Some Gave All: Memorial Day 2011

This weekend is Memorial Day weekend. What does that mean to you? Do you know the difference between Veteran’s Day, Armed Forces Day, and Memorial Day?

Armed Forces Day is for those who currently serve. Veteran’s Day is for those who can be considered a Veteran. Memorial Day is for those who have GIVEN THEIR LIVES for our country.  For most, it is simply 3 days off work. For others, it’s a lot of savings at stores nationwide. But for Me, and my Family, it’s a day to remember our fallen troops that have fought in battles WORLDWIDE. Please remember the reason for your 3 day weekend and don’t confuse the days.

“All Gave some, Some Gave All”

Remembering The fallen,

the men and women who have served our country,

and are no longer with us here on earth….

“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the death of these men, rather we thank the Lord that such men lived”

Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.

Grandpa Day: US Air Force Retired , Died 1998

Andrew Susi: US Army ,KIA Vietnam, May 27,1970

Ruth Rabeler: WAAC

Bovina WWII Honor Roll

Specialist Matthew T. Bolar : US Army, KIA Iraq May 2007

Sgt. Michael M. Kashkoush USMC, KIA Iraq Jan 23,2007

Sgt Travis Pfister USMC KIA Iraq Feb.07,2007

Robert Banhorn, USMC Retired

RIP, and Semper Fi

“Each of these heroes stands in the unbroken line of patriots

who have dared to die that freedom might live and grow and increase in its blessings.”
— Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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looking back, and moving forward

Today we reached a milestone….Dak’s graduation from Elementary school. It has been a bittersweet moment for me. As I got Him dressed for school this morning in His black dress pants, dress shirt and tie, My mind wandered back.  After He got on the bus this morning, I cried. I had held the tears back before He left…He HATES it when mommy cries, even when it is happy tears like today. How Grown up He looked this morning all dressed up!

This was my facebook status this morning; Had to fight back tears this morning as I put Dak on the bus!!! He looks so grown up in his dress pants, shirt and Tie. 9 years ago He started school at 3 years old,when we heard the words “Your son has Autism”, today he graduates from 5th grade and says goodbye to elementary school, moving on to Middle school. It has been ( and continues to be ) a long, bumpy road, but wow is it worth EVERY step!

I thought back to when He was 18 months old, and his speech screeched to a halt. I remembered the almost daily fight with our pediatrician at the time. I smiled as I remembered how the hearing test referral landed on the early Intervention desk instead of the hearing clinic ( some called this a Mistake…I don’t believe it was).

I remembered His first day of school, at 3 years old…shortly followed by an educational diagnosis and the words “Your son has Autism”, and the mixed emotions that followed. The relief in the knowledge that I was not a bad mother, it was not all in my head, there really was something going on. The grief over shattered dreams for my only son, the realization that he may never do certain things. The acceptance that while he is different, He is NOT less. He is not broke, He is just wired differently did not come over night. I cried, I got angry, I screamed, I researched, I fought, then I let go and gave it to God. When I did that, I found a deeper peace than ever before.

I cried as I remembered the First time he said “Mommy” at 4 years old. I remembered how hard it was on him when we moved, and changed school districts, and he went from pre-school Monday through Fridays half a day, to an hour, three days a week. I winced at the memory of kindergarten, at how hard the transition to all day Monday through Friday was on him after getting adjusted to an hour three days a week. I remembered standing toe to toe with the principal at the school where he attended kindergarten, telling her to call my lawyer after she told me to keep him home because he didn’t “belong” in her school, and her apologizing the end of that week.

I thought about all the meltdowns, all the rough days. I smiled as I thought about each of the teachers and aides along the way, who have made such a HUGE Impact. Who have helped him begin to open up socially and verbally. I smiled as I remembered the phone call from his kindergarten teacher “did you know he can read?!?!” He had taught himself on the computer, but NONE of us realized it!!!

