Life is Like a Coupon Box

He Said What?!

I walked into the kitchen on a recent Sunday, after Aaron had completed his usual Sunday coupon clipping chore.  There on the counter lay a Dillon’s coupon, one that I had put into my coupon box several days earlier.  I knew right away what this lone coupon on the counter meant.  It spoke volumes to me as it silently stared up at me…..volumes about our Aaron.

You see, this coupon…

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Does NOT belong among these coupons.

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The Dillon’s coupon is not a regular coupon to Aaron, and only regular Sunday coupons are to be placed…precisely…in the coupon box.

Silly mom for thinking otherwise.

Aaron’s life is like that coupon box.

Aaron wants most things in his world to be done in a certain order…..words said in a particular way…with order and sequence and expected results.  But life doesn’t operate that way, no matter how much Aaron tries to…

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Wilted

God loves us throughout each day and even gives us a song during the awful dark hours of the long nights.

He Said What?!

I have some container plants on our front porch.  They need routine watering, of course, but definitely need plenty of water during our very hot Kansas summer.  A few weeks ago, I was guilty of neglecting those plants for longer than I should have.  You know how it is.  I just got busy with many other things.  I would remember the plants and tell myself I needed to check on them, but then once again I would forget to do so in the midst of running here and there.

I had noticed my pretty Impatiens in the corner drooping a little one day, so I gave myself a mental note to water the plants that evening.  But I yet again got distracted and didn’t water them like I promised myself I would do.

When I finally went to check on the plants some time later, I was sad to see…

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God’s Work of Art

He Said What?!

I love how Gary stops to enjoy the world around him.  Sometimes I may not quite agree with it, like when he found a huge Orb Weaving Spider on the back of our patio chair recently and instead of killing it, he placed it gingerly in our flower bed.  You who know my fear of spiders will also know that I am now avoiding that flower bed, or am stalking around it carefully like an NCIS agent at a crime scene. 

I wasn’t at all surprised this past Sunday afternoon to walk out in our garage and find a Cicada, a poor dead Cicada, laying on Gary’s work bench.  I knew that Gary had placed it there for me and for Aaron to see.  I didn’t even have to ask.  I paused to look at it, which prompted Gary to tell me about the Praying Mantis he had rescued from…

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The Surprise

We each have our own situations that God has put, just so, in our lives. As we stand and look at whatever that is, we must choose whether to accept God’s placement in our garden or to spend our life hating it.

He Said What?!

I was walking through our vegetable garden one day in early summer, looking at the pretty little plants growing so nicely where Gary and I had placed them.  There was the summer squash on the front row, along with some zucchini.  The tomatoes were already inside their tomato cages that Gary had put up, and behind them were our okra plants.  Cucumbers were on the side of the garden near the tall oak tree.  We have a simple garden this year, not as full as it sometimes is, but enough for us and hopefully some to share with others.

Everything was where it should be, growing as we had hoped at this point, with no visible bugs or other problems that I could see. Weeds hadn’t started taking over yet, either, so I felt content as I turned to leave the garden.

But wait.  What was this?

I stopped between…

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Waiting On…?

Aaron is a very impatient “waiter.”  Not a “waiter” as in serving us but waiting as in wanting me to do something…NOW!  We often see this attitude in the evenings. That’s because every evening he and I watch a show.  Lately, it’s Little House on the Prairie.  Anyway, here is how the evening may very well go:

Aaron:  Mom, what time are we watching Little House on the Prairie?

Me:  Let’s watch it at 8:45.

Aaron:  8:45?

Me:  Yes.

Aaron:  OK!

But before long he will more than likely come back downstairs to find me.

Aaron:  Mom, let’s just watch it now!

Me:  No.  We’ll watch it at 8:45.

Aaron:  WHY??!!

Me:  Because I have some things to do and 8:45 is a good time for us to watch it.

Aaron:  But I want to watch it NOW!!

Sometimes Aaron can be appeased and convinced that 8:45 will come before he knows it.  Other times, however, he becomes frustrated and angry.  The waiting game is anything BUT a game at that point, for either of us. 

Sigh.

