Have Autism, Will Travel & the Wonderful People of Delta Airlines

Clicking through the internet a few months ago, I stumbled upon a story about an Autistic girl who was kicked off a United Airlines flight.  I cringed!  You see, we were planning a trip that would involve 4 separate flights, each with a different crew and my very anxious, getting-bigger-than-his-mommy Autistic son.  It had been a while since we had flown, and I was hopeful that this time would be better than the last but after reading the story of what would be my worst nightmare, I wondered if the tolerance of the flying public had finally snapped.

There was nothing we could do but hope for the best and plan for the worst… And plan, we did!

As is true with many individuals with Autism, our son has an obsession.  The one topic that he can never get enough of…. and for him is is Delta Airlines….  Now, mind you, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he is excited to get on an airplane.  He just thinks that if you do so, it should be on Delta!  For a few years now he has been collecting anything he can that says Delta on it.  Our wonderful friends and family always bring or send him whatever loot they can get off a flight, from wings to cookies… even napkins…  A flight attendant friend once sent him a box of goodies that kept him happy for weeks….

So of course we booked our flights with Delta.

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I need to stop this little tale for a second and tell you that, having been a part of the special needs community for most of my life, I have observed a few things.  And one of those things is this:

There is a lot of entitlement that goes on in the hearts and minds of some of us…. 

This belief that, because my life has this extraordinary challenge attached to it, I deserve my fair share of special treatment.  There is some truth in this… cause, I am not gonna lie…. We need a little extra help!  But that does not give us the right to be demanding or ungrateful for those who must go the extra mile on our behalf.

So we planned!   First I planned out all the food and special treats that Jonah would need over the course of those 4 flights… Nobody wants to sit next to a hungry kid!  We made sure there was toys, games & videos to help hold his interest.

Next we turned our attention to those who would be serving us on the flights.  We made up this little note card, attached it to a candy bar and passed them out to the entire crew on every flight.

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The response from this little act of appreciation was absolutely amazing!!!

I am happy to tell you that there are some amazing men and women jetting all over the skies and when you take a moment to truly appreciate their service, they will go above and beyond the call of duty!  Such was our experience.

We didn’t fly first class, but I felt like a celebrity on those flights.  Each person working the flight took the time to find us and thank us for the goodies.  They then proceeded to check on us on a regular basis to see if we needed anything.  Each of them took a moment to acknowledge Jonah and bring him special stuff to make his flight more fun.  On every flight, he was invited to the Cockpit by the Captain and on the last leg of our journey, Captain Tim Garvin finally succeeded in getting Jonah to agree.  You see, our kid was still a little nervous but the kindness of the flight crew won him over.

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Why am I sharing this story with you?  Because I want to share that there are really wonderful strangers in the world and when we treat them with kindness and appreciation, they will often respond in the most wonderful way.

A few weeks after we came home from our trip, the postman left a package on our doorstep.  I wasn’t expecting anything so I opened it with great curiosity.  In it, I found the most amazing gift for our Son.  Captain Garvin, who had already exceeded his duty in his kindness to Jonah, was not done yet.

Inside the box was a real, honest to goodness, Delta Captain’s Hat!  The beaming joy that sprung to this boy’s face was priceless.

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So if you find that the world is not quite meeting your expectations when it comes to your child with Special Needs, try a different approach.  Kindness and Gratitude has given us much more than an entitled attitude ever has.

A very special THANK YOU to the wonderful people of Delta Airlines for their extraordinary service and understanding they showed to one little Autistic boy who will forever be their biggest fan!!!

New Mercy Moments: Overflowing

The day starts early.  The sun has not even hinted to it’s arising when the alarm sounds in the darkness.  I head straight for the kitchen to plug in the coffee pot.  This amazing man who has joined his life to mine, he always has the Peculator filled and ready.  His day starts hours before mine but at the moment I plug in the machine and hear it start to breath and bubble, I thank God for my sweet husband and how he speaks my love language… Coffee!

In the cold, dark kitchen, I fill my cup and sip in the quietness before the rest of the house has powered up.  Mornings are a new thing for me.  For many years I was a die-hard homeschool mom whose day started at a much more leisurely pace.  Coffee time could last until well into the day and getting dressed was optional.  Things are different now.  Life is busier and quieter all at the same time.  A new season… a path we have not walked before.DSC_0006-002

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trusting Him, So that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13

This week, as the car broke down, the water quit running and the hours rush on with never enough of them in the day, I ask myself….. “Am I overflowing with Hope”?  Many are concerned about events in the world and what our lives will look like in the future.  Sometimes I can’t get beyond my own small life and the trials that sometimes seem larger than my strength.

And yet… there is a quiet hope.  Maybe not the overflowing kind that I seek, but still….

