National Autism Conference-Days 2&3

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Can’t believe how fast this week is flying by! Dorian has been doing a great job of sleeping in a little longer than usual, enjoying his super comfy bed! He has been enjoying his “Children’s Institute” class and all of the activities they have been doing. Today, he had to wear his swim trunks to class as they were having out door water activities of all kinds! The grounds and the campus as a whole are extremely beautiful and relaxing.20170731_162813

Yesterday we went to a morning session on, “Using Drugs to Improve the Behavior of People with Autism” by Alan Poling, and learned that there really are not any specific studies for prescription drug use and Autism! Of course many people treat the symptoms of Autism such as ADHD and Anxiety with medication, but there just isn’t the data to show the benefits for Autism. Pediatricians weighed in on the conversation and said at the end of the day, they just have to “try” what is available and see how it works with a particular individual. I guess we were surprised that there isn’t more research or cutting edge information on the use of drugs for this wildly growing disorder, but we are not surprised that drug companies are in business to make a profit, not run studies:-(

In the afternoon, we went to a whirl-wind session given by Jolin Jackson on “Social Skills”. She gave about 6 hours of information in her fast paced 3 hour session!! I guess the biggest take away for George and I on the topic, were the use of  motivational items and reinforcements to encourage social skills and that we need to be consistent. There was SO much information in that session,  I am trying not to get bogged down with technical terms, but trying to take nuggets that I can implement in our daily lives pretty easily.

When we left there, we tried to go to a store before we went to dinner at a Thai Restaurant. Both ideas did not go well and it was very reminiscent of the time we had on  the trip here. George asked me to take over for him for a while, which we are both willing to do for each other, but it didn’t take me long to be in the same mental space as he was. We really were trying to expect too much. We hardly ever go out to eat with Dorian, it is just hard, and not enjoyable for anyone- so we did pretty amazing having several meals out together. The night before we went to the Happy Valley Brewery which is a super cool establishment! The food is excellent, as is the atmosphere, and all in all, it went as well as we could hope.20170731_165353

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Today’s sessions started with Judah Axe giving a lecture on Problem Solving. Excellent! Here is a list to consistantly go over with any child, but especailly important for your Autisitc child. In every situation get them to start asking and answering;
*what is happening?

*What are 3 things I can do?

*What might happen?

*Which one of those 3 things are better?

*How did I feel that it went?

We can see that implementing these questions consistently will get Dorian to start thinking about his actions and can be taken into every situation, eventually when we won’t be around to prompt him.

Our last session was on transitioning out of high school by Jane Thierfeld Brown. We also got alot out of this lecture and panel and are thankful that we heard the information now, while Dorian is starting high school. Jane high lighted how the biggest problem with Autistic children transitioning into college is, their parents having been doing way too much for them and not allowing them to be a part of their IEP’s or appointments. When the student gets to college, they do not even know what their disability is or clearly be able to state what they need their accommodations for! The parents are no longer, by law, able to communicate with school officials and it makes for a train wreck. I was reminded that although there are a few things that Dorian simply cannot do, and we have tried, there are many things we need to make him responsible for. Parents, one simple thing….make your child get up for school by him/herself!! We are doing many disservices to our children when we do too much for them. I have always had our children do their own laundry and make their own appointments when they had the skills to do so. I see that I handle more for Dorian than I did for the older children, but was challenged to change that potentially bad habit. Get more information on that and more from Jane at PaTTAN.

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This evening we went to Mt. Nittany and took a hike. We MOTIVATED Dorian with Pizza if he would do the trek with out any complaining! It worked and we had a great evening walking around parts of the Agriculture campus, eating ice cream at The Creamery and taking a late swim back at the hotel.On the way to the car, Dorian took my hand and said, “I like when you hold my hand, it makes me feel safe.”!! I celebrated that sentiment with him because he would not have been able to communicate that to us before-Praise God! As I am typing this, I am thankful for everything in this week and I am ready for bed;-)

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National Autism Conference-Getting There.

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We are blessed to be able to attend the National (and there are inter-national attendees here as well) Autism Conference at Penn State University this week! I thought I would blog nightly and reflect on the things from each day.

So now, I will back up and start at the beginning of this story :-)We never know how things are going to play out with our son in any given situation.  We have been prepping him all summer about this trip, but we cannot be sure how he is interpreting any thing. He is typically not happy about any plans we make that he hasn’t made, and he always complains, so we are used to that! We have to sell him on any thing we do except anything having to do with eating or playing video games of course!!

