What Do I See?

Aaron and I were coming out of the grocery store recently.  Suddenly he veered sharply to his left, leaned over, and proudly held up his prize find.  A penny!  He was so happy to have snatched this treasure!  He proudly held it up for me to see before stashing it safely in his pant’s pocket.

This is so routine with Aaron.  Everywhere we go, he spies items on the ground that most people don’t even see.  Or if seen, most of us wouldn’t think they are worth our time or attention. But not Aaron!

We’ve had to teach him over the years that some things he sees are not treasures and are not even safe.  Things like cigarette butts…yuck!  Or random hair bands, bobby pins, or combs.

Last week, he and I walked out onto our driveway after a rain.  Before I knew it, there he was, leaning over to look at what had caught his eye this time.

“MOM!!  LOOK!!” he exclaimed.  “It’s a worm!!”

 

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A worm.  Aaron just had to look closer at this worm and touch it.  Again, to me it was just another worm, if I even did see it.  But not to Aaron.  To Aaron, this worm was a find worth investigating…worth stopping for…worth his notice.

This is such a strange and difficult time we are in right now.  There is so much to absorb…to hear…to try to understand about this virus and about its dangers.  We are besieged with so many changes and challenges.

What do we see when we look around us?

Fear?

Hardship?

Loss?

Stress?

Certainly, most of us can say yes, to one degree or another, to all the above.

But there’s something else we really must keep sight of.  David said it perfectly in Psalm 26:3:   “For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes…”

When my eyes dart here and there in such unusual times as we have right now, may I see…above all else…the lovingkindness of God.

Another version says:  “Indeed, Your covenant love stands right before my eyes…”

God’s love for us is right before our eyes, every day and every moment of this scary and trying time.

Sometimes I just don’t see it, though.  I don’t see God’s love because I’m too focused on looking way ahead at what is yet to come, usually with trepidation instead of trust.

This verse continues this way:  “Indeed, Your covenant love stands right before my eyes…and I have walked along in Your faithfulness.”

It’s not MY faithfulness that is being talked about here.  It’s GOD’S faithfulness to me that matters!

We say God is love.  We know God is love.  But sometimes when life is overwhelming, we don’t see His love through eyes of faith.

We don’t understand why we’re being besieged by COVID-19.  Why is God allowing this to happen?

We can’t say for sure, but what we do know for sure is that God loves all of us, and He wants each of us to know Him and to walk along in His faithfulness.

Sometimes I just need to stop, like Aaron so often does, and bend over before God as I look at His love.

When I observe His love and think of His deep love, I know peace that passes understanding.

Peace even in the middle of panic all around.

Then I can stand up again, sure of God’s love right before my eyes, and take off walking again.

Walking in God’s promised faithfulness through the uncertainty.

God’s love for each of us is worth our time and worth our notice.   God makes THE biggest and best difference to me when I’m stressed.

It’s great to stop at some point each day right now, and just ponder the treasure I see right before me.

Thank you, God, that Your covenant love stands right before my eyes!

Trust and Trouble

As of today, March 27, Aaron has been home and not going to his day group for two weeks.

Two.  Weeks.

But who’s counting?!

What a strange world we are living in right now!  So many lives on hold.  So many lives lost.

How can we even make sense of all this?  We can’t, really.

But as believers, we can trust.  We can trust that somehow God is allowing this time on earth and that there is a reason far beyond our understanding.

I was enjoying a beautiful morning sky one day last week.  The puffy clouds were so pretty.

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I was going about my morning.  Soon I glanced outside again and noticed some thickening of the clouds.

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Darker clouds were moving in quickly.  What a change from just a short time earlier!

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I was surprised at how suddenly the sky changed.

The deep gray clouds soon choked out any sign of the blue sky behind them.

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A spring storm was certainly brewing!

When the storm clouds were starting to form, I snapped this picture.  Can you see what’s out there, in the clouds?

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A small rainbow!

A sign of God and of His promises to us!

It was timely that last week I was slowly reading and studying through Psalm 26.  In verse 15, David said:

“My eyes are continually before the Lord, for He will pluck my feet out of the net.”

David was full of confidence in God and in God’s ability to take care of him, and to protect him.

Yet in the following verses, hear some of David’s comments:

           I am lonely and afflicted.

          The troubles of my heart are enlarged.

          Bring me out of my difficulties.

          Look on my affliction and my trouble.

