Reflections on Round Two

At the beginning…

every journey begins with first stepThat’s where I am… at the beginning of Round 2.  Looking at the big picture, some might say I’m in the middle.  Surgery was Round 1.  Radiation is Round 2.  Round 3 will be a medication taken for 5 years plus periodic scans.  However, I’m taking this day by day.  It’s a new challenge, and it’s just beginning.

I’m not sure why beginning 5 weeks of radiation treatments has been more difficult for me emotionally that going into surgery.  I’m trying to remember the positives (and there are quite a few!).
a.  The duration of treatment is only 5 weeks.
b.  No chemo was necessary.
c.  Surgery  is already over.  Round 1… check!
d.  No surprises were found during surgery (other than the fact that there was a greater area of pre-cancerous cells than expected).
e.  My family and I have had lots of support from our family, friends, and church family in the form of prayers, encouragement, cards and notes, meals, gifts, and offers of help.
f.  My husband and children have been a wonderful help and encouragement in so many ways.
g.  And, most importantly, I have had a lot of spiritual comfort and peace, knowing the Lord and enjoying His presence in my life and in every joy as well as in every difficulty, and knowing that I can trust in Him.

So, why am I struggling more emotionally with Round 2 than I did with Round 1?

That’s a good question.  I’m trying to figure out what is going on inside my head and my heart.  One of the best ways for me to sort things out is to write, so here I am.  As I’ve been considering everything, here are some of the possibilities of thoughts that are running through my unconscious mind, sometimes bubbling up into a greater level of awareness and nibbling away at my peace of mind.

  • I have found it impossible to dismiss my Dad and his almost 5 year cancer battle from my mind.  I know how badly he was burned during his radiation treatments and the internal damage that was done, resulting in a major surgery involving two surgeons and representing two areas of specialty.  Believe me, you don’t want to know any more than that.  To say that the side effects of radiation for him were awful would be a gross understatement.  Horrific would be more descriptive.  Poor Dad.
  • I am very fair skinned, like my Dad.  I also have very sensitive skin.  Plus, everyone I know who has had radiation and has actually shared any of the details about their experience was also quite burned.
  • Since the recovery from my surgery lasted longer and was more difficult that I’d thought it would be, the thought of another period of not being at my best physically and another period of recovery is not exactly attractive.
  • My family needs me to be healthy and functioning well, and I have just seen what results from several weeks of not being at my best.  (I’m still trying to catch up, too!)
  • I’d thought that taking a little break between surgery and radiation (because I’d be going into a new deductible year anyway and also wanted to continue to recover and to enjoy Christmas) was a good thing.  And, it was a nice break.  Now, however, it seems as though it’s given me more time to build up a mountain of dread.  Reading the radiology release form (that lists all of the potential side effects of my treatments) before I signed it didn’t help.  I knew about the common side effects like the burning and fatigue, but reading that rare side effects like heart damage are possible just increases the concern.
  • Finally, one of the most difficult things about my recovery from surgery was not being able to tolerate wearing normal items of clothing, making it difficult to go anywhere and to cover up (as the only female in a house with 7 guys) without being uncomfortable or causing damage to areas that were healing.  I am not looking forward to another experience like that.

In addition to the above concerns, today has been a disconcerting day.  When I woke this morning, my right eyelid was very swollen and tender, although there are no signs of infection, no crustiness, or anything like a sty.  It is still swollen and tender, and I am concerned because my vision in that eye is slightly affected and I have a genetic eye disease called Fuch’s Dystrophy that will likely require corneal transplants at some point in the future.  However,  I knew that my eye could not be the priority today.  I had an appointment to get my tattoo dots that guide placement of the radiation so that I can begin treatments tomorrow.

For this pre-treatment scanning procedure, I had to lie on a table in a large room while the techs monitored from outside and a large machine plotted my radiation plan.  I was told that parts of the machine would descend and come close to me but would not actually touch me.  One large robotic type arm held a pizza shaped techie flying saucer, and another held an oversized cookie sheet object that looked like an x-ray screen.  There was another arm with some other type of apparatus, but I didn’t get a good look at that one.  I was supposed to keep my head turned to the right and not to move any part of my body at all.  These machines and arms rotated around the table, clicking and whirring for quite some time.  The table itself also moved, sometimes jerking to the side or sliding forward or back.  I’m not sure how long I was on the table for this procedure, but I know that my appointment was at 1 p.m., and I didn’t leave the building until 2:30.  It was a feeling of total surrender to lie with my neck and shoulders immobilized on the table by a built in form (I would definitely not call it a cushion).  With my arms over my head, hands grasping two large pegs, legs supported by a “block” to help me keep them still, and head turned to the right, I was certainly not in control of the technology, the time, or the position.  I’m also not in control of the results.

Later, at home, I looked at the irregular line and dotted lines drawn by the technicians to mark placement of the tattoo dots and I’m not sure what else.  I have questions about these marks that I will ask tomorrow, just before my first treatment.  I don’t know these people (radiation techs) at all, although I am sure that will change.  And yet, I must trust them to know what they are doing.  It truly is a helpless feeling, although I know that I am never alone.   There is Someone who knows me well, and He will be with me through it all.

I am aware that sometimes I think about things too much, but that has not been the case this time.  I’ve kept squashing down my concerns over the holidays, trying to convince myself that the optimism and faith which marked Round 1 would return when needed.  However, deep inside, my overwhelming thought about radiation is, “I don’t want to do this!”  (as though anyone would!).   Failing to deal with my concerns has not made them disappear.  They were put away for a time but still very much alive.   However, now that all of my worries are not under the surface any more, I have recognized them.  I have acknowledged their destructiveness (nibbling away at my peace).  Most importantly, I have been honest with myself and with my God about how hard this is.

At the same time, I am constantly making perspective adjustments, remembering all of the positives that have already been mentioned concerning this situation.  I am also quite aware that many many people in this world have pressing difficulties that are far more grave.  I see my blessings in every area of life… spiritually, emotionally, physically, mentally… and in terms of relationships and of needs met and the provision of abundance far surpassing the basics.  I am very blessed!

So, if I continue to live in awareness of great blessing and in acknowledgement of God’s great faithfulness, why am I still struggling?

Simple.  I can’t do this on my own.  I’m human.  I can’t turn off my brain.  I’ve let those thoughts of all of the things that I cannot control build up over a period of time without dealing with them.  Today, I acknowledged them.  Now, it’s time to give them away.  It’s time to do what Jesus said.

28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.…

~  Matthew 11:28 – 29

Honestly, I didn’t realize until today that I’d been trying to carry these burdens and worries by myself.  I just knew that I was having difficulty entering into Round 2 with the kind of positive, fighting spirit that I had in Round 1 and that I need for every day of my life. Acknowledgement of God’s faithfulness and quoting scripture promises to myself are both good things… but that’s not what I needed the most.  I needed to see what I am fearful of and get honest about it.  Next, I needed to tell it to my Heavenly Father and to give all of those things to the Lord.  Then, I need to keep on giving them to Him anytime they bubble up in  my mind.  I don’t just need reminders of who He is and the truth of His word (although both are important).  My greatest spiritual need is that I also need to spend more time in His presence, confronted with my own weakness and confessing my need for His strength.   And here’s a beautiful promise for anyone who embraces thankfulness and lets go of fears (in His strength, made perfect in our weakness), giving both the blessings and the trials of our lives back to the Lord…

6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

~ Phillippians 4:6 – 7

The truth is that facing any major difficulty just feels like destruction and chaos.  It brings us face to face with the fact that control over life’s circumstances is an illusion.  However, in this circumstance and in everything that today brings and that the future holds, I am so thankful that I know the One whose power is greater that any destructive force.  He has promised to bring order out of the chaos of this world and to work everything together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).  There is purpose and there is an order to all of life that goes beyond what we can see right now.

In the story of the death of Lazarus and the miracle of the power of resurrection through Jesus Christ, Jesus said something very important.  Just before He raised Lazarus from the dead, Jesus responded to Mary’s concerns (found in the 11th chapter of John) with this statement,
“Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?”

The glory of God in death?  In cancer, or surgery, or radiation?  In loss, in illness, or in extreme difficulty?

Yes.

Yes to all of the above… and yes to every possible circumstance.

That doesn’t always mean that we will see the resolution of any problem in exactly the way we would desire.  It may be that I am indeed facing some physical difficulties that will be most unpleasant and be a challenging time for me and for my family.  However, if I knew, for example, that this time period would produce in our six sons a new appreciation for the fragility of life, a greater depth of compassion and reliance upon the Lord, and stepping up to a new level of maturity, would I think differently about this temporary trial?  Again… YES.

Right now, I don’t know what kind of fruit this journey will produce in my life or in anyone else’s life.  But, I do know that there is purpose and there are spiritual lessons and stepping stones that will have an impact far beyond anything that I could ever dream.  Because God is with me, He will cause this to work together for good… not just my good or my family’s good, but beyond… in ways that I can’t even imagine.  All this has nothing to do with me but rather is all about God’s continual work in this world and His great love for mankind.  And yet, again, there is a promise for those who endure trials (even though we are not doing so in our own strength).

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  ~  2nd Corinthians 4:17

Eternal glory.  Wow!  That’s amazing!  That’s the work of God.

Knowing these truths and knowing Him, being reminded that there is much more to everything in life than just our individual perspective or concerns, I feel so much better.  One step at a time, God has walked me through my valley of worry to the place of His peace.  The journey looked something like this:

The honest expression of internal turmoil
+ blessings appreciated
+ thankfulness expressed
+ truth applied
+ burdens shifted to the One who can really carry them
(and turn them into something beautiful… in His time)
_______________________________________________
= peace that surpasses understanding and goes beyond circumstances. *

* NOTE:  This precious peace is renewable daily (moment by moment) through repeating the journey of recognizing God’s sovereignty and turning it all over to Him.
(The author’s recent practice of trying to push down worries with human knowledge of divine truth does not transfer the burden of worry to the appropriate and supreme Lifter of Burdens and is not recommended.)

 

 

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Your Family Praise Psalm

Praise  sing praises speak of His wondersHave you ever considered that your family could write your own praise Psalm?  This would be a great thing for your family to do at Thanksgiving or at any time of year.  After all, a psalm is simply a heartfelt prayer song to the Lord. Psalms are always honest. The Psalmists speak of times of difficulty in some songs, but they always come back to the fact that God is Supreme over all and that He is good and is worthy of our trust and our worship and praise. Psalms can be very personal, but at the same time they are universal in that the heart cries of the Psalmists of old still resonate with people today.

Living a life of trust and walking by faith are not always easy, so one thing that the Psalmists did was to declare their intention to honor their covenant relationship with God by choosing to be guided by God’s word or to praise the Lord every day. In addition, the Psalmists often spoke of who God is as far as His character. In the Psalms, we read of God’s holiness, righteousness, goodness, kindness, long suffering, His mercies, His everlasting love, His power and might, and His glory. The Psalmists were guided by their knowledge of who God is and their relationship with Him. In Psalms that were written in times of trial, the Psalmists call out to God because of the fact that they know He is good and loving and merciful. In good times. the Psalmists exalt the Lord because of His kindness and long suffering that has been revealed through both trials and blessings.

Psalm 100 scripture memory photo

We all have life stories and faith journeys, just like the Psalmists.  Every individual story is unique, and every family has their own journey as well.  In order to focus on the element of praise in your family’s Psalm, it is helpful to look at two of the most well known praise Psalms in the Bible.  Both are very short (only 5 – 6 verses), and they are a good model for your family’s prayer of praise.  So, here are two scripture memory photos for Psalm 100 and Psalm 150.  These can be printed in whatever size works best for you and used for your family times of devotion.  Perhaps your family can memorize the five verses of Psalm 100 one month and the six verses of Psalm 150 the next.  Or, spend some time reading and talking about these two Psalms during a couple of your family worship times.  Look at the times that are mentioned when the Psalmist praised the Lord.  Look at the attributes and actions of God that the Psalmist praised.  Look at the commitments to the Lord that the Psalmist mentions in the verses.  What actions or attitudes have the Psalmists chosen for themselves in order to demonstrate their praise to God?  How can your family demonstrate your praise and thanksgiving?  At what times of day and in what places can your family express their praise?  Read through the two brief praise Psalms above and below this paragraph, and then think about what your family’s praise Psalm would say.

Note:  For a family devotion resource on Psalm 100, check out this post on our primary blog, which shares the why and how of praise, as found in the Psalm, as well as a list of the benefits of praise.  http://worshipsounds.wordpress.com/2013/09/30/psalm-100-a-prescription-for-praise/

Psalm 150 memory help photo

WRITING  YOUR  FAMILY  PRAISE  PSALM

Make your family’s praise Psalm as unique and personal as you desire.  You can frame a copy for each child’s room or for your family room if desired.  Just make sure that it reflects your family’s desire to praise and thank the Lord for who He is, what He has done, and what He is doing in your lives.  Your praise Psalm should state your family’s intention to be faithful to God in praise as He has been faithful to you in everything.  Most importantly, your praise Psalm should be true to scripture.  Have fun working together with your family to figure out what your praise Psalm should say.  Below, you will find a set of suggestions for writing your praise Psalm that would be easily understood by most children.  This can be printed and used to guide that process of writing if you feel that it would be helpful.

