Category Archives: Intentional Living

THANKSGIVING vs THANKS-LIVING

I have loved the thankful posts everyday by so many on Facebook.  It has been a great month, which likely end either tomorrow or the end of the month.  I have seen people who have been grateful this month that complain every other day.  I have seen people who continue to be negative and post nothing about being grateful; therefore, they are hidden from my news feed.  It makes it harder when they are good friends and even harder for me when they are Christians.

  • Every day God gives new mercies (Lamentations 3:23).  Every day I am alive I get a fresh start.  But some days it takes extra for me to leave the baggage behind.  I have the magnet on the refrigerator reminding me NEW MERCIES!
  • Enter his gates with Thanksgiving, enter His courts with praise (Psalm 100:4) – I do not see anything about whining and complaining.  This year I have had 3 people close to me going through cancer.  They may have mentioned some of their symptoms, but everyday they continued to praise God.  So even when health is not good, we can be thankful to be alive!
  • Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.…(I Thessalonians 5:16-18)   I think this would be a great tattoo.  I think if I am always rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks, I can’t be judging, whining, and worrying.

Mary hates the word, but it is so true – it is all about choice in this lifetime.  God gave us free will to choose.  I can choose to praise Him despite the circumstances or curse Him because of the circumstances.  I can choose to focus on Him (who can solve all problems) or focus on the problem (which will never solve itself).   God knows when things are tough, and guess what He is already standing right in the middle of that problem.  The issue is I am so busy trying to take care of it myself, that I can’t see Him.  Some situations that are tough for many right now:

  • Loosing a parent or loved one  –  I can focus on how tough it is, all my questions why taken so soon, and sadness  or choose to: rejoice I had them in my life, the memories I had with them, knowing they are in Heaven and don’t want to come back, and they want ME to be happy and living life!
  • Health issues – I can focus on how it impacts my day, makes me feel, etc.. or choose to: focus on being alive, doing what I can do to make a difference.  My mom was a model of this – despite her declining health she did what she could for herself and others. Eventually being able to do NOTHING for herself (including feeding herself, etc.) she still was an amazing listener and was still thankful – she still used her ears and mouth the only things that didn’t require movement.  She would get mad and frustrated, but NEVER stopped praising God.  Oh what a legacy…
  • Autism – I have mentioned before I could question why God gave us a child with Autism or I can choose (which I do every day) to focus on what an amazing blessing he is to us.  How blessed we are to be chosen to have him.  Do I worry some days about his future? Do I cry? YEP, but then I choose to look at what a miracle he is and totally change the focus from the problem to the blessing.  I have recently agreed to help for The Lucas Fund (please check it out at https://www.facebook.com/thelucasfund). I love it because it was started by parents with a child with Autism who wanted to help others walking the same road.  They could have focused on the “oh why me” but instead focused on what can I do to help others – they changed it to a blessing!

The other day this was part of my thankful list  – let me set the stage.. I had worked really hard to get the living room cleaned up and vacuumed before going into work the night before.  I came home to no evidence of ever cleaning.  I slept in a little later than I had planned.  Our children are night owls like me so mornings are not always great.  We had several appointments and places to be.  Sam was slow getting up and the dog was driving me crazy until he did.   Jim called me first thing that morning needing something (keep in mind the poor guy had cereal once again for supper the night before without a complaint!)  A friend was having a rough day and really needed some strength, and it put into perspective my little complaints.  Mary was taking extra long to get ready.  Things were definitely not as I planned.  I could have posted “there are days I am not sure why I even get out of bed.  My kids are driving me crazy.  No one appreciates how hard I work etc… “ and started screaming.    Instead I drank a cup of tea in my cup with my reminder to live today with passion… talked to a friend on the phone (because me rushing them would have only made things worse), and posted the following in the morning (which rarely happens – but this day I needed to count blessings and not burdens… an attitude of gratitude not grumbling…)  By posting the positive it switched my mindset for the entire day.  I focused on the goodness of God and not the craziness of life.

  • 1. a living room floor full of toys leaving no evidence of the vacuuming one yesterday means I have an imaginative little boy (that we were told we would never have) –
    2. a dog who is so excited when “his boy” awakens and heads down the stairs – not sure who is happier to see who
    3. a beautiful daughter who cares what she looks like before she walks out of the home
    4. children who are like their momma – night owls… makes afternoons so much easier
    5. a hot cup of tea in my favorite mug EVER that makes me think of my friend who replaced the first one that fell and broke
    6. my mugs message – LIVE TODAY WITH PASSION – great reminder every day!
    7. a prayer request from a friend and her reminder on her egg carton – This is the day the Lord has made let us rejoice and be glad in it (p.s. I noticed that on one of cartons too!)
    8. talking to a BFF – not just a text
    9. hearing my husband’s voice on the phone this morning first thing this morning – didn’t get to talk to him yesterday
    10. a fresh start – a new serving of mercies!!!

