Eclipse Day!!

We just finished with our exciting 2017 Eclipse…..or not.  Not as in whether it was exciting.  I was amazed and awed with it, even though we didn’t have total coverage.  We had 94% coverage, but that was still impressive……at least to me.  Aaron?  Well, we sometimes don’t totally know the extent of his awe when something isn’t quite as exciting as he imagined it would be.

He was plenty excited when I told him last Friday that he was staying home on Eclipse Day.  He was even MORE excited when I told him that we would eat out before the eclipse started. 

We went to Riverside Café, wearing our matching eclipse shirts, where Aaron ordered the biggest baddest dish he could find.  Chicken strips, mashed potatoes, green beans, a roll, and salad.

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He didn’t leave one bite unswallowed, even when I accidentally put his fork and spoon on the pile of dishes to be carried away before he was quite finished.  Oh well!  His knife worked fine as he finished his mashed potatoes!

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I took the time there that he was captive in the booth to explain the eclipse to him once again.  I showed him a diagram of just what was happening, what to expect, and what time it would start.  And I made sure he knew that it wouldn’t get completely dark here. 

When we got home, I knew according to the clock that the eclipse must have just started.  It was still bright outside.  I unwrapped our special glasses, preached one last sermon with dire warnings about looking at the sun without the glasses, and out to the back yard we went.

I got Aaron’s glasses positioned over his regular glasses, and then put mine on.  We looked up at the sun and……WOW!!!  How awesome it was to see the moon beginning to cover the sun!! 

“Look, Aaron!!!” I exclaimed.  “Isn’t that awesome?!”

“Yeah,” he said. 

Well, ok.  It’s not fully impressive yet, I thought, so he’ll be more excited next time we come out.

We went in the house, and Aaron hurried to his room to get on his computer.  A few minutes went by.  I could tell more from the light changes inside the house than outside that it was getting dimmer.  Inside the house it looked like evening, not 12:30 in the afternoon.  So I went back to the yard, looked up through my glasses, and then went in to get Aaron.

“Aaron!” I called from the bottom of the stairs.  “Come back outside.”

“OK,” he replied.  Soon he was downstairs.

“Has it started?” he asked.

“Well, it had started when we first looked at it,” I told him.

We looked up into the sky again through our glasses. 

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“Cool!!” I said.  “Look at the moon now!”

“Yeah,” Aaron said again.

Back in the house……back outside.

“Has it started?” Aaron asked again.

“Umm, it started like 25 minutes ago,” I said once more.

Looked through our glasses…..I was excited…..Aaron, still not greatly impressed.

Wait a few minutes, get Aaron, only to hear once again – “Has it started?”

Same answer from me.

Inside the house, which was getting darker, and soon I called to Aaron again.

“Has it started?” he asked yet again as we went out the back door.

Sigh.

I just decided it was better to say yes from now on.

I knew the problem.  He was waiting for it to get darker than it was outside, even though I told him it wouldn’t get completely dark. 

“Let’s go to the front and look at the cool shadows of the sun through the leaves,” I suggested.

We stood in the driveway as I pointed out the shape of the eclipse seen in the leave’s shadows.

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“Has it started?” he asked.

I had to chuckle as I told him again that yes, it had started.

We sat on the patio and then went to our viewing spot in the back yard several more times as the eclipse wound down.  And every time I heard again – “Has it started?”

Finally, enough of it was over that I decided to call our Eclipse Day a day.  We went in the house and Aaron scurried back up to his room.  Before long, though, he was back in the kitchen.

“Are we going outside again?” Aaron asked. 

“Well, the eclipse is over, Aaron,” I told him.

“Did I see it?!” he asked.

HaHaHa!!!

I assured him that he saw it, even though it didn’t get completely dark outside.

I’m not sure he believes me yet.

I wonder what he’ll tell Gary tonight at supper about our big Eclipse Day. 

I have a feeling that his big lunch will eclipse our big eclipse.

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The Shriveling Sunflowers

Why did God think it was OK to yank us out of our growing place and put us somewhere else……somewhere that we never asked to be? 

He Said What?!

Aaron had been wanting us to plant some sunflowers for quite some time.  This year I finally bought some sunflower seeds…..giant sunflowers, no less…..and while I was off to Houston to see Andrea in June, Gary and Aaron planted the sunflower seeds.  They rim our garden on two sides and have grown, and grown, and grown some more.  It’s been fun to watch them as they have progressed from little seedlings to what they are now.  They are indeed giant sunflowers, living up to their name as we hoped they would.