Print this guideline to help your family write a Praise Psalm, or write the suggestions on sentence strips and give each family member one suggestion to work on as their contribution to your family’s Praise Psalm.

How to write a Praise Psalm 2

MY  FAMILY’S  PRAISE  PSALM

Praise   Lets just praise the Lord“Praise the Lord!  Praise Him wherever you are.

Praise God when you get up in the morning to get ready for the day.

Praise Him when you go to school or when you run to play.

Praise God when you are with your brothers and when you are alone.

Praise God at church; Praise God at home.

Think of God and praise him all day long.

Praise Him with a thank you song.

Praise God when it is time for slumber;

Count your blessings…what a number!

Praise the Lord!  Praise Him everywhere you go,

Praise Him for all of the love that you know.

For our God is so good.

His promises are true.

His love lasts forever.  His mercies are new.

Praise Him with your family.

Praise Him with your friends.

His love lasts forever.  His grace never ends.

Praise the Lord!”

(Your Praise Psalm doesn’t have to be poetic.  Ours just came out that way.  Just make sure that your Praise Psalm reflects your family’s personal opportunities to praise the Lord, some reasons to praise Him, and your intention to do just that.)

Blessings to you and your family as you walk with the Lord day by day and choose to praise and worship the Lord together!

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This post was written by Cynthia A. Boyd

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Do you know Jesus?

The decision to ask Jesus to come into your heart and life as your Lord and Savior is the best decision you could ever make! The one true God is ready to give you forgiveness and eternal life as soon as you understand your need for Him and believe on the name of His only Son, Jesus, for your salvation. Here’s a blog page link to help you find the answers to your questions about Jesus. http://www.familysong.wordpress.com/do-you-know-jesus/

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Lego Land (by Braden)

Note:  For this post, we have a guest writer.  This was a school assignment for our son Braden, who was in third grade this past school year.  He wrote about one of the things that we did during Spring Break, our trip to Lego Land Discovery Zone in Atlanta.

Legoland Atlanta promo

LEGO LAND

by

Braden L. Boyd

April 15th, 2013

My brothers Logan, Austin, and Camden were waiting while my Dad bought our tickets to Lego Land.

My little brothers Logan, Austin, and Camden were waiting while my Dad bought our tickets to Lego Land.

On Spring Break, I went to Lego Land with my family.  There was tons of cool stuff there like building with Legos and a couple of rides.

First, we went to a ride.  You had to pedal really fast to make it go up.  I had to pedal with my brother, Jared.  It was a lot of fun.

Then, I went to a 4-D theater.  It was kind of an outdated movie, but I still liked it a lot.  It was about a racer who was racing a bad guy to the finish!  It was cool!

Dad and me and my 5 brothers are getting ready to go in the 4D theater.  Mom came, too, but she was taking the picture.

Dad and me and my 5 brothers are getting ready to go in the 4D theater. Mom came, too, but she was taking the picture.

Lego Miniland (Atlanta at night)

Lego Miniland (Atlanta at night)

Next, I went to Mini Land.  It was like Atlanta but made out of legos!  There was a band, a school with busses that moved, and a lot of cool stuff.

Here is the Lego Fox Theater.  My Dad and Mom went there to see "The King and I".

Here is the Lego Fox Theater. My Dad and Mom went there to see “The King and I”.

Lego Miniland (daytime at the Georgia State Capitol building

Lego Miniland (daytime at the Georgia State Capitol building)

After that, I went on another ride with two of my brothers and my Mom.  I had to shoot bad guys to get a lot of points.  At the end of the game, my brother won.

Lego Discovery Center Store

Lego Discovery Center Store

Then, we went to the Lego store.  It was like a Lego Wonderland.  I was looking around and found Avenger Legos.  I had 15 dollars, and the thing I wanted was 15 dollars, so I got it.

Last, we went to Popeye’s Restaurant.  It was really good.  I got a chicken leg and some Dr. Pepper for my lunch.  And that’s what I did on my awesome Spring Break.

Lego Discovery Center Atlanta

Lego Discovery Center Atlanta

Here are some more cool photos of my family at Lego Land Discovery Center in Atlanta.

My twin brothers, Austin and Camden, are ready to go have some fun.

My twin brothers, Austin and Camden, are ready to go have some fun.

My older brother, Zach, is hanging out at the ticket booth.

My older brother, Zach, is hanging out at the ticket booth.

My brother Logan needs a ticket, too.

My brother Logan needs a ticket, too.

Here's my brother Austin in Miniland.

Here’s my brother Austin in Miniland.  The yellow crane behind him had some working parts and the Marta railway worked, too.

This is my Dad and my twin brothers on the second ride where you could shoot.

This is my Dad and my twin brothers on the second ride where you could shoot.

We had a lot of fun!  Going there really makes you want to build some awesome stuff with Legos!

We also did another fun thing on Spring Break. We went to see the movie “The Croods”. It was about a family and they were really funny.  Here are some pictures of me and my brothers when we were at the movie theater.  We had fun posing with some of the big displays for movies.  I am in the first picture under the big arch, but I am not in the picture with the Monsters, Incorporated characters.

Thanks so much to our Aunts and Uncle, R & T and L & N for the family fun.  We hope you like the pictures!

Here's me and 4 of my brothers under the arch at the movie theater.

Here’s me and 4 of my brothers under the arch at the movie theater.

Here are my 5 brothers.  See if you can find my biggest brother, Jared.

Here are my five brothers. See if you can find my biggest brother, Jared.

A Rough Morning

Logan and Mom had a rough morning today. He’s nine years old now; but in many ways, we are still dealing with issues that we faced when he was a toddler. Logan is a very special and precious little boy who often does not understand what is happening or what is being asked of him. Then, there are other times when Logan knows exactly what is happening but just is not happy about it.  Logan’s Autism plus sensory issues and overall devolpmental issues have been a challenge every day of his life.  Even though he has made tremendous progress and we are very thankful, my husband and I realize that we have many miles to go on the road to helping him become as independant as possible.

Snoopy at the DentistThis morning, Logan had a dentist appointment. I have written about taking him to the dentist before, in my post called One Brave Little Boy.  A dentist visit is a big deal for Logan because of his extreme oral sensitivity.  I was amazed at how brave and self-controlled Logan was when he had his teeth cleaned earlier this year.  He willed himself to be brave and to tolerate all of the things that really bothered him.  I was hoping for a similar experience today, but I think that Logan remembered the extraction of 2 teeth and the application of sealants that had occured at the next appointment after the awesome dental cleaning experience.  That 2nd (extraction) appoinment of 2013 was a lot tougher for Logan.  (I also wrote about this extraction appointment in the update to the post mentioned above.)  Today’s appoinment, however, the 3rd one in 2013, made the extraction appointment seem like nothing.

Dentist appointment reminder with SnoopyLogan was upbeat and in a good mood when we arrived at the dentist’s office.  However, as soon as it was time for him to get into the patient chair, Logan was not happy.  He did allow the hygienist to put on the paper bib; but after that, he was not ready to cooperate in any way.   Logan did not want to lean back in the chair, didn’t want to open his mouth, and wanted nothing to do with the tooth polisher.  His favorite hygienist (mine, too!) who has always been so good with him in the past was called in to take over.  Another hygienist had to hold his legs, and I had to hold his arms and keep his torso down.  Logan screamed quite a bit, sometimes clenched his teeth, and was terrified again.  He’d been such a brave, big guy at his last cleaning; but today, it was as if that good experience had never occurred.  Logan’s extreme oral sensitivity took over; and he was, once again, just a scared little boy who wanted the torture to stop.

Toothy thumbs upI was so glad when Logan’s dental cleaning was over.  Holding him down was physically exhausting, and the whole experience is mentally and emotionally draining.  I had hoped that a “restraint team” would not be needed for dental appointments anymore after our good experience in February, but today’s experience made it clear how much just one negative experience can set Logan back.

The dentist came to look at Logan’s teeth after today’s cleaning, and Logan cried and had to be held down again.  The dentist then gave me the unwelcome news that Logan’s mouth is never going to be large enough to accomodate his full set of permanent teeth.  He is going to have to have serial (as in ‘a series of’) extractions as different permanent teeth come in.  It will essentially be orthodontia  by extraction, with the removal of some teeth making room for others to move into place.  This was not exactly the best news after seeing what a setback the recent extractions were to all of the progress Logan had made with his oral sensitivity issues relating to dental care.

The roughest part of the morning, however, had not yet occurred.  After the morning’s dental experiences (cleaning with the hygienist and “restraint team” plus inspection with the Dentist and a repeat performance), which terrified Logan and exhausted me, Logan would innocently do something else that terrified me and still has me shaken and on the verge of tears.  We had gone to the billing desk on our way out of the building after Logan was released by the Dentist.  Logan got a drink from the nearby water fountain while I talked to the billing clerk.  She  could not find a record of our payment for the extraction, even though I knew that my husband, Travis, had paid.  I tried to call Travis, but he didn’t answer.  Then, I texted him to have him call the dental office, giving him the phone number and the name of the lady in billing.  As I was texting Travis, Logan walked behind me and out to the waiting room.  There are toys and books for the children in that area, so I was glad that he would be occupied.  The billing clerk continued to check her computer to attempt to locate our payment.  She finally found it.  Our dentist office has our 5 sons who are their patients in 2 separate accounts.  This was a mistake made a long time ago, but they tell me that they cannot fix it without deleting all of the records for the boys that would be moved from one account to the other.  In this instance, the double accounts for our family caused the billing issue.  The payment for Logan’s extraction had been credited to the account that includes some of our other boys but not Logan.  Finally, the issue was settled so that we could leave.  But, where was Logan?

Whenever I am afraid I will trust

I walked into the waiting room, and Logan was nowhere to be found.  I asked some of the parents if they’d seen him, and then I headed outside.  I thought that he might have gone to our Suburban in the parking lot.  I was beginning to get panicky.  The building our Dentist uses is located just off a very busy multi-lane road behind a thriving business.  The side street on another side of the building is also very busy, with 5 lanes of traffic at the intersection of those 2 thoroughfares.  Logan does not understand dangers like busy streets or strangers.  Anything could happen to him.  He could be anywhere.  I pushed past the rising fear and kept calling Logan’s name as I approached our vehicle.  There was no sign of him.

Where are youI turned around to run back inside.  One sweet Mom met me halfway back to the building to ask if I’d found him yet.  When I got back inside, I was not shy at all about letting the office staff and everyone within earshot know that my little boy was missing and has Autism.  Although I had kept my voice as calm as I could and didn’t speak loudly, there was enough fear in my tone and panic in my eyes to send the office staff scrambling.  It took about 3 minutes for Logan to be found, inside the building, in a corner of the room where his cleaning had been done.

Although I am very thankful that Logan is safe, the thought of what could have happened really shook me.  It’s not as though we only have to be concerned about where Logan is when he is at the Dentist’s office, either.  No matter where we go, Logan could disappear around a corner in a matter of seconds and be in a busy parking lot or street.  He could become lost in the wooded areas between subdivisions.  We have been aware of this issue for some time now, and every close call only makes me more concerned.  Once, this past year, Logan got away from his teacher and aides at school.  They found him later on the playground.  Once, a few months ago, Logan left our yard and our cul-de-sac.  Travis found him wandering down another street in our neighborhood.  We have been talking very seriously about getting a tracking bracelet for Logan, and I am sure that we will be looking into that as soon as possible.  That could give us some peace of mind in knowing that if he were to get lost, there would be a way to locate him.  I don’t know how quickly the locating process works, but he could still be in the middle of a busy street faster than we could get to him.  I have to give my fears to the Lord, and we have to do our best to continue teaching him about dangers.  Even so, I know deep down that he can be very unaware when he is in his own little world and that he might quote a line from Buzz Lightyear if he was asked for his address.  His knowledge can only protect him if he understands why it is important, and therein lies the problem.  Even though I know that we can’t totally protect Logan from everything, I am still human enough to be emotional after an experience like this morning.

Mommy's boy drawingAs we drove into the driveway about an hour ago, I said something very normal to Logan.  I said, “We’re home!”.  Immediately, my mind flew into emotional mode, thinking that both of us had made it home.  My eyes filled with tears… tears for a scared little boy, tears for a terrified Mom, tears for the innocence that makes him so vulnerable, tears for a close call, tears for the panicked moments of not knowing, tears for more dental trauma to come… and tears of thankfulness that we have survived thus far.  Thank you, Lord!   Our rough morning could have been much rougher.

 

Epilogue

After a few hours had passed, I had gained further perspective.  Logan was totally unaware that he was ever ‘lost’.  He knew exactly where he was the whole time.  For him, the smiles and and happy mood had returned quickly.  He mentioned several times throughout the day, “You went to the Dentist Doctor.”  (referring to himself)  He had a great feeding therapy session the same afternoon and was glad to play with his brothers when we returned home.  I’m also glad.  The hugs, the smiles, and the sweet little voice are such precious gifts.  Thank you, Lord, for Logan.  🙂

Mother’s Day 2013

Happy Mothers Day flowerpotPrayers and blessings to Mothers everywhere!  You are a special gift to those you care for.

