The Other Side

 Aaron recently had a tooth pulled and an implant inserted.  He’s really done well with the whole procedure and with healing, as far as we can tell.  But as is the case in every single tiny part of Aaron’s life, autism rules. 

I mean, come on, this is the guy who won’t get up from a program until he watches the credits.  Who, if he has multiple music CD’s from the same artist, will only play them in the order of their production date.  Who will not start eating his popcorn at the theater until the movie we came to watch has actually started.   Who lays his special greeting cards on the bed at night while he reads, just like this.

Who keeps a log book of the time he goes to bed every night and the time he gets up in the morning. 

And who…get this…will only chew on one side of his mouth.  And you can probably guess which side that is.  The side which had the extraction and implant, OF COURSE!!!

This was a huge reason that my stress level was so high as I thought about his recovery.  Gary and I have coached Aaron and encouraged Aaron and demonstrated to Aaron and pled with Aaron to please…just PLEASE…chew on the OTHER side of his mouth.

“I don’t LIKE chewing on that other side,” he asserted over and over.

“So start early and get used to it!” we declared.

“But I can’t TASTE on that other side,” he told us over and over.

Silly parents.

Thinking we could even remotely win this battle was as crazy as…well, as expecting Aaron to chew on the other side of his mouth.

For Aaron…for anyone with autism…there is basically no other side to any matter.  There is one side…one way…to do and to see everything. 

Things came to a head last Wednesday night.  I had fixed Chicken Fajita Soup.  Aaron had eaten and enjoyed this soup in the past, but that was before he was being tormented with all this tooth business.  He was unhappy with the soup.  He was unhappy with me for fixing the soup and for insisting that he eat some soup.  Aaron’s unhappy led to my unhappy. 

That was one side of the matter.  The other side is that Aaron was looking forward to going on our Meals on Wheels route the next day and finally getting to eat out.  We were going to his favorite Mexican restaurant to see his favorite server and eat some soft enchiladas and of course to scarf down a side salad with no croutons and with TWO ranch dressings!

But instead, he had two seizures in the early morning hours.  He stayed home with Gary while I went on our route.  I felt sad for Aaron, but honestly, I needed that alone time.  The previous night had been rough.  I had not gone through Aaron’s normal bedtime routine because I was just so tired on every level.  Instead, we simply said a quick goodnight and I sat at my desk reading some Psalms and praying. 

Those are the times that I do not feel the joy of being Aaron’s mother but instead feel overwhelmed with the burden of caregiving.

I could feel my burden being lightened as I delivered the meals to my elderly clients that morning.  I pulled up to a new client’s house.  It was only my second time to take R. a meal.  She slowly came to the door with her walker.  We talked for a minute and then she began to tell me about her husband who had died a few years earlier.  She had been his caregiver for years before his death.  I was able to share with her some things about Aaron, whom she remembered from the week before.  I felt a bond with her, this new little friend who smiled when I told her that she didn’t look like she was 91 years old.   But then she talked about how lonely she was, and how she felt like she had no purpose…that she just existed.  And I told her that she did have a purpose in God’s eyes and how she had just encouraged me.

I had to run on and deliver more meals.  When I went to C’s house, he immediately asked about Aaron.  He had some things to give to Aaron.  He handed me a plastic pumpkin that was loaded with stickers and rocks that he had painted with Aaron’s name, along with several other items.  I thanked him over and over, and he told me that this was his ministry now since he couldn’t get out like he used to do. 

I told him that his words reminded me of my visit with R…of how she felt useless and with no purpose, but how we all have a purpose in God’s eyes. 

“What’s her name?” he asked.  “I’ll paint her a rock!”

I told him her name and he spelled it to be sure he had it right.  Then he said that his aunt had that first name, and how she lived a few blocks over…that she was alone and was 91 years old.

“That sounds like my new client,” I told him.

He gave me his aunt’s last name. 

And wouldn’t you know it?  His aunt is the new client that I had just talked to, who is so lonely and sad.  He said he would call her and visit with her.

This was a sweet gift to me from God, this reaching down and orchestrating the encouragement that our three hearts needed. 

For R and C were not the only ones who needed that touch from God on that morning.  I needed it, too. 

Yes, I could walk and drive and later go out to eat with Aaron.  I got to go home to a loving husband and live in the purpose that God has given me at this point in my life.

