Monthly Archives: April 2013

Clean my plate

Growing up one of the things we always had to do was clean our plates.  We had a very long bar in the kitchen that the 4 kids and mom and dad sat at.  And, we literally had to sit there until everything was eaten on our plates – even if we didn’t like it.  There were things each of us didn’t particularly care for — mine would have been liver and onions (double yuck) and cherries.  I remember one of my brothers having to sit there literally most of a day because he wouldn’t eat something.  I can still remember the meals around that table and swapping of food with each other when we could.  I can still smell the roast with gravy and shoe string fries that we made into hot roast beef sandwiches on Sundays.  My mothers very sweet tea (I think she sent her recipe down from Heaven to McDonalds).  Texas sheet cake, her homemade peanut butter candy mixed by hand, chili, mashed potato soup, grilled cheese with Cellone’s bread and longhorn cheese, homemade mac-n-cheese always served with baked beans, tuna noodle casserole.  I remember when visitors came for meals, she expected them to try everything and also clean their plates – Jim got initiated in early with this rule and her tuna noodle casserole.  My desk is my Grandma Frazee’s kitchen table and oh the memories of doing crafts and having tea with lots of sugar in milk that run over into a little green bowl (that I have since found and bought on ebay).  We cleaned our plate there too  – I even remember cow tongue being on the menu on occasion… I never did have to eat her raw oysters though (guess she was a little more forgiving on eating foods I didn’t like – thank goodness!)

As I have grown older and have a family of our own.  Many things are different, but some are the same….

Few meals happen around our kitchen table (sad but true), but love when we sit around the table (like tonight) and just laugh and enjoy each others company.  Granted, the conversation topic has really decreased with home/cyber schooling because our contacts with the outside world ihas shrunk.

The meals together have become a phone free zone – except if we are in a restaurant and Sam needs distractions to prevent melt downs he has my Kindle.   It is easy to physically there together, but more important to be emotionally there.

I do fix most meals from scratch except for the occasional box of mac-n-cheese which may be once a month with hamburgers.  But, many meals don’t happen at home, they happen on the run. So what kind of memories am I leaving with my children.

I can’t really use the excuse of having games and practices to get too – although Mary’s dance would have once been an excuse.  I do work 4 out of 3 evenings a week – but that could leave 3 sacred days that we gather.  We just always seem to be busy, but really it is about not making it a priority…

About priorities and cleaning my plate.  I can learn a lot and apply to life. My time should truly reflect my priorities… If I say..

  • My spiritual walk with Christ is a priority, then I should spend time with him.
  • My husband is a priority then I should be making time to invest in our marriage
  • My children are a priority then I should be making memories with them
  • My family (parents and grandparents) then I should make time for them

But here is what has happened… my PLATE has become too full!

Work, Saying yes to more commitments, Lack of organization costing me time, Computer time that I could spend with family.  Instead of cleaning my plate, I just try to make the daily plate of 24-hours get bigger so I can fit more stuff.  My to-do list would cover it in just one serving…

I want to be INTENTIONAL about CLEANING MY PLATE.

1. Don’t put things on it that I don’t like – unless I have to (like doing taxes) –  now that I am grown up, I don’t have to “eat” the things I don’t like, but find myself often enduring those things for a variety of reasons – not wanting to say no, feeling I need to be the one always adjusting things for others.

2. Remember portion control – I can put things on my plate but they need to be in portion of priority… I need to have big servings of God, family, and less of social media

3. Make room for dessert – the special time with the special people in my life

4. Keep my plate clean by keeping things off of it that are not necessary – say no to more and yes to only the things that matter.

5. Second helpings are permissible only of the things that matter to me.

I get so envious of people who figure out ways to have “ME” time or seem to have their life schedule in perfect harmony (although if I looked behind closed doors they may suffer to) – but it is just about portion sizes of my priorities, second helpings of only the things I love, and always room for dessert (making memories).

Unfortunately, it is often only through trials or troubles that I really pause to examine what is on my plate.  My prayer is that this does not have to keep happening.  Instead, I want to clean my plate and fill it with the things/people that truly feed my soul, so when I go through a trial / trouble, I am nourished and not full of regret of the things I wish I would have placed on my plate!