I must say that I’ve had a wonderful week-end and a decadent Mother’s Day.  I am so blessed! On Friday, when our boys got home from school, my husband, Travis, and I were still working in the yard.  Camden (one of our 7 year old twin boys) came to the backyard to keep me company, while twin brother Austin chattered happily to his Dad in the front yard.  Camden was my sweet little helper buddy for a while, and then Austin came to the backyard, too.  At that point, both boys began picking flowers and bringing them to me, telling me that they love me and that they were bringing the flowers to me because it was almost Mothers’ Day.  They picked tiny yellow weed flowers and larger (half dollar size) white flowers from a flowering bush.  Since neither of them can keep a secret, they could not wait to tell me about the gifts that they had made at school and at church.  “I’m not supposed to tell you, but….”, they would say.  I heard all about the paper tea pots with a tea bag inside that they’d made at church.  Camden informed me that he had added paper “steam” to his teapot’s spout and that he wanted to share the tea with me since he likes tea.  From school, Camden had brought home a laminated placemat that he’d made for me.  It was already on the table.  Apparently, that was the first thing he did when he got home, since he was in the backyard with me in just a few minutes.  🙂

Austin's Paper flowerpot gift

Austin’s Paper flowerpot gift

Austin told me that he had made a paper flower pot with flowers that pull out.  It was already on my bed when I came upstairs later (to shower after my yard work was finished).  Each flower does pull out, and he had written on the stems his “I love you because…” reasons.  The orange tulip stem said, “You are nice.”   The blue one says, “You by me toys.”   The pink tulip’s stem proclaims, “You take care of me.”  The red one says, “You are sweet.”  And, finally, the purple one says, “You help me lern.”  I can just see him concentrating and cutting out all of those flowers with his little first grade hands.  His phonetic spelling and the way he sometimes forgets to put space between words just makes it even sweeter.  🙂

The frame our boys made at Respite, with a photo of all 6 boys

The frame our boys made at Respite, with a photo of all 6 boys

On Saturday, our younger 3 boys went to Respite care at our church (for special needs children and their siblings).  They came home with a Mother’s Day picture frame that they had made.  Our two biggest boys, Jared and Zach (ages 19 and 13) had helped us while the younger boys were gone to do some furniture moving, which we desperately needed to do.  Some furniture and musical equipment came down 2 flights of stairs, and some went up a flight.  Rooms were cleaned and re-arranged as we all worked together.  Having them willingly help their Dad and me with the heavy lifting was a great Mother’s Day week-end treat for me.   Having our younger boys so well cared for at Respite for several hours that day was also a great gift from all of the volunteers who help with that ministry.  🙂

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!  I love you!

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! I love you!

I got to talk to my Mom on Saturday afternoon, and the beautiful card she’d sent also arrived that day.  Of course, I’d planned to call her this week-end, but Mom is always the early bird.  She called me before I had a chance to call her.  While we were talking, she told me how she so often thinks of her own mother, my Grandmama Tinsley, who passed away due to cancer when I was 3 years old and my brother was a newborn.  I wish I’d had the opportunity to know Grandmama, but I feel that I know her to some extent from the stories that my Mom has told me.  Her name was Pearl, and she had a broad twinkly-eyed smile in every photograph I’ve ever seen of her, including one in which the family is celebrating my first birthday.  Pearl raised 8 children, passing away when her youngest, my Aunt Sandra, was only 13.  My mom has talked about wash days with the big iron pot in the front yard over a fire, improvised child gates made from chairs laid on their sides, the quantities of food that Mom’s 5 brothers would eat, and the way that her mother sang as she worked.  That “working song” gene was definitely passed down.  My mother often sang hymns or songs like “Love is a Many Splendored Thing.”  (Come to think of it, I often sing as I work, too.)  🙂

eggplantGrandmama Pearl was inventive and hard working.  She kept her family fed and cared for during the great depression and throughout the rationing of World War II.  These are all things that I already knew, but my Mom told me a story on Saturday that I’d never heard before.  She said something about living in Florida and totally surprised me.  I only knew about her family homes in Ft. Mill, Liberty, and Easley, South Carolina; so I said, “I never knew you lived in Florida!”  Then Mom told me about how her father was promised a job as a construction foreman on a bridge build and moved the entire family (5 children at the time, I think) to Florida.  When they arrived, the job and the pay were not as promised, so they lived in Florida less than a year and experienced some very lean times.  At one point, Mom’s oldest sibling, her brother Ansel, was sent to a nearby field to glean some produce (legally) after the harvesting had already been done.  He took a flour sack to carry his gathered food and came home with it full of eggplant.  As my Grandmama Pearl would later say when this incident was discussed, “We ate eggplant rough and eggplant tough until we’d had eggplant enough!”  🙂

The front of my Mothers' Day card from Mom

The front of my Mothers’ Day card from Mom

My own mother learned from Grandmama Pearl and could stretch a grocery dollar until it whimpered.  Somehow, we always had all that we needed, even when my Dad was in graduate school.  My Mom is still a wonder is so many ways, carrying on bravely after my Dad’s passing in 2004.  She sold their condo, bought a house on her own for the first time, had some remodeling done, lived there for several years, and sold the house to move cross country and be near my brother and sister and their families.  She lives in a senior adult apartment complex that has a lot of common space and great amenities, and she always has a busy schedule keeping up with all of the activities and outings with friends.  She just joined the church she’s been attending, and she is still at work blessing the lives of others.  You can’t beat her to a phone call, and you certainly can’t ever out-give her.  I love my Mom.  🙂

????????????????????????On Sunday, my husband, Travis, who is a Minister of Music and Worship, went to church early, as usual. Our six boys and I were only two minutes late for early Praise Band/Praise Team and Orchestra rehearsal, which was great.  I was actually the first Praise Team member there (by just a few seconds, though).  Our oldest son, Jared, age 19, went to his Dad’s office during the early rehearsal, where he and I would later have our own Sunday School class. (I am studying with him through the gospel of John.)  Our son Zachary, who just turned 13, went on upstairs to the youth department.  During rehearsal, our four youngest boys were really good in the Worship Center.  They were just a little active, running around through the pews as the worship team rehearsed.  It was a little ironic to be singing a worship song about waiting on the Lord that began with the words, “Be still …” while watching their constant motion.  Even that was a blessing, though, knowing that they are healthy and happy.  🙂

When it was time for Sunday School, I took the four youngest downstairs to their classes.  Logan’s class had combined with the class that Austin and Camden are in for their “Muffins with Mom” breakfast, so Austin brought me orange juice and then Camden brought me a muffin.  It was sweet to watch all of the children serving their Moms and then sitting down to eat with them.  Logan was roaming around the room a bit.  He has Autism, and sometimes he just needs a little time to be Logan.  He was in a very good mood, though.  Camden and Austin gave me the paper teapot cards they had made, with the teabags and a hand-written “Happy Mothers’ Day” message inside.  🙂

Mothers' Day teapot card from Camden

Mothers’ Day teapot card from Camden (with steam!)

Camden stressed to me once more that he wanted to share the tea with me, so we’ll have to do that some time this week.  Logan had made cute little owl magnets.  🙂

Mothers' Day owl magnets from Logan

Mothers’ Day owl magnets from Logan

After attending “Muffins for Mom” with our 3 youngest boys, I went to Braden’s 3rd grade Sunday School class for more “Muffins with Mom”.  Braden was a sweetheart, as usual.  I didn’t need another muffin, but he presented me with a gift bag that had some fragrant hand soap and a printed bookmark that had been personalized with Braden’s answers to some questions about me.  Here are the statements, with his answers underlined.

My mother looks beautiful when she wears a white shirt with sparkles.

My favorite meal that my mother makes for me is macaroni and cheese.

I enjoy spending time with my mother when we work around the house together.

hug even tighterI feel most loved when my mother hugs me.

My mother teaches me about Jesus by telling me.

I love my mother because she prays with me.

I show love to my mother by hugging her.

🙂  Isn’t he the sweetest 3rd grader ever!  🙂

After attending the Mother’s Day “Muffins with Mom” events downstairs, I went back upstairs for Sunday School in Travis’ office with Jared.  We had a great lesson.  It’s always good for me to hear his thoughts about scripture and how God’s word relates to life.  I must say that even though I have a little bit of tech savviness, I am still getting used to the fact that his Bible is on his phone.

Both of our teen-agers were sweet with their Mother’s Day greetings.  When we were at home, Jared gave me a big hug and told me he loved me and “Happy Mother’s Day!”, and Zach did all of those things plus he gave me a kiss on the cheek!  It’s always good when teens appreciate and show respect and love for parents and for others who are helping them through life.  🙂

We had an incredible worship service at church.  To me, it seemed a victorious and hopeful service that really lifted up the Lord and brought glory to His name while also ministering to people (including me!).  Mothers were honored at one point in the service by having all of the Moms stand up.  There are so many wonderful women who attend our church, and I am so blessed to know many of these amazing Moms as well as other wonderful women who love the Lord and love people.  Some of the incredible ladies I know don’t have children of their own but have such loving and nurturing qualities that they bless the lives of everyone they know!).  🙂

Our twins, Austin and Camden, at a Firehouse Subs in Arkansas in 2010 (on the way home from a trip to Oklahoma).

Our twins, Austin and Camden, at a Firehouse Subs in Arkansas in 2010 (on the way home from a trip to Oklahoma).

After church, our family went to Firehouse Subs for lunch.  Their sandwiches are so good, and our boys love it.  (Me, too!)  The best part is that the location closest to our home currently has a “kids eat free” promotion on Sundays, which is great for our large family (Mom and Dad plus 6 boys).  Our boys enjoy picking out their own bag of chips and then getting a drink with the fountain machine that will mix your personal choice of soda.  When we first started going to Firehouse, we would come home with 5 of the plastic firehats.  They’ve almost outgrown that, but Austin and Logan still got a hat on Sunday.  What a joy it is to be with my family and hear their conversations.  I realize how much they have grown and learned.  They are such awesome boys!  🙂

The back of Braden's handmade Mother's Day card from school

The back of Braden’s handmade Mother’s Day card from school

When we got home, there were more gifts and cards.  I don’t deserve all of this, but I sure am blessed!  The sweet card that all of the boys signed says, “There’s only one of you for all of us, but that’s okay…  you always have plenty of love to go around.!”  Camden drew a stick figure Mom holding out a big heart.  🙂  Braden also had a bag of gifts that he had made from school.  There was a hand-painted flowerpot, some seeds, a laminated bookmark with a poem about mothers and a picture of Braden and Travis on the back, and a card that Braden had made that says, “Moms make children blossom.  My favorite part of that card was what Braden wrote on the back.  🙂

Logan had a gift for me in his backpack, too.  He had written a gift card himself (the first time he has ever done that), and it said “For Mom, Love, Logan”.  That is huge for him.  The gift his teacher put together was so sweet.  I will scan it like I have several of the other things and post the photo below.  It is a black and white photo of Logan, holding a heart that he had colored, with the words “I Love You” written on the heart.  Logan had written “Mommy” on the mat above the photo and his own name below in pink crayon.  The photo was in a black frame, but I did remove it briefly for scanning.  Here it is!  🙂

Logan loves Mommy

Logan loves Mommy

Our daughter, Meredith, is older than the boys.  She is married and lives in Oklahoma, so I didn’t get to see her.  She sent me an online greeting with a “Happy Mother’s Day” graphic and a message about how much she loves and misses me.  What a blessing it is to be able to communicate!  We can say, “I love you” through the internet or during a phone call and talk to each other as though we were in the same room.  Even though we are far apart, we can still stay close at heart! 🙂

Mothers Day graphic sent by our daughter as her e-card

Mothers Day graphic sent by our daughter as her e-card

ice cream freezerThe day was far from over.  I had not slept well the night before, so I actually had the luxury of taking a short nap Sunday afternoon.  Travis had an idea for a Mother’s Day treat for the whole family, so he went to the grocery store and purchased ingredients for home-made ice cream.  We had not made home-made ice cream in several years, so it was fun to see and hear the excited reactions of our younger boys to the process.  Travis made Butterfinger ice cream, and it was a very decadent treat after supper.  Travis cooked supper (grilled), and then he cleaned up the kitchen.  I was a totally spoiled Mom.  🙂

For me, it didn’t take expensive gifts like clothing or jewelry or flowers to feel loved and appreciated.  I enjoy all of those things as much as anyone, but the home-made and spontaneous expressions of love always mean the most.  Those tiny yellow weed flowers (blue-bell shaped, but I don’t know what they are called) were more beautiful than a professionally arranged bouquet because they were given with the purest love and a little boy sweetness, with a desire to say, “I love you.”  The hugs and the help and the “queen for a day” treatment were better than a spa day to me.  There have been past Mother’s Days when doing anything was an afterthought (as in a trip to the grocery store to buy a card after returning home from church), and there have been times when there were nice gifts that were given.  But whether my hubby was so busy giving of himself to our family (as he does all of the time) that he was a little late on preparation for Mother’s day or whether there were flowers and gifts or homespun treats, these Boyd men know how to let me know they love me.  When I get a little overwhelmed with all of the maleness around here, it’s a good thing to remember the loving hearts that go along with the messy footprints and stinky laundry.   I love them all dearly!  🙂

I know that it is a bit indulgent to share all of the details that I’ve shared in this post.  For me, it is definitely a story about the blessings of life and love, home and family, and a special day now and then.  Since I stay so busy with all of the chores that must be done, I don’t get as much done as far as keeping a chronicle of family memories as I should, so this is say to my family that they are awesome and that I love them all dearly… on Mother’s Day and on every day.  🙂

🙂 🙂 🙂  And, oh yes, I am blessed!  🙂 🙂 🙂

Happy Mother’s Day and every day to all of the Moms out there! 

