New Mercy Moments: Darkness Into Light

A friend and I walked through the woods on a crisp September day.  In the midst of deep conversation about painful childhood wounds, we came upon this spider’s web, shimmering in the sunlight.                                                                                                                                                           I snapped a photo and we walked on.

Job 12-22

I have thought a lot about that walk and that conversation and the

pain that can be forgiven and healed but not forgotten.  

Deep places in the past that were dark and scary and poison to the very soul.  I have talked to many women who have found themselves entangled in the same gnarly web of shame.

Oh, but when we allow the light to shine and God’s love to heal, when we choose forgiveness and grace…. There is a beauty that is revealed and the light dances and shines and makes lovely that which was unloveable.  I am so thankful, today, that God redeems the darkness and from it creates a story that brings light to others.

Job 12:22 He reveals mysteries from the darkness And brings the deep darkness into light.

New Mercy Moments: Prayers For A New School Year

Sitting under the tree in the front yard, watching the light dance between the thinning leaves.  I know that soon they will turn and fall, with all the beauty and grace that Autumn brings.

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I am thinking about school and sending my kiddos off to the big building filled with concrete and Kids, hallways and hormones… It is still an odd place to find my heart.  We homeschooled until high school and then felt God calling us to send them to public school… Believe me, I questioned a lot.  Maybe we didn’t hear right.  Could this really be what God wants for my kids?  But now we are embarking on year 2 and seeing His Grace in it all.

But I am praying.  

Today I find myself praying about friends… asking God to bring divine appointments for new relationship.  Ones that will shape my kids for the better.  Friends that will feel safe…. Comfortable.  These are good prayers…Right?

Sure… But God nudges my heart… Don’t stop there

I still struggle with so much fear.

What if the friends He brings them are a little rough around the edges?… or what if their edges are broken?  What if these friends have no edges?  No Boundaries?  What then?

Day by day I am learning to trust Him with those who I hold the closest to my heart and day by day He has never failed us.  So I will pray that my kids are sent out to be light in the darkness, joy in the midst of sorrow, truth surrounded by lies.  That they will love the broken as well as the whole.  That they will not walk in fear but in POWER and LOVE and a SOUND MIND.  Will you join me in this prayer for all our kids?  And will you trust, with me, in the One who has called them by name and even now holds them in his strong hands?

Next week, I will pack lunches, write Notes, watch for busses and pray as if their lives depend on it!  And I will choose not to fear!

 

 

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.

Delta Boy-2

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!!!

Lunch Box Notes

DSC_0654Early every morning, with breakfast in their tummies and lunches packed, I send my 3 babies off to school.  Yes, I know they are nearly all teenagers and taller than their mama but still my babies.

School is a relatively new thing for us.  After over a decade of homeschooling, this is the first year that they are all attending school full time. It was a decision made with lots and lots of prayer and tears and discussion but we are finding God’s grace in it and so many valuable life lessons for all of us.

My sweet Girl is in 9th grade this year and it was her first time ever heading off to school, so on day one, I included an encouraging note in her lunch box so she would know I loved her and was praying for her.  Upon arriving home she thanked me for the note and said it made her day.  So started the tradition.

But you can only say, “I love you”, “have a great day” and “I am praying for you” so many times before they are just words on the napkin.  So I began to look for inspiring quotes and encouraging scripture to include in my daily doses of written love.

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Enter Pinterest!

I am not much of a Pinterest Pinner but I found that it was useful for collecting all these witty little pearls of wisdom I wanted to share.  I bought some index cards and every morning with my daily cup of coffee, I write a note.  Sometimes they are a fun quote from a beloved movie or book character, sometimes words from a song.  Often times it is wisdom from God’s word.  Paupers and Presidents alike have had profound words throughout the centuries that bear repeating.

