Did God Say?

No matter the kind or the size of your garden……vegetable, flower, small, large, shady, sunny…..there is one thing that your garden will always have.

Weeds.

Pesky, fast growing, determined weeds.

It’s amazing how quickly they grow, even during times of drought.  We used to laugh when living in Arizona, telling each other not to pull the weeds in our yard because they were the only vegetation that was green!

Weeds themselves come in all kinds and sizes, shapes and colors. Some weeds are very obviously weeds.  One doesn’t even have to look or think twice before pulling them up, hopefully by their roots, like these weeds that were blatantly growing in our vegetable garden recently.  Lots of these weeds were either pulled or tilled over the past two days.

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If you could take a look in our Rose of Sharon bushes, however, you would find another sort of weed.  You might have to look hard, though, to find the intruder.  Can you see it?

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The first time I noticed this plant was when I was pruning our Rose of Sharon bushes two years ago.  The Rose of Sharon bushes were growing well and blooming beautifully as I began to prune some of the dead branches away, as well as some of the growth that was in the way of the lawn mower.

I saw the rich green and the pretty shape of these leaves.

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At first I was deceived by their beauty, thinking that they were a part of the Rose of Sharon.  But then it hit me.  Wait.  These leaves, pretty as they were, were NOT Rose of Sharon leaves.

I investigated further, tracing the growth of this new plant, and soon discovered that this pretty plant with the lush leaves was actually a vine.  It was a vine that was curling itself around my Rose of Sharon branches.

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Two years later, I’m still fighting this same vine.  It wraps and wraps itself around each Rose of Sharon branch, insidious in it’s desire to choke out my bushes…….my flowering bushes with their pretty blooms of white, purple, and pink.

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If I left this vine to do its crafty work, it would soon overtake my entire Rose of Sharon garden.  Every branch would eventually be choked and would die, leaving only the vine to prosper there.

It’s my choice.  I can have Rose of Sharon bushes there, or I can have an area full of this vine.

But this vine is a weed…..an intruder, as I said, that wants to destroy my bushes.  As pretty as the vine may be, it will only bring death to the bushes that I really want to grow.

So I continue to fight this stubborn vine.  I cut……I unwrap its tentacles from around each Rose of Sharon branch……I yank and I pull and I toss it in the trash.

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Yet the only way to permanently do away with each new vine growth that I find is to pull it up from its roots.  I must locate the source of the growth and deal with it on that level……the roots.

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Weeds remind me a lot of sin.  Some sins are very obvious to us.  We may see certain sins in our life and have no doubt about the fact that they are wrong.  Just like the weeds among my vegetables, those sins we know need to be yanked up and thrown out of our lives.

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But then there’s that other form of sin……the vine.

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I think it’s interesting that the very beginning story of mankind occurred in a garden.  God designed this gorgeous place for His creation, Adam and Eve, as well as all the animals and plants that He so carefully created.  God gave Adam and Eve great freedom, along with a free will.

We all know the tragic story, how one day Satan slithered into the picture.  He was captivating and wily, changing God’s words around ever so slightly to Eve in a way that made her doubt God.

Satan was beautiful, and he showed Eve how beautiful the forbidden tree could be to her.  He would never have convinced her to sin if he had shown her the truth of his lies…..if he had shown her that pain and sorrow and death would follow her sin.

We all know the tragic result, too, of this tragic story.  Look around today and we see it still, more and more as our culture continues to decline.

Satan hasn’t changed one bit.  His method is still to deceive us by masking sin in beauty, much as my ugly weed was masked as a lush, lovely vine.

Sin today is presented by the slick Hollywood version, all painted and desirable to those who can’t…..or won’t…..see beneath the surface, where broken lives and death prevail.

The arguments are as old as Satan in the garden himself.

“Did God say?” he whispers in our ear.  “God didn’t really mean it that way.  Those words may have been for a time long ago…..a culture far removed from our own…..but not for our progressive world today.”

“Did God say?” he softly hisses again.  “How hateful that sounds.  You don’t want to be known as a hater, do you?”