I focused on the blessings of the day, reminded myself of the promise for a fresh start, and counted blessings.

Where I put my eyes to focus (on God or my burden) will change that moment, that hour, that day, that week, that month.  My children see thankfulness lived out loud.  It changes our crazy chaotic life that could swallow me whole some days into a series of blessings that God blessings me richly every day.   It changes Thanksgiving to being one day a year (or a month on Facebook) to intentional THANKS LIVING (or a life of living thanks!)

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Computer Error Messages and life….

Two messages I seem to get from my computer – No network connections and Not Responding.  How true to life these phrases can become.   Of note, these drive me crazy.  I don’t want to slow down and these phrases result in my speed going from high speed to stop.

The same thing happens in life it seems, I loose network connections.  For instance:

  • I loose contact with friends over time because the connection becomes weak.  I think of my childhood BFF and how we had drifted apart over the years.  It wasn’t that I didn’t miss her, but the connection had gone.  She had moved away and I remained in our hometown.  Her life led her down different pathways and mine kept me here.  However, life events brought us back together and our connection is strong.  We text at least a few times a week and feel like we have picked up where the connection became weak.  I am so grateful for the technology network connection of Facebook and texting that got us back here.
  • I also loose connections with friends and family close by.  Life gets so busy and the hours get filled with things.  My calendar has multiple appointments. I already deplete myself of sleep to squeeze more things in.   Last week it worked out to go out with a couple friends to celebrate a birthday.  It had been over a year, and probably closer to two.  Our conversation and laughter was non-stop.  Did I get any further behind in the day because of the celebration?  Likely not, and even if I had, the reconnection of the friendship network gave me a renewed energy.   As the holiday season quickly approaches may I find more network connections and strengthen them.
  • I also loose my network connection with God at times.  It takes planning and effort to maintain any relationship.  I know, from experience, one-sided friendships really don’t work.  Being the friend is always seeking out the communication and connections can get weary.  The same goes for God.   He hands me the world, but at times I get so wrapped up in the world and everything I want that I miss what is right before me.  Some would say the relationship must be maintained on Sundays in church.  And though, being with my church family does my heart good, it is not the deepness I need.  To me that’s like dating once a week.  It’s like dating and marriage – the more you go out / the longer I am married the more I know my husband.  I know it needs to be a daily event, and well though I speak to God daily, there are times it is honestly shoved between other things I need to get done.  Maybe it’s a short prayer (not that He won’t hear them), or a quick praise (not that He won’t appreciate that).  But, I can’t expect to spend little time with Him and learning about Him and expect to develop the deepness in a relationship.
  • Some of my strongest network connections with God are while driving in the car.  Sometimes it is the perfect song that comes on and I just sing to the top of my lungs (Sam is not in there to tell me to stop).  But often, I intentionally shut the radio off and just spill it, like He is physically sitting next to me.  However, I know that my network connection strength can vary daily with Him.  I have to be the one to take the next step.  I love to listen to the ElevationChurch (Steve Furtick)  podcast and listen several times a week.  When I get to read or have my Kindle read to me, it is a Christian Author, just so I can fill my mind with positive thoughts.  I also have gotten much better about Prayer with FaceBook because I love to lift people up.  They may not come out and say they need a prayer, but I know in my gut they do.  It is one moment in time to lift that person up to a God who already knows their need.

My network connection is definitely a continual work in progress, and I am thankful I serve a God who loves me because of who HE is, not because of what I do.

