Amazed

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….**

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.}

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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

Peace be still…

The Past few months I have been doing quite a bit of thinking, reflecting, re-directing. My son turned 13 in September, in the middle of a stretch of REALLY rocky road on this journey with Autism. School had started in August, and one month in, He still had not settled back into routine, and it was clear from almost day one, something was wrong. He protested that school was bad, and cried daily, BEGGING to stay home. He started running from class, his behavior went downhill FAST, and He started trying to hurt himself at school, all so He could come home. He was not sleeping at night…which of course meant, I was not sleeping at night.

All the no sleep gave me plenty of time to think, to cry, and to pray. I looked back at when the journey began. I thought about how long I had been fighting…with Doctors, insurance companies, schools. I realized I was Exhausted, I longed for a break from the “front lines”.  I lost sight of just how far we have come, the progress made. My focus was off. I spent more time focusing on how tired I was, on the storms raging around me than on my source of Hope. Exhaustion took over, and I started to get angry. I felt lost and alone.  I felt helpless. The worse things seemed to get for my son at school, the more helpless I felt. I was sinking, and I knew it. What I didn’t know, was how to turn my focus back to where it needed to be.

One night I was talking to a friend about it all, venting and crying, and she said to me “Stop. It’s time for you to remember you are not alone. It’s time for you to stop focusing on how hard it is, and focus on what you need to do. Your kids need you to not fall apart.” My mom listened to me day in and day out, crying on the phone sometimes for hours, she never stopped praying, never stopped encouraging.

One Sunday in Sunday school, my Sunday School teacher said ” I don’t know why but before we start I feel I need to read a passage of scripture that is totally unrelated to what we are studying.” He read Habakkuk 3:17-18 which reads as follows:

Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.

It was a wake up call for me, a Reminder that I need to give thanks to God NO MATTER WHAT.  That even in the darkest hours, I should be praising God, in the Midst of the storm. My Focus should be on HIM and not on the waves crashing around me. I was reminded of a Psalm that My Dad used to read to us all the time when I was Growing Up:

Psalms 34

I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.

O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.

I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.

They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.

This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.

The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.

O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.

O fear the Lord, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.

10 The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.

11 Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord.

12 What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good?

13 Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.

14 Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.

15 The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.

16 The face of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.

17 The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.

18 The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.

19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.

20 He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.

21 Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate.

22 The Lord redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.

I realized that I needed to start making a Conscious choice, every day, to give Thanks…to put my focus on God, and not on how big the storm was. God Knows what my son needs, even if Dak can’t tell me what is wrong. God goes with Dak to school, even if I Can’t. I started turning it all over, one step at a time, releasing control BACK to God. I did not realize I had been trying to handle it all on my own. Autism is TOO big for me. I Can’t do it. I don’t understand it. I started making the CHOICE to let go of each worry….My son’s fear of school…My Youngest Daughter’s grief over losing her closest friend to Cancer the end of August….Financial stresses…..As each doubt or worry or fear crept in, I fought it. Verses I have known all my life came back to my mind….

Matthew 6:25-34

 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.

Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 

 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 

If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 

For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 

 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

All the worrying I do was dragging me down. God has NEVER let me down. He has ALWAYS kept his word, so WHY was I wearing myself out stressing about every little bump in the road. Like Peter when He stepped out of the boat, I had taken my eyes off Jesus and put my focus on the water, and was sinking. (Matthew 14:22-33 ). I began to pray for help re-directing my focus OFF of how hard things are and back onto the one who gave His life for me. As I cried night after sleepless night, HE gave me a song…one I have known since childhood, but had forgotten….

You said you’d come and share all my sorrows
You said you’d be there for all my tomorrows
I came so close to sending you away,
But just like you promised, you came there to stay
I just had to pray

And Jesus said 
“Come to the water, stand by my side
I know you are thirsty, you won’t be denied
I felt every tear drop, when in darkness you
cried, and I strove to remind you,
That for those tears I died”

We have been studying Saul and David in Sunday school, and This week we were looking at 1 Samuel 13 and Israel’s fear of the Philistine Army. The root of Israel’s fear was that they forgot their Identity in God ( they are God’s Chosen People) and they lost their Hope in God. They forgot about all the times before when God had rescued them from overwhelming Odds, because God IS Bigger. This Hit me like a ton of bricks. How often have I forgotten all the times God has Provided, heard my cry, answered my prayers, come to my rescue when all seemed hopeless. I realized I was letting Fear into my day to day, and when Fear takes over, darkness sets in. I was reminded that Perfect Love Casts out Fear. (1 John 4:18) God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of Power, Love and a sound Mind. (2 Timothy 1:7). I continued to look deeper into this, seeking God’s help to overcome my struggle with worry, fear and anxiety and He reminded me of my Identity in HIM. He reminded me I am Bought with a Price, and when He looks at my life he does not see all the bad I have done, He sees what Jesus did for me when He died on the cross.

