Don’t give up! You’re on The Edge of a Precipice

20180618_133059I have a message burning deep in my heart that I want to share. When darkness closes in all around you and it feels like you are going to suffocate from lack of hope, don’t give up—you are on the edge of a precipice!

The definition of precipice is this:

Precipice

[presuh-pis]
noun
  1. a cliff with a vertical, nearly vertical, or overhanging face.
  2. a situation of great peril: on the precipice of war.
I have been on this precipice many times in my life. Sometimes I found myself there from choices I made, but many times I found myself looking off a cliff from situations that simply presented themselves.There are a few choices we can make when we find ourselves here:
  1. Go back the way we came and deny it.
  2. Find other routes to escape it.
  3. Face and accept the seemingly impossible challenge.

I have tried all three! I can say, without a doubt, facing and accepting our challenges is the only choice we have to growing healthy and moving forward.

I have had situations all my life in which I had to choose not to give up. I was born to overcome; nothing in my life has been easy for me. I was the youngest of five, born into a turbulent time. My mother had given up and over to alcoholism, and my dad was an oft-absent traveling salesman. I got a lot of attention early on for being the “baby”, but that soon lost its luster, and I usually felt like I was just in the way, the third (or fifth) wheel, and definitely not preferred over anyone else in the family. Although I now see everyone was trying to do the best they could, the attachments at home were not secure for me.  I was abused in different ways, which further lead me to finding my own ways to detach and protect myself.

Elaine Aron, in her book The Highly Sensitive Child, says:

All childhoods are not equal. Some are truly horrible. And they can differ within the same family. Statistical analyses of the influence of family environment on different children in the same family show no overlap. Your brothers or sisters lived a totally different childhood. You had different positions in the family, different early experiences, even in a sense different parents, given how adults change with circumstances and age.

When I was in middle school and high school, I had the potential and some outside encouragement to really excel in music or writing, but I think the lack of concern at home made me lose motivation to exert any effort. I regret, yet accept not having the wherewithal to take advantage of those opportunities better. I felt unnoticed by my family whether I did something really well or not, so I took the path of ease. There was no support or excitement about what I might become; I only felt the annoyance of others if I asked for help. I have in recent years recognized when those feelings resurface as an adult, and have seen the same scenario play out in my marriage at times.

It has required a lot of dependence on God, prayer, and therapy to work through these deep wounds that have affected my person, marriage, and my own family. First and foremost, I have to believe that I am loved, accepted, pleasing, and forgiven by God. This is where all of my significance lies. I have found Robert McGee’s book Search for Significance to be authoritative on this subject and extremely healing to me.

When you find yourself stuck in life or turning to things you never thought you would engage in to get relief, you owe it to yourself and others to take the time to find out why. We deceive ourselves when we think we can leave one bad situation and move into another one that will magically be healthy without any work. It is a process and a journey that is lived one healing minute and hour at a time.

When you find yourself with your back against the wall, suffocating in the hopelessness, what are you going to do? Remember the three choices from the beginning: we can go back the way we came or stay in the same old ruts and familiarity, but I challenge you that is not the way of healing. We can find other routes and escapes. Again, this is where dependence or addiction to drugs and alcohol, and idolatry of every kind comes in. We can choose it, but it will take us in to a greater bondage than the momentary relief it brings. I have made this choice in a variety of ways, I have been destitute, shed many tears and almost completely lost hope for choosing this way.

The third choice, however, is facing and accepting that our situation is hard and taking that challenge. This is difficult, but healthy, because it is walked out in truth. Of course, I am not suggesting that you should remain in a state of hopelessness or receive any kind of abuse. God came to set the captive free and loose the chains of bondage. We are not living healthy lives if we are enabling others to abuse us and perpetuate the cycle. God calls us out of darkness and into His light, and sometimes it is a bloody battle to get there.

I am saying that when we find ourselves in desperate situations, that is usually an alarm that there is something to address. This alarm contains the perfect opportunity for healthy change. The thing about precipices is that there is something vast waiting on the other side, a lively and healthy adventure that you will never know unless you decide within yourself that this is the way of peace, even if it is difficult.

Whether you are in a circumstance of your own making or have done nothing to deserve your position, do not give up! Take courage! Forgive yourself, love yourself, realize that you are accepted and pleasing to God and that that is more than enough, even if others are rejecting you.

I bought a plaque to hang on my wall. I bought it after I had caused a great disturbance in the lives of many because of some of my behaviors. It says: Let your courage set you free! I still look at it and am strengthened by it. I am weak, but Jesus says, “When you are weak, I am strong in you.” That gives me courage. I do not have to muster something that I do not own, but I can let Him do it through me as I am a container pouring out. He can supernaturally change situations if we are open to Him and have faith in Him to change us and change the situation.

