Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Books, Cheerios... Amazement.

Ok, so I really don't have time for this, but I'm so proud I could explode.

Maelynn can recognize just about every Thomas and Friends engine you can imagine.  If that wasn't enough, she when to school with me today to work with the middle school clarinets, and she was fabulous.  Standing there trying to copy me counting off for the girls... yeah, look out Texas.  Here comes your next TMEA State Honor Band director.

Richie can count to 60... okay, with help at the tens places and he loses count around seventy. He's awesomely loving and sweet, and is rockin' his verse memory in Cubbies.

Ryan... the same child who didn't have even three words at age three... who couldn't ask for so much as a cookie until he was way over three... just completed reading his eighth book to his Daddy and I for the month.  He'll turn in his first completed Book It form of his school career tomorrow.

A step toward the Nobel Prize, curing the common cold, or just being the next Steve Jobs?

Maybe.  Maybe not.

But it might as well be to this Mama.

When he brought home the Book It form, I teared up... first out of nostalgia because I was the kid getting in trouble for walking down the hall reading, then out of sadness.  How is he going to sit still to read a book?  Then the ol' hope kicked in.  There's nothing we can't at least try.

And we did.  He did it.

He doesn't seem to know or care what he's done, but as we've finished each book, the celebration of that individual accomplishment was priceless.  You know what else?  He wasn't proud because he finished the book.  I had to tell him when the book was finished.  He was proud ... beaming from ear to ear, humming happily and saying "terrific" because we all-but jumped up and down every time he finished a book.  He saw pride and approval in his parents' eyes.  He has no idea of a prize to work toward, or a goal completed.  The prize on our faces was prize enough.

As I type this, he's on to his next accomplishment.  For this one we recruited the help of his brother, who was intrigued at the idea.  Cheerios, lined up in ten rows of ten, glued painstakingly on neon green poster board.  A certain masterpiece of 100th day of school art.  And, provided it makes it to school with all its little cling-ons, he'll have completed yet another part of something I wasn't even sure he was going to be able to do.  Each one of these accomplishments puts us one step closer to tying our shoes, riding a bike... maybe even holding a regular conversation. To tell the truth, even if he never does these things, he's pure awesomesauce.  They all are!

And I am so proud of them.  So grateful for God's providence in all the steps that unfold in our family's life, and so thankful for everything our kids have taught us and will teach us.

Thanks be to God!

Monday, January 30, 2012


I have to be honest... I've spent a lot of time today dancing around something that's been bothering me.  It seems silly, but I just have to share it.

While browsing on one of my favorite sites last weekend, I saw a post making fun of Autism.  I won't post exactly what it said, because I try not to use the language it entailed, but it had a picture of a kid in a meltdown and, with stronger verbage, basically said that Autism is simply a diagnosis for being a jerk.

When I saw this, anger exploded all over me.  Hurt.  Frustration.  All the times anyone ever looked at me crooked when Ryan was having a meltdown.  All the pain just zapped me at once.

I wanted to do something.

I wanted that person to hurt.  I wanted that person, whoever it was, to see that my sweet boy is not what he called him.  My next thought was, "well, maybe this person is just misinformed."


But that kind of thing is why I sit here.  It's why the open book of my life is splayed out on the internet.  That hurt, that desperate feeling of wanting to be understood, of longing for hope... that's why I sit here.  To share with you what we go through, not for sympathy or a pat on the back, but to give.  I share in hopes that you who have been hurt by such insensitivity and ignorance will find a respite.  I share in hopes that someone will find the only true hope while they are in my little corner of cyberspace.  I share because I have to.  God has given us the gift of life, the gift of having to learn to be understanding.  He has given so many of us this tightrope called life with Autism to walk, and is standing there ready to carry us when our feet slip.

I share because He carries me.

I share because I've visited enough Autism sites and followed enough tweets to have an idea of the hurt and hopelessness and isolation so many families of Autism feel.  How real it is.  How a look, a word, a joke, an omitance... is a WAY bigger deal than it seems like it should be when you're on the receiving end.

