Titles and Labels

I’ve been open enough on my blog and in my everyday conversations that people know that we have two children with autism.  Our eldest Logan comes home for visits every Saturday, I go and pick him up.  Today there was a miscommunication and so I went and met him at the library.  Instead of making him miss one of his favourite places, we stayed at the library for a bit and I watched as our non verbal son, diagnosed with autism and global development delay conduct a search on google that would blow most people’s mind.

Logan started at the Google website.  He searched out Legends of the Guardians of the Ga’Hoole.  From there Logan proceeded very quickly through numerous pages of findings to find one specific video, only he wasn’t done there.  He scrolled to the end of that video where the video that he was searching for was.  He then fast forwarded that video to a specific spot, to the second, he watched 30 seconds of that video, and went back to the search page and scrolled through to page 25 of the google results to find the next video that he wanted to watch.  Which was highlighted at the end of another specific video.  This was literally done within one minute and a half, including the log on, the watching of the first video.

His labels or diagnosis, suggest that there isn’t much to his intelligence but watching him on the computer lends me to believe the exact opposite.  He’s quite intelligent and his memory is remarkable.  I’m always amazed by thing things that Logan can do. It’s made me look at labels as a means to get funding and help, but never as a way to explain WHO a person is.

I Am Not Alone

So if you have been following Steve or I over the past week or so on Facebook you know that life is up in the air for us. On Tuesday Steve was let go from his job at EFC and life both froze and sped up all at the same time.  Being a family that relies on one income, this is one of the worst things possible to happen.  We have to feed our kids, keep the mortgage up to date, and the list goes on.  It really is everyone’s worst nightmare I think.

Strange things happen to Steve and I when storms blow into our life, much like the one that is going crazy in our life right now. We tend to hunker down and get things done. We rarely panic anymore (although we both have our moments which thankfully is usually at different times).  Of course there is some anxiousness but an eerie calm tends to wash over us.

We had been talking prior Tuesday about the possibility of moving to Brantford to be closer to our church family at Queensway Baptist Church. We love being a part of the church there, but with the distance it’s hard for us to really get involved in the weekly activities.  So we’d been toying with the idea that perhaps a move might be beneficial for us and our kids.  With the events of this week, moving has become a priority. We are busy getting our house together and ready to sell.

Through these events, and even in the months leading up to this week I’d been listening to a song on Youtube by Kari Jobe entitled “I Am Not Alone”.  They speak to where I’m at , that I know that no matter what’s going on, I’ve got someone at my back. No matter how alone I may feel, I’m not. There is comfort in that.  Even in my moments of doubt and disbelief, when I think, “why on earth do I believe this” deep in my soul that I’m not ever alone. Too many moments in my life have been too coincidental for me not to believe in God and God is watching over me.

Today in the mail I received a copy of Kari CD, autographed no less.  She was at my brothers church out in Vancouver and he asked her for this. My brother had no idea that I would need that CD this week, that this song which was on the cd he sent me, had spoken to me over and over, that truth rang out whenever I listened to it. He didn’t know the events of Tuesday before he mailed it off to me. But today as I listened, I knew yet again, in a seemingly little but in fact big way, God had my back and used my brother to show it to me once again.

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“I Am Not Alone”

When I walk through deep waters
I know that You will be with me
When I’m standing in the fire
I will not be overcome
Through the valley of the shadow
I will not fear

I am not alone
I am not alone
You will go before me
You will never leave me

In the midst of deep sorrow
I see Your light is breaking through
The dark of night will not overtake me
I am pressing into You
Lord, You fight my every battle
And I will not fear

You amaze me
Redeem me
You call me as Your own

You’re my strength
You’re my defender
You’re my refuge in the storm
Through these trials
You’ve always been faithful
You bring healing to my soul

A Message to a Mom

Walking the play ground I hear parents whisper to each other or their children, “well that was awkward”, “I bet she’s embarrassed” “can you believe that kid?”.  I look ahead to where they were walking from.  A mom, struggling with her son. It very easily could have been me, a few days earlier. I smiled at her, tried to communicate with my eyes that I’d been there, I was sorry, you are not alone. But the fierceness in her eyes told me otherwise, maybe she thought I was judging her too.

Stubborn. Defiant. Trouble. Spoiled. Brat. Pain in the ass. All words that we may have used or thought when looking at this scene or one like it. Just because it didn’t come out of your mouth, doesn’t mean you’re off the hook here.

“I wouldn’t let MY kid do that.”  :Oh my gosh…why can’t she control her kid?” “She needs parenting classes.” “If my kid ever said that to me, xyz.”  Judgements that do more than judge. They pierce the soul.  They breakdown. They cause defeat, destruction to a mother or father who has said more of that to themselves at this point. They don’t need any more discouragement, they feed on it daily. it is what they are used to.