 And I figured out that the reason I couldn’t get through the day as well as I can now is because I had too many things on my mind, on my plate, you know, for one person to have. So I started to eliminate some of the things that were too heavy to carry and unnecessary.Erykah Badu

TEARS.. lead to lessons

Anymore I can just cry… cry over a song, the news, watching our kids succeed or fail… I have been known to pull off the road because I am crying so hard I can’t see.  I have cried watching the news…  I have cried watching TV shows…

I am a very firm believer that ever incident in life… every death… should NOT be in vain.  It is a moment to learn from – it does not have to happen to me to impact my life.  I am going to do this from most recent to oldest

Today, I sobbed.  I heard the 9-1-1 call from the Texas Explosion and heard fireman are down.  They were volunteers leaving their families to fight a fire.. to save people… The last I heard there are still some missing at the scene.  I am blessed to have a respectable honorable husband who serves as a volunteer fire fighter.  When I heard that call, I became part of the scene in Texas, because at any moment my husband, the incredible father to our children, is not guaranteed to return after serving as a volunteer.  I remember the two big structure fires of Nemacolin and the MillRunChurch and listening to the scanner non-stop. Hearing fireman were injured.. I needed that reminder today so I am a better wife to him.  I make sure he knows I love him and nothing goes unsaid.  That I love without regret…

The BostonMarathon.  Jim called me and asked if I heard.  It was like him calling me on 9-11 as I walked into work near the PittsburghAirport.  It was a bad dream.  I was thankful to be at work that night or I would have been sucked in by the media.  But just as 9-11, America stuck together.  I sat tonight and watch the first singing of the National Anthem at the Bruins game and watched as the firefighters came on the ice.. the singer started.. and then the crowd joined in.  I cried.  They both affected America… but I think it was a great reminder of the need to unite… the goodness of people… We have to keep that feeling or the incident and those deaths will be in vain.

I was glued to the TV when I heard the little boy being held hostage in Alabama had Aspergers.  I could still cry thinking about it.  But I felt for those parents and could only imagine what that little boy was thinking without all of his favorites.  It made me hug my children tighter and think about safety things for Sam.  It made me slow down and capture the little things.  What amazing strength by that little boy. That could have been our son.  And was so thankful when he was freed safely.

When the recent school shootings happened, I was in shock.  I could not imagine being in those parent’s shoes.  But as the news came out that the shooter had Asperger’s and that was being used as a reason it happened… I became part of that story because they demonized Aspergers.  If you know our son and read the story of him and the little girls yesterday – he is a helper.   I learned that it will become my everyday job to protect and defend our son from the idiots of society.  I was especially grateful to know that our kids were home – safe and sound and it gently confirmed my reason to home school.

I can’t let any of these things NOT change me or they will be in vain.  Lessons

  • I can’t control what happens to me, only my reaction to it
  • Slow down and enjoy every moment instead of rushing through life.
  • Say I love you more often and show it in my actions, not just the words
  • Counting blessings everyday is a necessity – not a luxury
  • I cannot live in fear as it will rob me of precious moments and memories.
  • Good will always out number evil – and my good deeds should always out number thoughts of revenge.
  • Evil will always try to win – despite all the laws in the land – but it’s my choice if I let it (or if I fight back).
  • Any moment can be the one that life will change forever.
  • Every moment can be a teachable moment… some are life changing.. some life giving.. some life taking – but none should allow a life / death be in vain.
  • Sometimes prayer is all I can do… but the One I pray to has infinite powers.

I have officially cried my way through this blog.  I have to be intentional to not let the life or lesson of another pass me by — every story could be mine…

CRYING OUT

This week I listened to a series of podcasts about 8 amazing men of the Bible… and at Ladies Bible Study we started 12 women of the Bible.  I have been so blessed… The one that struck me the other night was about Peter and walking on the water.  Growing up, I had always thought about because Peter took his eyes off of God, he began to sink.  Which, is often true for my life.  When I get my eyes off focus, God does something to get my intention — and many times I feel like I am sinking!

