My Lot in Life

Having Aaron still live at home with us can present challenges in various ways.  One issue that Gary and I face is, at times, trying to have a prolonged conversation with just the two of us.  It’s amazing how often we have the following scenario:

I walk down to Gary’s study and sit in the rocker.  Aaron is safely WAY up on the third floor, in his room, absorbed in a game or a movie.  But somehow, someway, it’s as if the tiniest sound of our voices reaches Aaron’s ears even through his earbuds.  Soon we hear the unmistakable THUMP THUMP THUMP of his heavy footsteps coming down first one set of stairs and then the second set of stairs.  Gary and I look at each other in resignation as Aaron charges into the study.  “MOM!!! (or DAD!!!),” Aaron bellows.  “Did you know that the core of the earth is HOT?!!  Why is the core of the earth hot?  Can we go to the core?  Would you like to go to the core of the earth??”  Aaron doesn’t notice the lack of interest on our faces or hear our sighs.  “No, Aaron,” I (or Gary) reply, “we don’t want to go the core of the earth.”  (Although that thought might be attractive at the moment in order to afford us some privacy!).  “Why not?!!” Aaron asks.  So we tell him that we will talk about this later and we tell him to go back to his room and ponder the core of the earth a bit more and we wait for him to leave before we try to resume our conversation.

I have been known to say, more than once, something to this effect: “You know, it seems to be our lot in life that we can hardly have a private conversation.”  Gary and I laugh as we both agree with this truth in our lives.

However, there are times that referring to my lot in life can take on a more serious tone and one that is defeating.  I may not even verbalize my thoughts.  That thought may be fleeting or if I’m not careful, may take root in my mind. 

My “lot in life” may be an ongoing situation, such as having our adult special needs son still living with us and facing all the challenges that brings. 

My “lot in life” may be a sudden situation that intrudes into my peaceful life.  We all have them.  Health, finances, children situations, jobs…

There is a truth that I must remember when my mind travels to considering my “lot in life.”  That phrase conjures up a roll of the dice…the hand I was given…good or bad luck.

Each of those concepts go totally against my walk with God.  As a follower of Christ my life is not controlled by luck or how my stars are aligned or any such nonsense. 

Here’s how David put it:

“The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; You hold my lot.”   

(Psalm 16:5)

My life’s circumstances are not controlled by chance but are designed by God for me.

God is providentially ordering my life. 

And He is doing the same for yours if you are His child and are following Him.

Therefore, I can…I SHOULD…be content with God’s design of my life.  Even the very hard parts that bring tears and fears.

One more thing.  My “lot in life” is not your “lot in life.”  And your “lot in life” is not my “lot in life.”

When I go to comparing my life to yours then I will inevitably be either discouraged or boastful…and both of those attitudes are terribly wrong.

Again, David said it well:

“I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.”  (Psalm 16:8)

God is to be my point of reference.  He is the answer to all my questions.

God is the One Who has given me my “lot in life.”

THUMP, THUMP, THUMP

Such a Fun Fall Day!

Gary and I had such a fun day yesterday with Aaron! 

The day didn’t start out with great fun, however, as Aaron had a doctor appointment.  He doesn’t usually mind the actual appointment, but that little side trek to take blood wasn’t what I would call fun. 

I’m so thankful that Aaron handles blood draws with calmness, though.  What a blessing that has always been!

In the afternoon, Gary and I took Aaron down to Klausmeyer Farms.  The fall day was perfect for outdoor fun! 

There were plenty of photo opportunities.

And the corn maze! 

We let Aaron lead.  He at first was hesitant about that, but then totally enjoyed it.  He would laugh and laugh when he came to a dead end and had to turn around.

He loved petting the animals, of course. 

And we ended our time there with a visit to the pumpkin patch, where Aaron found a large pumpkin which he is all too eager to carve. 

A big meal at Texas Roadhouse was the perfect ending to our fun day with Aaron.  As we ate, Aaron talked about his happy day.

“The pumpkin patch enjoyed me!” he exclaimed loudly.

Gary and I smiled at his wording.

We enjoyed you, too, Aaron! 

THIS much!

It Was a Trip!

Well, we are home from our trip to Gary’s beautiful Smoky Mountain hometown.  Days have been busy as we settle in, with Gary and I getting ready for another trip next week…this one without Aaron…so time is short for all the writing I would love to do.

As many of you know, our trek home was to help Gary’s sister, Sandra, when she returned home from having knee replacement surgery.  So, in a sense this was a working trip, and one that we are very thankful we could take.  A big thanks, as well, to all of you who were praying for us and for Sandra!

