This Day Forward,…

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” – Isaiah 43: 18-19

Are there new things in your life?
New ways?
New paths?
New ventures?

New ventures have opened in our lives as we’ve yielded to the call to homeschool our youngest son. It’s a decision we’ve been praying about for the past few years, a decision not taken lightly, nor a decision to be second-guessed.

When the LORD flings doors open wide,…one is wise to walk through them,…and not look back. The snares of indecision are found in comparison – to the past, to others, to unrealistic expectations.

Now the work has begun,…it’s for us to trust in the LORD.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5-6

Last week we were in waiting mode, but this week we’re hitting the ground running knowing that the LORD is faithful.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” – Psalm 32:8

Loving eye has the Lord, and nothing is too small for the Lord’s concern. Obviously we’re on a budget to set up our homeschool school room. Good lighting is important, but it’s also expensive. Have you priced lamps lately? And we needed a desk, or desks, and a couple bookcases. And the lightening.

Needless to say we’ve been hitting thrift stores, and the Lord has truly provided: two desks in one day. One of those desks looks brand new, while the other is delightfully aged. No truly,…it’s a wooden desk with character. Also I walked into a thrift store across town and walked out with three matching bookcases.

Seriously?

Yeah,…it’s been amazing. Ditto for the needed curriculum,…every need has been met,…including the lighting. We needed many lamps, our basement is large, and a few we did have to purchase new, but the bulk I found at the thrift store,…and I confess I sniffing hard to keep from outright bawling.

Thursday and Friday of last week – I had found zero lamps during our thrift store runs, and yes we hit nearly every one in town. Friday night I spent researching lighting on the internet,…knowing I needed to stay in budget. We’re going for a retro/explorer/industrial type look for the schoolroom,…and uber-cool lighting like a green shaded banker’s lamp,…is uber expensive. With a sigh, I sighed, and vowed to be practical.

Saturday morning we return to the thrift store before heading to Lowes to purchase that new lighting,…and that’s when I spot a standing lamp with table,…and as I turned I saw another standing lamp,…the exact lamp I am about to purchase brand new at Lowes!!!! After that shopping was like a Google ad following me around the thrift store, “Here you looked at this,” — “Here you wanted to purchase that,” — “Wasn’t this in your cart?” – and I am not joking here,…but I found EVERYTHING I had researched on the internet right down to that green shaded, brass banker’s lamp!!!!

Oh yes,…I was sniffling with my ladened shopping buggy,…and praising the LORD at the same time.

Talk about being ‘equip for every good work’ – where the Lord guides, the Lord provides.

Now the academic work can begin in earnest,…and yes,…between homeschooling and therapy I am still planning on publishing up-coming books. How? I don’t know,…a few minutes here,…a few minutes there,…I am a big believer in blitz-writing (jotting it down whenever you get the chance), and I’ve already trained myself to edit on the go. It’s doable. I am a writer. Writers write. The output may be a little slower than I had hoped, but as the LORD wills,…the writing/publishing process will continue. Thank you to those readers reading: Becoming Portia – New Beginnings. I am grateful the LORD allowed me to accomplish that publishing goal before our homeschooling adventures began.

Moving forward now,…and not looking back. Every time I switch on that banker’s lamp, I’ll be remembering the LORD’S provision, and love. If it’s important to us, it’s important to the LORD,…even little things.

Whether you’re in waiting mode in your life or now pressing onto a new ventures, please know the LORD is ever faithful, ever loving, and ever present in our modern age.

Oh yes, the LORD who created the universe,…is well versed in modern technology. Why ever do we forget that?

“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14

Keeping to task,…from this day forward,….

God bless and keep you!

 

Waiting?

img_0191

How do you feel about waiting?

Do you go with the flow,…or feel like you’re going to explode?
Watched pots never boil they say, and it’s completely true statement. Pots don’t boil, it’s the water within that comes the the require temperature to set those molecules in action.
You know what?
Given enough heat…water always boils.
Always.
Now the timing can be off, but that’s due to variables: water depth, pot construction, even weather and altitude can have an influence.

What are you waiting on?
The variables are usually out of our control,…that’s where faith comes in.

“We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.” – Psalm 33:20

The lovely thing about faith is that the LORD is always faithful,…even when we’re not.