The other annoying computer issue is “Not Responding”.  When I pull up a computer page and it says it is not responding I want to scream (and Sam does especially if Netflix or YouTube – lol).  There are several other times:

  • I can tell you in every day life, it drives me crazy when I send out an email, a phone call, a text, etc and I do not get a response.  I of course analyze it and feel sometimes disrespected, less important, etc.
  • I have children and a husband, and one thing that can drive me crazy is to yell there name (when they know I am fixing supper) and to get no response or a response of what.  They are NOT responding, or at least not how I want them to.
  • I mentioned earlier that I often reconnect in the car.  Lately, I have been doing a lot of outside work preparing the yard for winter.  Normally, I plug in a podcast or some music and reconnect my network.  However, the last few times I have found myself brewing over some things.  Rewinding them in my mind and hitting the repeat button.  During this time, I have been talking out loud and I am sure God is listening intently.  He is likely expecting my praises and prayers and all He gets is my moaning and groaning.  I am NOT responding the way He wants me to, and He already knows He is NOT responding the way I want Him to (after all, I have some great solutions if He would just listen – LOL).   Of course, the more I brew and hit the rewind button, the more I spew.  It rolls over to my husband in some of our deeper conversation.  What happens, he does NOT respond to my issues (or at least not how I want him to – remember I am the one with the solution – lol).
  • Occasionally (often), our dog does NOT respond the way I want her to.  I can yell and scream at the top of my voice and it may not even touch her reaction.

God, I am sure, sits on His throne, and yells at the top of His voice, and I don’t respond the way He wants me to.  I get so wrapped up in my ways, my visions, my thoughts that I warp them to being “God’s will”.  I have heard people say that such and such is God’s will for their life, and I think to myself “they need a hearing aid”.  From my view point, they are not correct.  However, in Isaiah 55:8-9 it reminds me that His thoughts are NOT my thoughts.   I think of men of the Bible like Jonah, who didn’t initially respond to God’s instructions – he got swallowed by a fish – and in the end did exactly what he was suppose to do initially  had he just responded.  Oh, so many days I am like Jonah, running, instead of just responding.   As irritating as it is when I encounter NOT responding by others, I can only the magnitude that Christ feels everyday.

So maybe the next time I see the No Network Connection and Not Responding on my computer, it can be a self check for my life, my relationship with others, and mostly my relationship with Christ.

In honor – live louder… love harder… dream bigger….

I have been blessed to be a nurse for over twenty-years of my life.  As I type that very sentence I actually am crying over the lives that I have taken care of.  Many of my years were in bedside nursing with cancer patients.  They were always so grateful for the care you provided them, but in reality the gratitude was from me.  They touched my life in ways I could never explain.  Their courage, their strength, their resolve is second to none.  They opened their hearts completely, because when you know your diagnosis can lead to death, you really have NOTHING to loose.  However, we are all going to die with or without a cancer diagnosis.

I mentioned in my last blog about the four women I know fighting cancer, and one lost that fight just a day after my blog.  It truly breaks my heart.  I didn’t really know her well, but I know that she had an amazing family and children that she left behind as she walked through the gates of heaven. She was a nurse and I am sure she will be met not just by family and friends, but all the lives she cared for that preceded her to heaven.  I know how hard loosing a mom is and cry at just the thought of the pain.  I know how hard my mom’s death was on her mother (Grandma Frazee) and my dad.  But, I cling to the many memories of my mom and the life she lived and taught me.

I held the hands of many patients and their families through diagnosis, through treatment, and death.  In fact, I can close my eyes and see the room number and give you names.  When I worked at the bedside it was easy to remember how fragile life was, as I had the daily reminder.   I still see some patients that I cared for in the community or recently when someone was visiting a family member.  I saw him and knew his face and even his room number.  He laughed.  Those I don’t see physically I can close my eyes and see I could honestly name hundreds and the memories we shared.  Maybe I need to close my eyes a little more often to remember them and to honor them.

As I mentioned, we are all guaranteed death.   Most patients would say how the diagnosis was the wake up call for priorities.  I have also taken care of trauma patients who never got the “Wake up call’ but were still faced with a life altering event.  The hardest were probably the ones who did not survive an unexpected event (trauma, heart attack, stroke, etc..) and never had the chance to say everything, do everything, reprioritize, etc.   I think of even my mom, whose life was taken early. But prior to her life being taken, so was her walking and ability to care for her family and herself.