I thought about how much I have learned along the way. IEP’s, PECS, , Social Stories, weighted blankets, what works, what doesn’t work. How to tell he is reaching that boiling point, and when possible, avoid a meltdown. Words like meltdown, Elopement, Pica, echolalia. He teaches me more every day. He reminds me to slow down, to enjoy the simple things. Walking this journey has brought me closer to God, strengthened my faith, taught me how to turn the other cheek, lessons in forgiveness and unconditional love. It continues to show me the power of prayer, the best, and the worst in the people around me.

I know Middle school, and his teen years will bring new challenges, new experiences, and I will face each one as I have in the past, Head on. But for now, today, I am relishing in the moment, celebrating the fact that we did it! We got through elementary school!!

Forgiveness brings healing, and Perfect Peace

Author’s note: I have started writing this post, and stopped several times…it sort of ended up taking it’s own direction

Been a while since I wrote anything, about 10 days. A Lot has happened since my post about my husband coming home. It is amazing how so much, so many moments, so many ups and downs, can happen in one day much less 10. I do not even know where to begin…Denial, IEP meetings, celebrations,  pain, anger, the rollercoaster.

An incident occurred on Mother’s day that sent me into a tailspin, emotionally it was devastating, but it was also enlightening. There is a person in my son’s world, in my world, who for whatever reason, can’t accept that autism is a part of our world. Denial is a dangerous reaction, especially when it is in the face of a diagnosis such as autism. In this case, denial can do devastating damage to a family. When denial comes into play, statements like “oh that child is just spoiled” and ” You are just a bad mother/father” are heard, and are the LAST thing a parent raising a child on the spectrum needs to hear. Most times, they do enough 2nd guessing themselves without your help.

To hear the above mentioned statements cut deep, especially on Mother’s day. For the span of 9 years since we heard the words “your son has autism” this person has been anything but supportive.  Time and again, forgiveness and patience on my part, along with lots of heartache and tears, have followed family gatherings. This time I asked myself  when was enough enough? How many times does this person have to stomp on my heart? Having escaped a physically and emotionally abusive relationship before I met my husband, finding myself in this emotionally painful, verbally abusive situation has been REALLY hard.  Thanks to my Husband’s love, and patience, and a LOT of prayer, the healing from 3 years of prior abuse has come a LONG way. The part that is still healing, because the wound keeps getting re-opened , is me doubting myself, that nagging voice that says “you can’t do anything right” . I KNOW that voice is wrong, but I can’t silence it. The difference is, now when I hear it, I fight BACK. I get my Bible out. I pray. I remind myself that Jesus Loves me, that he died for me, and when He did, He not only bore my sin, He also bore rejection, pain, heartache, abuse, and as a result, in HIM, I am free. HE gives me the strength to go on each day, to love even those who continually hurt me. As I cried, As I prayed, The song “You are more” by Tenth Avenue North came on the radio, and the lyrics to the chorus JUMPED at me…

“”You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade. “

Last week, I asked on Facebook “How does one forgive someone who continues to cause pain? How does one not let their heart get hardened after repeatedly getting hurt? at what point is enough enough?” I was more venting than anything. I was struggling, my attitude was NOT where it needed to be, and I knew that. I was crying out for help, and Boy did I get it!! The people who have stood by me no matter what, were there again, with prayer and encouragement.

After I posted that status, some pretty amazing things happened. A Friend, no she is more than that, a sister , called me with an analogy that I should think of the offending person, not as someone who is spiteful and cruel, but as someone suffering from a tumor. The truth is, she was DEAD on. Bitterness and denial ARE like a tumor. They take over. It opened my eyes that rather than get angry, I needed to pray.

