Christ, Classical Conversations, Education, Encouragement, Family, Holy Spirit, Homeschool

Are We There YET?

Lately, I’ve been pondering this question on a more personal level, as far as, where do I belong? Is it here? There? ANYwhere?

Am I there YET?

GraduatingAre we there YET?

January marked a sort of graduation for my family. My husband and I sensed it was time to close the homeschooling chapter, after much prayer. Immediately, (and I’m not kidding) the door opened for my sons to attend a Christian school that’s been wonderful for them. They witness to others, pray for friends, show compassion to hurt friends, and learn how to walk with God. And our homeschool couldn’t have better prepped them!

Throw Momma from the Train

But, me?

Well, when a family stops homeschooling, momma stops working. Abruptly….like going 80 MPH, and slamming on the brakes into a brick wall.

Moving from waking early for prayer time, prepping lessons, gathering materials, prepping to also teach a weekly class of 12 middle schoolers, while still in PJs…etc., etc., well, you get the picture. To dropping my sons off, coming home, and sitting around, teary-eyed for three weeks missing them…..IT’S BEEN ROUGH! Not gonna lie!

It’s taken time. “Time heals all wounds,” right?

Working

So, I knew it was time to seek employment again. Y’all………a technical writer seeking a job at 48 YO in 2018, is nothing short of, um, well, stepping into the Twilight Zone? All the work from home jobs are A LIE.

They don’t exist!

They sit on a throne of LIES.

And after being rejected from Cracker Barrel, CFA, and Kohl’s, it was time to hunker down.

A NY Minute

A gal from NYC (at least that’s what my phone said) emailed about a resume writer gig. Ok, cool, I did that a hundred years ago, when it didn’t require a resume-writing certificate (why didn’t I think of that in 2000??) She scheduled a phone call to discuss and I accepted. When I answered, she sounded like she was under cover, in a narrow NYC ally, on a special ops drug bust with the cops! Whispering, sirens in the background, a little aloof to my answers, scripted…I said, “wow, it’s noisy there, ay?”

I declined that one.

Next came taking 10 writing and editing “SKILL ASSESSMENT” tests to prove my worth……Really? I paid for three years of grad school while working f/t for THIS???? Ok, maybe I got a little fleshy and rebellious, but dang.

Then, I scored a position using my gifts and talents in real estate. Finally! Grateful for what God gave me, but it’s been pretty difficult keeping J-man in his therapies.

Another transition….really? Anyway, sit tight. When I land, I’ll post an update.

In the meantime, God dropped Psalm 25:4-5 on me, “Show me the path where I should walk, O Lord; point out the right road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long, I put my hope in you.”

He is good!

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Christ, Encouragement, Family, Friends, Healthy, Holy Spirit, Learning, Rest

Position Yourself

pexels-photo-257037.jpegOver the past few weeks, I’ve been on the receiving end of various disgruntled human people. I attempted helping the disgruntled as best I could, knowing it hadn’t helped any, if, at all. Some remained disgruntled and angry because they didn’t have their way, some honked because I wasn’t driving fast enough, and some never even realized they were wrong.

I’ve learned to brush these kind of folk off but this time, I said, “I CHOOSE LOVE.”

Running to Stand Still

We run the kids to school, run to work, run to the grocery store, run to meetings, run to crossfit, run to church, run to relax, run to make an appointment……

When we run to these things, we run AWAY from Christ.

When we run away from Christ, we forget why we’re here.

When we forget why we’re here, we forget the commandment:

To “love the Lord God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength…” and to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:30-31)

When our focus falls off our Lord, it falls to the world, the sickness, the unemployment, the bully, the overdue bill, etc. Our world inundates us from every side, reminding us of all our responsibilities we forgot, what we’re NOT doing right, what we DON’T have, how stressed we are, those 20 extra pounds, and BONUS – we get all of the world’s woes, too! Social media’s newsfeed vomits death, violence, persecution, disease, natural disaster over and over in our face. Offense, covetousness, envy, division, jealousy…over and over.