I see death many days still in my nursing career.  I also have 3 close friends/family diagnosed with breast cancer just this year.  However, so many days of my life I live like it cannot happen to me.  I don’t live to the fullest.  I hold back on dreams and desires.  I waste hours each week on things that will not matter.  I get wrapped up in drama that is not necessary.  I let too much time pass before I reach out to family / friends.  I let my heath go because of course obesity and diabetes won’t kill me.  I let my life and home be cluttered by things that hold no value. I hold back on my hugs, love, and laughter.  I don’t slow down as much as I need to.  I get absorbed into the daily news and let it depress me.  I don’t make the memories because I don’t have time (really I don’t make time).  My priorities are often out of order.  The list continues…

Why is it I often need the BIG events to wake me up and re-evaluate.  I have many in my memory bank.   But, unfortunately, I quickly get back into the daily rhythm of life and go back to living my daily life and throwing away many precious moments.  I have always felt I should not let someone’s diagnosis or death be in vain.  I love seeing fundraisers for a great cause, scholarships established in honor of a loved one, etc.    Their life, their fight, their battle should be my wake up call.   For my mom, I should walk everyday and praise God that I can.  For those who are no longer here, I should hug more, love more, and make sure my words and actions count.   I have watched my friends with breast cancer continue to praise God through the storm while being honest of how tough the battle.  I should let their battle permanently stamp an imprint on my heart to LIVE LOUDER, LOVE HARDER, HUG TIGHTER, DREAM BIGGER, DO BETTER, and MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

My prayer, Dear Lord, is first you comfort those who has a loved one who now resides with you.  Wrap your loving arms around them so tight they can feel your breath.  May their life and those who continue the battles, the struggles, be a daily/constant lesson and reminder to me that life on this earth and in this body is temporary.  Help me honor them by living my life  intentionally to the fullest without excuses.  May the close of every day I reflect and know I honored them, my family, my friends.  That I was in fact a good and faithful servant.  And anytime I slack into my old ways, may I be (gently) reminded of the preciousness of every moment.  Thank you for new mercies everyday. 

A spark.. some lessons.. a finish line…

So when your teenage daughter tells you she misses your blogs.. you better get writing.  Mary and I were talking on how I missed writing and had several ideas and started several blogs and why I haven’t written (you know the list of excuses) and she said she really missed them.  So here it is from my long blog break – lessons from a 5K

On Saturday, as I walked in the 5K something started to change and then reminders through the last few days just added to that.  On Sunday, my BFF from childhood was at the Steelers Breast Cancer Survivor game, because she is a survivor and still undergoing chemo to beat breast cancer (along with my friend at church who just finished the treatments and my cousin who is still in phases of treatment).  In the past couple of days extra prayers have been requested for Paige who is fighting for her life, not just for herself, but for her children I am sure.  Four amazing women, just this year, whose lives have been completely changed.  I have a choice in life (my favorite word for Mary – choice), to use all of these events to change me (and then their suffering and battle is in vain) or sit back and pretend it can’t happen to me.  LESSON – important lessons are around us everyday, often experienced by people we love — I should NOT let their battles be in vain, but learn from them and make my life better in HONOR of them.

So the 5K… first of all it is for Autism and to help local children.  Many of you know that Autism has touched our family.  When you have your child, most do not think it can happen to them.  It is the assumption that you will have a perfectly healthy baby and live happily ever after – playing sports, playing video games or Barbies, boy scouts or girl scouts.  I even had the big SUV to haul all of us and their friends everywhere.  But, there are no friends, no sports; however… there are STILL BLESSINGS!  (This is a whole other blog).

Anyway, for MONTHS I have been “planning” to “prepare” for the 5K and get in shape and be “ready”.  Guess what… that didn’t happen.  Prior to the race, I had NEVER even walked that distance… do NOT exercise/walk on any consistent basis… and only exercise is mowing the grass and vacuuming on our home.  BUT, I was doing this is HONOR of Sam.  I had the perfect day planned and signed up our whole family. Well, we didn’t all participate, just Mary and I.  I imagined many friends/family doing the event, and at first disappointed more didn’t offer (just being honest).   FYI – This is why I try to not expect anything and it saves me from disappointment.   I quickly let go of the expectation and realized that just because people didn’t participate didn’t mean the cause wasn’t important (and even deeper Sam wasn’t important).  This walk for ME was about Honoring Sam, but he can be honored so many other ways (a smile by Sam who cuts his hair, Katie remembering his favorite cookies, Bev always seeing little things for him, understanding when he is playing games in church, Andrea swimming and playing with him, etc… the list goes on of people who honor him every day).  We had several friends there who walked and had I focused on the ones not attending, I would have missed out on those that did!  LESSON: Honor is defined differently by each individual person.  Their way is NOT my way, but it does not diminish the intent.

