Reflecting on God’s mysterious ways. This week, I was helping my youngest, who is how a freshman in High school, with her History homework. The assignment was to write about the story behind the song “Amazing Grace”. She had to research the life story of John Newton, all his trials, and the emotion behind the song, and then pick a stanza from the song and analyze it using examples from his life. God took three of my favorite things, Music, History, and my child, and put them together to speak to my heart.

We learned about how after his mother died when he was 7 years old,  Newton turned from the faith of his mother and rebelled, running from God, drinking heavily, and how he was enslaved, beaten, betrayed, and then became a captain of a slave trade ship. We learned how through the course of his life, Newton faced death multiple times, be it due to storms at sea, or sickness, and how God used these extreme trials to draw Newton back to his faith. We saw how Newton’s life was redirected as he went from slave trade captain to minister, and a voice against slavery in the abolition movement.

The stanza my daughter chose to analyze was this….

Amazing grace!

How sweet the sound That saved a wretch like me! 

I once was lost, but now am found; 

Was blind, but now I see.”

and here is her analysis….

Amazing grace, what is so amazing about grace? To me, grace is mercy, or kindness that is undeserved or unearned. Grace is amazing we do not deserve it, and we can’t earn it because God gives it freely. How sweet the sound; grace that we do not deserve and cannot earn is like music to a hurting soul.

         That saved a wretch like me! A wretch is a bad or very unpleasant person. John Newton was an excellent example of a wretch. He was punished for desertion. He was so terrible as a crew member that one of the crews he served with chained him up, starved him, and sold him into slavery. After he was rescued from slavery, instead of trying to stop the slave trade, Newton became part of the slave trade. Despite the fact that he did so many terrible things in his life, God still heard his cry, and saved him.

     I once was lost, but now am found; In the early years of Newton’s life, he was lost. He was running from the faith he had learned as a child before his mother died. In the later years of newton’s life he became a minister, sharing his story of how God found him and saved him. Was blind, but now I see. Newton spent many years as an active part of the slave trade, transporting slaves and supporting the industry. He came to see how evil slavery was and started to speak out against it, describing how horrible the conditions on the slave ships were, and worked to help stop slavery.”

As I reflected on all of this, I began to look back over my own life. In my teen years, I rebelled against my parents, and ran from the faith of my youth. I started drinking heavily in college, found myself in an abusive relationship with no hope of escape, gave in to all sorts of temptations, and for a long time, ignored the still small voice in my heart. Through all of this, God never once abandoned or gave up on me. He sent two dear friends to show me a way out of the abusive relationship. I joined the Marines , and while at Boot Camp, I cried out to God for strength as I tried to recover from deep emotional abuse scars at the same time I was going through Boot Camp. It all became too big for me, and at one point, I actually told my Senior Drill instructor ” I quit, I want to go home”. I am forever thankful that instead of letting me quit, she pushed me harder. I hit bottom and I cried out, and God met me.

After Boot camp, I went through a period where I returned to my wild side. My young, renewed faith was still there, and I heard the still small voice, but I was not completely ready to stop drinking, and to give up my wild ways. In this time in my life, broken, damaged, recovering from abuse, God brought a young man into my life who would forever change my world. This young Marine would become my husband. He didn’t run from my scars, but promised to stand by me, to hold me through the nightmares, to love me through my fear, to patiently wait as my trust was restored, for when we met, I no longer trusted anyone in the male gender except my daddy.

Grace is truly an amazing thing. As I look back over everything from my past, all the trials and snares that God has brought me through, I find myself in complete awe and wonder that God never once gave up or abandoned a wretch like me.

It wasn’t until after my husband and I were married, that I once again hit bottom. I sank into a deep depression, to the point I intended to end it all, to take my own life. A phone call to my unit from my husband landed me on suicide watch, and forced me to cry out once more to God, to turn back to my faith rather than ending my life. This was the point at which I found my faith, and never again turned away from it. Sure, I have moments when it wavers, when doubts and fears creep in, but I was no longer lost.

Since that moment, I have grown as Trials and storms continue to come. Two of my children diagnosed on the autism spectrum has depend my reliance on God for strength, wisdom, patience, and so much more. Mountains and struggles in my marriage has taught me how to pray for my husband, and more importantly, how to pray that God change ME. I stopped praying ” Lord, Fix HIM”, and started praying that God make ME the wife I need to be.

I am starting to realize that much like God used Newton’s time in the slave trade industry, He is using my abusive past. He has given me opportunities to help other women break free. He is using my stories to help my own daughters navigate the dating world, to help teach them what red flags to be aware of. I have watched my girls grow into strong, self confident young women who love deeply, and who are years ahead of where I was at their age in the ” I am happy with who God made me to be” aspect. This is a concept I didn’t grasp until well into my 30’s. I listened to my youngest thank me for sharing my stories with her and teaching her that her value comes from God, not from some boy.

