My Son

My son will be starting his first job soon.  He graduated from high school and tech school in June, and now he will be putting on a shirt and tie and going to work every day.  I am so proud of him!  It has been a long road to get here, and there were many moments over the years where I thought we wouldn’t get here.  But here we are!

My son was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when he was 7 years old.  We knew up until that point that something was going on with him, but it took a while to find medical help that knew what was happening and could “label” him.  At the time of diagnosis I was relieved because we finally had a reason for all of our son’s struggles.  I felt like we would help him and move on.  Little did I know…

The next years of school and therapy and life were a struggle for my son and for us.  What worked well one day, one week, one month would all of a sudden not work.  We tried medications and behavioral therapy and other therapies….some worked and some did not.  We dealt with bullies and with schools who would not do anything to assist our son in dealing with bully situations.  We dealt with emotional meltdowns and moments where our son was completely overwhelmed.  We had good teacher and bad teachers, people who  supported us and people who did not.

Watching our son go through the interviewing process and open a bank account and successfully navigate all that is entailed in getting a first adult job has been amazing!  He feels good, confident, and like a man.  His shoulder are square as he is facing this change in his life!  He is liking the feeling of being able to do something and be set up for success from the beginning.  That was not the case with school.  School is not set up to deal well with someone like my son.  The job my son will be working plays to his strengths and his interests.  That makes a difference in success!

Just had to brag on my boy for a minute!  I am so very proud to be his momma!

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It really is true that some people are just never happy unless they are complaining about something!  I am a college student and I have been working toward my degree for two years now.  During this time, I have faced many challenges.  Sometimes a class is difficult, or a professor is not available when I am struggling.  Sometimes assignments are intricate or long or hard. Sometimes a class is boring or just not something that I am very good at.  It is all a part of college. 

I chose to pursue my education through an online program, so that adds it’s own challenges to life as a student.  Do I get annoyed when Blackboard crashes and I can’t complete my work?  YES.  Do I have to spend a lot of time on the phone sometimes to talk with advising or financial aid or accounts regarding problems?  YES.  (Although as a residential student I would be spending this same time either on the phone or standing in some office on campus doing the same thing!)  Do I get grades that frustrate me?  I think all students do.

Do I complain whenever any of these, or countless other issues, occur?  No. 

First of all, what does it solve to complain and blame and be miserable?  NOTHING.  Secondly, I chose to go back to school in order to grow and develop myself into a more rounded and educated person.  I wanted to learn problem solving skills and critical thinking skills.  The way I see it, these common problems are just part of the educational process.  Some of it might be from someone else’s incompetence.  Most of it just happens.  The grades are my responsibility.  If I don’t like them, I need to change how I am performing.  I need to seek counsel from my professor regarding my issues so that I can adjust.  That is not the professor’s fault that I am not performing according to my own expectations. 

Some things are no one’s fault, like when Blackboard crashes.  Quite frankly, my university has been very generous with extensions of deadlines when that happens.  So what is there to complain about?  More time to study!  

It gets very difficult to hear complaints about everything that happens.  It is a privilege to be able to go to school and receive an education.  It is not owed to anyone.  And privileges are things to be earned, fought for, and appreciated.  Not things to be complained about!!  I wish these people could realize that!

Thoughts

Since the shooting in CT last week, I have heard many many different opinions and debates regarding several issues.  First and foremost has been the issue of gun control.  Advocates are calling for a ban on assault weapons and critics are calling for second amendment rights to be upheld.  Many are talking about mental illness and the difficulty in finding appropriate help when a loved one has a mental disorder of some kind.  Some are even talking about Autism because some media sources have credited the shooter with having Autism (as if this had anything at all to do with what this individual did!)  Many people blame the mother for what happened because she did own guns, after all.  Others blame bullying or mental issues.  Lots of blame to go around.

Lots and lots of talk.  Lots and lots of arguments.  Not so many ready answers.

Jeremiah 17:9 says “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?”  I believe that the answer lies therein.  The issue isn’t a gun control issue, it is not a mental illness or autism issue, it is not a bullying issue.  It is a heart issue.

We sin because at heart we are a sinner.  The shooter is not a sinner because he chose to shoot people, he is a sinner because he was born a sinner.  I am not a sinner because I do things that are wrong, I am a sinner because I was born a sinner.  Our actions are but a symptom of our state of being.  Not many of us will pick up a gun and go on a rampage against our fellow man.  Many of us, however, will hold bitterness or anger or hate toward people around us.  The Bible says in Matthew 5:21-22a that murder is wrong and the murderer is subject to judgement.  We know this.  It also says that anyone who holds anger and bitterness in his heart is subject to the same judgement.  Holding anger and bitterness our hearts makes us guilty of murder!

When a senseless act like this occurs it is very easy to play the blame game, mostly because we are trying to find a reason.  As if a reason will somehow make it all better.  Very rarely does personal choice and responsibility seem an adequate reason.  The hard truth is, though, that personal choice and responsibility are in fact the culprit.  This young gunman made a conscious choice to do what he did.  Yes, he was maybe dealing with some hard stuff in his life.  But so do a lot of people.  I do not believe that one can excuse away the culpability of another with excuses.