I cried again, asking the question once again that I have asked SO many times in the past 10 years since we heard the words “Your son has Autism”…I asked “WHY?” The answer I got was the same one I got all the times before…..

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

…Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 

 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

WOW…lets hear that again…“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  I need to Daily remember that..NO Matter what comes my way, HIS Grace IS enough. I am not perfect, and I struggle with this daily. I am learning to turn my focus OFF the storms in my life, and to look TO Jesus…My Hope, My Refuge, my deliverer, my Peace. I am thankful for the Blessings he gave me when He gave me my three children. I am thankful for the lessons that autism continues to teach me about love, about patience, about peace and hope and joy. Sure, the road is hard, and the tears often fall, sleep is often …well non existent, but HIS GRACE IS ENOUGH!

There IS Hope!

This is my son, who just happens to have autism….

because as you read I want you to SEE the HOPE

I want you to SEE that Autism is NOT the end of the world….

Hope…

It is a Powerful thing! When someone loses hope, it is dangerous. Hearing the phrase “Your child has autism” Can be a very devestating 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”. Phrases like “That child will ruin your life” should NEVER EVER be uttered, and yet, they are. I know, I have heard those very words.

It is when phrases like ” That child will never do…( insert whatever)” or “That child will ruin your life” or “raising a child with autism will destroy your marriage” that steal hope. And when Hope is taken away, horrible tragedies like this happen….

On May 31st of 2010, Stephanie Rochester – according to her own report to police – placed a plastic bag over her 6 month-old son, Rylan’s head.

She told police that when the infant was still breathing some time later, she placed blankets over his face. The child was dead by morning.

According to the Colorado Daily, “During the initial investigation last summer, Rochester told detectives that she believed her baby, Rylan, was autistic, and that having an autistic child would emotionally and financially “ruin” her life.” ….

Yes, Raising a child with autism is expensive, and yes it can be emotionally draining, BUT It is also the most rewarding wonderfully beautiful journey! The first time my son said “Mommy”, at age 4…the child the Doctor told me would probably NEVER speak…that was one of the most beautiful moments, one of many I have had on this journey. Watching my child slowly come out of his “own little world” and start to discover the world around him is amazing!

We as a society have a responsibilty to STOP looking at the glass as half empty when it comes to the diagnosis of Autism. It is NOT the end of the world! There IS HOPE! We, as the Blogging Mommas of children with Autism NEED to share our stories, the good AND the bad. when we reach out, it lets others who may be just starting this journey, or who are losing hope KNOW they are NOT alone! I am thankful that even in the midst of ALL the negative voices I have swirling around me telling me “He is ruining your life” I have had  constant POSITIVE Voices combating those words that would steal hope, restoring Hope when I lose sight of it.

My Friend and fellow Blogging Momma over at Diary of a mom also touches on this in her post today, below is an excerpt from her Post.

“….We can support one another. We can show those who don’t see the beauty that accompanies the challenges that there is joy in this life. That there is sweetness and faith and celebration and grace in raising a child – or children – with autism.

We can rise above our divisions and come together as a community – a welcoming, respectful, compassionate community that promises to hold each other up through the darkest days.

We can continue to tell our stories.

… to demystify autism.

… to reclaim the word and to reveal the incredible PEOPLE behind it.

… to open the curtains and illuminate the full spectrum of people who stand behind them.

… to personalize our stories – our children’s stories.

… to make people understand that difference is not just OK, but necessary to our survival.

… to get immediate help for those who live far beyond the realm of simple ‘difference’.

… to address the greatest fears of parents – by creating a system that will not just house our children, but will CARE for them when we are gone.

… to find out why autism diagnoses continue to explode.

… to change that.

… NOW.”

Thank you Jess, and the other Blogging Mommas in my circle who help remind me when I lose hope, that it is still there, for reminding me to slow down and smell the roses, that to see the rainbows, we gotta go through the storms, and sometimes, you just gotta dance in the rain!

My youngest daughter is in the Christmas play at our church, and the song they are ending with seems to just “fit ” here, so I leave you with this ….

“So Carry your candle, run to the darkness
Seek out the lonely, the tired and worn
Hold out your candle for all to see it
Take your candle, go light your world
Take your candle, go light your world”

If you need support, please, please click on the links below to find local autism resource networks.

There is no more noble act than reaching out for help.