Sinking in my crazy chaotic schedule… Sinking in my self-pity… sinking in my overwhelmed chaos… I am sure many others have felt this way too, and it is good to know I am not alone in these feelings.  All the while I am sinking, it is because I have taken my eyes off what matters.

Pator Furtick points out some things I never noticed in Matthew 14:22-32

Vs. 22 – Jesus MADE the disciples get in the boat and go ahead of him – yes He wanted to go to the mountainside by himself to pray (vs 23)  – but that he sent them ahead KNOWING a storm was coming.  In vs 26 He is walking as if to pass them by until they CRIED OUT in fear and He stopped and assured them vs. 29 Peter got out of the boat and started to walk on the water until he was afraid and started to sink.  IMMEDIATELY Jesus reached out his had and caught him.  Pastor Furtick points out that this story has really nothing to do about Peters faith BUT of GODS AWESOME GRACE.

 Take away points

  • Sometimes God sends me into a storm – maybe to see where my faith is and/or to show me where He is.  I have to believe that no matter the storm, he is there
  • If Jesus needed to go up on the mountainside ALONE to pray to God – how much more do I need this?  He was perfect and I am far from perfect
  • Sometimes God may be walking past me, waiting for ME to cry out.  He hears me when I cry out in fear, in doubt, in pain, in confusion… but oh how I am sure He would love to hear me cry out in faith.  Faith that no matter what happens and I start to sink, he will IMMEDIATELY reach out.

MY CONFESSIONS (we did a lot of this the other night at Ladies Bible Study and it is so amazing to be able to share them without judgment).

  • Many of the storms in my life are self-created.  Created from letting my circumstances get out of control.  However, some storms in my life I would have NEVER chose – our infertility, health issues, our miscarriage, etc.  And though, at times, I honestly did not like His choices and was certain He was NOT in the circumstance… He was waiting for me to cry out.
  • My ALONE time is almost non-existent – and without that time, how can I really HEAR what HE has to say.  (I said this would be a confession).   I think I have become so reliant on myself that I just wait for the storm to call out to Him.  And well, when I think of storms I think of the noise of them.  How can I hear him in the storm if I don’t become still (Psalm 46:10).   I become so busy…  I always think about the quote from Oprah “How you spend your time defines who you are.’  (and that just may need to become a whole separate blog).
  • I hate to ask for help.  CRYING OUT to God, to friends, to family, to anyone, is difficult for me.  Partly because I don’t want to be judged by other people.  Partly because I don’t want to admit to weaknesses.  Partly because I don’t want to inconvenience other people.  And to be honest, I think sometimes I must believe I can do it all – even walk on water (LOL).
  • How about how many times I have or have seen others CRY OUT on Facebook or to their friends about how bad a situation is, but do not CRY OUT to God?
  • How many times has my delay in CRYING OUT (because I don’t like for help) make my storm last longer?  Even the stupid little storms that start as a drizzle of rain and turns into a torrential downpour because I didn’t cry out sooner?

I had this whole blog done last night with the intention to post this morning and then I read something that caught me a little off my comfort zone.  What if God has put me in a position to be His arms, and I am so busy and self-absorbed that I don’t hear the voice of someone CRYING OUT that He meant for ME to hear?

I need to be more intentional.. in my quiet time.. and in my CRYING OUT.  And may I be intentional in calming the busyness of life and my self-absorption that I can hear others CRY OUT.

Psalms 18:6 But in my distress I cried out to the LORD; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears.

The Blame Game

Blame game – I think everyone has played this game at least once in their life.  Unfortunately, I know some people who always play the game.  Sometimes the game is harmless, for instance:

  • do poorly bowling – blame on the shoes, the ball, the wax on the alley, etc
  • do poorly with Frisbee – blame in on the wind
  • do poorly playing football – blame on the weather, injured players, etc..
  • stub my toe in the middle of the night – blame on lighting, the bed moved, etc..
  • the weather – blame on Mother Nature, a ground hog, etc…
  • blame my husband for our son loving 3 Stoogies, Abbott & Costello, Lord of the Rings