So, Saturday arrives and off we go, with NO IDEA of what was ahead.  Remember, I had never done a 5K and did NOT prepare for this.  I heard people talking about stretching and I was thinking, stretching – what is that (lol)? I go down a hill and then see the hill I have to go up and think “what was I thinking?… I can’t do this!… this is too hard!… why is the trail not FLAT?”  Negative, negative, negative.  I paused on the hill and said to myself “why am I doing this?!?.. FOR SAM!”  and kept thinking of one of his most recent favorite phrases – JUST KEEP FOCUSED.  For example, at the zoo I kept saying we were going to here and then there.  He just wanted to get to the tigers or penguins and said now “JUST KEEP FOCUS”. And I climbed the hill – slowly but not crawling ( =  LESSON: Just keep focus!

All along the route there were young runners from the Uniontown Cross Country team cheering us on.  A golf cart ready to pick up the weary, and since I was one of the one bringing up the rear, I got the offer for a lift often (lol).  After climbing the BIG hill then the many small hills didn’t look so bad.  LESSON – It is important to put things into perspective.  When I think of my friends fighting cancer, my little things really are just little things.    

I was determined to finish the 5K.  Even if last… even if crawling… even if I couldn’t get out of bed the next day…  But as I walked, I had lots of time to think (to help mask the pain).  When I would start to sink into the ‘I can’t do this” I would look at the button I had Sam make that said “I WALK4SAM”.  LESSON – Remember my purpose – sometimes I just need the little reminders of why I do what I do.  

I finished in a little over an hour… The time wasn’t what was important to me, it was FINISHING THE RACE.  In fact, I made a wrong turn and thought I had finished and then I saw Laura and she said you beat me.  I knew I didn’t and realized that I had made a wrong turn.  At first I was oh well, wrong turn.  But then I knew I had to finish the race exactly as I was meant to. So I saw the people who were behind me (only because they were walking very leisurely) and I caught up with them and finished the race the correct way.  It was important to me.  And so I did (so I finished #54 – not #41).  LESSON – it is not about how long it takes for anything that’s important – all that matters is I finish.

I was feeling good that day I wore my orange pin, orange shirt, bright pink scarf – all Sam’s favorite colors.   I was going to do this walk no matter what!  Pure determination! I am so glad I didn’t know about the route, the hills, and how far 3.5 miles really is.  I probably wouldn’t have done it!   But still I carried 100 extra pounds on my body, and I am sure it made the walk that much harder.  There were people that RAN that distance, people that were much older than me that did that same distance – all in less time.  Very humbling.  Then I saw the pictures today, you know the saying a picture speaks a thousand words! Yes, I finished and I did it to honor Sam, but that was just one race, one day, one moment… WHAT can I do everyday to honor Sam, Mary, my husband, God, MYSELF?  I can take care of MYSELF.   I have no excuse now, I walked a 5K with 100 extra pounds and it didn’t kill me.  If I really want to honor them, that has to be the beginning.  LESSON – the finish line can really become a new starting line!

Thank you Mary for the spark that got me to write again… Thank you Sam for being you and inspiring me to walk a 5K…Amazing the things I can do if I JUST KEEP FOCUS!  On my mark, get ready, get set… GO!!!

A New Route

I have started this blog at least 10 times as it is listing as Document 10 on my screen.  Every time I started before it was pouring out my heart of all the areas I am struggling with.  I am cautious of being that honest for who may be reading this blog, the judgments by some, and some of my friends will worry if I am okay and tell me how good of a mom, etc. I am.  The other problem is if I keep standing in this same stop sign of insecurity and remain emotional, I will never move past it.   Sometimes I just need to STOP, look all ways, and just move forward.  STOP looking behind me.  I will be honest enough to say I have really been struggling and torn with many areas of my life – as a wife, a mother, a friend, a daughter, etc…  Feeling like I am just not where I need to be, but not even knowing where that is or how to get there.  I have definitely uncovered some emotions that have caught me off guard as what use to be the laid back and nothing bothered me personality I ONCE was. Three of my favorite songs currently are

I am pretty sure they have climbed in my head on several occasions when I was alone in the car and wrote those very lyrics.  Most days I ride in the car with no music because of two reasons my Sirius subscription ended AND a song can make me cry and then I can’t see to drive.  Plus my car can become a great location for some serious alone time with God (unfortunately this is a huge weakness for me… which adds to my beating of myself because I want a better relationship, but consistently fail at it.).

I think what is hitting me the hardest is September is really like MY NEW YEARS.  I have a new calendar, new school year, home schooling starts, routines begin, my schedule fills quickly, etc.    However, with the focus on the “new year”, I realize how miserably I have failed at my word – INTENTIONAL.

