Category Archives: Inspiration

Not Just a Rainbow

Florida rainbow...sadly, not the rainbow referred to in this post.

As I was driving in the car a few weeks ago, I saw a rainbow. Not just any old run of the mill rainbow, but a full on entire rainbow. From one side of the sky to the other. Brilliant colors, each clearly distinguishable in a ROY G. BIV kinda way. It was pretty fantastic!

I don’t know about you, but I always get excited about seeing a rainbow! I love the majesty of God’s creation! And my kids will tell you that whenever I see  a rainbow, or a red-tailed hawk, or a brilliant sunset, or a big fat full moon glowing up in the night sky, or whatever, I will exclaim, “Look!! Look!! A rainbow (or whatever thing it may be)!! Y’all come out here and look at this! It’s beautiful! Isn’t it beautiful??”

(In fact, the other day, Emma was making fun of me because I was exclaiming over a cute little baby anole lizard. Whatevs. I know I’m a goob. I simply can’t help myself.)

But for the first time in all my rainbow-loving years, on that particular day, as I was admiring that fantastic rainbow, this occurred to me: I realized that you can only see rainbows from far away.

Silly me. Of course, you can only see rainbows from far away—everyone knows that.

But bear with me here, okay? Because sometimes I need the obvious things repeated. I’m special that way. <wink> And, in this case, I believe it was one of those quiet little things that God shows us, just because He loves us and is saying to us, “Trust Me.”

So, you see the rainbow from afar and it is glorious! As you begin to approach the rainbow, you can’t see it as well. And when you are right under a rainbow, you can’t see it at all.

It’s all about perspective.

It made me think about how when you are looking at your circumstances from a distance, things appear one way. When you have walked a little further into those circumstances, they may look different. Then, when you are looking at a situation entirely after the fact—only then can you see the beauty or the value of it.

I think we can all recall such situations.

I remember when I was the mother of a 3 year old and a three month old and we were about to move across the country from North Carolina, where all our family was, to Texas, where we knew no one.

From a distance, it was hard for me to see that any good could come out of that. But it was happening—that much was clear. I always try to see a silver lining, though, and was grateful for my husband’s new job.

In the midst of the “wilderness”, as I call our Texas experience (no offense, Texas peeps!!), there were many difficult struggles—the horrendous, oppressive and relentless heat; the loneliness; the mothering of toddlers, one of whom we were just learning had autism. There was so much I didn’t understand. But there were also blessings—a wonderful church home; great neighbors; sisters in Christ who lifted me up and mentored me; closeness to my husband; a deeper dependence on the Lord than I had ever experienced up to that point in my life.

But on the other side of that two year time in Texas, I could see clearly that the reason God had placed us there, in that seemingly God forsaken place, during that season of time, (besides the obvious driving me to my knees!) was to see to it that Jacob was in a preschool class with a precious teacher whose son was very much like Jacob and who could gently say to us, in love, “hey, did you ever notice…”—even though it was hard for her to say, and hard for us to hear. It was so clear that God placed in our path people who could help us deal with our son’s challenges, direct us toward a diagnosis and help start us on our way.

Clearly, that was the beauty. The rainbow. And it is so easy to see now. In the moment, though? Not so much.

In the midst of our personal storms, we aren’t often able to see the value or the beauty of that storm in our lives. Life can be messy, and sometimes, things will get worse before they get better. Sometimes we are so overcome with our fear, anxiety, or stress, that we can only see the storm raging around us, much like Peter as he took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the stormy seas. And then Peter suddenly found himself taking a swim! (Matthew 14:24-33 NLT) The beauty, the gift, is only most clear after that storm is over—when you look at it with some perspective and some distance. And when you let God say to you, “See? I had you covered all along! You only needed to trust Me.”

Friends, in the midst of those most trying and desperate of storms, we must keep our eyes on Jesus and off of our emotions and the circumstances, or else we will surely drown. Because when we are focused on those other things, we will not be able to see His hand reaching out to us to pull us out of the raging waters. Trust that the storm will end and trust that there will be beauty at the end of it. Trust in the promise of the ultimate beauty of eternity.