When we do sit down to the opening music of our program, Aaron is content.  He has his snacks beside him, his blanket over him, and all is well.  But it’s only well because he was waiting on an event that finally happened.

How I wish that he would transfer his waiting focus on me.  I wish he would trust ME to do what I said I would do and then rest in that fact instead of resting on actually beginning his show, with his snacks and his routine in place.

In my spiritual life, this is a lesson I am forever needing to refine. 

I find myself waiting on a “what” instead of waiting on “Who.”

Waiting on some prayed-for event instead of waiting on the One Who will bring the events in my life to pass as He sees best.

Do you ever pray for something to the point that the “something” you’re praying for becomes your focus?  I sure do. 

And that “something” is probably a very good thing.  But here’s the thing…I don’t know God’s mind about my “something” so I need to stop focusing on the event…the request…and focus instead on the One to Whom I am asking to fulfill that event.

Last night my focus became blurry, so I got out of bed and went quietly into the bedroom where I have my quiet-time desk. 

The word “wait” was on my mind.  I ended up in Psalm 25:4-5:

“Make me know Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths.  Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You I wait all the day.”

God’s ways and His paths in this verse actually refer to God’s providence and to how God operates…how He deals with His people.  God doesn’t just want us to know His commands and requirements, but He wants us to know HIM. 

Dale Davis points out in his book In the Presence of My Enemies that God wants us to know more than His demands of us.  God wants us to know how He deals with us. 

And how does God deal with us, His children?  He leads us in His truth, which is better translated “in your faithfulness.” 

“So he seems to be praying that Yahweh will teach him how He is working in his case (v. 4) and to let him experience His faithfulness (v.5) as he goes on.”  (Davis)

Another nugget?  The Hebrew word for “wait” carries with it the idea of being entwined.  As I thought about this, I imagined myself knowing and trusting God so much that I, in a sense, am entwined with Him.  I am so wrapped up in God’s kind character and in His love that I rest in Him, not in my desires being fulfilled. 

The end of that passage says, “…for You I wait all the day.” 

Yes, our petitions are important.  Yes, God wants us to ask things of Him. 

But he also so often wants us to wait…patiently…while He works and while He shows us in that working His faithfulness and His love. 

God wants us to get to know Him better and in that knowing, to trust Him more.

May I not base my happiness on things to be as I want them to be.   

May I not wait for the event to occur before I am satisfied.    

May I instead wait on God..focus on God…and in that waiting, learn to trust Him and enjoy HIM more than the thing for which I am praying. 

Aaron’s Talking Points #9

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

 

Aaron and I were driving home from Paradigm, passing downtown Wichita on Kellogg.

Aaron: MOM!! LOOK!!

Me: What??!

Aaron: Wait!! It’s coming!

Waiting.

Aaron: There it is!! LOOK!! A chicken on a building!!

And there it was. A chicken statue perched on top of a building…….except I think it was a rooster. Anyway…..

Aaron: It’s a CHICKEN restaurant!!!! It hasssss……

Thinking.

Aaron: It hassss……CHICKEN FOOD!!!!

Soundsssss…….YUMMY!!!

 

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We’ve been praising Aaron’s good attitude and his kind sharing. Today he said, “Mom, I gave Sandra a piece of my Big Red gum. I told her that she doesn’t need her breath to smell.”

Well, I think we need to work on refining the presentation.

 

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Aaron and I are watching Little House on the Prairie. He remembered how Charles told Laura that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. But of course, Aaron has his own version which he told me yesterday.

“Mom, to get the love of a man is through his stomach!!” 😍😍

 

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Aaron is not a fan of leftovers. The other night he somehow guessed that what I told him for supper was, indeed, leftovers. He looked at me suspiciously and then asked, “So did you cook it once?” Busted!

 

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Aaron was once again talking about how I looked in pictures from years ago. “You used to have long hair, Mom. Did you like it long? Do you want it long again?” As usual I replied, “Yes, I liked it long but no, I don’t want it long now.” He stood there looking at me & said, “So you’re staying with that?” I tell you, he can slap me down to earth like no one else!