         Look upon my enemies, for they are many and they hate me.

David went quickly from trust to trouble, as Dale Ralph Davis says.

“Sometimes in the middle of that nexus of trust and trouble, the trouble will intensify and multiply.  We don’t like to talk this way, at least not in church, but sometimes when we trust (v. 15) and pray (v. 16) things get much worse (v. 17).”   (In The Presence of My Enemies)

But why is that?  Is God being mean?

We know He’s not, if we truly KNOW Him!

God is working a great work, both in our world and in my own heart.  And sometimes His work and His ways are best taught…and best seen…in the most difficult of situations.

We see Him better then because we are forced to trust Him more.

When things are totally out of my hands, I realize that I must place them into His hands.

At the end of the day, God will still be in control.  His plan will still…and always…be behind every headline and every press conference.

Let’s remember that God is writing this story and has ordained these times.

We had best be sure that we know Him as our Savior, and then trust Him to take care of us in all these troubles.

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Waiting

Nearly every day of our lives we are involved in some sort of waiting, whether that wait is a mere pause or a prolonged period of expectation.

We have happy waiting:  for marriage…a baby…Christmas…a birthday.

We have annoying waiting:  for a red light…being put on hold…a construction zone…a crowded restaurant.

We have dreaded waiting:  for a job interview…for a doctor visit…for a test result…for a lay-off.

In our nation and in our world right now, we are waiting in a way that none of us could have anticipated even a month ago.  Will we get the virus?  Will we get laid off?  Will we have a shut-down of our state?

Will we have enough food…and toilet paper?!

Yesterday I realized another form of waiting happening in a group of people that I honestly had not thought about.

The grieving.  The ones who have lost loved ones to death and now must wait in most cases to properly grieve that loss.

I was scanning the obituaries in our newspaper.  Read some of the instructions that were printed concerning funerals or memorial services:

 

…at a date to be determined, once restrictions are lifted on gatherings in public.

…to be held at a later date when everyone is safe to attend the services.

…delayed due to the current virus pandemic.

Friends are welcome to stop by in groups of 10 or less.

Services pending.

In light of current gathering restrictions, a private memorial service will be held at a later date.

…service will be held at a later date due to current events.

 

Just today I heard that an old friend’s husband had died.  He was a decorated veteran.  Sadly, his funeral tomorrow will only be attended by family.  Friends who would want to visit the family must wait until our health crisis has passed.

Waiting to comfort.

Waiting to grieve in the way needed.

These very strange times are bringing new challenges to us every day, it seems.  There are so many ways that this Coronavirus pandemic is impacting us!  Ways that make us shake our heads and say, “Goodness, I never thought of that!”

But this is also the time for a certain waiting that will be the best waiting of all.

 

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord.”   (Psalm 27:14)

 

This waiting is not waiting for an event.  It’s not waiting for the next news report.  It’s not waiting for the next shoe to drop.

When we know the Lord and we walk with the Lord, then we learn to wait for the Lord.

We live in continued confidence, as my ESV note says.

All around us things may be crazy and uncertain and scary and disheartening.  God didn’t say He would make all our surroundings a bed of roses every day.

But He did say that in the midst of the crazy, we add waiting for Him to the top of our waiting list.

Wait for Him to speak to us.

Wait for Him to show His power.

Wait for Him to comfort us.

Wait for Him to meet our needs.

Live in the continued confidence brought on by the strength and courage He gives us, and by knowing that He loves us.

Live in the continued confidence of knowing WHO God is.

God isn’t surprised by any of this virus business.  I believe He’s taking away some things we’ve come to rely upon more than Him… giving this old world a chance to know Him before it’s too late.

Maybe God is waiting, too.

Waiting for each of us to stop and think about Him…talk to Him…accept the gift of His Son in our lives.

Let’s not waste this waiting time.

 

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Talking Points #5

Here are more of Aaron’s comments that I have collected over the years.  Enjoy!

 

Aaron was very excited today about eating at Long John Silvers. He loves the fish and the “bread balls” (aka hush puppies).

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Aaron was telling me what he  read in his weather book last night. His take: “The book said it got so cold once that it ruined the whole beer crop!!” Oh, my goodness!!! And I couldn’t even belly laugh.

