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

A Legacy of Love, a Lifetime of Prayer

*Note , This may seem scattered and random, and should have been posted in April. For reasons hinted at in “Regaining Strength” , i never finished it, but am posting it now, because…even in it’s raw, scattered form, needs to be said. and besides, since when is grief ever “neat and organized” anyway?*
There is a group of people in my life who never gave up on me…
even through my wild rebellious years as a teenager,
no matter how angry I got, or how far out of control I spun,
They never stopped loving me, never stopped praying for me….
This is for them….
My Grandparents,
My Godparents,
my Mom and Dad ,
my siblings
The entire Jones/ Handy Family ( in my heart my 2nd Family).
I know that without all the love and non stop prayers,
my life would be totally different than what it is today,
and I thank God daily for blessing me with so many people who made sure I had firmly grounded roots,
but still gave me wings so I could soar….
The adults gave me roots and wings…
The kids filled my childhood with Friendship,
LOTS of memories,
They say there are people who leave footprints on your heart…
These are people who have left more than footprints…
This IS my Family, and I am Forever Blessed and Thankful….
Thankful for the Love,
the Laughter,
The memories,
the Friendship,
the Prayers and so much more…

Ok, this is for all you people who avoid the Camera,or hide behind it instead of putting yourself IN photos….
myself included…
There are people who love You who will want Photos of you to look back on when You are gone.
Don’t make them wish they had more Photos to cherish.
Finding myself wishing i had more of two special people in my life, both of whom has already left this earth.
This Photo is the only one I have, that I KNOW of….
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My Goal from this point on is to put ME in more photos with my kids….with the people I love.
This week has been one of reflecting, remembering, rejoicing, and mourning.  On Thursday (April 11,2013), I wrote this on Facebook ” As The Lord prepares to call a Precious Very Special Lady home, My heart cries, and rejoices at the same time. You see this dear Lady is my Godmother, and played a HUGE Role in my life. Her Love and Prayers, even when I was being unlovable are part of why I am the woman I am today……I Can’t help wondering if she knows how deeply she impacted my life. I regret not telling her often enough…and though I can’t make it to NY, I want to say THANK YOU, I Love You, and will never forget you!”
April 13,2013: At approximately 12:30 this morning my Godmother, Janice Handy went home to be with the LORD. She was a wonderful, gracious lady and taught us all very well how to survive in the world, but mostly how to live a life of faith. She fought the good fight, she won the race. She sees Jesus face to face. She was one of the Most Influential women in my Life and I am Thankful and blessed that my Parents chose her and her husband as my Godparents.
She leaves behind 25 grandchildren and 48 great grandchildren, three who predeceased her. She leaves behind a legacy of faith.
My Godfather went to be with the Lord my Senior Year of High school. At approximately 12:30 this morning My Godmother Joined him. When I think about the legacy they left, the Impact they had on my life, I count myself Very Blessed.
To Quote My Friend, Their Granddaughter, Jennifer: “My grandfather once felt that he was going to leave nothing behind for his family when it was his time to pass away. In reading all the posts here today, it is obvious that money cannot buy what he & my grandmother left behind. In the 65 years since the day they married, they had 6 children, who in turn had 25, who in turn have had 48. 3 of these met Jesus before they did. Most of these know Jesus as their Savior. Keith & Janice Handy were successful in passing on their faith and their love of family. What could be better than a legacy like this? I should be so blessed to do the same. “
They Truly Built a Household of Faith.

Autism Awareness~30 Days of Snapshots 2012: Day 23

Almost a Year ago we Packed up everything we owned and moved. We Didn’t move Far. We Moved because we needed a bigger house. When we moved we left behind something Money can NEVER buy, something FAR more precious than a Bigger house, FAR more Valuable than all the possesions in the world. We Left behind a Circle or Friends who Love my kids. These Friends do not see Disability, do not see age, do not see color, they are just FRIENDS. Yesterday we took the kids over there for a visit, and it was the Highlight of my weekend.

My Facebook Status Yesterday ( Dak got me up at 4am and I was EXHAUSTED): Highlight of My weekend….took the kids over to Visit their Friends on the Court today….Watching Dak PARTICIPATE, Take Turns, and Play Duck Duck Goose on the Trampoline makes the lack of sleep, coffee overdose, and no Nap ALL Worthwhile!!!!! ( and YES I took Photos :P)

This group of kids, with mine included ranges in age from 6 to 14. Two of them are autistic, one of them is fighting Cancer, NONE of this slows them down. When they are together, it’s like it all just fades away. Sure they have moments when they fight…that’s kids for you, BUT NOBODY Messes with them.

If This is our Future, then I would say we are in good hands…because of Kids like these…

.♥Playing Duck Duck Goose ♥

( and yes, Dakman not only took turns, but Participated the WHOLE time, Interacting, laughing, smiling)

Autism Awareness~30 Days of Snapshots 2012: Day 14

Author Note: This should have been published yesterday, but I had to finish the Photos before I could post it

My Facebook Status after Baseball Today: “Home from Dak’s Miracle League Baseball Game. LOVE Saturdays for SO many reasons! I Get to watch My boy play Baseball, I get to spend time with other Parents who Understand the roller Coaster that is raising a Special Needs Child, AND I get to watch my Girls interact with thier Friends who understand thier Roles as Siblings….Miracle League is Truly one of the Biggest Blessings in my Life.”