We brought Aaron with us, much against his desires…and at times, our better judgment.  😊  But we know that he needs to travel some with us, and that this will occur more now that Gary is retired.  Plus, family wants to see Aaron, even if Aaron is less than enthusiastic.

There is so much about traveling that is a struggle for Aaron, but the biggest issue is his autistic need to have his life in just a certain order.  Sorting and packing and stuffing things in a car is NOT Aaron’s definition of order.  I work hard to have his DVDs in one tote…his music CDs in another…his snacks in a snack bag…his sweater…his Handy Answer Garden Book…his computer that Gary packed in a box…  You get the picture.

Aaron does not.

We had already decided to take his stuffed snake and his very most favorite blanket.  Yet on the morning we were leaving, downstairs he came carrying a game system that did not even work properly and that he never uses.  And two extra Handy Answer books that I knew he would not touch.  These became his hill to die on.  No amount of persuasion worked to make him relinquish these suddenly all-important items, so in the car they were also crammed and away we drove. 

Gary and I were exhausted before we had even left our circle.

Aaron settled in his seat behind us, alternating mostly between watching a movie or listening to music, whooping or clapping way too loudly until we objected loudly and he quietened down until his next burst of excitement.  We saw cows and horses and sheep and rivers and lakes and interesting buildings.  But the buildings that Aaron loved most were ones where we stopped for gas, for inside those buildings were LOTS of snacks he did not have in his snack bag and slushies and hot dogs and all sorts of other possibilities. 

I had packed separate bags for our hotel stay that first night in order not to lug in all our heavy luggage.  Of course, Aaron’s arms became full of his two extra Handy Answer books that he did not need in the hotel room and his blanket that MUST go on his bed. 

Sigh.

Later, after a frustrating dinner at a REAL restaurant – as Aaron calls it – we were in our hotel room for the night.  The two Handy Answer books were on a table not to be touched again until they were carried to the car the next morning. 

And Aaron was snug in his bed reading his Handy Answer Garden Book with his blanket on top as it always is and always should be. 

This blog would be way too long if I included details of everything.  I’ll try to be brief by saying that Aaron really did do amazingly well considering all he had to handle.  He was bossy at times, but we knew he was just trying to control his surroundings.  It’s actually very interesting to watch but requires us to pull back and observe without our frustrations obscuring our view. 

We got to Sandra’s house the night before she came home from the hospital, so we had time to get situated and organized.  Gary got Aaron’s computer hooked up on the desk in his bedroom he used.  I got all his other things put in place…his star lamp we had packed, his Handy Answer Garden book within reach of his bed, his other two Handy Answer books off to the side to remain untouched, his music and his movies, his monitor on the nightstand, and finally his blanket on his bed just right. 

I got my part of the monitor plugged in and like we always do at night, I pushed the talk button and told him good-night one more time.  Getting everything all set up and plugged in was a bit of a challenge, so when I told Aaron good night I added:

“We’re up and running, Aaron!”

Aaron:  No, I’m not.

Me:  You’re not what?

Aaron:  I’m not up and running, I’m in bed.

A laugh was a great way to end the day!    😅😅😅

It was a blessing to be there to help Sandra, who is doing very well in her healing and progressing with her walking.  We got to spend time with lots of other family, which was wonderful!

Like I said, Aaron had so much change to handle and all of us were proud of how well he did.  All of us, too, were recipients of his anger and frustration that at times got the best of him. 

One evening Aaron was upset and very out of sorts.  Nothing calmed him and no one could reason with him.  But the person who helped him the most didn’t even realize that he held the key which set Aaron back on the right track.  Gary’s cousin, Bob, let Aaron talk about Star Wars this and Star Wars that.  Bob listened and commented and asked questions, and Aaron slipped back into his happy place where he is at home though he was not at home.  Aaron needed familiarity and having someone let him talk about a subject that was so out-of-place for all of us but Aaron was exactly the solution to ease his unsettled mind.

The last day and a half were particularly rough.  Aaron was done.  He was overloaded and spent and just so ready to go home.  He didn’t want to come out of his room.  He lay in his bed with the covers pulled over his head.  When he did emerge, he was defiant and angry. 

He focused his anger on Sandra.  I felt so badly for her. 

Sandra was his target because he knew we had come to help her, so in his mind his misery was her fault.  Nothing could dissuade him from that skewed perspective. 

My brother and sister-in-law came that night to visit, and somehow their attention…and their gift of a West Virginia Mountaineer cap that Aaron loves!…broke the angry cycle.  Jeanie’s great interest in those Handy Answer Books sealed the deal!

The next morning, we re-stuffed the car and said our goodbyes.  Aaron was happy as he could be, of course, as you can see in this picture with his Aunt Sandra and Aunt Mary Leah.