You have to believe that you were created for something greater than you can imagine. Maybe you have been climbing up a sheer cliff for many years;  you haven’t reached a plateau or a resting spot in what seems like forever. I understand! My husband and I have gone from one hard or devastating circumstance to the next. Even if I chose to escape for a while, I eventually had to return to the place that I needed to accept the situation and see how I could change or grow while going through it.

It’s like being in labor with a baby; at the point that you think you cannot go on in labor, the baby is just ready to emerge. Every single time I was reaching a precipice, it felt excruciating, like I didn’t have the energy to go on. But every single time, there was freedom and a higher understanding on the other side. Just over the crest is where new life begins; there is no turning back when you keep that perspective.

So, the message that burns within me is this: You are not alone! Do not give up! You are only on the edge of a precipice.

 

Our Personal Autism Awareness Journey

 

 

Every April 2, the world celebrates International Autism Awareness Day. Before I had a child with autism, I used to think it was an over-diagnosed disorder caused by immunizations. However, once our youngest son, who we never immunized, was diagnosed with autism, I began to walk in a different pair of shoes.

In the years since my son’s diagnosis, I’ve done a lot of research. And while I do think immunizations can exacerbate autistic symptoms in children, I now know some more facts about the prevalence of this little-understood condition:

  • Autism affects 1 in 68 children.
  • Autism prevalence figures are growing, becoming one of the fastest growing developmental disorders in the US.
  • Autism costs a family $60,000 a year on average.
  • Boys are nearly five times more likely than girls to be on the autistic spectrum.
  • There is no medical detection or cure.  Research by Autism Speaks

Since we discovered our now thirteen-year-old son’s autism, our family has worked hard to manage and improve the various impacts that autism has. Our son has been in some form of therapy since he was three to four years old. We’ve had some extremely grueling years of day to day therapy at home, including vision therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and vestibular therapy. We have worked a lot on large and small motor skills through the years. Doing “simple” things like tying shoes or using scissors are not easy for him, but he can do it. He gets overwhelmed very quickly, and moving from one activity to another is extremely hard for him.

All of our children have had food allergies and sensitivities and with the research that has been done in relationship to gluten intolerance and Autism,  we just felt it was wise to keep him on a gluten-free diet. We have had extensive tests done through the years regarding the vitamins and minerals he needs as well as pre- and probiotics to keep his system regular. We also found that a very low dose of a stimulant medication helps to support his ADHD. All of these interventions, along with physical activity and heavy structure, have proved to support all over well being and reduce self-injurious behavior.

Behavioral therapy has been an ongoing challenge for all of us. Tools that my husband and I use as parents have to change several times in a course of a day or a week. What worked last week like a charm will not necessarily work today. Obviously, this can lead to strain in our own relationship as we work to adequately parent this child. Nothing has been more difficult in our marriage. We have also attended family therapy, as the tension on the typical siblings have proved to be extremely stressful as well. We have learned ways to communicate better, using common terminology and allowing everyone to share their feelings during meals or family meeting times.

According to Dr. Robert Naseef, Autism in itself doesn’t necessarily cause divorce, but living with a child who has challenges brings out all the weakness in your marriage. We have both wanted to leave the situation out of sheer frustration and exhaustion, and there was a time in our marriage when we were ready to call it quits. In our effort to rebuild our relationship, we knew our number one objective had to be parenting this child with as much unity as humanly possible. We also realize that we hyper focus on the autistic child, by shear virtue of his particular issues. We work very hard at trying to have a positive, strengths oriented atmosphere. We have a black board in our dining room and we will often write positive quotes, mantras or scriptures to encourage and inspire each other.

Socially, our son has a great desire to have friendships, which can be unusual for someone on the autistic spectrum. Unfortunately, his desire for companionship is not often reciprocated by his peers. Because he has remained socially immature, the friends he had when he was younger have moved on to other friendships. We have, however, found a few families who invite our son for play dates or sleepovers, and it is much-needed respite for all of us, including him—he gets tired of us too!

Our son is very bright and extremely creative. He likes to write movie scripts and draw cartoons. He likes gaming, Minecraft and Legos, riding his bike with us on the bike trails, taking hikes and visiting the lakes and creeks in our area.

We have tried our hand at homeschooling and private school, but we have landed at our local public school that has more access to learning supports and accommodations. When we first attended the orientation for high school, we sat down and created a short biography with our son with his picture on it. It reminded teachers that our son did have an IEP and included information about his likes, interests, strengths and vulnerabilities. We gave one to each teacher as we entered the class and they all said that really helped them get to know our son much faster than they would have with out it. We have contacted every teacher through email and keep in touch asking them to notify us as soon as something transpires in their class as opposed to waiting for a slip from the school, which can take up to a few weeks. The opportunity for bullying at school is always present and our son has had his run-ins with it. We call his school case worker and principal right away at the first sign.  Our son has not always acted in sound judgement in his behavior and it is met with swift removal of gaming that must be earned back. Teachers, counselors and administrators appreciate our communication and participation in our son’s education and we all have the sense that we are supporting each other to meet the goal of success for our son.