You see, I am so filled with love from my Savior.  Every day, he shows me in new ways how great is His love for me.  It is a steady knowing in the midst of the unknown.  He is a God who’s very nature is Hope and as I trust in Him I am truly filled with Joy and Peace… the kind that surpasses all understanding.

As I sit outside surrounded by the changing colors of Autumn,  I watch my sweet boy who is pulling the leaves off the trees just because he loves to watch them fall.  His life is full of uncertainty and trials and yet such a simple joy that if fills me with wonder as I watch him play.  His happy giggle rings in the crisp fall air and it warms my heart.  It also reminds me to cast my cares on the one who cares for me.  Then I find my own hope and joy rising to a point where is just might overflow.

DSC_0037Friends, if you find yourself in changing times that weigh heavy on your fragile heart, Trust in Him who is the God of Hope.  Cast your cares to the wind and watch them blow away with the turning leaves.  Sometimes it really has to be a choice.  Sometimes we must choose the peace that He offers.  Practice with me the art of letting go.  Choose peace and joy today when fear comes knocking.  Together we might find that place of overflowing hope that the world so desperately needs.  And we may find that those New Mercies are always right there for the taking.

 

Finding Rest When You Can’t Sleep

Now that I am actually getting some, I have some new perspectives on Sleep.

First, let me tell you that I have been an un-apologetic co-sleeper for most of my children’s young lives.  My husband and I both loved having all 3 of our kids tucked in and around our bed each night.  This is not the life for everyone and not what this story is about but is part of our story and I have wonderful memories of those days…But there comes a time in every child’s life when it is time to move on to their own little space in the world of sleep.   

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For my first 2 children, this transition was gentle and mostly peaceful.

 But Autism is a different story and a great night’s sleep in not always a part of it.

For the past 15 years, there have been hundreds of times that my husband has recited this bible verse over us as we prayed for our family at bedtime.

… For the Lord gives sleep to those he loves… (Psalm 127:2)

… And if I am honest, I resented that statement for years.

“Don’t you love me, Lord”?

Through the watches of the long, dark nights, I would often ask this.  Of course, as a good Bible-Girl I already knew the truth.  OF COURSE HE LOVES ME!  Then why will you not grant us a peaceful night’s rest?  I would hold my chattering, shaking, and restless, agitated boy and plead with God for rest.  Some nights were better than others, but I did not sleep thought the night for 15 years.

DSC_0084-001We tried every natural remedy known to man.  Melatonin, herbs, oils, sound machines, weighted blankets, occupational therapy, massage and lots of prayer.   I need to tell you that I am someone who functions very well on very little sleep.  At least there was that, I reasoned.

But as I look at the verse from Psalm 127 again, I see something different. When I read it in it’s entirety, it looks a little different to me.

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.  Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.  It is vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. Psalm 127:1-5

This verse is reminding me that every attempt I make to save myself is in vain.  But rest comes as I find my portion in God and his great love for me.  I am also realizing that God has, indeed given me both sleep and rest.  In all my nights of murmuring before God, I was forgetting that I did sleep… sometimes only minutes at a time, sometimes hours, but it was enough.  Enough that I never actually suffered some of the terrible side effects of sleep deprivation.  Instead of being resentful for what I don’t have, I am so thankful for what I have been blessed with.

I have been blessed with strength and joy, even after those hard nights.  I get new mercies every morning and can choose to walk in them no matter how long the weeping of night endures.  Joy does come and I am thankful for it.christmas eve 003-001

Six months ago, we did finally decide to seek professional help.  It was a hard decision to make for this all-natural, daughter-of-a-hippy gal.  Our son has been on sleep medication since then, and while it was not a magic pill, it did help all the other things we were trying seem to be more effective.  I am happy to tell you that he is sleeping in his own room, in his own bed from 9:30 pm to 6:00 am for most nights.  After 15 years, I have had to work on sleep training myself but I am getting longer and longer stretches of sleep every night.  We occasionally have hard nights still but we have a lot of appreciation for the good ones.

If sleepless nights are part of your story, I want you to know that you are not alone.  Not because there are lots of us mamas in the same boat, but because your Creator, who holds your every moment in his hands, promised that he would walk with you through the long, dark nights and offer you peace and rest, even when sleep is hard to find.DSC_0476-001

Finding Hope When Autism Hurts

scan0006I have always been an optimist. A “glass half full, look on the bright side, nothing bad is going to happen”, kind of person.  So when our son was diagnosed with Autism at his second birthday, it was good friends and the hope for better days that got me through it.  You see, I was certain that God would heal him.  In fact, I told myself that Jonah would be healed by his third birthday.

We have had quite a few birthdays since then.

We have also had a lot of therapies, supplements, diets, exercises and conferences. All that promised to make a difference in his diagnoses.   None of those things are bad, but we had to quit chasing a cure.

Still, I hoped.  I heard that things could get easier as he got older.  I held on to this hope.  But “Hope differed makes the heart sick.” (Proverbs 13:12) and my heart is aching.