2 Timothy 2:13
“If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” 

“God has said, “Never will I leave nor forsake you.” – Hebrews 13:5

These are promises we can stand upon for life’s uncertain at times, and waiting can often lead to worrying, but worship does wonders for worry.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”  Proverbs 3: 5-6

The Lord knows we’re finite,…sheep, dust,…little darlings who boo-hoo-hoo,…at every turn, and yet the Lord loves us,…”I have loved you with an everlasting love. I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3

Be comforted. Waiting is never comfortable, but we can go with the flow knowing the LORD, who is always faithful, is ultimately in control of our circumstances and our lives.

Wait for the LORD: be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” – Psalm 27:14

What Do You Need?

 

School has started for our little guy!
Second Grade!
Oh boy what a great opportunity for growth – academically – socially – spiritually – and of course – physically. Our little guy is a big guy for eight years old with the promise to become a powerfully built man. However as yet our youngest son is still a little boy with a roomful of toys.
Toys being the leverage by which therapy is accomplished. Not so much now,…our little guy is big enough to work for the reward of praise, but take a toddler,…exactly how do you motivate them to cooperate with speech therapy?
Aha! Know what you’re thinking, but sorry, lollipops don’t work with children with sensory issues. They are too icky-sticky!
Nix ice cream,…or rather read the previous post to get an insight on that.
Cookies? Nope.
Chips? Eh, eh.
Toys? Close, but let’s be specific,…it must be ultra-cool toys,…hitting all the sensory bells and whistles, which by the way doesn’t include licensed characters. Sorry Buzz and Woody,…you and Mickey can’t help with therapy,…’cause Autism is a puzzled and we don’t know why our little guy doesn’t take a shine to you.
Blessed serendipity! Wouldn’t you just know it, but our little guy has a yen for educational toys. Forget transformers, our little guy wants to know how to transform letters into words! Big words! Functional words. His latest, “Laminator.” (’cause Mama was laminating therapy stuff or school!)

Therapy toys are a very soft spot for special needs parents. We chase after them as if they were a philosopher’s stone able to transform the base metal of our children’s challenges into the gold of success. Needless to say,…most of our children have an avalanche of toys piled in their closets or toy chests.
From time to time these potential avalanche piles need to be culled.

Past couple days I’ve been working in our little guy’s room. Culling? Oh yes, and organizing the remains into manageable categories. Math, here. Vocabulary and grammar, there. Geography,…just about everywhere! Maps are our little guy’s ‘thing!” Oh, and plain ol’ toys like blocks, play food, generic people and animals, cars, and LEGOS,…have their place, too.
During the progress of all this cleaning and re-ordering our little guy only had one comment about the culling of toys, i.e. packing up stuff to donate to the local thrift store. Noting exactly what was missing from his toy horde, Isaac leveled a warning look – his gaze holding mine – so Mama would completely understand, as he said, “I need my books.”

Thankfully not a single book had been displaced. Mama already knew her little guy loved his books, but she didn’t know the depth of that love equated with ‘need.’
Isaac wants Legos. Let’s make no mistake about that, he wants lots and lots of Legos, but he doesn’t ‘need’ them. Nor did any other toy that Isaac wants rise to the level of ‘need.’ Only his books. Interesting, but then most of Isaac’s favorite books are non-fiction “how the world works” type books or atlases ‘where everything is in the world’ – or picture dictionaries ‘what everything is named.’ – Isaac’s books explain the world to him in a way his toys never could. Hence, his need.

What do you need?

Everyone has needs.

In 1943, Abraham Maslow proposed a psychology theory based on human motivation, i.e. needs. These needs were classified into six categories: Physiological, Safety, Social Belonging, Esteem, Self-actualization, and Self-transcendence.

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

All our needs? Yep, and desires, too.

“What a person desires is unfailing love.” – Proverbs 19:22

Unfailing love? Oh yes, shall we all say, “Calvary?” – the cross where Jesus died for our sins – if that’s not unfailing love – nothing is!

But what about those six psychological needs: Physiological, Safety, Social Belonging, Esteem, Self-actualization, Self-transcendence?

(1) Physiological?   

Those basic needs are addressed in Matthew 6: 25-33

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

(2) Safety? This is a very important need in our modern age!

“The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.” Psalm 18:2

(3) Social Belonging? Social media, anyone? Everyone wants to be liked, but social media can be more fickle than Twitter – follows/unfollow trends. So where is one to turn for a sense of belonging but the Lord, for even if you don’t have a family – you are a part of the family of God!