 Lighten Up

If we (finger pointed to moi) fill our brains with negative death-stuff, we don’t have room for Him. For His LIFE, His LIGHT, His WILL.

We finally cleared out years of garbage in our 8 year old home, from THREE MOVES AGO. Yes, you read that right….THREE. My husband and I would hold up old socks, a 1978 Darth Vader, or college notebooks from 1990 and ask “WHY the WHY????” (Vader, we kept, of course.)

Through laughs, we couldn’t answer, but knew a little, tiny part of us LONGED to keep a hold of our old self. We got comfortable with our old self’s piles, boxes full of TRASH, old letters from past acquaintances who hurt us, pictures of our past, remnants of all of our dead family members. (Now, don’t read what I’m NOT writing, I cherish my late grandparents’ and in-laws’ belongings! We have many we’ll pass down to our grandchildren.)

BUT, we hadn’t cleared out the old to let the new in or we hadn’t kept our new, new. It’s an ongoing process to clear out, review and renew, and trash stuff you don’t need! “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins….no, they pour new wine into new wineskins.” (Mark 2:22).

Clear out to let Christ in! It starts by running back into His arms. Abiding in Him daily, hourly, every 30-minutes, if you must!

Abide without Agendas

Our ministry college professor shared how he would lay back, across the chair arms of his big, leather office chair and imagine being in His Father’s arms, holding him, loving him, consoling him. Just BEING there, soaking it in, no words. (My flesh questioned whether or not I could sit still long enough to do this again; my spirit longed for it.)

He said, “go to your Father with NO agendas, sit in His presence, and see what He says.” 

These words have resonated in my spirit all week. I’ve woken up each day and read His Word, felt Holy Spirit pouring peace/love/my identification into my heart, reminding me of who I am in Him, not in the world. We need this every day!

I was also reminded of the multitude of blessings God’s given us all. If we only could really grasp what Christ has saved us from, we’d also remind others that the only gift in the world, that comes with no strings attached, is the gift of HIS LOVE.

Autism, Education, Encouragement, Family, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy

Great Expectations…of an ASD Mom

It’s been a while….I know. I’ve had writer’s block. It’s been awful.

Also, we finally stabilized, after our transition from homeschool (for 6 years) back to private school for the boys & work for mom. I’m not even sure they had lunch the first couple of weeks, but I’ve nailed that task down.

They eat.

Check.

De-stressing

I’ve been watching & listening to how J-man deals with end of the day stress & decompression. And I feel sometimes like we’re regressing. Or I have misdirected expectations……again.

A couple years ago, when he’d come home from school, he’d climb into a tent or under blankets, with a weighted blanket, a snack, & plushies. Like clockwork.

Now, at 12, he’s chatty chatty choo-choo. He doesn’t stop talking. From the school to home, which is about 11 miles. But, it’s talking about all the WRONG things he did that day. Leaving articles out & in incorrect tense. Usually it ends with “I’m so guilty….” Then me explaining he’s not. “You just misunderstood,” which he’s been doing a lot.

Consistency of a Middle Schooler

Misunderstandings. Which made me wonder if he needs to be back in speech consistently, instead of on and off like we’ve done this new year. It’s been hard to fit it in between sickness, homework, work, life, transitions, sleep, appointments, etc.

BUT I realize he needs it. He still needs it, after 10 years. And that’s ok. I don’t feel one iota of guilt for our inconsistencies. I’ll be honest…when our therapists gave us homework, it rarely got done. I’d put it in a pretty, 3-ringed, 2-pocketed, braded, poly folder to make it look important. Then I’d find it weeks later, still incomplete…whitespace as far as one could see.

Ignored & misplaced.

Expectations, Milestones, & Reality

I admit. I thought, “by puberty, we won’t need all these therapies; he’ll have matured or learned…” or I don’t even know what I thought.

I’m learning, as an autistic middle schooler, he still needs speech & OT & probably a gazillion other therapies I’m clueless about that I can’t pronounce.

But you know what? It’s ok. We have time. We have resources. We’ll make appointments.

But right now, today, all I expect is for him to do this right here as long as he wants to.