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Genetics, Goose Feathers, and God

While she was in grad school, we loved talking to our daughter about many of the things she was learning about science…..about genetics, in particular.  The “hidden to our eyes” world of genetics was opening up to her, and somewhat to us, as she learned more and more about the complex codes that make us….us.  We were especially happy to hear her say, more than once, that what she was learning about our DNA pointed her to God and to scripture.  Truly we are “fearfully and wonderfully made!”  (Psalm 139:14)

Made.  Not evolved, but made.  Made by our Creator.  Each of us designed, uniquely designed, by His very creative hand. 

Now working as a geneticist, Andrea designed and now supervises a lab in Texas.  Did you know that each of us processes medicines based on our DNA?  How my body responds to an aspirin is different from how your body responds to an aspirin.  Our response is all tied into that unique strand of DNA that we each possess.  So a geneticist can take your sample sent from a doctor and from that sample can determine how your body will respond to various medicines.

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It’s called Pharmacogenetics.  The definition is:  the branch of pharmacology concerned with the effect of genetic factors on reactions to drugs.

It’s pretty amazing.  Because of this testing, a geneticist can help a doctor determine the best drug for you…..special you…..to take for certain conditions.  And it’s all because God made you….you.  How exciting that He is letting us have a peak, through DNA and genetics, into just how very special YOU are!

This is the testing that Andrea does in her lab.  They are also doing Cancer Pharmacogenomics, meaning that chemo can be personalized for each patient based on their DNA.  Knowing that your body will process certain chemo drugs better than other drugs is a huge step in better cancer treatments and cures. 

Amazing stuff!  Complex stuff!

“Fearfully and wonderfully made!” 

Said another way, we are awesomely and wonderfully made!

None of this was on my mind as I walked out into our back yard one recent evening.  There, out on the lawn, a gaggle of geese was parading past.  They were fun to watch, and funnier to listen to as they squawked when they realized my presence.  Finally one of them took to the air, and the others nervously followed. 

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The next day, while on pooper scooper duty before Gary mowed the yard, I saw there in the grass a long goose feather.  I picked it up so I could look at it more closely, and to also show it to Aaron.

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When I examined it later, I was amazed at how tight each little feather strand was.  Nothing could easily break through that strong feather…..and a goose has hundreds upon hundreds of similar feathers, every one made specifically for each part of his body.   

The fact I loved the most, though, was to see what happened when I put water on this feather.  I loved showing this to Aaron!  The feather was waterproof, which is no surprise, but it was so fascinating to watch.  The water just formed into little balls and rolled right off the feather, no matter how much water was poured onto it. 

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It was fun pointing out to Aaron that God made this goose feather to be just right for a goose.  Our Great Dane doesn’t need goose feathers.  But a goose sure needs goose feathers!  A goose puts his feathers to very good use as insulation against water, and also for protection from the cold. 

A goose is also “fearfully and wonderfully made!”

I randomly laid our goose feather on the server near our kitchen.  I saw it this morning, laying there beside this picture that Andrea gave me one year for Christmas. 

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We have Cow Patty jokes galore in our family.  This picture is the sequencing of the Mitochondrial DNA of a North American Bovine. 

HaHa!  A cow’s DNA! 

But WOW!!  How complex it is!

So my simple, though really complex, goose feather…..and the DNA sequencing of a cow……and my very own individualized DNA…..are all reminders of what a very capable God we have.

And also they are reminders that each of us is created by God.  Every skin color, every hair texture, every eye shape…..all are designed by the God of the universe. 

If anyone hates a person that God has created, then that person hates God Himself.  That person also doesn’t know God.  Period.

Let’s focus on knowing and following this great and good God.  And loving each other as the very special people that He designed us to be.

From genetics to goose feathers, it all points us back to God. 

 

Lessons From the Stray Flower

He Said What?!

It’s the time of year to call it quits – as far as my flower gardens, that is. My beds of beauty at this point on the calendar are mostly dead or dying beds of brownness. I had noticed for days that I really needed to buckle down and get it over with. All the areas that had once provided color and beauty were now dull and ugly. My flowers had done as well as they could during our history-making summer of stifling heat and drought. Now most of them looked spent. Not only tired and exhausted, but many of them positively dead. The garden would be lovelier without the dead growth, and our eyes would be pleased to look upon beds that were bare rather than beds that were full but wasted.

I gathered the tools that I needed for the job. Small pruning shears, large pruning shears, garden…

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Milk and Manure

He Said What?!

