Our Nest

I remember being pregnant with Aaron and hearing the term “nesting.”  I wondered if that phenomenon was really true, and later discovered that it certainly was.  I had the rush of energy and the desire to get our nest in order before Aaron’s birth – and he was three weeks early!  Interesting!

I find myself considering our nest again, but now on the other end of the spectrum.  Goodness, how time flies!  And now I sound old even in just saying those timeless words about time.  I don’t really feel old, but soon our nest will be a little emptier, and I know that the years have rushed by much faster than I ever dreamed they would when I was knee high in diapers and runny noses.

Tomorrow, barring any delay, Andrea will officially be moving to her new apartment.  She’ll only be an hour away but the distance isn’t what matters.  This marks the beginning of her independent life.  She’s worked since she graduated from college, but has patiently still lived at home as she waited for the wisest opportunity to launch out on her own.  That time has come for her, and no one could be any happier for her than Gary and I are.  Yes, we’ll have the normal sadness as we watch her go, but the sadness is tempered by the happiness we feel for her.  She has a job that she’s wanted and that God put into her lap, so it seems, and now her own place.  Her patience has paid off and we believe that God has honored her.

When Aaron found out that Andrea would be moving, he was very surprised.  He blurted out, “NO MORE ANDREA??!!”  Well, kind of, Aaron………….she’ll still come to visit but no, she won’t be living here anymore.  He’ll miss her a lot, as we all will.  And she’ll miss him, too – in some ways more than others, for sure.

The nests I’ve seen around our yard, up in the trees, are all empty.  It’s the time of year for empty nests.  When I think of our nest, the Moore nest, I know that we have a different nest than many other people have.  We’re not alone in our uniqueness, certainly, but we are in the minority.  At our age, Gary and I should have an empty nest…………but when you have a child, or an adult, with special needs – sometimes the nest won’t be empty for a long time, and maybe never.

This fact hit me at some point when Aaron was entering adulthood.  Some of our friends were anticipating their own empty nests, or celebrating that fact when it occurred.  None of us dislike our children, but when the time of life comes that our children move on and we’re still young and healthy enough to be alone again – well, it’s just fun!  But as Gary and I dealt with the reality of Aaron’s needs, part of that reality that hit us square in the face was that Aaron may not leave home for a long time.

I’m not complaining and I sure hope I don’t sound whiny.  When we were first exploring what options we had for Aaron’s services, we chose an agency that would provide Aaron with a group home.  We were definitely headed in that direction…………..until one of the staff physically and verbally abused Aaron.  Gary and I considered that door shut, and so have kept Aaron at home with us.  Some day we will have to cross that bridge again, but we don’t know when that will happen.  His day group is a blessing to all of us, with an awesome staff.  But honestly, I can hardly imagine someone being able to love and understand Aaron enough to live with him, to care for him during his seizures, to know how to defuse him when he’s angry, to read his body language, and on and on.

There are some lessons that I have learned over the years in regards to our lack of an empty nest at this point in our lives. I don’t always practice what I preach, but I have learned:

1.  Do not compare myself to others!
This is a trap that I think we women fall into so easily.  I remember in our early years of marriage how I would listen when other wives told me that Gary and I should do this or go here or experience that.  I had to learn not to compare our lives with their lives.  Now as I think of Aaron being home I must also not compare our lives to those who are “free.”  God has given us this life with this situation, in His sovereignty, and to live any other way than in freedom would be defeating.

2.  Do not covet the life that others have!
     This goes along with not comparing ourselves to others, but coveting takes it one step further down that slope of sinful behaviors.  Other couples may have more time alone, more opportunity for travel, more peace and quiet, more time for their own hobbies or pursuits……..but I should never covet these things.  Coveting is purely sin!

3.  Be content!
     Paul had a lot to say about being content………….”Godliness with contentment is great gain;” and “I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”  Being content is an act of my will and an act of obedience to God.

4.  Count my blessings!
I have so many reasons to be thankful and so many blessings to count, every single day!  And counting my blessings keeps my mind on positive attitudes and focuses me once again on being content.

As Andrea and I worked in her apartment the other day, we noticed the pretty tree out the front window.  It’s a Redbud and this spring it promises to provide lots of beauty for her to enjoy.  As I was working on something, Andrea said, “Look, there’s a nest in the tree.”  And sure enough, there sits a nest up in the branches of the Redbud.  What a perfect reminder that now Andrea is starting her own nest!  Her first nest is not like my first nest, but it’s a nest and will be blessed by God as she honors Him.

 

And I want to continue to honor God with the nest that God has given to Gary and me.  Our last bird may be here for a long time, but that’s OK.  What a privilege to mother our special bird!

Besides, what would I write about if not for Aaron?