She was desperate.  At her wits end.  I don’t know who she was.  But I want to say one thing, you are not alone.  There are others out there who struggle as you are.  Our hearts ache too, desperate for understanding and change. For the road to somehow even out because when you woke up, you felt like today could be a good day and for having those hopes dashed. I judge you too but in a different way.

Hey Mom, Yes you, the one holding on by your fingernails. You are strong, you are doing a great job.  Hang in there, there is hope, grasp hard to it. Ask for help, talk about it. Don’t hide, you do not need to be ashamed. You are mom and you are good enough, you fight because you love him. You persevere because you love him.  You’re winning. Keep going. Don’t give up.  You’ve got this.

Compassion

In a world of technology and social media, we as human beings are losing our humanity.  In recent weeks I’ve read many stories from around the world where this is becoming more and more true.  We are cruel, intentionally.  I ache when I read these stories, cringe at the vileness of the words and actions.

Social media and technology has given us a facade, that somehow our actions won’t have repercussions.  We can video tape atrocities because it will go viral before your slow working conscious can kick in.  We find it humerus to hurt others, shun them, treat the inhumanely simply because we can and from behind the lens nobody will know its us.

We read stories and point fingers in judgement at those who are failing under the weight of their burden, who are making poor choices and who are suffering from addiction.  We fail to realize behind that persons seemingly heinous actions, is a person, who is in need of compassion and love.  So do we let them go without consequences? No but it is not right for us treat this person in the same manner they may have treated someone else, you become no better when you partake in their actions. There is no room for growth if a person is not believed in.

 

I tell my children often “you are not your behaviour, you are not your emotions.  You are a human being, and all human beings deserve respect and should have the opportunity to be loved.”  How can I teach this to them if I do not hold true to those same values and life my life accordingly? 

I have had many wrongdoings done against me.  Things that never should have happened but we live in a sinful world with fallen people.  Yet, God didn’t just come for the loveable, God came for us all.  If God who is perfect can love someone who commits the vilest of acts, ultimately against something created by God, then how can I say that I cannot try to do the same.  We fail and struggle daily with this, and I appreciate the struggle.  The struggle keeps me honest, the struggle keeps me real, the struggle makes me human.

When we are down in the pit of despair the last thing anyone needs, is to be spat upon and reminded of their wrongdoings. We need compassion, empathy and the reminder that we ourselves are human.  The act of gossip or teasing can sometimes be as lethal as pulling a trigger.  There are many ways in which we can injure another person.

Lets step out from behind our technology and our social media, lets get back to face to face conversations.  Lets remind ourselves that we are human beings, not some robotic machine.  We are no better than the person beside us, no matter the actions of that person. 

 

Inspiration

Often when I share on my blog about our circumstances I hear words like inspiring, refreshing, honest, real…and to be honest, while I love to know that I’m helping others by sharing my story, I’m also a bit baffled. I truly didn’t understand why this isn’t fishing for compliments. It has made me reflect on why we respond this way to others stories, myself included.  I have many friends  whose lives I find inspiring and helps me to push forward.

When we listen to each others life story, we try and put ourselves with our strengths and weaknesses, into the story tellers life.  We try to imagine what we would do in certain circumstances.  But here’s the thing, I can’t live my friend’s life story as much as she can’t live mine. She does an amazing job, let me tell you about her and her husband.

I have a couple of good friends who are married with children. Their family decided to open their home and foster children. Babies! Babies who have needs and demands. They were comfortably out of the baby stage, out of diapers and midnight wake up calls. They knew it wasn’t easy looking after and caring for babies but they opened their home none the less.  It’s inspiring to watch as both her and her husband love these boys like their own. I smile when I think about them and the advocates they are for fostering and the need for more families to step up.  They are ambassadors in their community; helping to bridge the gap between faith community and the fostering community.

When I look at their life I’m very quick to stay, I could NEVER do that.  But the truth is, when it’s your calling, if even you imagine it to be too difficult. Somewhere from deep with in you, the inspiration rises.  You learn and grow and its often painful but one day you wake up to realize, you’re there and living the dream.  I know for a fact that these friends of mine struggled for awhile to make this decision but watching them now, its an old comfortable sweater that is your go to when you need comfort, its something natural, something they were born to do.

The same can be said of many of us.  I have many friends who are inspiring in their every days lives, struggles that they deal with daily: single parenting, special needs parents, foster parents, adoptive partents, advocates, teachers.  My list can go on and on.  I find these stories inspiring because in all of them, there is strength, love, friendship, authenticity.