A Mentor, someone I have looked up to since childhood, Posted this: “The only thing that helps me is to put it into perspective. Chuck Missler once said: “…Remember He did this all for you and me. Specifically for you and me. Not in some broad brush sense, no, specifically. I personally hold the view that every one of my sins he specifically paid for. I don’t think He got a package deal. I don’t think He got a discount. I think He had to pay for each one of my sins specifically. Staggering. Staggering. That has a very disturbing flip side. Next week, when something occurs where I really mess up, I don’t do what I should do, and I sin—I believe He paid for that too. And I believe that next week provides me an ‘opportunity’ to add to His pain on that cross 2000 years ago. That’s a strange kind of time ellipses here, that my sins forthcoming are ones that He paid for back then, and it scares me to realize that my conduct going forward has the capacity of adding pain to Him on that cross 2000 years ago. “ And the verse: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me–we can forgive because He first forgave us–it’s a choice to release the debt, not to feel warm and fuzzy about the debtor. Forgiveness doesn’t mean we are suddenly filled with happy happy joy joy, it means we release a debt we are owed. The joy will come in restored fellowship with your Father (Matthew 6). The perspective this gave me, sent me straight to my knees, begging for forgiveness for my attitude, praying for the person who continually hurts me, and for help with my own attitude.

The other thing that happened as a result, is that after 15 years of marriage, I heard without a doubt, that I am , in fact, NOT an outsider. That some of my husband’s family is glad I am a part of the family, and that even though it is HARD, my unconditional love for the person who breaks my heart is a witness of God in my life. WOW, when God wants to blow me away, He does it BIG! He took a situation that devastated me, that crushed me completely, and turned it into something bigger, and better than I EVER could have seen.

When there is a member of the family diagnosed with autism, the last things needed are pity, judgment, denial and ignorance. What IS needed is UNCONDITIONAL ( No strings attached) Love, support, prayer.

I leave you with one more thought, another song that spoke to me this past 2 weeks. This one is called “Perfect Peace” by Laura Story…

“in this time of trial
pain that no-one sees
trust me when i say
i will give you perfect peace

…and you’ll never walk alone
and you’ll never be in need
though i may not calm the storms around you
you can hide in me”


My Husband, My Hero

Two weeks ago, I looked around my house, as it erupted in Camo Green. It was time for my Husband to pack and leave for his annual two weeks of Training for the Army National Guard.  I had been preparing myself with Prayer, and begging for an attitude adjustment, I was NOT Thrilled with the timing this year…..Right in the middle of Ball season, REALLY? But, I put on a brave face, and helped Pack two weeks worth of clothes, uniforms, and gear into 2 seabags.

He left on His Birthday, so I baked a cake, and cooked Lasagna, giving an order that the Guy who was nice enough to give Him a ride to his unit was GOING to stay for dinner. Since Among other things, He was going to miss our Youngest Daughter’s Birthday, I surprised her with the cake and we celebrated BOTH Birthdays…..

While He was gone, we did the best we could. We stayed INSANELY Busy, and the nights were the hardest. We Missed Him Terribly, but I took MORE than enough Photos of every event He missed. We found a way to make it through Every ball game ALL three kids had, we managed to make sure Prom was a wonderful special night for Sara, we helped Shawna through missing Daddy on her Birthday, we worked together when Dak decided he was DONE and wanted Daddy home NOW.   We celebrated Easter, and did school field trips. We Prayed through a severe Tornado Outbreak. I Vented here on the Blog , I was VERY Overwhelmingly blessed by the friends and neighbors who stepped up to help me when I felt as though I could not handle anymore.

Today, when He got home, when He surprised the kids ( who thought he would be home tomorrow) it was somehow ALL worth it. It was PRICELESS!!! Shawna was waiting for her softball coach to come pick her up for Practice. She saw a truck slow down at the driveway and went to get her softball gear, then realized it was not her coach, it was Daddy, and she RAN in the house screaming “DADDY’S HOME!!!!” and then came FLYING back outside…..

On one hand, today was bittersweet. There was no Major overjoyed reaction out of Dak or Sara about Daddy’s return home, yeah, they are glad He is home, and they Hugged Him tight , but after the past two weeks of Dak screaming and crying about wanting Daddy home, His reaction today was…..anti-climatic.

