A Thankful Moment

I was winding down a long day of cooking on Tuesday night when Aaron came bounding into the kitchen.  “Mom!” he said.  “Will you print off some cheat codes for me on your computer?”

Now the last thing I wanted to do at that point was go down to my computer and start looking up cheat codes with Aaron.  So I pretty well told him that.  But Aaron doesn’t take no for an answer very easily when he’s so set on something as important as cheat codes for his Star Wars Legos game.  I know that about Aaron, and therefore I was soon in my computer chair with Aaron hovering over my shoulder.  He instructed me on what to type in order to arrive at the correct site.  We printed a page but it wasn’t right, so we printed again and thought it was right…..but soon I could see that look on Aaron’s face that told me this looking up cheat codes job wasn’t finished yet.

I was really too tired for this.  I had reached that point of bone tired frustration.  I just leaned over then as Aaron typed in the correct information himself.  Sure enough, there on the screen popped up the precise cheat codes that he needed.  It was just two pages.  I clicked the print icon while Aaron gleefully rubbed his hands together.  He held the two pages with as much delight as if he was holding the title to a new car.  I stapled them together and we were done.  Thankfully done!

“Thanks, Mom!”  Aaron said.  He thumped with his usual loudness up the stairs to the kitchen, while I more or less dragged myself behind him.  There was the counter full of pot and pans and other sundry dishes that wouldn’t fit into the dish washer, waiting on me to dig in and get them washed. 

“Mom!” Aaron turned and said.  “Since you helped me, I’ll help you.  I’ll dry the dishes!”  This unsolicited offer to help was a surprise to me.  He was so sweet about it and so sincere that I wouldn’t dare say no…..even though the temptation was there.  His drying skills are sometimes lacking, while his talking skills never are.  I knew he would be halfway drying and all the way talking.  My bone tiredness wasn’t looking forward to that scene.  But the look on his face and the willingness he showed kept me from refusing his offer.

I told him that of course he could dry the dishes, but he noticed the time then.  Shower time!  So he hurried off to take his shower with the promise that he would return to dry dishes.  And sure enough, he did just that.  After his shower, he stood beside me with the drying towel and dried each dish to some degree.  And he placed them in a stack on top of the stove or on the counter, laughing at how they might fall over and talking all the while about whatever came into his head. 

 
I realized that I wasn’t thinking about how tired I was.  I was enjoying this time with Aaron as he did his part to help.  Then I thought about Pastor Bob’s sermon on Sunday…..how the ten lepers were healed by Jesus, but only one returned to give his thanks to the One Who had healed him so miraculously. 

It would have been expected for Aaron to hurriedly take his shower and then get right back on his Star Wars game, using his brand new cheat codes, without a thought in the world for dirty dishes that needed to be washed and dried.  But he didn’t.  He knew that I was tired and he knew that he could help.  Plus, it was his way of saying thank you to me for printing the cheat codes.

In a sense, Aaron was the one leper who returned to give thanks.  Aaron, who usually only thinks of Aaron, thought of me at that moment.  And he saw a way to say thank you…..a tangible way to express his appreciation to me.  How could I say no to that?  I’m so thankful I didn’t! 

It was another unexpected blessing from Aaron….a side of Aaron not always seen.  We shared some thankfulness that night during this season of being thankful.  It was good for Aaron, and it was especially good for me. 

May I remember to not only BE thankful in every situation, but to allow Aaron the opportunity to also express his thankfulness in the ways that he can. 

Happy THANKSgiving, everyone!   

 

Disappointments

Disappointments.  Not a very catchy, interesting title, is it?  Not even encouraging!  But disappointments are universal.  We all have them in one form or another, nearly every day.  At my age, I’ve had enough serious disappointments that I now count my blessings when my disappointments are more along the line of a bad hair day, getting a cold, missing a fun day with friends, or not getting in on a great sale. 

Disappointments related to Aaron usually come in two varieties.  We are either disappointed IN Aaron for some reason, or we are disappointed FOR Aaron.  We are usually disappointed IN Aaron because of his behaviors.  We are usually disappointed FOR Aaron because of something that hurts his heart, and therefore ours as well.

On November 6, two days before his birthday, I was going to take Aaron to one of Paradigm’s residential homes so that we could celebrate with some of his friends.  We were going to take pizzas and have fun.  Aaron was so looking forward to it!  But he came down with a stomach virus and was unable to go.  How disappointing!  We were disappointed for Aaron, very much.

So a week later, this past Friday, we made the same plans again.  But on Friday afternoon, the plans were canceled once again.  One of Aaron’s friends was having a very rough day and it wouldn’t have been a good situation for us to be in the home that night, no matter how much pizza we brought.  It was going to take time for this person to calm down.  In fact, this client had some words for Aaron during the situation, much like Aaron does when he has a meltdown, and it really hurt Aaron’s heart.  And it hurt and disappointed us, too, for Aaron.

