Gary and I spent this Labor Day afternoon with Aaron at Tanganyika Wildlife Park. What a beautiful day to stroll through this wonderful park and enjoy the animals, close-up and personal. Aaron loves being allowed to touch and pet the animals. Here are a few pictures of our pleasant day.
Aaron has never shown any interest in sports at all, so it surprised us last year when he wanted to watch football with us. It’s been interesting, to say the least, to try to explain the rules to him and to hear his take on all that he sees and hears as he watches the games. Here are examples of some of his comments:
“So who are you voting for in this game?”
“Why are those men wearing those striped suits?”
“Those referees look like they’ve been in jail.”
“Those cheerleaders are weird.”
“Those people who are yelling are crazy.”
“Why do some of those football players have long hair?”
“Those referees move their hands funny.”
“Why did those people paint their bodies?”
And so we now watch football through Aaron’s eyes and it’s really quite entertaining. Especially the part about the referees being in jail – but I’ll stop there.
Aaron is very precise. Here is a conversation we had this morning when I asked him, “Aaron, what time did you go to sleep last night?” He answered, “Well, I started reading at 10:20 and then I leaned my head back against the wall and went to sleep. I woke up at 11:24!” He has a running list where he keeps a record of the time he turns his light off and the time he wakes up. He writes those times down every single day without fail!
If he says he went to sleep at 11:03 and I say, “So you went to sleep around 11:00?”, he responds, “No! I went to sleep at 11:03!” Aaron’s world is orderly and precise – at least in his head and on his lists. Don’t look at the piles on top of his bookcase!
Let’s face it – life isn’t easy for any of us. God has allowed Gary and I to be in a place we never even thought about as new parents to our beautiful baby Aaron over 32 years ago. One summer I wrote some thoughts about persevering as we carry the burdens we face. It involves an ant:
If you had driven by my house this morning you would have seen me standing in the front yard under our maple tree, watering hose in one hand and coffee in the other, with my hair blowing crazily in our Kansas wind. And to make me even more noticeable, I’m sure, was the fact that I was staring up into our maple tree for a long time. You see, God has often used my gardening as a time to teach me. Object lessons abound and this morning was no different. So I was observing God’s lesson for me this morning in the form of an itty bitty tiny black ant. An amazing itty bitty tiny black ant.
There he was, this little ant, carrying a white load that was bigger than he was. As he climbed up the tree, defying gravity with his load, he never wavered from the task at hand. Other ants were barreling down the tree, passing him as they went merrily on their way, seemingly oblivious to the load he carried. Several times he bumped into rough, curling bark that threatened to stop his progress. Then the wind blew and it buffeted him terribly. He would swerve and I wondered if he was going to fall down to the ground, but he never did. He pressed on and on until finally I could barely see him. I don’t know if he made it to his goal today or had to start over, but something tells me he accomplished what he set out to do. I know that God used that little oblivious ant to accomplish a work in my heart.
We all face those loads in life and I’m no different. I remember some of them in particular as milestones in my life. Usually the loads are painful, for that is when I learn the best. Aaron’s diagnosis of Epilepsy and then several years later of Autism were particularly hard loads to bear. Our frequent military moves were often painful as we once again said goodbye to family, friends, and ministry that we loved. Receiving the news of my dad’s two cancers, and then losing three of our parents in 14 months was at times too heavy to bear. Watching family that we love go through terrible trials takes a toll as well. That out-of-the-blue phone call that came several years ago that changed our lives and has impacted our children continues to be difficult.
I admit that lately I have become discouraged with it all. I have wanted to throw the load down and head merrily back down the tree to a life where things aren’t so burdensome. I’ve become tired of the impediments, the rough tree and curling bark. The winds of doubt and of feeling unused threaten to blow me off course. Worry, concerns, injustice – it all crowds in during the dark hours of the night when sleep won’t come. But today God spoke to me. Not with a mighty voice or an awesome miracle, but He allowed me to “consider the ant” and to be uplifted and blessed.
James said that we can know “that the testing of our faith produces endurance.” Endurance, which means abiding under difficulties. Not dropping the load and running back down the tree but living under the difficulties, pressing on toward the mark, and counting it joy. Thank you, God, for the strength that you promise; for the joy that you give under the loads of life; and for the little black ant that you sent my way today.
Aaron was very excited to tell us that he had been to the deli on one of his shopping trips with his group. “Mom, I saw some chicken on that swirly thing that goes around!” Well, isn’t that a much more interesting way to describe how deli chicken is roasted? Saying that they put chicken on a spit is just a little disgusting! I like Aaron’s way of putting it a lot better! You scored another one, Aaron!
Not to brag, but I’m expecting my nomination for Mother of the Year award to come today. That’s because of the great sacrifice I made the other night for Aaron. He wanted to watch one of his disaster movies and so since I refused to watch the giant spider one we chose F4 Vortex, the giant tornado one. It’s a German movie dubbed in English and is without doubt the worst movie EVER! Here’s a classic line: “I could hit you really hard!” I was wishing someone would hit me really hard and put me out of my misery. But don’t tell the Mother of the Year committee. Or Aaron. He thought I liked it – which makes me a far better actor than those guys on the movie. If not Mother of the Year then I’ll accept the Oscar.
Aaron and I were playing Skip-Bo last night, which we often play. It’s definitely Aaron’s favorite game. After all, it’s sequential and orderly and so fits him perfectly! Our kitchen table where we sat is one that we bought from our neighbor several years ago. It’s a distressed table, meaning it has pock marks and such on it – on purpose for that distressed look. It’s become much more distressed living with us, believe me – mostly with Aaron. Very distressed, in fact. Anyway, Aaron saw a scratch on the table and began picking at it. I told him to quit and he gave me a little grin, so I asked him why he has to pick at things like that when he sees them. His answer: “Well, that is there.”
And for Aaron, that is there is the only reason he needs. When that is there, he will pick at it, poke at it, scratch at it, slap at it, pull at it, cut at it, yank at it, clap at it, yell at it – shall I continue? No amount of reasoning or reprimanding on our part will connect the dots for him. That is there – and he will react before he thinks. Concise, to the point, and unchanging! Remember, Mom, that is there!