Thursday, September 17, 2015

Tell Me It Ain't So!

Over the summer my 2 older kiddos turned 15 and 14! Holy freakin moly! Can this be true? (and my baby will be 10 next month!) I am having trouble facing the reality that Josiah will be graduating high school in a few short years and moving on to the next phase of his life. I feel like I am not even close to accomplishing everything that I want to accomplish as his parent. There are so many areas in which I feel I have failed him (and his brothers) as a mom. Its scary to think of one day soon "letting go" while realizing I haven't prepared him for life. Wow! This is a horrible feeling! Please, clock, slow down a bit.  I need more time. Am I the only one who feels this way?

I have always taken pride in being a strong woman, but the thought of seeing my boys transition into adulthood freaks me out. Yes, on one hand, I will be excited for them and will enjoy watching them become all that God wants them to be, but on the other hand its gonna rip my heart out. Am I gonna be one of those mothers who urges her child to go to college close by, no matter what other opportunities may arise? I never thought I would be, but the closer the time comes, the more I think I will do just that. I don't want to react out of fear; fear of failure as a parent,  fear of being alone, fear of  "losing" my kids, fear for their safety, etc. Bear with me while I talk myself through this one...

I will start trying to process these feelings by realizing that there is no "perfect" mom out there and comparing myself to moms who pretend they are perfect is not wise. Secondly, I will try to realize that even though my boys are getting older, I can still speak into their lives and teach them how to become responsible adults. I also want to use every moment I can to enjoy them.  I can do all these things. Yes, I can! Anything anyone can add? I would love to hear your thoughts, responses, advise.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

A Learning Process

One week down, 1 1/2 to go. Any parent of an autistic child will understand the significance of counting the days until any school vacation comes to an end and monitoring the sanity of both parent and child.  Since becoming a full time working mom, as opposed to a part time working mom, I have been slowly adjusting to the juggling act. I know thousands upon thousands of moms balance it all everyday, but it certainly takes a lot of patience, organization, strength, and HELP.

Help is not something that I want to admit that I need. I don't like asking for it because I feel as though it shows weakness. Weakness shows imperfection, and imperfection makes me feel like a failure. I am fully aware of my many, many imperfections so I often  feel defeated.  I have a few theories as to why I feel this way, but there is only one way to change it - accept God's unconditional love. He created me, imperfections and all. My flaws do not define who I am. They provide me with ways to grow and places to go. The older I get, the more I have come to realize that my self worth should not come from  how well I perform, or how capable I am, or by meeting the expectations of others.  I am human. I WILL  perform poorly. There are times that I WILL NOT be capable. I WILL fail others. But I will always be Jennifer, created and loved by God. He doesn't have unrealistic expectations, so why should I?

I want to be everything that God created me to be. It certainly isn't always comfortable, striving and learning to fulfill his purpose for my life. Acknowledging my faults and failures is painful, but imagining how my life can be transformed and focusing on the learning process, rather than the imperfections alone, gives me hope. I tell my children that there is nothing they can do that will cause me to love them any less. God's love for us is even greater!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

...Because I Want Them to Know

This is going to be one of those boasting posts about how wonderful my kids are. So, if that is not the kind of thing that floats your boat,  you can stop by another time. :) I am so proud of them, not because i think they are perfect, not because of what they have accomplished, but because of who they are. They each engage in certain behaviors that drive me crazy, they can be disrespectful, irresponsible,  they fight with each other like cats and dogs, but imperfections exist in us all and can be used to bring about growth. Well,  you're probably  thinking, "this doesn't sound much like boasting." Well,  that's about to change...

Jacob is my oldest,  just recently turning 15 years old. He is my over comer! There are so many numerous qualities that precious soul exhibits but right now I want to focus on his determination. Being born with a cleft palate, having seizures, and being diagnosed with autism couldn't change who God wanted him to be and it certainly didn't slow him down. Everyday of his life, challenges exist. Everyday of his life, he struggles to communicate. Everyday of his life, his basic needs are met by others. But his enthusiasm, his strength, and his lack of intimidation have caused him to exceed my expectations in so many ways. When that kid sets his mind on something, watch out! He encourages me to do the same!

Josiah, my middle child, who actually fulfills the role of the oldest in many ways, will be 14 in a couple of weeks. I could go on and on about his talents and accomplishments for there are so many, but I want to focus on his confidence. He never gets nervous, he will try just about anything, and he dreams big. I really admire him for being himself and not worrying too much about what others think. He takes pride in his individuality and wants to use the gifts God has given him. He encourages me to do the same!

Now, my baby...Micah, age 9.  My little ray of sunshine doesn't have a lazy bone in his body. I can rarely get him to sit still with me to watch a tv show or movie. He would rather be outside playing football, basketball, baseball,  playing a game with his family, or interacting with his  friends. He wants to help out in anyway he can and is extraordinarily capable at such a young age. He will most certainly succeed in life because he "does" and he "goes" and he works hard.  He encourages me to do the same!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

"Making it"

I was playing basketball in the driveway with Micah this afternoon, pretending as though I was 20 years old again. Its fun to see my son interested in something that was such a huge part of my life. Its even  more fun to hear him say, as we were playing "knockout", "Mom, will you quit making it?!"  Forty one years old, 50 lbs overweight, out of shape, and I can still shoot the ball. It amazes me how some things stick with us, even as we grow older. My body has certainly changed, my brain doesn't work as quickly as it used to,  I'm slow and tired, but there are things that God birthed in me that are just part of who I am. I am guilty of not recognizing that I am who I am for a reason. I get so consumed with the areas I don't measure up, where I fall short, areas that overwhelm me with insecurity. I fail to listen to that voice that whispers, "you are fearfully and wonderfully made." Those wonderful things that God created in us should not be buried just because we may not be at the top of our game.