We soaked in the beautiful views as we drove away through those gorgeous mountains.

We smiled at Aaron wearing his ever-present sweater at a rest stop, no matter the warm temperature.

Now Aaron is home where he belongs.  Home where he is once again finding something else unique in the produce section at Dillon’s.

Home where he can settle in to watch a show with Mom and eat his snacks, with his blanket over him as it should be.

We’ll let the dust settle before we mention a possible Thanksgiving trip! 

So Many Changes!

Hasn’t this been a year of change?  My goodness, all of us are suffering from whiplash when we think of how quickly we’ve been hit with change across the board, in every area of our lives. 

When I fine-tune my vision and focus on our little family in our own little world, I see how all these changes…and other more personal ones…have affected us a lot.  Gary and I don’t just have ourselves to consider, of course.  For us as parents, certainly, we always look at how change is affecting our children.  It doesn’t matter that Andrea and Kyle, and Andrew, all live far away.  We still ponder and pray every day about their lives and what impacts them.

Here at home, though, we are the most affected by how changes in life hit Aaron.  Trust me, the word “hit” is appropriate when speaking of Aaron and change.  Sometimes Gary and I don’t quite know what hit us when change hits Aaron.

Aaron has handled COVID issues very well, for the most part.  He’s still thoroughly sick of it, pardon the pun.  Yet he wears his mask well in public and has adjusted to this new way of living much better than some I know.  I’m very proud of him for that.

His day group opened the first part of July and things have gone well until recently, when several clients tested positive for the virus.  The day center has been closed now for over two weeks.  Aaron doesn’t mind that one bit because he loves staying home.  Our quarantine is over, and he and we are fine, but the center is still closed.

We’ve still been able to enjoy walks outside, exploring some new areas and appreciating the familiar ones.

Petting Moe, our neighbor’s cat:

And loving some time on our friend’s farm:

Besides all the COVID stuff going on, we’ve also had personal changes in our life.  Gary retired this past summer and we wondered how that would affect Aaron, but he’s adjusted beautifully and really enjoys having Gary home all the time.  I mean, now Aaron has another set of ears to listen to all his talk…and what’s not to like about that?!

We’ve had more remodeling done, including…and MOST importantly…Aaron’s room.  Aaron struggled with moving into his brother’s old bedroom.  He oversaw Gary and I as we moved his desk and computer to its new and temporary location, complaining like an old man about it…hovering and huffing a LOT!  He soon realized that his desk chair didn’t move so well on the new hard floor with no carpet, so he bemoaned the fact that his carpet was soon to be a thing of the past.  He tried to urge Luke and Noah, our remodeling team, to NOT take out his carpet but to no avail.  He also spoke to them about all the noise they were making and to please NOT turn off the electricity again!! 

He is now back in his own bedroom, with the hard floor and with his furniture rearranged.  Hey, if we’re pushing Aaron to adjust why not try even MORE new things, right?!  He’s just happy to be in his own bed again and in his own room, so this further stretch for him is being tolerated well.

Success!

Except for our latest change.  Gary and I are taking Aaron with us on a trip back east.  We’re going to Gary’s hometown in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina to help his sister after her knee replacement surgery.  AND…we’re taking Aaron with us.

Aaron would rather stay home, in his own house and his own room, even though we did put that hard floor in there!

Aaron loves Aunt Sandra and will talk her ear off on the phone, but Aaron loves being home even more.  It’s been a push to get him to settle down about this grand plan of traveling again.  Gary and I have had to be firm.  I’ve told Sandra to put on her thick skin. 

Aaron wanted to talk to Barb, Paradigm manager and Aaron’s second mom, about all this trip business.  She facetimed with him yesterday and it was so sweet.  She helped tremendously!  We may be doing that again from North Carolina!

We leave in the morning.  Our vehicle will be full of Aaron’s CD’s, DVD’s, blanket, pillow, books, food, drinks, his computer, Nintendo and games, and his stuffed snake. 

He is comforted in knowing that tomorrow night we will stop to stay in a hotel and best of all, we will eat out in a real restaurant. 

Gary and I would be comforted in knowing that as you think of us, you would pray for safety…for Sandra’s knee surgery to go well…and for Aaron to have a great time and to be happy. 

We hope to see lots of happy smiles just like this!  Thank you for praying!

Hurricane Report

I wanted to give a quick update to my blogging friends about Hurricane Laura’s impact on our daughter and son-in-law in Texas.  Some of you have asked, and most of you don’t see my Facebook posts, so I realized I shouldn’t leave you wondering.  😊

Our son-in-law, Kyle, works on a fast responder ship out of Galveston.  He went to the ship on Tuesday and was told that he needed to go home to grab some essentials and then return immediately to the ship.  He thought he would have one more day at home but fast approaching weather changed all that. 

