Thursday, November 3, 2011

It's what's inside that counts. .

It never ceases to amaze me how, if you are listening, God will take any little moment of the day to speak to you. In our busy lives, you don't always have to carve out an hour of you day to kneel beside your bed and talk with Him (although that's nice sometimes!) He will meet you where you are and (just like a close friend) strike up a conversation as though no time has passed since your last one. I love these moments with Him.
Today's moment came at the bus stop with my son. This isn't the first sacred moment I've had while standing under the enormous Sycamore tree at the corner with him. Last year, my son accepted Christ as his Savior while waiting for the bus under that same tree. Each school morning, we pray together under that tree as well. The funny thing is- I've never liked that tree. I've lived on this street for 28 years and I've always thought it was a bit ugly. It's got this mottled, diseased-looking bark that peels off in chunks. It's leaves are not as vibrant as most trees'. It drops these weird, ugly pod things all over the sidewalk. And in the fall, while the other trees are turning brilliant shades of red, yellow, and orange, the sycamore's leaves turn brown, shrivel up, and fall off. Yuck.
I've often wondered why anyone would CHOOSE to plant this tree somewhere. They line many streets in my town, and I could never figure out why anyone would want them- until this week. This past week, we had an epic, historical, record-shattering snow storm in the Northeast. Most towns around here got 8-12 inches of snow on the last weekend of October. Aside from this being highly unusual, it was extremely dangerous, because normally we don't get such snow storms until well after the trees have shed their leaves. But when this storm came, the trees were in the middle of their autumn fashion show. The leaves collected the snow as it fell, and the heavy snow built up on the trees more than it ever would during a winter storm. This resulted in catastrophic tree and power line damage. The town looked more like it was hit with a tornado than a snow storm. Almost 5 days later, thousands are still without power.
As I drove around, surveying the damage, I couldn't help but notice something. The sycamore trees were still standing tall and proud. Among the hundreds of fallen or severely damaged trees, I couldn't find one single sycamore that had fallen down or even lost any significant branches. Hmmm. Now I'm intrigued. So, in twenty-first century fashion, I google "sycamore trees". I'm amazed at what I read. Sycamores are fast-growing trees. They can reach enormous proportions. George Washington recorded measuring one's circumference at 45 feet!!! Because they grow so fast and strong, they are sometimes planted next to young oaks and other "more desirable", slower- growing trees. They act as a "nurse" tree to shelter the smaller tree while it grows. Yes, sycamores are known for their strange camoufloged-looking bark. According to Wikipedia,
"The bark of all trees has to yield to a growing trunk by stretching, splitting, or infilling; the Sycamore shows the process more openly than many other trees."
Maybe the Sycamore and I have some things in common. . . Because, really, with it's "ugly" bark and unappealing leaf shedding, the sycamore is really just like all other trees-- with less pretense. The sycamore does what other trees do, but in a very matter-of-fact, what you see is what you get, "I'm not trying to impress anyone" way. The sycamore stands tall, mighty, and strong. It quietly protects other, flashier trees without getting credit. It stands firm when storms and adversity comes. It doesn't come crashing down under the weight of enormous burdens. In the Bible, it even allowed Zacchaeus to get his first glimpse of Jesus.
As I walked back up to the bus stop this afternoon, I looked up at that tall, mighty tree. I couldn't help but feel a sense of awe and gratitude. I stood there worshiping silently in my heart. . .thanking God for the Sycamore. . . asking for the strength to become more like it.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The journey continues. . .

So I was struggling the last few months with my son's diagnosis. He began therapy almost 2 months ago now. I've been going back and forth in my mind- he has it/he doesn't have it/he has it - and driving myself nuts. He's made a lot of progress since his initial evaluations back in February and then in March. But, he's also developed some new "spectrum" things. His therapists are pleased with his progress so far, which is a blessing. We just spent a week at the beach, and he had some good times and some really bad times. He still cries and screams a LOT. . . that wears on me more than anything. But his speech is improving so much and he's initiating a lot more interaction, which I love. When I begin to feel overwhelmed by the task at hand, I look at AJ who is now 7 and is doing AMAZING. . . and it gives me hope. . .
This past week while we were at the beach, Levi was very fearful of the ocean. As I sat on the sand holding him and reassuring him, we watched the waves go "up and down. . . up and down. . .up and down. . ." . And as low tide turned to high tide, and then back again. . .I couldn't help but think of how that applies now. We'll have our up days and down days. . .we'll have high tides and low tides. . .stormy days and peaceful days. . . We'll have times that we run into the waves, laughing and splashing- and times we see and feel the strength of the stormy sea. . . but each new day brings a new chance and new opportunities. . . and if some days the only thing I can manage is holding onto the raft for dear life, then that will be good enough! And each day as God gives me the strength to endure the waves, I'll be thankful for the ride- and that my raft doesn't have any holes.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Round 2.

