So close to my heart…

20131020090403-1_Helping_Military_Families

I have been sitting on this post for almost a month now.

I am not sure why.

Maybe, it’s because I don’t know how to accurately and fully communicate my thoughts.

When something is so close to your heart….sharing it can make you feel so vulnerable.

I suppose my fears of failure and inadequacy need to take a backseat.

This is why…

There are so many military families with special needs children that need help. That need just a little extra support. Just that one thing that could set up their whole family for success…to have hope to experience a “normal” life…something that can transform merely surviving into THRIVING!

What could do this?

In our personal experience, it can come from the STAR Center located just south of Denver, CO. The treatment received there is like nothing else in the country. They have a team of support for not just the child, but for the whole family….from siblings to grandparents. Their team includes OT therapists, Speech therapists, Pediatrician, Eating Specialists, Psychologists, Family and Marriage Counselors and on and on.

We were fortunate enough to take our son there for the first time in the fall of 2010. This was a huge blessing for our family. We were moved from Scott AFB to USAFA in Colorado Springs in June. My husband left about a week after we moved into our house for a year long remote tour(12 month assignment without family) in Osan, South Korea.

So, you can imagine the stress and anxiety that a 4 year old with Sensory Processing Disorder and Autism would experience when his whole world changed and his rock, his dad, was across the world from him.

Our time at the STAR Center fundamentally changed our family, for the better. To make a list and go into detail about our experiences would take many more posts….and, perhaps, I will do just that in the near future, but, for now, let me just simply describe it this way…

For so long, I walked through every day feeling like a failure. I did not understand why my son was walking on his toes, hitting his head on the walls and floors while he was screaming in pain, would meltdown transitioning from one activity to another, lined up his toys obsessively, talked late and not well, wouldn’t let me hold his hand, and I could go on and on…basically, I felt like I was failing my son.

Our time at STAR is where we learned what our son needs…when he needs it, how he needs it, and WHY he needs it. This is where I learned more about how our son experiences the world around him.

The STAR Center and the times we have spent there not only nurtured the relationship with my son, but taught me so much about myself.

It set us up for success after we completed our treatment sessions. I am not saying that it is a “cure,” but maybe something even better. My son is still ‘him’ but with self-help skills and even more strategies to adapt to the world around him while maintaining his own unique self.

So, now…here we are….

What do you want to do when something has helped your family? We want to share it….

Eric and I are now helping the STAR Center and the SPD Foundation help military families with special needs kids.

We are trying to fund scholarships so that a military family…no matter WHERE they are stationed, can come and receive treatment.

Here is all the information….

The videos are quite short…only about 60-90 seconds long….

Now, here is where I’m going out even further on the limb….( I feel it shaking, or is that me?)…

I need two things:

1) Would you please consider giving $10 or even more if you are able? Every dollar we receive goes directly to the military scholarships….                          If you’d like…you can push the buttons on the right side of the screen(on the indiegogo site) and you will receive autographed copies of some of the best resource books and recognition from the SPD Foundation….Or it can all remain anonymous…

2) Would you please share this with your friends and family? We only have TWO weeks left. It sounds like a lot of time, but, it really isn’t.

Ok, thank you. Thank you for reading this. Thank you for sharing this. Thank you for taking the time and investing and helping us give back.

Much love.

 

   
Leave a comment | Posted in Hope, Military, SPD, STAR Center

The next morning…

Last night was a doozy. Well, ALL of yesterday was a doozy. My son’s school was out yesterday and is out today for parent/teacher conferences as well as all of next week for fall break. So, yes, he has from the 10th-21st off from school. Away from his routine, his friends, his “security”….

We have always known that he needs routine and needs to know the plan for the following day BEFORE he falls asleep. Anxiety? yes! But, it has not inhibited our lives for a long time. His ability to adapt and be flexible with changes has grown exponentially. With each year he matures and is able to develop even more self-help and coping skills. He can write his own schedule out, he creates his own check lists, and he uses “self-talk” to calm himself down. (ok, sometimes it’s self-screaming in his room!)