 

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Gary’s plowing the garden, so Aaron just walked in the kitchen and asked if we’re getting ready to “open the garden.” Yes, we are. I’ll post the hours the garden will be open and the admission prices soon.

 

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Gary and I got some of our garden planted. Aaron is wondering if the rabbits will try to eat any of the vegetables this year. “But Mom, the rabbits won’t eat the onions.” And why is that? “Well, because then they would have spicy breath!” And we all know that there’s nothing worse than a rabbit with spicy breath! I personally hope I never run into one!

 

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Aaron, watching the game: “Is this football almost over? It says final four!” HaHaHa!!!

 

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Aaron was asking me if the ice cream that dropped all over his shirt yesterday would wash out. We asked him how he got it on there anyway and he said, “Well, it was melting fast. You know, it was not the non-melting kind of ice cream!” I tell you, it’s really hard anymore to find that non-melting ice cream!

 

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I bought some packets of mixed nuts at Sam’s, which Aaron tried to hide under his bed so he could have them all to himself. Anyway, he was telling me why he hid them. “Mom, I like them – especially those wrinkled nuts!” Can you guess which ones are the wrinkled nuts? Yep – pecans! Or as Aaron calls them – Pee-Cons. Look at them – they ARE wrinkled!

 

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Aaron, talking about his day group: Brandi was taking a vacation to a cemetery!!

Remind me not to call her travel agent. 😲 🤣

 

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You know by now that Aaron will sing a main phrase of the last song that he has heard…..over and over and over again. Yesterday he got a new CD – the Essential Elvis Presley. I’m questioning that essential part right now. Why oh why was the last song he heard just before his therapist appointment today “You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog?”

To the woman who held the door open for us as we entered the building: Really, it was nothing personal.

To the receptionist: It’s not about you.

To his therapist: Just let it go.

To our waitress at Carlos O’Kelly’s: Not you! Honest!

We need to start listening to my hymn CDs.

 

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Elvis, Take 3:

Aaron: MOM!! Look up Elvis Presley Hound Dog 1956!!!

So I did, because if I don’t then my entire evening will consist of Aaron hovering, saying: MOM!! Look up Elvis Presley Hound Dog 1956!!

I was sure that Aaron’s head would pop off from laughing so hard as he watched Elvis dance.

Oh yes, Aaron has now discovered Elvis dancing.

Aaron: MOM!! Let’s show DAD!!!!

Me (MOM): Yes, let’s show DAD!! Hehehe!

Aaron: DAD!! Look at Elvis Presley Hound Dog 1956!

Much laughter ensued, from both Gary and Aaron. And finally, Aaron’s critique.

Aaron: Elvis was ROWDY in 1956!!

Stay tuned.

 

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More about Elvis on our drive home from Paradigm today.

Aaron: Mom, I’ve noticed something about Elvis. He doesn’t sing normal.

Me: He doesn’t sing normal?

Aaron: No, he doesn’t sing normal. How would you say he sings?

Me: You’re the one who said he doesn’t sing normal. You tell me how he sings.

Aaron: Well, he sings……I don’t know…..he just…..he doesn’t sing…..you know what I mean…..he doesn’t sing NORMAL!! How would you describe it?

Me: I didn’t say he doesn’t sing normal. You tell me how he sings.

Aaron: His voice is…..it’s……JIGGLY!!!!

Me (laughing): I knew you would come up with the right word, Aaron!

Aaron: Yeah. He’s just not NORMAL!!

I’m sure that Aaron and I have just begun to discover the truth about Elvis.

 

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We just got back from eating at Chili’s, where we celebrated the birthday of Aaron’s friend, Rosa. Aaron – despite his sore tooth and despite grabbing his face in pain several times – downed a salad, a plate of chicken bacon quesadillas, and an order of French fries (each one dipped meticulously in honey mustard sauce).

He ran upstairs to put on his pajamas, then thumped down the stairs and stood by me, staring.

“Mom!!” he finally said. “I don’t want any supper!”

Me (incredulously): WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU JUST ATE??!!

Aaron: Lunch?