I have never lived on a farm or on a ranch, so I won’t pretend to know much about the subjects of barns or cattle.  And this post has nothing to do with the fact that I have borne the nickname of Cow Patty for many years………thanks to an old song and a family with a wonderful collective sense of humor.  Even when I pick up prescriptions at our pharmacy, there in bold black letters on the paperwork stapled to my little bag are the first three letters of my last name…….MOO.  So I know that God also has a sense of humor.

I give you this history to explain that maybe this is why I first noticed a verse I found as I was reading one morning in Proverbs.  Proverbs 14:4, to be exact.  Now I know the verse uses the word “oxen”, but oxen are close cousins to…

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I Don’t Care!

Aaron got out of bed at 6:30 this morning.  That’s a little early for him.  I hoped he would go back to bed because getting up too early can go one of two ways…..good or bad.  How’s that for being concise?  Aaron loves concise, and so I’ve learned that it’s not all bad……or sometimes not all that good…..to just get to the point.

Which is what we did this morning, Aaron and I.

He did stay in his room for about 40 minutes, during which time I realized that he was not going to climb back in bed for more sleep.  I was thankful for that extra time to finish…..almost…..my quiet time.  Then the bedroom door opened and there was Aaron.

“Mom, I just got up!” he tried to tell me. 

“No, you did not,” I corrected him.  “You were up at 6:30.”

And with that, I held up the baby monitor to remind him that I DO spy on him, as he thinks I do, and that I knew for a fact that he was out of bed at 6:30.

He just laughed and so I thought that we were on the good side of his early morning as he walked off.

But he soon returned, hovering behind my chair, and I could feel his stare on the back of my head.

“Mom!?” he finally said.  “Aren’t you coming to get my coffee?!”

I reminded him that I would do that when I finished what I was doing, and that he needed to wait.  Patiently.

He stared for a few more seconds before sighing and walking away again.  I knew now that this morning might be a few steps closer to bad than it previously was.

He was soon in his hovering position again.  I finished what I was doing, but not before his patience wore even thinner.

“Do you not want to stay in here FOREVER?!” he impatiently questioned. 

I continued to gather my things and to tell him that I would be there when I was done.  And then I asked him, in a rather chipper voice, if he would like to stop on the way to Paradigm and get something. 

His response was a resounding no, and then I knew that we had jumped over to bad for sure. 

He watched every move I made in the kitchen as I fixed his coffee.  I had already asked if he wanted something to eat.  Bacon?  Eggs?  Sausage?  Cereal?

No, no, no, and no were his replies.

I know his reasoning.  He thinks that if he eats in the morning, then he won’t want to eat at Paradigm in the afternoon.  OR…..that Mom doesn’t WANT him to eat at Paradigm, so mean Mom is trying to fill him up with food at home. 

I then remembered that I had sliced two green peppers and put them in the frig.  Aaron loves green pepper strips, so I pulled them out and showed them to Aaron.

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“You want some green pepper strips?” I chirped.

“You just want me to eat!” he angrily replied.

He stared at me.  He got no reply from me as I put the peppers back in the frig.

“Why do you want me to eat?!” he asked, still angry.

“Because I care,” I told him, but not with any chirp in my voice now.

“You just don’t want me to eat at Paradigm!” he insisted.

“No, Aaron, I want you to eat at Paradigm.  But it’s fine,” I said.

“You just care about me eating here and not at Paradigm,” he continued.

“Aaron, I don’t care.  OK?  I don’t care,” I told him.

Aaron stared at me.  I went about my business.

But he wasn’t done.

“Well,” he said, “When you DID care, why did you care?!”

Oh dear.  HaHaHa!!!  He makes me laugh even when he’s being incredibly frustrating!

Let’s see.  He doesn’t want me to care, but he can’t stand it when I don’t care, so he wants me to care, but when I care he doesn’t want me to care.

Is there any way to win in this battle?

And what mother tells her son that she doesn’t care?!!

Me.  I do.

Because I know that this is what Aaron needed to hear…..wanted to hear……but in the end he still wanted to fight.

So I had to put an end to it as best I could, in the best way for Aaron’s way of thinking.

Whew!!  Complicated. 

It’s just another example of how we have to figure out what makes Aaron tick, especially when we’re ticked.  And I was. 

I never dreamed I’d be telling a child of mine that I didn’t care, but I never dreamed I’d have an Aaron, either. 

I know I care.  He knows I care.  But at that moment, he wasn’t wanting me to care in the way that I did, so I had to tell him that I didn’t.