I once was blind, running scared, broken and damaged….

but now, I am found, loved, beautiful….

I once was lost and alone, but now I am found. I am not perfect by any means. I still have days when the scars of my past haunt me, when I struggle and doubt. The difference is, Now I know how to combat those negative voices. Amazing Grace indeed, that pulled me from my darkest hours and carried me through the trials and snares, even when I was unaware, unwilling, and rebelling.

I will never look at this song the same way again…..It was written by the former Captain of a Slave ship, and God used it in my own life to remind me how He rescued me from the slavery and captivity of abuse.

**I went to You Tube, to find a video of Amazing Grace to end this post with, and found this one….and as I watched it, I got chills, and also learned some amazing interesting facts about the melody that goes with the Lyrics, and So, I will leave You with this….**

Tomorrow is April 1st….

April….Autism Awareness Month….Autism acceptance month….A Month where people who don’t pay much attention the rest of the year turn their eyes on the Autism community.

A month of “Light it up Blue” and profile pictures on Facebook, and the myths, facts, and blog posts fill the internet.

All this is well and good. We need more awareness as a society. We desperately need more acceptance and understanding.

Tonight I have been looking back through posts I have made in Aprils past….reading over things I have written, wondering what I would say this year. To be honest, I am still not sure, will have to take things one day at a time I guess. I MAY do a 30 days of Autism in Pictures again, it’s been a while since I did that, and that was , to me, a beautiful way to showcase what our flavor of Autism looks like. Imagine that, me, a photographer, expressing my thoughts with words and photos. ( LOL)

For now….Here is a one stop list of posts I have written that are meaningful to me as we head into another April, not including the 30 days of snapshots posts, as those are linked off to the right hand side…..

This is Our Autism

“Autism is love, Unconditional, deep love, stronger than any meltdown, bigger than any low. It is a love that keeps me going even on those days when I want to give up. It is a love that enables me to pick up the pieces, calm him down when he falls apart, to fight with doctors, to stand up for his rights at school. It is a love that is like nothing I have EVER known in my life.”

This is Our Autism revisited

“Autism is NOT the end of the world.

Autism IS beautiful

Autism is NOT Despair

Autism IS looking at the world differently

Autism is NOT a disease that is contagious, or in need of a cure. My kids do not need Fixing. They may need help in some areas, and a little extra support in others, but they do NOT need to be cured, or fixed.

Autism is Different, but NOT Less…”

There IS Hope!

“It is a Powerful thing! When someone loses hope, it is dangerous. Hearing the phrase “Your child has autism” Can be a very devastating thing to a parent, it’s true. The road is hard, it is an uphill battle, this I wont deny. There is grief, anger, sadness, days I feel overwhelmed. I cry, scream “Why??” , but I cling to HOPE. NOBODY , not a Doctor, Family members, even strangers, should EVER lead a parent raising a special needs child to think there is “No hope”.”


There are many others, and as I read through each of the posts I have written, I realized each post I have written is important in it’s own right. some made me smile, some made me laugh, some brought tears to my eyes, reminders of the not so easy days. This has been, and continues to be a roller-coaster of a journey, and I am incredibly thankful for the blessings that are my children. I am thankful God has blessed me with gifts of writing and photography, that I can capture the moments, that I can help others along the way. I have been reminded tonight of why I write, why I need to keep writing.

For now, I need to go try and sleep off this Migraine I have been fighting off all day. I will be back at some point tomorrow…..


Better than I ever could have dreamed…

When I found out that I was having a little girl, I had visions of Ballet recitals, toe shoes, pink tutu’s, You get the idea. What I got is entirely different, but I would not change either of them for the world.

What I got was one Basketball playing, Book reading, Martial Arts loving artist, and one softball player, well they both play softball, but my Youngest, she LOVES it!. Both love their blue jeans. Both are proud to tell any who will listen that they love Superheros, Lord of the Rings, one loves Star Wars, one loves Star Trek, one is a whovian, both love Harry Potter, and there is so much more. They compare belches like the best of the boys, and sometimes to listen to their conversations about “Natural bodily functions” One would swear they were listening to a couple of boys.

So here we are, we traded Toe shoes for softball cleats….DSC_0229 copy

Tutu’s for slide pants…DSC_0898 copy

and Basketball Jerseys….DSC_5011 copy

and Ballet recitals for Ball games….

DSC_2766 copyand I am loving every single moment!!!

We still wear hair-bows….