Count your blessings, sweet friends!  So many loving and nurturing women never have the opportunity to become a Mom.  You are so blessed!

A wise friend once counseled me to enjoy each stage of my life, even with its difficulties.  She said that too many people effectively put off their own happiness by saying or thinking, “I’ll really be happy (or glad) when _______________ .”   Fill in the blank.  Are you waiting for a developmental milestone or for more independence for your children, a career boost for yourself or your husband, a move to your dream house or anything else before you really claim the happiness you could be enjoying today?  Don’t wait!  Take charge and determine to be happy right where you are, at this time in your life.  Don’t waste another day missing what you’ve never had.  Be thankful for what you do have, and move forward with such a contagious joy that you lighten the load for your entire family.  You can do it!  🙂

Happy Mothers Day photo pink azaleaHere’s short verse for you, Mom!
(from Braden’s bookmark made at school)

“Thank you for watering me with love,

feeding me with encouragement,

and nourishing me with time and energy.

I am growing beautiful because of you!”

Amen!

When illness gets you down…

sick guy cartoonAt some point in our lives, all of us will deal with significant or ongoing illness for ourselves and/or in the lives of those we love.  Many individuals have the blessing of general good health for most of their lives.  Sometimes we take that for granted.  For others, dealing with injury or with a medical condition of some kind is a life-long challenge.  There is a refining of the soul that seems to happen sometimes when one faces constant physical illness or challenges.  I have known many such individuals who had at some point made the choice to live lives of extraordinary grace and strength, with God’s help.  Choosing to see the blessings of life and even the blessings of illness or of injury or other medical and physical issues is not easy.  Our natural instinct seems to be a very keen awareness of our own suffering and a desire for that suffering to be removed.  After all, who doesn’t love to feel wonderful?  And yet, we must remember that we have only one life, and the “sick days” or even the on-going health issues are a part of it.

Sorry u r under the weather woodstockHow, then, can we deal with illness?  How can we cope with our own suffering or the suffering of someone that we love?  How can we make the most of life when illness or injury or a medical condition seems to limit our time, our energy, and our enjoyment of life?  In a way, I feel unqualified to answer this question.  After all, I have enjoyed general good health for much of my life.  And yet, I have had experience with both illness and injury, and I’ve definitely known the heartache of experiencing sorrow and pain with loved ones who were suffering.  There are many wonderful books about the theology of suffering or the spiritual, emotional, and practical considerations of dealing with physical challenges.  There are stories of amazing people who have refused to let physical challenges or illness define them.  I’ve read several books that are powerful testimonies about overcoming obstacles, including illness and injury.  The theological studies and biographical testimonies that I have read cover these issues much more comprehensively than I will attempt to do here.  All that I can offer is a simple observation, born out of my own recent experience.

Snoopys mind wanderingI have been dealing with a health situation for some time that has greatly affected my ability to function as a wife and mother and to plan ahead.  I never know when I am going to have a bad day.  I have recently been very frustrated by the frequency and duration of my health problems and how they affect my family.  Last week, I was up very late one night.  I didn’t want to try to sleep because I felt so nauseous.   This was on a Wednesday night (actually early Thursday morning).  Because I was feeling so sick and could not sleep, I had a lot of time to think about how my illness was impacting those I loved.  I had missed church due to my illness the previous Sunday, and then I’d been forced to miss church again on that Wednesday night. I had felt okay for most of the morning but started having symptoms just before lunchtime.  Often, when that happens, symptoms progress so quickly that I am not able to meet the bus carrying our little boy who has special needs when it comes at 3:00 p.m.; so I have sometimes been forced to call my husband and have him come home from work to meet Logan’s bus.  (His bus must be met by an adult).  On that Wednesday, symptoms were progressing a little more slowly, so I was able to meet Logan’s bus myself and be downstairs when 3 of Logan’s brothers arrived 30 minutes later.

On that day, I thought that if my symptoms would hold off for a couple of hours, I could get our 5 school-age boys to church for the Wednesday night meal so that they would not miss Children’s Choir or Missions, but I knew that I was in no shape to stay. In addition to feeling awful and knowing it was going to get worse, I didn’t want to be around food since I hadn’t had anything since breakfast and the thought of eating made me sick. So, I made sure the boys got their homework done and then took them to church at around 5 p.m., with my husband, Travis, planning to meet us in the parking lot.  I pulled our Suburban around to the back of the building, near the fellowship hall where the meal is served, and then I pulled to the right beside a row of cars in the parking lot to let my boys get out and meet their Dad.

Be careful signI didn’t expect any difficulty with safely dropping off the boys since I’d called my husband as soon as we arrived.  He was on his way out of the building to meet us.  In addition, due to homework and needing to wait for our Middle School age son, who arrives home from school much later than his younger brothers, we were almost 30 minutes later arriving for the meal than most people who eat at church on Wednesday night.  I thought everyone else would already be in the building.  However, as it turned out, I almost got one or more of my boys run over that day, just because of being sick. I had gotten out of the Suburban myself and was supervising the boys as they were getting out of the car on both sides when a sweet lady who had come up behind our car decided she would drive around us. I had five boys ages 7 & 7 (twins), 8 (special needs), 10, & 12 around the car on both sides, was pulled over to the right obviously unloading, and was out of the car trying to get all of the boys safely across the parking lot to the sidewalk, and yet I could not see where all of my boys were right at that moment.  If she had waited for one more minute, I would have had all of the boys safely on the sidewalk and  Travis would have been there to get them inside, but she must have felt she couldn’t wait.  I had pulled really far to the right, but she came around us on the right, with hardly any room between vehicles.  Even though I was out of the car trying to make sure all of the boys got safely to Travis and trying to watch the boys on both sides, I was unable to keep my boys safe.  If one or more of the boys had come running around the front of our vehicle right into her path, they would have been toast.  From the moment that the woman began to pull around my car until the moment when she could have hit one or more of my boys if they had happened to run around the Suburban was just a couple of seconds.  It had happened so quickly that I could not get in front of her and was powerless to stop this upsetting and potentially lethal incident, and it was all because of me being sick.  The thought of what could have happened completely undid me.

Charlie Brown sighLater that same night, after Travis got home with the boys and they had all gone to bed, at one point my hubby wanted to talk about Spring Break and what our plans would be.  He wanted to do a short trip, and I had to tell him that I am not in any shape to do it.  After all of these incidents had taken place in just a few days, I was feeling very frustrated.  My illness has not just affected me.  It affects my family in many ways.  It’s even more frustrating since I have already had lots of tests and scans but still don’t have a firm diagnosis.  In fact, my Doctor referred to me at last week’s appointment as “a mystery”.  So, I had gotten pretty down and had no problem at all thinking about all of the things I dislike about being sick.  I had quite a mental list going.  I might not have been outwardly griping around my family, but I certainly was feeling frustrated and upset inside. 😦

cartoon checklist photoIn this state of mind, a thought occured to me.  I should make a list of all of the good things about being sick.  I honestly did not expect to get very far.  I thought that I would be doing well to come up with 3 or 4 things and that even those reasons might be a bit of a stretch of the imagination.  I decided to call this exercise my “Top Ten List of Good Things About Being Sick,” and I began to think things through.  My original thinking was that after I’d named 3 or 4 lame reasons that being sick can be good, then I would put down the same phrase for all of the other slots to round out my top ten list, “Sorry.  That’s all I’ve got.”  At least I was thinking about the subject with a little bit of humor, but I certainly can’t say that I was optimistic.  Perhaps what I was really looking for was an excuse to stay in my frustrated mindset and proof that there really was nothing good about being sick.  However, a strange thing happened.  When I began to think about things that I could be thankful for about being sick (even though my effort was half-hearted at best), suddenly all sorts of reasons began to occur to me.  Before I knew it, I had a list of 8 things that can be good about being sick.  (Although, honestly, I’ll take wellness any day).  I thought for a little while more and could not come up with any additional good things, so I did end my list the way I had planned, with “Sorry.  That’s all I’ve got.”  I put my list on my facebook status, with my little attempt at humor as my closing statement.  Just a few minutes after I posted my list of 8 good things, two more reasons really did come to me.  I added them to my status as a comment, surprised that I actually had come up with a list of 10 good things about being sick.

For me, the whole exercise was a lesson.  Here’s what I learned:

I chose to light a candle...

I chose to light a candle…

1.)  It’s okay to acknowledge feelings of frustration, anger, depression, grumpiness, and dwindling hope.  If we are going to be honest in prayer, we have to just pour all of that out.  God knows how we are feeling.  He is just waiting for us to say, “This is how I feel…., and yet, I know that You are God.  I have done all that I can do, Lord.  I am depending on You and waiting on You and trusting You.”  Then, he can begin to minister grace and comfort and wisdom and, yes, healing (whether that healing is emotional, spiritual, physical, or all 3).

2.)  It can be healthy to spend a little time analyzing yourself and figuring out what is most upsetting to you and why.  (For me, the root of the greatest frustration was definitely not feeling that progress was being made toward getting better and, primarily, the negative impact on my family.  I also miss my old, more productive and dependable life from “before”.)  Sometimes, we need a little time to grieve all of the changes and the impact of illness or injury and to mentally process both the knowns and the unknowns.

3.)  After taking some time to think about what you are feeling, there is one thing that seems to begin to turn things around and change an attitude of frustration, fear, or doubt (that there could be anything good in the situation).  The simple cure is very effective.  It is thankfulness.  Even though I didn’t feel thankful yet when I began making my list of good things, I soon began to see my own illness and even sickness in general through a new lens.

4.)  When I began to make even the slightest effort to see things differently, it was as though God met me right where I was and opened a window so that I could briefly see the (sometimes) hidden value of things that are hard to experience in the here and now.

5.)  I surprised myself, but it really was God surprising me all along.  He promises to work everything for good in the lives of those who love Him.  (Romans 8:28)  Could that possibly mean even nasty germs or cancer cells?  Could it include tragic injuries or even lifelong medical conditions?

Yes.

The answer is … yes.

It’s not that those things are good in themselves.  After all, when we reach Heaven, it will be filled with only what is good and righteous and pure.  Illness, injury, pain, and physical limitations will not be there.  The truth that we hold on to in this life is that God will take even these things and cause them to work together for good (for now, for forever, for His kingdom!).  What a promise that is!

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  – Romans 8:28 (NASB)

Snoopy doctors woodstockAm I a completely reformed grouch?  Well, perhaps I am semi-reformed.  I can’t say that I will never wish something hard or painful or yucky would just go away.  I know that many times in my life, the removal of a trial will be my fervent prayer.  But what I do hope to remember is that if I look for reasons to be thankful, I will find them.  If I look for the good, it will be revealed.  I still won’t understand everything, because God’s ways are higher than my ways.  Now, I know I see through a glass darkly; but someday, I will have full understanding.  Right now, one of my main questions might be, “Isn’t there some other way I could learn this?’  Then, in Heaven, when I suddenly know even as I am known, I believe that all of my questions will be answered before I can even ask them.

So, here is my list of the top ten good things about being sick.  (What was written on that sleepless night is in italics below.)  This really is so much more than just a list.  For me, it was really an exercise… in thankfulness and trust.

Cindy’s List of the Top Ten Good Things About Being Sick
🙂
Snoopy thank you dance1. Being sick makes you really thankful for the times when you are feeling good so that you don’t take health for granted.
🙂 
2. It is really something to be thankful for that most illnesses don’t last very long.  (With all of the germs around us, how miraculous it is that we are so often well!)
🙂
3. Being sick helps one to appreciate the amazing complexity of the human body and the capacity for healing.
🙂 
4. Beling sick can slow one down long enough to re-focus priorities.
🙂
 
5. I’ve heard people say that they would not choose to have missed what they have learned and experienced through an illness or injury. (not sure I’m there at this point, but I’m thinking about it)
🙂 
6. When you are sick, the people who love you are always there with a prayer or some other kind of caring. You love and appreciate them already, but the experience of ministering to one another bonds hearts like nothing else.
🙂
7. When you are sick, you realize again how amazing it is to never be alone and to have God’s presence with you through everything. It is a comfort to know the hope of healing, the hope of Heaven, and the hope of tomorrow (and to have peace when nothing makes sense because you know that your life is held in loving Hands).
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8. When you are sick and you look in the mirror, you realize that your normal look is not so bad after all (compared to the bleary-eyed stranger staring back at you).
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9. ?….? I’ve got nothing.  
(Note:  this is the way I originally wrote the list.  I had nothing here, but God was not finished teaching me yet.)
🙂
10. Hey, I was doing well to come up with 8 good things, don’t ya think?
Just a little humor. Gotta keep smiling, right?  🙂
🙂  *  🙂  *  🙂  *  🙂  *  🙂  *  🙂  *  🙂
At this point, I thought that my list was finished.  I certainly did not think that I could come up with anything else to add.  I was ready to give myself an “E” for Effort.  However, it wasn’t even five minutes before I had added the following:
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Okay, I thought of 2 more, so here are my amendments to the list:
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9. Going through any kind of struggle (including being sick) can make one more compassionate.
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10. Going through trials helps me grow as a Christian. “…the trying of your faith worketh patience…”
The bad part is that now everyone knows for sure that my patience needs work (as if anyone was fooled in the 1st place).
🙂
The funny thing is that when I started typing the list I had only thought of 3 or 4 good things, so it was going to be more of a joke to only go that far and then say, “I’ve got nothing” for the rest.  But, when I started out with thankfulness, the other good things just kept coming to me.  This thankfulness thing really works!  🙂
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Pollyanna glad game quoteIt may seem simple, and some people may label me a Pollyanna; but I have discovered again and again that being thankful is the way to go.  What’s the alternative?  Being miserable.  Sometimes I may spend a little time in misery land, but I don’t want to stay there.  If I’m going to be dealing with something difficult, at least I can recognize that there is still beauty in life, there is still good in life, and that I am never alone through any of it.  Choosing to see the good and to be thankful is not rocket science.  We all know that keeping a good attitude and staying optimistic is important.  Sometimes, illness just squeezes the life out of our optimism, and we need a reminder to take back our mental, emotional, and spiritual power over frustration and despair by choosing to look for the good and be grateful.  So, when illness gets you down, take a step of faith by choosing thankfulness (even if you don’t feel like it), and then wait on the Lord.  He will lift you up!  🙂
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there is always something to be thankful for“Blessed be the Lord! for He has heard the voice of my supplications. The Lord is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts; so I am helped and my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to Him.”
– Psalm 28:6 & 7
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“Do not be over-anxious about anything, but by prayer and earnest pleading, together with thanksgiving, let your request be unreservedly made known in the presence of God.” Phil. 4:6
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This post was written by Cynthia  Boyd
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Thank you for spending your valuable time reading the contents of this page.  We hope that it has been helpful to you.   If you or someone that you know is looking for answers about life, we hope that you will visit our page called “Do You Know Jesus?”.   The links provided on this page will help to answer life’s deepest questions.   Here is the link to “Do You Know Jesus?”:  http://www.familysong.wordpress.com/do-you-know-jesus/

Please feel free to share this URL with anyone who is looking for answers about life and eternity.