I share because I LIVE THERE.

I share because from the bottom of my heart, I know, I get it, and I'm so sorry.

I share because I know how wonderful each of our kids are, neurotypical and neurodiverse, special needs and typical.

I also share because maybe someone will read who doesn't know Autism, and will be educated just enough to know to not glare or make a snarky comment.  So that maybe some of these things intended as humor will be headed off... that maybe just one person won't have to hurt.

Because as we all know, the only true change comes from a changed heart.  I'm not naive enough to think I'm saving the world through these little posts... but to me, encouraging even one heart is worth the world.   So I will continue to carve time out to share our stories.

To whoever it was who decided to call my child and so many others an ugly name, your message in a bottle made it to me.  So should my little message in a bottle make it back to you, you are forgiven.

To the rest of you, thanks for reading.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Let it go

"Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?" Isaiah 43:19

Last night we took a trip to the next town, simply because our bank is there.  And to celebrate a couple of different things, decided to eat some dinner at one of our favorite places, then pick up a couple of things I forgot that I needed to finish Maelynn's outfits we're giving her for her birthday.  On the way back, we started talking about the sweet spot where we seem to live.  Honestly, I'm a bit nervous.  Not sure how to take living in the same place for nearly four years!  We talked through the sheer amount of times I've moved, and arrived at about 18.  I'm 33.  I have no idea what the stats are on how many times the average person has moved (as in packed their junk and switched at least dwellings if not towns) but to me that seems like a lot.  I won't go into the circumstances or the explanations of them, but many of those times it was just me, and I wasn't exactly thrilled.  That doesn't begin to mention the time of my life I've spent living out of a suitcase, not exactly of my choice.

This is one of those ways I can relate to Ryan.  He needs a constant.  So do the other kids, to a degree, but they don't completely fly apart at the core if something changes.  And you know what?  I have to admit that I don't always know what's going on in the poor little guy's head.  I can make educated guesses, but when it comes down to it I just do the best I can.  But having an anchor... something to make you feel like you're you, just some little thing that's important to hang onto can mean the world.  Spending summers with my Father in Kansas meant leaving behind everything, packing a suitcase, and heading off to sleep on the couch for two months.  I always had with me a stuffed animal, doll, or something, and those things changed as I got older.  But I knew, no matter what I had with me or left behind, that my Nanny's house was there, and so was she.  I knew my Mom was out there somewhere, and in the days before cell phones and instant communication (yes, I was alive then) I was told I could call anytime... but you didn't just admit you missed your mommy to my daddy.  You could, but that might hurt his feelings.  And if you hurt his feelings, either he or my stepmother would make sure you KNEW.

No one but me at this point really knows what those trips were like.  There were fun things about those trips and I did love those people, but those trips are also terrifying, and unstable at best.  Especially in the early years.  But even before I placed my faith in Christ, I knew that I could pray... and I often prayed that it would just be over soon and I'd be back safely in Nanny's van or Mom's car on the way home.  During the holidays, I just wanted to be there... with my Mom, Nanny, Nanny's sisters, my aunt and uncle, and whoever else was there.  I just wanted to be home.
Baby Ryan and Nanny

Over the past few years, home as I knew it has, as it does as one gets older, slipped away.  It started with Nanny's cancer diagnosis.  Then losing Dad (stepdad, if you want to get all technical).  Then Nanny gradually losing strength and finally, losing Nanny.  It just changed it all.  I'll never forget realizing that I couldn't just pack up and go home.  I was in the dropoff line, thinking of where we'd go for fall break.  Eric's parents had plans, so I thought "Oh, I'll go to Heavener!" Almost as immediately, I realized I couldn't.  Mom works all weekend.  No one would be there.  For the first time I could remember, I couldn't just go home.  Show up and have that sweet, tiny blond lady ready to welcome me with beans and fried potatoes.  No more staying up too late talking, then getting up and doing it all over again with pie and coffee for breakfast.