Gary (my husband) and I worked quickly to finish emptying Aaron’s bedroom since his remodeling was starting on Thursday.  And by early Tuesday  afternoon, Gary was on a plane bound for Houston.  That evening he was the star of the show for our three adorable grand-dogs. 

On Wednesday, Andrea and Gary worked hard to board up what windows they could on the house.  Kyle was, by that time, up in one of the shipping channels waiting to ride out the storm in a place much safer for a ship than the port.  We were just praying it was also a safe place for Kyle and the other crew members.

All of you know by now that the hurricane went to the east of Houston.  We are so thankful that Kyle and Andrea, Kyle’s parents and other family members, and friends in Houston are all safe.  Our hearts go out to those in northeast Texas, in Louisiana, and elsewhere that have been devastated by Hurricane Laura.  They are in our prayers.

Gary flew safely home yesterday.  He was off immediately to Med Express to have a possible bug bite and infection checked on his leg.  An antibiotic will hopefully help clear it up in no time. 

Aaron is glad that Dad is home but not glad that he must now share talking time with someone else, and that Dad and Mom want to talk about Kyle and Andrea more than we do about Aaron. 

Same song…and I totally lost count of what verse we are on at the moment!

 I walked into the kitchen when Gary returned from seeing the doctor and look what was on the table.

I am so blessed to have a husband who shows me that he loves me. 

And doubly blessed that he is still a loving Dad to our grown children, doing whatever it takes to help them when it’s needed.

Thank you, all of you, who prayed for us during the hurricane – especially praying for Kyle and Andrea, Gary, and all the others in the hurricane’s path.  Your care and friendship, even if we have never met, is another gift for which I am deeply grateful. 

In the Eye of the Storm

Life has been pretty tempestuous and I’m not just talking about a whirling mess out in the Gulf by the name of Laura.  We’ve had our own commotion under our roof.  Hurricane Aaron has been building for several days and the other night we were inundated with his storm surge.  Honestly, though, my outburst was stronger than his by a long shot!

Ah, the wonders and joys of autism.  Aaron wants…needs…routine and predictability and all his things in all their proper places.  Upheaval of any kind creates stress for him, and stress for Aaron inevitably creates stress for Gary and me as his parents and caregivers. 

The stresses around us that cause us angst do affect him because his level world is easily tipped by what Gary and I are going through.  Aaron expects us to stay as level as he needs us to be, but we all know that life just isn’t that way.

When Aaron sees Gary and me off kilter, he will then seek to identify what is bothering us.  Then that person or that event becomes the enemy because they have affected him.  Aaron doesn’t mean to be narcissistic.  That delightful character trait is part and parcel with autism.  We know that fact in our heads but sometimes the understanding doesn’t transfer to our hearts during the turmoil.

Several events have impacted us over this past week.  A hoped-for trip to Indiana to see our son didn’t happen.  Disappointment over changed plans crept in.

Then last week we grieved with our daughter and son-in-law, Kyle and Andrea, over the sudden serious health issues of one of their beloved dogs.  Aries started having seizures.  The next week was heart-rending as he declined drastically.  So, this past Friday they made that awful end-of-life decision.  Gary and I were so sad, but I also think that seeing our children’s grief increased our own.  We loved Aries, and we love Kyle and Andrea, so our sorrow was two-fold. 

This is the prayer Kyle prayed the night they said goodbye to Aries:

Aaron really can’t handle seeing us cry but try as we might he did see our tears over the loss of Aries.  We now had the double whammy of changed trip plans and heartbreak over Aries.

However, we were only halfway done with disruptions.  Out in the ocean, Tropical Storm Laura was brewing.  Kyle and Andrea live to the east of Houston, near the water.  Kyle works on a fast responder ship, and those huge vessels don’t stay in the harbor during a hurricane.  Fast forward to today:  Kyle is now on the ship up in one of the channels and will stay there indefinitely.  Andrea is home alone with their other 3 doggies.  She knows she is welcome to go to Kyle’s parent’s home a little further inland but it’s not best to leave your home if you can possibly stay.  So, Gary flew to Houston yesterday and is there with her, which is such a comfort.  His retirement a month ago is a blessing!

Aaron senses our concern about all this hurricane business.  He usually likes to watch the progress of hurricanes, but not this time.  Why?  Because Gary and I are spending too much time, in Aaron’s opinion, monitoring Hurricane Laura…wondering about Kyle and Andrea…planning Gary’s sudden trip…and talking on the phone.  No matter how calm we are, all this time and talk is unusual to Aaron.  Sometimes it takes time away from Aaron. 