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The Secret Life of a Special Needs Parent

The Secret Life of a Special Needs Parent

A revelation of grace, grief, joy, love, blessings, and challenges

For parents of special needs children, family and friends who love them, and others who want to understand.

We're in this together.

We’re in this together.

 When it comes to the here and now and the practical issues of parenting,
there are certain facts that are true for every loving parent and child.

*  Every child is different, and their needs vary significantly throughout the constant changes of growth and development.

*  Every parent seeks to meet the needs of their child or children, no matter how challenging those needs may be.

*  Every loving parent tries to stay in tune with the heart of their child and to know and even anticipate their needs.

*  No matter what a parent experiences in caring for and loving a child, the love and the joy over-ride everything else.

*  The two most important goals of most parents are:
(1) to help their child go through all of the developmental stages in their emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and physical growth
and 
(2) to help their child learn how to become an independent and contributing adult with the skills, knowledge, wisdom, character, and faith they will need to live a life of meaning and purpose.

keep trying signSAME  GOALS, WITH INDIVIDUALIZATION
For parents of children who have special needs, these basic facts and primary goals are the same.  However, the methods of achieving these objectives can be vastly different, often with much different expectations and a highly individual timetable for development that is discovered only through continued effort and the constant need to adapt to the individual child’s own pace in learning and in reaching developmental milestones.

For some children, a developmental timetable can be relatively predictable.  However, many children with special needs seem to have their own internal pace.  Developmental experts can make predictions.  Teachers and therapists and parents can set goals, but the true timetable for learning and developmental progress cannot be set externally.  It is revealed by time.  Sometimes, the developmental milestones are met more quickly than anyone expected; and sometimes progress can seem to take place, only to be followed by regression.  Sometimes, progress happens but takes a long time.  Parents of special needs children come to know the unpredictability of progress all too well.  Special needs parents also learn to re-evaluate the very concept of progress.  If, for a special and wonderfully made child, the “norms” are not the norm, your hope for progress in every area possible must still be kept alive.  For some, progress can mean the absence of regression.
The Key Truth about goals:
Even if hopes for progress and positive change must be adapted somewhat for an individual child, those sparks of hope are kept alive (and fanned into a flame of persistent faith in the un-revealed potential within) by the deep love of parents for precious little hearts and souls.

Relying on God’s strength and seeing the child within
Every situation is different, and all parents of special needs children deal with ongoing needs and challenges that require all that we are and even more than our best.  God’s strength and His promise to work everything together for our good are crucial in my own life as far as mental and emotional well-being.  However, I certainly cannot speak or write for every special needs parent or for every kind of situation.  Special needs can be physical, emotional, mental, developmental, academic, sensory, social, behavioral, functional, ambulatory, or medical.  (Note:  I am not a special needs professional, so I may be leaving something out.)   The term “special needs” can also apply to any kind of combination of various types of needs.  However, … it is not the needs alone that special needs parents want others to seeIt is the child.  Certainly, an awareness of special needs can be crucial, but recognizing the uniquely precious child within is even more so.  Each child is unique not only in their needs and challenges but in the blessing of their precious life.

Dealing with the desire to “fix” things
Part of being the parent of a special needs child is knowing (and dealing with the knowing) that you cannot give to them everything that you would like for them to have.  Sometimes there are issues of health, mobility, understanding, communication, ability, independence, a “normal life”, and even length of days.  As parents, we can’t change everything, and we can’t fix everything as our hearts long to do.  Some things are out of our control and are in God’s hands.  Even the things that seem to be within our control are in God’s hands, and that really is the best place for them to be.  So, we hope… and we never stop striving to make things the best that they can be for our children.  We trust, and keep walking with God, knowing that our lives, our hurts, our hopes, our loves, and our deepest longings are in His hands, too.  Most of all, we love.  We keep loving, knowing that love is the best gift and that love is something we have in abundance only because God first loved us when we were sick and weak and lost and blind and unable to fully live.  He is our hope and the source of love.  He made our precious children, and He will someday give to them a life that is more than we could imagine, eternally whole and fully aware of how unique and special and loved they are.  We will surrender our need to make everything alright and trust that God will make everything right someday in ways that we never could.  Our job is not to “fix” or to “make everything better” but to love.  We will accept that some things will be different for our child, but we will never give up trying to make things the best that they can be.

Key truth about acceptance and surrender:
Hoping and striving, trusting that there is a purpose for your child’s struggles, and relying on God’s promises can allow us to focus on what is truly important.  God’s love for you and your child and your love for each other will always be the most important and eternal aspects of life.  Although the journey through life with your special needs child involves a lot of unknowns and griefs, love will carry you through them.

Look at me!   I may not be able to fly as high as some, but I am trying to fly my best. I am special.  I am unique.  I am beautiful!

Look at me!
I may not be able to fly as high as some, but I am trying to fly my best.
I am special. I am unique. I am beautiful!

difficult road aheadTHE MYSTERY OF THE JOURNEY

It’s as though a parent of a special needs child has begun a journey with an uncertain destination, incomplete road maps, and a set of broken tools.  The compass has no needle, so direction is unsure.  The spyglass has a broken lens, so you can’t see what’s ahead.  The GPS keeps chanting “Recalculating, recalculating…” inside your mind as you deal with an unfamiliar landscape.  Your watch has stopped working, so there is no accurate timetable or way to measure progress made against whatever progress might be possible.  Your cell phone has a low battery, so it’s difficult to communicate with your family and friends.  They are still there for you, and they also love and know your child; but it’s hard for them to invest enough time to truly know and understand what you are experiencing along the way.   Your pain comes through in spite of the dropped calls, but sometimes they don’t know what to do or say.  The rest of your immediate family is travelling with you and your special needs child, and hopefully your spouse is with you in every way as you face the journey together.  If you are a single parent, hopefully you will be able to build a support system of loving friends and family who will come alongside to help your child (or children) when needed and also be a help and support to you.

family journey in the fall

GRIEVING, HOPING, LIVING

Your other children each have their own journey, with their own issues and needs along the way.  They need you to travel with them as well, so you are simultaneously experiencing very real life journeys that are vastly different, depending upon the needs and special needs of each of your children.  In addition to all of the common struggles of growing up, your other children also face unseen hurdles and even their own griefs as they love and try to protect their special needs sibling.  There are a lot of things about having a special needs sibling that can be very difficult, but you try to teach your other children along the way that love and thankfulness are the keys to enjoying life moment by moment with their special needs sibling, while also grieving for them at times.  So, as parents, you are not only dealing with your own feelings and griefs and questions and challenges (in relation to the challenges faced by your special needs child), but you are also dealing with helping your other children to understand, cope, grieve with hope, love without condition, and handle their own feelings regarding everything related to their special needs brother or sister.

For parents, it’s incredibly hard to balance the unknown aspects of the journey with your special needs child (and each of your family members’ own struggle with the family’s journey on that road) while also experiencing the milestones and life changes of growing up with your other children.  These milestones and life changes have been revealed to the very core of your heart as something that cannot be taken for granted.  On the one hand, they are incredibly sweet since you recognize what a miracle each of them is for the child as you witness the wonders of growth and change.  On the other, you grieve inside for the fact that these same milestones and life changes are not all going to happen or are not going to happen in the same way for your special needs child.  The balancing act becomes one of grieving while rejoicing, often without revealing your heart in the moment (so that the internal struggle does not diminish the joys of very real accomplishments and life changes for the child who is moving forward).
Key Truth about living hopefully even while living with grief:
When the waves of grief wash over you, you eventually learn to immediately focus your thoughts on all of the blessings of life with your special needs child and all of the victories, from the most minute to the biggest of the big, that have happened in the life of your special needs child and in your heart as you have loved and cared for him or her.  Thankfulness is the only antidote to grieving that I know.  It is the lifeline that will pull you out of the crashing waves of grief and into the presence of Christ.

Gratitude is ...

LOOKING FOR THE BLESSINGS

One of the many blessings that is a part of life with the incredible gift of your special needs child is the fact that there is a sharpened and very keen level of awareness of the need to be more fully aware in all of life.  If I am more aware of the pain and challenge and difficulty and loneliness in my life, I must also become more aware of the joys and blessings and victories and wonderful moments and graces within the tough moments.  Here are some examples of the ways that this awareness of the need to become more aware manifests itself in my life as a special needs parent.

>  In my moments of the most acute need, when I am dealing with some aspect of now or of tomorrow, I can become so aware of the fact that the challenge is mine to face that I could miss the sweetness of possessing this need.  Here is part of the fuller awareness that I need to find and to remember:

I have this need because of an infinitely incredible gift.

*  I have this need because of life and because of love.

*  I have this need because somehow God saw something within me that could be made beautiful with the help of a precious little soul who has become my teacher.

every journey begins with first step

>  In moments when hopelessness begins to creep into my heart, I can become so aware of feeling overwhelmed that I miss the lessons of holding on to hope.  I can even miss the truth that hope is at its most powerful when the answer or solution or resolution or realization of that hope seems the most remote.

I have this hope, and I hold on to this hope, because I will never give up seeking to make life better and more full and loving for my child.

*  I have this hope because I know that there are people who have never given up on me, and I have seen how powerful this force of hope can be in my own experience.

*  I have this hope because all things are possible through Christ.

*  I have this hope because when desperation has caused me to lose my hold on hope, I fall into the hands of my Father, who surrounds me with His love and with the knowledge that all hope is found in Him.

*  I have this hope because life has infinite value and because I have been blessed.

My help comes from the Lord

REJOICING IN THE VICTORIES

>  In moments when a victory happens, I sometimes become acutely aware that there is almost no one that can really grasp the significance of this victory because so few see the entirety of the struggle.  I can become so aware of the loneliness of incomplete knowledge that I miss all of the blessings that should be my focus.  Here are some reminders of the blessings within each victory.

This victory has happened because of the will and the spirit of a little trooper who keeps on trying and is often so blissfully unaware of the fact that this moment was long in coming that nothing dims his joy.

*  I can rejoice in this victory because it means that all of the investment of time and love and care and therapy and intervention (which was valuable in itself, even without and before tangible results) has produced a positive change that has made life better in some way for my much-loved child… which, in turn, gives hope and motivation to keep going!

*  I can rejoice in this victory because it is a reminder that even though I may feel alone sometimes and even though there is no one (other than Travis and I) who has seen all of the parts of the story of our Logan from the beginning until now, I meditate on the fact that we have not been alone.  We (my husband, my family, and I) have had each other, and we have had the presence of God with us every step of the way, even in the hardest moments that no one else has ever seen.  I can also recall and rejoice in the fact that there are so many wonderful people who have loved our Logan (and still do) and who have been a part of his journey and ours in very significant ways, helping both him and us to reach the vantage point from which we can look back and see all that has taken place.  The feeling of loneliness and of recognition that few can fully grasp a victory is replaced with thankfulness for family and friends and teachers and therapists and specialists and doctors and volunteers in support organizations and respite volunteers and Sunday School teachers and workers, and child care givers, and special family friends who have cared for Logan, and Choir and Missions and Vacation Bible School teachers and helpers at church, and people who volunteer to serve as a “shadow” for Logan and focus on his needs, and every kind stranger who has ever spoken a word of encouragement.

uphill road

PERSPECTIVE ON THE ROLLER COASTER

It’s really difficult to explain this crazy roller coaster of parenting a special needs child.  There are moments of sheer terror or panic and moments of thrills and laughter.  There are many times when my heart and my life feels so full of love, and there are also many times when the uncertainty, the questions, and the challenges threaten to attack my peace and steal my joy.  There’s so much more involved in the experience than could possibly be contained in this article.  While it can be exhausting to experience the intensity of so many emotional highs and lows involved in the blessing of parenting all of our children (and particularly our son who has special needs), there is also a strength that is born out the the knowledge that for every awareness of difficulty and acknowledgement of pain, there are blessings and joys that come to light with the re-focus.