I am determined to begin engaging in activities that I am either good at or that I enjoy. I want to face my fears and trust that if God has given me a certain gift, it must be for a reason and He will support me in my attempts to use those gifts.

Again, folks, I am not there yet. I am giving myself a pep talk through this post. I know what I believe about God and His Word, but taking it to heart and living it is a whole different ballgame. No, Micah, I will not quit making it. :)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Prayer Changes Things

I wish I had some miraculous story to tell you about a great miracle I have experienced recently after seeking God though prayer.  I wish I could tell you that God has made it clear to me that the personal struggles I am facing right now will miraculously disappear after crying out to Him. I wish I could declare at this very moment that all of my faults and failures will turn into blessings and successes in an instance after asking Him for grace. Its doesn't usually happen like that.  What I can tell you is that God tells us to do it, "to pray without ceasing...for this is the will  of God" and that "the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."  I am certainly no theologian, but I know that if God commands it, there is no doubt a purpose in it.

So, how can prayer change things? I have struggled with this question for some time, trying to rationalize how a sovereign God should in any way respond to my words. After all..."His ways are higher than mine ways, His thoughts higher than mine." I don't have an answer, but I do know that there has to be an explanation as to why prayer strengthens me. Knowing that others are praying for me uplifts me. Putting my trust in Him gives me hope. Prayer makes a difference. It changes my mood, my outlook, and turns my irrationality and despair into peace and hope. I can certainly slip back into hopelessness, but here come the prayers of the saints! Prayer changes things!

Prayer can also change our hearts. Being thankful to God for life, family, health, etc. simply gives me a grateful heart. Acknowledging God's unconditional love and knowing he wants me to become everything He created me to be opens my heart to receive His love and devotion. Repenting of my sins and failures cleans up my heart and allows me to receive the correction and transformation that i need. And, worshiping Him through prayer brings me closer to His "heart." Prayer changes things!

I wanted to therapeutically write this post to remind myself of what I know and believe and trust in. I need a reminder of this every minute of everyday. Maybe you do too!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Analyzing Friendship

What kind of friendships do you desire?  There are those who cherish few close friends, those who can be trusted with your secrets, those who unconditionally support you through everything, and those who can be counted on to be there for you at the drop of a hat.  Others may feel more comfortable surrounding themselves with countless "buddies" who can be called upon for fun, for conversation, or simple companionship. Then there are the "loners," who consider a quite night at home alone, doing whatever he or she pleases without the distraction of human contact, to be the ideal lifestyle. Can the people in each of these categories live fulfilling lives, can they be completely satisfied with his or her relationships, should each strive to develop relationships described in a different category? Just wanted to get your opinions on this topic. To be continued...

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Watch What You Ask For

The other day I scrolled down to my September 7, 2011 post "Desires of My Heart."  I had created somewhat of a wish list, a list of things that I both wanted and needed in my life to bring contentment and satisfaction.  Ironically, my recollection of this post occurred on a day that I was feeling as though I was being "picked on " by God.  I know, I know. God doesn't pick on me,  but that's the way I was feeling. Imagine the drastic turn my pity party took when I realized that many of the things on my wish list were being fulfilled. I will take them one by one and share what has transpired since that November day in 2011.

1. We don't have a nice house with a big fenced in yard yet, but that will come. well, actually I do (minus the fence), but we don't live in it.  Our house is in Arkansas and we are in California. Oh, well. So much for that one. :)

2. 2nd to the Boston, MA area, I believe we are in the best place for Jacob in regards to his education and the services provided for autistic individuals and their families.

3. I am pleased with Josiah and Micah's school.  We are in the process of finding a new school for Jacob but have confidence that a great one will be found.

4. Alex has a great job where he is using his calling, his abilities, his education, and his experience.  You can't get any better than that.

5. We have the most wonderful church, who not only supports us, but who treats Jacob as one of their own.  We are so thankful that this "wish" came true.  After being un-churched for about 3 months, this answer to prayer was probably the most life changing.

6. As long as we are in Southern, CA, we will not experience 4 distinct seasons.  You gotta pick your battles. :)

7. ...and as long as I am paying over $4.00/gallon for gas and I am living in Riverside, California, I will not experience a decent cost of living.

8. For over a year and a half  I have been employed part time and have been able to be home everyday when Jacob gets home from school at 2:00.  I didn't believe this was possible, but yet another desire fulfilled!

9. When I make a list of the qualities I desire a friend of my boys to possess, I paint a picture of a wonderful friend God has provided for Josiah.  As his mom, I can't put a price on this answer to prayer. This is HUGE!

10.  Towards the end of last year, Alex and I began directing the children's choir at our church. We have both had such a great time working with these kiddos!

11. I don't have a new van...but something better!  In March Alex bought me a Jeep Patriot that I absolutely love!!  The stress of not having a dependable vehicle is over.  This, too, is HUGE!

I am thankful for God's provision.  I am grateful for the things I have.  I love my family. I have 3 beautiful healthy boys. I don't ever want to take anyone or anything for granted.  Things could always be worse. Someone out there has less than I do. I need to remind myself of these things everyday.