This, my friends, is what happens when you meet at Chili’s for supper with Aaron BEFORE 5:00!!!! 🤣😋😜

 

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Aaron and I loved the new Jungle Book movie. The only thing he made a comment on was when Mowgli howled with the wolves. He thought a howling boy was pretty dumb. Haha! On the way into the theater, Aaron was reading the names of the movies on the marquee.

Aaron: Look, Mom! My Big Fat Green Wedding?

So I corrected him, changing Green to Greek, and told him about the old movie.

We went to the vet to get dog food on our way home. Aaron loves talking to Misha, who works there, about movies. They talked about Jungle Book, Independence Day, Captain America, and on and on. Finally Aaron remembered another movie he needed to tell her about.

Aaron: Oh! Guess what else is coming out? It’s The Married Greek Woman!!

It’s a good thing Misha knows her movies and didn’t even bat an eye!

 

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I asked Aaron if his glasses were dirty and needed to be cleaned, so he handed them to me and said, “Check it out, sweetie!” Sometimes I just throw parenting out the window and laugh.

 

‘Til next time!  😊  😊

 

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The Reality

A blog from the past:

Know that God is a God of hope. Know that He will work out your problems for some good, unseen as it is now in your life. Know that He has reasons beyond what you may ever know on this earth for the dark days you are facing. Know that He will never leave you or forsake you.

He Said What?!

Three years ago, we planted sunflowers around the perimeter of our vegetable garden.  Aaron was SO happy that Gary and I had finally agreed to grow these giant flowers.  Aaron had wanted sunflowers for a long time.  They did not disappoint as they grew and grew and grew that first summer.

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Last year, Gary and Aaron planted some of the seeds that Gary had harvested from our first sunflower crop.  Again, the mammoth flowers grew steadily and gave us much beauty to enjoy.

This year we decided not to plant a vegetable garden.  Time constraints during the planting season, very late winter weather, some traveling, and severe drought caused us to make this decision.

One day, though, we noticed some plants emerging from the soil.  Sure enough, we soon realized that our sunflowers had returned.  We hadn’t planted a single seed this year.  These were volunteer sunflowers that had sprouted…

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When is the Time to Trust?

A couple mornings ago I felt compelled to open my very old copy of the classic devotional book, Streams in the Desert.  This book was a gift from my home church when I graduated from high school way back in 1973.  But even though my graduation date makes the book old…of which I am all too aware more and more each day…the actual writings of Mrs. Charles Cowman were first published in 1925.  Her writing style may be old school, but the deep truths contained therein are timeless.

I was touched deeply by what I read that morning about faith and trust.  I jotted a few notes, tucked the truths away in my mind, and was soon about my busy day.  Aaron was staying home that day and we had fun plans!

Our plans were to meet some friends at All Star Sports for a morning of games.  My friend Joyce and I had decided to get our two sons together.  It would be the first time that Johannes and Aaron would be with each other for an outing, and we both wondered how it would go.

How it went was great!  I mean, there wasn’t tons of interaction between them, but the ice was broken, and plans were made for more time together.  Sweet Johannes held his hand out and with a prompt from me, Aaron shook his hand without squeezing it too hard, and Joyce and I laughed and were happy.  The boys had a good time and that’s what mattered!

 

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Aaron and I then went to eat some lunch and to drop off donations at Goodwill before heading home.  Soon after we got home, Aaron took a nap.  I had the monitor nearby, listening as I always do when he sleeps.  I really didn’t expect to hear a seizure, so I was surprised when I suddenly heard that unmistakable sound coming across the table where I sat.

It was a hard seizure, lasting close to 3 minutes.  And exactly one hour later, to the minute, he had another one.  It wasn’t as long as the first one but was still 2 minutes long.  Thankfully, he was done then and had no more the rest of the day.

It’s so surprising, even now after all these years, how quickly Aaron can go from being out and about, happy and fine, to having a seizure.  I don’t try to figure them out like I used to do, but I still find myself wondering why.

Even the next day on the way home from his day group, his speech was somewhat slurred, and he was very tired.  He fell asleep on the way home instead of his usual non-stop talking.  Was it the residual effects of yesterday’s seizure, I wondered?  Is his sodium low again?  Will he have another seizure when he gets home and takes a nap?