Weighty Issues

An issue that Aaron struggles with – as do many of us – is his weight.  He maintains the same weight fairly consistently, and at the past few doctor visits has actually lost a few pounds, much to his delight and my surprise.  Aaron sometimes talks about his weight and shows us through those conversations that at times he is bothered by it. 

Some of Aaron’s meds that he takes for seizures can cause weight gain.  He is awkward and uncoordinated, so exercise is hard for him.  But the bottom line is that the guy loves to eat!  The bigger menu item, the better.  I know that we don’t practice enough discipline here at home in that area, but I do try to provide healthy food for all of us.  Hey, this morning he ate unsweetened applesauce so I get a point for that, right?  I give him healthy suggestions for eating out in his day group; urge him to quit eating buttered popcorn; praise him for enjoying water over soda………….but I can’t be there to force him to make good choices.

I wrote a blog in the past about the day he bought two packs of 18 rolls at Paradigm – he did share some and then brought a pack home (which he devoured the majority of himself!).  I remember the day he was talking to me as I got my make-up on and he started talking about Grandmother being skinny.  He asked me if he had that “skinny gene” as he sat there stuffing a roll in his mouth.  You gotta have more than genes sometimes, Aaron!

Then there was the time that he said, “Mom!  I’m half-way losing weight!  Can you tell?”  I’m still trying to figure out how you can half-way lose weight, but many of us decided at that time to make that our mantra…………..we are half-way losing weight!!!  And proud of it!!!

This morning on the way to meet his group, he said, “Mom, today before I got in the shower I noticed something about my body.” 

I began mentally preparing myself for what was to come.

He continued, “I turned myself on my side and noticed that my stomach is big.” 

Do not smile, Patty, I told myself.  And wipe that mental image from your mind, I added.

He wanted to know if he is fat and so I told him that, well, he could stand to lose some weight but not to call himself “fat.”  Then to encourage him I told him that, you know, I have some weight that I need to lose, too. 

He quickly connected the dots and asked, “Mom, does your stomach look like mine?” 

I was so afraid he would ask what I look like when I turn myself on my side in front of  the mirror.  I was able to delay my answer as we pulled up to meet his ride. 

Well, time for you to go, Aaron!  You have a good day!  See you later! 

I am not getting near my mirror today. 

The REAL Wallet

First, let me give some background.  Aaron had a Swiss Army wallet that he liked a lot……..”had” being the key word here, I’m afraid.  I didn’t buy the Swiss Army wallet because of the name brand.  In fact, it was more expensive than I would have usually paid.  I bought it because it had a zipper section for his loose change.  However, that zipper finally broke – meaning that his change would fall out.  That was a problem.

When we were in West Virginia in September, my niece Sarah was there.  Sarah sells Thirty-One products and just happened to have some items with her that she was selling for a reduced price.  I spied this really nice, handy change wallet that looked more male than female, you know………….so I bought it for Aaron, to hold that loose change that kept falling out of his broken change holder in his very loved Swiss Army wallet. 

This arrangement has worked beautifully for lo these many months.  I put his cash in his Swiss Army wallet and his loose change in his Thirty-One change wallet.  And merrily he goes his way.  But remember that Aaron has that interesting little Asperger’s trait………….let’s see…………….yes!  Insistence on Sameness.

And why do I mention that trait?  Because on Friday Aaron came home with only his Thirty-One change wallet.  Somewhere, we’re fairly certain, he lost his Swiss Army cash wallet after buying his large popcorn and water sample (as he calls it) at the theater.  So today I gave him his $5.00, sticking it down in his Thirty-One change wallet. 

On the way to his group I reminded him, “Aaron, you have $5.00 today and it’s in your change wallet.”  He said OK and seemed agreeable to this new situation.  I reminded him one more time as he got out to get in the Paradigm van, and this time he was a little impatient when he said, “OK!”

When he came home today and told me about his day, he didn’t say anything about spending money.  He did say that he hadn’t found his Swiss Army wallet.   After he walked away, I noticed that the $5.00 was still in his change wallet, untouched.  Hmmmm………….that’s unusual. 

As we talked at supper, I asked him if he ate anything at the bowling alley and he said no.  When I asked why he hadn’t used his money to buy something, he said, “Well, I didn’t have my wallet.”  I reminded him that he did have his wallet, his round change wallet, and that his money was in there. 

And he said, “But I didn’t have my REAL wallet!” 

As we talked, Gary and I realized that Aaron would not use his round change wallet because to him, it wasn’t the right wallet to be holding cash.  Cash goes in the Swiss Army wallet, people!!!!  Not in the Thirty-One change wallet!!! 

I questioned Aaron a little longer to be sure that I had this correct and understood it.  He started getting a little frustrated at my questioning, so I told him that I was just trying to understand so I’d know what to do tomorrow. 