I think with all these steps forward, it was even that more jolting with his 3 major meltdowns within 24 hours. It was a bit traumatic and created a heavy dose of anxiety for myself. It pushed me back 4 years ago when this happened all.the.time. and thoughts of parenting failure never left the front of my mind.

Who knows what triggered it. The crazy front that blew in yesterday? Hurricane force  wind gusts blowing allergens around? No school? Something he ate? Is he getting sick? Have we really not moved forward as much as we thought? About to go through a growth spurt?

All these questions were swirling around last night after he finally was able to fall asleep. I even vented on Facebook!(gasp!) I try never to do that, but, well, I’m  thankful I did this time. I had more responses from that one genuine, heart-felt cry than anything before.

The responses reminded me how supported we are. They reminded me how so many are walking though the same thing. They made me laugh. They made me cry. They were simply encouraging.

So, now, the next morning….how are we?photo 1

 

Well, that was my view when I looked out my window. Freshly fallen snow on Pike’s Peak. The most so far this season. The sun was rising and the sky was a blend of pink, purple, and orange. Beautiful.

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will hope in Him.” Lamentations 2:21-24

These verses I know by heart….brought to mind first thing this morning.

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Josh slept til 7:45! That is a whole hour later than normal.

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Posted by Scotty Smith last night…

“We should ask God to increase our hope when it is small, awaken it when it is dormant, confirm it when it is wavering, strengthen it when it is weak, and raise it up when it is overthrown.” John Calvin

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We are better. A friend said this last night,

“Life is hard. We all juggle something. Otherwise why would we need The Lord. Right? And then He gets to show Himself off and we get to testify…”

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I am thankful for being brought back to my knees.

I will be thankful for:

  • this reminder of where/how we used to live every day
  • the encouragement from family and friends
  • knowing that I am not alone
  • how strong, smart, resilient, and amazing my son is
  • the reminder of why I started Hope in focus
  • God’s faithfulness, love, and peace

Jesus saying, …”I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27

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May you know the same peace in your heart and mind. Thank you for the support. I only pray that I can support, encourage, and listen back for you….

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(If you have not already “liked” Hope in focus on facebook, go ahead and do that. Then, you will be able to see the conversations that go on over there too. )

   
Leave a comment | Posted in Hope, Uncategorized

Do you have a dog???

Well, we do not currently have any pets…although, if you ask my kids, they may tell you otherwise because some of their stuffed animals go with us EVERYWHERE and feel like they are part of the family.

I grew up with dogs, fish, hamsters, and at times there was a horse named, Pal, that I’d go visit. I remember baby chicks in the garage of my grandparents’ house and I remember seeing a lot of cows and hens out at the ranch. I love animals. I always have and what little girl doesn’t dream of becoming a veterinarian at some point??

During the last two years we have talked a lot about adding a dog to our family. I would have two years ago, but I knew it wasn’t the right time….I mean, my husband had just returned home from serving a 12 month remote tour in Osan, South Korea. We needed to figure “us” out again before throwing anything else in the mix.

Also, my kids…they tend to have a fear of dogs. The two big reasons, I think, they are like this is because 1) My son can’t “control” a dog. It is something he doesn’t quite “understand.” 2) My daughter reacts to things the same way her brother does because she thinks he is the coolest person EVER….and, well, there was this one time that she was clobbered by a neighbor’s dog on our driveway after he got loose.

So, forgetting all of those things and having a deployment date come and go without receiving any orders which means, hopefully, he’ll be around for awhile…we are seizing the opportunity!

The two breeds we are deciding between are Miniature Australian Shepherd and a Goldendoodle. Thoughts? Opinions? We are open to them all, but I’ll tell you we are leaning towards the Aussie! Something a little smaller that we can take with us easier and may not overwhelm the kids as much.

But, the real reason I’m talking about dogs is because of this video…I read this story a couple of weeks ago. It is remarkable and fills me with such joy that I want to go adopt every dog I see…

With all of my son’s struggles and seeing life differently than most, I’ve always known a dog would bless him mightily!

So, grab a kleenex, watch, and smile!!