About 30 minutes into our trip a few incidents happened that made my husband pull the car over in a fury and make me want to say; “take me back home, I don’t want to go with either of you!” Sometimes it is one thing after another with our son. Things that make sense to him I guess, but drive us absolutely bonkers and add an incredible amount of stress to our marriage. During this frustrating scenario that was going on, my husband bit his own tongue by accident, enough to make it bleed!! It was just all so awful! I was angry and frustrated, they were each angry and frustrated, and then my heart went out to my husband because things like this happen so frequently. There was just nothing to say that was going to be helpful, I could only sit in the salty silence of acceptance. My flesh wanted to go home but I got out my guitar instead and started singing my songs.20170730_200513

We got through unexpected traffic and dinner ,which continued the “ordeal”, and made it to our room. The pool at the hotel is very nice and relaxation came, when we all got in the whirl pool. Peace…

When our son hit the bed, with all of it’s hotel comfyness and pillows, it didn’t take him long to go out! He looks so peaceful when he sleeps, all of that frustration he deals with in a day  fades away and it is well with my soul.20170730_223916

 

 

 

 

My Beloved

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“The core of my faith belongs to the conviction that you and that I and that we are the beloved daughters and sons of God. One of the enormous spiritual tasks we have is to claim that and to live a life based on that knowledge.” henri nouwen

I agree. It is something that I have been trying to wrap my mind around for the last few years, but more than that, asking God Himself to implant that deeply into my mind and my heart. I believe it is the core of living; looking past our “false self”, or our apparent self or circumstances to our “true self” who is the beloved of God to fully live as we were intended.

While meditating on Nouwen’s book, Spiritual Direction and his meditation on The Beloved, I wrote this song.

 

I am your beloved-you made me in eternity

You gave me love-so I could give it out-it will not run out in you

My beloved, my beloved, my beloved-Jesus

 

Here and now-your love is my power for victory- your song and strength to me

You will never leave- though the enemy tries to deceive- I will trust in you

My beloved, my beloved, my beloved-Jesus

 

You know my thoughts afar- you come to where we are- no stones, just nail scarred hands

You put them ’round my face- and sing amazing grace- love divine pouring into man

My beloved, my beloved, my beloved-Jesus

 

I pray that this love pours out of me to others and that I let it’s truth sustain me the rest of my life<3

Be Brave!

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I Started Doodling with my daughter who is still at home. We learned it from my friend who is on her umpteenth round of Chemo.  In the natural, she shouldn’t be alive. But she is Brave! She puts all of her trust and faith in Jesus and completely trusts Him to meet her needs and use everything to bring Him glory, even her Cancer and especially through her art.

The last 5 times I have seen my friend, who lives several hours away, I think it is going to be the last time I will see her. Her son surprised me last month by saying he was going to be driving her here to see her parents and asked if they could stay with us. Honestly I was a little stressed because I knew we had a lot going on that month, but God worked out all the details! I instantly was eager for the visit as they always end up being such a retreat for both of us. It like putting the world on hold and keying into a deep spiritual relationship with another saint. As it turned out, we were gone 2 of the days they were here which allowed them to have time and space to have visitors over! I made one request to my friend, that she teach me something of her artistic ability, because this is a sampling of art that I own from her…

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(See and BUY Jeanette’s art at her website; Jyvonne Inman)

I wanted to sit at her feet and learn something from her so I could say Jeanette taught me how to do this! It wasn’t easy for us to sit down and do that together. She had just found out upon arrival to our home that the cancer had grown in her back and she had been experiencing a lot of pain.

She had a fever a few of the days she was here, which is frighting to some one in her delicate state. She also got sick while she visited and was a bit weak.  But there was some space carved out one evening where she sat with me and my children and told us that all art starts with doodles!

Of course her doodles are masterpieces, but we all worked on our individual pieces as she related how the contrasts are often like the contrasts in life and wove kingdom lessons into everything she taught. “We can’t appreciate the light unless we compare it against the dark times.”

Here is my friend, our evening together and the doodle I made!

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I haven’t been feeling all that brave, strong or courageous lately, that is why I wrote the reminder down. After writing this post, I can’t help by be inspired by this woman who is incredibly brave everyday. From the time our children were all at home (11 children between us) and we were home-schooling moms, to this last visit, Jeanette has inspired me and brought the peace of Jesus to my mind and heart….and reminds me again to be brave. Thank you my friend, I love you<3

 

It Wasn’t Always Like This!

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Over the last year, my husband and I have something we call “Friday Morning Dates”. It wasn’t always like this. This year marks our 25th wedding anniversary and for 23 years of this adventure, we didn’t have regular dates.

In the last few years, after our separation, I started posting pictures of our Friday Morning Dates on Facebook to make memorials along our journey and to encourage others in what is possible when you let go and let God.

We, by faith, have trusted that if we are willing to make changes in ourselves, and literally throw ourselves on Christ, that something beautiful will, and has to, happen. Whether we would have remained married or not, we both had to deal with the deep root issues that neither of us wanted to face. We realized that those issues were in fact affecting all of our relationships and that we would just take them into a new relationship if we were not together.

We started completely cutting out things that didn’t serve ourselves individually and our marriage…like not discussing anything that could be emotionally charged after 7 P.M. and conversely, we realized we could not get our son ready for school together in the morning. One of us had to leave- we had to change our routine.

We decided to start praying every day for our marriage (George usually calls me on his way to work and usually on his lunch break). And we needed to start having a weekly date, even if it was short. So as soon as the kids got on the bus, one of us would make breakfast, wrap it up and we would head off to the bike trails in the area (even in the middle of winter!).