All of this made Aaron act out.  He banged on the car that brings him home, making a small dent in the front of the car.  He yelled at me when he got home, escalating as I tried to talk to him.  He looked in his Friday goodie bag that sat on the kitchen table, and then knocked it on to the floor.  This is Aaron’s way of handling his own disappointments.  Instead of talking about his hurt, he becomes angry.  Talking only makes him angrier, especially my talking to him. 

I had two disappointments going on that evening.  I had my disappointment for Aaron as I was hurt for him in his hurt.  And I had my disappointment in Aaron…..in his behaviors that can’t be allowed, but sometimes can’t be stopped.  His defiance was understandable but unacceptable.  I hid his goodie bag from him as a tangible sign that his behavior was wrong…..and I wished with all my heart that he could just verbalize his disappointment instead of acting it out with harsh words and defiant behavior. 

He finally settled down enough to show an interest in going out to eat dinner instead of yelling, “NO!” as he had earlier.  So before long we met Gary at Outback, where we enjoyed dinner together and especially enjoyed seeing happy Aaron return.  In fact, before we left the house to meet Gary, Aaron said, “I’m just disappointed.”  Wow!!  Victory in three little words!  Aaron expressed his disappointment verbally and I praised him for that as I told him that I understood, and that I shared his disappointment.  I shared it so much that I even watched The Blob movie with him that night.  That movie brought me to a whole other level of disappointment, trust me.  It was painful!!  But Aaron was happy!

He had a rough morning yesterday, Monday, as he returned to Paradigm.  But the afternoon was much better.  Today he got up very early, and at 6:11 I was in the kitchen listening to him talk about The Blob movie that we had watched.  I’m sorry, but 6:11 is a little early to be handling talk about The Blob.  I’m still not over that movie.

Our morning went well, and I was happy for Aaron to be so happy as I dropped him off at Paradigm.  But shortly before 2:30 I got a call.  Aaron was having a seizure.  I had just gotten home from spending the day with my elderly friend, so I was thankful that I was free as I drove to pick Aaron up at his day group.  Poor Aaron!  Another disappointment, this time more for me.  Disappointment for Aaron as he faces these awful seizures……his badly bitten tongue…..his headache…..the interruption in what should have been a good day.  He handles it so well, thankfully unaware of how sad I am for him.

This morning, as I had my quiet time, I did what I sometimes feel compelled to do.  I asked the Lord, as I turned the pages in my Bible, to give me a special word…..something He knew I needed on this day.  Today I flipped from Romans, where I have been reading, back to the first place my turned pages led….to Malachi.  And there in Malachi 3:6 I read these words:  “For I, the Lord, do not change.” 

Simple words, but I knew they were somehow for me today.  As I drove home with Aaron beside me, his breathing having that certain post-seizure sound, I looked up at the sky as very dark clouds rolled in.  There was a mix of bright blue, but coming in were the dark stormy clouds that promised rain.  Our day was changing from bright sunshine to dark cloudiness, just like my day with Aaron had gone from bright happiness to dark seizure concerns. 
 
Disappointments.  Changes.  We face so many of those, don’t we?  And I didn’t wonder anymore why God gave me that random verse this morning in the little book of Malachi.  “For I, the Lord, do not change.”  So in the middle of disappointments, whatever they may be…..and in the middle of the changes that those disappointments often bring…..we can as God’s children stand firm in God’s promise that He does not change.  Ever.

Just stop and think about what that promise means.  God never changes.  He is always the same, loving us and instructing us and being there for us.  No amount of world changes, of family changes, of my own changes….and the disappointments they bring….will ever change God. 

I’m very, very thankful for that promise today.  I’m very thankful that God gave it to me…..humbled, really, as I always am when God speaks to me so kindly and specifically. 

One more thing.  I’m never disappointed in God.  Never.  And I know that He will see us through all of our disappointments, including the ones IN and FOR our Aaron.     

From God’s Heart to My Lips

Was it just last weekend that I flew home from a wonderful vacation week in Alabama?  It seems much longer than a week.  There are reasons for that.  But first, I did enjoy a great time of relaxing with my dear friend Glenda in her beautiful home.  Bruce and Glenda are friends of ours from way back.  Gary and I met them at Gary’s first assignment following his graduation from flight school in 1983.  We did lots of life together in Colorado Springs while stationed at Fort Carson, and then later as we both lived in Germany.  It had been 23 years since we last saw each other.  Bruce and Glenda very kindly flew me to Alabama for several days of rest and relaxation.  We took up right where we left off, too, not missing a beat.  Glenda and I talked a blue streak last week, and I think we pretty well caught up on everything.  It was really a refreshing time for me.

In the airports and on the planes, I finally finished reading Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts.  What a challenging book this has been for me!  Challenging me to be thankful….grateful…..in all situations.  Our friends, Kurt and Jill Grier, gave me this book while Aaron was in the hospital last June.  What a perfect setting for this insightful book to be given! 

So flying home last Saturday, I finally finished this book.  At the very end, Ann wrote this:  “Every breath’s a battle between grudgery and gratitude and we must keep thanks on the lips so we can sip from the holy grail of joy.”  There is a reason that God let me read that line on that day…..the day I was flying home…..to life at our house.