Miracle League Baseball because “Every Child Deserves A Chance to Play Baseball.”

As a Mom of Special needs children, This truly is one of the Biggest Blessings in My Life.

It has become more than just watching my son get a chance to play baseball…

 it has become something more….

a chance for me to talk to other moms who know what it is like to love a child with special needs….

 it has become a way for my husband to connect with his son…

 to watch them do something we thought they may never get to do together….

It has become a way for my “NT” child to connect with other “NT” siblings who understand what she faces with special needs siblings….

It has become more than just a game, it’s a community, a family, and I am blessed to be a part of it….

♥I will leave you with this Photo…

one of my favorite moments…

Dakota steals home so He can go sit down in the dug out and get a drink

( He used to just walk off the feild, so This is progress  :P) ♥

♥ and In Closing…The Miracle League Song…

I simply do not have the words to Thank all of the people who work so hard every year to make this happen…

The Buddies who volunteer to help the kids who need help…

the coaches…

The Businesses and churches who sponsor teams….

The amazing woman who handles all the coordinating, organizing…

Thank you each and every one for giving parents like me one of the greatest Gifts in the world…

It Takes a Village

“It takes a village to raise a child.”

Author: Unknown

It is a well known saying. It is a saying I have heard many times since my children were born. It is one certain people throw in my face when I try to tell them that their criticism and judgment on how my husband and I raise our children, on how we must be doing something wrong as they have just observed our pre-teen son, who happens to be autistic, have a meltdown, and He is too old to behave that way, that all this negativity is not welcome. “Oh we are just trying to help” Please….

That being said, I am learning share the burdens I bear with others who “get it” who are not critical, negative and judgmental. I am building my village, and the realization that I do not have to walk this road alone is an amazing feeling.

I have begun the process of finding out if my oldest daughter also lands on the spectrum. Letters have been written to the school she attends. I have discussed my concerns with our pediatrician. My husband and I sat down and discussed it with her and found out her concerns, her fears, her questions “Why do I feel like I don’t fit in mom?”

It was scary the first time around, with our son, and it is scary this time around.  Just typing it out here is overwhelming…It rips my heart out to hear my daughter upset because her best friend, one of a list of friends that is so short I can count it on my fingers, moved away.  Last night I took her to a concert our church was hosting for the youth group, but it was too loud, and a major sensory meltdown was the result. My heart broke for my daughter, but I forced myself to hold in my own tears as I worked to console my child, to find out if she wanted to stay, or go home. I say all this to say what happened next. As I worked to calm my child, I felt a love I have NEVER felt before. A group of ladies I have come to call friend surrounded us. They hunted down some Tylenol for my child, they helped keep me calm, they helped console my girl, they let her know it’s ok, they let me know I am not alone. They encircled us and surrounded us with so much love. They prayed with us. Then one of the young ladies from our amazing youth group came out to check on my girl, to tell her ” I wanted to make sure you were ok.”

My sweet girl decided we would leave early, she wanted to go home. On the way home, I could no longer hold in my tears as she said something to the effect of ” It is nights like this when I know who my true friends are. They love us even when we fall apart”. It was at that moment as we drove home, both of us in tears, that I realized the wagons had been circled, and we are going to be ok. I didn’t have to face this alone, and my girl doesn’t either.

My friend Jess over at Diary of a Mom wrote today about her Village. She said “We are different. We come from dramatically varied walks of life. I dare say our paths might not have crossed in any other way. Yet the feeling that we were MEANT to be friends is undeniable. These women heal me. Their very presence in my life is a salve.” YES!!!!

Each of the women in my own small village have been brought into my world , some via church, some via Miracle League  baseball, some I only know via Facebook and the autism Momma blog circle I have found myself in.  We are an eclectic bunch, Military wives, Special needs Mommas, and though our journeys are all different, we walk the road together. We lift each other up, we inspire, we laugh, we cry, we encourage. These ladies know what I mean when I want to shout from the rooftops because my son ASKED for a birthday party. These ladies understand when I want to cry because my kids want “Daddy home now” but he can’t come home due to whatever training thing the Military has him off doing. These ladies don’t judge me because my house is not spotless, or tell me I am a failure when my child has a meltdown.  They don’t tear me down, they build me up, and I can only hope that I do the same for them. The people in my village don’t try to “fix me” or “fix” my kids, they accept, they love….

“When we honestly ask ourselves

which person in our lives mean the most to us,

we often find that it is those who,

instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures,

have chosen rather to share our pain

and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. 

The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion,

who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement,

who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing

and face with us the reality of our powerlessness,

that is a friend who cares.” 

~Henri Nouwen