesus said, [You say to Me], If You can do anything? [Why,] all things can be (are possible) to him who believes!
24 At once the father of the boy gave [an eager, piercing, inarticulate] cry with tears, and he said, Lord, I believe! [Constantly] help my weakness of faith!
AMP

     Most days...that's me.  Truthfully, I can't read this story (and a handful of others) at this point in my life without crying.  The father's desperation here nearly knocks the wind out of me.  I know that desperation.  It seems it has been my constant companion for the last year or so.  This urgency down in my gut that is constantly gnawing and stirring and moves me to action when I would rather stick my head in the sand or simply run away.  As unsettling as it is, it keeps my faith alert, and apathy at bay.
     Many people might say the man was being double-minded here, but I disagree.  I think he was being human.  But a more mature human than most of us, because he acknowledged how possible it was that he lacked perfection in this area.  I think he was saying, "If it's possible with belief, I absolutely believe.  But help me cover all my bases and fill whatever holes there are in my belief."  He knew even faith in God, is sometimes difficult without His help.  He knew what I am learning, that faith is the harder, less traveled road.  Although it may seem like people who believe in miracles are living in LaLa Land and are refusing to face the truth, it's actually the exact opposite of that.  NOT having faith is easier.  
    Think about it...What's hard about looking at circumstances and agreeing with them?  It's hard fact right in front of you.  There's nothing difficult about believing what you can see with your natural eyes.  No, what's hard is looking at symptoms 24 hours a day and forcing yourself to choose to believe that they won't be there forever.  That one day, quite possibly today, the situation is going to change, despite what most doctors or therapists would tell you.  Reconciling your emotions and your core beliefs is hard.  Daring to say I don't believe God made my child this way to teach me a lesson, I believe my child is this way because this world is broken, but God will heal him and work this together for all of our good...is hard.  Everything about faith is hard because it goes against our base nature.  And as humans, we tend to stay away from things that are hard.
     Unfortunately, the hard things, are usually the most rewarding.  Nothing that's really worth anything comes easily.  And there is nothing that God rewards more than faith.  When Israel was in the wilderness, it wasn't their constant murmuring and complaining about how difficult the journey was or even their blatant attempt to return to idolatry by squandering their inheritance on a golden calf that kept them from the promised land.  It was their refusal to believe that what God said He gave them, was really theirs.  It was only when they determined the giants in the land to be bigger than His promise to them, that they didn't get to cross over the Jordan.  
     My spirit believes, but Lord Jesus help my human frailty and unbelief.

Rom 4:20-21

20 No unbelief or distrust made him waver (doubtingly question) concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong and was empowered by faith as he gave praise and glory to God, 
21 Fully satisfied and assured that God was able and mighty to keep His word and to do what He had promised.
AMP





Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Are you ready...?

     I don't have anything particular to write about today, but I felt like writing anyway, so here I am.  It's my blog, I can do things like that.  Plus, free association is one of my favorite ways to write.  You just never know what will come out, and that is also what makes it the most cathartic.  Tonight I'm not feeling so deep or profound, though.  I've found that with everything going on with Joshua, it's sort of necessary for my sanity to have some inconsequential things in my life to keep me distracted.  Apparently, sometimes a little bit of distraction is a good thing.
     So as I'm sitting here winding down from this uneventful day, I find myself utterly jubilant over what tomorrow brings...wait for it...NFL Football!  That's right, people!  Tomorrow will mark the very first game of the regular season of 2011 and I cannot wait.  Then Saturday is week two of NCAA Football which I am also THRILLED about because we missed the first week of Longhorn football due to a bureaucratic oversight which is too much of a rant for me to go into now.  And then Sunday and Monday bring more NFL and right in the middle of all of it is the best part...Fantasy Football.  Yes, I play Fantasy Football.  And I have to say I have done pretty well for only having two seasons under my belt before this one.  If you are not a football fan, you really should consider becoming one.  In recent polls it's become the new favorite past time of America (over baseball), and if it hadn't began so long ago, you would think it was made for television.  I grew up watching it, but didn't become as die hard as I am now until I met Bobby.  He reintroduced me to the NFL, introduced me for the first time to College (which I would choose over the NFL if I had to now), and filled in the holes on rules and whatnot.  One thing about football...it is probably one of the most complicated of sports. But man oh man, if you ever get that first taste...it's like sports meth.  I'm convinced that's why it has the shortest season of any other sport.  If it was as long as baseball or basketball, they would have to have football rehab.  People would be quitting their jobs, and neglecting their children over being able to see the next game.  It's that addicting.
     Suffice it to say, I love football.  If you are a female who has a boyfriend or husband who loves it as well, I encourage you to make an attempt to enjoy it also.  Especially if this is the beginning of your relationship.  I honestly don't know how this would have worked if I adamantly hated and protested watching football.  It actually might not have.  It really has become one of our favorite things we do together.  I was reading a piece of another blog a while back where a girl was beginning to try and break down the game for other women who wanted to watch it with their men, but couldn't understand it.  I might attempt to do that if enough of you are interested??  I might do it even if you aren't.  Ya know why?  Because I love talking about football that much (in case you haven't already noticed).
     I think I might make this a regular thing here (not the football, I've moved on...geez, keep up).  I'll write once a week or so about something I love.  Which reminds me, I apologize for the emptiness of my blog thus far.  I do realize it's basically just my ramblings and nothing else.  I would like to have different links for various references and some general design and prettiness, but I am very nearly computer illiterate.  So if any of you would like to offer up your services, I would be extremely grateful.  Um, your Graphic Design services, I mean.  Also, I am just learning about how to store pictures and videos and that sort of thing so please bear with me.
     So... anyone else ready for some football??