We have had some hard days of late.  As Jonah gets older we are seeing some unsettling behaviors increasing.  He is also getting bigger…. and stronger!  I recently got my first “Autism Bruise”.  Not the figurative kind.  The real life, black and blue, hurts like the dickens kind.  During an overreaction to being scratched by the kitty, Jonah flailed and screamed until I got kicked in the leg trying to comfort him.

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I can no longer put my hope in brighter days ahead.  In fact, it is a painful reality that things may get worse before they get better.

And then, the Great Comforter comes softly and whispers to my soul,

“I am your only HOPE”.

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. Psalm 43:5

You see, there never was any real hope outside of Him.   And my hope in Him is not for what he can do for me, though I believe very much in His power to heal.  My hope is that through Him, I can find strength for today.

Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you Psalm 33:22

It is His steadfast love that I need to walk in.

With that, what else could my soul need?

I know that there will still be days that my heart aches with the overwhelming task in front of me. I need to continually re-center my hope solely in Christ alone and the work he finished for me. I will need to ask for his grace as I fail to keep my eyes on the prize of His Glory alone.

But in this moment, I find my Hope is renewed and I have the strength for one more day.  That is all we are promised…. And that promise is enough for my aching heart.HopeClick on photo for purchasing options.

I Shall Not Be In Want

117 Every evening we have a little ritual called

“Family Time”

We all snuggle up in Jonah’s bedroom and tuck him into bed. He then declares “time to say your prayers”. He prays the same prayer every night. It is one that he learned from a 321 Penguins video.
Among other things, he thanks God for the “really cool spaceship in the attic”. We don’t actually have a spaceship in the attic but it’s ok. I don’t think his Heavenly Father minds and neither do we.

Then, all together, we recite Psalm 23
The LORD is my Shepherd; I shall not be in want….
We continue on though the whole chapter but today my heart stopped on that first verse.

Other versions say it this way.
I have all that I need. I lack nothing.
It is because the Lord is my shepherd that my heart can find contentment in any circumstance.

We live in a world that constantly tells us to want more. More money, nicer clothes, better car….
But what about good things like a better marriage, another child or healing from Autism?

I am not saying that we should never want anything.  But my heart is learning that to be in a constant state of wanting is exhausting.
To rest in the strong arms of a Good Shepherd who knows all my needs and desires is all my soul really craves. To find contentment in any circumstance because He is with me and his presence is enough.
Enough to fill the empty spaces that the wanting leaves behind.
You find me grateful this evening for a Savior who holds my heart and allows every desire to be filled in Him.

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Greetings

Our Son is special.  He is beautiful and loving and different.

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For the past seven years, a lovely woman at church has faithfully greeted him every week.  She puts up her hands and does a “high five” and then they keep going, counting by fives till they get to one hundred.  Then they do a “whoo Hoo” and a happy dance!  After years of this little game, he looks for her every week, Sometimes interrupting her as she speaks with big, important people.  She never waivers.  She is always ready for their greeting.  She knows that it is what he needs.

On Wednesdays, He and I drop my daughter off at youth church.  He holds my arm as we walk through the lobby.  Most kids of that age are a little uncomfortable with him.  Not sure what to do so it’s easier to do nothing.  A few weeks ago, a young man of 15 walked right up to us, looked my son in the eye and said “ Hi Jonah”.  I was so blessed.

I have a sister who is also special and different.  She is physically and mentally disabled.  I live far away now but sometimes when I call home, my mom will put her on the phone.  I always sing the same childhood song over the phone:DSC_0275

The steadfast love of the Lord

never ceases

His mercies never come to an end

They are new every morning,

new every morning

Great is thy faithfulness oh Lord, Great is thy Faithfulness

  Sometimes she sings the abc’s while I sing. Sometimes she just babbles.

Sometimes she hangs up.

But every once in a while she will belt out the words and sing with a heart that rings as clear as a bell!

Many of my friends make a lovely effort to greet my Son.  He doesn’t always respond.  It still means so much to me.  Not because he is “special needs” but just because he is special.  The same way that all of us are special…  The children of the Most High God.

In Acknowledging one another we can give glory to the Creator.

So find someone who might be lost in the shadows.  Make an effort, even if it is uncomfortable.  Teach your children to Greet the young and the Aged and the disabled.  Make a habit or a High five or a song with someone who needs a little extra stability in their life.  You may or may not make a lifelong friend.

But you will find your reward in Eternity.

This post was also Shared on Sunday Social Blog Hop.

Fear Not

Fear you not; for I am with you: be not dismayed; for I am your God: I will strengthen you; yes, I will help you; yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness. Isaiah 41:10

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What are you afraid of today? What would it take for you to step out of that Fear and into a place of Peace and Faith? Walk with me into the light of hope for our future with the knowledge that the hand of our creator holds us tight!