THE KEY:  It is this secondary focus on the awareness of the flip side (to every difficulty) that reveals burdens shared and lifted, victories gained, spiritual lessons, simple joys, and love… always love. 

And many, many times, that side (the blessing side, which we see by faith and also because it is very real) is what we’ve learned to see first.  We choose to see the positives There are a lot of blessings!  There is a lot of joy!

 

  Loving our special needs child has made us better people because he has helped us to see all of the joys and blessings.

Loving our special needs child has made us better people because he has helped us to see all of the joys and blessings that could have been overlooked.

Logan's most recent school picture

Logan’s most recent school picture

Many things are the same for us and for other special needs parents as for any parent and child.  Highs and lows are experienced in every family.  Challenges and heartbreaks come.  Victories and heart-warming moments come, too.  There are moments of recognition and realization that are so significant and memorable that they become part of the story of every parent and child.  Moments of realization with other children might be about discovering an ability or talent that can be nurtured.  A moment of realization with Logan might be a flash of recognition that we have been praying the same prayer (that this would be the year, the month, the day when he would finally learn to chew and be able to eat real food) for six years now.  A moment of victory with another child might be all A’s on a report card.  With Logan, a recent moment of victory took place when Logan finally did something that most children do as a pre-schooler.  Last year, there was a day when Logan took a paper out of his backpack when he got home from school and showed it to me.  It was the first time he’d ever done that (at age 7 rather than at 2 or 3.  A couple of weeks ago, Logan again brought me a paper; but this time, he spoke to me about it. It was the first time he’s ever brought me a paper and told me about it…at age 8 (almost 9).  He brought me this paper (I scanned it so that you could see it here), and he said, “Look, Mama!  It’s Logan’s beautiful heart!”  I could not have said it better myself.

"Logan's Beautiful Heart"  It's purple construction paper with a heart-shaped cut-out.  A dyed coffee filter is glued to the back of the construction paper so that it shows through the heart shape.

“Logan’s Beautiful Heart”
It’s purple construction paper with a heart-shaped cut-out. A dyed coffee filter is glued to the back of the construction paper so that it shows through the heart shape.

We certainly cannot deny the fact that our Logan is a child who has special needs.  More importantly, though, Logan a little boy.  He loves to have fun and be silly.  He loves to run and play.  He may not be able to experience everything in the same way as his brothers, but he experiences everything with his whole heart.  When he’s happy, he is whole-heartedly happy.  He makes others happy, too!  Logan does have a beautiful heart.

A beautiful life may be different from the lives of others, but it is still beautiful.

A beautiful life may be different from the lives of others, but it is still beautiful.

I believe that every loving, special needs parent, like us, experiences

a process of learning to  SEE   beyond …..

the needs,

the challenges,

the diagnosis,

and the uncertainty of the future

to the most important thing…

the precious and wonderful gift of their child.

There will always be many questions about tomorrow.

*  There are questions about how much progress Logan is going to be able to make.

*  There are questions about how independent he is going to be able to become.

*  There are questions about who will care for him when my husband and I no longer can.

In addition to those concerns about the future, there are many needs right here and now.  With our five other boys and all of their needs, it is hard to find enough time to do all that we need to do for Logan.  He is getting special therapy for his eating issues twice a week, but he also needs a lot of one on one time (as do all of our boys).  He needs us to read to and with him, to do math flash cards with him, to play board games with him, and to teach him to do household tasks.  There is so much that can be done and so much that will need to be done in and for his future.  However, we can’t let ourselves get so caught up in all of the tasks and all of the unknowns that we miss just simply loving and relating to Logan right now.  We need to enjoy him, and there is much to enjoy.  From his affectionate nature to his quirky sense of humor, to his fun personality and all of the things that he is learning, Logan is an awesome little boy.  Developmental targets and statistics and academic goals and plans for the future are all very important, but Logan’s beautiful heart and soul are the most important.

faith makes things possibleSo, while we don’t want to sugarcoat a life that has major challenges and many heartaches that no one else sees, we choose to look for the blessings.

While it’s true that we are always aware of our own human emotion and human reactions to life’s challenges, we are on a journey toward having a sharpening of vision.  We are learning to see the flip side of tough realities.  Our spiritual eyesight is responding to the lessons of the heart and soul and learning to see blessings first.

When we look at our Logan, we do see infinite blessings.  We know that many, many others see the blessing of Logan, too, and that’s really what we want as parents.

We want to know that when you look at our child, you see a little heart and soul that is a blessing of uncalculable and infinite worth.

–This post was written by Cynthia Boyd

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NOTE:  Even though this post is fairly long, it still feels as though I have published it in an incomplete state.  There is so much more to write and so much more to learn and experience.  There is so much in my heart, and I haven’t been able to put it all into words yet.  I can see the value in sharing the words that are already here, even though there is more to come and much more to understand.  So, here are the thoughts that have made their way into this revelation of life.  I hope they bring understanding and help someone.  If this post touches your heart, please share it with others, using this link:  https://familysong.wordpress.com/2013/03/07/the-secret-life-of-a-special-needs-parent/

For more on the story of our personal journey, read this post:  https://familysong.wordpress.com/2013/01/19/one-brave-little-boy/

Or, read some of the other posts in our  “Special needs, Special blessings”  category at:  https://familysong.wordpress.com/category/special-needs-special-blessings/

 

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Obstacles road signNote:  I love this little sign.  The figure is not stopped by the obstacle, he jumps right over it.  Parents of special needs children, this is you!  You are an overcomer of obstacles, a stubborn warrior who will not give up, and a tidal wave of love that cannot be stopped.  Sometimes, this is my sign, too.  And, sometimes, I need a sign that is a little bit different.  Sometimes I need the sign that shows the little figure being lifted over the obstacle or carried through the storm by the strong hand of Father God, and sometimes I need the sign that shows the little figure and his family camped out in front of the obstacle, working and hoping and praying for victory.  If you pan back a little farther on my camp out sign, you will see that the ground on which our campsite stands is not really earth.  It is the hands of God, where He is holding us as we wait and work and believe that this obstacle will be conquered.  If you don’t have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, I can assure you that nothing else would help you more with all of the challenges of life, and nothing else will make you more aware of your blessings and give you more hope for eternity.  If you have questions about life and eternity and God and purpose, please go to our page called, “Do You Know Jesus” at this link:

http://www.familysong.wordpress.com/do-you-know-jesus/

There, you will find links to many web pages that have been designed specifically to answer any question that you might have.  Some of these pages even have the capability to be translated into multiple languages.  Let us know if you find the anwers you are seeking.  We are praying for you!

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Here’s a music video with some precious photos of special needs children and Moms and Dad. It will bless you!

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Note:  Here’s a link to an article for parents whose child has been diagnosed with ASD (Austism Spectrum Disorder).

http://thestir.cafemom.com/toddler/135651/10_steps_to_take_if?utm_medium=sm&utm_source=facebook&utm_content=autism_fanpage

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These are the days

These are the days of scattered sneakers, backpacks, hoodies, and homework. backpacks and hoodies

This is a time when super heros and cars that have names and faces inhabit our household.

This is a time when every moment is characterized and enriched by the tangible evidence of life and health and six active boys.

For example, our homework helper baskets include crayons, pencils, markers, scissors, rulers, glue sticks, and large erasers.

Dirty socks multiply under the furniture in the den.  Little toys and treasures and pieces of toys migrate everywhere.

Someone keeps un-screwing the knobs on cabinets, drawers and furniture.

Keeping the pantry full is a constant endeavor, thwarted by six hungry boys.

Laundry overflowingLaundry overflows the hampers like lava flowing down the sides of an active volcano.

Pocket treaures must be extricated before washing clothing.  (Actually, those tiny postage-stamp size DS games still work once they dry out.)

The boys’ bathroom upstairs is decorated with monkeys….even when there are no boys inside.

Said bathroom is generally not pristine.

Our garage houses no cars but does shelter 7 bicycles, an assortment of water guns, and outdoor play gear of every description.

Family vacations are not a vacation at all for Mom and Dad, but they are worth it!

Keeping some semblance of order and sanity is an ongoing challenge; but we wouldn’t have it any other way, because these are the days.

Yes, these are the days…

These are the days of sweet handmade gifts

*  little boy hugs

* *  sticky fingers

* * *  laughter and silliness

* * * *  report cards and learning

* * * * *  Bible stories at bedtime

* * * * * *  big boy hugs

* * * * * * *  fervent prayers

* * * * * * * *  lessons from life

* * * * * * * * *  learning to follow, learning to lead

* * * * * * * * * *  and boys in the process of becoming men.

Our six boys with Dad

Our six boys with Dad

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Thank you for spending your valuable time reading the contents of this page.  We hope that it has been helpful to you.   If you or someone that you know is looking for answers about life, we hope that you will visit our page called “Do You Know Jesus?”.   The links provided on this page will help to answer life’s deepest questions.   Here is the link to “Do You Know Jesus?”:  http://www.familysong.wordpress.com/do-you-know-jesus/

Please feel free to share this URL with anyone who is looking for answers about life and eternity.

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One Brave Little Boy

I took Logan to the Dentist last week.  It was a rather odd morning, but it was full of grace and the astounding bravery of one very special little boy.  Before I tell about Logan’s recent Dentist visit, I must tell some of his story.  It is only with an understanding of how far Logan has come that the full extent of his little boy effort and bravery can be appreciated.

every goo and perfect gift scripture

Taking Logan to the Dentist has always been an event that required great exertion, both physically and emotionally.  Logan has special needs.  He has Autism.  For a long time, language eluded him.  What was abundantly clear, even before he could verbalize his preferences, was that Logan had major issues with anything touching his face, especially around the mouth area, and that he would not bite or chew.

Logan had come to live with us at age 2, as a little lost soul.  He was a prisoner of his own lonely world, captive to the disconnect that we call Autism.   We went to work on connecting with Logan through love, through music, through therapy, through observing what he liked and reponded to and then using those things to reach out, through security and routine, and through prayer.  Many others have come alongside our family to love and help Logan.  Therapists and Teachers, Developmental Specialists, people at church, friends who cared, family, and other school and pre-school personnel have all had a part in Logan’s journey.  Oh, how he has been loved!

Little Logan in a happy moment

Little Logan in a happy moment during one of our heart to heart connection sessions

When Logan was two and three and four, we had a routine.  After feeding him, I spent time with him one on one.  He was still strapped into his little booster seat, and my chair was facing his chair.  We were face to face and heart to heart.  Logan had shown us that he loved music with his little sing-song babbles, so music became our tool.  I tried all of the action songs that I knew, moving Logan’s hands and arms for the motions.   I sang other little songs and made up motions to go with them.  Logan could not find the entrance to his little world with me right in front of him, singing to him and moving his arms.  He began to make eye contact and to engage.  Some of his favorites were “The Little Shoemaker”, “Deep and Wide,” “Eensy Weensy Spider,” “The Wonder Pets” theme song, and “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes.”  Logan liked the part where I would touch his the top of his head, his shoulders, his knees and his toes.  When I got to the part about the “Eyes, Ears, Mouth and Nose” it was a different story, though.  He still liked the music, but he did not want me to touch his face.   He would duck his little head down as far as he could into his chest.  He would turn his body sideways, squirming away from the unwelcome face contact.  He finally got to the point where he would tolerate the touching of his eyes (just below or above) and ears during the song, but the nose and mouth were still off limits.

Logan’s extreme oral sensitivity not only meant that anything close to his mouth was a no-touching zone.  It meant that chewing and biting were out of the question for several years (though he is now doing this some in feeding therapy, tolerating more texture in his food than ever before, and we are working on it).  It also meant that brushing Logan’s teeth was an aerobic exercise for Mom and Dad.  For a very long time, it took both of us and every ounce of our strength to brush his teeth.  I would sit on a low bench in the little guys’ bedroom (shared by Logan and his younger twin brothers), and I would have him standing in  front of me, with his back to me.  I would cross my legs over his to keep his legs still and cross my arms over his chest, grasping both of his arms, to keep them still.  Travis’ job was to attempt to hold his head still and brush his teeth.  It was like wrestling an octopus.  An arm or leg or both would wriggle free and flail wildly during the process.  Added to the physical challenge of keeping him still was the fact that his jaw was clamped tightly shut, his lips were pressed together, and his head was in constant motion.  We did the best we could, and one of us always held him for a while after brushing teeth until he calmed down and our heart rate got back to normal.  Whew!   The torture was over!

dentist chairBrushing Logan’s teeth used to be a tough challenge, but it was nothing compared to the challenge of taking him to the Dentist.   Travis and I used to plan to both be there and to make sure that our other children were either in school or pre-school or being cared for elsewhere.   We had to devote all of our energies to Logan and to trying to assist the dental staff to make sure that a cleaning could happen.  When Logan’s name was called, we would both go back with him.  One time, Travis sat on the chair with Logan in his lap, holding him to keep him from jumping down and running away.  I kept Logan’s legs still while Travis kept his body on the chair.  At other visits, we were on either side of Logan attempting to hold him down.  Usually, it took the two of us and three people from the Dentist’s office.  One staffer held Logan’s arms, while another kept his head in her grasp to try to not only keep it still but also to keep it turned in the direction necessary for the work that was being done.  The third staffer, the hygienist, tried to clean his teeth.  Logan would be screaming, hysterical, angry, upset, crying, and snotty.  But, mostly, he was a scared little boy totally out of his comfort zone, in a scary and unfamiliar place with people he didn’t know, and battling with both his Autism and the extreme oral sensitivity that caused the dental experience to be for him the equivalent of horrific torture.  I must stress that the staffers at our pediatric dentist were wonderful, patient, and kind in dealing with Logan, but this is still how it was for a long time.