“Did God say?” he continues as we are lulled to sleep.  “God just doesn’t want you to be free to be you.  You should follow your heart, not those old words in that old book.”

“Did God say?” he again suggests.  “But you must find your own truth.  Your truth may not be what the Bible says.  Be who you are, without any regret.”

It’s so easy to listen to such charming words, especially when those words embody the popular ideas that are absolutely everywhere around us.  Our movies, our music, our classrooms, our books, our advertisements, are all jammed full of these world views.

Satan has taken such a hold on our culture now that he is entwined in every area.  He has curled himself around our thought processes and our lives in such an invasive way that we hardly recognize him anymore.  It’s all so loving and so warm and so free to think this way…..to live this way…..until it’s too late.

Satan would never want you to see the end result.  Paul told the Corinthians that Satan was an angel of light.  He comes at us with bright promises of a life lived the way we want, full of self-satisfaction and fun and acceptance.

But Jesus also said that Satan is the father of lies.  His lies sound so pleasant, so current, so loving and right.  But what he doesn’t show us is the death that always comes from sin.  Death of dreams, death of a relationship with God, death of living in God’s plan, and eternal death in hell.

Satan and his lies must be dealt with at the root.  Go back to the source of his lies, the evil that he represents, and know that Satan hates God.  Satan hates me.  Satan hates all of us, and he wants us to die eternally.  He is a murderer.  And you and I are the ones he wants to murder.

Sin brings death, but Jesus came to bring life.  He took our sin on Himself on the cross, suffering for sins that He never committed.  Suffering so that you and I could be free….free to live in His grace and His forgiveness.

We don’t have to sin.  We don’t have to have Satan’s lies choke out the life God wants us to have.  Repent…..turn around from your sin and turn to the God Who truly loves you…..and accept His grace and salvation.  Follow Him.

And be wise to the ways of our enemy.  Lush green leaves among my Rose of Sharon were really there to kill.  So is Satan, with all his clever words and his compelling beauty.

You might need to do some serious pruning in your life, but never will you regret the decision to let the right plant grow in your life’s garden.

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A Fun Fourth

Our Fourth of July was hot and sparkly, full of Aaron smiles and excitement, mixed in with too much quietness for my liking.  The quietness comes from not having our kids or extended family nearby.  I don’t even really like holidays for that reason, but I choose to count my blessings and enjoy our special Aaron times.

On Friday, Gary and I took Aaron out to eat at Cracker Barrel.  He loves that restaurant!  He left with a full stomach and a chocolate bar from the gift store, and ended up with a sack full of sparklers and other smoky, loud Fourth of July fun that we chose in the big tent a couple miles from home.

I’ll just leave you with pictures of our weekend, including a perfect front-row view of our town’s fireworks and the gorgeous full moon on Saturday night.   And lest I forget, we rescued a turtle that Gary found in our flower bed.  😊

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And my favorite picture of all says it all!

 

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Magical and Maddening

“Aaron, look!!” I exclaimed one recent night as I closed our family room blinds.  Aaron walked over to join me at the window.  There, emerging from the grass in our front yard, were dozens of fireflies.  Lightning bugs, we called them where I grew up in West Virginia.

Aaron thought they were very cool!  He insisted that Gary come to the window as well, and so we stood there together for a minute, enjoying the sparkling little bugs.

A few nights later, Gary and I sat on our front porch after the stifling heat of the day had subsided somewhat.  It’s nice for us to enjoy a few moments of quietness and of being together, just the two of us without Aaron’s loud interruptions.  As dusk fell and darkness was encroaching, up from the grass once again came those beautiful fireflies.

It was captivating watching their glow, so many of them combining into a magical light show right in front of us.  So peaceful.

Then…BAM!!

Out on the porch rushed Aaron, who is rarely quiet.  There went the peacefulness of our front porch evening!

“MOM!!  Are we watching a Little House tonight?” he asked, knowing the answer.

I assured him that we would watch an episode, as always.

But, as always, that wasn’t enough for Aaron.

“When?” he asked.  “Can we do it now?”