But Mom still lived in Heavener.  So we still get to go to the same place, right?  Mom finally decided to move closer to her job.  A couple of weeks ago, I helped her get good and started.  The reality didn't really settle in, that there's not really a place for us there, until I was on my way home.  As the kids went to sleep in the van, a song came on that I'd never really considered as anything but completely for fun.  One of those cute little 80's songs.  The ones that make you want to tease your bangs and tight-roll your pants.  Get Miami Vice on Netflix.  You know the ones.  And I lost it.

I know this happens to everyone, and I know that everyone will go through this same thing at one point or another.  But it was hard.  Letting go of that place, those times... is so hard.  Then I remember that I can remember.  What?  Yes!  I can remember!  My kids may not remember Nanny, but I do.  And I have pictures.  And she loved them dearly!  I am so grateful that my kids were all born in time for her to know them.  And more than ever, I am sure that those people in Mom's family... the ones I always longed for... are still family.  They're still important, and they're still here.  Even better than that?  I have the opportunity to take the things I learned and loved about those times on the hill in Heavener and share them with my family.  Those times, that place, those people (as I can't keep them from perishing), will live on because I remember.

So on the way home, as that cute song was finishing, I realized that those times may be over, but new ones are happening every day.  A place need not be visited to remember.  I have my little stones of remembrance, yes... but I need to be able to let those go because they are just things.  I have to let go, look forward, go on, and remember... but to do that, I have to let go.

Ninety-nine dreams I have had
Every one a red balloon
Now it's all over and I'm standin' pretty
In this dust that was a city

If I could find a souvenir
Just to prove the world was here
And here is a red balloon
I think of you and let it go...

~99 Red Balloons, Nena

Thursday, January 26, 2012


I just did something monumentally stupid.  Okay, a string of things escalating in stupidity.  Sat on the couch, just to check my email.  Wound up on you-book, face-tube, twit-book... you know.  Got hung up.  Sidetracked.  When I realized I needed to get back to work, I stood up to take the computer in the kitchen with me, and the little magnetic charger thingy on the MacBook fell in my coffee. Panic-stricken, I snatched it out of the coffee.  Ready for this?

I licked it off.

Just a little zap, but enough to make me feel, well... really dumb.

Then it struck me.  Being me, miss neurotypical, I know that incident was just that.  An incident.  Me worrying I've broken the darned thing and doing something without thinking.  I have no fear of the computer, the charger, the couch, coffee, or the dog.  I can sit in front of the computer; even hold it on my lap.  Eat by it, sleep by it, dress and undress by it if needed, and all without shaking, crying, screaming, thrashing, running around in terror, or slapping and/or holding my ears. My mind processes the fact that I made a mistake, and what caused that little jolt on my tongue.

All the time, we find new things that Ryan associates with things that have happened.  It's no big deal sometimes.  Since Thanksgiving, he asks every day if we can go on the people train (DART rail in Dallas) on Wednesday.  Guess what?  We went the week of Thanksgiving... with me telling him all week leading to it... on Wednesday.  Every time we go eat at a Wendy's, he thinks we're going to a hotel immediately afterward.  Guess what?  Last July, we ate at Wendy's before we went to stay in a hotel in San Antonio.  The string of these things goes on and on.

No big deal, right?  All kids associate things with something, right?  No.  Most of the time, after the first three or five times he asks, he gets that things are different and they're going to be ok.  But that 25% of the time or so that it totally rocks his world into a meltdown that we're not going to the hotel after Wendy's... that's hard.  And not all associations are this cute.

Some of them are painfully frustrating for him.  For all of us.  Some of them are phobia-level, and we cannot for the life of us figure out what in the world caused them or how to help him reconcile and overcome his fear.  Over and over, we encounter these things.  Over and over.  We have to live.  We cannot simply avoid all these things.  Like flies.  One fly in the kitchen and he won't eat.  He holds his ears, shaking, sometimes screaming, sometimes crying.