“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household,” – Ephesians 2:19

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” – 1 Peter 2: 9

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1

(4) Esteem? Where is your self-worth found? The world will call you worthless, but the Lord calls you ‘beloved.’ 

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.” – John 15:16

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” – Jeremiah 31:3

“See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands,” – Isaiah 49:16

(5) Self-actualization? Doesn’t this word seem like something you’d find on a test, but the teacher never covered the definition? But you don’t have to google it, it’s not difficult, in so many words, self-actualization actually means,…the need to be needed,…to accomplish your purpose in life. 

“…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 1:6 

“The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.” – Psalm 138:8

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,” Colossians 3:23

(6) Self-transcendence?

Ah, now this is a VERY interesting ‘secular’ theory, which basically means humans have a innate spiritual ‘need.’  Of course, ‘they’ in the secular world say a higher power, but there is no higher power than the LORD of Lords, KING of kings, and ALMIGHTY GOD, nor is there anything in the universe more altruistic than John 3:16-17:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

Humans,…that’s us,…we’re finite, and too often we confuse our ‘needs’ with our ‘wants’ – and fail to be grateful for the many mercies afforded to our modern lives. Hello, isn’t it a modern miracle I can type these words onto an electronic screen, which translates them into a binary code, which can be transported throughout the known world!!!!

Not to mention, I had breakfast this morning, more than one set of clothes to choose from, safety on the interstate taking my little guy to school, hello security guards at my son’s school, nice to know you are there in our modern age,…and so many other blessings. It’s mind-boggling. My son’s room over-flows with toys,…as in Psalm 23: ‘…my cup overflows.’  with toys we can share with others.

The books, stay.

My little guy ‘needs’ them,…and we want him to know his ‘needs’ are important to us, and important to God. 

Life seems so crazy in our modern world, but no matter what is going on in your life be assured God already knows your needs. 

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

God bless and keep you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Redeeming, Ice Cream

Summer vacation is almost over for our little guy, and if you follow on Instagram and Twitter you know we’ve been trying to fit a few more family-outings like taking in an afternoon movie. Hello, Winnie-the-Pooh! Christopher Robin is only the second live-action movie our little guy has seen on the big screen. Cinderella was the first.

Have courage and be kind,” is the most memorable phrase from Cinderella. For Christopher Robin, Winnie-the-Pooh’s line stole the show, “I’m not stress,…I’m Pooh.” – of course, this only makes sense if you read that in a Winnie-the-Pooh voice, and know the movie context, but….trust me,…it was an adorable scene!

Interestingly Christopher Robin is a movie about a very stressed man ‘redeeming’ what was lost in his life. After the movie my husband and I decided it was time to redeem a very stressed family outing. Ice cream, anyone?

Ah,…ice cream on a hot summer day!
Is there anything more quintessential than a family ice cream outing in the depth of summer? Our two older guys loved when we’d stop for an ice cream cone! It was a real treat, for them and us. Is there anything more adorable than watching a toddler noshing on a drippy ice cream? The sheer look of delight the very first time they taste sweet, creamy ice-cold, ice cream. Yum City!  Such happy hearts sharing such a sweet treat together. Only with little ones make sure to have lots of wet wipes, or dating myself here, in a time before wet wipes, we’d bring washclothes and a jar of water to wipe the happy little messy faces.

Fast forward twenty-three years. Our guys are grown, but the Lord has blessed us with a third son.
FUN!!!
Having a child as older parents is like having a grandchild you don’t have to give back at the end of the day. We couldn’t wait to take our little guy for his first ice cream run,…but life kinda got in the way,…and our little guy was ‘mysteriously’ a picky eater. Baby food is soft and gooey, but our third baby decidedly didn’t like anything soft and gooey, which made meal time quite a challenge until his teeth came in and more solid food could be offered. But hey,…ice cream is ice cream,…and ALL kids like ice cream,…right?

Or not?

How many ways can you spell fiasco? Our two year old displayed no, absolutely no emotion when we told him we were going to go get some, “Ice cream,..Yeahhhhh!!!” Okay, he’s not had ice cream before,…but hey,…it’s a fun family outing. We’re all together, it’s a beautiful day,…we’re going to have fun introducing our little guy to the delights of ice cream on a hot summer day,…or not.