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I wanted to show the plate that Aaron recently made me. He brought this home a couple weeks ago, as pleased as he could be…..even though he says he doesn’t like art. Look at how he ran out of room to put the last “m’ in “mom,” so it’s at the top. HaHa! I LOVE this! I put it on a stand and have it displayed with great pride on our kitchen server. ♥

 

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Aaron didn’t make his bed this morning. When I dropped him off at his group, he got out of the van and then said, “Oh Mom, can you help me make my bed today while I’m gone?” Help him while he’s gone? Clever, Aaron! I think you just asked me to make your bed FOR you, period.

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Sitting at lunch yesterday, there were two guys in the booth behind us. Aaron, who doesn’t know how to whisper, said – “I can hear what they’re talking about!” Reminded me of the time when we had a guest preacher at church and Aaron “whispered” – “Would someone tell that man to be quiet?!” How red can my face get before I actually have a stroke?!

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The True Story:

Aaron was talking to us on Saturday about how someday he will need to leave our house and live somewhere else. He doesn’t like that conversation. I used Andrea as an example of leaving home, moving to Texas, and living in an apartment until she and Kyle got married. We told him that she was very happy to be on her own when the time came for her to leave. He talked to Andrea on the phone about it later and she repeated what we had said.

Aaron’s Version (told to our neighbor, Amanda):

Mom and Dad were talking to me about how they’re going to kick me out of the house. Andrea moved out of the house when she went to Texas, and she was happy until she married Kyle!

Aaron needs me to be his full-time interpreter and supervisor of damage control!! 😆😆😆

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Aaron: Mom, I ate a marshmallow, raw! I noticed it didn’t have much taste. 😁😋

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Aaron heard Alan Jackson singing “Gone Country” and asked, “Is he saying gone country or gone coo-coo?”

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Aaron and I took Jackson for a walk on this beautiful day. Aaron: “I wonder if Dad will be home later.” Me: “Well Aaron, Dad always comes home.” Aaron: “But I meant a different kind of later.” The scary thing is that I understood exactly what he meant!! HaHa!

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Aaron called me today and told me that he was going to Quik Trip with one of his staff. He had money burning a hole in his pocket, so he asked me what he could buy with it. First of all, I told him no candy. Then I mentioned a salad or fruit. He countered with the idea of corn dogs. I gave in but said to buy no more than three. When I picked him up, he told me that he did get three corn dogs, and a large water. Later, he saw me fixing supper.

Aaron: Mom, what’s for supper?

Me: Egg casserole and salad. Are you eating?

Aaron: Yes! Three corn dogs didn’t stuff me up!

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Aaron has talked and talked and talked some more about the staples in his head. Trust me. Today, on the way home from WalMart:

“Mom!! When they put those staples in, I could feel the hurtness!!”

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Aaron was excitedly telling me about his trip to the pet store with his day group.  “Mom!!!  We saw a parrot and the parrot talked!!”  So, we talked about how the parrot talked.  Then Aaron told me that I need a parrot at home, and I asked why on earth he thought I needed a parrot at home.  “Because you would have someone to talk to you while I’m gone!!” he answered.   ARE YOU KIDDING ME????!!!!  😊  😊

 

Enjoy your day, dear readers.  I WILL be back, trust me, with more of Aaron’s sayings.

Caught Up In Crazy

I very innocently planned a grocery trip today to Aldi.  I often go to Aldi on Friday mornings.  Not a big deal…so I thought.

Also, not a big deal to take Aaron with me…so I thought.

I wasn’t surprised that the parking lot was rather full.  I WAS surprised when Aaron and I headed for the carts to hear a woman call out to me, telling me that Aldi wasn’t opening until 12:00.  Somehow, I missed that memo.

Thankfully, Aaron and I only had to sit in the van for less than 10 minutes.  Out we hopped, again, grabbed our cart and had to walk to the back of a long line.  Never…not Thanksgiving…not Christmas…not pre-blizzard…have I seen a line waiting to get into Aldi.

The lady behind me mentioned that this was crazy.  Yes, it was crazy.  So was the line all the way up the first aisle headed for the produce, and the line waiting for eggs, and another for dairy products.  All through the store, in nearly every aisle, we were bumper to bumper carts and shoppers.

So much for social distancing.

I saw some things.

I saw concerned faces.

I saw tired children.

I saw long lists in shopper’s hands.

I saw smiles, too.

I saw kindness from many of the harried people there.