Through the years, we have tried several group sports, some successful and some not such a great idea. He had the most success with flag football this last fall and he just started our school’s track program a few weeks ago! It is his first ever group sport where he has had a strenuous practice every day after school! It is a personal best sport as well as team effort, and he definitely has exceeded his ability since last year at this time, just by showing up for practice. Our son also likes to wrestle and roughhouse with us. I started doing yoga three years ago and working out at the YMCA just so I could be strong enough to handle my fast-growing son. Every day takes an immense amount of mental and physical stamina, and it is all beyond our human capacity.

When I gave birth, we found out that I had a ruptured uterus and that it had been so for some time. He and I really should have died. His name means “gift,” and on our hardest days we choose to remember that. We have spent the last thirteen years trying to readjust and relearn everything we did with our first three, “typical” children. All the while, we keep in mind that this child is exactly who he was meant to be, and as messy as it can be some days, we are all learning and growing together.

Every day is like the movie Groundhog Day here; we get up each morning and start the process all over again. I would like to say that we have no doubt he will grow up to be a self-sufficient human being doing amazing things in the world, but I would be lying to say I was confident. I know he is capable of greatness and deep down that is who he is, but we have so many days that we struggle and feel inadequate.

As parents, we give all the tools, love, and encouragement to our children we can give, and they make their own choices. So we continue to pray,  move forward, try new things, grow one minute and one day at a time, and celebrate all the little victories along the way<3

True Self

20180410_142256

I have been on a journey the last few years. I had been calling it a healing journey, but Kelly Flanagan in his book, Lovable, has challenged me to call it being wholed. I resonate with that because I often pray Shalom over myself and others. The Hebrew word, Shalom, is often linked to the word peace but it is so much more than that, it is wholeness, integrity, completeness, perfection.

I am not writing from an attitude of wholeness today. I feel anything but whole, complete or perfect. But it does not really matter how I feel about it! My true self is whole, complete, full of integrity and perfect!

“In the first act of life, we begin to overcome the disunity at the center of our self, which was wrought by our shame. We embrace the confused and lost little one in us, we return to our worthy and good-enough soul, and we come back into union with the divine spark underneath our underneath. We coalesce around our true self.” KF

I started painting with my daughter during the time my husband and I were separated. We have continued this activity together and it has been wholing. I painted this the other evening. I have been intensely wrestling with God concerning my purpose and my passion. It feels like there is nothing left to squeeze out of me, nothing else to burn, waiting for the “who I am on the inside and what I do on the outside to become one”.

The separateness we feel is truly an illusion and I am easily convinced by it when I see how I behave sometimes or when I look at my circumstances. But the truth is, I am whole and complete and perfect. I have a life full of meaning that is repeatedly being pulled free from shame and into my divine purpose. That is my true self.

Autism Awareness!

shine a light on autism

Did you know?

  •  Autism now affects 1 in 68 children…1 in 42 boys.
    Autism prevalence figures are growing.
  • It is one of the fastest growing developmental disorders in the US.
  • Autism costs a family $60,000 a year on average.
  • Boys are nearly 5 times more likely than girls to be on the autistic spectrum.
  • There is no medical detection or cure.

Before I had a child with Autism, I used to think that Autism was an over diagnosed disorder and it was caused by immunizations. After studying much research, I think immunizations can exacerbate the autistic symptoms in children, but our son never had immunizations ,so it is not the only cause.

As far as Autism being over diagnosed, I walk in a different pair of shoes and no longer see it that way any more.

Our son has been in some form of therapy since he was 4. There were some extremely grueling years of day in and day out therapy at home including; vision therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and vestibular therapy. We have worked a lot on large and small motor skills through the years. Doing “simple” things like tying shoes or using scissors are not easy for him, but he can do it!! He gets overwhelmed very quickly and moving from one activity to another is extremely hard for him ( and all of us who are in a hurry;-)

Behavioral therapy has been an on going challenge for all of us. “Tools,” that we use as parents, have to change several times in a course of a day or a week. What worked last week like a charm, will not necessarily work today in the same scenario. Nothing has been more difficult in our marriage. It is not that Autism causes divorce, it is just that if you live with a child that has challenges, it brings out all the weakness in your marriage. We have both wanted to leave the situation out of sheer frustration and exhaustion, and we had a time when we were ready to call it quits. In our effort to rebuild our marriage, we knew a number one target had to be parenting this child in as much unity as humanly possible.