The ice cream hut is on a busy thoroughfare with traffic zooming. Our two year old was more interested in running toward this traffic than staying next to us. The words, “Ice cream,” – “Treat,” – “Fun,” – didn’t compute. While Daddy got the ice cream, Mama tried to keep their darling little one out of the traffic, and interested in ‘shared- interest’ – “Look a at the big pig?” Our little guy wasn’t having it. There were no tantrums, that we would have understood, it’s was just total and complete indifference – to us, the outing, and especially the ice cream.

You’d have thought that ice cream was the most disgusting icky muck. Our little guy didn’t want any part of it, “Thank you very much.” – not that our little guy could speak – as this was just after his Apraxia diagnosis, so we weren’t expecting anything verbal, but believe me – our little guy’s expressive face said it all, “If you want ice cream, YOU eat ice cream. I ain’t touching it.” 

Out came the dry pretzels from Mama’s purse. Those our little guy munched with a detached expression. Family outings meant ‘nothing’ to him, and since we weren’t letting him run around a busy parking lot….he wasn’t having fun. It was a disaster. I didn’t even eat my ice cream,…I was too upset. I sobbed all the way home, while my husband held my hand, and we added ‘family-outing’ to our prayer list for all the questions we had concerning our little guy for he had been ‘flagged’ for something called: Autism.

Needless to say ice cream runs have been off our charts for the past six years while we’ve learned to live with Autism. It’s not so daunting, once understood. Sensory issues are real. For some reason our little guy is not comfortable with anything soft or gooey,…and forget the whys or wherefores. That’s banging your head against the wall. Some things in life,…just are,…except it,..and move on.
My little guy certainly has moved on, and therapy helps. Sorry, but you can’t totally avoid soft and gooey things in life. Toothpaste is a necessity. Thus therapy is essential, and for any given issue, therapy can take either three hours, three days, three weeks, three years, or I imagine,…three decades. It’s a process, and every attempt is a successful try. Don’t give up hope, don’t ever give up hope.

Where is our little guy in his present state of progress? Lightyears, absolutely lightyears from that indifferent toddler wanting to run into traffic.

Isaac now eats ice cream!

Ah,…not this ice cream, however.

It didn’t meet his criteria,…which is to be completely frozen. Yes, Autism is a puzzle. Our little guy will now eat ice cream…IF it doesn’t melt, which means he only takes about three bites, but that’s still three bites of ice cream,…and he enjoys them. Progress! Can’t call it anything else, and we’ll take it. After all real life is never completely tidy with all those loose ends tucked in neatly. Is it?
As for shared interest, “Look Mama, that’s a big pig!”
Wow! Mama had to get a pix.
“Hold my ice cream, buddy.”
Out comes Mama’s phone, and did you notice who is holding the ice cream in those first two pictures? Trust me,…it took a lot of concentrated therapy to get past that soft and gooey stage! It also took Mama whipping out damp napkins to wipe down his little hands, lickety-split, but then I don’t like sticky hands either,…and there are worst things in life than being a very tidy child.

You know the thing about a family outing for ice cream, is that it’s never really about the ice cream. It’s about spending time together in a bonding experience.
Did our little guy eat ice cream?
No, no he didn’t.
Did he have fun, anyway?
Yes, yes he did.
“Mama, you like ice cream,” said Isaac happily watching us eat the melting treat.
“I like you more,” I replied,…’cause it’s the truth.

You know, the gift of Autism is that it breaks down life into the most basic components:
I love you.
You love me.
What else is important?
Certainly not what we think is important, it’s too easy to get ‘very stressed’ over nonessential elements in our lives. Micromanagement, anyone?
Micromanagement, you know,…kinda leaves faith by the wayside.
Six years ago when we started our Autism journey we didn’t know where we were headed, and we still don’t, but we have faith in the one who started us on this path.

Do you have areas in your life you need to redeem? Nothing is too hard for the Lord, nor is nothing too small for His notice,…not even ice cream outings.

“I know my Redeemer, lives” Job 19: 25

Job’s inspiring faith wasn’t after the fact, but during the darkest days of his trials when he couldn’t see a way out of his dilemma. Yet his faith in his ‘Redeemer’ never wavered.

“We walk by faith, not by sight.”  – 2 Corinthians 5:7 

Knowing you’re on the right path makes all the difference!

Life doesn’t always turn out the way we plan, but we can trust in the LORD who makes the plans for our lives.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” – Jeremiah 29: 11-13

Here’s to redeeming, ice cream!