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Sitting around the lunch table at our big public school she excitedly pulls out the note to see what it says today.  She smiles and friends ask what she is reading.  These words are now being read aloud daily or passed around quietly like a secret fortune cookie.  I pray for these kids, Many of whom don’t have Bible verses or words of wisdom spoken to them at home.  But because these notes include words from Taylor Swift and Bilbo Baggins as well as God, the Creator of the Universe, they pause for a moment to see what the Lunch Box Note says today.  It is my hope that these words will somehow may a difference in their day… even their Life!

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My daughter would often comment on her Lunch Box Note at the end of the day and Big Brother started to catch on to the fact that he wasn’t getting any such notes in his lunch.  The simple reason was that he leaves later, is a picky eater so he makes his own lunch and I wasn’t as involved in that process.  This semester his schedule changed so that he is leaving early and asked if I would start making his lunch.  “Of course,” I said.  Come to find out that the real reason was just that he wanted Lunch Box Notes too.

We will have 4 more years of High School and I hope to continue the tradition for as many years, though I am afraid I will run out of new things to write.  I suppose lots of words need to be heard many times in order to sink in so maybe I will start a note recycle program.  It is easy to find the old notes.  I find them pinned up all over my daughter’s room or stuck on the mirror in the bathroom.  When I started out with this idea, I never imagined that it would mean that much to them.  There have been a few days where I forgot or didn’t have time and I couldn’t believe the disappointment I heard at the end of the day. It means that much to them.

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So, I encourage you to start your own collection of words for your children.  Your’s may look very different than mine which you can find here on my Pinterest page)  but that is what will make it fun and unique to your little place in the world…  But someday, when they are old and grown with their own kids, there will be that conversation… you know the one.

“Hey, remember when mom used to put all those great notes in my lunch box?”

“Yeah, those were great…  I still have some of them”!

“I do them for my kids now too and they love it as much as I did”.

Do you have a quote you would like to share?  Maybe something said by your Great Grandmother or your 3rd grade teacher.  I would love for you to leave them in the comments so that I can add them to the inspiring words that shape my children’s lives.

You can also find me on Facebook and Pinterest.

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.

 

Pancakes (grain-free, dairy-free, low carb)

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Sunday Morning and fresh pancakes, hot off the grill… It is an experience that will always take me back to my childhood and that house on Middle Rincon Road with Dad in the kitchen beating egg whites into stiff peaks that would make Yosemite proud.
It usually was my dad who made Sunday Morning pancakes, though mom could certainly whip up a batch just as well. I guess it was their division of labor, or his labor of love or just the reality of Sunday morning and getting a big family fed and off to Church.  It could have been his way of reminiscing about the Company of two-hundred and fifty soldiers he used to cook breakfast for in the Armed Forces.  Whatever the origin of this  family tradition, it is part of the memory that shapes childhood and therefor life itself.
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It has been years since my Dad has made me pancakes, But I still remember the lessons…
“Make sure you beat the egg whites stiff.”
“The pan needs to be good and hot but not too hot… Sprinkle some finger tips full of water on it and see if the bubbles dance… then it is ready.”
Don’t flip it until bubbles start to form in the middle.  27 bubbles is good number.”
Well, The “27 bubbles” rule might have been a tad too literal but you get the idea.
We now have pancake traditions of our own that have included many different recipes through out the years.  Here is one such recipe.  This version is free of grains and dairy, is low carb and is delicious as pancakes or waffles.
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2nd Generation “Sunday Morning Pancakes”    
(click here for printable document: S pancakes)
3 eggs (separated)
Add yolks to a bowl or blender
Add whites to separate bowl and set aside
To the yolks, add:
1 1/4 cup almond milk (or other milk)
1/4 cup melted coconut oil (or other oil)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp truvia (or pinch of stevia powder)
1/4 tsp salt
Blend then add:
1/3 cup almond flour
1/3 cup coconut flour
1/3 cup ground flax
1 TBLS Baking Powder
Set aside.
Beat Egg whites for several minutes until stiff peaks form when removing betters.  (This step is optional but it is the secret for fluffy pancakes so I recommend it.)
Gently fold batter into egg whites, stirring g-e-n-t-l-y just until combined.
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In the meantime, preheat your griddle to a medium heat.  You know it is ready when drops of water sizzle when they hit the pan.  You want to cook these slowly to make sure they are done on the inside.  Watch for air pockets to rise to the surface before you flip.  (It took about 3 minutes on each side for me.)
Makes 8 to 12, depending on size.  Serve warm with butter and syrup of you choice or try my quick and easy  Maple-Butter Syrup.
DSC_1030Maple Butter syrup
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 tsp Maple flavoring
1 Tbls Truvia or other sweetener
Combine and heat and pour over cooked pancakes.
Hey Trim Healthy Mamas…. This recipe is to be enjoyed in an S setting… so go ahead and have a side of bacon and lots of cream in your coffee! Enjoy!
Would love to chat over on Facebook, if that’s how your roll!