ASA Chapters by state

Autism Speaks Resources by state

Welcome to the Club

Tears…..

There is a Photo floating around Facebook of a quote , I shared it on my personal wall a few days ago already…but  it is getting a blog post because…well it fits my day today.

I know I seem to cry a lot at church…

but its something about being in a place where I get reminded I am NOT alone that just turns on the tears….

It’s the overwhelming presence of God’s love….

It’s climbing up in Abba Father’s lap and curling up and crying and letting go of all the cares on my heart….

It’s the hugs and smiles from people who care about me and my family, and whose support and prayers get me through the days when I feel like I cannot handle another meltdown, or fight another Battle, when all that is in me screams for a break….

I cry for so many reasons…..

I cry for my children, for my oldest daughter who struggles socially, for my son whose verbal skills are getting there, but no where near what they should be for a “typical” 12 year old…..

I cry for my youngest daughter who wants nothing more than her 2 older  siblings to play with her….my social butterfly, my princess….

I cry for the hurts dealt by people who don’t “get it” who say things like ” He is just spoiled, your a bad parent”, or “that child is ruining his sisters lives”…and a laundry ist of other hurtful things.

I cry for those same people who don’t “get it” because they can’t, or wont, see past a disability and are missing out on a wonderful, loving boy who has so much to give….

I cry for my husband, who works to the point of exhaustion to provide for our family, yet it never seems to be enough. There is always another treatment, or medicine, or special diet item insurance wont cover…..

I cry for my husband, for the ache I see in his eyes with the knowledge that His only son is not playing with “age appropriate toys”, his only son may never play football, or ride a bike, who can’t pass on his love of motocross to his only son, who aches for all those father son moments…..

I cry for my husband, who misses his best friends, who no longer “goes out with the guys” because, well “the guys” live too far away, and it’s achingly hard to make social connections while fighting to raise special needs children….

I cry for my own social life, for the same reason listed above….

I cry for those precious days, the smallest of moments that I cherish so deeply, the first time my son said “Mommy” at 4 years old…the first time he acknowledge he dose in fact like spending time with his sisters….the day he declared, very loudly, for all the ballpark to hear ” That’s My BEST FRIEND!”….moments that to some seem so insignificant, yet to me, they are HUGE!!!!!

I cry because it’s the simple things like a phone call or a hug that remind me that I am NOT alone. There was a time when I thrived on social contact. now my social contact is limited to church, and the grocery store….

I cry because I ache for friendships I miss dearly…people who have impacted my life so deeply they are counted as “Family”. Who, even though we, or they have moved away, still care enough to keep in touch, who have left “footprints on my heart”.  People who I miss with every fiber of my being, because they have seen me at my worst, and still love me….

I cry for my side of the family only gets to see my children once a year, IF that…and yet they are my strongest support in the journey of raising children with special needs. They love unconditionally, see past the disability, and accept all THREE of kids, no playing favorites….

I cry for no other reason than I just need to, because I can’t cry in front of my kids…because I have to stay strong to deal with meltdowns, and Dr’s, and IEP meetings, and face people who do not understand, who judge and are critical of my every move…..

I cry because I am utterly and totally exhausted…..

I cry for all this, and so much more….

So, please if you see me crying, don’t feel sorry for me. Please don’t pity me. Pray for me, love me, but please don’t pity me. God gave me this journey, and His strength is the ONLY thing that gets me through each day, because I CAN’T do this on my own…..

If you feel you NEED to do something to help, remember, a phone call to see how I am doing means the world. Sometimes something as simple as a hug is all that is needed.  Offering to take all three kids would be great! ( though I understand completely that my kids have challenges that few understand, or know how to handle). For those of you who have surprised us with “I am ordering you guys pizza tonight” you have NO idea how HUGE that means to me, to not have to worry about dinner for a night. For those of you who have picked my girls up on weekends that my husband is gone for Military training so they will not miss church, or that youth group function, or AWANA, or those who help out with getting them to softball practice and games while He is gone, again…HUGE Thank you’s!!!

I leave you with this song from Twila Paris….

“Lately I’ve been winning battles left and right
But even winners can get wounded in the fight
People say that I’m amazing
Strong beyond my years
But they don’t see inside of me
I’m hiding all the tears

They don’t know that I go running home when I fall down
They don’t know who picks me up when no one is around
I drop my sword and cry for just a while
‘Cause deep inside this armor
The warrior is a child….”