God bless and keep you!

 

 

The Tale of Two Campgrounds

IMG_0088

Summer vacation is winding down for us. School starts next week for our little guy. Perfect excuse to get in an adventure! How about some backyard camping? Thankfully we have a large backyard, which helps with the illusion of roughing it in the great outdoors. With our little guy’s sensory issues we need to make sure a night in the tent hits all his comfort zones spots. And thankfully we can say it did. Isaac had a blast, “I love it!”

IMG_E0143

Camping is not new to us. When our older guys were little we did quite a bit of camping. The two most memorable trips were one unforgettably cold weekend in January camping at Shiloh, Mississippi with our guy’s scout troop, and a family vacation in South Carolina.

What were those scout leaders thinking? Who in their right minds decides to go camping in January? What a shiveringly frigid weekend! The overnight temps were below freezing, which doesn’t make for comfort sleeping as our equipment was inadequate for such extreme temperatures. However, we did have an epic campfire, which felt gloriously warm, and despite the teeth chattering discomfort our guys had a great time, which was the entire purpose of the expedition.

The other memorable camping trip was the next year to Hunting Island, South Carolina in June!
Ahhhh,…those balmy temps were ever so appreciated! There is no two ways about it, camping on an Island is totally cool. The first night our campsite was nearly on the beach, only a huge dune separated us, and saved us!

Thank goodness for that dune! There had been a tropical storm only days before we arrived and the tide was high, which meant that that HUGE dune was the only thing between us and the undertow. Yeah, it’s slightly alarming to wake in the middle of the night to the sound of crashing waves only twenty feet or so from your tent.  Needless to say the next morning we moved a tad inland, which seemed safer.

Safer?

What is it about waking up in the middle of the night in a tent that leads to one not feeling safe? Maybe it was the sounds of a fight, shouts, screams, stuff getting thrown about, drunken feet running past your tent, and someone screeching, “Put that gun down!”

Wow! Does one ever feel vulnerable with only flimsy canvas between them and trouble. Not that anything happened. Camp security was there in no time, and then local, island police. We heard their walkie-talkies, the reassurance of their purposeful steps, the strobing lights from their vehicles, all was well.

Camping, like life, is a process. 

Okay, I confess in Shiloh we didn’t hang around for an extra night. We were new to camping, especially winter camping and we didn’t have adequate equipment. Hyperthermia is not a joke, and the weather reports were predicting plummeting temps, and chances of an ice storm. We garnered what fun we could from the trip and some important lessons.

1. Building an epic fire will make you very popular with others. Hello we were with a troop of scouts, but no one else bothered to build a fire and their camping equipment wasn’t any better than ours, except those in RVs, lucky them. Whatever, we were only too happy to share, even with the RV folks, it made the experience even more fun. And the experience was a blast! We had the campground to ourselves, we discovered coffee and hot chocolate taste a thousand times better outside when you are freezing, and the random snowflakes drifting down were breathtakingly beautiful in the woodland setting.

2. Be prepared for anything. Did we look at the sleeping bag ratings before we left? Nope, but only because we didn’t realize sleeping bags have ratings. Nor did we realize the extreme necessity of having a ground cloth inside the tent. Lesson, learned.

More lessons?
Of course, the process of becoming a camper is all about learning from your experiences. The regrettable January freeze out in Shiloh didn’t stop us from attempting our June camping expedition. Nor did the two unfortunate incidents in South Carolina keep us from enjoying the rest of our Hunting Island vacation. Not that we needed to in June, but we checked the sleeping bag ratings before we left the house, and invested in better camping equipment.