But sometimes God’s purpose for me is not easy, yet it IS all too easy to chafe under the yoke instead of remembering that God has said His yoke is easy when I wear it for Him. 

That’s the other side of God.  He teaches us so much under the stresses and burdens of the lives we live. 

He equips us for the life He has planned for us.

And He surprises us with sweet blessings when, and how, we least expect it. 

No Quitting Now!

Thursday was the big day for Aaron, and probably even bigger for me.  Aaron had a tooth pulled and an implant done.  It seemed like such an awful procedure, and I never know how Aaron will react or be affected by these sorts of things.  I just dreaded it so much, but I could not let him know that.

We delivered Meals On Wheels that morning, and got to eat lunch out like always.  He chowed down on his favorite personal pizza at Old Chicago.  The last meal, I thought…HaHa!  OK, in hindsight I know I was being more than a bit dramatic but really, I was nervous for him.

I wasn’t allowed to go back with him, which surprised me, so I sat in the waiting room and prayed as I watched amazing house transformations on the television.  But soon one of the assistants came out to get me.  She told me that Aaron was fine but that he was getting anxious.

I walked in the room and heard Aaron being very vocal about how he did not like what was happening.  I patted his arm and assured him that everything was fine as the oral surgeon worked to remove the tooth.  I sat in a nearby chair and was honestly glad that one of the assistants blocked my view of Aaron’s mouth.

“OW!!” Aaron kept saying.  That was followed by lots of grunts and groans.  The surgeon was so good with Aaron as he assured him that soon he would be finished.  And the sound effects from Aaron continued.  Talk about drama!

Finally Aaron, his mouth full of the block and the instruments, said something.  Of course, it was hard to understand.

“Well, Aaron,” said one of the techs.  “You feel like cursing?”

That’s sure what it sounded like he said.

And honestly, I couldn’t blame him.

But Aaron came forward, pulled out the block, and said, “NO!  I feel like QUITTING!”   😊  😊

I imagine each of them felt just the same as Aaron!

We all made it through, especially Aaron.  I’m thankful that the implant could be done right after the extraction, and that Aaron had good bone structure for that.  I’m praying that he will tolerate the remaining procedures with far less drama.

It’s interesting to see what bothers Aaron as he processes what he has experienced. 

“Dad?” he asked, “they took a lot of money away from Mom when we got there.  Are we gonna be poor?” 

And when he took a nap, he was afraid that the implant would fall out when he was lying down. 

Aaron needs lots of explanations and assurances about new events like this.  He observes everything but he doesn’t understand everything like we do. 

As we watched a show that night, and he ate some applesauce, He declared that he was getting tired of this implant.  But it cheered him up the next day to get a large order of soft French fries and a mocha frappe. 

He really is doing very well, although sometimes it’s hard to know what his pain level is. 

“Aaron,” I asked later that first night, “how is your pain?”

“It still hurts a little,” he answered.

“So, it’s not terrible then?” I asked.

“Well, it is kind of terrible,” he replied.

Who knows?!

What I do know is that he was VERY happy to go to Wal-Mart with me and to spend his birthday gift card from Aunt Sandra on a Nintendo fishing game.

And I do know that all of the love and prayers from so many have made a huge difference, not only for Aaron but for Mom as well.

Thank you so much for that blessing!

Now I must run because Aaron has already planned on a Dillon’s potato salad for lunch, and who knows what else?!

No quitting now, for sure!  😊

See My Hurt?

Aaron recently had a tooth that was hurting him so much that he asked me to hurry and call our dentist so he could look at it.  For Aaron to want to go to the dentist showed me that he was truly in pain.  Our dentist referred Aaron to our endodontist, who confirmed what the dentist thought…that Aaron’s tooth was probably cracked way down in the root, infected, and would need to be pulled. 

Aaron was fascinated to look at the x-ray that the endodontist showed him.  You could see all the dark areas of infection very clearly.  Dr. Turner explained to Aaron that this was why his tooth hurt so much. 

Our next appointment was with an oral surgeon, the same one who had removed Aaron’s back molar near this infected tooth.  That molar had fractured during a drop seizure when Aaron’s face had hit a cement floor.

At first Aaron was pensive and tired:

Then he became silly as we waited for the doctor (look at his watch! 😊):

Dr. Cole finally arrived and examined Aaron’s hurting tooth.  He put up the x-rays that were taken in his office a few minutes earlier.