What I did this summer….(Part Two: The Wedding)

My first segment in this series of posts was sort of an introduction, a brief summary so to speak. I mentioned how much it means to have the blessing of having my parent’s farm to “escape to”…

Then there are the major events each trip brings, our list of “Goals to accomplish” on our short time up there. This year it was a wedding, and meeting their cousins for the first time EVER, two HUGE moments, two goals that I was very unsure how Dak would react.

I planned every step of taking Dak to the wedding. I worried, I made sure he knew well ahead of time what he would be wearing. My mom helped me write a social story. My brother and his girlfriend stepped up to help keep him calm and quiet through the ceremony. We showed Him the church days in advance. We pulled out family photo albums and showed all three kids photos of people they might see, or have to interact with at the wedding, relatives I only see every few years, whom the kids may never have even met before.

We arrived at the church early, to ensure that we would have a spot to sit as the church is small, and the guest list was long. It was hot, and the kids grumbled about being hot, and bored, but over all they did well. The plan was for my brother and his girlfriend to help with Dak, for 2 reasons 1) he sometimes listens better to others than he does to me, and 2) I was hoping to be able to take as many photos as possible ( though I was mentally prepared that if he melted down, my camera would just have to get put away).

It was an emotional day for me. The Bride is my cousin, Julie. I was a teenager when she was born, babysat her, she graduated kindergarten the year I graduated High school. Needless to say, she holds a very special place in my heart. She was a breathtakingly beautiful bride, and if she was a bundle of nerves, she hid it well. The love between her and Matt is obvious, in his face as she walked down the aisle, in the way they look at each other….

All the preparation paid off. Dak did well through the ceremony, and even cooperated for family Photos….

*Trying to get 6 kids ages 14 to 2 to hold still for a photo…yeah riiight!*

(But I love how their vibrant personalities and energy came shining through)

My Parents and all six of their grandchildren together for the first time EVER!

It was not until we got to the reception that he began to unravel, but I could not blame him. It was hot, he was tired, and had been in dress clothes and a tie ALL day ( a huge accomplishment in and of itself!!)

All in all , it was an amazingly memorable day. My cousin’s wedding, my kids meeting their cousins for the first time EVER, watching my mom with all six grandchildren brought tears of joy to my eyes. I will write more about the time with cousins in my next post, but for now, I will leave you with this….

“Life is not measured by the breaths we take,

but by the moments that take our breath away”

 

Only a Boy Named David

A Year and 2 days ago, I got a text message from my brother, David, to pray. It is hard to grasp that David T. Camp left this world almost a year ago, but the events of June 2010 changed my life forever.

Here is an excerpt from what I wrote three days after David Camp was called home to the Lord:

On Weds. June 16,2010 at 2:47pm I received a Text message from my youngest brother who is an EMT saying that someone we know was badly injured in a Car wreck. being Human, a part of me immediately started to worry as my mind raced as to who it could be, but  also began to pray. I prayed for whoever it might be, and I began to pray for my brother. As I prayed, my sister called me and told me who ….David Camp, the Youngest son of the Pastors of my family’s church in Upstate NY, and a close friend of our Brother’s. It is no coincidence to me that BOTH of the young men I was praying for that Day are named David…One was fighting for His life…and one fighting to save His life. As I Prayed, the story of David and Goliath came to mind. (You can read the full post HERE )

The song I Kept hearing as I prayed a year ago, came to mind again today as I read my brother’s status on Facebook…..

“a year ago today, things were normal, a year and 2 days, the tones drop for an mva, and there’s no going back. you are missed DTC, you may be gone from this earth, but you roll on every call I go on bro”

Only a Boy Named David

“Only a boy named David
Only a little sling
Only a boy named David
But he could pray and sing
Only a boy named David
Only a rippling brook
Only a boy named David
But five little stones he took.

And one little stone went in the sling
And the sling went round and round
And one little stone went in the sling
And the sling went round and round
And round and round
And round and round
And round and round and round
And one little stone went up in the air
And the giant came tumbling down.”

I am quite certain that when my Brother started the Pray for David Camp Group on Facebook a year ago, he had NO Idea the impact it would have, that over 7,000 people from all over the world would come together, whether they knew David Camp or not, and stand in the Gap for the Camp Family. The Impact stretched from the USA, to Rwanda, to China, to Kuwait, all over the world; We saw lives changed, Faith restored, Relationships mended. Ultimately God gets the Glory, but he used two young men named David to Rock the world, He continues to use these two young men in ways NONE of us ever could have dreamed. One of them still walks among us, serving as an EMT. The other is dancing in Heaven, but His life-song lives on here on earth.

1 Timothy 4:12 (New International Version)

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an
example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.

1 Peter 2:9 (New International Version)

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

Rest in Peace, David Thomas Camp ~1989-2010