So he informed me very clearly, “Mom, I’m tired of this thing about trying to understand!”

Oh Aaron, dear, you took the words right out of my mouth!  HaHa! 

A Real Example

Like so many of you, I was surprised to read of Whitney Houston’s death.  Her beautiful voice amazed me.  Her life saddened me.  Her death shocked me.  For me, these tragic events cause my mind to turn to spiritual matters and to think of the principles of God’s Word that should control the life of every believer.  I’m not here to pass judgment on whether Whitney Houston was a Christ follower.  Her death has given me pause for thought, however. 

I remember how the Kardashian divorce made me ponder the faithful, enduring marriage of my parents.  Other events of the rich and famous have caused me to draw similar contrasts between those whom according to this world have it all, and those who do not.  And now as I have worked around the house today I have had time to think about the life of Whitney Houston.  Nearly every radio or television newscast mentions her name over and over.  It’s hard not to have her on my mind. 

The woman whom I keep remembering that stands tall in contrast to Houston is Gary’s grandmother, Rachel Eller Edmonds Gunter.  I am not going to write about her life now, but someday I want to do just that.  She is one amazing woman!  Born in the western mountains of North Carolina, she married and found herself widowed at a young age – with four small children, one a young baby.  Life was hard then and her choices were few.  She was wooed by a man who claimed to be a preacher and she married him.  It wasn’t long before she realized that he was a preacher in name only.

Her life became, in many ways, a fight for survival.  She fought for her children to be safe and cared for, even as she bore a child to this man who was her husband.  She cared for many of his illegitimate children that would show up at their home.  She worked hard jobs to provide for all of these children while this man she married was gone for long trips to who-knows-where.  She gardened, canned, sewed, cooked, cleaned, and still worked outside the home as she cared for her family.  She neglected herself in order to put her children, and later her grandchildren, first. 

Perhaps the most amazing thing of all is that she forgave.  She had to forgive many people, I’m sure, but forgiving those dearest to her for their indescribable hurts in her life was a testimony to her relationship to Christ.  As I grew to know and love Mama Rachel when I became a part of this wonderful family, I noticed her serenity and her love for the Lord.  Forgiveness was evident in her life.  As I learned more of her story, I was amazed at what she had endured and what she had forgiven. 

As I think of her today, I am again thankful for her example and her testimony of faithfulness over the years.  If anyone on this planet had a reason to turn to alcohol or drugs to escape from reality or to dull the pain, Mama Rachel certainly did.  I’ve not even scratched the surface of what that woman experienced.  She had no money with which to escape; no great talent to make her famous; no captivating beauty to propel her to stardom.  What did she have?  She had her relationship with Christ.  She knew Him and she followed Him as she read her Bible, attended church, and lived out her faith.  She taught us that this was enough.

She lived to be 100.  God blessed her faithfulness.  Her picture was never on the front of People magazine; her name was not on the news; her death was not announced to the world.  Yet she is one that I want our children to remember and to emulate.  I want her life and her story to be woven into the fabric of our family because she lived the way that mattered.  Not the way that was noticed by the world, but the way that influenced who her family became.  My children have her blood coursing through their veins and I want them to know how blessed they are. 

Who can find a godly woman?  Her price is far above rubies.  I am reminded again that we are rich indeed………….in the ways that matter.

Lessons From the Droopy Leaves

This summer has been brutally hot and dry. The only time to do any yard work is in the early morning. It’s a pleasure to walk out to the vegetable garden every morning and see how fresh everything looks, despite some evidence of heat and drought damage on some of the plant’s leaves. The squash and cucumber leaves are full and alert, and the okra stands tall and erect. They look hopeful and seem to be ready to face the blazing sun and furnace-like winds that may soon come. The garden is largely shaded in the morning and so is very pleasant. Birds are singing and flitting from tree to tree, bees are buzzing softly, and life is generally calm and pleasant. But later in the day, in the late afternoon while supper is cooking in the kitchen, I walk back out to check the garden and find a much different scene. The sun and hot winds have done their damage and left their marks. This time I see wilted squash and droopy cucumber leaves. The tall okra looks sagging and defeated. This is bad news indeed for the vegetables that are trying to grow underneath the protection of these large leaves. Without this growth overhead, the squash will become limp, the cucumbers will dry up, and the okra will harden.

I take the water hose and pull it out to the garden, where I stand outside the fence and gently spray the cool water on all the parched leaves. The water drips off of each leaf, washing off the dust and cooling the plants and vegetables in this terrible summer heat. Then I plug the hose into the drip line that Gary wisely installed in the garden when we first planted back in the cool spring. Later when I have given time for the water to do it’s restoring work, I walk back outside to see an amazing sight. The leaves are once again full and pretty, ready to shade their fruit and face another day. It would have been easy to ignore my garden in the busyness of my day but I’m so glad that I took the time to nourish and water it when I did.