Aaron’s eyes darted to the x-rays.  He studied them for a few seconds.

“Can you see my hurt?” he asked.

Dr. Cole was a little confused.  He said that he couldn’t exactly see the crack but that they knew it was there.

“But can you see my hurt?” Aaron asked again.

I knew what Aaron meant.  He wondered if Dr. Cole could see the dark area of infection that was visible on his other x-rays.  These looked different and Aaron was concerned that Dr. Cole couldn’t see his hurt. 

I explained to the doctor what Aaron meant and then he understood. 

But Aaron’s way of asking about his tooth…his hurt…was SO Aaron and so touching, somehow.

I’ve thought a lot about seeing hurt, not only as it relates to Aaron but to others all around us as well. 

One day last week when I picked him up at his day group, he had just had a seizure before I got there.  He was laying on a booth seat when he had the seizure and so he fell off the seat, onto the floor.  I went in and there he lay on the cement floor.  One of the very kind supervisors actually got on the floor with Aaron as we tried to wake him up.  It took awhile before Aaron was awake enough to get off the floor, but it took some doing to get out of that tight area.  Later that night, Aaron showed us a couple scuffed places on his back.  Thankfully that was the only evidence we saw of his seizure…that, and his bitten tongue.

That was a hurt I could see.  Him lying on the floor, having a difficult time communicating when he woke up, and then the areas on his back that hurt, were all visible to us.

But how many times does Aaron, or any of us, have hurts which others can’t see?

For me, I hurt when Aaron has seizures.  I hurt when he talks about wanting a girlfriend or wanting to get married. 

Or when his meds make him very sleepy, and I wish he wasn’t so drugged:

Yet those hurts are ones I don’t want Aaron to see and so I hide them as best I can from him, and even from others.

How about you?  Do you have hurts you hide from the world, or even from those closest to you?

I think we all do.  I know I do. 

Why do we hide our hurts?  Maybe we don’t want others to feel sorry for us.  Maybe we feel we must be strong in front of everyone.  Maybe we’re embarrassed.  Maybe we can’t bear to share the pain and hurt we feel so we try to bury it.

But there is One Who sees every hurt we carry…Who understands every pain we feel…Who is wanting us to turn to Him and let Him take and carry our burdens. 

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”  (Matthew 11:28)

Here is another way to say it:

“Come to Me, all who are beaten down and burdened down, and I will give you rest.”  (Matthew 11:28)

 I think of the old hymn, Tell It To Jesus:

Are you weary, are you heavy hearted?

Tell it to Jesus, tell it to Jesus.

Are you grieving over joys departed?

Tell it to Jesus alone.

Tell it to Jesus, tell it to Jesus,

He is a Friend that’s well known.

You’ve no other such a friend or brother,

Tell it to Jesus alone.

Do the tears flow down your cheeks unbidden?

Tell it to Jesus, tell it to Jesus.

Have you sins that to men’s eyes are hidden?

Tell it to Jesus alone.

Do you fear the gathering clouds of sorrow?

Tell it to Jesus, tell it to Jesus.

Are you anxious what shall be tomorrow?

Tell it to Jesus alone.

Are you troubled at the thought of dying?

Tell it to Jesus, tell it to Jesus.

For Christ’s coming kingdom are you sighing?

Tell it to Jesus alone.

If we can’t share our hurt and burden with anyone else, we can still share it with Jesus.  But sharing our hurts with those we trust, those who will pray for and with us, is also a huge help in relieving our pain. 

There is way too much hurt today in this crazy world…way too many beaten and burdened down people.  I pray that I will look at everyone around me and wonder if they are saying, “Do you see my hurt?”

And even if I can’t see it, that I will be kind and loving to everyone, knowing that they may be carrying a huge hurt that I know nothing about.

May I see and love through the eyes of Jesus. 

And may I let that same Jesus carry my unseen hurts. 

Let’s Talk (And Talk and Talk) About Lettuce!

Aaron had an appointment with his autism doctor this past Monday morning.  Dr. Ogden, a psychiatrist, oversees the aspects of autism that are not very much fun.  This means that she wants to talk about Aaron’s feelings and behaviors.

However, Aaron does NOT want to talk about his feelings or behaviors.  Years ago, we tried counseling sessions and it was a royal failure…not because of the therapist but because Aaron wanted to control the conversation and make it all about his movies and games and things like showing her the bump on his chest. 