I knew what was ahead but wanting to remain in the magic of firefly glow I told Aaron that I would let him know when I was ready.  This answer never suits Aaron.

One of the very hardest things for Aaron to do is to wait…on anything.  He especially finds it nearly impossible to wait on me to watch a program with him when HE is ready.  He escalates quickly into anger at those times, no matter what I say or how well I prepare him for the inevitable wait.  That night was no exception.

Our evening was quickly reverting from magical to maddening.

Such is often the life of a caregiver.

My blogging friend, Cheryl, is the author of a caregiving blog written out of her experiences as she cares for her husband who has Parkinson’s.  Our situations are very different but also very similar.  I have loved her insights and her godly wisdom.

In one recent blog…linked here… (https://parkinsonscaregivernet.wordpress.com/2020/06/13/similar-yet-different-but-really-similar/) – she wrote:

“But we live for the moments of joy: seeing our loved one smile, hearing them recount experiences from the past, watching them respond to family and friends, hearing them tell a favorite joke. Those moments may be brief, so we hold them sacred in our hearts and bring them to mind when the times are difficult. Another is the joy of knowing we are doing our best, that we are doing the right thing, that we are doing God’s work here on earth by caring for our loved one. Let’s not forget that, especially when the moments are difficult or uncomfortable.”

The difficult moments with Aaron often involve his autistic behaviors…his demands that life revolves around HIS order and expectations of how things are to be.  During those times, no one else’s desires or needs are considered by Aaron to have importance.

Maddening.

On our firefly night, we told Aaron that he needed to wait.  We tried to get him to  enjoy the magical lights in our front yard but he was blinded by his own frustrations and cared nothing for the beauty around him.  Only one thing mattered.  And he wanted that one thing NOW.

Anger intruded into our evening and stood on our front porch, as opposite in its effect as could possibly be when compared to the earlier joy of time together with Gary among the little sparkles in our yard.

Later, the anger was gone as Aaron and I watched our show.  Aaron is usually oblivious to the effect he has on us during those times as he brushes off the recent outburst and is happy in his bubble again, where all is well.

Oh, that it was so easy for me to do the same!

Like Cheryl said, though, it’s important to hold the moments of joy sacred in our hearts and in our memories.  And to know that we, as caregivers, are doing God’s work here on earth.

My heart this morning was heavy as I helped Aaron during his second seizure…knew that I would have bedding to wash later…canceled my hair appointment…and tried to still my worried heart about other matters.

I had finished my normal Bible study and so I opened my Bible randomly to see where my eyes fell.  I love doing that!  It’s like opening a treasure box that I just unearthed, excited to see what’s inside!

And look what God gave me!!

“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you.  Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?  In His hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.”  (Job 12:7-10)

It’s all in God’s hands!

Aaron…me…Gary…others I love…our world…

All life and breath is in God’s hand.  All of creation declares that truth!

Now it’s up to me to trust our loving God and to rest in His hand.  And to…most importantly…trust Aaron into His hand and know that God put Aaron into our lives for a purpose I may never know on this earth.

But may I trust God’s knowing.  Trust and know just as much as the beasts and the birds and the bushes trust and know Who has done all this!!

Fireflies know, too, I am sure.

Maybe that’s why they shine their magical lights for all to see!

May I do likewise.

Photo by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Radim Schreiber.

 

Aaron’s Talking Points #8

Time for more of Aaron’s comments that I’ve collected over the years!  😊

 

I just watched Aaron chow down 4 slices of taco pizza that I fixed. Then he said, “You know, Mom……….that wasn’t my favorite.” And it took you FOUR slices to figure this out, Aaron?!

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This week, Luke B has started the next part of our remodel. It did not go unnoticed by Aaron yesterday that the baseboards in the hall are gone. He charged into the room where I was, excited and bothered.

“MOM!!! Why is Luke digging up the bottom of our house?!!” 😅🧐

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I’m heating up leftovers for supper tonight. Aaron decided he wanted some Ravioli Lasagna.

The time was 4:36.

Me: Aaron, do you want me to heat up your Ravioli Lasagna now?