I have been so blessed to watch the words of others come to life and to some they ‘lived their word out loud”.  I love reading their little blurbs/stories of how it has made a difference in their life.  I think I am mad at myself for not living my word out loud.  There were so many areas of my life I wanted to be more intentional about – my relationships, my health, my Christian walk, etc.   As fall approaches, I almost want to get off on the next exit and hide in a hotel for awhile.  If only life was that easy….  I even made an offer to a friend to pick her up and just escape to the beach or a cabin in the woods, just to refocus (assuming I had focus prior – lol).  It isn’t that easy to step away from my life – homeschooling 2 children, work full-time outside the home, a husband, and we can’t forget our crazy dog.

I read a verse this week in a blog and I realize as I write my blog the power of those words.  “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps. (NLT) – Proverbs 16:9 I have been thinking of all of these plans of where I want to be, but have never asked God if that is the steps / directions I should go and often didn’t even start my own life to get to the destination.  It is very hard to get anywhere without starting.  I also have been arrogant enough to believe I could do it by myself without His direction.  I have a few dear friends who definitely had a different plan then the directions God has taken their steps (cancer, loss of job, loss of loved one, etc…).   I know there are times I am pretty sure God’s G.P.S. has lost signal in my life and I am on a route that is completely un-marked.  I am just waiting to hear “turn around whenever possible’.

I look at my life and realize sometimes

  • I thought about plans but the trip looked too long/hard so I never even started.
  • I think sometimes it was because I was carrying too much baggage from the previous trip!
  • I had no plans and so God didn’t even move me in the direction I should go because He wanted me to “own’ my responsibility and make the first step so He could lead me.
  • I had no plans but am so stubborn that I won’t even listen to His G.P.S. for my life.
  • I had plans but SHUT OFF or turned down  the sound on the God’s G.P.S. because I knew the route I wanted
  • I had “great” plans but God lead me other ways.  Some I have yet to understand, but that is where faith and hope steps in.
  • I had plans and they must have aligned with His will and I travel in that direction (oh what a peaceful ride).

I know His word says He has big plans for me ‘I have plans for you Sheri, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you… plans to give you HOPE… plans to give you a FUTURE.’  But I am pretty sure He expects me to take the steps of FAITH instead of sitting at this STOP sign I keep staring at!

I have let myself be stopped long enough with  the worries of my children (even if certain situations that as a mom have broken my heart and I can’t fix them),  feelings like I am not a good enough ______ (wife, mother, daughter, friend), carrying my baggage and burdens instead of casting them upon Him,

Today is a NEW DAY with NEW MERCIES (Lamentations 3:23) and I have an internal G.P.S. to reprogram – looking for a new route with ‘no turning around when possible”.  I have some INTENTIONAL living to do!

Lessons from my children

If this blog were a box of tissues I could fill it on many days.  Well, after some much recent discussion with a good friend, I realize how much I put on the “it’s fine” face, “I am strong” face, “I have it under control” face.  How often I am not just real with the world because then I look weak, out of control, and appear to need sympathy.  I also then have to face my own questions I ask when people say they have a problem and I think “what have you done to fix it?”

Emotions are a very touchy subject in our home.  We have worked a lot with Sam and teaching him “socially acceptable” reactions to things as much as possible. However, there are times; even at Idelwild that all it took was a look at his face and know a meltdown was fast approaching.  When he has had all he can take (the triggers vary), can’t be perfect in his mind, or is faced with a frustration, it is a meltdown.  He doesn’t stuff his feelings but just pours them out.  At times, he can put words to the emotion (he has come so far) and others it is beyond words.  When the meltdowns happen I am usually okay, but times I probably secretly want him to learn how to hold them in when we are in public so others don’t see.  That is truly not because I want to stifle him, but I don’t want his weaknesses bared for others to take advantage of him (kids thinking he is an easy target since a “cry baby”  and adults thinking “what is wrong with him” ) But in reality there is nothing “wrong with him”, Sam is the REAL DEAL and I am a fake.   While he lets the frustration out, he generally quickly moves on to a happier place.  Sometimes we just have to walk away.  He doesn’t harbor the feelings but moves forward.

