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”.”

Aware

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…..

 

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.

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

This is Our Autism…Revisiting a previous Post

Back in June of 2011, I wrote : “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.” as a conclusion to a Post titled “This is Our Autism” which was in response to a question a Fellow Autism Momma, Blogger, and Military wife, who also happens to share the same first name as me posed. The question “What is Your Autism?”

I Have been doing a lot of thinking about this again, in light of something that is going on in the Autism community. Suzanne Wright, co-founder of Autism Speaks, and grandmother to an autistic child, took time just this week to call for a National Autism Plan, based entirely on her opinion (which, therefore, is the opinion of Autism Speaks) that autism has “stolen” three million kids, and is making those kids’ families miserable. Here is a snipet of what she has to say….( You can read the full post Here, but PLEASE if You do….Take the time to read the COMMENTS, to hear the voices that are speaking out.)

Each day across this country, those three million moms, dads and other care-takers I mentioned wake to the sounds of their son or daughter bounding through the house.  That is – if they aren’t already awake. Truth be told, many of them barely sleep—or when they do – they somehow sleep with one ear towards their child’s room—always waiting. Wondering what they will get into next. Will they try to escape? Hurt themselves? Strip off their clothes?  Climb the furniture? Raid the refrigerator?  Sometimes – the silence is worse.

These families are not living.

They are existing. Breathing – yes.  Eating – yes. Sleeping- maybe.  Working- most definitely – 24/7.

This is autism.

Life is lived moment-to-moment.  In anticipation of the child’s next move.  In despair.  In fear of the future.  

This is autism.

I am angry, The above comments made by an organization claiming to speak for my children, my Family, and so many others in the autism community has gotten it SO wrong. Am I saying life with Autism is easy? NO! But it is not something that needs fixing, or  a cure either. Yes there are times when my son wanders, and my children climb on furniture, and raid the fridge…..but Guess what, That is Part of having kids! I can remember , as the oldest of 4 kids growing up….Couch cushions strewn across the floor became rocks and if you stepped off onto the floor, You melted in Hot Lava, so we jumped from cushion to cushion, couch to chair…you get the idea.

When my non verbal child wanders, it scares me to death, BUT I have learned ways to keep Him safe, and still allow Him to explore the world We live in. I have learned to read His cues, and He has found ways to let me know “hey, mom, I am done and I need to go home”.

Autism is not, and never will be the end of all hope. My children are amazing, brilliant individuals. My daughter draws the most amazing artwork, a very visual and creative thinker. My son can make my computer do things I had NO clue it could do. They are NOT Broken!!!!! God made them special JUST the way that they are, and for an organization like Autism speaks to take the power it has, and irresponsibly feed the fear and lack of hope that society piles on families goes against everything I have fought for. I am not saying that it is easy, FAR From it. I  sadly lament not enjoying the parenting experience I always wanted and thought I’d have; birthdays, school, church, Dances, Concerts, slumber Parties, any social gathering for that matter, even bowling or going to the grocery store can feel like I’m being beat by this awful disease! I have days when I just curl up and cry, When I listen to friends complain about how their teenager spends too much time on the phone, or breaks curfew, is over board boy crazy, ect, and I look at my daughter who seems to have no interest in boys, didn’t ask for a cellphone until she was 15, and still RARELY uses hers, doesn’t live at the mall. I am Thankful she has a firm grip on who she is, and that she doesn’t look to her peers for acceptance,or approval, but I would be lying to you if I said I didn’t sometimes ache for those “typical mom moments”. There are sleepless nights, and meltdowns, sensory issues, and trials and hardships…But nothing in life is easy, and a little love and patience goes a long way. Sometimes I feel like I mourn the death of the parent I would be as much as the child I thought I’d raise. I know my Husband mourns those Father son bonding moments…Football, Riding dirt-bikes, ect. , and I know that there are things I will never be able to do with my daughter, like take her to see her favorite Boy Band in concert…it’s too crowded and too loud. There are days when I actively plan ways to live longer and take care of myself better because I know I have to be here to take care of my son. No one else will ever be willing or able to do it. Some people have the luxury of money or extended family to rely on, many of us do not. Should we make the best with what we’ve got? Absolutely, but that doesn’t mean pretending to the rest of the world that it’s a “gift” or anything short of an ongoing challenge. They don’t advertise Boot camp as a Glorious Vacation in Paradise, neither should they make autism out to be just something “different than expected”. That would also be completely irresponsible & untrue. Autism is a spectrum, and there is no One autism. It is challenging and some days it seems down right impossible, BUT it is NOT the end of the world.  There was a time when I lived in fear of what tomorrow may hold, BUT I have learned that when I focus on the unknown and worry about tomorrow I miss today’s joys. My children deserve to be loved, and accepted for WHO hey are, not shunned and feared because somebody only hears the word Autism. To say that my family is not Living, that Autism will break me, that my marriage will fail because Autism causes too much stress is fearmongering, and there is NO PLACE FOR IT!