Be next to me.

Cause when he’s next to me & safe, I don’t have to think about his future & how many therapies he’ll need to make it on his own. I know he will, but I’m his mom. I still worry.

Until then…….this works.

Encouragement, Family, Food, Healthy, Rest, Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving 1982-2017

ThankfulI’m sitting here looking out the windows, past my son on the couch, at the autumn colors floating in the wind. The trees swaying back and forth like they know it’s time for celebration.

Time to remember the blessings, the little things, the love experienced in 2017.

1982

This was the year I turned 13. I started using a little makeup, became more aware of fashion, and worked hard to style the (as my high school BFF put it) “katywampuss” mop on my naturally curly head. I spent hours trying to tame it down. Hours trying to make it something it just was NOT.

13. What a year.

Highways

Every year, up until my Pop passed, we packed up the family car, took off early the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to celebrate with our grandparents and cousins in North Carolina. We always bundled up more cause it was pretty chilly. Our family of four and my cousin’s family of five packed out the 3BR ranch house. And it was fantastic!

Pop walked every, single morning at “the track.” Mom and I always tagged along – we would walk and walk. Then we would go to his house and read the Asheboro, NC Courier Tribune newspaper, watch football, and talk about old times.

Feasts

Thanksgiving morning, Mamaw rose early and prepared for days before we arrived for the feast….I can only guess she did since now I’ve hosted several Thanksgivings and it’s hard work!

The woman never complained. She baked the most amazing chicken casserole, turkey with all the fixings, and a dressing I’d kill for! Her dutch apple pie, chocolate cakes, and applesauce cakes were worthy of royalty! And sausage balls with Neese’s sage sausage. We fought for those like it was our last meal! That sausage was so good, we’d pack a cooler full to take home!

Even some Thanksgivings, my Gran-Gran also traveled to celebrate with us. WHAT A BLESSING.

I only wish I’d realized exactly what a blessing it was at the time, before they passed on to heaven.

2006

In December 2005, we were blessed with our precious second son, so we missed traveling to NC that year. I had my very young sons, our oldest was two and youngest almost one. We planned a trip to NC because we knew time was ticking and it could be the last.

Pop was a man of few words, a WWII veteran, and a hard worker. So, he wrote. He kept personal journals from 1982 until November 2006, the year he went home to his Lord.

1982

From W.H. Dwiggins’ November 25, 1982 journal,

“Bernice got up at 4:30(AM) and started the turkey cooking. Beautiful morning – I went for my walk up at the cemetery. Bernice had a delicious Thanksgiving dinner: Turkey, dressing, giblet gravy, potato salad, green beans and corn, cranberry sauce, salad, rolls, pumpkin pie, and fresh apple cake.”

2006

From W.H. Dwiggins’ November 8, 2006 journal, 15 days before his last breath on earth:

“We visited Gladys at Autumn Care (his sister-in-law at the nursing home). John and Nancy are up from Abiline, TX – we saw them, Craig, and Tiltha Rae…They are going home Nov. 9.”

I received a call from Dad late November 23, 2006, that my Pop had gone on to heaven. He’d had issues and finally, his body was healed.

November 18, 2017

I hold all of these memories so close to my heart. I see many moments where Christ was, is, and will be always present in our lives.

Pop got it right, every time. As I read his words of wisdom, I hear:

  • love and encourage your spouse
  • work hard
  • serve others
  • love and respect your country
  • eat well
  • exercise
  • be with family as often as you can
  • love God with all your heart, and strength, and soul, and mind

This is my late Pop’s favorite verse, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” – Phil 1:22

He absolutely gained his crown in heaven.

Give Thanks

This year, I’m hosting Thanksgiving. It’s different. I’m grateful for the hard work ahead of me because it’s all worth it. New memories, new traditions, new walks, cakes, and new life will be celebrated.

Grateful.

As I get older, I get it. He definitely gained more than we’ll know, but I can’t wait until I see him again and can thank him for all he taught me.