 

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So, even though this is Aaron’s life and our life, it’s still disconcerting.  Worrying.  Unsettling.

My mind was drawn back to the devotional I read earlier that morning.  I went back to it and was, as I always am, so amazed at how God has for me just what I need when I most need it.

Mrs. Cowman’s words were based on the story of Paul’s shipwreck in Acts 27.  The south wind blew gently as the sailor’s pulled anchor.  Paul had warned them not to take this trip, but they didn’t listen.  And that south wind was such a hopeful sign to them that they were right, and Paul was wrong.

But soon a terrible storm hit.  For days the ship was violently tossed on the waves.  During that horrible storm, with no sun or stars for days…with everything thrown off the ship that could possibly be tossed overboard…verse 20 says that all hope of being saved was abandoned.

But an angel of God stood before Paul to assure him there would be no loss of life.  Paul stood bravely before those battered and terrified seasoned sailors, and confidently said, “So take heart, men, FOR I HAVE FAITH IN GOD!!”

I thought about our life with Aaron…the ups and downs in so many areas…and the fear concerning his seizures.  How that day had been so much fun and so without fear, and then out of the blue came two hard seizures.  It was easy for fear to replace our fun.

My need to trust God is always there, right at the surface, even underneath all the normal and the fun and the hopeful.

But ACTUALLY trusting God is a must when suddenly the normal and the fun and the hopeful is yanked away.

That level of trust is a conscious decision that I must make.

That level of trust isn’t based on circumstances or on feelings but is rooted in God Himself…in Who I know Him to be.

This year for all of us has seen the rug pulled out in so many areas of our lives.  Things were going along pretty well for most of us.  Then…BAM!!

COVID…jobs…riots…anger…fear…disagreement.

I want to leave you with the hope that God is not taken aback or surprised by any of this.  He has a purpose and a plan.

Can you say, with Paul, that you have faith in God?

I want to leave you with a wonderful poem shared by Mrs. Cowman that I read that morning.  I hope it will mean as much to you as it did…and does…to me.

 

When is the time to trust?

                        Is it when all is calm,

                        When waves the victor’s palm,

                        And life is one glad Psalm

                        Of joy and praise?

            Nay!  But the time to trust

                        Is when the waves beat high,

                        When storm clouds fill the sky,

                        And prayer is one long cry,

                                    O help and save!

 

            When is the time to trust?

                        Is it when friends are true?

                        Is it when comforts woo,

                        And in all we say and do

                        We meet but praise?

            Nay!  But the time to trust

                        Is when we stand alone,

                        And summer birds have flown,

                        And every prop is gone,

                                    All else but God.

 

            What is the time to trust?

                        Is it some future day,

                        When you have tried your way,

                        And learned to trust and pray

                                    By bitter woe?

            Nay!  But the time to trust

                        Is in this moment’s need,

                        Poor, broken, bruised reed!

                        Poor, troubled soul, make speed

                                    To trust thy God.

 

            What is the time to trust?

                        Is it when hopes beat high,

                        When sunshine gilds the sky,

                        And joy and ecstasy

                                    Fill all the heart?

            Nay!  But the time to trust

                        Is when our joy is fled,

                        When sorrow bows the head,

                        And all is cold and dead,

                                    All else but God.

 

 

Seeing BIG!

I want to see God BIG, but not to just expect His bigness to be demonstrated in BIG events.

He Said What?!

Last Friday evening, a good old Kansas thunderstorm was trying to blow in from the west.

WP_20180622_20_43_53_ProBy the time we were getting ready for bed, the winds were kicking up and the lightning was really flashing.  Aaron, who loves storms…especially nighttime storms…was very excited at the prospect of a lightning show, seen clearly from his upstairs westward facing windows. 

“Mom, I want to keep my blinds open,” he informed me as we went through his bedtime routine.  I knew he would want to do this.  Every time we have a storm when it’s time for bed…or the prospect of a storm during the night…Aaron wants to keep his blinds open so that he can see the lightning in all its bright glory.

I’m glad that he’s not scared.  In fact, I join Aaron in his love of watching lightning.  That’s why, after I told him goodnight, I went straight to…

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