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

Counting My Blessings

Children are a blessing and a gift from the Lord.  Psalm 127:3

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When I was a little girl, if you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have told you this. “ I just want to be a good wife and have lots of kids.”

So after practicing on everyone elses children  for nearly 20 years, I married in November of my 27th year and was thrilled to be pregnant by Christmas!  

 

Our son was born 6 and a half months later. After a traumatic birth and 32 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, bringing him home was

like a lifelong  dream come true.

Eighteen months later, our daughter was born and Twenty-four months after that we were blessed with another son.  We were on a roll and having a blast!

scan0020Just before turning two, our youngest was diagnosed with Autism.

 My perfect world crumbled and we leaned into Jesus in a whole new way.  In light of what was going on, we prayed about taking a break from having kids but felt like God was calling us to trust him in every area of our lives.  We had not used birth control up to that point.

On a warm June evening, my husband and I prayed together, affirming our trust in God in the area of our family.  We committed to letting Him control the size of our family and believed that we could rejoice in what he gave.  

This journey has been very different from the one I thought I was embarking on.

The next month, I thought for sure I would be pregnant… I wasn’t.

“Next month it will happen”, I told myself….  It didn’t.

Nor the month after that….

Next month turned into next year… and then the year after that.

The cycle of tears and pain through those years is something that I hid from most.  

I rejoiced with dear friends through pregnancies with babies number 4, 5 & 6.

I got lots of advice…

“Take these supplements.”

“Try this position.”

“It will happen when you stop trying.”

“God must know that you already have your hands full.”

We did not feel that going to doctors for fertility treatments was how God was calling us to trust him…. so we waited and prayed.

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My youngest son will be twelve soon and

I have never gotten pregnant again.

I will be 44 next month.

I have come to a place of peace and acceptance that I am not likely to have more children.

But I sometimes wish I could drown out that last little spark of hope that glows every month.  It has been 124  months of hope and disappointment and I am weary of the roller coaster ride.

But I want to take this opportunity to share with you some of what I have learned.

1. I am so thankful for the children I have.  I am truly rich beyond measure, especially when I consider the thousands of women who have never been able to bear children of their own.  I know now how little control I really have in this area and I feel so blessed to have been entrusted with my little troop.

2.  I can be over-the-moon happy for someone announcing their pregnancy and feel devastated for myself all at the same time.  I have learned that they are not competing emotions. Wanting to be blessed with what others have does not mean I cannot be happy that they are blessed.  I don’t have to resent that you have 10 children even though I could only have three.

3.  God is good and his love endures to all generations!  While I may not understand his plan and may sometimes like to share with him how I would handle this if I were God, my heart always comes back to knowing that His plans for me are good and there is no better place to put my hope and trust.  His grace is enough for even the most painful seasons of disappointment and I am thankful for that.
I am learning to find my contentment and peace in this journey.  Sometimes it gets easy, other times if feels heart crushing.  But it’s ok.

 When I am broken is when my Creator holds me the tightest.

 When I let go of all hope is when I find true hope in Him.

 He holds my world in his hands and I will trust in his Goodness.

If this journey is one that you are sharing, I want to remind you that you are not alone and that His Grace really is sufficient for us.

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