Eccl 5:20
 For he shall not much remember [seriously] the days of his life, because God [Himself] answers and corresponds to the joy of his heart [the tranquillity of God is mirrored in him].
AMP

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Picking up the Slack

Matt 11:28-30

28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.]
29 Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. [Jer 6:16.]
30 For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good — not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.
AMP


Our Labor Day was pretty laborious. I tried to remind Bobby that this wasn't what the holiday is really for, but it didn't matter. He left Sunday morning to "run" to the store for a couple things we needed, and came back with a steam cleaner he had rented. What's more is that I know he planned it before he left because he took my vehicle so he would have room to load the machine up and bring it home. For some reason, he didn't feel the need to let me know what he had in mind for the day until he was back and it was too late. The thing you should know about Bobby and I, is that he is the clean one and I am the...not as clean one. It's not that I don't care about things being clean, I prefer them that way, actually...it's just that I don't put it as such a high priority in my mental list of things that are important. I can leave it for another time. Bobby can't function until he has cleaned what he has noticed needs cleaning. It's pathological really, but he doesn't seem to notice or care that he has a problem. And so here we are, vacuuming and moving furniture and picking up toys and finally...cleaning the carpet.
To be fair, he really did the actual cleaning part. I prepped the area to be cleaned, but together we successfully cleaned all of the carpet in our house. I should back up and state that this is one of those things that was a legitimate chore. We have two small children and the people before us had teenagers and a dog. I shouldn't have to say any more about how dirty the carpet was. So even though it wasn't what I had in mind for my Sunday, I felt really accomplished after it was finished. It looks better than it did when we moved in. Plus, we were reminded once again that we work great together as a team. I think we could go on a reality show and kill.
I guess what I'm saying is that we balance each other out. And if there's any guideline I try to use as a check for my thoughts/beliefs/perceptions, it's balance. I think I lived my life in extremes for so long, I crave a middle road. I'm not talking about compromise in the sense that we water down our beliefs, I'm talking about weighing everything on each side. One thing you learn from being too heavy on a particular side of something, is that it leaves plenty of room for error or lack and/or no room for justice and mercy. Mercy is the level that evens out imbalance. What I mean, is that the farther we are from the middle, the more critical we are of others on the other side. Take the cleaning thing with Bobby and I. It's not a terribly serious issue, but if we don't allow the other side to balance us some, it can become one. Criticism and resentment could develop on either side because neither of us will weigh the validity of the other's view. And honestly, we have both been guilty of doing this sort of thing over various disagreements since we've been married. It's like a seesaw, if one of you tries to jump off before you're both touching the ground, someone is going to get hurt.
This is why I am so thankful for the mercy of God that brings balance to all of my disproportion. All of my shortcomings and lopsidedness are evened out by His grace. I was reminded of this today when I was thinking about all the times when I felt guilty I wasn't giving enough attention to either Joshua or Caleb, something I have battled since the day Caleb was born. I heard that still, small voice say, "Don't worry, it's Ok. I pick up all of your slack." I was overwhelmed with the simplicity. Whenever I am focused on how I never seem to measure up, His judgement sweeps in and doesn't condemn, but covers me in His righteousness. This is the truest form of rest, for me. My mind is at peace and free from labor because everything I can't do, He can. And whenever I'm off balance, He is there with a just weight, to even things out and keep me going.