I saw a very elderly and frail woman with beautiful white hair sitting on the counter where her caregiver packed their groceries…and she was sound asleep, her head bowed, seemingly oblivious to the noise around her.

And I saw Aaron as we stood in the check-out line, his arms hanging down and his hands folded together while he stared down at the end cap display beside us.

He was somber and quiet, very uncharacteristic of him when shopping.  Usually he rubs his hands together happily as he stands in line talking about a game or a movie or what he wants to eat for supper or any number of other things.  Usually I must remind him to talk softly.

But not today.

Today, Aaron saw and felt the crazy all around him.  I was calm all through the store, talking to him and to others, trying to maintain a sense of normal.

That’s because I know how necessary normal is to Aaron.

But today was anything BUT normal, and Aaron was not to be fooled.

I’ve written about how Aaron is very tired of this Coronavirus…how done he is with store closings and restaurant closings and crowds and shortages.

I really didn’t expect Aldi to be part of the crazy today.  I didn’t expect our trip there to add to Aaron’s angst.

Yet there we were, sucked into the crazy while not wanting to contribute to it.  I was just there to get normal groceries.  But the crowds…the lines…the empty shelves…the waiting…the jostling – all made Aaron most unsettled.

“Mom,” he said.  “You’re just here because of the crazy Coronavirus!”

I tried to assure him that I was there because of needing normal groceries.  But Aaron wasn’t buying it.

All through the store…thankfully in a quiet voice…Aaron told me over and over that I was a part of this crazy because of the Coronavirus.

“You’re just buying that because of Coronavirus,” he muttered as I bent over the sandwich meat.

“You just want that because of the Coronavirus,” he said again as I added coffee to the cart.

Seeing him in the check-out line, so still and serious, made me very sad.  All the times I’ve wanted him to be quiet and now he was…but for a reason that yanked at my heart.  He was most uncomfortable…most uneasy…most worried.

This whole scenario of our current lives is new to me…new to all of us.  Watching Aaron’s manner and seeing his worried face was a real insight into how this strange time is new to him as well and is affecting him.

Normal is gone for now, and for who knows how long.  So, for many of us with special children…children who respond strongly to their environments…this may be an extra stressful time.

Let’s encourage each other and pray for one another.

And if you’re out and about in the crazy, and you see a mom with a special-needs child, give her an extra big smile, would you?

 

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Where Is He?

I pulled into our military post gas station years ago in Germany, got out of the car, and began the familiar routine of filling up with gas.  But suddenly, I don’t know from where, a fire started on the ground nearby.  All I could think about was my little Andrew in his car seat inside our car.  Thankfully, no gas had started coming out of my nozzle yet.  I quickly placed it back in its holder, jumped in the car, and high tailed it out of there as fast as I could!

Andrew knew that something had upset me.  His eyes were big as he asked me what was wrong.  I told him about the fire that I had seen and that I wanted us to be safe.  But most importantly, I told him, God was with us and had kept us safe.

I wanted to stress that fact to Andrew, so little and so curious about why I had been scared.  So, I repeated that truth several times to him on our short drive to our apartment.

“Andrew,” I said, “God was with us and He kept us safe.”

Finally, as I lifted him out of his car seat in our apartment parking lot and held his hand as we walked to our door, I said it once more.

“God was with us, Andrew, and He kept us safe.”

“Yeah,” Andrew agreed.  “But where was He?  I didn’t see Him!”

We smile at Andrew’s innocent question, but honestly, most of us have felt that way at times.

I just finished reading and studying through the book of John.  The end of the book is wrenching.  There was Jesus and His disciples, enjoying a quiet Passover meal one night.  And the next night, Jesus was dead.  The betrayal, the arrest, the farce of a trial, the brutal torture, and the horrible crucifixion.  It happened so quickly!  The disciples were unprepared for this turn…so lost…so scared…so alone.

How quickly their world had turned upside down!

“Now what?!” I’m sure they said to one another.  “What do we do now?  Are we next?”

Of course, we know the rest of the story.  Knowing the rest, though, sometimes makes me gloss over just how frightening and uncertain their futures must have been to them.

But then came Sunday!  There stood Jesus in their midst, very much alive and whole and healed!

And what did He say to them?

“Peace be with you.”

Peace.

The word means quietness…rest…and to be at one again.

Today, we may have the question that my little Andrew did.

“Where is God?  I don’t see Him!”