Our son has a great desire to have friendships, which can be unusual for someone on the Autistic spectrum, but it is not often reciprocated. And as our son has stayed immature socially, his younger “typical” friends have moved on to other friendships. We have, however, found a few home schooling families who invite our son for play days or sleep overs! It is must needed respite for all of us…he gets tired of us too!!

Our son is very bright and extremely creative! He likes to write movie scripts and draw cartoons. He likes to play Mine craft and play with Legos. He likes to ride his bike with us on the bike trails. Of course he likes video games, but these are used as incentives and rewards for appropriate behavior. Through the years, we have tried several group sports, some successful and some not such a great idea! He had the most success with flag football and we are trying track this spring! He likes to wrestle and rough house with us. I started doing yoga three years ago and working out at the Y,  just so I could be strong enough to handle my fast growing son! Every day takes an immense amount of mental and physical stamina and it is all beyond our human capacity.

When I gave birth, we found out that I had a ruptured uterus and that it had been so for some time! He and I really very easily could have/ should have died. His name means gift, and on our hardest days we remember that.

We have spent the last 13 years trying to re adjust and re learn everything we did with our first three “typical” children. All the while, we keep in mind, he is exactly who he was meant to be! Every day is ground hog day here!! We get up and start the process all over again. I would like to say that “we have no doubt that he will grow up to be a self sufficient human being doing amazing things in the world”….but I would be lying! I know he is capable of greatness and deep down that is who he is, but we have so many days that we struggle and feel inadequate.  He is like all of our other children in this respect; we give all the tools, love, and encouragement we can give and he will make his own choices. Until then, we pray,  we move forward,  we learn and grow one minute and one day at a time<3

 

 

 

Why Did Jesus Die?

jesus-against-sunset

 

The Bible says this of Jesus in Isaiah 53:3, A man of sorrows and acquainted with our grief.

I was studying what each of these words means and I was so inspired to share it with all who would listen!

Acquainted- To intimately know or experience. To be in union with to be inside.
Sorrow- Pain, mental anguish, sadness, to be plunged into grief, personal destitution and loss.
Grief- Sickness of mind and body, mental anguish, despair and depression, wounded by an enemy, trauma.

This means that when Jesus died on the cross, He took your/ my grief upon Himself. He has a personal history of your/ my grief! You/ me were made one with Jesus and He went to the cross as you/ as me! He took EVERY sorrow, trauma, torture and pain, on Himself.
Are you feeling lost? Are you feeling sad, depressed, alone, confused, hopeless? There is One Person who truly understands and took it all to make you/ me whole. The wounds of the past, even in the last minute, have been flooded with grace, hope and complete wholeness in Jesus Christ. He meets us where we are, just as we are.

Just as your GPS finds you a new route when you get off course, start from here and exchange your path for His, who has laid down His life to give you everything Today! He understands you intimately and He died and rose again to live through you/ me in the world.

I pray the Holy Spirit would strengthen and comfort you today! I pray He speaks His love, His strength, and His re seeing of your life through His eyes! I pray the Blessing of God, to be love over you! I pray that you walk in the way of Life from this day forward<3

 

Sorrow And Joy

IMG_3637Photo by Gabrielle Allman

Can you  be grateful for everything that has happened in your life-not just for the good things but for all that has brought you to this day? Remember, it was the suffering of God’s Son that brought forth a family of people known as Christians.  My own suffering is what God used to bring me to where I am today.

Right in the middle of the tears, the dance of joy can be felt. Seen from below, from a human perspective, there is an enormous distinction between good times and bad, between sorrow and joy. but from above, in the eyes of God, sorrow and joy are never separated. Where there is pain, there is also healing.  Henri Nouwen

I found an old photo album that I had made my husband for his 4oth birthday.  I had asked people to write him notes or letters of how he affected their life. I peppered the letters with pictures of the writers and our family. Looking upon it made me smile and I was so grateful that I had the thoughtfulness of mind to do that when I did, for our mothers are no longer here with us. Their letters are especially special!

But looking at the album also brought a deep sense of gravity to all of the trials and tribulations we have been through. There have been so many, down- right, ongoing, hard times, with little release. I haven’t always handle them with grace. I have had an emotional break down and I have tried escaping. I understand what Nouwen is saying about our perceived distinction between good times and bad times.  And I can also bear witness to what was the apparent worst time of my life, bringing the exact change and healing that I needed.

We are all on this journey together. We can help each other become more grateful for life even with pain. God is hidden in the pain and suffering of the world, and we get to reach out in compassion and show our love to others…that is the point<3