Rom 8:34

34 Who is there to condemn [us]? Will Christ Jesus (the Messiah), Who died, or rather Who was raised from the dead, Who is at the right hand of God actually pleading as He intercedes for us?
AMP

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Poop, Marriage and The Golden Girls


James 1:3-4
3 Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.
4 But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing.
AMP


     It's Sunday night, all three of my boys are in bed, and I'm sitting here in peace and quiet watching The Golden Girls.  A perfect ending to a surprisingly enjoyable weekend.  Perfect because, well, what is perfection if it isn't Betty White?  And surprising because it followed the week from Hell...as my mother-in-law would call it.  Apparently, I wasn't the only one ready to shave my head and run screaming through the streets this week.  Isn't it funny how we're always shocked to find out we aren't the only ones with problems?  Anyway, it was stressful for me to say the least.  Definitely one of the deep parts of this trial and proving of my faith.  
     We started Joshua on that diet I mentioned in my last post and it's not going so well.  And that's putting it mildly.  The child has not had a bite of solid food since last Monday night.  He is drinking diluted juice and fruit smoothies only.  This accounts for the part of the week where I had my monthly meltdown.  Joy and I were commiserating on how embarrassed we always feel after a good breakdown, and I said I feel that way even when no one is around to see it.  I want so badly to be that strong mom from the movies.  You know the one.  The one you see in some Lifetime movie (that you're only really watching because there's nothing on t.v. and that song from the trailer keeps getting stuck in your head) who is going through some crisis in her family where she is the tough, strong one holding everyone else together.  But what I've noticed from these movies is this:  The characters are inevitably allowed one good, hysterical, crying fit about three quarters of the way through.  Also, movies most usually do not do a great job of reflecting real life.  So, after some imaginary calculations I decided one huge meltdown a month and then two smaller ones somewhere in between are sufficient.
     All of that being said, this one lasted for a few days off and on.  Joshua was refusing food all week even though I knew he was starving and on top of that Bobby and I had an appointment Friday to meet with a new "school" for Joshua.  My brain was on overload and my emotions were fried.  I am not the best wife when I'm in this state.  I previously thought the statistic for divorce rates among parents of children with ASD was 80%.  But I found this information that suggests that number is far from the truth, though couples do go through difficult trials as a result of this diagnosis.  There's that word again...'trials'.  Anyway, Bobby and I have not been immune to this commonality.  Men and women react differently, the end.  But, I'm bringing this up because I believe we are reaching a turning point.  We are both realizing that despite our communication breakdown and super-charged emotions over the subject, our end goal for Joshua is the same.  And instead of taking our frustrations with the circumstances out on each other, our energy is better invested toward that common goal.  This was the beginning to the surprisingly enjoyable weekend I mentioned earlier.  We didn't do much, as this new diet and the general routine of our daily lives doesn't allow for many outings, but we enjoyed each other.  I don't know how to explain it, except to say that it felt so much more like normal than things have in a long time.  Our normal isn't the typical normal, of course.  For example, today Joshua pooped six times total, and the last one I had to clean out of the carpet, but I was so happy over the fact that all six were perfectly normal and not diarrhea, that the carpet cleaning didn't phase me one bit.  Normal poop is not very normal for us, you see.  
     I guess what I'm trying to say is that I recognized once again, why I'm so thankful for this awesome man I call my husband.  This situation has nearly broken both of us, but when we have these times where I remember I'm part of a team, it makes reality more bearable and hope seem more within reach.  I feel stronger...and blessed beyond comprehension because I don't have to walk this road alone.  I love you, Bobby!