***ok, so you can’t watch this video on your iphone, or ipad, you can on your computer. So, here’s another link to the story and the video I posted is at the very bottom of this link!**** http://todayhealth.today.com/_news/2013/04/28/17708432-xena-the-warrior-puppy-rescued-from-abuse-helps-8-year-old-boy-with-autism?d=1

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1 Comment | Posted in Hope, SPD

When I don’t understand, 

I will choose You.

When I don’t understand, 

I will choose You, God.

When I don’t understand, 

I get to choose to love You, God.

It’s that week again. Every year, for the past 14 years, yes, 14 years… the month of April comes…I know. It’s not a surprise. It IS part of the calendar. I think what surprises me is the consistent “bad things” that happen. I mean, at this point, I shouldn’t be surprised. I have begun to be more prayerfully aware and mindful of what is going on around me during this month(and well, all the time).  In fact, Saturday night as Eric was falling asleep and I was wrapped up in prayer..I told him, ” I feel like something bad is going to happen. Things don’t feel right. Something is going to happen.” Monday morning…I texted him after reports of the bombings at the Boston Marathon. It had happened again. Here is a list that I know of off the top of my head for this past week:

  • Columbine Shootings
  • VT Shootings
  • Bay of Pigs
  • Lincoln Assassination
  • BP Oil Spill and explosion
  • OKC Bombing
  • Boston Marathon Bombing
  • West, Tx explosion
  • Titanic Sinking
  • Hitler’s Birthday
  • 4/20…that’s a big deal here in CO! ; )
  • Autism “Awareness” Month

My point with all this is every year I feel it is my duty to stop and reflect…to take account of…to check in with myself…I do this out of honor for the victims from Columbine High School.

Not because I owe them anything. Not because I knew them personally.

I was a senior in high school that day. My life, as I saw it at the time, was going anywhere than how I thought it was suppose to go. I was walking through my own personal hell that week in 1999 and especially that day, April 20th. I can remember sitting on our living room couch that afternoon and evening watching the news…I remember the video and pictures looking down from the helicopters…I remember thinking…THEY have lived through an actual hell on earth. 

Nothing is hidden from Your sight.

Wherever I go You find me.

You know every detail of my life.

You are God

and You don’t miss a thing. 

The days after Columbine, we began to learn more about the shooters and their lives. The phrase that was tossed about after interviews from people who knew them was, “boys will be boys.” They didn’t see or think that any thing so horrific could happen. That phrase pierced my heart because, what I was in the middle of that week…the same, exact phrase was used by a parent….”boys will be boys”. What does that even mean, really? Or, I guess the question should be…what SHOULD it mean?

Anyways, what took me awhile to learn is that I ended up identifying with the victims.

I am in no way comparing.

I am saying that I felt, and still do feel, connected, in a spiritual sense, to them. What was happening inside my heart was being played out in real life, in front of me on the tv.

On that day my heart felt shot. My heart was in shock. My heart was battling a war. At the time it appeared more in the physical sense with people around me, but, I knew it was something bigger.

I knew it wasn’t really about me.

I knew what I was watching on tv was symbolizing something not of this world.

It was beyond me and at the time it was left at that for me.

A fundamental shift happened in my heart that week. A battle that had been raging long, long before me was becoming more and more played out in the world around us.

You make beautiful things. 

You make beautiful things out of the dust.

You make beautiful things. 

You make beautiful things out of us.

You make me new…

You are making me new…

 I think of the victims… I ask these questions: What about their lives? The families they would have? How are their parents? How are their siblings?

How are the parents of Dylan and Eric? What do they do today?

 I ask myself questions.

Am I doing enough?

Am I showing the love of Jesus to those around me?

Am I raising my own kids in a way that they know without a doubt they are loved? And in a way that they know mom and dad aren’t perfect, but Jesus’ love is?

Spirit of the living God,

Come, Fall afresh on me,

Come and fill this place, 

Let Your glory invade

Come wake me from my sleep. 

Blow through the caverns of my soul

pour in me to overflow.

And then I settle….and I rest….and I thank God. I hand my life back over to Him, again….

and in return? He fills me with love. He fills me with peace. He fills me with joy.

He reminds me how the story ends. I know how the story ends.

I see heaven. 

I see heaven invading this place. 

I see glory falling in this place. 

I see hope restored…

Satan is defeated.