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…

So, this is a glimpse at My Family…..and Yes, We ARE Living, ENJOYING the moment to moment. Because Life is not the Breath You take, It’s the Moments that Take Your breath away!

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and, one more….

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Because the statistics say we should have divorced YEARS ago…I mean, Dual Military, 2 Children with Autism, Oh, we married too young, yeah, we have heard it all…all the reasons why we would never last, and I am not saying Our marriage is perfect, FAR from it! we have our ups and downs, but Autism has not destroyed our Marriage, in fact I think it has drawn us closer as we work together to make sure our children know that they are NOT broken, to give them the best love and home we can.  We are committed to each other, and to our children. When a mountain comes up, we climb it together. We have weathered many storms together, but To say we are just barely existing, ready to break at any moment, Autism speaks, You could not be more wrong. We don’t want or need pity, or fear. There is no place for fear, Only love, Hope, Joy, and Faith.

1 Corinthians 13: 3-7 {The Message}

“If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.

Love cares more for others than for self.

Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.

Love doesn’t strut,

Doesn’t have a swelled head,

Doesn’t force itself on others,

Isn’t always “me first,”

Doesn’t fly off the handle,

Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,

Doesn’t revel when others grovel,

Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,

Puts up with anything,

Trusts God always,

Always looks for the best,

Never looks back,

But keeps going to the end.

Dakota~Heart

Just a Thought

So, i have been watching the series of Dr. Who episodes with Donna as The Doctor’s companion…I will admit, of all the companions, she has never really been my favorite, BUT i noticed something this time around that kinda stuck with me…..in “Turn left” about what the world would be like if Donna never met the Doctor, she keeps saying how unimportant she is, and how she is just a Temp, and through the course of the episode, and the 2 that follow, we find out just how important Donna is. It just kinda struck me that we may not realize our importance, but to others around us, Our very existence could be world changing…ok maybe not on a Donna Noble saves the universe kinda scale, but it kinda stuck with me because i have many days where I sound like Donna ” Oh I am nothing special” ” I am just a Temp ( well for me it would read mom, housewife)”….just a tidbit from my geeky corner of the world

 

I Just posted the above as my Status on Facebook, and then as my news-feed loaded, THIS appeared…

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I am reminded that it may seem mundane, and everyday, and unimportant to me…but everything i do…from washing their laundry, to finding that lost toy at bedtime…is important to my children, even if i can’t always see it….even if i often feel invisible, like i am “Nothing special”

Maybe just maybe, it really does matter after all

A Breath of Fresh Air

My Kids continue to amaze me! We just returned from a trip to visit my Family. This summer has been one of Non existent routine, and it has been interesting to watch my Routine driven children learn to adapt.  As much as they thrive on routine, it is I think, important from time to time to show them how to  learn to be flexible, because after all, life in the real world is full of changes, and not everything always goes as planned.

As we loaded up for the long anticipated, yet shortened trip, excitement was high. They could not wait to get to grandma’s house, and their lists of what they were looking forward to varied from one child to the next. With Autism along for the trip, there was, as always, much planning on the part of the adults…my husband, parents and I talked well in advance, planning out as much as we could. The Big event of the trip was my youngest brother’s wedding.

We had already been through one family wedding with autism in tow, so we knew how to prepare. We wrote the social story, we planned escape routes for meltdowns, we had a shadow for the boy, seeing as my husband and i were both in the bridal party, and my parents, being parents of the groom, needed to be free to enjoy the day as their youngest child married His sweetheart.