Classical Conversations, Education, Encouragement, Healthy, Holy Spirit, Homeschool, Learning, Thanksgiving

First Semester 2017, CHECK!

JoyCan you hear it? Can you smell it? Those holidays are fast-approaching with all the cinnamon, pumpkin pie, hot chocolate, and sugar cookies you can handle!

We wrapped up our CC Foundations and Essentials Community’s last day yesterday and celebrated with community presentations and a chili feast! Next week, Challenge wraps up. This is our sixth year with CC and my fourth year tutoring.

I hope this post encourages new homeschool families and families with sweet children who take a little longer, struggle, or need a little more help.

Review

This is the second year I’ve kept more details on attendance, grades, IEP’s, and lesson plans now that we’re in middle school. In a couple years, it’ll be transcripts, too, so I better get used to it.

Reviewing gives me a better sense of accomplishment. I used to condemn myself for not checking everything off, every day. I’ve learned, even through sick days, what we’ve checked off, is exactly what we were supposed to.

Revelation

At the beginning of the year, I had a revelation during our CC tutor training that I still LOVE TO BE IN CONTROL. Nooooo, you say….

There, I said it!

My husband would be so proud.

So, I asked the Lord in August, to show up every day. For us to hear Him and follow His lead, not mine. Almost every morning, the Lord’s given me a verse and a lesson to share with my sons. It’s made our days more productive, less stressful, and more focused.

Reflect

It’s also this time of the year when I long for a slower pace to sit and review curriculum, books, and all the hard work our boys have accomplished. Also, to keep myself accountable of organizing assignments and our school room.

Remind

So, as you’re wrapping up 2017, I’ll leave you with a few things I’ve learned in 6 years.

  • Seek to hear the Lord, every day – Even if it’s when your oldest asks “what’s Jesus’ last name?” And you have to reach out to your Bible college professor for an answer!
  • Focus on what they’re learning vs. how many pieces of paper are in their “Completed Work” folder – It’s when you walk into the family room and your youngest, amazing son on the spectrum is vivaciously typing his 3-paragraph essay on his tablet, ON HIS OWN WITH NO PROMPTS. Or when you catch your oldest son holding doors for grandmothers, apologizing and asking for forgiveness, and cooking eggs for his brother. NOTE: parents, this is what to focus on.
  • Gratitude attitudes – I dubbed this saying and my sons cringe every time I say it. But it’s truth! Wake with a smile on your face and the world smiles with you (or is laughing at you!) But who cares! They’re smiling! Stinky attitudes not allowed!
  • Encourage, encourage, encourage – Did I mention encourage? I’m not great at this. I tend to occasionally get trapped into the “OMG-we’re-only-on-problem-five-and-we-have-3-appointments-in-2-hours” mode. I’m working on it. Encourage.
  • Try plans A, B, C, D, E…. – Seriously. If writing with pencil is a challenge, use pen or type! If reading a book chapter overwhelms, listen to audio books! If sitting at a desk too long bores you, take a break, then stand and work! Same with learning – try flashcards, math games, dice, puzzles, educational apps, reference books, lists, planners, and more lists!
  • Resources! – Do not be afraid to ask or seek help! Khan Academy, Quizlet, CC Connected, CC parents, Teachers Pay Teachers, songs, chants, rhymes, hand motions, whiteboards, Scrabble letters, CC Facebook groups, libraries, city governments, parks, even Japanese restaurants! All are excellent resources with great “out of the box” ideas.
  • LAUGH, HAVE FUN, REST! – If this isn’t happening at least once a week….go watch some Looney Tunes together!

And parents…

Please…hug yourselves ’cause all this isn’t easy!

HAPPY MERRY THANKSGIVING/CHRISTMAS/NEW YEAR!

Healthy, Rest, Thanksgiving

Remind me again…

Last weekend was our 16th wedding anniversary. My husband and I celebrated with a dinner date, coffee, mocktails, and dessert. It’d been a very, very long time since we’d been somewhere without other humans with us. We ate good food, had real, grown-up conversation, and rested. The best part, we didn’t look to the next day or even the next hour. We soaked in the moment.