This one thing remains, 

Your Love never fails

It never gives up

It never runs out on me.

In death 

In Life

I’m comforted and covered

by the power of

Your Great Love.

My debt is paid

and there is 

nothing

that can separate my heart

 from Your Great Love.

I pray. I pray an intercessory prayer.

the songs I quoted and used as prayer through the post:

I Breathe You In, God by Brian and Katie Torwalt

You Know Me by Bethel Music

Beautiful Things by Gungor

Fall Afresh by  Bethel Music

One Thing Remains by Bethel Music

 

   
Leave a comment | Posted in Hope

Roadtrip to Santa Fe!

This past week has been Spring Break for our kids. We decided to take a roadtrip down to  Santa Fe! I grew up going there, but hadn’t been there since high school. My husband had never been there and we love going to new places with the kids…so, off we went!IMG_4088

I researched places to eat before we left..as always…with our lifestyle, this is a must.

I thought I’d share the places we found that were awesome in case you ever find yourself in Santa Fe!

  • The first one and well, my favorite because they carry cupcakes!! (but, that’s not all!) is called MOMO & CO Bakery.IMG_4153 IMG_4155
  • Seriously, it was the first time our kids were able to stand in front of a case of cupcakes and were able to choose ANY of them! My son asked me several times, “mom, are you sure I can have any of them? They are all ok to eat?” It was so sweet and little too…he’s always asking and wanting to make sure what he eats is ok! See..aren’t they beautiful and delicious looking? IMG_4119 IMG_4109 IMG_4140 I wish I had one right now next to me! You can go here and check out their full menu…which includes waffles, lasagna, sandwiches, and so much MORE!! Oh..and notice that they do ship and they also have a fabulous indoor play area for the kids!IMG_4135
  • The other place is  Casa Chimayo. They have a menu that has GF options marked and the service there is remarkable. They will work with you and create yummy, delicious, and FRESH food. Their meat is organic and incredibly tender. I ordered their fajitas with corn tortillas, the kids ordered a chicken soft taco each, and my husband ordered the enchiladas. (side note: he is GF, but not dairy free). My kids actually ate ALL the chicken and BOTH corn tortillas that came with it. That’s unheard of for them when we eat out. It was just that good! Their story and history are great and you can read about it on the menu! IMG_2140 IMG_2141This is the guitar player that my kids loved dancing to his music. It was not loud…just perfect background songs to the meal!
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  • Another coffee/cafe is The Station Cafe. They serve drinks and carry coconut and almond milk as well for espresso drinks. I ordered their Cold Brew drink that is steeped for 36 hours and served with coffee ice cubes! Refreshing! I poured Almond Milk into it for the cream part. They also carry Taos Bars(pictured below). They do contain agave, but not too much, and since we were on vacation…it was so worth it. This tasted like a reeses peanut butter cup with a little bit of crunch. I couldn’t taste the butterscotch at all. Anyways, that area has some shopping around or you can catch the Rail Runner down to Albuquerque like we did! IMG_2088 IMG_2089 IMG_2090

Alright, I hope this helps you in your trip to Santa Fe! If you’ve been there and have other places to suggest or to stay away from, please leave a comment and let us know! The more resources there are out there before a trip the easier the trip goes!! :-)

 

   
Leave a comment | Posted in Nutrition

What are you carrying around???

I’m not exactly sure how to write this post…it is my daughter’s birthday today and at the moment, that is where my heart is…but, let me start by saying that over a month ago one of my sisters emailed me a notice that The MOB Society was going to be featuring “guest posts” during the month of March. Have you ever heard of The MOB Society? Well…if not, I urge you to go take a look. They also have a big presence on Facebook as well.

Anyways, once I read that email from her, something went off inside me and I knew…just KNEW I was suppose to submit something. I begrudgingly thanked her for the information ;-) and kept it in the back of my mind.

So, yes, I did end up turning something in, not really thinking they would do anything with it. I felt like it was just the process that was good for me…that I had the discipline enough to follow through with it…I in fact, forgot about it! Well, my family and I were out of town this past weekend on a wonderful, quick getaway! While we were there I received an email that The MOB Society accepted what I sent them AND it will be published…TODAY!