I asked a friend once, if I died what do you think you’d say about me.  What would be the quality that would stick out. He said something along the lines of you don’t bullshit..you are who you are and you tell it like it is.  My tendency to overshare my life comes from this point.  I’m the person you never want to ask “how are you?” socially because you might as well pull up a chair because you’re going to get told. I don’t ask the question unless I really want to know the answers.

Truth is freedom, it frees us to be who we are and it shows others that its ok to be authentic.  Life is too short to be fake. Be honest and be an inspiration to those around you as you share your story.

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Burden of Responsibility

We are in the midst of a very difficult time right now with our youngest son.  He is a really good kid most of the time but he has some serious anger issues.  We are doing the very best we can with him and are working very hard with community supports to get him all the help he needs.  Yet with all we are doing and have done there is one very difficult realization that I’m coming to: we can give him as many supports and strategies to help him cope and understand his anger and what to do about it, but unless HE is willing to engage with them, we are going to keep going around in circles.

We will keep offering him all the strategies and coping mechanisms we can as often as we can but I’ve also realized that I have to let this go emotionally and stop taking it personally.  It is affecting all areas of my life: my mental health and self esteem, my relationship with Steve and the other kids.  His behaviours are tearing apart many aspects of our life, but they are that, HIS behaviours, not mine.  I cannot take responsibility for his anger or his actions any longer.  They are his choices and do not reflect one bit on the person that I am or the mother that I am.

This is almost impossible to remember when you are daily torn down; physically, verbally and emotionally. Emphasis is on almost.  My faith is stronger than the anger of my 8 year old. I know that things will get better, but it will take time.  There are developmental issues that we know have affected him as he developed in his birth moms womb, we know that his brain signals are not strong and take a different path to reach a conclusion or thought.  We know that he will struggle with this his entire life.  There isn’t anything that we can do about it other than offer him all the strategies and coping mechanisms that we can and pray that he will start to engage them.

Mental health issues are not a license to do whatever you please, it’s not a free pass.  There are many accommodations that caregivers make for people with mental health issues but we should never accommodate to the point where the burden of responsibility is passed onto another person.  It’s not helpful for the person with the mental health issues nor for the caregiver to give a free pass. The truth is, no matter what our mental capacity is, we need to take responsibility for our actions. period.  

There is never an excuse for abuse, that is the motto in our house.  I don’t need to play a victim either, yes I’m often daily the target of many forms of abuse, but I get to choose how to respond.  Nobody really talks about it, but kids can abuse their parents. There are many of us out there, I know we’re not alone. I can honestly say it is totally embarrassing and humiliating.  It is scary and unnerving. But I’m hoping there is life on the other side of this. That somehow, somewhere, someone will be able to reach my boy, through Gods grace, and help him engage with these strategies to help him cope.

Please continue to pray for us. We have a long road ahead of us.  I’m hoping that sooner rather than later, our boy will realize that he does have the power within him to change, that he will see the good within himself, the boy that makes us laugh and smile, who can engage beautifully with music and instruments to create moving melodies and lyrics, the boy who loves any gadget out there and can figure it out in no time.  That he is more than his anger, that his anger does not get to define who he is. Pray for our girls who are caught in the middle of this mess.  For Steve and I to be a united front, that we would be able to offer stability to our children no matter the circumstances.

 

 

 

Difficult Circumstances and a Great Employer

Right now our family is going through yet another hurdle, I’m not going to go into details as of yet; it’s too fresh and lots still up in the air and I’m just not ready to. But because of the issues, I’ve ended up having to miss a lot of work and I know I was letting everyone down. My family needed me and work was depending on me, something had to give and work was my only option at this point, which was awful because I’ve finally found a job that fits who I am and I love the people I work with.

This morning I made the call to let them know my notice was coming because it frustrates me to let people down. I didn’t want to quit, as I got off the phone with one of the managers I totally broke down. I went to Steve’s office and sobbed. It’s hard to sacrifice something that you enjoy but I did it willingly because my family needed me. I told her that when things quieted down that I would reapply because I loved working and my time at the store.

 

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About 5 minutes later the phone rang. It was the owner of the store that I work for. She was incredibly kind and helpful and explained the options to me. She listened to what was going on and offered me hope. I didn’t have to give up my job afterall. They offered me a leave of absence (with a doctors note) and to adjust my hours in order to support my family.

My heart is at peace, something I didn’t think was possible right now. As I spiral out from the current hurdle in front of our family, I’m thankful to say that my employers are amazing. It is one less stress that I can let go of, a juggling ball I can throw out so I can focus on the other balls I’m juggling.

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