Aaron would rather be poked and prodded and stuck with needles than to sit on a couch with mom and Dr. Ogden while explaining why he gets angry at home or his day group…why he reacts to people and situations with hitting or verbal insults…and what the solutions may be to said behaviors.

Aaron woke up that morning angry and frustrated, which is not the best way to go see the doctor who wants to talk about his anger and frustration.  Rarely is Dr. Ogden treated to Aaron’s humor or brightness.  Rarely am I treated to such fun Aaron attributes either on Dr. Ogden days until the visit is over and done…and we go to lunch. 

Lunch is the ONLY reason Aaron endures these talking doctor visits.

Aaron went from livid to lively as we drove to BJ’s for lunch.

You might say that Aaron can surely control his moods if he does so in a situation such as this.

But with autism, things are flipped.  Aaron’s moods control him.  You and I can perhaps overcome the heavy mood that weighs us down on certain days, but Aaron’s heavy mood puts him on a track from which he cannot jump.  He is stuck until something else redirects him.

And on Monday, part of his mood changer was in the form of lettuce.

When Aaron finished his French fries and scooted his chicken tenders around, there on his plate lay a nice piece of leaf lettuce.

Aaron tenderly picked it up, as if he was slightly scared of it.

Look at his face!  😊

Then he set it on the table.

“I’ve never seen this lettuce,” he calmly remarked.

“What do you mean, you’ve never seen that lettuce?” I asked.

“Well, it’s green!” he answered.

“Green?” I questioned.

“Well,” he explained, “some is black and some is green and some is white.  You usually get white.”

Oh, the intrigue of mixing autism with being color blind!

I can totally see that he sees all those interesting colors of lettuce.  Once again, Aaron caused me to pause and consider concepts that I would ordinarily never think about.

Aaron then held up the lettuce as if he was displaying a prized conquest.

Then he stared at it as he placed it on his plate again, studying it in such a serious way that I had a very hard time not laughing out loud.

“I didn’t order lettuce with my chicken strips,” he observed.

I explained that the green lettuce was there more for decoration than anything, which he thought was rather odd.

“What flavor is the green?” he wondered.

 I had to laugh at that one.

“Ummm, lettuce just tastes like lettuce, Aaron,” I tried to explain.  “Why don’t you eat it?”

So, Aaron very bravely took a small bite.

Which led to more bites as he looked postitively scared.

And finally, the lettuce was gone. 

Aaron survived!

I thought we had exhausted everything lettuce related there at BJ’s.

But the next night, Aaron’s sharp eyes spotted lettuce in a commercial.  Of all the food items on the screen, Aaron saw a piece of LETTUCE!!

“MOM!!” he yelled.  “There’s the lettuce I had in BJ’s!!  The brown one!!”

BROWN!!??

Now we’re on to BROWN!?

NOOOOOO!!!

I’m making an appointment with Dr. Odgen…for ME!!!

Skeletal Staff…or Clients?!

This picture was so funny that I just have to share it in a quick blog.  I should really do more of these.

In a meeting at Aaron’s day group this week, he wanted me to take a picture of him and Piper, the resident therapy dog. Actually, I think Piper must be the one who needs therapy after some of his days with Aaron, but that’s another story.

Aaron kept leaving the table during the meeting and returning with Halloween decorations. I realized after seeing the picture I took that it looks like we’re in a forensics crime lab…or that Aaron attends a really sketchy day group. 🤣🤣

Humbled and Hungry

Recently, Aaron and Gary had both been feeling puny.  In fact, they had each been tested for COVID.  Thankfully, both were negative. 

When a family member is sick, I slip into full-on caregiver mode – which means I usually hit the kitchen and start cooking.  I did this last Monday, making a huge pot of potato soup.  It was way more than the three of us needed but that’s the way I roll.

We sat down to eat that evening, where Aaron declared that he didn’t like potato soup and that he would not eat. 

“That’s fine,” I said.  “Suit yourself.”

Gary and I proceeded to eat.  Finally, realizing that I was not offering another option to him, Aaron begrudgingly agreed to try a small amount.  Three bowls later, he left our table full and happy.

“I liked the potato soup, Mom,” he told me later.  I just smiled and thanked him, not telling him that I knew he would because he had eaten it before and loved it.