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Every week, we read a book we have been reading through for two years; Face To Face; Seven Keys to A Secure Marriage by Dr. Jesse Gill ( who we have since started a friendship with and a dialog about leading a group study with his book). This book, similar to Susan Johnson’s Hold Me Tight, in it’s focus on attachment,  has revolutionized the way we look at our negative marriage cycles.

After we spend some time reading through the book, we take a walk (even in the snow!) and listen to each other.

As I am reading this, I can understand how some would say, “my significant other would NeVeR take the time to do these things!” I have been there! As a matter of fact, when we started this process, many times I did not want to be on the date! Many times while we were on the way to marriage therapy, I couldn’t stand being in the same car! When we went to a marriage retreat, we didn’t stay in the same room! Like the title says,  it wasn’t always like this , and we certainly haven’t arrived but we are miles from where we started. I thank George every week for making the decision to change his Friday morning schedule to make his marriage a priority, because if he didn’t do that, I wouldn’t have remained.

It wasn’t always like this, and it will ebb and change again. But I want to encourage YOU to be willing to change and grow where ever you are, especially when things look bleak. And fall in love with  Jesus who loves you more than any other person in the world, who has a perfect future and hope for you and who WILL grow something amazing and beautiful in you using ALL the things in your life to accomplish it!

I’m Believing God

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Went to the doctor’s today

Left so upset at all the things he had to say

My mind flooded with pictures of the news

So many voices, so many ways to choose

I could slip away and stay in bed all day or I can face my fears there is another way…..

 

I’m believing God, He is who He says He is

I’m believing God, He created the heavens and the earth

He died and rose again

I’m believing God, His Word testifies of Him

I’ll only believe what He says, I’m believing God

 

Before I know it I give into despair

The bills, responsibility, does anybody care

I stop and sing a gentle song to Him

The Alpha and Omega, The beginning and the End

I could drown my sorrows, there are many ways

Or I could lift my hands to worship and Proclaim…

 

I’m believing God, He is who He says He is

I’m believing God, He created the heavens and the earth

He died and rose again

I’m believing God, His Word testifies of Him

I’ll only believe what He says, I’m believing God

(From I’m Believing God, Julia Allman c.2000)

 

 

 

 

Live (Fully) In The Now!

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Anxiety. Next to Inflammatory diseases, anxiety is a world-wide epidemic! Anxiety is constantly trying to get in my door and it has taken major vigilance to keep that evil, time wasting intruder out!

Yesterday afternoon I got pretty anxious…and isn’t it funny how everything looks insurmountable when that happens? The bottom line was that I needed some time alone. I asked my husband if he would take our over weight son running, (which was a source of my anxiety) as his ADHD was out of control yesterday. I workout all week to keep my vessel in shape and I make lists for our son every day (because that is part of our Autistic way of living), which includes exercise on it. But in my anxiety yesterday, I was feeling like my husband doesn’t have enough vision for the part he plays in our son’s physical fitness and that was adding to the pile. You micro manage when you have a special needs child, and you get tired of micro-managing…and I was tried.

Any way, he graciously agreed to take him out and after they left I decided to work on an art project while I was listening to a Malcom Smith teaching. I mentioned Malcom last week in a blog, he is a person who dedicates his life to teaching Christians who they are in Christ. I needed some of that soundness in my mind.

He was teaching that in this particular Psalm (103:1-5), David was talking to himself. He said “often we allow our self to talk to us, but David addressed himself and took authority over his inner person concerning the distractions and made himself Bless The Lord.” As he was teaching, he expounded on how anxiety is simply letting go of the peace that you currently have right now in the moment, and exchanging it for fear of any number of things! I resonated! That is so true. I had been thinking about my son not being physically  fit enough,  my husband not being pro active enough, the things I don’t have enough of, attitudes I have too much of, etc. etc.

Right now, In this moment, I have the Mind Of Christ as a Christian! I have the peace of God that surpasses all understanding that guards my heart and mind.  Right now, I do not have fear but Love, Power and a Sound Mind! God has never left me or forsaken me, He loves me with an ever lasting love and wants to build me. I have perfect peace when my mind is stayed on Him. I carry Jesus wherever I go, and He told me not to be anxious for anything, but to talk to Him about everything.

Why is it so easy to exchange all of that peace for fear… for a lie? Well, I have found it very easy to do, but I know what I heard Malcom Smith saying and what I was meditating on last night is truth an brought my mind into perfect peace. It is living in The Now, and realizing right now, I have everything I need in Christ Jesus. I can tap into the supernatural realm right now, because Jesus lives now and wants to abide in me as I do in Him. Heaven will be amazing with our new bodies and all, but I can live a supernatural life in this here and now and so can you!! Live Fully in The Now!

End Note; when the boys came home, we were all in our right, peaceful, strong minds! We all had the time and the adjustment we needed and I was in a very hopeful and encouraged state of mind<3