Logan feeding himself in 2010

Logan feeding himself in 2010

Logan has had a lot of therapy over the years to address many developmental needs.  During speech and occupational therapy, the oral sensitivity issues were addressed to some degree, gradually overcoming some of his fear and increasing his tolerance for things touching his face and mouth.  It has been a slow process, but progress has been made.  This Fall, we have been able to begin working with a therapist who is helping Logan to overcome his fear and sensitivity issues related to eating.  We have already seen some progress, but this process is going to take a while.  Travis and I have been gradually increasing the texture in Logan’s food for several years.  It becomes clear very quickly when we need to back off and have pushed him too far.  At that point, he stops eating altogether.  We are careful to continue pushing him but not too far so that he can maintain a healthy diet and continue to grow.  At age 8, Logan is tolerating quite a bit of texture now, but he still does not bite or chew his food.  He just swallows.  He learned to drink from a straw about a month ago.  His oral sensitivity always prevented him from wanting a straw anywhere near his mouth, but years of therapy and the addition of the feeding therapy have finally allowed him to overcome this hurdle.  He took a couple of bites of a cracker a few weeks ago in therapy, but it freaked him out so much that his therapist has had to back off on trying to get him to bite for a while and focus on changing up some other things instead.  We are more than hopeful that Logan will be biting and chewing sometime during this year.  We are counting on it!  After all, we have seen progress in several areas.  Logan now lets us brush his teeth and does his best to cooperate.  It is still hard for him.  It’s hard for him to open his mouth wide enough for us to brush, hard to keep it open, really hard to tolerate the brush going past the teeth in front to the deeper parts of his mouth, and difficult for him to remember to keep his tongue out of the way.  However, he is not fighting it or screaming.  He is trying, and that effort is happening in spite of the fact that he still hates it.

At the Dentist’s office, there have been improvements in Logan’s tolerance as well.  The last couple of times Logan had an appointment, I’ve been able to take him by myself.  It has not been necessary for my husband to be there as well.  Instead of 3 staffers helping in order to get his teeth cleaned, we have been able to have only one other than the hygienist (to hold Logan’s head and turn it the right way).  I’ve still had to hold Logan’s hands and keep him on the chair, but he has not been as wild and crazy as he used to be.  One of the times when he had his teeth cleaned, he had a message for the hygienist after she was finished.  He pointed at her and said, “You bad!”  Other times, he would just be screaming by the end of the cleaning.  Once, the Dentist came to check his teeth after the cleaning was finished and gave him a talking to about the screaming.  That seemed to make an impression on him.  Having the dentist talk to Logan like a big boy + all of the therapy he’s had + the patience of the dental staffers during multiple visits over the last few years + Logan’s ability to communicate more effectively that he used to + a little more maturity and life experience + perhaps a gradual recognition on Logan’s part that a visit to the Dentist was survivable = a real breakthrough!

dentist appointment reminderSo, last Thursday morning, I took Logan to the dentist.  I signed him in and sat down in the waiting room.  A few minutes later, I was called to the appointment desk and asked what Logan was supposed to have done.  My husband had actually made this appoinment, so I said that I assumed it was for a cleaning.  The office staff told me they could not find an appointment for him on the schedule, so I said that perhaps it was because Logan’s permanent teeth had come in behind his baby teeth on the bottom and the Dentist may have wanted to re-evaluate the two rows of teeth.  Meanwhile, two ladies were searching and scanning all of the appointments on their computers and still not finding anything.  One of them said that they could go ahead and get the Dentist to look at Logan’s teeth again since we were there and that they would work him in.  I sat down in the waiting room, confused about the whole thing.  I knew that my husband would not have a non-existant appointment on his calendar, so the whole thing did not make sense.   I decided to try to make the most of the fact that I’d taken Logan out of school for this phantom appointment, so I went back to the desk and asked whether there was any way that Logan could be worked in to the schedule for a cleaning since we were there.  Again, two ladies scanned and checked their computers; and I was told that Logan would be able to get his teeth cleaned.  Victory!   Then, the office staff told me that Logan’s cleaning appointment was really supposed to be in February, with two of his brothers.  We usually try to schedule all 5 of our younger boys within a week (our oldest son goes to a different Dentist), so I asked about the other two boys and then found out that the office still did not have all 5 of our boys listed together as belonging to the same family.  Three of them were in one group, and our twins were in another.  This computer problem was fixed, and appointments for the twins were added to the February date.  About this time, Logan’s name was called, so I accompanied him back to the area where cleanings are done, still wondering why his appointment for that day was not showing up on the office computers.

A recent photo of Logan

A recent photo of Logan

From the beginning of that day, even though I had office mix-ups to handle, Logan was a little gentleman.  That morning, he was excited about going to the Dentist!  Wonder of wonders!  We used to avoid telling him.  Then, as soon as we pulled into the parking lot at the Dentist’s office, he would start saying, “No!  No!”; but on this morning, he went willingly and happily.  He played while while we were waiting and shared with a younger child who was there.  When his name was called, I didn’t have to carry him or drag him to the chair.  He walked back on his own, climbed up in the chair by himself, and did everything he was told to do (scoot up on the chair, wear sunglasses provided by the office to block the glare from the light, lean forward to have the cord for the ‘bib’ fastened around his neck, etc.).  The hygienist who worked with him and cleaned his teeth is so wonderful.  I would even go so far as to say that it is impossible that anyone could have done a better job with him than she did that morning.  She talked to him so sweetly, and he really responded well.  He was communicating with her, answering her questions (“Do you want some water?”, “Can you turn your head for me?”), and he was even telling her when he was not ready or was uncomfortable.  Having help from another staffer was not even necessary.  It was just the hygienist, Logan, and me.  I did hold Logan’s hands to keep him from reaching up to grab for a tool or the hygienist’s hands if something bothered him, but I did not have to hold him down on the chair for most of the cleaning.  He was actually relaxed and trusting.  It was like witnessing a miracle.  The oral sensitivity issues were not gone by any means, but he was choosing to conquer them by willing himself to be still and to cooperate.  He was such a brave little man!   When he was not quite ready for something, he would say, “No, thank you.”  in a very civil tone of voice.  He would reach his tolerance level for opening wide and saying “Ah”, and then he would have a suggestion for the hygienist.  “Say ‘eee'”, he would tell her.  (That’s what we have him say when we are trying to brush his front teeth.)   She would comply and work on the front teeth for a little while and then get him to open wide once more.  He was so incredibly good through the entire cleaning.  He even tolerated and allowed the flossing with no protest.  He did look panicky when the hygienist held up the long string of floss; but after she explained that she was using it to clean in between his teeth, Logan allowed the flossing even though it was clearly very uncomfortable for him.  Finally, the hygienist was ready for the polishing paste on the rotating rubber cup that serves as the tooth polisher.  That freaked Logan out.  The combination of an unfamiliar taste and too much stuff in his mouth was gagging him, and I did have to hold his torso down for a few minutes to keep him from trying to sit up or get out of the chair.  He was not screaming, but he was making some noises of discomfort (ugh, ahrg, ah).  The rinsing and the clearing by “Mr. Thirsty” (the vacuum tube, which Logan was able to use properly when I told him to ‘kiss’ it and got a proper pucker) did help some, and the whole procedure was finally finished.  Logan was quite ready to get down, but I did get him to say, “Thank you.”  This was the best he had ever done for a Dentist appointment!  However, our dental experience was not yet complete.

Just as Logan was getting out of the chair, another staffer from the Dentist’s office came to tell me that they had finally located Logan’s appointment and that what he had been supposed to have was an extraction.  I was totally shocked at this news.  At Logan’s last visit, the Dentist had decided to wait on extracting any of the teeth in Logan’s two bottom rows (where the permanent teeth were coming in behind the baby ones).  She was hopeful that the baby teeth would come out on their own and an extraction would not be needed.  However, she did say that she wanted to see him again and would extract teeth later if necessary.  I think that what happened was that a follow-up visit to re-evaluate the extra row of teeth was scheduled; and the Dentist later may have requested that her staff schedule extra time for an extraction on that day, just in case she decided to remove any teeth during the appointment.  We were never told that an extraction time had been set up.  Hence, the mix-up about not knowing what type of appointment to have the office staff locate on their schedule.  At this point, I was not sure that Logan was going to tolerate any more oral intrusion after what he’d just been through with the gagging and discomfort during the application of the polishing paste; but the Dentist was ready to re-evaluate his teeth and perhaps do an extraction.  However, first she wanted an X-ray.

X rayOff we went to an X-ray room.  Logan was kind of quiet, but he walked into the room and willingly climbed up into the chair.  He didn’t protest when the lead apron was placed over him.  Then, the X-ray technician was ready for him to place the camera into his mouth.  The camera housing was a pill-box sized brown plastic rectangle, about 3/4 inch thick, with a long cord dangling from it.  Without knowing Logan’s oral sensitivity issues or about the fact that he didn’t bite or chew and has a strong aversion to the cookies and crackers that people have always tried to get him to eat, the X-ray Technician said something that I just knew would have Logan running for the hills.  She said, “You just have to bite down on it like you are biting a cookie.”  The young woman had no idea that she was saying this to a little boy who never bit and chewed on toys or teethers, never chewed his food, and who was in special feeding therapy to overcome this very issue.  She had no way of knowing that only a month before, Logan had a 10 minute long meltdown at his therapy just because his therapist had brought a cracker into the room.  She wasn’t aware that Logan had successfully taken a tiny bite at two therapy sessions in a row, only to then become so freaked out about biting that his therapist had been forced to back off on trying to repeat it (still his current status).  I waited for Logan to cry or jump out of the chair, but he just sat there.  I didn’t say anything to the X-ray Tech at that point because it takes too long to explain and because I wanted to give Logan a chance to be my big, brave boy once more.  He did not disappoint.  Bless his little heart.  The Technician told him to open wide, and he did.  She told him to bite down on the plastic camera housing, and he did.  However, he was unable to hold the thing in his mouth long enough; and she missed her opportunity for an X-ray on the first try.  At that point, I said, “He has extreme oral sensitivity and normally doesn’t bite or chew.  We can try again, but it’s going to have to be quick.”  She got her cord in hand with the go button and repeated the insertion of the camera housing.  Once again, Logan was a trooper.  He opened wide and bit down.  She was quick and got the X-ray on attempt #2.  I didn’t even leave the room or have protective radiation blocking.  Sometimes a Mom just has to do what a Mom has to do.  If Logan was going to do this incredibly brave thing…twice!…I was going to be right there with him.  The X-ray Tech checked to make sure that the picture was a keeper, and then we were ushered off to another room to await the Dentist.

a bug's life picAgain, Logan walked willingly and got up into the chair willingly.  We didn’t have to wait long for the Dentist.  In the meantime, Logan was distracted for a few minutes by the wall-mounted television in the room, playing part of the “Bug’s Life” movie, which is one of his favorites.  However, when the Dentist came in to look at his teeth, Logan had reached his limit.  He would not cooperate with her at all as far as turning his head the way she needed and opening his mouth.  A staffer had to help, and I was on duty holding Logan’s arms again.   The Dentist turned to me and explained that she was going to extract two of his baby teeth, which would allow the permanent teeth to begin moving forward and then hopefully crowd out the remaining baby teeth.  However, because Logan had reached his limit and was not cooperative, she would not be doing the extraction on that day.  She was going to need to have him anesthetized, with both medication and laughing gas.  We would have to come back on another day, and he would have to be out of school for the whole day.  The extractions would be really quick, but the effects of the anesthesia would take up to 7 hours to wear off.  We will go back next week for this procedure.  Once again, both Dad and Mom will be there.  Hopefully, we can get this done without too much trauma.

I was really braveAs I drove Logan to school after his appointment, I reflected on the way that events had transpired and marvelled at the progress that Logan has made and at his extraordinary effort and bravery on that day.  I am thankful that the computer issues happened that morning.  We were able to get Logan’s cleaning out of the way, and he was able to have the most positive dental experience that he has ever had.  Hopefully, he will remember the good and not be able to remember the extraction.  If he had gone directly in to see the Dentist in the cooperative mood he exhiblited for so long on that day, the Dentist might have tried the extraction without anesthesia (with nitrous oxide and numbing injections only); and the procedure could have been very traumatic for him.  I was so glad that the appointment turned out as it did and that after the extraction, Logan will not have to go back to the Dentist for a while since his cleaning is already done.  Again, I marveled at Logan’s good humor and his bravery.  He tried so hard to be good and to be brave, to do what was asked of him, and to conquer his fears and discomfort for a very long time that morning.  I didn’t think I would have done as well under those circumstances.