We go to great lengths to kill flies at our house.  And moths, but to tell the truth I hate moths too.  Flying jerks, we call 'em.

I'm convinced it's the buzzing he can't stand for the flies.  Then there's the washer and dishwasher.  He will not eat with one of them running.  If he has to come in the kitchen, he holds his ears and darts through like a little ninja.

Then there's haircuts.  Oh man, the haircuts.  Simply horrific.  And candles.  Oh dear.  Shaking, crying, screaming.  The absolute worst part of all of this is watching him suffer.  I can give up candles at home, but I cannot make sure there are never candles burning anywhere we go.  Almost as frustrating is the (albeit usually well-meant) "have you tried?"  I can assure you that we've tried and tried... I've even tried letting him cut his own hair.  The candle thing has improved to a degree, but he still isn't crazy about them.

A lot of these things, one at a time, are a pain but could be dealt with easily.  Most times when folks say "oh, that's every kid" they see one of these things.  A very mild form of one of these things.  But it's not "every kid."  The "every kid" comment isn't as helpful as you might think.  It's pretty frustrating.  Okay, it's hurtful.  It feels like you're saying, "What's the big deal? What are you whining about?  I could do this with both hands tied behind my back.  Just calm down.  You're overreacting."  And "Just a little discipline" and "Just make him" are beyond infuriating, not to mention tragically misinformed.

To be honest, most people either don't comment or, especially at church, just pat us on the back and smile.  It's so refreshing and encouraging when people show that they trust our parenting in this way.  No pressure, no suggestions, no demands, no panic about trying to fix it for us... just brotherly, Christlike, amazingly simple abiding with us.

That's the first step of ministering to a family with Autism.  Hug our hearts.  Just smile, accept that we're truly doing our best, even though your whole being screams "I COULD FIX THIS!  I could do better!"  Because you can't.   Even if you can... is showing that you can and I can't helpful?  Edifying?  Encouraging?  Loving?  Would you really want someone else to say to you what you're about to say to that struggling parent?  Know that we have spent hours, days, weeks, months, even years studying and researching and listening to doctors and therapists and people who claim to know best.  We don't need to be zapped by your glare or burned by your words.  It zaps us enough to have to leave the candles off our other childrens' birthday cakes if we want brother to be there.  It burns us enough to watch as he grabs his hair and screams "NO!" when we walk in the room with scissors... not even shears for haircuts.

Trust me.  We get it.  We're noisy.  We make some of you uncomfortable. You're not more uncomfortable than he is.  Want to help?

Trust us.

Smile at us.

Tell us what a great kid he is.

Let us talk to you for a minute, realizing that we'll have to stop mid-sentence about ten times to answer a question, say "WAFFLES" with him, or make sure he's not wandering into traffic.

Invite us to have coffee... or lunch... or to the park... and understand if we can't.

Talk directly to Ryan.  He can hear.  He can think and feel.  He just isn't YET able to express himself in the same way we do.

You don't have to pressure us to "take a break" or feel pressured to take the kids for the evening so we can have a break.  We love our kids, we love our life.

If you truly love our kids and want to offer, that's awesome!  Understand if we can't accept.  It's as hard if not harder to leave them with someone new than to take them with.

Pat Ryan on the back.

Pat Maelynn and Richie on the back.  They're great kids, too.

Emails, calls, notes in the mail, and certainly texts are welcome too.

And you really want to know how you can help?

Find another family with Autism.  Or a family with a special need.  Or just one that isn't exactly like you.  Figure out how they feel love.  Show the love of Christ to them.  Shake off your knee-jerk to judge... we all have it... and reach out.  Outside your comfort zone.

You never know.  You might save a life.

And next time you see me, you're welcome to pick on me about licking off the charger.  That was really stupid.  :-)

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.  -Galatians 5:13-15

Thanks be to God, who gives us love and shows us how to use it.  