Sometimes Aaron needs to see that I am not going to give in to what he wants.  I will allow him to get hungry in order for him to learn that the food I have made is good and that he needs to eat what is offered. 

How amazing it was that the passage I read in Deuteronomy 8 happened right after this object lesson!

Moses was reminding the Israelites about the reasons God had told them to obey Him and to remember all the ways He had led them. 

And then in verse three:

            “He humbled you, and let you be hungry…”

God let them be hungry.

Why?

So that He could feed them with the manna that He provided.  There was nothing they could do in the desert to feed themselves.  He gave them what they needed, and in their hunger…a hunger he allowed…He showed them a great truth.

“…that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.” 

I didn’t enjoy seeing Aaron hungry.  It would have been easy for me to rush in and offer him something I knew he liked just so he would eat.  But if I did, then he would have missed an important lesson:  You eat what Mom has provided.

I can look at my life and see that there are many times when I don’t understand the way that God has led or the events that He has allowed. 

I ask why.  At the time, a decision seemed to be wise and right, but it led to situations that were hard.  Sometimes those ongoing situations are the very ones that roll around in my brain in the dark night hours.

But I have learned to push those circumstances aside and to look at God Who loves me without fail.  And I know…I KNOW…that the hard times – the times I am humbled and hungry…are by His design and His allowance.

God isn’t being mean when He allows me to experience hunger.  He knows that in my hunger I will be more aware of His provision, and I will learn that I do indeed live and eat and prosper only through His food that He provides.

His words to me are manna and life and strength.

And I will come to Him one day, hopefully, full of His Words that I have eaten, and I will thank Him for the hunger that brought me to the place of being satisfied with His goodness.

“How sweet are Your words to my taste!  Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”  (Psalm 119:103)

The Fruit of Forgetfulness

Aaron and I walked into our Dillon’s store one day this week.  He had happily agreed to my idea of getting him a Cheddar Pasta Salad for supper.  As we walked in the door, he quickly took off in the opposite direction from me. 

“Aaron,” I said to his back as he briskly walked away, “you need to come and find me when you’re done!”

I quickly got the salad.  No Aaron.

As I walked to the meat section, looking up each aisle…no Aaron.

I bought some meat.  No Aaron.

I looked up each aisle that I passed again.  No Aaron.

Finally, I went back to my original location. 

“MOM!!”

There he was, amid the flowers on one side and the boxed bakery treats on the other.  He had seen me.  He took off toward me in a run, holding two jars of peanuts, his face covered in a huge smile of relief.

“MOM!” he repeated.

“Don’t run, Aaron,” I admonished. 

But afraid of losing me again, he ran anyway.

“I thought you had left me!” he dramatically stated as he dumped his jars of peanuts in the cart. 

“I would never leave you,” I replied.  “You’re the one who left me.”

“But I thought you had gone, so I told a lady who works here to page you,” he excitedly answered.

“Oh, Aaron!  Did you really?!” I asked.

“YES!!” he said.  “I told her I couldn’t find my mom and I thought you had left and would she page you.”

I was actually pretty impressed that he had thought about paging me.  He saw the employee in self-checkout that he had spoken to.

“Is this your mom?” she asked.

“YES!!” Aaron told her.  “She didn’t leave me!”

We laughed…and there I stood, feeling like the mom who routinely abandons her son, being eyed by the customers who would never do such a thing.  😊

As I scanned the groceries, and kept reminding Aaron to calm down, I was also reminding him of all our past history.

“Aaron, have I ever, ever left you anywhere?” I asked him.

He said no, but…

“No, Aaron, just remember that I have never left you and I would never leave you,” I continued.

This past January I chose a word for the year.  I’ve never done that before but this year I felt impressed to choose the word “Remember” for my word of the year.

I’m reading and studying through the book of Deuteronomy.  Moses was preparing the children of Israel to enter the Promised Land.  It was a land of “milk and honey,” full of good ground and many resources.

But it was also full of danger from inhabitants who hated the God of Israel and who fully intended to kill all the Israelites. 

So, there were the weary travelers who had just spent 40 years wandering through the desert, and God wanted them to conquer this land.

“Really, God?” they questioned.  “And just how are we supposed to do THAT?!”

And Moses said, “REMEMBER!!”

“…you shall not be afraid of them; you shall well REMEMBER what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt.”  (Deut. 7:18)

How easy it is for us to forget God when we are surrounded by the stresses and bad news in our lives! 