On Monday evening, as I finished looking once again at the Weather Channel, Aaron became rude and I became undone.  I lost my temper and lost my cool, and Aaron reacted, and we had our own tempest in the family room.  These things do happen, especially when we are stressed, but then the tension and guilt are increased.  It takes some doing to un-do it all. 

Aaron paced in and out of the family room where I still sat.  We tried to watch a Little House episode but he just could not settle down so he chose to end it and go to bed.  But he kept coming back to me with one more word of anger.  Then he finally stood in front of me.

“I know what I’ll do!!” he belligerently said.

And with that, he stuck his tongue out at me. 

I tell you, I just had to laugh.  He didn’t mean for it to be hilarious, but it was.  I kept my laugh to a minimum and somehow he didn’t get more angry, but it was just really funny.  

I knew when Aaron was finally OK by what happened soon after.  He came bounding once again into the family room, stared at me, and then said:

“Mom?  Do you know what a sea mine is?”

A sea mine?!  But I was actually quite relieved to be talking about sea mines.  Aaron is playing Battleship on his computer, so talk of sea mines was perfectly normal for him.  It showed that he had at last moved beyond our anger and beyond the unsettled surroundings of his world, and he was back to his normal.  I didn’t care one bit about sea mines but trust me, at this point sea mines were a very welcome reprieve!

Aaron’s normal rarely involves human emotion or important life events that impact us.  These issues cause him distress, so he quickly reverts to talk of battleships and sea mines and gun turrets and whatever else comprises his focus at that time.  Gary and I so often shake our heads, but we know we must jump on board with Aaron in order to preserve our peace.  It’s both very frustrating and very fascinating to see how his mind works. 

There is one more thing going on.  Aaron’s bedroom remodel begins tomorrow.  Gary and I had to empty it before Gary left for Houston.  That caused some anxiety, to say the least.  But beyond that is the fact that now Aaron is in another bedroom where all his things are NOT in their normal place. 

“Mom!!  This bed isn’t like my bed!!”

“Mom!!  I like my lamp better!!”

“Mom!!  I don’t like this hard floor!!” 

“Mom!!  I hope I’m not getting a hard floor!!”

“Mom!!  I want to keep my carpet!!”

“Mom!!  My chair doesn’t work right on this hard floor!!”

Shall I continue?

No.  But Aaron will, trust me.

I took Aaron to Outback yesterday after we dropped Gary off at the airport.  Aaron was in his happy place…a restaurant with his choice of food!  As we munched on the warm bread and butter, Aaron looked down at the two pieces left on the cutting board.

“Mom,” he said, “you can have this one and I’ll have the other one.”

I laughed because the one he generously gave to me was the much smaller piece while he got the bigger one.  And it just reminded me of how life is with Aaron.  He doesn’t mean to be this way, but he does require the bigger part of our time and of our understanding and of our attention. 

Therefore, Gary and I require a bigger part of God’s grace and God’s understanding and God’s strength on days such as we have had this past week. 

And God’s forgiveness when we blow it. 

I’m so thankful that He understands.

And I was so thankful to see Aaron smile yesterday as I was able to restore some of his normal.  It’s my responsibility, yes, but also my joy as his mother and his caregiver.

By the way, in the eye of the storm there is peace.  God’s peace, which never fails, is there for me. 

I’m thankful for that, too, during each storm!

A Fun Fourth

Our Fourth of July was hot and sparkly, full of Aaron smiles and excitement, mixed in with too much quietness for my liking.  The quietness comes from not having our kids or extended family nearby.  I don’t even really like holidays for that reason, but I choose to count my blessings and enjoy our special Aaron times.

On Friday, Gary and I took Aaron out to eat at Cracker Barrel.  He loves that restaurant!  He left with a full stomach and a chocolate bar from the gift store, and ended up with a sack full of sparklers and other smoky, loud Fourth of July fun that we chose in the big tent a couple miles from home.

I’ll just leave you with pictures of our weekend, including a perfect front-row view of our town’s fireworks and the gorgeous full moon on Saturday night.   And lest I forget, we rescued a turtle that Gary found in our flower bed.  😊

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And my favorite picture of all says it all!

 

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Magical and Maddening

“Aaron, look!!” I exclaimed one recent night as I closed our family room blinds.  Aaron walked over to join me at the window.  There, emerging from the grass in our front yard, were dozens of fireflies.  Lightning bugs, we called them where I grew up in West Virginia.

Aaron thought they were very cool!  He insisted that Gary come to the window as well, and so we stood there together for a minute, enjoying the sparkling little bugs.