As soon as we arrived at my mom’s, and the truck was unpacked, The kids settled right in as if they had never left. This was a safe haven, and they knew it. The Boy changed into old clothes and headed to the barn with Grandpa, the oldest headed to sleep…we had been on the road for 20 hours after all, and the youngest settled in with grandma while my husband and I crashed as well. What a wonderful feeling to know that my kids are safe, and that I can rest….this is not something I get just anywhere, and it is something I cherish every time We go to my Parents house.

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The result of my parent’s house being a safe haven was, as always, that my husband and I were able to slip off for some much needed time alone. We had a wonderful escape to my Aunt and Uncle’s Cabin in the mountains, and it was a precious time of reconnecting, of much needed peace and quiet, no kids to worry about. I am not saying I don’t love my kids…they are my world, but anyone with special needs children knows, getting time alone is a RARE thing, and yet it is OH SO IMPORTANT! While my husband and I were enjoying Our Mountain escape, the kids enjoyed time with their cousins, and went to the zoo.

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The day of the wedding drew closer, and the hectic chaos that goes into Visiting from 20 hours away, plus planning a wedding collided in a whirlwind of non stop activity, and yet, the kids continued to go with the flow. Sure, we had a few meltdowns, but no major blow outs. As best we could, my mom and I wrote out what was happening when on a calendar for the boy, and that helped a lot.

We met the lady my mom had found to be Dak’s shadow for the wedding, and there was an instant connection. a Fellow Mom, with kids on the spectrum, this was definitely a blessing, and another worry off my mind.  She came to the rehearsal, and while the Bridal party ran through the ceremony, she helped Dak go through a trial run with His social story, and then helped keep Him , and the rest of the kids entertained at the rehearsal dinner, before taking Him back to my mom’s when it was time for His evening dose of meds.

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There simply are not words to describe the Peace, and relief that comes in knowing that Your children are loved, accepted, and safe. In knowing that you can occasionally catch a breath, and enjoy time with Your spouse without hearing “Mom!!!” or worrying about a Meltdown, or elopement, or any of the other challenges Autism brings.

In the midst of wedding planning, and preparations, there were Family Game nights, and plenty of memories made with Cousins. The Visit went by ALL too fast. The day of the wedding arrived, and My youngest and I headed to my sister’s house with the rest of the Bridesmaids and the other flower girl to get ready. My Husband and my Brother and Dad held down the fort at the farm, while getting ready themselves, until Donna arrived to take over with Dak. I am told He did really well, and when I saw Him at the ceremony, He was listening to Donna, and following His social Story. I am really proud of my kids, and got reminded that, while it may take more planning on my part, special events like a wedding CAN be enjoyed by the WHOLE Family. My Sister in Law even got some pretty amazing Photos of my kids while the Bridal Party was standing in the receiving line…..

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After the ceremony, Donna took My Oldest two on to the reception, while the Bridal Party did the Photo thing. My Brother’s new Mother in Law had outdone herself with activities for the kids at the reception, and they ALL had a BLAST! I was able to relax, dance with my husband, and enjoy the entire day knowing that the kids were taken care of, and we had back-up plans firmly in place if needed, but am happy to say, they were not needed!

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All too soon, Our time was up, and we loaded back up in our truck to head south, to head home. We were all anxious to get back to our dogs, our house, our own beds, and yet, there was this feeling that the trip was too short, that we were leaving a safe zone, and heading back into chaos of getting ready for back to school, work, and every day life. This year got off to a very rocky start, and Our time in NY was a much needed breath of fresh air, and new life into our routine, our lives. Yes, Autism is a part of our lives, but this trip was a beautiful reminder that it is not the end of the world, of just how far we have come on this journey, and of the support that we do have, even if it is 20 hours away. This trip restored my hope, reminded me of what matters most, and pulled me farther out of the depression I have been battling. There is something about returning to the farm, to the country life I was so desperate to leave as a teen, that refreshes my spirit.

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I will leave You with a Final Thought… a segment of Lyrics to a song that has been stuck in my head for a while now….

