Archives For aspergers

Surprise!!!!

I absolutely LOVE surprises – always have! Perhaps it’s the adrenaline rush. Maybe it’s the thrill of plotting so someone can feel extra special & be celebrated. Orrrr it’s just the plain sneakiness I love! I’m talking good surprises, people – not the creepy spider falling on your face in the middle of the night, the unexpected freaky in-law visits, or evil baby horror film type of surprises. Don’t go there.

lemonadepitcherlemonsI think God loves to surprise His kids! He’s sneaky like that. He shows up both with big & little surprises. In my life, His surprises are like little hugs, reminding his daughter “Hey, Surprise! Did you think I had forgotten about what you’re going through? Nope! I’m right here & you are loved!’

Not too long ago my family & I were handed what I often refer to as lemons. In full disclosure, I felt like the lemons were thrown at us with fire power equaling that of a machine gun. But for purposes of being true  to the metaphor, we’ll say handed. Since mid-February we’ve seen a lot of lemons:

*My husband lost his job (and the perks of a company car & insurance).

*I applied for a job that I thought I would totally get but didn’t. Devastated. And humbled. 🙂

* I suffered a back injury at work, spent the next five weeks in a neck & back brace, and am still in physical therapy. I couldn’t walk down the stairs to do laundry, drive or tie my own shoes for more than a few weeks.

* I was visited by half a dozen paramedics, received a nice ride in an ambulance (that cost more than a plane ticket to Africa) & a trip to the ER because I fainted on my kitchen floor, going in & out of consciousness for about 30-40 minutes, being in a hypothermic state with my blood pressure dipping into the low 40s. The jury is still out on this mystery illness.

*Our oldest son has aspergers and had just a few meltdowns both at home & school. Love getting those calls from the school! *not*

*Our basement flooded, garage door broke, we have a sweet little doggie that likes to pee on visitors, and we have ANOTHER  sweet doggie who insists on using our youngest son’s bedroom as a potty place. These potty issues seemed to increase on days that were already difficult.

Before you start giving me your sympathy vote…

God has been working, plotting, being sneaky in the midst of lemon grenades to create the most beautiful, delicious pitcher of refreshing lemonade for us to enjoy and offer to our friends & family.

His ultimate surprise was His faithfulness! But along the difficult road, He left some small surprises (hugs):

I have a lemonade list in my prayer journal that I started as soon as my husband lost his job. With a history of depression, the only way for me to avoid the pit is to remain thankful. This lemonade list serves as my ‘forget not all His benefits’ list. But I had no idea how long this list would become. 

A few items on the Lemonade List:

jesusmailiowa50*7 separate times we were surprised with gifts of $50 cash or gift cards or paypal donations for even larger amounts… just because ‘God wanted me to give you this”.

*At least 5 different times we came home to find groceries at our doorstep. And not just groceries y’all – the healthy kind, with grass-fed beef & chicken & lots of veggies. One person even gave us homemade laundry soap and thought to buy food for our dogs!

*I don’t know, maybe we look poor, but restaurants seemed to suddenly enjoy giving us free food & discounts!

*April was Autism Awareness ‘Light It Up’ Blue Month. We were surprised with gifts of a dozen ‘blue’ yogurts for Andy. A friend showed up at our door with an envelope for him – thick & full of encouraging words as well as six different gift cards to Applebees, movie theater & Barnes & Noble… some of our favorite hangouts!jesusmailandyautismdaygiftcards

*Neighbors and co-workers gave us cookies, homemade meals, free lunches & helped us however they could.

*People have given towards our mission to Swaziland like never before – we are nearly paid in full! Amazing!

*I even won TWO different contests for movie tickets within 10 minutes of each other!

Can you say, ‘SURPRISE!!!!’?

See, the Lemonade List ended up being 37 items long! Not only was my faith in humanity restored, but God continually reminded us of His faithfulness & concern for the little things.