Whoa! It was an awesome email to read…very exciting, humbling, and a little frightening as well.

So, this is where I am now…I pray that you head over there,  read about where my Hope comes from and I also pray that it encourages you and that if there is someone that pops into your mind while reading it…that you pass it along to them…

I’m praying that it reaches a parent who is struggling, who is carrying around so much guilt, and shows them how to take the burden OFF their shoulders…

www.themobsociety.com

Thank you!

 

   
1 Comment | Posted in Hope

New Food!

 


I LOVE when I find something that is new and fits into the way we eat. Although, there is always some level of anxiety because I SO want it to taste good and am scared it won’t! Oh, and let me add right at the beginning that I did not receive this product as a gift and I am not being paid to review or publicize it! I’m just a fan!

This is it. It has been around forever and I just stumbled upon this brand. It is Ghee!

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So what is Ghee? This is what Pure Indian’s website says, “ Golden colored Ghee is prepared by melting and simmering unsalted butter until all the water evaporates and the milk solids settle at the bottom. The remaining butter oil is very stable, giving it a high smoke point which makes it an excellent choice to use for frying and sautéing and it can be stored without refrigeration for several months. Ghee is also known as Indian Clarified Butter, Seafood Butter, Drawn Butter, Butter Oil, Ghee Butter or Anhydrous Milk Fat (AMF). In India and other South Asian countries, it is also known as Desi Ghee, Pure Ghee, Asli Ghee or Ghritam. Ghee is a dairy product and as such it is gluten-free.”

They tell their story on the the side of the jar too.

IMG_1938

 

So, wait..you might be asking, “How can they eat this since this is a dairy product?” Well, that would be an excellent question! Here’s the answer:

  • Ghee is the least likely dairy product to cause unpleasant intolerance symptoms. During the clarification process of making ghee, the milk solids are almost entirely removed, leaving the healthy butter fats behind. Different ghees do vary, not only in flavor, but in quality. Very pure ghee (99 -99.5% pure butter oil) may have trace amounts of casein and lactose remaining, but unless a person is extremely sensitive, it will normally not cause problems, even if other dairy does.

So, yes. I am taking a slight risk here in introducing Ghee to our family, but in this case, the benefits of Ghee far out weigh the risks(for now) in my opinion. I mean, my kids need some good, healthy FAT! In fact, we all do!

Here’s the thing…I’ve tried different brands of Ghee from Whole Foods last year and in my opinion, there was an immediate response from my son. So, now, fast forward to this spring when I’ve been meticulously trying to find ways to add good FAT and calories, I stumbled upon this brand. Here is the nutrition side of the jar.

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Look at that!! Can you believe it?!? ONE tablespoon has all that goodness PLUS a ton of CLAs(conjugated linoleic acid which is an antioxidant and essential fatty acid) and Omega 3 and 6 fats. These are the things that I get REALLY excited about.

I’ve been spreading it on their toast every morning now for a week….1 tablespoon each. I didn’t want to do a post right away in case there was a reaction(digestive issues, stimming behaviors, illness) that happened again. But, so far so good. I’ve tasted it too…and oh.my.goodness. For someone who hasn’t tasted real butter in two years…it melted in my mouth and I did a little food dance! :)

If you are wanting to learn more about Ghee and this product, I suggest you visit this site. It goes into detail about the clarification process and their product in particular.

Let me know if you try it or if you have any questions about our experience with it…I’d be happy to help!

Now, seriously, go get some. It’s DELICIOUS! Pure Indian Foods! And, they are having a sale right now…

 

 

   
Leave a comment | Posted in Nutrition

Do you have a “ministry”?

I read a devotional this morning from Oswald Chambers. It is short, but of course, gets to the heart of things and makes you reflect. It was the first line that grabbed me. “JOY comes from seeing the complete fulfillment of the specific purpose for which I was created and born again, NOT from successfully doing something of my OWN choosing.”