3.  Investments are worth the investment. Trust me, a ten-man tent for four people feels like a luxury suite with plenty of room to spread out and neatly store your gear. No one got cranky about having to climb over each other to find stuff. Important for a week’s worth of camping.
4.  Location, location, location.  It’s the newbies that always seem to make the most mistakes. Hello, there had to be a reason why that ultra-cool campsite right next to the beach wasn’t already taken. It had been a long drive, we were hot, tired, and ready to strike camp and get some grub, and clearly we weren’t thinking straight. Ocean, dune, tides, storms, no one was there to set us straight, but no one should have had to set us straight. When venturing into a new location – it was our responsibility to know what we would likely encounter. For goodness sakes we were camping on an island. Needless to say we learned, and we learned quick. Have you any idea how loud waves can sound crashing yards from your tent in the middle of the night? It’s loud, really, really loud.
5.  No matter what you do stuff will still happen. Like raccoons, exceptionally talented raccoons, who got into our cooler and plastic tub. How? I have no idea, I could barely lift the latch on that plastic tub, hence we thought our little guy’s pop tarts were safe. Did you know raccoons like pop tarts? And bacon and eggs, and loaf bread, too. The peanut butter jar stumped them. Ha! We got you there Mr. Raccoon, but it was a hollow victory, and a major pain to have to lock up everything into the truck cab. No one was happy about the food situation, not us, nor the sulking raccoons, but it was certainly a lesson in ‘go with the flow.’ — a lesson we’d desperately need about twelve years later when our little guy was diagnosed with Autism.
6. Every experience is a training ground. At the time, if anyone had told me camping in Shiloh in the dead of winter was going to be a help later in life, I would have rolled with laughter. How could shivering through the night with chattering teeth in two pair of pants, three shirts, two jackets, a hat, gloves, and wooly scarf, while encased in a sleeping bag teach me anything?

For one, I learned how much I loved my guys. Not that I didn’t already know, but it emphasized what I was willing to ‘cheerfully’ do for them. Make no mistake, we were frozen, but we had a blast that weekend, which leads into the most important life lesson camping has taught.

Happiness is a choice.

Our lives are free will. We get to choose how we respond to freezing campgrounds, wayward raccoons, mistakes made by ourselves, and others. Thank goodness that midnight campground fight didn’t escalate into gun fire! Boy, that night were we ever praying Psalm 91: 9-10 “If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.” 

The next morning we woke with the dawn with the choice: go or stay. Home is safer, but you can’t experience the world from the shelter of four walls. The only way to expand your horizons is to step out on faith.

Faith is also a choice. 

Wouldn’t you just know it, but that next night I was once again awaken at midnight. Our youngest needed a ‘midnight break’ — oh dear,…just him and I wandering through the sleeping campgrounds to the spotlessly clean restrooms. Never have you seen such clean restrooms in a state park!!!! Come to find some of the RV residents cleaned them in exchange for their site. After the previous night’s rampage, there was something very comforting about the spick-and-span conditions of those restrooms. Hello, no one expects to find pristine restrooms at a campground, but that elderly couple who cleaned those restrooms expressed their concern for their fellow campers by what means they had. “Love one another, be kind to one another.”  Certainly it made a midnight restroom run with a nine year so much easier, especially since my little guy was wide awake.

“Let’s see the waves!”

Oh dear,…the let’s be brave,...let’s have faith talks with our little guys had borne fruit.

True, it’s not exactly prudent to peek over a sand dune at midnight to see crashing waves, especially when there is a full moon. But either you have faith or you don’t, and the sea didn’t sound stormy.

Have you ever peeked over a sand dune at midnight with a full moon nearly light as day? The tide wasn’t in and before us lay the pristine beach magically lit by the shimmering light that sparkled like diamonds. Okay I am being lyrical, but with the sand and the foam and the waves the moonlight was breathtaking! What an experience to walk on the damp sand with your little one in such a glorious setting with the stars over head, the moderate waves murmuring upon the sand, little crabs scuttling along the surf line.

What a memory!

The rewards of freezing in January? Or perhaps learning that camping like life is a process. Stuff happens, and sometimes it’s uncomfortable or unpleasant, but that doesn’t mean extraordinary experiences aren’t just around the corner.

Did I want to get out of the tent that midnight when my little guy was tapping my shoulder with a desperate, “Mama, Mama,…I gotta go!”?

Ah,…no,…no I didn’t, but boy am I so glad I didn’t give into fear. The campground was safe, on our way back to the tent with the hem of our pajamas slightly damp from the surf, we could see the patrol cars making rounds. Climbing back into our sleeping bags with our hearts singing with the extraordinary beauty we had just experienced we slept,…peaceful and unafraid.

Be brave.
Have faith. 

“Enlarge the place of your tent,stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back;
lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left,…” Isaiah 54: 2-3

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness, and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19

Are you going through a learning process in a wilderness or a wasteland at the moment? Take courage you are being trained for new experiences – some to help others – some to help yourself – and some so extraordinary the only response is to sing, “Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” Psalm 8:1

God bless and keep you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Help Is Closer Than You Know

 

Hello, but you know you are a writer when you find a penny and the first thing you do is check to see if the mint-date is the same era of your story setting.