The only way to prevent things like this shooting is to deal with what is wrong with the heart of our society.  The spiritual void that is growing.  There seems to be a whole generation of people growing up lacking the skills to take personal responsibility for their actions.  A whole generation who sees right and wrong as relative terms that mean only what they feel it means in the moment.

The truth is, truth is hard.  Whether we want to believe it or not, truth stays the truth.  Life isn’t fair.  The choices we make do and will affect ourselves and others.  And evil does exist.  When we allow anger and bitterness or other selfish motivations to control us, things will go out of control quickly and pain will occur.  Sometimes it isn’t as dramatic and tragic as the tragedy we all witnessed last week.  But it does happen.

I think this is the conversation we need to be having as a country.  Maybe then we will have seen the last of this type of evil thing.

 

For the Children

Today is a sad day indeed.

I picked up my kids from the high school at 2:30 today, as I do every day.  I watched them as they laughed and told me about their day.  Emily shared with me a piece of gum from a pack her friend had given her.  A normal day.  The sight of their precious faces and the sound of their laughter and words touched my heart in a way that normally just doesn’t happen in the midst of everyday life.

This morning my husband let me sleep and he took my children to school.  It hit me.  I could have missed the last moments that my kids were with me.

Other moms and dads had breakfast this morning with their kids.  Some may have been running late and were cross with their dawdling kindergarteners, warning them that they would be late if they didn’t hurry.  Some other moms (or dads) slept in while their spouse took the kids to school.  Some hugged and kissed their little ones and put them on a bus.  They fully expected to be meeting the bus later in the day, getting another hug and kiss and hearing their precious little voices laughing and telling about their day.

Fully expecting it.  But never receiving it.  Instead of a mundane day Hell came to earth.

Tonight, I have hugged and kissed my kids a few extra times.  I have told them I love them again and again.  I have reminded each of them how proud I am of them and how proud I am to be their mom.  I don’t think I am remiss in this most days.  I just can’t seem to help myself today.

I just can’t imagine the empty arms of the other moms tonight.  I cannot imagine the emptiness, the grief, the anger, the confusion.  How do you, as a parent, live through this?  How do you go on, knowing that your baby’s last sight was a crazy man with a gun, that their last moments were spent without you there to protect them?  How do you go on?

Oh, God, you know!  You know what it is to lose a child in a violent way.  You know the grief and the emptiness.  You are the only one who can truly understand.  I am selfishly so thankful that my child has been spared, that my child is here with me.  You were with my child today.  Yet you were there, too, with those little children.  You have not forsaken them.  You have not forsaken their mommy.

But oh how I can imagine that they must feel forsaken right now.  There are no words that can heal the pain they feel.  Help them Oh Jesus!  Help them!

New Goals…

My life is changing. After 20 years I have started back to school. Classes started this past week and I have enjoyed immersing myself in learning again. I love that I can do this at home at my pace. I find it much easier to pick up the material and work my way through it without having to conform to some classroom schedule or standard. I can hit pause on the lectures so that I can finish writing my notes…and this is a big help to me as I am getting a bit older! That is not to say I don’t have deadlines and assignments, I do! But I can do them at whatever time of day I need to do them. I can still attend to the needs of my family without compromising on either thing. I have a plan for my life now, a goal. I had almost forgotten what that feels like to have something to focus on and strive for! I am majoring in psychology and I plan to work with women who are incarcerated and their families, especially as it comes time to transition from the prison setting back into life together. I have a very personal inspiration for this. For the past year, I have shared the task of helping to take care of a little girl (now 2 1/2) with “Nana” while her mother was in prison. During that time, a baby was born to this mother and I helped to began to care for him as well. My husband and I had the kids up to 12 hours a day, while Nana had them the other 12. We took the babies to see Mommy on several occasions. In talking to her and being aware of their situation, and in observing the other women at the state prison, God began to move in my heart and gave me a great compassion for these women. So many of them have no one who cares and who sticks by them. Often the only visitors they have are people bringing their kids to see them. There are some programs for these women, however, not nearly as many as are present for men. I want to work with these women, help them to gain strength and confidence, help them to be equipped to make better choices for themselves and their kids. I want to help give them a chance at a real life with their kids. I also want to show Christ and his love and forgiveness to these women so that they can be free in moving forward with their lives. With the family that I am involved with, the mother will be released soon. She is glad to have a second chance and wants to come home and be a mom and wife, and wants to contribute to society in a positive way. She is nervous, because it is very hard to start over after jail. Her daughter is a year older and doesn’t know her anymore. Her son, not yet 6 months old, only saw her for 2 days after he was born and for about 4-5 visits at the jail. She will need to bond with her kids again, and will need to establish new habits and will need a lot of support to rebuild a life and not fall back into the choices that have been so much a part of her past. She will need a sense that she can do it, a goal of her own to focus on and pursue. I am hoping that I can meet her, and others like her, right where they need me. For many years I have cared about people and I have tried to serve others. I have always had a big heart. I feel like God is finally pointing me in a direction and telling me to walk in it. He is restoring me as he is working in me to help restore others. Will this journey be easy? No. Will others understand and totally support me in this? Maybe. And then again maybe not. This is where God is pointing me, so this is where I will go. It is good to finally have a sense of what God has in store for me!