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We traded Classical Music for Softball chants and cheers…

Leader: We don’t wear no mini skirts
Team (echoes): We don’t wear no mini skirts
Leader: We just wear our softball shirts
Team (echoes): We just wear our softball shirts
Leader: We don’t play with Barbie dolls
Team (echoes): We don’t play with Barbie dolls
Leader: We just play with bats and balls
Team (echoes): We just play with bats and balls
Leader: Sound off
Team: 1, 2
Leader: Sound off
Team: 3, 4
Leader: Sound off
Team: 1, 2 Together: 3, 4!

instead of Pirouettes, we do Lay ups….

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and Makeup? who needs makeup when you have eye black….

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and the best cure when getting Hit by a softball? Rub some infield dirt on it….

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I am so incredibly proud that my girls have embraced their uniqueness, and have found what they love. I am so thankful and Blessed that God has given me the privilege of being their mom.  I LOVE watching them in their elements, and am looking forward to another season of life at the Ballpark, the sights and sounds, the dirt, the sunflower seeds and pickle Pops, the crack of the bat, the friendships made, and the lessons they learn that continue off the field….

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Let’s give this another try….

I realize I have not written in a while, 2 years to be exact. that’s not to say I have not been writing, but more that Life has gotten a bit chaotic and messy, as it has a tendency to do. In the 2 years since I posted last, I started on a journey of health issues and a search for answers, my oldest child graduated from High school and started college, my Grandmother; my biggest prayer Warrior and inspiration passed away, and lots of other crazy stuff some of which I am still processing.

In the midst of the madness, the chaos, the upheaval , the rollercoaster has continued, memories, good and bad have been made. I focused a lot on my poetry, and posted several to my facebook page just for it.  I have come to realize I miss writing, and that I need to get back to it. I am returning to a place of doing what I need for ME to keep my sense of who I am in the midst of the madness that is life. I am reminded that when I write, I discover things about myself, about my faith, my creativity, and the world around me.

So, that’s that, and I will be back shortly as I have a post brewing in my head, but wanted to get this out of the way first.

The Garden of my Heart

This is How my day began….

 This was My Status on Facebook this morning:  “struggling to quiet the negative committee in my head today…feeling like I am gonna snap and say something I will regret if somebody pushes the “do not push button”…..

From the time I woke up this morning, the Negative committee in my head has been shouting. Reminders of past hurts, Negative things people have said about me, doubts about my parenting, doubts doubts doubts. The kids woke up fighting with each other, and the downward spiral continued. It was like a Big Ominous Dark cloud was hovering over our house. As I sat working through the war waging in my head, combating each negative thought as it surfaced, I found myself standing at a Crossroads….

This was the resulting Facebook Status: “Is it better to lock one’s heart away, to protect it from pain, perhaps to “shut down” or like in Once upon a time, rip one’s heart out to avoid heartache…or to love to the fullest, to experience life with all it’s joys and heartbreaks, to accept the pain and understand that when You let people in, they will at some point hurt you because nobody is perfect. The crossroad has been reached, the paths make no sense. Become a hermit and Hide from everyone?…no, that would surely be death , slow, painful, lonely death. Keep going on the path currently traveled, letting people in, giving and looking for good in all? Not sure that is right either. Too much pain, seems naive. That leaves the 3rd path; Guarded, careful steps. Accepting the pain, forgiving and learning to not be too trusting, without growing bitter and cold. Praying through a Mountain of negative thoughts today….”

Life has thrown many curve balls my way, and more than a few land mines. Things meant to tear down, to break a person, to destroy. There are many reasons I should not be sitting here typing this. The list of reasons why I should be bitter and angry is long. The argument for hiding away from the world is a strong one. Locking my heart away forever, shutting out all but a VERY limited few certainly LOOKS like the best path. That being said, I have learned enough about myself through the course of this journey called life to know that to lock my heart away is not the answer. It would enable bitterness to take root. It would slowly kill the creativity and compassion that I have grown to realize I need.  It is also becoming clear that the current path is not working, in fact it has become dangerous. I have realized I have been too trusting, that looking for the good all the time is  Naive, and there are people who will take advantage, who will use and abuse such trust and kindness. The 3rd path seems to be my best option. It is FAR from the easiest, and in fact it is probably the hardest. It means accepting the pain, and working through it. It means forgiving, and refusing to let the poison of bitterness take root. It means continuing to be a part of the world, to keep giving, to continue to feed the compassion and creativity that I thrive on, while guarding my heart and making sure that I don’t allow myself to be used.

As I continued to work through the jungle of thoughts in my head, The positive thoughts began to regain control of my mind. As I prayed , my focus changed. I began to remember who I am, that I am important, that I am not worthless. I was reminded that I am here for a purpose, and locking myself away will not accomplish that purpose.  I was reminded of the Parable of the bags of Gold.