~~*~~

What reduced me to tears though, was Shawna’s reaction. My sweet lil Shawna-bug…she had spent the past two weeks clinging to me like glue, crying herself to sleep, her precious light up a room, melt your heart smile had been hiding, coming out for brief glimpses, and then back into hiding again. Today, that smile was back, and has not left her face….

Shawna’s heart warming smile is back…

My Princess has her Daddy home…

and I find myself thankful that My Hero is home, and Praying for all my Military Family who are going through deployments,  thinking of those who are nearing the end and inching daily closer to their own joyful homecomings, thinking of those who are just beginning the long journey, and praying that each and everyone of them get the chance to feel the joy I saw in my child tonight. My heart breaks for the families who have lost a loved one, who will not see the joy I saw in my child’s eyes tonight, who will not get their joyful reunion.

As You prepare to celebrate Mother’s day this weekend, as You go about your daily routine, remember Our men and women serving in the Military, remember the Gold Star Mothers whose sons and Daughters will not be coming home. Remember the Military wives Missing their husband’s, raising their children with Daddy away, and PLEASE also remember the Military Husbands who are raising their children while Mommy is deployed!!! Say a Prayer for our Military Families, Semper Fideles, and may God Bless America!

Thank you Lord for My Mom

Mother’s day is fast approaching, and as usual, my thoughts turn to my mom. We did not have the best relationship when I was a teenager, and well, lets face it, I was Horrible!! (Sorry Mom!)

Thankfully, we have mended broken bridges, and she is now one of my best friends, she is who I call when I need a shoulder to cry on, she is who I call with good news, bad news, prayer requests, or just simply when I feel overwhelmed and can only muster the word “HELP!”.

My Mother has taught me more than she may ever realize about being a mom.  I remember my parents opening our home up to others in need, even when we did not have much to offer. I remember Prayer, and faith being a daily part of my childhood.  My mom taught me the value of TIME, and that spending TIME with my kids is far more important than any Toys bought, that housework can wait, but my kids grow up WAY to fast. She showed me that spending TIME with my kids is not about spending money on them, but about DOING things with them, Playing games, reading books, Baking Cookies, going for walks.

*My wedding Day*

My Mom also taught me that Marraige is work, that loving someone doesn’t mean you ALWAYS agree with them, but that compromise and communication are KEY, that sometimes you have to be willing to admit you were wrong, and that just because things get hard, you don’t quit, you stand together, united as a couple, even when it means facing something like kicking one of your children ( yeah , I am talking about myself here) out of your home because they refuse to listen to reason and have chosen the wrong path. She also showed me that, even when your child takes the wrong path, you don’t stop loving them, you don’t give up on them, you don’t stop praying they will come back. She never gave up on me, and she is part of the reason I am here today, walking in Faith, and clinging daily to prayer, to God for my strength.

*USMC Boot Camp Graduation*

My mom has been a HUGE part of my support structure since hearing the words “Your son has Autism”.  She helps me get through the hard days, and rejoices with me in even the smallest of accomplishments. We may live miles apart, but when she comes to visit, or we go to visit her, she always does everything she can to make sure I get a break. She shows my children the same unconditional love she has shown me through the years, she loves them all equally, and encourages them to celebrate their differences, to accept WHO God made them to be.

*God Made you Special, and He loves you Very much!*

My mom has seen me at my worst, she has been there through my darkest hours, and has celebrated my biggest triumphs with me.  She is more than just my mom, she is one of my Heros. I wish That I could hug her in person on Mother’s day, but she will have to take this blog post, and a phone call. I Love you Mommy, Thank you for everything you do for us.

Just keep swimming….

Writing has always been an outlet for me, a stress reliever, a breath of fresh air, and so, here I am. I don’t right because I want anyone to feel sorry for me…I write because if I don’t, I will explode! I write in hopes that maybe somehow, my rollercoaster ride will help some other mom feel less alone.