I have taught Mary to be more like me in more ways than I probably should have.  Granted, she can pour it all out to / against me – especially in our heated “devil advocate” conversations.  But, it is never disrespectful to me just being honest.  However, I have taught her in other situations that if you show them how you feel – THEY WIN!  She can be so much more emotional than I am, and at times that is so hard.  It is hard for me to guide her because I don’t know often what to say or how to say it.  Recently, we talked about a situation and she said another phrase that has stuck in my head (note a reminder of the last thing that sunk into me was something like just because other people have bigger problems does not make my problems any less important).  She said something along the lines (with tears)  of what hurts most is believing that everything we shared together is able to be thrown away, like it never happened and meant nothing.  My suggestion was to her to be honest and say it.  Her reply, but then they will know I am hurt and they win.  MY WORDS of teaching her to be strong and overcome situations so the other person/people do not see the real you… don’t let them win.  My crappy advice has taught her not to be real with her emotions.  It also taints her world that when you are honest with someone you care about that they would honestly be cruel enough to be glad they caused hurt.  And I can think of some situations that I did not save the relationship because I wasn’t honest on how much it hurt.  It honestly makes me cry.  It is hard to see your child hurt and even harder to see them not feel they can express themselves honestly ,especially if it is because of something you taught them.  When you don’t express them you stuff them and they weigh on your heart everyday.  Unlike Sam and just moving forward.

I use to be real when I was a bedside nurse.  Rarely would a day go by that I wouldn’t cry with or for a patient.  I am not sure when the switch got changed.  Maybe all the years of infertility while others around us had children, and I faked I am fine. Maybe it was all the years of being strong watching my mom waste away because I didn’t want her to worry about me.  Maybe it is cumulative life events.

For me, if I loose it emotionally then I have lost control, but who am I kidding, there are very little things in life I could say I have under control.  Some believe tears are a sign of weakness, and I would have to disagree because I have seen my dad cry and he is my pillar of strength.  I will openly cry in public at a funeral of a loved one.  However, crying for me is a loss of control.  It places me at risk for what others to believe something differently about me than I want them too.  So maybe it is life events, or maybe it is just one of the few areas I feel like I have control of – my tears.

Is it really better to not show them the real you, even if you risk having your heart on your sleeve and you get hurt?  Or is it better to be fake and not let people into the real you?  I guess there are consequences to either situation, but my heart says to take the risk and be real.  It may in fact mean that I may feel the other person “wins’ by seeing my weakness, but in reality, I win for being true to myself.

When I am not honest and don’t let friends know I am having a hard time, my husband know I am having a hard time, etc.  I rob them of the chance to pray for me.  I know I love getting a text, email, private message that just says they need a prayer, so I can lift them up.  Why am I not so honest to let others lift me up.  Granted the “big stuff” they know about (illness, deaths in family, etc…), but as Mary so wisely spoke the little things are often just as important!  p.s. this does not mean I have to expose/disclose on Facebook (LOL)

In life, you are suppose to teach your children, but I have quickly learned that Mary and Sam have taught me more about life, myself, and a whole different view than I could ever blog about.  How is it that I can look at either of my children and recognize the sign that they have had enough, but I can look in the mirror at my own reflection and keep stuffing in more and don’t even recognize the signs?  To watch Sam be so honest with words, feelings and emotions is humbling.  To watch Mary mature and speak words of wisdom to me is indescribable.  I have a lot to learn from them both… starting with be careful that my words and actions (of things I don’t like about myself) don’t come creeping out of their mouths and their actions.  Also, I could definitely be a lot more like Sam and be completely honest about my emotions.   I always joke with Mary “doesn’t it stink when you open your mouth and your mother’s words come out?”  Although, I realize now there were times they were not my words.  I think my principle should be “Isn’t it awesome when I open my mouth and my children’s words come out”!

Fearfully and wonderfully made….

Yesterday, I woke and made the mistake of opening Facebook before I head out for a busy day of therapies and errands.  The article read about vaccines causing Autism.  Well, then I dwelled on it all day.   I intentionally did not share the link.  Here is where I am in life.. please remember this is MY PERSONAL BLOG, my personal opinions, and you do not have to agree!

I honestly can’t go back and say the moment when I thought things changed and our son became “autistic” because I was so involved in living a crazy busy life that little details passed me by I suppose.  I could easily let the guilt of not knowing that moment like many moms know consume me.   But that leaves me stuck in the past and in a puddle of guilt.  As a working mom, I assure you, I could beat myself up most days for a choice I have made from what I have allowed them to eat for breakfast (or not eat any), for allowing a poor choice of clothing for the weather, for not having the house spotless… I could give you a list.  And, if I couldn’t give you a list, I am sure someone on the outside would be willing to provide you my shortcomings.  But I intentionally choose to count my blessings every day despite the guilt I could wallow in.