I heard him before I saw him.  I was near the escalator in our beautiful new Eisenhower Airport here in Wichita.  Home at last.  I was focused on that down escalator when I heard, “MOM!!!” 

I looked over to my left, and there was Aaron.  He had just bounded off of the comfy chair where he was sitting near Gary as they waited for me to round the corner.  How appropriate that the very first word I heard when I reached home was that word that Aaron says the most.  Mom!

His smile was huge as he came toward me, rubbing his hands together in great delight.  Delight to see me?  Yes, in his own way.  But more delight, I believe, in the fact that he could finally tell me in person what he was anxiously waiting to say.  “MOM!!!  I finished watching…..”  And he was off, words tumbling over each other as he told me about the latest movie he had just completed.  Aliens and battles and robots and laser vision…..all of it, coming out in a loud rush. 

He had no interest in my trip home.  He only cared that I WAS home.  He did give me a hug as I reached out to him, but he didn’t stop talking.  Gary and I hugged and kissed to our typical background music of Aaron’s constant talking.  We’ve learned to jump in quickly between his words in order to say our own to each other. 

There is no slow re-entry into life with Aaron.  He blows in with no interruptions allowed, words and hands flying, expecting us to show great interest.  And we opened the door at our house to our large dog, to Aaron following and talking, to trick-or-treaters, to the time change, and to me coming down with a stomach bug that evening.  Interesting.  What was that quote I had just read?

It gets better.  And let me again quote dear Alice Zwemke:  “I’m not complaining.  I’m just reporting.”  This week….

On Monday I took Aaron to the dentist for a cleaning.  A small cavity was found.  On Tuesday, I took him back to the dentist for a filling.  He was a little sullen and quiet (thankful for the quiet part!) on Monday, but on Tuesday he was full of smiles and talk.  He even carried in his Happy Spider from Hawaii that Glenda had sent him, and kept Happy Spider on his lap while he got his tooth repaired. 

 
By that evening, Aaron still had a crooked smile from his tooth procedure.  The dentist said not to worry, and sure enough by that night he had returned to normal.  So on Wednesday he was able to finally return to Paradigm, his day group, even though he complained of not feeling well.  That afternoon he had a big seizure there, so I went to pick him up, carrying clean clothes since he was incontinent during this seizure.  He had another seizure shortly after going to bed that night. 

On Thursday, he woke up with my stomach virus that I was kind enough to share.  Between bathroom visits, he slept nearly all day.  No Paradigm.

Yesterday, Friday, he still wasn’t feeling great so he stayed home again.  No Paradigm.  By the evening he was more himself, so I foolishly let him enjoy his pizza night.  I felt sorry for him because we had planned to have a pizza party at one of Paradigm’s residential homes with several of his friends on Friday, and we had to cancel it.  It was an early birthday celebration for him.  So pizza it was, at home……which he later threw up as he sat in his chair in the family room.  Poor Aaron.

And I now have a chest cold.

So here we are.  Life at its best, right?  That quote again….we must keep thanks on the lips.  I’ve been practicing that attitude this week as best I can, failing at times but also so aware of the power of gratitude that is so dear to God’s heart.  From God’s heart to my lips.

I’m thankful for our washing machine and our dryer; for bleach; for hot water; for Aaron’s excellent waterproof mattress pad; for Gary’s hard work in providing for us so that I don’t have to work; for our gorgeous fall colors to enjoy as I look out the windows or drive around town; for our large kitchen trash can last night during the throwing up episode; for not being in the hospital like some I know and love; for all of this happening while I am home and not out of town; for God’s forgiveness when I fail; for the love of friends and family…..and for so much more.

For Aaron, who just rolls with the flow….which is a pretty yucky saying right now, actually.  Sorry.  Anyway, he handles things better than most.  He’s more concerned with his routine than with his disappointments.  I’m carrying the disappointments.  He carries the changes to his routine.

“Mom, I’m going to bed now,” he said on Wednesday night.  “I’m not going to bed at 10:00.”  It was 8:23 when he laid down and I turned off his light.  But soon I saw the light from under his bedroom door.  I asked if he was ok.  He told me that he was fine…..that he was just writing down what time he went to bed in his log book.  Well, of course.

Aaron showers at 8:00 or a little later every night. He showered in the late afternoon on Thursday.  “Mom?” he asked.  “Because I just showered, does that mean I have to shower by 8:00 tonight?” 

Wheel of Fortune is still being turned on at 6:28, not 6:27, though….so that’s a good thing.  And Mom must be reminded to wait on the coffee maker to perk more coffee in order to fill that third cup before carrying them up to Aaron’s room.  One doesn’t take TWO cups of coffee to Aaron’s room.  It must be THREE cups, for crying out loud. 

Sometimes Aaron weighs us down on many levels.  But I’m thankful for the blessings that are many, the smiles that are frequent, and the laughter that comes unexpectedly. 

“Mom!!” he said the other morning as he stared down into his empty coffee cup.  “Why is there coffee bean powder in my cup?”

See what I mean?