I drove a happy little Logan to school.  He was ready to resume his routine, and the Aide from his Moderate Autism 3rd grade class greeted him with a joyful hug.  I explained that he’d just come from the Dentist and had not yet had his lunch.  Our appointment had stretched to almost two hours, and Logan had missed having lunch with his peers.  We send Logan’s lunch to school in his backpack since he has a special diet.  I was glad that I had included a cold pack in Logan’s big food baggie that morning since the appointment had been longer than expected.  The Aide assured me that he could eat in the classroom and that all would be well.  How thankful I am for people like her and for the wonderful Hygienist who was so good and patient.  How thankful I am for unexplainable circumstances and graces like phantom appointments and for the precious gift of a very brave little boy!

God is already there

Update:  Logan’s tooth extraction is over, and he is doing just fine!  My husband, Travis, and I were both there for the procedure, and it took both of us helping (with Travis holding Logan’s legs and me holding the arms) plus the Dentist and 2 assistants to get everything done.  One of the assistants was handing things to the Dentist, and the other one had to use a special tool to keep Logan’s mouth open.  Logan did have anesthesia and laughing gas.  He did very well keeping the mask on his face, but he did not like the numbing of his gums, the process of having sealants put on his back molars, or the extraction.  We did have to work together to hold him still and get it done, but hopefully the anesthesia will prevent him from remembering  it very well.  Logan couldn’t stand up after the procedure, so I was glad that Travis was there to carry him to the car and into the house.  One of the hardest things that day was not being able to let Logan eat breakfast, but he was pretty good about it.  He got his oatmeal with yogurt (his usual breakfast) after he’d been home for a while and was awake enough to eat.  He rested on the couch and watched TV for a couple of hours, and he was fully alert by the time his brothers got home from school.  After that, you wouldn’t have known anything took place.  He’s been a happy camper ever since.  🙂

Update on Logan’s feeding therapy, June, 2013:

Logan is making some really good progress in his feeding therapy. His therapist says it’s unusual because most of her feeding therapy patients have responded best to learning to bite with something crunchy. Not Logan, though. That terrifies him. So, she’s been using Twizzlers with him instead. He was biting the twizzlers that look like a thick straw with ridges first, and he would bite on the end …until it was practically mush but kind of panic if a little piece came off in his mouth. Now, she has him biting on the softer twizzlers that are like strands of the licorice (strawberry or cherry flavored), swirled into a rope-like piece. He has been biting off pieces (about a half inch long), and then he’ll take them out of his mouth and put them on a napkin. At the end of a session, he would have a napkin full of the bite-size pieces. Yesterday, he tried something new and did it throughout the session. He would take the small pieces and bite them in two again (progress toward consecutive biting/chewing). Another great thing is that he began experimenting on his own with doing the biting in different areas of his mouth. Also, his therapist says that the fear element is diminishing significantly. The best part is that he didn’t panic if a small piece came off. He’d just move it around in his mouth with his tongue and then swallow. His therapist has learned how much Logan loves balloons, and now he gets one every time he has a good session (makes progress, does what is asked). That has really worked as a motivator, and he’s gotten a balloon every time since she began using them.  🙂

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Fun for a New Year (or Any Time of Year)!

Celebrating special times with your family is a blessing!  You can celebrate a new year (or any other special time) in lots of fun ways.  Here are some of the fun things we have done with our family to celebrate a new year.  Many of these ideas would work for any time of year.  If your time is short, simplify and enjoy one or two ideas.  We certainly did not do all of this in any one year.  Some ideas work better for certain ages, so choose what works best for the interests and ages of your own children.  Celebrate the week-end, a snow day, the 4th of July, or any day!  Have fun, and make some memories!

children parade1.  Have your own New Year’s Parade!.  This can be as elaborate or as simple as you want it to be.  No matter what the weather is like, you can parade down your sidewalk, around your cul-de-sac, or through your house with your children.  They can dress up if they like (pick a theme, let them wear their super hero costumes (a favorite with our bunch), let them wear their favorite cool t-shirt or dress, or even color coordinate the whole bunch (for our family, we could all wear blue and be the Blue Boyds – pun intended).  Let them carry small American flags, hand made signs, batons with streamers, toy light sabers or whatever.  Play some music for them to march to.  If you have radio stations on your TV or computer, find some jazzy or majestic music for your march.  We actually march like this on the 4th of July to a recording of “The Stars and Stripes Forever”.  One great choice for any time of year is some of the jazzy piano music from the Peanuts (Charlie Brown) specials.  We have a CD of the Peanuts music played by the Marsalis brothers (jazzy!), and our boys love it!  If you have girls, they might want to march as a princess, with a crown or a beauty queen style ribbon proclaiming them “Little Miss 2013” or “Miss Teen 2013”.   The parade will only last for as long as it takes them to get tired of marching, but they will remember it forever.  Take some still photos of each participant and some video, too.  The preparation, ideas, and excitement leading up to your parade is half the fun!  If some of your marchers tire faster than others, encourage them to be the wildly applauding spectators.  One other idea is to make your own floats if you have nice weather and can do your parade outside.  Decorate bike wheels with crepe paper twined through the spokes, and decorate your wagon with posterboard taped to it, making it look like a conestoga wagon, a pirage ship, Lightning McQueen, a princess bed, or whatever.

Buzz Lightyear balloon Macys2.  Watch the Rose Parade together.   Our boys won’t sit and watch the whole thing, so Mom watches and calls them in to watch special things.  The highlight of this year’s parade for our boys was definitely the Disney “Cars Town” float.  They loved that!  We actually watched it twice (skipping back with the DVR and pausing to let them see it better).  During this year’s Thanksgiving Day parade, the highlight for our little Logan was the Buzz Lightyear balloon.  He’s crazy about Buzz; so after that part played, I skipped back and recorded just that part of the parade with the DVR.  He can now watch that over and over, skipping back to see it again and again (and he does).  If you can make parade watching fun by lining up your spectators on either side of the room, allowing them to wear a hat or scarf to pretend that they are there in person, munching some popcorn, or letting one person pretend to be part of a passing band or riding along on horseback with an equestrian group, go for it!  Don’t be disappointed if they don’t stick it out for the whole parade.  Some children will and some won’t.  Just have fun and go with the flow (or the floats).

kids goal chart3.  After a meal, stay around the table for a while and talk about everyone’s hopes and dreams for the new year.  Everyone will enjoy having their own time to share.  Sometimes those hopes can turn into goals to make dreams happen!   You can write some of these down if desired, and Mom and Dad might get some ideas for making some hopes and dreams come true.  Talk about how your family can serve also.  It’s great to share ideas for fun and achievement, but helping to serve others should be part of the discussion as well.  If you wish, you can write each hope and dream on a yellow construction paper star and hang them from your child’s ceiling with a bit of curling ribbon and a push pin.   Have a monthly meeting to talk about how everyone is doing on meeting their goals.  Help them set up a savings account, make a progress poster, or whatever it takes to track and inspire their journey through the year.

popcorn4.  Popcorn picnic!  On New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day, spread out an old sheet and use an air popper with no lid to let the popcorn fly.  The kiddos will love watching it pop.  They need to wait a little bit to pick up and eat the popcorn so that it can cool off, but then let them dig in and eat it right off the sheet.  If you don’t have an air popper, you might be able to borrow one.  If you don’t have a popcorn popper, make popcorn balls or rice kripy treats together instead.  Or, eat microwave popcorn while you watch a favorite movie together.  We watched “Monsters Incorporated” together on New Year’s Eve, with some special snacks.  Everybody enjoyed the whole movie and laughed together over the “out-takes” at the end.

5.  Start a new tradition with a special meal or treat.  Make individual pizzas on english muffins and let everyone get into the act of making their own.
english muffin pizzas
Makea special soup or stew and talk about how all of the ingredients are different but go together to make something wonderful.  Compare that to your family.  Make burger or ham or turkey sliders with all of the fixings.  The small hamburger buns are now fairly easy to find, but biscuits will work in a pinch.  Whatever will be a special treat for your bunch and be fun to make or top off together will be a great year after year tradition.

strawberry pancake6.  Have a special breakfast on New Year’s day.  This could be as simple as buying that sugary cereal that your kids love (but you don’t really want them to eat) just once a year.  You could also have pancakes with various syrups, some whipped cream, and several kinds of fruit for topping.  Or, you could throw some chocolate chips into the batter.   Use a drop of food coloring here and there to make green eggs and ham.  Have lots of fresh fruit with yogurt and granola.  Whatever your family would like, make it special.

kids bowling7.  Go somewhere.  If you’ve been cooped up due to bad weather or multiple holiday celebrations, get out of the house a bit (if the roads are clear).  Take them bowling, to a movie, to get a slushie, to the local arcade, or to Toys R Us to spend a little of their Christmas money.   Stores dedicated to toys are NOT busy right after Christmas, as we found out a few days ago.  One of our boys has a December birthday between Christmas and New Years, so he always has some birthday money.  Our twins have a late November birthday, so they sometimes have not spent their birthday money yet, either.  Our older boys sometimes get a gift card or money at Christmas; so they often are ready to shop, too.  We encourage giving, savings and spending some on items like needed clothing to fill out their winter wardrobe, but we allow them to spend a little on something fun.

family playing game8.  Play board games (or video games) together.   Since our boys are basically in 2 groups (3 older, 3 younger), Mom can play a game with one group while Dad plays a game with the others.  Then, switch places and play another game.  Try to find a game you can all do together or play charades to end your game time.

kids puppet show9.  Let younger children plan and present a show or puppet show.  A card table turned on its side can work for a puppet theater.  Throw an afghan or sheet across the upper table legs and hold it in place with clothes pins to make the side walls of your theatre.  If you don’t have puppets, dolls or stuffed animals or super hero figures will do.  If anyone plays an instrument and wants to make that part of the show, that’s fine.  They need  to play only one song per child, though.  Our boys’ idea of a show might be to stage some action scenes in their super hero costumes.  Some kids really get into putting on a show.  If yours don’t, this is not a good option for your family.

sparkler10.  For New Year’s Eve, let them count down the New Year early (say, at 9:00 or 10:00), and do some of the family fun activities already mentioned.  We had sparkling cranberry juice at our celebration last night.  Get a helium balloon for each child.  Some children will keep their balloons and have them in their room for days.  Our boys will play with them, and most of the balloons would wind up on the ceiling of our two-story family room.  That’s okay…they’re a good reminder of family fun!  Save a few sparkers to do on your driveway after your countdown, or get some party poppers, horns, and whatever.  Have fun!  They can help you clean up the mess after breakfast on New Year’s Day.

11.  If New Year’s Day is sunny, let your children write and draw “Happy New Year” messages with sidewalk chalk.  Your neighbors might get a smile from their cheery artwork.

snowman cookies12.  If you didn’t have time to bake and decorate cookies before Christmas, do that on New Years Day.  Invite some friends who have children, and let all of the children have fun with decorating.  Use star cookie cutters and whatever else you want, or just keep them all round.  Keep it simple with white icing and colored sprinkles.  Have fun, get messy, and spend some time with God’s most precious gifts, your children.  🙂

Note:  Be sure to have a special prayer time before bed, thanking God for the departing year and for the new one, praying for God’s blessings in the new year and for each family member to learn and grow in their faith.

Happy New Year! 

Happy New year 2 u

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A Little Boydie told me…

Just a reg’lar Mom in a house full of boys

praise4ever

praise4ever

I'm a busy wife and mother of 7, with 6 incredible boys still at home and a beautiful married daughter. Our boys range in age from our 10 year old twins to our 22 year old. We have 2 in Elementary School, 2 in Middle School, one in High School, and one High School grad. They are all incredible and special. One of our boys has special needs. I'm a musician, singer, writer, composer, blogger, and teacher. I'm thankful for our home and family, for Travis, my amazing husband of 39 years, and for family and friends near and far. Most of all, I'm thankful for God's grace and mercy and that He has given the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.

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Giving a Song to say “Thank You”

Travis L. Boyd / WorshipSounds Music

Travis L. Boyd / WorshipSounds Music

As a follower of Jesus Christ, a husband and a father of 7, and a Minister of Music and Worship, I am very blessed. For a total of 32 years, I have served as a Minister of Worship for some wonderful congregations in the states of Oklahoma, Texas, and Georgia. It is a joy to lead God's people in worshipping Him through music, and I am very blessed to serve at First Baptist Church of Duluth, Georgia. I'm also a composer, lyricist, arranger, and orchestrator, with choral anthems, songs, and orchestrations published by Shawnee Press (now with Hal Leonard), Lorenz, Choristers Guild, and Lifeway. My web-based music publishing site, WorshipSounds Music (formerly Boydbrain Music), offers Choral Anthems, Orchestrations, Congregational Praise, and Vocal Solo music. Our worship blog has become an extension of worship ministry, and it is a privelege to share information and inspiration with other worshippers. My desire is to glorify God through my life, ministry, and composition work. I believe that music is a wonderful way to communicate the truths of God's love and mercy and to glorify Him. My wife, Cindy, and I have been married for 36 years. We have 7 children. Daughter Meredith lives in Texas. Sons Jared, Zachary, Braden, Logan, Austin, and Camden range in age from 7 to 19 and are still living at home.

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