A few nights later, Gary and I sat on our front porch after the stifling heat of the day had subsided somewhat.  It’s nice for us to enjoy a few moments of quietness and of being together, just the two of us without Aaron’s loud interruptions.  As dusk fell and darkness was encroaching, up from the grass once again came those beautiful fireflies.

It was captivating watching their glow, so many of them combining into a magical light show right in front of us.  So peaceful.

Then…BAM!!

Out on the porch rushed Aaron, who is rarely quiet.  There went the peacefulness of our front porch evening!

“MOM!!  Are we watching a Little House tonight?” he asked, knowing the answer.

I assured him that we would watch an episode, as always.

But, as always, that wasn’t enough for Aaron.

“When?” he asked.  “Can we do it now?”

I knew what was ahead but wanting to remain in the magic of firefly glow I told Aaron that I would let him know when I was ready.  This answer never suits Aaron.

One of the very hardest things for Aaron to do is to wait…on anything.  He especially finds it nearly impossible to wait on me to watch a program with him when HE is ready.  He escalates quickly into anger at those times, no matter what I say or how well I prepare him for the inevitable wait.  That night was no exception.

Our evening was quickly reverting from magical to maddening.

Such is often the life of a caregiver.

My blogging friend, Cheryl, is the author of a caregiving blog written out of her experiences as she cares for her husband who has Parkinson’s.  Our situations are very different but also very similar.  I have loved her insights and her godly wisdom.

In one recent blog…linked here… (https://parkinsonscaregivernet.wordpress.com/2020/06/13/similar-yet-different-but-really-similar/) – she wrote:

“But we live for the moments of joy: seeing our loved one smile, hearing them recount experiences from the past, watching them respond to family and friends, hearing them tell a favorite joke. Those moments may be brief, so we hold them sacred in our hearts and bring them to mind when the times are difficult. Another is the joy of knowing we are doing our best, that we are doing the right thing, that we are doing God’s work here on earth by caring for our loved one. Let’s not forget that, especially when the moments are difficult or uncomfortable.”

The difficult moments with Aaron often involve his autistic behaviors…his demands that life revolves around HIS order and expectations of how things are to be.  During those times, no one else’s desires or needs are considered by Aaron to have importance.

Maddening.

On our firefly night, we told Aaron that he needed to wait.  We tried to get him to  enjoy the magical lights in our front yard but he was blinded by his own frustrations and cared nothing for the beauty around him.  Only one thing mattered.  And he wanted that one thing NOW.

Anger intruded into our evening and stood on our front porch, as opposite in its effect as could possibly be when compared to the earlier joy of time together with Gary among the little sparkles in our yard.

Later, the anger was gone as Aaron and I watched our show.  Aaron is usually oblivious to the effect he has on us during those times as he brushes off the recent outburst and is happy in his bubble again, where all is well.

Oh, that it was so easy for me to do the same!

Like Cheryl said, though, it’s important to hold the moments of joy sacred in our hearts and in our memories.  And to know that we, as caregivers, are doing God’s work here on earth.

My heart this morning was heavy as I helped Aaron during his second seizure…knew that I would have bedding to wash later…canceled my hair appointment…and tried to still my worried heart about other matters.

I had finished my normal Bible study and so I opened my Bible randomly to see where my eyes fell.  I love doing that!  It’s like opening a treasure box that I just unearthed, excited to see what’s inside!

And look what God gave me!!

“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you.  Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?  In His hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.”  (Job 12:7-10)

It’s all in God’s hands!

Aaron…me…Gary…others I love…our world…

All life and breath is in God’s hand.  All of creation declares that truth!

Now it’s up to me to trust our loving God and to rest in His hand.  And to…most importantly…trust Aaron into His hand and know that God put Aaron into our lives for a purpose I may never know on this earth.

But may I trust God’s knowing.  Trust and know just as much as the beasts and the birds and the bushes trust and know Who has done all this!!

Fireflies know, too, I am sure.

Maybe that’s why they shine their magical lights for all to see!

May I do likewise.

Photo by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Radim Schreiber.

 

Home Again, Home Again!

Hello!  Remember me?  I really haven’t dropped off the edge of the earth, though I have felt like I’ve done just that at times.  Seems like forever since I have had anything resembling a normal routine!

My husband and I just returned from a wonderful week in Texas with our daughter and son-in-law.  Aaron stayed at home with a caregiver.  All the preparation for our trip, our usual busy days, and then being gone surely made it hard for me to blog or to read the blogs I follow.  Am I ever behind!!

But it was so worth it to be away for a WHOLE week…to have time with Gary, and with Andrea and Kyle.  We had hoped that our son, Andrew, could join us from Indiana but racing is getting ready to start again and the team has more work to do than seems possible to accomplish.