“I laid in bed that night and thought about the day
And how my life is like a roller coaster ride
The ups and downs and crazy turns along the way
It’ll throw you off if you don’t hold on tight
You can’t really smile until you’ve shed some tears
I could die today or I might live on for years

I love this crazy, tragic,
Sometimes almost magic,
Awful, beautiful life”
~Darryl Worley: Awful, Beautiful Life~

Regaining strength

I have not written in FAR too long. My world seemed to be spiraling out of control, and feeling overwhelmed i lost sight of any positive, of the inspiration and lessons i do my best to look for in the midst of life’s storms. I felt that if i had nothing positive to say, then why write? I am not ready to go into all the details , but the long and the short of it is i was sinking…deeper and deeper into depression. I put my writing on the shelf, and set my camera beside it. Sure, i continued to take photos of the kids sporting events, of the obvious highlight moments, but i lost sight of the every day joys.

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Things really came to a head this past 6 months. Depression took a physical toll, and in May i had surgery. The Physical limitations only increased my depression, yeah i know, vicious cycle. Thing is, as a stay at home mom, its MY job to take care of the kids, and the house, and the grocery shopping, and….you get the idea. well all of the sudden I couldn’t do any of that, and i felt i was failing my kids, my husband, myself.

I am in the process of climbing out of a deep hole, of mending things that have been damaged, and of moving forward. The storm clouds are breaking, and the sun it beginning to shine again.  I am dusting off my virtual pen, and have picked my camera back up off the shelf….

Spiraling downward,retreating inward

hitting bottom,something snaps

a wake up call to stand and fight

a forgotten corner of her mind

a well of strength within she finds

shakily rising, tears falling

cleansing tears of a heart on overload

washing over her like a flood

shoulders back, feet planted firmly

her faith was shaken, her foundation rattled

and yet she stands

another battle wages between heart and mind

This too shall pass

as the storm clouds clear

she stands, scarred but stronger

the rose once again rising from the ashes

~~R.E.B , July 7,2013~~

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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:

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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!

Of Knights and Dragons

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

here are a few facts:
it is not rare – 1 in 330 children develop cancer before the age of 19
• 1 in 5 children diagnosed with cancer dies as a result of the disease
• Childhood Cancer is the #1 disease killer of children – more than asthma, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, & pediatric AIDS combined

You may think “what does this have to do with Autism?” and I would have to say “very little” but, I am writing this post about a Precious little boy who took my world and turned it upside down, who stole my heart, and who was a HUGE part of my children’s lives….

“How lucky I am to have known someone who was so hard to say goodbye to” ~Unknown~

Some friendships leave such a HUGE Print on Our Hearts…

The Photo above is of my youngest Daughter and her Cherished Friend Barrett, who she affectionately claimed as her little brother 5 years ago. This Precious child stole my heart instantly when they moved in across the street from us. For 5 years I watched as a friendship blossomed and grew. I Took TONS of Photos through the years. Little did I know JUST how precious those Photos would become to my daughter, and to me.

In 2010 Barrett was Diagnosed with Cancer. For two years He fought, Bravely, never once complaining. He was always more concerned with how those around Him were doing.  This sweet boy Lived Life to the fullest, Jumping in Leaves, Riding His Bike, Laughing, Playing as Hard as He could. In November of 2011 the news came that the tumor had returned and that it was most likely terminal this time.  I remember sitting my daughter down and talking with her then about death, and trying to prepare her for the day when she may have to say goodbye. It was one of the hardest conversations I have EVER had to have.  We Prayed hard, and even though by this point, we had moved to a new house, we made sure to make the moments count. We continued making memories, and learned to cherish EVERY Moment.  August 2012, My heart shattered. The news came that there was nothing more the Doctors could do. As I struggled to find the words to have another conversation with my children, we made arrangements for a play date, and my princess spent an afternoon with Barrett. It was to be their Last day together, and It was a Good day. A Week Later, On August 26,2012 Barrett went to Heaven.  My Heart was shattered, and I can’t even BEGIN to imagine the pain His Mother is going through. My thoughts though, IMMEDIATELY went to the kids. Including my own three, there is a group of kids that Love Barrett deeply….

Let’s Call them the Knights of Honeysuckle.

As The Leaves begin to fall, My Mind drifts back to the days on Honeysuckle, my yard full of kids and laughter. Whether they were jumping in Piles of Leaves, or playing Kickball, Fighting Dragons, or playing Tag, This group of kids always found a way to include everyone, regardless of Age, disability, color. The Memories Made in the time we lived there will be forever cherished, imprinted on my heart.

There is a Very Precious thing that happens when Children’s Laughter, and Imagination rules…

When a clump of trees becomes a Fort….