The rainbow has come to mean different things to different people. To me, the rainbow is not just a rainbow—some pretty thing to look at—or some symbol adopted by a group of people—it is a reminder to trust in the Lord and know that He keeps His promises. (Genesis 9:8-17 NLT) It reminds me that He will never leave us or forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV) That we can have peace in the midst of the storms. (Isaiah 26:3 NLT) And that He will carry us through the storms of our lives and give us beautiful reminders of His great love for us.

Look for the beauty, even when there doesn’t appear to be any. Look for the rainbows and trust in the Lord’s plans and purposes. And look for His hand. You can trust that it is there.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Faith, Inspiration, Lessons

Why do bad things happen?

Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do people suffer? Why is this happening to me?

The age old questions. We have heard them all our lives. Maybe you’ve asked them yourself at one time or another.

I know I have.

But then, I found the answer.

When our son was 5, he was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder. In some ways, his diagnosis answered our many questions about why our boy struggled so. In other ways, it brought on more questions about what we should do next, how could we help him, what his future would be like.

Occasionally I would find myself having a moment of wondering why this would happen to our son, to our family. Why?

Please know that I do not want to change him, because part of what makes him such an incredible kid is his Asperger’s. But there have been times when I’ve watched him struggle and wished he did not have to, like, for example, one of the many times we have been in a restaurant having a perfectly wonderful time and a ridiculously loud woman two tables over guffaws incessantly and assaults my boy’s sensitive ears until he runs screaming out of the restaurant.

Now, with Jesus, lots of work, counseling, practice and medication, that has not happened in, well, right now I cannot recall the last time that happened. In the last 3 years, Jacob, now 17, has grown by leaps and bounds. To God be the glory! But I am not so far removed from those “bolting moments” that I have forgotten the pain and the embarrassment—both for him and for us.

And then, one day a few years ago, I found this passage of scripture from John 9:1-7.

Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind

9 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi,who sinned,this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in himAs long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him,“wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.

Here it was! The answer to why these things happen, from the mouth of Jesus himself. The words leaped off the page. There was such relief in my heart as I read those words.

“This happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

He wants to display His works in my son! In me! In the life of our family!

God wants to give you a story.

He wants to display His works in you, in your children and loved ones, in your deepest, darkest, most hurt places, so that as you walk through those trials you can come out the other side with a testimony to God’s love, mercy and faithfulness.

This does not mean he will make the suffering go away, as he did for the blind man, but it does not mean He won’t. It means He will work in you so that you can walk through it, depend on Him, learn and grow. And share your story.

Your story will not look like everyone else’s. But rest assured, you will have a story.

A story of victory, what He taught you in that trial and how you grew in your faith. How He sustained you in a time when you were at the very end of it all. A story that you can share with those who come after you.

To give God the glory He deserves.

To encourage others.

To tell them that they are not alone in their pain and suffering.

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” ~Deuteronomy 31:8

What’s your story?

14 Comments

Filed under Autism Days, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Lessons

When Life Isn’t Perfect

My smiley boy at 5 months.I had been 20 for a month when I married my high school sweetheart.

I was 24 when our first child was born. A beautiful 8 pound baby boy.We were thrilled!

Just like any other new mom, I began to imagine what life would be like now for our little family and I had big dreams for our sweet boy.

Our beautiful daughter was born three years later.

A boy and a girl. Our family was complete.

Life was perfect.

Or was it?

After our son was born, I quit my job as a hospital social worker to be a stay at home wife and mom. It was what I had always wanted to be—what I felt I had been born to do. In fact, I used to say as a teen, that when I grew up, I wanted to be a “baby factory” with a house full of kids.

  • That was before I knew about the reality of childbirth. <wink>
  • That was before I knew that having children is like walking around with your heart outside your body all the time.
  • That was before Asperger’s.

Watching our son grow and discover his surroundings was a thrill for me. I saw how bright he was. As an avid book lover, I reveled in his love for books and words. By the time he was 14 months old and putting 3 word sentences together, I was convinced we had a genius on our hands!

Not only was he a genius, but he was also easily frustrated. He had a terrible time getting to sleep (Thanks for nothing, Dr. Ferber!), and when he got old enough to take off his clothes without my help, he did. All of them. And often. And at places like playgroup. Yes, I know he was 3, but none of the other kids were doing it.

I just thought he was precocious. And as a first time mom, I had no frame of reference for anything different.