I can also tell you that every article that has been released about something a mother did prior to the pregnancy or during the pregnancy that lead to autism, I have read and wept.  Wept because there was a chance that my face fit that description and I was to blame…

We also totally delayed diagnosing because our son is high functioning and I didn’t want the label if he could “overcome” and fit in.  We treated symptoms for years by private paying high dollars for many therapies.  I remembering reading a book out Aspergers and realizing how many pages defined him.  I remember hearing the words and thinking what could I have done differently. I beat myself up for not diagnosing sooner and questioned if we would have would things have been different… oh the guilt!

When we go in public and he is with other children I always feel obligated to explain why he is different.  I feel like it would be easier to but an “A” t-shirt (like Alvin wore in the chipmunks) – it often feels like the scarlet letter.  I often get tired of trying to explain and just internally cry.  It isn’t that he isn’t amazing, because he is.  It is because as a society many have set a standard of what “fits in” and we don’t fit that definition.

I struggled when I decided to home school.  Our daughter was an easy decision because she is a self learner.  Our son loves recess and researching things he loves.  I had many question my ability and dedication.  I questioned my ability (not dedication).  But we decided how much time was being wasted with the current school system (note NOT THE TEACHERS but the system)  for therapies and adaptations to fit in the I.E.P.  It was just like his early childhood and our insurance who did not pay for “developmental issues” and we resolved to make sure he had them without the system.

Speaking of the insurance company, since Autism falls under psychiatric diagnosing it does not have to pay for any therapies or care.  I have so battled that system because they even make him not “fit in” to their definition.  I am tired of him not fitting in and it gets exhausting to continue the fight!

I can tell you I will advocate for our children.   When public figures dishonor autism by thinking it is okay to lump autism and retarded in the same sentence.  Did my little voice have anything to do with the public apology and removing the line from their song.  I will never know, but in my heart I let them know it wasn’t okay.  The time Time Magazine put on the front cover about Autism being the New Crazy, a letter went in the mail with his picture because I wanted them to look at him and say he was crazy.  When I fought with my insurance, a picture of our son because I needed them to know who they were denying – not just another number.  Did it change anything, no, but I needed a voice for our son.

So back to the article….  I have intentionally chosen NOT to focus on WHY he has autism.

I am tired of

  • the guilt of feeling like it was something I did or didn’t do – should I have refused the vaccinations, avoided something during pregnancy, somehow helped his decelerations during childbirth, noticed something sooner.  I intentionally choose not to live that guilt anymore, but every time an article comes out it puts that rock in my gut again.
  • beating myself up when I hear how awesome other kids are doing in therapy or in their diet, etc.. and think what should I be doing differently.  I keep my own bruises from the beatings totally concealed with my “we are fine” face.
  • people pointing out to me the flaws he has either by telling me or that silent glare I sometimes get in public.  I know his quirks.  I live with him 24/7.  I am working on his quirks (speech and OT, etc), but so ready for people to ACCEPT him just as he is.  Fitting in is NOT all that it is cracked up to be!

By questioning why he has Autism makes me feel like our family is so much better and don’t deserve a hardship.  When in reality, our family is so awesome that God knew we could handle this.  He trusted him to us to give him a life that another family could not offer.

When I focus on WHY, I miss out on the WHAT he is in our life for.  To teach us some beautiful lessons about honesty, love, compassion, and his many other gifts (his memory for one).

I choose to believe that just as God knows the number of hairs on our head, just as God knit us in the womb, God knit autism into our son for a very special purpose. It is my job as his mom to help him fulfill that special purpose in my life and help him become exactly who he is meant to be.

If I hold onto what might have been without his autism… hold onto how can I fix him… hold onto how can I make him fit in… I will miss out on all the blessings and amazing discoveries I have everyday when I look into his face or hear his stories.  I have a friend who says it perfectly – everyone needs a Sam in their life.  Our family would not be the same without all the quirks, and I am quite biased in believing we have a great family.

I just started reading a book called In Between and how we are so focused on waiting for the big moments in life that we miss all the little things, the little blessings in between.

So, you will not see on my facebook about what may have caused autism (NOTE do not hold it against those who post this or need an answer to why because that is where they are in there life). I intentionally choose to look forward and  feel blessed that God entrusted us with him… and save my energies for battles for him… and find things that encourage me as a mom that despite other peoples opinions that he is great just exactly as he is….

 I praise you because OUR SON is fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,  I know that full well. ”  Psalms 139:14