I remember praying over & over, “God if You’re allowing all these trials into our lives, you MUST have a greater purpose. Please don’t let me miss it. Show me YOU in the hard times & let us be an example of your faithfulness to those around us (not whiners who pout when something goes wrong).”

Now I don’t have specifics of how God uses our trials to encourage others, but I trust that He did because He really did (and really does) remain faithful to us. Also I learned a lot about perseverance in spite of circumstances, about remaining thankful, praising Him in the midnight hour, and seeing Him show up every single time.

There’s also been times in my life where the surprises were SO good that it took a long time for the fruition of them, and it felt like God went on a Mars vacation. Perhaps you are in that place, feeling like God is nowhere to be found and couldn’t care less. Hear me: Your answer, your surprise of His faithfulness is on the way, so go ahead and praise Him for it! He has a purpose for everything.

Be encouraged by Jesus’ answer to those wondering why the man was blind from birth. Was it he who sinned?Or his parents? Jesus replied, “This happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” 

God’s purpose in freeing the Israelites from bondage was not simply to get them out of the Egypt and into Canaan as quickly as possible. His purpose was to reconcile them to Him and to enter into a vital relationship with them. The long way through the wilderness was necessary so that the Israelites might know & trust Him; which is pertinent to our relationship with Him too. There are seasons we simply need to pray through, instead of trying to get out of.

As I was reminded today, we often get so anxious to get out of difficult, painful, or challenging situations that we fail to grow through them. Allow God to cultivate His character within you, and there’s never more of an opportunity to develop character & patience than when you’re being pummeled by life’s lemons.

Shine On!

Danielle

Screen shot 2013-05-26 at 11.04.36 PMThere are days when you feel you’ve got a pretty good handle on life… or so I’ve heard. I occasionally peek into the lives of my friends (my sisters, my coworkers, my Facebook friends) and walk away thinking they’ve got a particular area of life cornered. One of my sisters is extremely organized with her time. Oh, if you ask her she’ll say she’s not, but trust me the girl probably has summer 2016 already planned in her google calendar. She’s amazing. I’m in awe of her vision & determination to live life to its fullest.

I used to be like that… well, sorta. But I’ve fallen far from the organizational tree. Just this week I failed to send my son to two special events; a band concert in which he was supposed to play the drums and a student government celebratory party. These were both pretty big deals in a 5th grader’s life, especially if that 5th grader has Asperger’s Syndrome & desperately wants to be one of the regular kids. Planning ahead & making back up plans are essential in keeping meltdowns at bay – for both of us!

Where have I been lately? I’ll tell ya… I’ve been trying not to lose my momma marbles. The past two months rank high on the If-I-have-to-handle-one-more-meltdown-I’m-seriously-gonna-drop-my-basket scale. Any parent of a special needs child will know exactly what I mean.

But before you start to say, ‘Awww, bless her little heart’ – your sympathy is not what is needed.

This place of desperation and near-the-edge emotional stress is right where I’ve needed to be. Why? Because I loooooove craziness? Because I thrive on drama? Nope. In fact, craziness & drama tend to wipe me out. Normally, I like to sleep or eat my way through drama… or both. 

Not this time. Not these past few months. I’m right where I’ve needed to be – clinging to Jesus to get our family through each day. And it hasn’t been pretty. Waking in the morning, writing in my prayer journal throughout the day… Crying out for His grace, mercy & strength; knowing I can’t (nor do I want to) do it without Him. Without Him, we fall apart. Without Him, crisis overtakes & consumes us.

I’d rather have Jesus in the storm than a posh, comfortable life without Him. Any. Day. I’ve been experiencing that daily grace and I’d have it no other way. I’m hungry for more of Jesus – I want my needs, my desires to pale in comparison to my desperation to know Him & make Him known to those around me. If that means being in a storm that pulls me away from self-reliance, that’s where I need to be. In the eye of the storm.

I’m reminded of Psalm 91 daily that says,

Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation.’