When our son was three and our daughter was 3 months old, we moved from our home in North Carolina, to the wilderness of Texas, where it was 100 degrees every day and where we knew no one. I felt so completely alone for the hours that my husband was at work. This was not his fault, but nevertheless, I struggled with feeling isolated.

Something happened after we moved. The precocious genius boy became more than easily frustrated; he became inconsolable when things did not go his way. He was angry. He would fall down in the middle of the Wal-Mart, boneless, screaming. He would bite. He became fixated on the digestive system of the human body. He would take his shoes off at preschool and refuse to put them back on. He kicked the teacher. He would completely meltdown whenever his baby sister would start to cry—hysterically, sometimes—while screaming, “Mommy!! Make her stop!!”

I blamed it on his constant ear infections or the fact that he was tired because he would fight naps and bedtime.

Many days, there we would be, all three of us crying. We would cry what seemed to be endless puddles of tears.

I was convinced that I was a bad mother.

I felt I could barely give our daughter the attention she needed because I was constantly needed to soothe and reassure our son. It was my fault because I was depressed after our move,  and our son was feeding off my terrible emotional state. I would pray, begging God to help me be a better mother.

Some days, when my husband would come home from work, I would simply hand off the kids and retreat to the bathroom where I would sit comatose in the bathtub and cry. I would then feel guilty because my husband had worked all day only to arrive home to crazy chaos, a messy house, kids in tears, and a wife who was an emotional wreck. (My husband is an amazing guy.)

On bended knees by my bedside, I would weep. And pray. And I would give my worries to God only to take them back.

To say it was a difficult time in the life of our family would be a gross understatement.

We were in survival mode.

Recently, I was asked how I have dealt with having a child with Asperger’s. Based on what I’ve just shared, sometimes not so well.

Here’s how: But God.

2 Chronicles 20:15
…This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.

Psalm 9:18
But Godwill never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish.

Psalm 66:19

…but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer.

Psalm 73:26
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Acts 2:24
But Godraised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death,  because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.

Acts 7:9
“Because the patriarchs were jealous of Joseph, they sold him as a slave into Egypt. But God was with him…

Acts 26:22
But Godhas helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike.

Romans 5:8
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

2 Corinthians 7:5-7

5 For when we came into Macedonia, we had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn —conflicts on the outside, fears within. 6 But God, who comforts the downcast,comforted us by the coming of Titus…

But God. God is perfect.

God, in His infinite grace and wisdom, carried us through that early time. He carries us today and He will continue to carry us, and our son. Always.

We walked through the diagnosis process at age 5, and I mourned the loss of the dreams I had when I saw our son for the first time. We navigated special education and IEPs, worried about the lack of social skills and friendships, wrestled with treatment choices for our son, major sensory issues, and ultimately chose to homeschool our son starting in 9th grade.

Along the way, God has sent us many wonderful people to encourage us, to help us and to help our son navigate through this world, which, to the person with Asperger’s can be like navigating through a mine field.

We’ve worried and wept and prayed. We’ve clung to God’s Word and His promises. We know that God, who created our sweet boy, loves him more that we ever could.

“For I know the plans I have for you…” (God’s plans, not mine. His ways, not mine. His dreams, not mine.) “…plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.” ~Jeremiah 29:11

We have been given an amazing child to love! A young man who is funny and very bright. Sensitive and kind. We have celebrated so many victories and we have watched our son grow and learn and work around many of his challenges. I cannot imagine a more wonderful son than the one God has given us, a son who brings us so much joy.

We put our hope in God’s plan. We realize that our life will never be perfect—no one’s ever will. It will never look like the lives of families who do not live with autism. And that is okay. It is not supposed to.

So, what do you do when you realize life isn’t perfect?

  • You reach up and reach out.
  • Accept help. Look for help and learn to ask for it—an incredibly difficult thing to do and a huge lesson in humility.
  • Accept that you are not in control and trust that God, your loving Father, is. Trust in His plan.
  • Love.
  • Find joy.
  • Weep. Laugh.
  • Pray. Meditate on God’s Word.
  • Learn.
  • Hope.
  • Dream.

Yes, dream.

I still have dreams for my sweet boy. They just look different.

Just like my wonderfully imperfect life.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ~Romans 15:13

13 Comments

Filed under Autism Days, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Lessons, Parenting