Aaron: No. It’s not 5:00.

Gary: Are you hungry?

Aaron: Yes. But it’s not 5:00.

😁😜⌚⏲

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Gary’s working on his truck mirrors. Aaron was outside talking to him (of course!), so when Aaron came inside, I asked him what Gary was doing. His answer?

“Dad’s working on his look-out mirrors!” 😅😅😅

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I ordered a game for Aaron yesterday. I told him it will arrive in a week or in 10 days. Today he said, “So it’ll arrive in a week or in 10 days, which is a week & 3 days. That’s all, right?” He must know the EXACT day. We’ll have this conversation for the next week or week & 3 days! If it doesn’t arrive on time, I may take a trip for a week or a week & 3 days – far away!

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Me, at 11:37: Aaron, do you want some lunch? Some pizza?

Aaron: No. It’s not 12:00. Don’t rush me!

🤣🤣🤣

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I told Aaron that Gary and I were going out tonight. His response: “OK. Scram.” He doesn’t waste words.

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I was trimming our big Rose of Sharon bushes while Gary worked on our bathroom remodel. Aaron was helping me put the limbs in a trash can. He could tell that I was getting tired, so he had an idea.

“Mom! You should take a break…and fix supper.” 😅😛

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Aaron had seizures night before last and into the day yesterday. He was slow and quiet and all the other things that go into a seizure day.

But today…total opposite for sure. He was out of bed way too early for me on a Saturday morning, but not for him!

“MOM!! I woke up at 7:59, but I stayed in bed till 8:00! Was that good to stay in bed till 8:00?!”

Let me think before I answer that, Aaron. 🤔😜

Trust me, I was trying to pull up all my sympathetic feelings from yesterday as he stood in front of me before 8:30, fully showered and dressed and mouth working overtime

He followed Gary around like a little puppy, talking about anything and everything.

“DAD!! Have you heard about…?”

“DAD!! Have you heard about…?”

Finally, Gary muttered something for only me to hear…something about motor mouth. But sharp-eared Aaron heard it.

“YEAH, DAD!! Have you heard about Mighty Mouse?!!”

😂😂😂

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Aaron, talking about someone who got pulled over for speeding (it wasn’t me!!): “He was supposed to be going the speeding of 30, but he was going faster than that!”

The moral of this story: Speed the speed limit!!

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Aaron asked me to fix him some apples. Then came the big decision about when to eat the apples. Finally, he had a plan.

“I know, Mom! I’ll watch Pirates of the Caribbean during my apples!” 😁😁

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Aaron had one seizure last night. When he only has one seizure instead of three or four, that’s when he seems prone to having the serious drop seizures that have caused injuries. I ran out this morning before Gary went to work and bought Aaron a helmet.

Aaron is staying home today to:

  1. See if he has anymore seizures.
  2. Participate in helmet training

So far, we have seen:

  1. No more seizures
  2. No helmet training participation

I have constructed a scientific formula based on our testing today.

Autism + Helmet = BIG FAT NO!!!!

Further testing and participation look doubtful. 🧐😟😬😝

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I’ve shared before about how Aaron has a very difficult time understanding and remembering family relationships. Remember when he was struggling with the fact that Andrea was going to marry Kyle? We told him that he wasn’t losing Andrea but instead would gain a brother. Then on a bad day, he responded, “I DON’T want Andrea to marry Kyle!! I don’t need a Grand-brother!!” 😄

So the other day, this happened:

“Mom, guess who picks up Chris at Paradigm? Sometimes his younger dad, and sometimes his grandfather!!” 😂👨‍🦰👴

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Aaron: Mom, do you want to play Skip-Bo?

Me: Mmmmm…..

Aaron: Do you want to?

Me: I don’t know.

Aaron: So do you want to play Skip-Bo?

Me: Mmmmm…..

Aaron: Do you want to?

Me: I’m thinking.

Aaron: Well, I wish your thinking would HURRY!!