Gary and I truly relaxed while in Texas.  No sight seeing trips since many venues were still closed, so we spent tons of time together talking, cooking and eating, watching various shows and sermons, shopping, and so forth.

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And let’s not forget the fun of seeing our Grand Dogs, including meeting Siggy for the first time.

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Aries

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Darcy

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Oakley

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Siggy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also got to see Siggy climbing his favorite tree!

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And the patio table!

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Andrea and I had lunch one day by the bay near their house.

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We celebrated my birthday there on the 18th.

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And Andrea’s as well since hers happens on the 27th.

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We celebrated Father’s Day with Kyle’s parents who came over for the day on Saturday.  How fun to see Kent and Marie, and to have both dads together!

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Gary and I don’t typically get to share our special days with our kids, so this time was really extra special and wonderful!

Aaron stayed at home with Karlea, our excellent caregiver.  Aaron really loves it when Gary and I are gone, and he doesn’t hide it one bit.  He loves all the one-on-one attention…loves going fun places…loves not having bossy parents around…and REALLY loves eating out at restaurants or getting take-out every day.  Aaron was having his own version of a vacation while we were having ours!

But yet, as he always does, Aaron called multiple times every day.  I didn’t answer each time but when I did I would hear Aaron usually say, “HEEEEYYYY!!”  Or say no greeting at all but instead launch into whatever he had stored up to tell me about.

“Hi, Aaron,” I would say as I answered the phone.

“Mom!  We went to Olive Garden today and we got a salad!!  What’s that juice that’s on it???” he immediately asked one day.

Karlea had plenty of laughs, too, like the day they ate at Cracker Barrel.  Aaron saw the deer mounted on the wall, rolled his eyes, and said, “I just can’t believe they took a real deer and put it in a restaurant!!”

I answered the phone for one of his calls on Saturday.

“Hi, Aaron,” I said as usual.

“GUESS WHAT???!!!” he blurted out.  “You’ll be home DAY AFTER TOMORROW!!”

Then he added:  “Karlea said we need to get the house stick and span!!”  😊  😊

So, we are home and life is returning to our version of normal.  Shortly before our trip, Aaron and I went shopping.  He had a seizure that morning, and I wasn’t sure he would feel up to going out.  But he did, and we had a nice time, which made me extra happy because of how his seizures sometimes ruin his days

When we got home and sat down to eat lunch, I asked Aaron to pray.

“Dear Lord,” he began, “thank You for this food and thank You for having us a good time while we were shopping.”

There went my heart.

“Dear Lord,” I will add, “thank You for our trip to Texas and thank You for having us a good time while we were there!”

And thank You for bringing us safely home again to Aaron.

Who Did Gary Ask to Dinner?!

I was a senior at Piedmont Bible College in January of 1978 when this tall, handsome student came walking across the parking lot on a Wednesday evening.  We had a tradition at PBC on Wednesday evenings.  The guys would wear suits and it was a night for asking a girl to dinner.  Girls would sit in the windows watching to see who would walk over to Lee Hall, and if the guy didn’t usually accompany a girl to dinner then the tongues would fly as the girls tried to guess each new young man’s date.

 

On that night the new male student who walked into the sight of all those wondering girls was Gary Moore.  And walking back across the parking lot with Gary was me!  I would say lucky me, but I don’t believe in luck so in keeping with this being Bible college I’ll say that I was blessed!  HaHa!  But I was and I still am today, blessed to be walking with this wonderful man, Gary Moore.

 

My eye had been on Gary ever since I walked into the student center on our small North Carolina campus in January a year earlier and had instantly noticed this new second semester student.  He fit several of my very serious future husband requirements.  He was tall, and he was handsome.  Very spiritual, huh?

 

It was also convenient that I was the student council secretary/treasurer and that I had access to the student mail boxes…in which I inserted special announcements…and in which I also took a look at Gary’s mail to see if he was getting letters from girls.  Yes, I did that.  And yes, he was getting such letters.  So I gave up hope on ever attracting Gary’s attention.  I decided that it would be friendship that we would share.  But I sure did still notice him.

 

Things happened…I dated another guy during the fall of my senior year.  And Gary kept going home to Bryson City on the weekends…to see girls, I thought, but he was actually helping out in his home church.  He attended a mission’s retreat that Piedmont held at Groundhog Mountain that fall because I encouraged him to come.  I didn’t know that he thought I was wanting him to come so I could spend time with him, so when I drove up with the other guy that I was starting to date, Gary nearly decided that he had already had enough of me.