Sometimes we don’t see him as we look at this upside-down world.  Literally overnight, with news of a strange new virus, people were in a mass panic.  Store shelves emptied…major events canceled…jobs lost…quarantines.

SO much uncertainty!!

“Things are so strange,” everyone is saying.  “So weird and scary.”

Indeed, it is a strange and scary time.

But oh, what a time it is to trust our God, those of us who know Him!  What a time to see Him in His Word and in our hearts, speaking His words of peace and calmness!

The quietness and rest that God speaks of always brings me to my mother’s favorite verse:

“Be still, and know that I am God.”  Psalm 46:10

To “be still” actually means to quit striving.

Quit pushing and pulling and struggling and hurrying and worrying and panicking!

Just relax.  Just rest.  Just breathe deep and let God’s refreshing presence fill your soul and your mind.

And know…KNOW…that He is God.

God is in charge of viruses and shortages and disrupted lives and lost jobs and unexpected decisions.

God has a purpose.  He has a plan.  He is not surprised.

And if you don’t see Him, then just be still…be quiet…open your Bible…and let Him talk to you.

Then you talk to Him, too, and see what happens.

God wants to be your Savior.  He wants to be your Father.  He will meet your needs.

His peace be with you, dear ones, during this stressful time.  May we shine bright in this dark time.

And may each of us be able to say, “I DID see Him!!”

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Aaron, Autism, and Coronavirus

Surely y’all knew I was going to do this, right?  That I was going to talk about Aaron and Coronavirus.

Does anything…except normal social cues…escape Aaron’s attention?!

Of course, talk of this new virus is everywhere.  We can’t turn on the television for three minutes without someone talking about Coronavirus.

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Let me try to explain how Aaron thinks.  To do so, I’ll go back a little way to the time I took care of our elderly neighbor, Nora.  I helped her for five years, during the time of her husband’s cancer, his death, and her move to assisted living.

Aaron struggled with Nora.  Honestly, he just didn’t like her.  It had nothing to do with whether Nora was likable or not.  So why didn’t Aaron like Nora?  Let me list the ways:

  1. Nora talked in a high-pitched voice that bothered Aaron.
  2. Nora talked too much.
  3. Nora didn’t hear well.
  4. Nora didn’t always respond to Aaron’s comments appropriately, or at all.
  5. Nora became a topic of conversation here at home as I cared for her, so I talked too much about her.
  6. Nora took too much of my time.

I listed the highlights.  I could have listed more but you get the point.  And the point, to all of us, is that Aaron sure did seem selfish and unkind to not like Nora for the reasons listed above.

But you see, to Aaron and to many others with autism, their world and its order is all important.  If a person or an event disturbs their world, woe be to that person or to that event.  And woe to the persons living within range of the anger that will no doubt ensue due to said person or event.

Now we come to today’s current events.  Let me preface this by saying that for some reason unknown to Gary and to me, Aaron has decided that he doesn’t like President Trump.  I don’t want this to turn into a political statement, but Aaron hasn’t heard that sentiment from Gary or from me.  Aaron has decided this on his own, and for reasons he can’t adequately explain to us.  We can only guess that Aaron doesn’t like Trump’s voice and his demeanor.  So there.

Then along came Coronavirus.  Aaron is sick of it, as Nora would have said.  I won’t tell Aaron that Nora would have said that.

But why on earth is Aaron sick of Coronavirus, of all things?!  Let me list the ways:

  1. Trump talks too much about Coronavirus.
  2. Trump talks too much, period, according to Aaron…so if he talks about Coronavirus then Coronavirus is irritating!
  3. Mom and Dad talk too much about Coronavirus.
  4. Mom and Dad need to talk more about Aaron.
  5. Coronavirus has made Wal-Mart very crowded.
  6. Because Wal-Mart is very crowded, Mom doesn’t want to go shopping there.
  7. Since we didn’t go to Wal-Mart, Mom took me to Sam’s.
  8. Sam’s doesn’t have all the things I wanted, and Sam’s was also crowded.
  9. Sam’s is dumb.
  10. This is the fault of Coronavirus.
  11. Coronavirus is dumb.

That’s it in a nutshell.  Coronavirus has become Enemy #1 in more ways than one at our house.

This could be a very very very very long huddling-down-at-home experience.

Although…Aaron does LOVE to stay at home.  If I do decide to keep him at home…and I probably will…and I tell him it’s because of Coronavirus…

We just might have found the cure!

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