Or we don’t really forget God, but we forget all the many ways that He has shown Himself faithful to us over the years.

Sometimes we simply forget WHO God is. 

And when we do that, we focus on our situations and not on God.

This quote jumped out at me this week and planted itself firmly in my heart:

            “FEAR IS THE FRUIT OF FORGETFULNESS.”  (Raymond Brown)

Over and over, Moses told Israel to remember all the works of God and all the ways He had led them.  And the only fear they were to have?

“You shall fear only the Lord your God; and you shall worship Him…”  (Deut. 6:13)

This fear means to have reverential trust in God. 

There is plenty to fear today in our personal lives; in the lives of our families; in our nation and in our world.

I don’t know about you, but I have had – even just this week – several opportunities to practice fearing (trusting) God instead of fearing my circumstances.

You see, trust and a lack of fear does not involve understanding my circumstances.

Trust and a lack of fear involves knowing and understanding God.

There is so much I don’t understand today.

But I DO know and understand this:

“Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God Who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments.”  (Deut. 7:9)

I affirmed to Aaron that I would never leave him.

And may I never forget that God affirms to me the same.

My Body, My Choice…and Aaron

This past week, the Supreme Court voted not to block Texas’ heartbeat bill.  This, in effect, has made abortion in Texas illegal after the first heartbeat of the baby in the womb is heard…usually around the 6th week of pregnancy.

Against the backdrop of yelling protestors –

I was looking at my own backdrop at home, which consisted of all Aaron’s bedding after his seizures earlier Friday morning.

And dear Aaron recovering from those seizures as he slept on the couch.

My mother’s heart was drawn to Aaron in his struggles.

But my mother’s heart was also drawn to all the many babies who have not had the chance to live, no matter how difficult their lives may have been.

There is a choice that is seldom addressed when most people talk about “choice” as it is defined today.

It’s the choice that Joshua talked about when Israel was going into the land that God had given them.  He told Israel to choose that day whom they would serve – the one true God, or one of the false gods worshipped by the peoples in the land around them.

Either way, they would choose a deity to worship.  They would worship God, or they would worship a non-god…a pagan god. 

“Joshua calls Israel to ‘serve Yahweh’ (Joshua 24:14).  But if Israel will not serve Yahweh, they must at least serve some god(s).  He presses Israel to the wall; they must come down somewhere.  If not Yahweh, the real historical God, then they must choose either the ancestral Mesopotamian gods or the contemporary Amorite ones.  The conservatives who were fond of tradition, of what had stood the test of time, who yearned for the ‘faith of our fathers’, might vote for Mesopotamia.  The liberals with their yen for relevance, for being in step with the times, might prefer to identify (as an act of goodwill) with the current social milieu and enter into dialogue and worship with the Amorites.  But you must choose; if not Yahweh, then take your pick from ‘these dunghill deities’ (Matthew Henry).”   (Dale Ralph Davis)

Do you see the issue here? 

Do you see the issue for our culture today?

My choice!

My choice which god I will serve.

For in making the choice to reject Jehovah God, you ARE making a choice to serve whatever pagan god fits your lifestyle.

We all serve and worship someone or something.

My choice to worship God will then dictate my other choices in life.

My choices FOR life.

For no matter how many silly arguments are made condoning abortion, we all know that something inside that woman is alive and growing.

And if nothing else, modern technology has shown us that what is growing in her womb is a human baby with a functioning heart at only several weeks old. 

Psalm 139 tells us that God has woven that baby together in his mother’s womb.  She is fearfully – reverently – and wonderfully made by God Himself!

So how do I explain our Aaron, born with special needs? 

I can’t.

But I can explain that as for me and Gary, we have chosen to serve the Lord. 

With all my body and soul and heart, I have chosen to trust almighty God to make the right decisions for me and for my son.

My body is not mine.

My choice is not mine.

I belong to God and His choice is all that matters.

And because I know Him and trust Him, I know that our Aaron whom he created is made just the way that God allowed and designed.

I walk in peace.  I don’t need all the answers to do that.

I only need to choose…GOD!

Photo taken by Karlea Tanner

What Aaron Shares

Recently, my husband and I went to an NHRA race in Topeka.  Our son, Andrew, works for one of the teams.  It’s fun to go to the races but it means even more to us to get to spend some time with Andrew. 

