Little known facts about yours truly...
I've only seen American Idol one time, and that was when Kelly Clarkson was on.
I have a strange thing about movies... I really don't like to sit and watch a movie, especially one I haven't seen. Definitely don't like drama, tear-jerkers, action... well, you get it. All that leaves us with is Dreamworks and Disney.
I only dated one man who didn't play a low brass instrument at some point in his life, and he was a coach!
I am a horrible housekeeper and a worse carkeeper.
I wasn't always a horrible carkeeper. Once upon a time, I spent Friday nights cleaning my beloved Camaro. Now, you could eat off my van floor. Really! A little popcorn, couple of fries, a chicken nugget...
When I go back and look at these, I can reconcile most of them quickly. Haven't seen American Idol because I can't stand to watch people embarrass themselves. Movies tend to either waste my time or hurt my heart... I get so wrapped up in it, it's just not worth it. I have enough drama in my life, thank you. I love the low brass player mentality... goof off, but serious. Then I married one! Those are simple.
My house isn't a complete wreck. Not all the time. There are toys out a lot, and the walls have nothing hanging on them where there wasn't already a nail when we moved in. It's not that I don't care. It's not that I love pale green paint and don't want my daughter's room to be pink. It's just not top priority.
What is top priority? Doing the work the Lord has given to me. Making sure my family is healthy, clean, safe, and happy.
Hello, loaded sentence. It's easy to rattle off the things I want for my family, and entirely another thing to carry them out. I'm pretty sure at least one how-to book exists for each one. I'm a firm believer in doing what is before you. Take what you're given and do something with it. Do what is set before you, and do it with all your heart. You know what? That means I'm to fold socks, make beds, vaccuum, do dishes, and sweep to the glory of God. Every time my husband goes to get a clean pair of pants and they're hanging there ready to go, although he may not say it or realize it, that's one more way he knows I care. Whether or not he or the kids ever thank me for it, it's still my job. Clean, though mundane, isn't so hard.
Healthy, happy and safe? This is where I'm hit. This is where it's killing me to watch the footage of these tornado-ravaged areas. One couple was looking for a 15 month old baby boy. I looked up, and my indescribably beautiful 15 month old toddles across the living room, chewing her binky and dragging her lovey. Another couple is looking for a lost three year old. Richie, almost three, is playing across the living room with the ipad. Both kids are oblivious to the disaster... they're safe in their home, playing with their stuff. Then I think about my oldest, my dear Ryan.
Oh my word. There must be autistic children in all these places, completely lost even with their parents.
Last night I was up talking my Mom through a storm. She's a big girl, I know, and at 58 she's seen a lot of weather. But there's something about being able to hear each other's voices that calms us both. Once I could see on the radar on our computer six hours away that she was in the clear, I said good night, always reminding her that I love her. Then I shut the computer and laid there with my heart pounding. All those children, all those people with no home.
Healthy, safe and happy are words we struggle with here. We work on strategies to get Ryan to eat better, learn to communicate, and basically to get through the evening without screaming. Words like "perseverate" and "stim" weaseled their way into our vocabulary, somewhat butting out words like "spontaneous". We have adapted so many things from picture schedule to family schedule to how we do things and where we can go without realizing what we've adapted. But having this constant environment ripped away would crush our little guy. Something as simple as running out of milk can cause a meltdown here. Not because he wants it... because he *needs* it as part of routine. Dinner equals milk. Lunch equals the same sandwich, chips, fruit snacks, and juice pouch. There are times when we can throw a curveball and he's cool. But there are equally if not more times when it's screaming and shaking and crying over something like the wrong kind of pizza.
We live in a country where we can go to church, or not. We can have one or fifty babies, or none. We can communicate with our country's leaders, or not. My word, we even have a "right" to a free public education! Our son's needs have to be met in the classroom (within reason, of course). In America these are rights, and I am more than grateful! I've never been more grateful than I am as the mother of a special needs child. This hit me when I read "Dancing With Max" by Emily Colson. She writes of a trip she made with her father to a "therapy and rehabilitation center built by Christian missionaries to serve children with disabilities". As they toured, Ms. Colson asked the director of the center where the autistic children were. Her answer still chills my blood.
"They have children with autism," said the translator. "But in this community, they don't survive."
At first, I thought this couldn't be. Overdramatization. But no, if you think about it, you can't lock a hut or a tent to keep a child from wandering. In other cultures, a woman is to obey a man at all cost, and this could mean neglect of a child, or worse. Simply the screaming fits and shaking... oh my, without help to know what is going on, I can't imagine. I spend my days combing the internet, the bible, and my mind for help for all of us. For encouragement and knowledge, for ideas for therapy, discipline, anything to help not just live through or avoid fits, but to unlock Ryan's potential!!! He is great, just like Mae and Richie! Sweet, loving, silly, and just plain amazing. And it's a rollercoaster. We have meltdowns over something he wants, or time to give up the ipad, then we have a moment where he referred to himself as "I" instead of "you" and we all practically jump up and down for him! Even Richie says things like "look at Ryan go!" and "Yay Ryan!"
So my van's a mess. My yard gets mowed, by me, every two weeks whether it needs it or not. I cut my own hair, we use cloth diapers, and keep the house pretty toasty during the day to save money. There are likely dishes in my sink, toys on the floor, and laundry in the hampers. The walls are the same color they were when we moved in, and I've hung very little on the walls. I'm not proud of these things, some are even on the list of things to improve... but they're not at the tipppy-top of the desire chain... or the priority.
At the top is hearing Ryan ask "you want to snuggle mommy?"
At the top is dunking "black tooties" (oreos) with Richie and Ryan, and laughing at Mae as she smears them in her hair.
At the top is smiling as Ryan begins to repeat after his Daddy with Richie when we pray as a family.
At the top is knowing that they won't remember what color my walls were, and if they did, they'd probably laugh anyway. It's knowing that Nanny was right when she'd tell me "I'll spend time with you now. The work will be there when you're gone." Among the most cherished memories I have is knowing I was able to return the favor.
Yes, there is a certain amount of stuff I have to do to keep my house running, and I do my best. I wish my daughter's room was the three perfect shades I'd picked, and there are lots of things we'd always dreamed we'd do but shouldn't for safety, money, or just general wear-and-tear on Ryan. We are thankful, however, to be living in our home, together, with the privilege of having the right to take care of and bring up our children as we choose, keeping them as safe, healthy, and happy as we know how.
Will you join me in continuing to pray for not only the families affected in the recent disasters, but also for the special needs families who have had their routines, comforts, and safety zones yanked out from under them?
Because it is but by His grace that I sit under my roof, in my air-conditioned living room, with the lights on, across from my husband, and the kids safely in bed.
Thank You, Lord! A thousand times, thank You!