This past two weeks have been a HUGE Rollercoaster ( more so than normal due to my Husband being gone). When He gets home, He is going to find a Bazillion Photos to look through, and I am gonna hand off the kids and RUN! ( LOL J/K though, the idea is not a bad one :P)

We have survived two weeks of non-stop activity, softball games, softball practices, Prom, Tornado threats, Baseball Games, School field trips, Easter Festivities, My Youngest Daughter’s Birthday….phew, No wonder I am exhausted!!!!

Dak informed me last Wednesday, as the weather man talked about severely dangerous weather moving into our state, that he wanted Daddy home NOW! Of course, due to the fact that teleportation only exits in movies and Virtual reality, I could not make this happen. As a result, He has declared war on my sanity. Refusing to listen, meltdowns and acting out at home, at school, on the bus, at the ballfield…everywhere. I get that He misses Daddy, and we have been marking off the days on a calendar ( which USUALLY works) , but I have come to the conclusion, that Daddy being gone during Ball season is an all around BAD Idea. We have had little to NO down-time. We are ALL exhausted. we ALL miss Daddy. It’s just, Dak is expressing this Louder than the rest of us! He has declared every day this week, as we prepare to head out the door, that he is DONE!  NO school! NO Ball! NO church!

The girls are feeling it too. Shawna is clingier than glue, and has cried every night. I think it has been hardest on her, to be honest. it was HER Birthday Daddy missed this year. Daddy is coaching HER softball team, and has missed several games. When Daddy was gone for 4 weeks after Hurricane Katrina, she was only 6 years old. And Sara, well Daddy missed her FIRST Dance , which also happened to be the 8th grade prom.  She has had to deal with nobody cheering for HER specifically at her softball games, because her brother can’t sit through games that START at his bedtime. Her “teenager attitude” has flared up BIG time. In the midst of all this, we are in the process of working on getting her evaluated as we think she may be on the spectrum as well.

In the midst of all the meltdowns, the tears, there have been blessings. The friend taking Dak out of the sanctuary during worship at church for me because the music was bothering his ears, and she noticed I needed a break. The friend who followed me into the gym during Sunday school when Dak had a meltdown because she didn’t want me to be alone. The guy from church who came over and cut my grass. The phone calls from friends and family checking to see how I was, and just to talk.  Shawna’s Head coach for softball calling to check on us, coming to pick her up for practices and games, my neighbors going to games, and helping out with Dak when they can. Watching the kids laugh and play with their friends on the rare day when we have NOTHING going on. My oldest and her best friend stepping up to watch Dak for one of Shawna’s games because he sat down on the floor and REFUSED to go. My friend coming over to take Photos of Sara before Prom so I could deal with Dak and be SURE we got Photos at the same time.

I am thankful this was only two weeks, and find myself praying for all my fellow Military wives who are going through much longer separations due to deployments, and trying to help a child or children with Autism through said deployment. I find myself Praying for all the families effected by Autism whose routines have been shattered by the Tornado outbreak of April 27,2011. I find myself crying out in sheer exhaustion, my heart breaking for these families who are going through the same meltdowns and stress, on a much bigger scale than my small two weeks.

I caught myself singing this morning as I was doing housework, but unlike the usual songs, today it was something from Finding Nemo…..

Just keep swimming….

Autism Awareness~30 Days of snapshots: Day 30

So, Here we are…

April is over…

The world will move on….

but for me, and the other families living with autism…

the awareness doesn’t stop.

The advocacy, the daily struggles..

the rollercoaster continues…

When He sleeps, things screech to a halt…

even if only for a moment…

and He is at peace for a little while…

no meltdowns, no noises bothering his ears…

Just sleep…

To the seizure free nights…

*sleeping in His cowboy Boots*

*asleep in Daddy’s computer chair*

When I watch Him sleep, I find myself wishing that I could somehow Find a way to carry the peace into his awake time…

to calm the storms…

to ease His pain…