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Masks, Mandates, and Believers

Our governor announced a mandate today saying that we must wear masks when in public, starting this Friday. And now it begins – the mask debates and opinions and shared articles, pro and con. I get it. All of you know I do. You know that I have shared my portion of opinions on various subjects. I don’t think it’s wrong to do that, but I do wonder what we as Christians are accomplishing.

Have we forgotten that God has ordained this time in history, and has also planned for you and I to be alive right now? What does He want us to say and do?

Just this morning, in my study of the book of Acts, I read the first four verses of Acts 8. Stephen had just been brutally stoned. Then Saul went on his horrible rampage, even entering the homes of Christians, dragging them out and putting them in prison. Christians were scattered all over Judea and Samaria.

Just think about that. Think about the fear you would feel. The awful fear of facing that kind of persecution or of having to run away from your families and friends, from your home and your town. Fearing prison or even death. Being hungry and homeless. And probably battling deep anger.

So what did these believers do? Verse 4: “Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.”

They shared the gospel.

If they were us, today, in our crazy world – what would they do? Argue about masks? Complain about quarantines or stay-at-home orders? Scour the internet for articles that confirm their beliefs? Deride those who don’t agree?

Doesn’t quite fit what I read in Acts about our early church family. And they were going through tons more than we are right now.

I find that thought, that knowledge, to be very personally convicting. We have a chance right now to talk to people who might not ever listen otherwise to the good news of Jesus. People who are vulnerable and scared and angry.

Why waste energy and time on feeding the frenzy right now? We need to feed people the Bread of Life. We need to get together with other believers and pray. We need to be in our Bibles.

Satan wants to mask any effort to share Christ with a hurting world by making us distracted by the unimportant. We can’t let that happen.

How I pray that we, the Church, will be the light in this darkness that will point others to the Light of the World.

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Home Again, Home Again!

Hello!  Remember me?  I really haven’t dropped off the edge of the earth, though I have felt like I’ve done just that at times.  Seems like forever since I have had anything resembling a normal routine!

My husband and I just returned from a wonderful week in Texas with our daughter and son-in-law.  Aaron stayed at home with a caregiver.  All the preparation for our trip, our usual busy days, and then being gone surely made it hard for me to blog or to read the blogs I follow.  Am I ever behind!!

But it was so worth it to be away for a WHOLE week…to have time with Gary, and with Andrea and Kyle.  We had hoped that our son, Andrew, could join us from Indiana but racing is getting ready to start again and the team has more work to do than seems possible to accomplish.

Gary and I truly relaxed while in Texas.  No sight seeing trips since many venues were still closed, so we spent tons of time together talking, cooking and eating, watching various shows and sermons, shopping, and so forth.

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And let’s not forget the fun of seeing our Grand Dogs, including meeting Siggy for the first time.

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We also got to see Siggy climbing his favorite tree!

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And the patio table!

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Andrea and I had lunch one day by the bay near their house.

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We celebrated my birthday there on the 18th.

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And Andrea’s as well since hers happens on the 27th.

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We celebrated Father’s Day with Kyle’s parents who came over for the day on Saturday.  How fun to see Kent and Marie, and to have both dads together!

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Gary and I don’t typically get to share our special days with our kids, so this time was really extra special and wonderful!

Aaron stayed at home with Karlea, our excellent caregiver.  Aaron really loves it when Gary and I are gone, and he doesn’t hide it one bit.  He loves all the one-on-one attention…loves going fun places…loves not having bossy parents around…and REALLY loves eating out at restaurants or getting take-out every day.  Aaron was having his own version of a vacation while we were having ours!

But yet, as he always does, Aaron called multiple times every day.  I didn’t answer each time but when I did I would hear Aaron usually say, “HEEEEYYYY!!”  Or say no greeting at all but instead launch into whatever he had stored up to tell me about.

“Hi, Aaron,” I would say as I answered the phone.

“Mom!  We went to Olive Garden today and we got a salad!!  What’s that juice that’s on it???” he immediately asked one day.

Karlea had plenty of laughs, too, like the day they ate at Cracker Barrel.  Aaron saw the deer mounted on the wall, rolled his eyes, and said, “I just can’t believe they took a real deer and put it in a restaurant!!”