 

My boyfriend and I broke up before Christmas.  And just before I left to go home for the holidays, Gary came in the dining hall and gave me a Christmas stocking!  Except he also gave one to my best friend Janet!!  Now I was confused!  But when I returned from Christmas break, Gary finally asked me to dinner on that Wednesday night…and all the girls sitting in the windows were surprised that it was me walking to dinner with Gary.

 

We never looked back from that point forward.  Love was blossoming for both of us.  But soon there was a big bump in the road.   A huge bump for me, and could have been for us…except for the integrity of this man I was getting to know so well.

 

I noticed that something weird was going on with my neck.  I couldn’t quite define it but things weren’t feeling right in there at all.  Before long I noticed that my neck was wanting to pull uncontrollably to the right.  I tried to hide it but eventually it became noticeable to everyone.  And the pain became severe.  My dear friend Janet talked to my parents, and I ended up going to different doctors in order to find out what was going on with my muscles.  It was a challenge to finish my last semester of college, especially writing my senior thesis, with my neck pulling and the pain being so bad.  Plus the drugs the doctors put me on were strong…things like valium and other calming drugs in an effort to quieten those muscle spasms.

 

Doctors didn’t have any idea about what was happening to me.  Several blamed stress, so they put me on some pretty strong drugs for that.  Nothing was helping at all.  I walked around most of the time with my right hand raised up to my neck.  Holding the back of my neck helped relieve the spasms a little.  I hung on for as long as I could, finishing my course work and knowing that I could graduate.  But the pain was so strong and the pulling so severe that just before I was to march in our graduation ceremonies I ended up in the hospital.

 

That was a tough time for me, but it was also a relief to be able to rest.  It was so sad that I didn’t get to march with my class.  I’ll never forget Dr. Drake, Piedmont’s president, coming to my hospital room along with Dean Reinert to present my diploma to me as I lay there in bed.  I think that was a first for them!

 

 

Mom and Dad were there as well, worried about me and wondering what was wrong with their girl.  And also there by my side was the man that had come to pick me up for dinner on that Wednesday night four months earlier.  He wore a suit on my graduation day, much like the suit he had worn on our first date, except now he sat on the side of my bed and we both smiled broadly, just as if I was standing in that auditorium along with the rest of my graduating class to receive my degree.

 

 

On a fairly superficial level, my illness was exceptionally hard for me as a young woman.  It changed my appearance, making me look weird as my neck pulled and as I held my right hand around my neck a large part of the time.  I didn’t feel pretty at all.  And pain took a huge toll as well.  It’s hard to be your best or look your best when you’re absorbed in pain.  So, on that level alone, I wondered if Gary would stick by me or if he would be turned off.

 

And what about the future?  We didn’t even have a diagnosis and had no idea what the long term would hold for me, for my body and my health.  What man would want to venture into that arena?  Gary and I were not engaged.  He wasn’t bound to me in any way like that.  Yet there he was, faithful to me with his support and his love and his attention.  He never made me feel weird or ugly or a risk too great to take.

 

I moved home to West Virginia to live with my parents, and tried to get well.  Doctors still didn’t know what was wrong.  Gary still wanted to be with me when he could travel from college to visit.  He saw the pain and the awful reactions to drugs and the huge unknown, but he stayed by my side.  And one day he even asked me to marry him!!  I didn’t waste a second before saying yes.  Time and rest helped me get better, but the effects of my illness were still somewhat visible, and I could definitely feel them.

 

We had a beautiful wedding, where I even sang a surprise song to Gary.

 

“God has given you to me, as my loving friend.

From beginnings love has grown, may its growing never end.

From beginnings love has grown, may it never end.

God is joining here today, families and friends.

Yours are mine and mine are yours, how the richness blends!

Yours are mine and mine are yours, how the richness blends!

You are handsome in my eyes, I treasure and adore.

But my heart determines this, I must love God more.

Though I love you oh so well, I must love God more.

I love you where you’re stongest, your strength can help me stand.

I love you where you’re weakest.

There I’ll care, I’ll help you there, and give your heart a helping hand.

God has given you to me, as my loving friend.

From beginnings love has grown, may it never end.”

 

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So we began our life together.  Today we celebrate 41 years of sharing this journey together and with God.  We have three beautiful children, and a wonderful son-in-law.  We have tons of memories.  We have each other still.

 

Doctors know now that I have something called Dystonia.  I will always feel the effects of this muscle disease in my neck, but I am so much better than I was back in 1978.  Gary didn’t know this would be the outcome, though.  Yet he loved me regardless, and he showed his strength and integrity when I needed it most.  He’s still doing that today, and I am forever grateful.

 

42 years ago, I walked across that parking lot with that tall, handsome man.  41 years ago, I walked down the aisle to say, “I do.”  And I am so thankful that I did!

Our Wedding - 2