Renewal and Thanks

Renewal means “the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken.” We realized how much we enjoy each other, love to make each other laugh, love holding hands, and appreciate each other.

Priceless.

These past few months around our country, we’ve seen tremendous loss of lives and tragedy beyond comprehension, done by evil, cowardly people. Along with mass shootings, we’re faced with our own trials and struggles. If we can try to find a little bit of good from these tragedies, it’s to make it a point to live in a daily sense of gratefulness and renewal.

Every. Single. Day.

I’m grateful for my family I’ve taken for granted, grateful for books left on the first four bottom stairs, grateful for dog hairballs the size of a tennis ball under our couch, grateful for that garlicy/oniony/old cheese stench of the dishwasher, grateful for our secondhand couch, grateful for toilets that flush, a home, a car, etc. etc.

Realized in 2017, all of it could end in a heartbeat.

Honesty

Don’t judge, but I talk with my middle school sons about these mass shootings. You know, the hard stuff: crime, abortion, rape, human trafficking, the dark internet, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes……yup, sure do. Do. Not. Judge.

And when they pose their didactic questions to me, if I did anything stupid in my past life, I’m honest. Please refrain from judging, but I feel if I’m not honest about how bad I screwed up, making my own choices to live in sin, my sons won’t understand how I’ve been renewed by Christ. They get it and appreciate my honesty.

My oldest son, after I explained what happened in Sutherland Springs, TX, paused a long time. He then said with so much seriousness, “Mom, what that shooter did to those innocent people. Killing all those people worshipping in church. That makes me SO, SO angry.”

I saw a warrior in front of me. An arrow in my bow.

“3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,

The fruit of the womb is a reward.

4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,

So are the children of one’s youth.

5 Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;

They shall not be ashamed,

But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.” – Psalm 127:3-5 New King James Version (NKJV)

Fearless

I also, after sharing my honesty, told my sons to keep their eyes open, use wisdom, and know God’s always with them. Like these tragedies have shaken us as a country to remind us what’s important, so had my own ungratefulness and complacency. Reminded me how important it is to communicate, rest, pray, rejuvenate, renew, be grateful, and appreciate each other.

Fight for Life

I recently listened to the late Dylan Thomas recite his poem, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night. About four times. It rejuvenated me. Rekindled my awe, love, and appreciation of this precious life.

“Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night.”

These first two stanzas. Read them and re-read them.

We will not be afraid. God is with us. We will fight for our lives, live each day to its fullest, and be grateful.

Autism, Encouragement, Holy Spirit

Marked not Labeled

Marked
Marked not Labeled
Today, Covenant Connections Church service. Was. Incredible. 

Our pastor is so humble and wise, he lets Holy Spirit lead when Holy Spirit wants to. 

We had a guest worship pastor who submitted to Holy Spirit and people were saved, set free, restored, and REMINDED WE ARE NOT A LABEL!

The “woman with the issue with blood,” the “leper,” the “lame man,” the “harlot,” the “drunk,” the “murderer,” the “addict,” that kid with “autism,” “ADHD,” “OCD,” “ODD,” “bi-polar disorder,” “OCD,” ETC. ETC. That lady with “social anxiety,” “depression,” “cancer…”

NO! These words are not who we are!

Pastor Jody shared how he and his amazing son with autism were shopping. He caught a stare from a stranger. The “what’s wrong with him” stare. We know that one all too well!!! He said we label each other “by our dysfunction!” Why? Because it’s not who we are! 

He said there’s nothing wrong with his precious boy, and it reminded me of how Steve and I have not identified J-man as just autistic. We’ve spoken life, healing, God’s promises for YEARS over our boy. There’s so much more! That’s a small portion of who he is AND GET THIS, GOD LOVES HIM! 

GOD sees a WARRIOR!

GOD sees a WORSHIPPER!

GOD sees LOVE!

GOD sees an ARTIST!

GOD SEES HIS CHILD!

GOD SEES HIS SON!!