I could list several more.  Some are a little more intense

  • burn hand on stove – blame on having to cook for family vs. me not being careful
  • running out of gas in car – blame on the fuel gage being off vs. not filling up before then
  • abnormal lab results (high triglycerides) – blame ALL on genetics and not some responsibility for food choices or lack of exercise

My daughter really HATES when I use the word choice, but she has been using it more lately herself.  A big portion of the blame game is about choice for instance

  • If I have a bad day – I can BLAME on weather, work, people breathing (lol) or can choose to see the blessings in the day.
  • If I loose my temper with family – blame on the above bad day vs. choosing not to take out on the innocent

As a society, we play the BLAME game

  • Blame obesity on fast food restaurants – but going to the restaurant is a choice and what one orders at the restaurant is a choice
  • Blame busy schedule for no quiet time with God… no time to exercise, etc.. – but choice to spend hours on Facebook, playing games, sitting in front of TV, etc..

There are times BLAME is appropriate

  • When an accident is the result of a D.U.I. – someone is to BLAME because of someone elses bad choices
  • When abuse is inflicted on a person – someone is to BLAME and unfortunately the innocent pay.

But that is NOT the BLAME I am talking about

Biblical example, as we discussed Eve in the Ladies’ Bible Study tonight – she was approached by the Serpent, Satan to eat the one thing she was told NOT to eat.  The BLAME GAME, by Eve, may have sounded like this

  • Blame God for putting something forbidden in the garden
  • Blame God for making the ONE item enticing to the eyes
  • Blame God for putting a snake in the garden (if it was perfect there would not be snakes – lol)
  • Blame God for letting Satan approach and tempt her
  • Blame Adam for not being with her to stop her from her bad choice
  • Blame the snake / Satan because he is the one who tempted her
  • Blame being hungry and having an uncontrollable craving for that one fruit

However, it was a CHOICE – Eve could have walked away.  Granted the snake/Satan probably would have continued to follow her.  Eve could have talked to her spouse before making the decision.  Eve could have talked to HER MAKER.  But she chose the ONE THING (the only thing) in a beautiful garden and listenedto Satan.

As As a parent of a child with autism – there are many blame games.  Some people have asked me “what caused it” –  vaccines, his reflux when he stopped breathing, etc.  There are studies saying that an action by the mom may be responsible.  I completely understand that some believe that vaccinations caused their child’s autism, and that is their right and they know there child.  I, on the other hand,  have chosen that if I consume my life with the BLAME GAME, I will miss out on the blessing given to me. Our son is amazing! Instead of saying something / someone is the BLAME for his autism, I say God just wanted to bless my life in an amazing way.  I think I mentioned before that a friend of mine says “everyone needs a Sam in their life”.  He has taught me lessons that I may not have other wise known.  He teaches me to slow down… enjoy little things…look at the world differently… being honest… unconditional love…  I choose not to BLAME but the solution game – how can I make a difference in his life (and absorb the daily lessons of his love).

Blame is an easy way for me to

  • dodge responsibility and not make a wiser choice
  • get out of doing something I may not want to do
  • taking the focus off of me and putting it on someone else
  • not looking for a solution— and even worse not looking to God for THE SOLUTION

And as I let the Blame Game consume my time, I may just miss out that what I have been given was in Gods perfect plan – maybe to teach me a valuable lesson, maybe to make me work a little harder, and/or maybe a very special blessing.

AWARENESS (just the first step)

Awareness.  Really it doesn’t really happen until it happens to me or someone I know and/or love.  Unfortunately, it takes that to get my attention.  I think it goes along with believing it will never happen to me (and/or someone I love).  I always think of the statement that “Admittance is the first step to recovery.”  Well, Awareness is the first step to knowledge, understanding, stepping out on faith, and holding onto hope.

I can tell you the exact room we were sitting in at the physician’s office and we had a scholastic book order with us to pass the time.  We went for a routine check up and came out hearing autism for the first time.  Well, Sam was about three and I GOOGLED for more awareness.  We quickly determined she was wrong and moved forward aggressively working on speech.   The checklist for diagnosing was lengthy and I could rationalize every answer on the paper.  We changed doctors – isn’t that what anyone would do if they don’t agree OR don’t like the answer?   Oh, in hindsight….