I answered the phone for one of his calls on Saturday.

“Hi, Aaron,” I said as usual.

“GUESS WHAT???!!!” he blurted out.  “You’ll be home DAY AFTER TOMORROW!!”

Then he added:  “Karlea said we need to get the house stick and span!!”  😊  😊

So, we are home and life is returning to our version of normal.  Shortly before our trip, Aaron and I went shopping.  He had a seizure that morning, and I wasn’t sure he would feel up to going out.  But he did, and we had a nice time, which made me extra happy because of how his seizures sometimes ruin his days

When we got home and sat down to eat lunch, I asked Aaron to pray.

“Dear Lord,” he began, “thank You for this food and thank You for having us a good time while we were shopping.”

There went my heart.

“Dear Lord,” I will add, “thank You for our trip to Texas and thank You for having us a good time while we were there!”

And thank You for bringing us safely home again to Aaron.

Reasons for Riots

Like all of you, I have been dismayed by the state of our country in recent days…even years, to be honest.  I feel compelled to share this sermon that my husband and I listened to.  Never have I heard a better scriptural explanation for what is occurring in our cities, our homes, our hearts.  I pray that you who read this will take the time, open your Bibles, and listen with an open heart to this very powerful and sobering sermon.

https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/81-80/whos-to-blame-for-the-riots

 

 

 

To Ignore Aaron

Anyone who has been exposed to Aaron will no doubt agree on this:  Aaron is very hard to ignore!

Aaron is going to do what Aaron is going to do.  He is mostly unaware and uncaring of the reactions he generates from others.

Whether he is sitting in our front yard relaxing as he breaks apart the mulch:

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Or dressing in this hilarious “fashion” for all to see:

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Or deciding to pet Moe, our neighbor’s cat, on Moe’s level:

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There is generally no stopping Aaron from forging ahead with his version of living life to the fullest!

Aaron struggles with waiting on me to do an activity with him.  I often don’t tell him that we’re going somewhere, for instance, until shortly before we leave.  If I tell him that we’re going out, then he hovers and gets very impatient with me.  Best to just dash out the door quickly than to endure the anger that his impatience causes.

But some activities are set in stone, for the most part, and Aaron will begin his hovering when HE is ready for whatever that event is.  Every night we watch a program together.  Most often it’s a series that we are going through.  Right now we’re watching Little House on The Prairie.  Nearly every night Aaron will begin his impatient waiting for me to be ready to watch our next episode.  He will stand outside my bedroom or bathroom door, talking and questioning and getting angry if I don’t hurry.  One recent evening, I told him to NOT wait outside my door.  I was pleased that he obeyed, and I could get ready in peace and quiet.

But when I rounded the corner to go downstairs, here is what I saw:

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Oh Aaron!!  😊  😊

“I’m waiting on you to get ready!!!” he informed me.

And once again, Aaron was impossible to ignore.

When Aaron has crossed the line with his behaviors, though, one way to get my point across to him about his disobedience is to ignore him.  I become quiet and I barely answer his questions, if at all.  It’s hard for me to do that but I have learned that being ignored by me speaks more profoundly to Aaron than all the words in the world that I could use.  He knows he has really done wrong and that he must make it right.

Last week Aaron and I were in a store.  We were checking ourselves out when I ran into a problem and needed help.  When the attendant stepped around the corner to help me, I saw that it was someone I have come to know there.  Aaron knows her, as well.  This person has a hard life, and sometimes she is very down.  She doesn’t hide it, and when she approached me, I knew that she was having a bad day.  She didn’t engage me at all when I spoke to her.  I can handle that – no problem.

But Aaron doesn’t get those cues from people that you and I see.  He noticed that her hair was different and so when she walked away from me, he followed her.  When she stopped a short distance away, with Aaron at her back, he rubbed his hands together as he happily spoke to her.

“Your hair is short!!” he declared.

No response from her as she kept her back to Aaron.

“Your hair is short!!” he tried again.

Still no response.