Pastor Jody blessed my socks off and I’ve never met him! But I’m grateful! Steve and I’ve traveled this autism journey for 12 years and sometimes it’s easy to get stuck. Don’t get stuck, y’all! Focus on your child’s strengths and interests! Step into his world instead of trying to force him into our “normality” — does that even exist?

YOU ARE A CHILD OF GOD. NOT A SLAVE TO FEAR!!!!

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,” —Ephesians 1:13

Marked, NOT labeled. 

Classical Conversations, Education, Encouragement, Homeschool, Learning, Rest, Sensory Satisfaction

Fall Break Cut and Paste

Cut and paste
We took time to cut, paste (with real scissors, not Snippet), and made cotton ball ghosts today. And my 11 and 13 year old LOVED it. 

Yes, I said 11 and 13 year olds!

Cut Short

Here’s my thought on school – I noticed we all looked a bit tattered today, from a series of unfortunate events – so we cut today short. We took time to make something with our hands. 

I’ve gotten better at noticing “tattered-ness.” And I’m proud of that. 

If we push and push to get work done, we burn out, become mean people, and hide. It’s not worth it. 

Cut and Paste

So I Googled “Halloween Crafts” and found these cute ghosts. Something about taking the time to cut, paste, and create is so calming. So rewarding and peaceful. 

My youngest exclaimed, “I just LOVE when we do crafts. It makes the best homeschool day, ever!”

It’d been a couple months…..I think.  I know, I’m mean. 

Joy Builders

See, it’s been a while since I RECEIVED such an exciting and JOYFUL reaction from my clan in regards to our schooldays because MIDDLE SCHOOL IS HARD. 

There. I said it. 

We seriously work so hard writing, doing 6/7 grade math, learning Latin, and drawing maps from memory. I figured a little craft would break the tension, and it did. 

Y’all try it. 

And cut out the pushing. 

Just cut. 

Autism, Education, Encouragement, Learning, Thanksgiving

#chipstarter Dream was ACCEPTED!!

Magnolia Market’s #1 Fan!
We’ve been over the moon all night! Like, watched my video 12 times in a row ON Chip’s page!

Last evening I received the email I was kinda waiting for and not waiting for, from Magnolia Market! Aaaaaand, my submission, Train Up Special Children & Families, made it to the next phase & will be considered as a finalist! 

WE ARE ELATED it’s made it this far and HONORED to be featured on Chip Gaines’ #chipstarter Web site!!! 

See my dream here: 

Train Up Special Children and Families Dream

PRAY AND WISH US LUCK! God bless!!

“We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” -Proverbs 16:9

Autism, Education, Encouragement, Friends, Healthy, Homeschool, Occupational Therapy, Sensory, Socializing

Dreaming BIG

Dream Big with #chipstarter

I did it with no fear, doubt, or anxiety. I entered Chip Gaines’ #chipstarter dream contest!

Dream

My dream? Reach the special needs community. Train special needs children, parents, & the community about it. Equip, lead, and encourage them through the process. I want to use my 25+ years of corporate training and communication experience to pay it forward.

I submitted my video, my written reasons, and my cost needed to the incredibly talented Gaines family.

THAT, in and of its self, makes me feel like a winner! Just getting it out of my heart with pen and paper is HUGE!!

Filling a Gap

There’s a huge gap in the special needs community. I’ve spoken with and read of hundreds of families who feel completely alone. These are parents of toddlers, elementary-aged children, pre-teens, teens, and adult children!

That isn’t right!

Personally, I lack a special needs degree, but know enough to have been hired as a special needs parapro for a season. I also am now my incredible spectrum & ADHD sons’ full-time teacher. I’ve been in the field & know my stuff……….so it seems.

AND I have 13 years of hands-on experience.

More!

There’s so much more that could be done! Churches forming ministries, community organizations providing training and support, non-profits willing to use my training! Helping parents feel equipped to train up their special children to use their God-given gifts.

Pray

So, I ask you, will you pray for my small corner of the world?

Pray this vision launches so it makes a difference for future special needs families. Pray for resources to emerge, ideas to birth, creativity to flourish, and people to desire the same.

God bless and Go DAWGS!