Did I really do that?

Yes,…yes, I did, last week when I found a stray penny,…heads up, no less. The coin was struck in 1975,…only two years before Becoming Portia – New Beginnings’s setting in 1977, so I was kinda close. What was Annie Bruce doing in 1975 according to the storyline? Sixteen years old, Annie was homeless and alone. Desperate, she didn’t know where to look for help, although help was closer than she ever knew.

Have you found any pennies lately? Did you pick them up? Or did you pass them by saying, “Nah,…it’s just a cent,…worthless.”

Worthless?

Not so fast, the value of a penny is based upon one’s perspective. There is sentimental value, that ‘penny for your thoughts,’ which has kept many a cent in many a sock drawer for decades. Don’t deny it, we’ve all got priceless pennies tucked away here and there.
Then there is perception of added value. According to research, in 1996 a (1943) penny, only worth .01 as legal tender, was valued a rarity by a collector and sold at auction for $85,000 bucks. Not bad for a red cent, but such auction prices for coinage are the exception, not the rule.
However for the run-of-the-mill penny, its true value is found in its accumulative power. The latin phrase: E Pluribus UnumFrom Many, One, struck upon every coin is our national motto. After all, get a 100 pennies together and you have $1.00. Or even more impressive is the fact that $999,999.99 can’t turn into a million without the humble cent lending its collective power.

Humble cent? It’s okay to speak of humbleness. It’s even more okay to be humble. Humility is not a virtue highly valued in our 21st century society, but only because it is so greatly misunderstood. Humility is not worthlessness, but rather humility is perceiving the worth of the One that gives us worth. While the world would say we’re ‘…worthless,’ – the Lord looks upon us as priceless,…

“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.” – Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

Oh yes, Abraham Lincoln was a man of great humility. Please note what follows:

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

Whereas, the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the Supreme Authority and just Government of Almighty God, in all the affairs of men and of nations, has, by a resolution, requested the President to designate and set apart a day for National prayer and humiliation.

And whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.

And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!

It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.

Now, therefore, in compliance with the request, and fully concurring in the views of the Senate, I do, by this my proclamation, designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th. day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting and prayer. And I do hereby request all the People to abstain, on that day, from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite, at their several places of public worship and their respective homes, in keeping the day holy to the Lord, and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.

All this being done, in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the Divine teachings, that the united cry of the Nation will be heard on high, and answered with blessings, no less than the pardon of our national sins, and the restoration of our now divided and suffering Country, to its former happy condition of unity and peace.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this thirtieth day of March, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty seventh.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

The above was introduced in 1863 during the height of the Civil War. The national day of fasting and prayer taking place three months before the Battle of Gettysburg, which was a turning point in the war. No doubt the proclamation was inspired by 2 Chronicles 7:14.

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land”

The things you learn when you research a blog post about pennies. The theme for this post being – Help At Hand, Closer Than You Know. I meant to highlight the little known trivia about pennies minted before 2009,…

Maybe you know this one. Maybe you don’t.

IMG_0012

Have you ever looked closely at a penny? There smack in the middle of the Lincoln Memorial is,…Abe Lincoln. No,…really it’s teeny,…tiny…microscopic even, unless you’ve got super great eyesight. On this photo I am using two magnifying glasses, but our 16th president is in there.

My Project 4-001

Here is a super close up. Can you see him? There’s Abe Lincoln,…and he’s been there in your purse, in your pocket, on your car’s floor board, behind the sofa cushions, and on the bottom of a sock drawer the entire time.

“Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.” – Abraham Lincoln. 

Gotta love Abe for his zingers. Happiness is a choice. But you know the thing is about Abraham Lincoln’s penny trivia,…is most folks don’t know where to look. If you want to see Abe for yourself,…you have to want to find him.

IMG_0017

Here is the first attempt to take a picture of Abe on a penny. Can you even tell that’s a penny, except for the shape? The only way to take a clear picture was to get closer to the light, and add magnification.

“O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.” Psalm 34:3

If you notice the magnification on the lighted penny,…you’ll notice that penny wasn’t quite pristine. But then, neither are we. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”  Romans 3:23

All, includes everyone, like in us,…all of us, for we all make mistakes, or rebel, or just mess up,…but yet the LORD counts us as priceless. Those less than pristine pennies,…they are still legal tender, they can still make $999,999.99 round up to a million dollars. Thus every penny could qualify to claim, “I am a million bucks.”  – so are you.