It seems that the older I get the more I see people around me struggling with the effects of discouragement in their lives. All of us know what this is like in some form or another. We can be living a pleasant and serene life, strong in our walk and in our faith, and thanking God for His many blessings. We are shaded and fed and watered. Others can see the abundant fruit of our lives. But one day it all changes, sometimes in a moment. A doctor visit; a phone call; a wayward son or daughter; a deep hurt; a car wreck; a painful loss. I’ve watched family and friends that I love face these sad, life-changing events. Now these dear ones are struggling, weighed down with life’s heartaches and burdens. What can I do? Each person and situation varies, but everyone going through tough times can always use the encouragement of a caring friend or family member. Grab the hose and gently spray the water of loving acts – a listening ear, a hug, a meal, a prayer, a card, a phone call. The painful situation may not go away but your care will help to bring nourishment to their soul. Drip by drip your prayers and your acts of kindness will uplift the spirits of the hurting, and will perhaps bring them to the place of bearing fruit again. Paul encouraged believers to take care of each other in I Thessalonians 5:11 – “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another…” O Lord, may I never get so busy with my life that I don’t take the time to bear my brother’s and sister’s burdens. Help me to know when to water and nourish and love by acts of encouragement and kindness.

Are You Listening?!

I’ve said it before – and after this morning it bears repeating – that not every day with Aaron is full of “HaHa Happy Moments.”  He can get very frustrated and then become very frustrating.  It seems like he starts getting into a pattern and keeps going downhill until something puts the brakes on.  At times we are the ones who must apply the brakes, get him back on track, and then enjoy the good days until we see that pattern starting to take shape again. 

Up and down………….up and down…………….I feel like a yo-yo.  Just call me Yo-Yo Ma.  Sorry – that was bad and I apologize to all you music lovers out there.

The last few days I’ve noticed Aaron getting more frustrated in the mornings.  Remember the blog about The Lost Trust?  Well, he’s lost his trust……….again.  Letting him keep his computer keyboard in the mornings isn’t working out………..again.  He’s been getting mouthier and mouthier, not wanting to be in a hurry, not caring about taking a shower, so forth and so on.

Today he got very angry with me as I was urging him to get ready.  He finally called me a name.  So today while he was gone I removed his keyboard.  When he got home from his group, I was once again upstairs and listened to his typical, “Mom!!!”   

He found me and began telling me about his day……..which was mostly about what he had eaten………….a #5 meal at Auntie Anne’s Pretzels.  If you know what a #5 meal is at Auntie Anne’s then you eat there way too much.  He described the Pretzel Dog to me – “It’s pretzel dough wrapped around a hot dog and it’s BIG!!!”   He told me it came with a drink – “Mom, could I have had coffee?”  –  but he chose a Root Beer instead.  He finished with, “Later we stopped at Sonic and I got a water and now I’m stuffed!  Can you tell?”

Honestly, Aaron, you always look stuffed to me.  No, I didn’t say that out loud………just in my head, where I regularly hold conversations with Aaron that I don’t want him to hear.

He finally clomped up the hall to his room, and there was silence.  Then he clomped back to my room and said, “So can I have the keyboard back?” 

I told him maybe, but I don’t know when and don’t ask when.  So he said, “When?”

Why do I even bother?

Whereupon I refreshed his memory concerning our not-so-pleasant morning and finished by asking, “Aaron, what did you call me this morning?”

And he answered, “I don’t know.  I wasn’t listening!”

I couldn’t laugh.  I couldn’t snicker.  I couldn’t even grin.  I had to be serious and stern and use this teachable moment, knowing that he probably wouldn’t learn anything long-term anyway but I have to keep trying. 

It is very unhealthy for me not to laugh, so I was so happy later when Wendy called me and I could belt out a huge laugh about it with her while Aaron wasn’t near. 

HOW CAN YOU NOT LISTEN TO YOURSELF, AARON???!!!

But I can tell you one thing……….he was listening to ME for some time after that! 

Every Kiss…….

Aaron has been fascinated by the Kay Jewelers commercial for months.  He stops what he’s doing when it comes on, watches it, laughs, and then sings along.  He “highers” his voice, as Aaron would say.  It really is the funniest thing to hear big old Aaron sing this little song.

Tonight he told me I could take a video of him singing the Kay Jewelers song.  I sure hope it comes out and that you can hear it.  It’s very brief.  I apologize for the poor quality and for the clumsy ending.  I’m obviously new at this! 

Enjoy Aaron’s debut!