So, we just found out the our youngest, Levi Jackson, is on the spectrum as well. He just turned 2. I'm not ready to talk about it yet.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Changing Course

So, I started this Blog forever ago. . . for me. I never really intended for anyone else to read my entries. I think only a handful of people have so far. I started it because I really had no one to talk to about some struggles I was going through with my son. I mean, no one else I knew had a kid diagnosed with autism. No on else I knew had a kid with ANY problems. Most of my friends' kids are younger then my first 2 kids, so I was really on my own for the first few years of this mothering thing. I'm not saying I didn't have a good support system. I did. I still do. I have a wonderful, and fairly large circle of family and wonderful friends- several of whom I could literally call upon at any hour of the day or night. But still, somethings we go through leave us feeling very isolated in our struggles. . .in our fear and doubt. . . in our pain. I felt very much like that when I experienced the devastation of a miscarriage, and again when my son was diagnosed.
Here's the thing. My son wasn't mentally retarded. He also wasn't dying of cancer or something like that. When a diagnosis like that is made, a support system usually whips into high gear. I don't think people really understand what it is like to be sitting in an doctor's office for hours. . . and then to have that doctor turn to you and say the words, "Yes, he has autism" . . . It's kind of like time stops for a moment and you feel yourself being sucked into a black hole for a moment. For that instant you feel nothing and everything at the same time. Somehow you get snapped back into the here and now, and have to deal with the news you've just received.
Then you have to tell other people. You have to call the grandparents, your siblings, your friends. Most people don't understand. How could they? A few people even said they disagreed with the doctors. Some seemed to think I was exaggerating the issue in some way- as if to gain sympathy or something? I don't care WHO you are or WHAT you believe about autism. . . Being looked in the eye by a professional and told your son has autism is a FRIGHTENING EXPERIENCE. It is something you never dream will happen to you. . .and it's something I wouldn't wish on anyone. . .
My son's issues were not as clearly visible to the casual observer. The struggles we went through were very much wrestled with in the privacy of our home, and in the mundane or day-to-day living. I believe it was very much "out-of-sight, out-of-mind" to a majority of people in my life. Even my husband was out-or-touch with a lot of it. Although he was there for the initial diagnosis, he had to work. I was the one who had to spend hour and hour w/ therapists, and on the phone with insurance companies, and driving to and from various appointments. Also, I had a 6 month old daughter at this point too. Life was chaotic. It took awhile to emerge from the fog. . .
Here we are now- 3.5 years after the diagnosis. We have made INCREDIBLE progress. My son is recovering from autism. He's not totally out of the woods, but it is very true now that most people would "never know". . .
I feel as though I have healed a lot from the initial trauma of this experience. I feel as though I have walked through this valley and I'm on the other side finally. We may have a set-back here or there. . .God only knows what the future holds. . .But I feel strong. I feel incredibly grateful to God for seeing us through this.
So, with this very unceremonious blog, I am releasing this. . . I'm releasing it all. It was what it was. . . .it is what it is. . .and it will be what it will be. . . And I'm going to change courses with my blog. I am no longer focusing on just my trials and triumphs with my son. . . .but on my life as a whole. This will always be a piece of the puzzle. But just a piece. There is so much more. I can't wait to see what comes next.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Binder

That bag had been hanging on the back of the basement door forever. I almost didn't even notice it anymore. I hadn't touched it in months. But, I was doing some cleaning and organizing, so I took it down and started to go through it. In it, was that fat, orange, 3 ring binder. That binder had been my lifeline at one point. I remember the day I bought it.
My 3 year old son had just been diagnosed with autism. I didn't cry. I read. I researched. I bought the binder. One website suggested starting a binder full of "autism stuff". It warned that the parent of an autistic kid would be overwhelmed with information, paperwork, phone numbers, doctors' referrals, etc . . .and that a binder was a necessary tool to tame the chaos.
So I organized the binder. I re-organized the binder. I typed out phone numbers, made lists, made copies, made tabs. . .I flipped through it again and again. I took it with me everywhere. I sat in the waiting room during my son's occupational therapy, and I thumbed through it mindlessly. I took it to the pediatrician, to the psychologist, to the therapist. It sat on my passenger's seat when I ran errands. After all, wasn't it supposed to help tame the chaos? As long as that binder was there, everything was under control.
That binder meant that it wasn't my fault. The autism wasn't my fault. I was a good mom! I mean, just LOOK at that binder! Doesn't that prove it!? Doesn't that prove that I have it all together?!
If only people knew. I think most of the people in my life really had no idea. . . it didn't mean anything to them. It didn't change their life. It wasn't a big deal. It didn't show. . the chaos. . .it was all in the binder.
It's been 2 years since I've looked through that binder. Funny how life went on, even though the binder was forgotten in a blue bag, hanging on the back of the basement door. It seems like another lifetime now, as I read through the pages and pages of psychological evaluations, pamphlets on autism, checklists, and other forms. Somehow, we made it through. It wasn't the binder. No, the binder never listened. The binder didn't care. I found strength in my whispered prayers. I found hope in different pages. Pages of a book written thousands of years ago.
I almost threw that binder away tonight- a gesture of "making it". But, this journey isn't over yet. I may not need the binder anymore, but I think I'll keep it as a reminder. A reminder of how far we've come. . .

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

We did it :-)

Not sure who was more nervous- me or him! But, we both survived (minus a few tears on my part). Thank you God!