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


It's supposed to rain today.  And tomorrow.  Then Thursday, it's supposed to be sunny.  Yesterday, the weather website said it was a 60% chance.  This morning, it was 80%.  Now, it's 80% today, 100% tomorrow.  They do their best, The Weather Channel, and I'm convinced that if anyone knows they do.

Thing is, right now it's pretty sunny out with just a few stray clouds.  Guess that 20% chance of sun is working its magic.

Yeah, that's right.  If there's a chance it could rain, there's also a chance it could be sunny.  The experts work to tell us what's going to happen... or might happen... so that we may prepare accordingly.  How we react to that forecast is up to us.  We can pretend it doesn't exist, they don't know what they're talking about.  But if you're planning an outdoor event, the "lalala, I can't hear you" approach to weather prediction is more than foolish.

Say you're planning an outdoor birthday party.  They say it'll rain... oh... a good 80% chance on Monday.  Then every day the prediction changes a bit here and there.  What do you do?  Plan for rain? Plan for no rain?  Or maybe no rain but with a back up plan?

This is somewhat how I see our Ryan's diagnosis.  It would be foolish to suggest that the experts are completely misinformed and there is no reason to do anything differently than we do with our other kids.    I could just hire a baby sitter and go out for a date and let the chips fall where they may.  I could take him out of therapy, because those trips are pretty tiring.  They wear on the budget, the other kids, the van, and to a degree on Ryan.  I could give up on our church attendance.  It's hard to make that part of routine too.  God is in charge, right?  And if He's bigger than Autism, bigger than it all... even church... I should be able to do what's easy and it'll all fall in our laps, if He really loves us.

Or we could go the other way, allowing the statistics of children with severe classic autism as adults to frighten us to the point where our faith is paralyzed.  We could meditate on the issues, the struggles, the things he can't do.  We could, out of concern for his potential disappointment, just start telling him about how the likelihood of him participating in band, social things, excelling academically is terribly low.  We could start preparing him that statistics show he'll not live on his own, that he'll have a hard time in college if he goes at all. We could wake up every day reminding ourselves of these things, too.

But you see, the forecast is just that.  It's an expert's educated prediction of what will happen.  To take this as gospel... as the decided end to the chapters and books of our lives... would be tragic.  On the other hand, to ignore them and not prepare and work toward goals set by ourselves and people such as these would be worse than foolish.  In this circumstance, I believe it's neglect.

So what do we do?

We wake up every day and do the things we can do.  Parenting is interesting, and a ton of work- no matter what their challenges.  We focus on their strengths, encourage, correct, hug, and train.  We tell them how great they are, how handsome, beautiful, amazing, precious they are.  We pray for them, we dream for them.  We celebrate the wonderful times, the times their sheer presence in our lives takes our breath away and brings a lump to our throats.  When things get rough, when our hearts are heavy for their behavior, fears, anxiety, choices, or when that lump in our throats is brought by the fact that we wish we could take away the unfairness of it all, we keep loving.  We hang onto them and cry with them.  We correct them, taking a mommy time out when needed.  

I wish I could promise that the hard things will end, and that sunshine will be all you see after this one thing passes.  I wish there was a cure for all the illnesses, disorders, syndromes, and disabilities.  But more than that, I pray that we all... no matter what we face... will grasp hold of God's promises for us and our kids.  That we will keep rising, working, fighting the beautiful fight, whatever yours is, with grace and integrity.  That we will remember that, since we cannot see one another's struggles, we must choose to offer mercy and love, especially in the moment-to-moment of life, especially when no one is looking.  And know that God sees, hears, and will do the things we cannot to the completion of his plan.

I pray not that the rain would end, or the rain would come... but that we will all learn to bask in the sun and dance in the rain.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Joy in the "Changes"...

It's been a long week.