He has been with us. He continues to be. He just needs to be invited. God’s a Gentleman y’all. He’s not gonna invade our lives if we don’t want Him to! I think Christians have sent the wrong message to the world; the message that says, ‘If you rely on God, He’ll keep you from harm’s way and everything will work out. You’ll be able to give a testimony that God saved you from hardship.”

Let me tell you guys: If you rely on God, He’ll be with you IN harm’s way. Everything will work out in eternity, but it’s not necessary for us to know right now why God allows us to experience hardship & pain. Its our job to simply trust. And somehow God takes that trust and turns it into a testimony of His faithfulness.

Its as simple as this, God’s light IN you can shine more brightly through darkness than it can in a well-lit, comfortable room. We choose, don’t we? We choose comfort or we choose His plan. And it is guaranteed that His plan is anything but comfortable!

Its been my daily prayer that even through the past few months (heck, years!) of difficulty that God’s light of love & faithfulness will shine brightly through our family. It makes my heart ache a little to think of the times that I’ve whined, cried & complained or let my anger get the best of me. I wish I could share more about what’s happened with my oldest son, his AS and the school system these past few months, but I won’t risk compromising others’ trust just to give you a good story.

I can say the ‘Momma Bear’ in me has awaken a few times in order to protect my son as I’ve thought necessary. And really, I’m not proud of that. There’s a part of me that wants to be the model-citizen with children who follow the rules, mind their manners and have lots of friends. I’ve thought that’s how people will recognize God’s light in me – when we look & act put-together.

Nope. Its just not true. In fact, I’ve found most people just want to know I’m for real. Sure there’s a few people that just plain don’t like me, what I stand for, that I go all the way to Africa to help kids, or the fact that my son’s special needs require accommodations that just aren’t fair to the other kids in class. {Fair? Is it fair that he has Aspergers and they don’t? Fairness is not even a factor.}

Back to most people… 

Most people identify with difficulty. Most people, when they realize your life isn’t a bed of roses either, will open up and share their own trials with you. I’ve gained some amazing friendships lately by simply being vulnerable & honest enough to say ‘this is really hard. I need help.’

Christian, here is some unsolicited advice:

Hurting people don’t give a rip about how prosperous & put-together you look! You know what hurting people need? A preacher? A judge? NO! They need a friend! A friend who sees their pain, listens to their cries and walks through it with them.

And I know this because I am a hurting person. Aren’t you? I’ve been wounded, I’ve been rejected, I’ve been ostracized. It sucks.

This is exactly the reason Jesus came to earth. God saw the human race was aching for fellowship, brokenhearted, alone and tormented by their own pain… and He came as a friend, in the flesh, to bind up our wounds to heal our broken hearts, to be with us!

And the last thing He said before He returned to heaven, after taking the world’s sin upon His shoulders? He told His disciples to go into the world and preach the same Good News that He did! The Good News is many things, but above all else it is a message of love and acceptance in spite of our flair for screwing things up.

That, my friends, is the same Good News we are to be showing to the people in our lives. Knowing we’re loved in spite of our own ‘crap’ should having us running with open arms to other weary, broken, lonely people that religion has turned their noses up at. 

So if this place of desperation & difficulty I’ve been in will let me walk more closely with God and let me comfort & mourn with someone else going through the same stuff… well, I’ll walk it out every day knowing I’m not alone and never will be.

Now, how about you?

Maybe in your case you’ve felt the sting of rejection one too many times? Ever had a real friend be there for you in your ugliness & mess, and STILL love ya?

Shine On! 

Danielle

ps. Notice anything different about us? Yep, we’ve changed our name. The men who read this blog were starting to feel hurt that change seemed like it was only for moms. So welcome to Live4Change! In the coming weeks & months you’ll start to see regular posts from several co-contributors. Some of my trusted friends will be sharing their stories, their journeys, and dreams. Lets be inspired together to live in such as a way as to shine His light & love to a hurting world!