“MOM!!” Aaron said to me the day before we left, “take this state quarter to Andrew!”

You see, Aaron collects state quarters.  He keeps every state quarter that he finds and stashes them away in a tin box in his desk drawer.  He loves his state quarters!  So, to offer one to someone else is indeed a gift from his heart.  He sent one to his sister for her birthday in June, and now wanted us to take one to his brother.

The quarter he chose was dingy, but to Aaron it was a gift of gold.

Then to top it off, he brought me another gift to give Andrew.  He chose this gift from his new bag of bubble gum, bought just a few days earlier. 

On our first night in Topeka, as we waited on our dinner, I gave Andrew his special gifts from Aaron.  Such a sweet moment, and the look on Andrew’s face was priceless.

Aaron loves to share…to give things to people. 

Sometimes when he and I are watching a show at night, and he’s snacking on nuts or something else, I’ll suddenly have a piece of whatever he’s eating land on my lap.  He throws me pieces of his food like I’m an animal at the zoo that he’s feeding!  😊 😊

Let me share with you some of Aaron’s sharing with us.  I think your heart will be as touched as ours is.

Aaron laid these on my leg one day.  It was better than having them thrown at me! 

Another time, I found these on the coaster where he knows I put my drink at night.

And he left two of his very special rocks on my pillow one night.

Distance is no deterrent to Aaron.  He wanted to share some of his new Jolly Ranchers with Andrea and Kyle in Texas, and with Andrew in Indiana.  We bagged and boxed them up, and in the mail they went.  The postage cost more than the whole bag of candy, yet Aaron’s joy was well worth the money.

But Aaron shares more than just items like candy and quarters and rocks. 

Aaron shares huge smiles.

He shares his amazing discoveries.

Aaron shares joy in the simplest things.

Thanks for the picture, Karlea!

Aaron also shares words and actions and attitudes that can aggravate and anger us.  It’s all a part of the intricate way that his brain is wired. 

It’s up to me and to Gary to keep instructing Aaron…keep loving Aaron…and keep our emotions in check during the rough times.

We don’t always do it well or with grace.

But every day is a new day.

Every day, God’s mercies are new.

Every day, we all have some hard times. 

Every day, we have opportunities to focus on the blessings.

And every day is full of new discoveries and adventures for our son who is still, in so many ways, a child.  💙💙

A Cloud of Fear

It was shortly after 6:00 this morning when I walked into the room where I have my quiet time with the Lord.  As I always do, I looked out the window at my usual view…a view I have grown to love. 

And there, right above our Pin Oak tree that has been in hundreds of my sky pictures, was a lone dark cloud. 

It was so odd and unexpected.  Most of the sky was clear except for a few clouds here and there. 

I looked on my weather app and even the radar was clear. 

But there was no denying that just outside my window sat a large dark cloud.

It wasn’t long before I heard rumbles of thunder.  By now the cloud had moved, and the rising sun was reflecting out of it.  I could see a shaft of rain in the distance. 

All of it was truly beautiful.

I have said it many times before, but it bears repeating.  The most beautiful sky pictures usually involve storm clouds. 

Storms can be frightening.

But storms can also be beautiful, and storms can bring much needed nourishment to our land.

In fact, we need storms for life and growth.

None of us have far to look today in order to see a storm cloud.   Not a literal storm cloud.  However, just turn on the news or read the headlines, and there you see it…a cloud of fear.  Many clouds of fear, actually, all around our world.

We’re all dealing with those clouds, but many are also dealing with clouds that are even closer.  Personal clouds of fear are right outside your windows.  Situations exist that are beyond your ability to dictate and manage.

Yet in those fearful clouds, those scary circumstances, there is the beauty of knowing that if you are walking with God then He is in charge.  He will only allow what is best for each of His children, even if part of that plan contains fear or pain.

Never forget this:

            “Out of my distress I called upon the Lord;

            The Lord answered me and set me free.

            The Lord is on my side;

            I will not fear.

            What can man do to me?”  (Psalm 118:5-6)

And finally:

            “The Lord is God, and He has made His light to shine upon us…”

            (Psalm 118:27a)

The Lord is God.

Be sure you know God, personally, through Jesus. 

Then take comfort in knowing that the Lord is on the side of His people who know Him.

And we have nothing to fear, now or in the end.