Week before last, I was in Oklahoma helping my Mom with a bit of an emergency.  One of those life situations that creeps up and you need someone close to you to deal with.  So, being the gracious man he is, Eric hugged the two little kids and I and kept Ryan with him.  The things I needed to help my Mom with meant that Ryan, being himself, would have been in more danger with me than with his father at work.  Yes, he has such wonderful coworkers that this was no problem.  Blessed?  Oh, yes!  I was gone with the two littles working for almost a week.  Ryan did great with his Dad!  It was just the two of them, except when they were at work.  They had a great time being bachelors together.  Every day, though, he would say either "Mommy, where are you?" or "Mommy, come home."  Yeah.  That pretty much broke my heart.  You know my Mom really needed me if I left him.  If you know me you know that. And he was so happy to see us when we got back!

For about a day.

When back to school after Christmas hit, his usual resistance to change followed.

If you have a weak stomach, or just can't stand to read about potty-type things, this is your chance to duck out.  

You sure?  

Ok.  I warned you!

When Ryan is nervous about change, he refuses to poop.  Refuses.  His record for holding it is about four days.  After a stool softener dissolved in hot chocolate (chocolate coffee to him) and much praise and cheerleading, he pretty much passed a small orange.  Then he was back to normal.  And that was just after we got back from Christmas.  Then we were home together for the second week of Christmas vacation, then I was gone for a week.  We were right, though... he did do great in his element, here at home with his Daddy all to himself.  Then when I got back and he started school, the start to school prompted excitement and anxiety that comes with a new semester, and we were right back where we started.

The first day back at school, I was home hacking away at the laundry beast, when we get the call.  He's messed his pants, needs a change.  Ok, no biggie.  It was the first day back with all of us at work, and I looked like it was laundry day.  Eric came home, grabbed some clean underwear and wipes and took care of the big guy at school on his lunch hour (yes, I am married to a prince, thank you for noticing).  Not even two hours later, the school nurse called.

Ryan was in her office, very upset, having great difficulty.  Shaking.  They thought he might be sick.  I plucked the sleeping 3 year old and almost 2 year old out of their beds and went to school in a pre-weight-loss college sweatshirt, awful sweatpants, with a bandanna over my so not washed hair.  Oh, and shoes that didn't match a thing that I was wearing.  Any other kids would have been like "aww, mom!  You're embarrasing me!" My Ryan was so relieved to see his mommy that he actually answered a question for me.  For real.  So I cleaned him up, and immediately realized that, in my haste to get to my boy, I hadn't brought clothes.  No clean underwear, no pants.  Yeah, I felt pretty dumb.  Thankfully the nurse had extra of everything I needed, because obviously Ryan was not thrilled at not having pants on.  The whole time, the aid that helps him in music and PE sat with Richie and Maelynn so I could help Ryan.  On the way home, Ryan asked if he could have iPad.

Not until you poop, dude. I'm sorry.

Soon as we walked in the door, he barreled to the potty and I heard his sweet "You did it!  Excellent!" from the bathroom.  I bet Steve Jobs had no idea his device would be used in such a way.  Or maybe he did.  Either way, I'm grateful for the leverage his invention brings.

But that was just the beginning.  Every night and afternoon for a week this has gone on.  Screaming, yelling, bargaining, pleading.  Begging.  Encouraging.  It wears on all of us like you wouldn't believe, but most of all Ryan.  Last night he finally did his thing without making a mess, and got iPad immediately as a reward.

I cannot express explicitly enough that in this Ryan is not just trying to "play" us or drive us crazy.  This behavior is a result of not knowing what to do with the anxiety that comes with change.  The problem is that this particular behavior will cause him harm if we can't find a way to curb it.  This leaves Eric and I wishing there was someplace close where we could go and have people get it without having to explain for an hour.  Partially because we can't explain it fully.  We grasp blindly, desperately at something that will give him some relief from this vicious cycle, but the best we can do is just get him to go.  Excrement as currency for playing iPad or VSmile seems to be the only thing these days.

This is another one of those ways I am in disbelief of the hold Autism has on these kids, their parents, their families.  Most times when we leave Ryan with a sitter other than his grandparents he does this same thing.  We come home to find him completely crashed and burning.  Crying, shaking, not sure how to express anything other than to mess his pants.  The guilt that comes from knowing this will likely happen is too much, so we just don't.  Our marriage is strong and becoming stronger as we face these things every day, together.  If we believed that we had to have a date every week/month to keep our marriage alive, which we have in the past, the guilt would turn this plan against us.