Matt 19:6
6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder (separate). 
AMP


     

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Middle...Part 2

Mark 4:22
[Things are hidden temporarily only as a means to revelation.] For there is nothing hidden except to be revealed, nor is anything [temporarily] kept secret except in order that it may be made known.
AMP

     Once again, it's taken forever since I last posted.  I am dying to be able to post here on a daily basis, but haven't been letting myself because I want to finish telling what's lead us up to this point in our lives.  So, let's get on with it.
     To make an extremely long story somewhat shorter, we began taking Joshua to a pediatrician who now specializes primarily as a DAN! doctor somewhere around June of 2010.  In the first round of testing we found out that he has hypothyroidism (like me), and has a wheat allergy (along with a few others) and a casein (milk protein) intolerance.  This explained a lot, right off.  Joshua has major food issues, and at that time would only eat chicken nuggets, fish sticks, yogurt, and a few assorted snacks.  Basically, EVERYTHING he would eat, he was allergic to.  They told me this is very common because it's like a drug addict, the effect of the allergy makes them crave what they are allergic to.
     On top of the diet change, we also started adding supplements as the tests were indicating he needed them.  We have been going for over a year now, and Joshua's day consists of upwards of 20 different supplements.
     Actually, as I am writing this we are starting an even stricter diet (SCD), and cutting out some of the supplements because they contain ingredients that are "illegal" on this diet.  The poor guy's gut is in such bad shape, we are having to take more drastic measures to get it healed.
     In the middle of all of these blood, urine, and stool tests, I came across some books by Jenny McCarthy.  The first one, "Louder than Words: A Mother's Journey in Healing Autism" and a second one, "Mother Warriors".  Up until that point, I had refused to look up anything to do with autism on the internet because I didn't want to scare myself.  I was still pretty sure that's not what it was, although I was beginning to realize that we were dealing with something beyond a speech delay.  I hadn't even finished the first book when the realization hit me like a 2x4...Joshua is somewhere on the Autism Spectrum.  I wasn't sure of the extent, but I knew in my heart if we had him evaluated, that's what the diagnosis would be.
     This is the part of the story where I probably would have laid in bed sobbing like a baby for a couple weeks, if it hadn't been for the extra information I was getting in this book.  And the more research, I did, the more I found confirmation from parents all over the country...  The horrible toxins in our environment, air, water, food, household cleaners...and vaccines especially, are arguably the main cause of the rise in autism numbers in the past decades.  I was outraged when I learned that now 1 in 110 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with some form of ASD.  A number that climbed right along with the insane amount of vaccines we now give our children.  I'm not going to get into the vaccine issue much in this post, but I will say that before the vaccine schedule was initially increased in the 1980's the autism rate was at 1 in 10,000!  Many will argue that we are just better at diagnosing it now than we used to be, but there are other mental disorders whose rates have remained the same and we are seeing a significant increase in other childhood diseases and disorders as well, including ADHD, learning disabilities, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthrititis.  Anyway, my point here is that instead of just being overcome with sadness (though I absolutely was), I was enraged.  I think I walked around ranting and raving in my brain for weeks as the more research and reading I did, the more I realized that what we were walking through with Joshua could more than likely have been prevented if our government and society wasn't so money-hungry and listened to parents.
     So here we are, Joshua was diagnosed this past April and we have been in the process of trying to find ABA therapy for him since then.  We moved over an hour away from any of our family, but our options for different therapies was very limited living as far out in the country as we did before.  This stage of our life has been, by far, the hardest and it has been a constant up-hill, one-step-forward-two-steps-back ordeal.  BUT, I remain convinced that what the Lord has began in Joshua, He will finish.  Another thing I learned from these books is that a large majority of parents are seeing their children actually LOSE their diagnosis all together once their guts and minds begin to heal from the toxic burden they have been carrying.  I don't need more than that.  I have the Word of God that promises my son an abundant life and the testimony of others that this is more than possible, even within the confines of natural means.  I have to believe and expect a total and complete healing for him.  My Momma Heart didn't come with an "Accept Defeat" reaction.
     

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Middle... Part 1

Heb 6:19

19 [Now] we have this [hope] as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul [it cannot slip and it cannot break down under whoever steps out upon it — a hope] that reaches farther and enters into [the very certainty of the Presence] within the veil,
AMP



     A bunch of you are probably wondering why it took me so long to get to this next part.  Well, first of all, we've been in a transition and finding the time and resources (internet) to do so has been pretty difficult.  But mostly, I have to be honest, this next part is somewhat overwhelming to me.  I have a lot of ground to cover but at the same time I don't want this to turn into a book either...at least not yet ;)  So bear with me and I'll try to do this as painlessly as possible.  Also, when I get this history part over, it won't be taking me as long in between posts.