One thing I’ve learned in this life with Aaron is not to allow guilt to intrude into these moments.  I know my heart and God knows my heart. 

It’s unnatural to say that I don’t care, but I learned a long time ago to throw my normal parenting books out the window……and write a whole new one for Aaron. 

I should entitle it “Unnatural Nurturing.”

Or maybe just, “I Don’t CARE!!”……a guide to caring without caring.

Makes sense to me!

 

 

Quit Chasing the Carrot

I was ready to take Aaron to his day group this morning, waiting on him to also be ready, and so I decided to go ahead and take our recycle items out to the recycling trash can outside.  I hurriedly passed by our Rose of Sharon bush that sits right outside the garage door, at the corner of our house.  This bush is a prolific grower, so as I passed around it on my way to the recycle can I was thinking that its branches were starting to once again crowd the walkway. 

“I need to remember to trim it soon,” I thought as I walked around it.  “It seems like I just did that.” And my mind made a note on my mental “to-do” list of yet another job that needed doing. 

But as I was dodging long branches, and buzzing bees, I was struck with the beauty of the blooms……the blooms that I so often take for granted because I’m too busy with other things “to-do”………and too focused on the work that was being presented instead of the beautiful workmanship right there in front of me.

I took Aaron then to Great Clips for a haircut before dropping him off at Paradigm.  When I got home, I took a few minutes to look at our Rose of Sharon bushes……really look. 

There is so much beauty there in each bloom.

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So much stunning color.

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Such intricate handiwork done by God.

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Why don’t I take the time to notice and appreciate this gift?  Because I’ve grown so used to it that it doesn’t seem important to me on a daily basis.  I see them every day.  They’re common, routine, old hat. 

Much like the morning I just had with Aaron.  A morning full of his routine……coffee, shower, always talking, computer, get him out the door…..nothing fantastic or amazing.

What if I decided I was tired of this routine?  And oh, I have!  But what if I decided not to participate in it anymore?  Things would really fall apart if I reneged on my responsibility.

But what if I realized that this is not just a responsibility?  My life with Aaron is a privilege……an opportunity.

How is that? 

Yesterday, over lunch, my friend Joyce told me again how she had read a book out loud to her two special needs sons.  She told me this again……because she reads that same book, or sometimes on a good day another book……every single night to her sons.  Again, and again, and again, and again……

It really hit me how wearying that sameness is to her.  In fact, she and I laugh about the sameness of our lives with our special sons.  I’ve written about Aaron and Skip-Bo…..Aaron and his bedtime routine…..morning routine……insistence on sameness. 

And sometimes I wonder, is this all there is for me?  I am limited in what I can do because of being tied down with Aaron.  There, I said it.

I mean, I’m limited in what I can do with my life OTHER than Aaron.  I can’t even commit to jury duty or volunteering because he might be having a seizure day or a meltdown day, and I would be a no-show. 

But as Joyce talked, and we laughed about the book reading, I told her that there is another side to this life.  She is giving glory to God in taking care of her sons, day after day, again and again and again. 

You see, God has given her…..and me…..and you…..the life we have.  Sometimes we think that there must be more out there for us.  If only I could do this, or do that……go here or go there……accomplish this or that like others do…..then my life would have wonderful, beautiful purpose.

When really, right in front of me, IS my purpose.  I often see only drudgery if I’m not careful.  Or at least boring sameness.

But God put me where I am, of that I am certain.  So why do I keep chasing the carrot, thinking that grabbing that “always out of reach” something will be where my joy and accomplishment will lie?

God wants obedience more than anything in my life.  He wants me to live this life that He planned for me, faithfully, here and now, with my eyes on Him and on the responsibilities that come with this life with Aaron……not with my eyes on the “what could be but won’t be.”  And then as a result, living in defeat and frustration and anger because I can’t catch that carrot.

So every day with Aaron is a day to point to God by being obedient in the sameness.  I point to God and give Him the glory He deserves when I am faithful where He has put me, not when I am unhappy and miserable.  Misery disappears, too, when I am thankful for this life.

Thankfulness and misery can’t be in the same room together.  The choice is mine.

 It’s good to step back sometimes and look at the big picture……to see how all the blooms grow together into a thing of beauty……not a thing that needs be dealt with, but to be genuinely enjoyed.   

I may not even see the beauty this side of heaven, but God does.  And someday He’ll share it with me, and I’ll be amazed at how the routine and the sameness and the seeming insignificance were actually huge and wonderful and just what He designed for me and for Him.

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