Matthew 25:14-30 (NIV)

The Parable of the Bags of Gold

 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them.  To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag,each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.  The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more.  So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more.  But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’ “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’ “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’“His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?  Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags.  For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.  And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

To lock myself away, to Not use the Talents I have been blessed with, would be the worst thing I could do. I have been blessed so that I can bless others.  The trials I have overcome have enabled me to be there for people facing similar battles. And so, I will continue to capture life’s beauty one Photo at a time, and I will continue to share my thoughts, to write when I can.

This was the Facebook status that came from the shift in perspective:

“It’s not you who creates insecurities in your mind; it’s others who plant that seed. It’s you who waters that seed and allows it to grow.”

It’s about Perspective….will we feed the negative thoughts an allow them to take root and grow? or do we combat them with Positive truths. what we choose to give power to is what will grow and thrive.

{Philippians 4:4-8 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
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.}


It all comes down to a Choice….Every day, sometimes more than once a day. Will I focus on the negatives, on the hurts, the fears, the doubts? or will I choose to hold on to the positives, to focus on the blessings in my life. If You give something root, it will eventually begin to grow. What will You grow in the garden of Your heart and mind? I choose to weed out the bitterness, resentment, fear, doubt, hate, anger, rejection, jealousy, and make room for love, compassion, peace, hope, faith, joy, trust to grown. Some days , like today, are harder than others. This is after all, a fight.  I am reminded of a couple of quotes…, one I have said a lot recently, to a dear friend…and one apparently I need reminding of tonight….

“Promise me you’ll always remember:

You’re braver than you believe,

and stronger than you seem,

and smarter than you think.”

― A.A. Milne

“I’m quirky, silly, blunt, and broken. My days are sometimes too dark, and my nights are sometimes too long.

I often trip over my own insecurities. I require attention, long for passion, and wish to be desired.

I use music to speak when words fail me, even though words are as important to me as the air I breathe.

I love hard and with all that I have… and even with my faults, I am worth loving.”
– Danu Grayson

My BellaBug, her dolls, and a DIY day with Mom

My Youngest is as obsessed with American Girl dolls as Her big brother has ever been with any of his obsessions.  She has a growing collection of dolls that have been given to her from some very special people in her life…..This is her “doll family”. Not all of them are American Girl, but she loves them all very much….

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Here she is with Josefina, Isabella, Mary Grace, Molly, Wolfina and Hero bear….These are the ones that take turns going places with her, that are the closest to her heart because of the love that went into how she received each one….

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She is always asking for more furniture and accessories, and let’s face it, the stuff is not cheap. SO I headed to Pinterest and started gathering ideas for stuff we could make ourselves. I figured it would save money, and give me and her a way to spend some quality time together.  Today started like every Saturday, with her wishing she had somebody to play dolls with, so after breakfast we headed to Hobby Lobby armed with a supply list for  3 simple projects I had found on Pinterest…a suitcase, a mailbox, and a desk/chair set.

I didn’t take any photos of the actual crafting process ( yeah yeah I know) because I was having too much fun with my BellaBug, and by he time we were through, my hands were covered in hot pink spray paint, glue, and glitter. All in all it was a Great day, and mission accomplished. My Girl now has some new things for her dolls, and we had a great “Mommy daughter day”, something that was VERY much needed. Between Daddy being in the Military, and being the youngest of 3, and both older siblings being on the spectrum, I often worry that she feels I don’t devote enough time to just her. Today was packed full of memory making, smiles, and quality time with my BellaBug, and I am sure that those memories will long outlast any of the doll items we made today….

Molly with the finished suitcase made from a Plastic Pencil Box….

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Molly checks the mail….

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Mission accomplished…BellaBug and Molly with everything but the desk, which is not finished yet…

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Thank You Pinterest for inspiration that I will actually use, mixed in with all those wonderful ideas I will most likely never attempt! LOL

Favorite things

When it comes to toys…

my son has a handful of favorite things…

collected to the point of obsession…

lined up…

played with…

and well loved…

Here is today’s Montage…

an update to a Post I made in 2011

Favorite things…

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30 something Webkinz….EACH Has a Name, and yes, He can list them all

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles….

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Star Wars Droids….

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The childhood Favorites of Veggie Tales, Buzz Lightyear and Thomas the Tank Engine are still there…

Old Favorites that still get revisited on really rough days…


Oh yes, this would not be complete without Adding the Nintendo ds….

My sweet boy is growing up…

These are His world…

The friends he counts on…

that safe place he disappears to…