World Peace

 

I went a way this weekend to celebrate 25 years of marriage with my husband. We went to our favorite place, our favorite woods in Pennsylvania. They call to us. They draw us in and envelop us with their serenity. The world and the cares of this life melt away almost instantaneously as we deeply breathe the hemlock infused, mossy, terra firma, feel the chill of  the crisp, autumn breeze and listen to glassy cascade of the nourishing, river rhythm.

Much of the four days and three nights we were immersed in peace that seemed to be worlds away from our home, deciphering our lives and bringing crucial knowledge to solve all of our problems. Taking time to pray, to give thanks and to read deep, Christian, men and women’s thoughts.  I do not just desire it, I need it to survive this ruthless world. But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray. Luke 5:16- I find myself in good company.20171001_130601

Of course this kind of peace cannot be had all the time or at will…at least in this way. There is a peace from Him that surpasses our understanding and guards our hearts and minds. It isn’t necessarily felt at first, but it is remembered and called upon even in the midst raging chaos. Chaos like this morning’s news. Random devastation of historical proportion produced by a human’s free will.

So I, so you, must go deep. We must extend into the compost of love, mercy, and grace that is not from this world but available to us through Jesus’ wounding for all of the atrocities of the world, this one included. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27. 20170930_141541

This peace, this paradox, is the tangible peace we have accessible to us now and for eternity. This is world peace.

 

 

In A Storm

hurricane

With all of the hurricanes that have been hitting the US lately, and as I consider how frightening these times can be for people who are hit the hardest, I have been thinking about the storms I have weathered.

When you are in a storm of this magnitude, you have to keep your head about you and stay focused or you literally could be swept away. I remember a particular time when the circumstances of my life were in such a complete mess and the fall out from it was creating a storm, of such proportion, that I could have become completely emotionally impaired. My husband, George, had been speaking with a person whom we always respected and cared about very deeply, but the man was creating such waves out of his own fears, that my husband and I nearly drown in them.

One particular day, my husband was relaying a conversation to me that he had with this man earlier in the day. My husband was tired and distraught and so was I. As George was speaking, I started to feel that I was actually getting slapped by one enormous wave after another. With every question and accusation the man had posed to him from their earlier conversation, George’s voice actually started to fade into the background even though he was standing right in front of me. Next, my eyes started to glaze and I felt as if the pressure was starting to pull me under the water and I was literally starting to gasp with no strength to resurface. Right at that point, I heard the voice of Jesus clear as a bell; “JULIA!, Look at ME, listen to ME, follow ME!  I actually looked up to where I thought the voice was coming from. The roaring waves immediately turned into serene, foamy, level water! I came to my senses and with a clarity I had not known until that very point and I was able to be in complete peace and not be anxious. The storm, although I was still in it, was completely calmed as I looked to Jesus. It was truly amazing!

Jesus had done something very similar many, many years before with a man named Peter. Peter was a fisher man. He knew in his head that a man cannot walk on water. But one day when he saw Jesus walking on the water and he asked if he could do it! Jesus told him to come, and he actually did walk on water for a bit, but then it says in Matthew 14:30; “but when he (Peter) saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid and began to sink and cried out, saying, “Lord save me!”

It is natural to be afraid when the storms come whether they be natural or figurative. It goes against our natural inclinations to have faith and hold on to an anchor in the midst of a storm, but that is exactly what we must do. The heroic stories coming from the news tell of just such things during these natural disasters and have the theme of focus and faith all through them. We have to choose not to be afraid and place our grasp firmly on the anchor that will never let us be swept away in a storm.

Autism Conference, What Did I learn?

20170802_172527

Henri Nouwen, while working at L’Arche Daybreak, said it best, so I am going personalize his sentiment! This is what I learned,

Going to The National Autism Conference was a painful experience for me in many ways. I had to face all my limitations and shortcomings directly, and with my husband and son. It was also a life giving experience seeing my handicaps so clearly and those surrounding me. This helped me make them not just stumbling blocks but gateways to solidarity with those who cannot hide their disabilities and who form the core of our community. 

Any time we take Dorian out of his routine, there is upset. We realized that this was the longest one on one time we had with him…ever. In the past when had a few days alone with him, eventually there would be a sibling to buffer our relationship. We had really excruciating  times with no where to run! We all had to reach deep- so that is good, that is growth, that is progress! This was coupled with intense sessions of Autism Information from sought-out speakers. There were a few parents who simply had to leave, their children couldn’t take it one more minute. We have been there, but we realized, we pushed through this week and we have all found things we really appreciated and are thankful for!

George and I also had some pretty heavy marital issues going on. Some times when you re visit a geographical location it can bring back memories…good and bad. We had to over come, reclaim as it were, this location.

The last day we were at the conference, we went to a session by Dr. Jonathan Ivy on Token Economies. Having tried Token Economies in our home for over 20 years with varying degrees of success, we were interested in having a whole session on this. He did a fantastic job explaining the key components of a successful Token system as well as why they fail. I could understand, during his explanation, why some of our Economies failed or simply never took flight! You have to have a clear definition of what you are working for and what your target behavior is- you may be trying to decrease undesirable behaviors or may be trying to increase one’s that aren’t as evident. He is a researcher and communicated his eagerness to collect more data and do more studies. You can find more about his research at this link.