Sam started Kindergarten and I can tell you all the “signs”…

Sam started first grade and I can tell you all the ‘signs”…

Sam started second grade and we could no longer ignore the “signs”… I walked into parent teacher night and I knew…and though you should never compare your child, I knew… I knew that if we did not due something about the AWARENESS we would do him no favors.

I had been AWARE of differences, but rationalized them out. Awareness is just the first step to seeking knowledge.

I remember taking the test that I had to complete for Samuel’s diagnosing – hundreds of questions and I just answered questions sitting at Monroe Muffler waiting for my Envoy.   But once I read the questions, they were then stored in my mind and I was more AWARE of what they were looking for.  I had to go back and change many questions – and not in the direction I wanted to answer them.  I had not realized what I believed to be his quirks were not “normal” – everything from his food choices, his language, his delays, his coordination.  And though after reading the manual and going through the process, I knew and was AWARE of the diagnosis, it did NOT make it easier to hear.   Because all of the testing, all of the education plans, etc.. just pointed out everything that was weak, not normal,  and needed fixed.  I was AWARE that on that day, things changed.

AWARENESS by itself isn’t enough – it is important to take action.  That is true for everything…

  • A dear friend became AWARE of a lump but had she not taken action for work-up it would have continued to spread and worsened the diagnosis.

Being AWARE…

  • of the number on the scale is not enough if I don’t do something to change it.
  • of a stop sign but not stopping is risking my life unnecessarily.
  • that someone is hurting but not reaching out to let them know I care defeats the awareness.
  • the Christ died on the cross and is risen but not asking him into my heart will not get me into heaven.

AWARENESS can be heartbreaking.  Every time we had an individualized education plan meeting or update, the focus was always on the weaknesses.  Often, I have to explain why he is different (to make others aware).   Probably the hardest AWARENESS is when we are with other kids his age and he is so different (which is okay), but he is often rejected.  Then it is important to also point out all his strengths to others and just embrace that they have no idea what they are missing out by not getting to know him.   It is my job to EDUCATE.

EDUCATION is imperative for any awareness – for the number on the scale I need to educate myself how to change it… for a friend who is hurting how I can reach out to them… etc.    I have to educate myself on autism so I can better understand.. so I can find opportunities to improve his life… so I can educate others.

AWARENESS can be a gift!  Once I am aware that things are going to be different than what I expected, it can be freeing (remember my rule is expect nothing and never get disappointed – I learned this multiple times).   When I had a boy, I expected the stereotypical sports, boy scouts, etc.  Had I stuck to those expectations, I would have tried to make him “fit”.  I would have missed out on the many other blessings that he brings to our life because I would be stuck in the mourning of what may never be.  I would have missed out on the imagination, angry birds coming to life, the hilarious conversations, the ever ending train tracks, etc.

AWARENESS also means letting go of “the box”. I look back and am so thankful we delayed the “label” of autism, because it would have been easy to let the diagnosis determine his path… instead of  letting Sam be Sam and determine his limits.  It is like I use to tell my cancer patients, only look at the “survival rate” if you determine to be part of the survival number.  If your mindset becomes part of the death rate, you are already defeated.  So although we are aware that Sam is 1 in 88 (or 50 is the latest) – I do not dwell on that because he is too unique to fit in a statistic.

However, magic happens when others become AWARE of Sam and his quirks.  When I hear others talk about how he makes them smile, his honesty, and his imagination, it is then AWARENESS is a blessing.  I have an incredible friend who always says everyone needs a Sam in their lives!  When we went for the PSSA testing and teacher who worked one-on-one with him spent time with me on the last day saying how smart, polite, and caring, etc… he was – my heart swelled.

But, this is true for anything in life – once I am aware I have an issue – it means I need to

  • Take action on the awareness
  • Educate myself and share with others
  • Prepare for the heartbreak
  • Let go of expectations and limits
  • Open the heart to endless possibilities

May I be intentional everyday on being more aware and taking the steps it requires.  Today, we wear BLUE in honor of Sam (although he would have chose orange or pink) for Autism Awareness Day.   But everyday is AWARENESS that God blessed us with an amazing son whose life has no limits.