I remember back during the first year with so many therapy sessions, food changes, research, it was the beginning of a fundamental change….how I viewed parenting, my other relationships, but most importantly, spiritually. I had to wrestle with the ‘why’ questions. I had to wrestle with the guilt; thinking that what was happening to my son was my fault. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again…you go through a mourning process. I had denial, anger, depression..all of it. Sometimes that process repeated itself when we hit a new developmental milestone that only highlighted the gap. During this time, I was so consumed of what needed to happen for Josh to ‘catch up’ and to ‘clean out his system’ that I didn’t realize what the Lord was preparing. Maybe if you were on the outside, looking in, and close enough to us, you could understand what He was doing.

He was preparing a ministry.

He was going to use what we were enduring for good.

When I was younger I used to think that only pastors, ministers, people who worked for the church or a youth organization, “had a ministry.” I know, I was wrong. Isn’t it often the case that the hardest of times we have to walk through end up being exactly what the Lord uses to reach others. It becomes our ministry. Acts 9:16…”I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” What a better way to connect, reach out, and love others than by being able to simply tell your story….His story…and there’s always some redeeming part too…eventually!

So, all of this definitely would not have happened under ‘my choosing.’ If ‘my story’ unfolded how I wanted it to…how shallow and limited it would have been. I’m confident it would have revolved around me! Instead now, how grateful and thankful I am to have a heart filled with compassion. An overwhelming desire of wanting to serve, reach out, encourage, bring Hope, teach others….that it can’t be contained and it has nothing to do with me….except of course, the JOY I experience.

The devotional I read ended with these sentences…something challenged me to my core…I’ll be praying through these for awhile…trying to discern some truth…

“If you have received a ministry from the Lord Jesus, you will know that the need is not the same as the call— the need is the opportunity to exercise the call. The call is to be faithful to the ministry you received when you were in true fellowship with Him. This does not imply that there is a whole series of differing ministries marked out for you. It does mean that you must be sensitive to what God has called you to do, and this may sometimes require ignoring demands for service in other areas.”

So, do you have a ministry?

If you want to read the whole devotional from this morning…here it is: Is He really my Lord? 

   
Leave a comment | Posted in Hope

The IDEAL School….

I saw this clip on the TODAY Show this morning…take the 2 minutes and watch it…it is so  encouraging and started by parents!

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Leave a comment | Posted in Education, SPD

Finally figured this one out….

So, it’s what? Over half way through the school year?!?! Oh well…I finally figured out how to help Josh ‘stay focused’ while getting ready for school every morning. Well, and in all honesty, I think it saves my blood pressure from rising!

I realized that I was talking SO MUCH to him the 30-40 minutes before we have to leave to go. All the reminders, “did you put your homework in your bag?” “please put on your socks and shoes!” “Did you go potty AND wash your hands?” “great! now remember we have to tuck in your shirt for school!” and on and on and on….

SO MANY WORDS! And for a boy that seems to have a cap at how many words he can process in a day, that’s not good. I mean, I annoy myself with all the questions and reminders and blah blah blah!!

So, when I thought of this…I sort of got mad at myself for not thinking of this sooner. It was definitely a “DUH” moment on my part! :-)

One day a couple of weeks ago, after I dropped him off at school, I came home and busted this out:

IMG_1703

It is Josh’s “visual” to-do list. Yes, I joked with Eric that I’m already creating a little list maker…BUT, I believe this skill will prove to be invaluable for him as he grows up.

I printed it out and put it in a self-laminator sheet. We do have a laminator, which I don’t know how I would have gotten through the first 4 years without it, but now, there are these sheets! They’re wonderful and so easy!! So, I put his list in there to protect it, and voila…it was ready to go!

The awesome and most encouraging thing about it all was Josh’s response. He was THRILLED and started jumping up and down when I showed it to him..(see, he didn’t want me using all those words either!) ;-)  We have now used this for over a week and goodness gracious, it has made a HUGE difference. I now just have to tell him that it is time to get ready to go! He runs over to the fridge where he hung it up and starts at it. In fact, he tells me that I can’t look at him until he tells me I can! HA! He has taken ownership of it all and after he completes it and then says, “ok, mom, you can look at me now!” …the pride on his face and the self confidence exuding from him is priceless!!

He went straight to our fridge and hung it up(pardon the ‘messy’ fridge…man, there really is alot going on on that thing!)

IMG_1705 IMG_1704

Love him!

   
1 Comment | Posted in SPD