     Right in the middle of all of this, I became pregnant with our second child.  He was planned and we definitely had to try a lot longer for him than we did with Joshua.  We always said we wanted at least two kids.  I had always wanted four boys but something about that first time around changed my mind immediately.  Maybe it was the sickness, exhaustion, constant urination or maddening back pain.  Maybe it was the horrendous delivery.  Who knows, but by the time Joshua was here, I was doing good to agree to a second one.  We were thrilled when we found out we were about to complete our little family with another boy, and eventually agreed that the name Caleb was fitting.  I mean, Joshua and Caleb living on The Promised Land?  How could I pass that up?
     But before he was born, the anxiety over Joshua and what was really going on with him hit me full force.  Naturally, I started questioning all kinds of things we don't want to admit we question in the privacy of our own head.  Like, did we make a mistake having another child in the middle of all this?  Would he have the same issues as Joshua?  How would we be able to split our attention between the two when Joshua was already requiring more than a typical child (forget that we hadn't even stepped into the next phase where our whole lives were turned upside-down)?  But somehow I managed to push all of those doubts down with the knowledge that no matter what happened, God was still on the throne and still in control.  It was all gonna be ok and no amount of worrying would change anything anyway.  And then, along the way, I was just overcome with peace that this was going to be Joshua's journey and not Caleb's.  I have little worries shoot through my mind (as I'm sure any mother would), but I still believe that today.
     So, when I was about eight months pregnant and trying to figure out what our next step with Joshua was going to be, I had, what I consider to be, a divine appointment.  Even though I had crossed paths with this person many times before, we had never formally met.  This particular day, a conversation was spurred by a comment my mother-in-law had made from the pulpit about how we were believing for a miracle for her grandson.  A subject she had never mentioned in public before that time, by the way.  This woman asked if it was ok for her to ask what had been going on with Joshua.  I told her simply that he was almost three and wasn't talking yet.  She asked me a couple more questions and then began to tell me about her son, who at 5 years old had the speech level of a two and a half year old.  He had also been diagnosed with PDD-NOS and she began doing a lot of research.  They found out that he had a severe Zinc deficiency and once he was supplemented, his language exploded.  A year later he had the speech level of a six and a half year old.  The zinc supplementation (along with tons of other vitamins, supplements and therapies) are part of what I didn't know at the time, but now know is biomedical intervention.  It sounded unbelievable to me.  She then started asking me seemingly odd questions about not only his behavior, but his eating habits, sleeping patterns, and even bowel movements.  Even more odd, she seemed to know the answers before I gave them.  She told me that there has been much progress lately with children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder or developmental delay and through different interventions, some children are recovering, even to the point of losing their diagnosis.  Sounds amazing, right?  Well, if I'm being honest, the only thing I could really focus on was the "A" word and I knew I didn't want to go anywhere near that direction.  Not only would Bobby freak out, but there was no way Joshua fit into that group. Up to this point, that subject had been brought up and skirted around by different people, but I never bought into it.  I mean, kids with autism aren't affectionate, they rock back and forth, they scream and throw tantrums all the time, they're even violent.  Joshua was none of those things.  Even his pediatrician asked me questions that I knew were to screen for autism, but seemed satisfied that he was fine.  So maybe a small part was denial, but a large part of my stance at this point was ignorance.  Plain and simple.
     Besides, I wasn't going to speak something like that over my child.  I needed to stay in faith, not doubt.  If I refused to label him with a diagnosis, that diagnosis couldn't overtake him.
     ...
     Nope.  Apparently, not how it works.  If someone has cancer, it's a fact.  They have cancer.  BUT, here's how it DOES work.  There are facts and we have to recognize these circumstances as reality.  But there is also an absolute truth.  When we say, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN..." we are invoking this absolute truth.  The truth in Heaven is different than our truth, and as believers in the resurrection power of Jesus, we have access to that truth.  So, Heaven can come to earth in our personal circumstances and override what the natural facts are telling us.
     But, I'm getting ahead of myself.
     After I thought about it for a while, I decided I would email her and get some more information.  I mean, she did say they treated for developmental delays and he definitely fit into that category.  And we were running out of options.