Our hope is to implement a Token Economy for our son’s morning routine this school year. I was equally inspired how I might use these more to motivate everyone in the home, including myself!!

When the week was done, we all felt saddened at the thought of leaving the campus! Something really shifted in our dynamic through those days together, we all had to be mentally and physically strong and we were…together. I learned more about my self, as I often do- but I learned more about my husband and son too because I willing to really listen. I learned that at the end of the day, it isn’t your test score, diploma or degree that brings great success or a platform from which to speak, but it’s your resilience and grit that is going to make you stand out and move forward<3

(Read the earlier blogs on the conference; National Autism Conference-Getting There, Autism Conference- Day 1, Autism Conference- Days 2 and 3)

National Autism Conference- Day 1

20170731_085849

We got to the conference on time, yay Allman’s!! We took Dorian upstairs to his “Children’s Institute” classroom met by warm staff, eager to meet him. We were awarded a scholarship this year for him to be part of this fantastic program while our conference is going on simultaneously.

The morning was filled with introductions and a Keynote by Vince Carbone highlighting Skinner’s “Legacy to Education”. This was followed by David Mandell’s Session on “The Shifting Sands of Autism Policy and Policy Research”. Which all of the attendees attended and were informative and helpful. I sense that every one here has a deep interest in Autism and is excited at the prospect of parents and professionals networking to be part of a bigger, supportive team.

We went to pick Dorian up for lunch, he seemed pleasantly calm and informed us on the way outside to the picnic area, that he was not autistic because he liked Batman! We have had discussions about his “specialness” from time to time, some times he asks questions, other times he specifically does not want to have those conversations.

George and I decided that we wanted to attend the session by Dr. Robert Naseef titled; “Families of Children with Autism: Taking Care of everyone’s Needs”, in the afternoon. This title really spoke to us because we constantly feel inadequate as parents especially  giving our other daughter who still lives at home, enough of our time. It hasn’t been easy for any of our children and we both feel we have failed them in many ways as parents. But Gabby is the middle child and it has always been easy to overlook this adorable and accommodating child. Several years ago, she started developing uncharacteristic  behaviors that made us have to pay attention and intervene. Dr. Naseef addressed this later in his discussion stating; “we don’t want our typically evolving kids to develop symptoms to get our attention.” We can see now that this is clearly what she was doing, but we didn’t recognize it at the time that it was happening.

His discussion went much deeper than the title, building a strong foundation and contextual platform for the birth of a family. He referred to the book; The Birth of a Mother, by Drs. David and Nadia Stern, explaining that when a baby is born, a mother and father are also born as well.

He asked the audience if it was possible to “give your children equal amounts of time”? We all had to agree that it is impossible to do that, to which he added, “we give them each special time.” He shared that raising any child was difficult on the marriage relationship, “raising a child with autism is over the top!” He gave a list of what siblings want/need and reads as follows;

*They want parents to notice their accomplishments

*They want a fair amount of attention

*Time alone with parents

*Time alone with friends

*Freedom to complain

*A family life as normal as possible

*Information about their brother/sister’s condition

We are thankful, and can look back over the last few years and say that we have really attempted to build these habits into our once fragmented family, in an aggressive way.

Other nuggets that were shared by this Psychologist/ Father of an autistic son were; “We need to celebrate all the little things. Success is the reinforcement”. “Life keeps giving us a chance to learn what we need to learn.” And, “Help them live the life they have, the best way possible.” Dr. Naseef is also a WordPress Blogger and you can find his blog; “Love doesn’t keep score. Siblings do” with this link.

George and I found needed strength and affirmation from this session. The stress of raising a special needs child makes your deficits as a couple and as individuals annoyingly glare like neon sign, and only by God’s grace and strength are we walking this together. We got another glimmer of hope that as broken as we are, that we have what it takes to raise this son we have been given for another day. Dorian’s name means gift and we need to remind ourselves, often, to see him in that light- because we both struggle to. Thank you to all of our friends, family, and therapists for your help and encouragement to us in our story, and thank you Dr. Naseef for taking your time to share yours and listening to some of ours.

20170731_160943

 

 

 

Herb Festival!

This weekend, Honest Aromas be at the Cook Forest Herb and Fiber Festival! Have a day of escape into the beautiful woods of Pennsylvania and support the amazing artisans, farmers and entrepreneurs! http://sawmill.org/festivals-special-events/

Saturday, June 3, 2017               10 am to 5 pm

Sunday, June 4, 2017                  10 pm to 4 pm20161002_144537

Come and say hi! We would love to meet you:-)

 

Farmer’s Market!!

It’s that time of year again and Honest Aromas is kicking off the summer season by participating in our local Oil City Farmer’s Market on Thursdays from 9-4!

Support Your local Artisans, Farmer’s and Bakers by making a point to buy fresh and local through the summer. This is the livelihood of most of these amazing entrepreneurs and every one gains when we support each other!

It looks like a beautiful day, we would love to meet you today!

More Classes!

DSC_0432

We will be having another class at the Oil City YWCA on Saturday June  10th and will cost $25. The seats are limited, so register by calling the YW at 814-676-6528.  We will be making products for you to take home that are associated with summer, well worth the price of the class!