I called Aaron back to me, telling him that she was busy, and he didn’t need to bother her today.  I knew he was confused, though, because typically she engages him with interest and kindness.

As for me…I was so angry.  For someone to dismiss and ignore Aaron has always been a very hard thing for me to handle.

I stayed pretty riled up about it for the rest of that day.  I talked to my husband and to my daughter about it later.  I stewed and brewed for quite some time.

But God, as He always does if I but listen, told me that I should not only pray about my reaction but that I should definitely pray for this sad person.

And that I should remember a verse from Psalm 37 that I had recently studied:

Cease from anger and forsake wrath; do not fret; it only leads to evildoing.”  (Psalm 37:8)

Do you know what the word “fret” means?  It means “to get burned up.”

And that’s exactly how I felt!  It burned me up to see Aaron being so blatantly ignored!

Yet what I needed to carry away from this situation wasn’t my load of anger, or my justification for it.  I needed to release my feelings to God and just put a stop to my desire to get even…to report her…to make a point.

Getting steamed about our hurts often leads to evildoing, as that verse says.  We certainly are seeing that in our country today!

How much better it is to talk to God about it, and to follow the example of Jesus…who, though reviled, did not strike back.

It’s a choice I am allowed by God to make.

Do I choose peace?  Or do I choose conflict?

It’s best to follow Aaron’s example, too.  He does bounce back quickly from his anger and hurt, most of the time, settling in to the next thing that captures his attention.

So, like Aaron, I’ll find and choose the joy…in whatever shape it takes.

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Who Did Gary Ask to Dinner?!

I was a senior at Piedmont Bible College in January of 1978 when this tall, handsome student came walking across the parking lot on a Wednesday evening.  We had a tradition at PBC on Wednesday evenings.  The guys would wear suits and it was a night for asking a girl to dinner.  Girls would sit in the windows watching to see who would walk over to Lee Hall, and if the guy didn’t usually accompany a girl to dinner then the tongues would fly as the girls tried to guess each new young man’s date.

 

On that night the new male student who walked into the sight of all those wondering girls was Gary Moore.  And walking back across the parking lot with Gary was me!  I would say lucky me, but I don’t believe in luck so in keeping with this being Bible college I’ll say that I was blessed!  HaHa!  But I was and I still am today, blessed to be walking with this wonderful man, Gary Moore.

 

My eye had been on Gary ever since I walked into the student center on our small North Carolina campus in January a year earlier and had instantly noticed this new second semester student.  He fit several of my very serious future husband requirements.  He was tall, and he was handsome.  Very spiritual, huh?

 

It was also convenient that I was the student council secretary/treasurer and that I had access to the student mail boxes…in which I inserted special announcements…and in which I also took a look at Gary’s mail to see if he was getting letters from girls.  Yes, I did that.  And yes, he was getting such letters.  So I gave up hope on ever attracting Gary’s attention.  I decided that it would be friendship that we would share.  But I sure did still notice him.

 

Things happened…I dated another guy during the fall of my senior year.  And Gary kept going home to Bryson City on the weekends…to see girls, I thought, but he was actually helping out in his home church.  He attended a mission’s retreat that Piedmont held at Groundhog Mountain that fall because I encouraged him to come.  I didn’t know that he thought I was wanting him to come so I could spend time with him, so when I drove up with the other guy that I was starting to date, Gary nearly decided that he had already had enough of me.

 

My boyfriend and I broke up before Christmas.  And just before I left to go home for the holidays, Gary came in the dining hall and gave me a Christmas stocking!  Except he also gave one to my best friend Janet!!  Now I was confused!  But when I returned from Christmas break, Gary finally asked me to dinner on that Wednesday night…and all the girls sitting in the windows were surprised that it was me walking to dinner with Gary.

 

We never looked back from that point forward.  Love was blossoming for both of us.  But soon there was a big bump in the road.   A huge bump for me, and could have been for us…except for the integrity of this man I was getting to know so well.