It’s not a big deal if you don’t know Abe is on a penny minted before 2009, but it is a big deal if you don’t know that the LORD is close at hand, and counts you priceless.

“Seek the LORD while He may be found; call on Him while he is near.” Isaiah 55:6

Humility,…perceiving the worth of the One that gives us worth.

God bless and keep you!

 

 

Are You Listening?

Took a wrong turn today in the parking deck after my little guy’s therapy appointment at the Children’s Hospital. Monsoon-like weather in our area this morning with torrential rains and whipping winds made driving downtown to the hospital a most soggy adventure.

Therapy went GREAT,…our little guy is amazing! Don’t let anyone ever say our children on the Spectrum can’t make progress. Our son is proof positive they can! But then, our God is bigger than Autism, and bigger than Apraxia, and bigger than any problem we can ever face,…even when we’re a little lost.

Have you ever parked in a hospital parking deck mid-morning on a Monday? Nearly impossible task to find a parking spot when everyone seems to have early appointments. Luckily or rather prayerfully we got a spot not too far from the over the street bridge. Of course it was on a different level from our last visit, and to be honest, in the past six years, I think we’ve parked on every single level from ground to the roof.

Personally, I like parking on the parking deck roof. Usually it’s uncrowded, the downtown views are fantastic, and I NEVER forget where I parked. But no roof today, with the rain slashing against our windshield I was grateful to find a relatively dry location mid parking deck. Only one level of the parking deck looks a lot like the next, and when your little guy is excitedly telling you ‘cool things’ about all that thrashing rain we just came through,…you forget to look at the level identifying colors.

With therapy, check out, adventuring down to the CAFE, and yes, let us cap-CAFE in all caps, because Apraxia kicked in at the end of my little guy’s appointment. Oh, but Isaac wanted so badly to tell the doctor where we were going to eat lunch, but with Apraxia, the motor processing just wouldn’t let him get the word, “Cafe,” out,…so he spelled it, “C-A-F-E!”  (Yeah, he’s really cool!), well,…needless to say after our lunch of chicken fingers and fries, we took a wrong turn on the parking deck. The grey skies made the cement enclosed deck very dim and gloomy,…as we walked and walked, searching for our car,…which was no where in sight.

“Where car, Mama?” asked Isaac, clearly bemused.
“Well, it’s not here,” I answered pointing to the honking big truck occupying what should have been our parking space.

Now did Mama panic? No this Mama did not panic, because this Mama’s done this little parking deck episode once before, and she used up all her frenzied freaked out panic on that lost car occasion. With the calm insight of experience, I instantly knew exactly what happened. Our car had not been towed away, or stolen, or thrown off the cement banister. When we entered the parking deck,…we merely headed in the wrong direction. No great loss, we got an extra tour of the parking deck, and my little guy was pumped, he really likes parking decks. Once we retraced our steps and were pointed in the right direction, we found our car without further incident, and the rest is history,…

Where are you headed? Hopefully not in the wrong direction, but should that be the case, the solution is so simple, be it parking decks or anything else in life. Stop, evaluate your situation, turn around,…and then go in the direction where you should be.

One thing living with Autism has taught us, is that we truly,…“walk my faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7  After all, most eight year olds don’t spend their summer vacation attending therapy sessions, although we’re sooooo grateful for the phenomenal progress our little guy has made in therapy!!! It’s the fruits of our faith when he was a toddler when we had NO IDEA if therapy would even work. During that distressful time, we didn’t know where we were headed, but we knew if we kept our sights on the LORD,…we were headed in the right direction.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go,…” Psalm 32:8

“The LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” Psalm 121:8

When the LORD is watching your back, it’s really hard to get lost. Even today in the parking deck we weren’t really lost, we were merely misdirected. In our fast pace world with everyone zooming at super sonic speeds, its easy to get yourself on the wrong path. It’s okay,…we all have to stop and reevaluate our direction from time to time. Where we’ve been in life is not nearly as important as where we are going! Walking by faith,…takes,…ah,…it takes faith. We might not see a clear path,…but we can trust the LORD’s direction.

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way,…walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21

The ultimate key is listening.

God bless and keep you!