When Dragons and Robots appear and the Castle must be defended…

When the Older kids drop everything to Teach a Younger child how to Ride a scooter….

I am SO Very Blessed and Thankful for each and every Precious Moment we had with Barrett

For the Memories Made

For the Once in a Lifetime Friendship my Youngest child and Barrett have ( yes I say HAVE, because she will NEVER forget Him)

For the Smiles and Laughter….

For The Hugs….

For the Beauty of Childhood…

For the Delight in the simple things Like Digging a Hole….

I Could Keep Going, But My Point here is…

Cherish EVERY Moment with those You Love.

Take time to enjoy the simple things….

Hug Your Children Often…

Make time to Play WITH them….

and Let them Be Little!

Autism Awareness~30 Days of Snapshots 2012: Day 10

Ok, so My goal to post everyday isn’t going so well this year. The challenges of having two teenagers on the autism spectrum in the house are, well…overwhelming at times. We have seen regression in many areas…behavior issues we have not seen in several years have returned. To say I am exhausted would be a VAST understatement!

Today as I logged in to Facebook, I saw a Blog post that struck a chord with me, Hate the Autism/ Hate the Child?  It got me thinking, and I mean REALLY thinking. I have said in the past that my kids don’t need “fixing”, that they are not Broke, just wired different, and I stand by that statement. Does that mean though, that I LIKE every behavior? No…There ARE things they do that I would change. My Heart aches when my son can’t tell me what is bothering Him, and yet I KNOW something is wrong. And that gut wrenching fear that hits when He decides to take off from school, church, or home…yeah I could live without that. It is no different than when I tell my youngest to stop whining, or some other behavior she should not be doing. I Guess what I am saying is this…I Love ALL three of my kids, in SPITE of Autism, in SPITE of those behaviors that I don’t like. God made them EACH Special, and regardless of their challenges, they are ALL Blessings. There are days when my Patience is SHOT, when I want to scream ” I Can’t TAKE IT ANYMORE!”, when I just want to go off and hide somewhere.

Yes, There are GOOD things loving a child with Autism has taught me…like how to appreciate the simple things, to take life at a slower pace, the value of a smile, a hug….One of my favcorite quotes is…

“You can complain because roses have thorns,

or you can rejoice because thorns have roses”

I have learned that wether it is with my kids, in my marraige, or in life in general If all I focus on is the Negative, I am going to be miserable, but I Can’t ignore the Bad all together either. Sometimes to see the Rainbow, one has to go through the storm first.  This past weekend, my Husband and I celebrated our 16th Wedding Anniversary. The road has not been easy, we have had our share of challenges, fights, and struggles, but we have learned a lot along the way….

Lessons learned in the 16 years I have been married to the AMAZING Man God Brought into my life….

 1.) NEVER fight in front of the kids

 2.) I MUST respect my Husband and Honor HIS Leadership. God placed Him as the Head of Our Household.

 3.) HONEST Open communication is KEY.

 4.) Resorting to name calling and fighting dirty won’t accomplish anything.

 5.) Don’t go to bed angry.

 6.) Even after 16 years, It is still fun to flirt with my husband.

 7.) No Matter how hard things seem, He is always there for me, I can depend on Him.

 8.) Without Trust, things unravel quickly.

 9.) I get more help with the kids if when He gets off work I don’t ambush Him as soon as He walks in the door. Give Him time to decompress first.

 10.) He needs “Alone time” as much as I do.

 11.) Submitting to His leadership does not make me weak, It is what God called me to do, and it actually makes me stronger. (Ephesians 5:22-33)

 12.) He can’t read my mind…If something is bothering me I need to TELL him, without backing him into a corner.

 13.) He worries about the kids as much as I do, He just expresses it differently

 14.) There is nothing wrong with being married for 16 years and still acting like newlyweds!!

15.) Even though I am a stay at home mom, that doesn’t mean I should stop dressing up for my husband.

 16.) I Love Him more today than I did when we met. The road has not been easy, but Walking it with Him by my side makes it all worthwhile.

 Our anniversary is April 6th….

16 years ago a Marine from Alabama and a Marine from Upstate NY said “I do” in North Carolina…

I Love you “Bama”,

For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part

 I am so Thankful God Brought you into my world in the middle of the desert in California!