Others' expectations... and at times, even ours... must be thrown out the window so often.  Did I expect to have a six-year-old with diaper rash?  Nope.  But it's what we have.  Thing is, I also didn't expect to have a son who, at his tender age, is already learning drum set patterns.  Things that we took for granted go out the door, but others come flying in that are even more amazing in their place.  Sometimes we have to look for them.  Too often we need each other to point them out.  We don't have it all together.  We're not even close.  But we do have each other, three great kids, great parents, a fabulous extended family, and the love of Christ.

There are times when I'm not sure how we're going to keep doing this.  Take Saturday.  Eric was out with work, and I was here from 7:30 AM to past bedtime with all three kids.  Richie wasn't feeling well with snotty issues, and Ryan was having his potty issues, but we got to have our dear best friends over.  Well, sort of... the husbands were at work in the same place, and the ladies and kids met at my house.  You know, the kind who are truly family... who know that you don't know what's coming next, but they're ready to roll with you no matter what it is or how bad it smells, and without judgement or trying to tell you how much better they could have done it.   After they left, just as I got the kids through the bath, got Ryan through another poo battle, I walked into the living room just in time for Richie to hurl... copiously... all over the couch and the floor.  He did this four more times within thirty minutes.  Eric got home just in time to change out of his sport coat and into sweats before Richie got him too.

We are told as believers that God wants us to live joyful lives.  Does joy mean happy?  Sure sounds a lot like it.  But happy with puke all over me, after just being hard-core screamed at while I cleaned up poop?  Happy, with my child so scared, anxious, frustrated and just rocked to his core that he's hitting himself in the head and slapping his ears?  Hmm.  After a search, I only see where "happy" is used in the bible 8 times.  In those eight times, the majority are referring to a circumstantial feeling.  That a man may be happy on his honeymoon with his new wife, that there may be happiness in celebration, that kind of thing.  But the word "joy" is used 203 times in the ESV, according to biblegateway.com.  One of the things that frustrates me the most until recently is that "happy" doesn't seem to always find me when I'm here with the doors shut.  How is it possible to be happy when you're cleaning everyone's bodily function in the house with the grateful exception of your husband?  Well, maybe it's not.

And hold on... maybe that's okay.

Yes, unhappiness happens.  It always will.  It rears its ugly head, causing frustration and anger and just general discontent.  But when those wheels fly off... and they will... we are to stop and ask for help.  Ask for the endurance.  For the calm.  For the gentleness to return.  Ask for it, and work toward it, and John 16:24 tells us that we will receive what we need.  Why?

"Until now you have asked nothing in my name.  Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full."

That our joy may be full.  Not that we may be perky-skippy-happy all the time, but that our joy... the deep-end of happiness that comes with peace and contentment... may be FULL.  That as we keep pedaling in our lives,  we will be able to come back to content.  Once that joy is in place, once we've practiced seeking and asking for that joy, it's easier to climb up from the lows.  Joy in who we are in Christ is the lighthouse that keeps Eric and I coming back together after losing patience with each other.  It's what allows us to let go and ask each other, and many times our kids, for forgiveness.  It allows us to start over a thousand times a day if we need to.

And I do.  And it's there every time. Forgiveness from God, my husband, my kids.  Circumstances still apply, but the peace returns and the smile soon follows.  Hang in there, friend.  Ask for help.  Seek it.  Those around you don't have it all together either.  They may say they do, but they don't.  I promise.  As together as they may seem, as they want you to think they are, as happy as they may truly be at that moment, we all have issues.  Hangups.  Imperfections.  We all do.  But no matter what your challenges, there is hope.  There is forgiveness.  There is a reason to keep pedaling.

"You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
Psalm 16:10-11

Thanks be to God!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...