 

I noticed that something weird was going on with my neck.  I couldn’t quite define it but things weren’t feeling right in there at all.  Before long I noticed that my neck was wanting to pull uncontrollably to the right.  I tried to hide it but eventually it became noticeable to everyone.  And the pain became severe.  My dear friend Janet talked to my parents, and I ended up going to different doctors in order to find out what was going on with my muscles.  It was a challenge to finish my last semester of college, especially writing my senior thesis, with my neck pulling and the pain being so bad.  Plus the drugs the doctors put me on were strong…things like valium and other calming drugs in an effort to quieten those muscle spasms.

 

Doctors didn’t have any idea about what was happening to me.  Several blamed stress, so they put me on some pretty strong drugs for that.  Nothing was helping at all.  I walked around most of the time with my right hand raised up to my neck.  Holding the back of my neck helped relieve the spasms a little.  I hung on for as long as I could, finishing my course work and knowing that I could graduate.  But the pain was so strong and the pulling so severe that just before I was to march in our graduation ceremonies I ended up in the hospital.

 

That was a tough time for me, but it was also a relief to be able to rest.  It was so sad that I didn’t get to march with my class.  I’ll never forget Dr. Drake, Piedmont’s president, coming to my hospital room along with Dean Reinert to present my diploma to me as I lay there in bed.  I think that was a first for them!

 

 

Mom and Dad were there as well, worried about me and wondering what was wrong with their girl.  And also there by my side was the man that had come to pick me up for dinner on that Wednesday night four months earlier.  He wore a suit on my graduation day, much like the suit he had worn on our first date, except now he sat on the side of my bed and we both smiled broadly, just as if I was standing in that auditorium along with the rest of my graduating class to receive my degree.

 

 

On a fairly superficial level, my illness was exceptionally hard for me as a young woman.  It changed my appearance, making me look weird as my neck pulled and as I held my right hand around my neck a large part of the time.  I didn’t feel pretty at all.  And pain took a huge toll as well.  It’s hard to be your best or look your best when you’re absorbed in pain.  So, on that level alone, I wondered if Gary would stick by me or if he would be turned off.

 

And what about the future?  We didn’t even have a diagnosis and had no idea what the long term would hold for me, for my body and my health.  What man would want to venture into that arena?  Gary and I were not engaged.  He wasn’t bound to me in any way like that.  Yet there he was, faithful to me with his support and his love and his attention.  He never made me feel weird or ugly or a risk too great to take.

 

I moved home to West Virginia to live with my parents, and tried to get well.  Doctors still didn’t know what was wrong.  Gary still wanted to be with me when he could travel from college to visit.  He saw the pain and the awful reactions to drugs and the huge unknown, but he stayed by my side.  And one day he even asked me to marry him!!  I didn’t waste a second before saying yes.  Time and rest helped me get better, but the effects of my illness were still somewhat visible, and I could definitely feel them.

 

We had a beautiful wedding, where I even sang a surprise song to Gary.

 

“God has given you to me, as my loving friend.

From beginnings love has grown, may its growing never end.

From beginnings love has grown, may it never end.

God is joining here today, families and friends.

Yours are mine and mine are yours, how the richness blends!

Yours are mine and mine are yours, how the richness blends!

You are handsome in my eyes, I treasure and adore.

But my heart determines this, I must love God more.

Though I love you oh so well, I must love God more.

I love you where you’re stongest, your strength can help me stand.

I love you where you’re weakest.

There I’ll care, I’ll help you there, and give your heart a helping hand.

God has given you to me, as my loving friend.

From beginnings love has grown, may it never end.”

 

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So we began our life together.  Today we celebrate 41 years of sharing this journey together and with God.  We have three beautiful children, and a wonderful son-in-law.  We have tons of memories.  We have each other still.

 

Doctors know now that I have something called Dystonia.  I will always feel the effects of this muscle disease in my neck, but I am so much better than I was back in 1978.  Gary didn’t know this would be the outcome, though.  Yet he loved me regardless, and he showed his strength and integrity when I needed it most.  He’s still doing that today, and I am forever grateful.

 

42 years ago, I walked across that parking lot with that tall, handsome man.  41 years ago, I walked down the aisle to say, “I do.”  And I am so thankful that I did!

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