I feel for those with littles

How are you parents with little ones with autism doing?

I was at Sam’s Club the other day – we needed some oranges and apples. I decided to grab a bag of rice for good measure. I had wanted to do order pickup, but they wouldn’t let me order almond milk, so had to go in the club.

Once I got home and was putting groceries away, I realized that we are down to one spare box of Honey Nut Cheerios. And I remembered noticing that there were absolutely no boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios at Sam’s Club – usually there are pallets. We have plenty of other food in the house, but my autistic son has had a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios for breakfast every morning since he was old enough to have Cheerios for breakfast. That’s a little over 17 years!

That made me immediately start praying for all of you with young kids with autism. I remember how I always had to have the exact right brand and exact right flavor of that brand to make sure that my son would eat. When a food manufacturer made the smallest change to a product, my son would be able to detect it immediately, refusing to eat the altered edible.

When he became four years old it was a little easier to cajole him to try new foods. We were able to bribe him with computer time. Also, he was old enough to understand feeling hungry. I could tell him, “Well, you don’t have to eat this, but you are going to be hungry.” That, thankfully, often got him to at least try a newly updated variety of food that he used to like.

Praying for miracles for you! Praying that you can find that pack of their must-have food. And praying for miraculous growth in your little one’s ability to be flexible and in your ability to patiently cajole.

I am not looking forward to helping my son figure out a new breakfast routine in a week or so if I can’t find more Honey Nut Cheerios. But he has learned how to move on, after a moment of freaking out. So hopefully it won’t be too bad!

And remember, God knew that you and your child would be on earth at this time. He will help you through it. He has great plans for you and your child, and all of us!

The feeding of the four

A couple of days before the first COVID-19 case was detected in Minnesota, my husband came home with a suggestion he had heard on MPR. The advice was to prepare for at least two weeks of quarantine.

Ironically, I had just spent the previous two months whittling down any extra supplies to the bare minimum. I had been feeling convicted of hoarding and felt God was asking me to be more reasonable on what I had on hand. Especially since some things, like food in the freezer, can end up getting forgotten in a corner, becoming unfit for anything but the compost bin.

However, since my husband generally has to be begged to go into the basement during a tornado warning – he would rather watch for it from the deck! – I figured, if he wants me to stock up, I’ll stock up. So to Sams Club, Target, Cub and Fresh and Natural, oh, and Walmart, I went. I prayed about how much to buy, as I come from a long line of hoarders (on one side – quite the opposite on the other). Now I know why God had me practice having less on hand. I hate to think of how much I would have bought had he not already been prepping me.

So I made sure that we had at least two weeks of supplies on hand: toilet paper, paper towels, a lot of Kleenex due to spring allergy season, Zyrtec, canned fruit and vegetables – haven’t eaten those in years, Spam, frozen and canned chicken, rice, dried and frozen potato products, you get the picture.

I tried not to break into any of those stores until this week. But as soon as I started heading down the stairs to the basement pantry in pursuit of the first can of fruit, tension started building in my gut.

Based on how things went in China, we will most likely have to practice social distancing for at least two months, not two weeks. I was feeling woefully underprepared. Based on the food I had on hand before the stock up buying, plus the extras I had just bought, we had enough to get through at least three weeks, probably a month, but two months?

Grocery stores near me come and go on what supplies they have and when they have time for order pickup or delivery. I just don’t see the point in going to the store with hundreds of other people when we are supposed to not meet in groups of more than 10. But lately delivery or pickup options are 3-4 days out and teenage staples like tortilla chips are getting hard to come by.

As I looked at the boxes of canned fruit and veggies, my natural instinct was to run up the basement stairs, jump in the car and run around trying to get another month’s worth of supplies. But God said, no, trust me.

So I thought, well, God, if you aren’t going to let me buy more food, maybe you can work some miracles like you did in the feeding of the 5,000.

Wouldn’t you know, as I opened the box of canned oranges, I realized that I had not understood exactly what was in the box. I thought it was 10 single-serve containers of oranges, when actually it was ten 3.5 serving cans of oranges!

God tripled my canned oranges!

Ok, so He didn’t actually triple the cans, but He showed me that I had more on hand than I thought, which produced the same effect on my nerves as if He had physically tripled them. As I write this, I am realizing that maybe He did actually change the cans, since I really thought I had bought a different amount.

Regardless, God showed me that He truly will care for us during this challenging time. I really don’t need to fear.

He did allow me to order some fresh fruits and veggies, that will be ready for pickup in three days. Oh, and, to my husband’s horror, we had run out of Miracle Whip, so that and some Cholula sauce, another new staple of my husband’s, got added to the order.

So we’ll continue to see what miracles God works with the supplies He asked me to buy and enjoy new, fresh items when He oks that, too.

Do I still feel nervous at times? Definitely. But I am slowly learning to trust and obey and let His peace fill me.

As He was able to miraculously feed the 5,000, he’ll be able to feed us four.

How old is too old?

A woman recently threw her 11-year-old autistic son off the balcony of their 4th floor apartment. He will most likely survive, but is undergoing a lot of surgeries and therapy.

She is now charged with attempted murder.

I agree with this charge. As you know, I have an autistic son, and life with him can be a challenge, but murder is never right.

Or isn’t it?

It is ok to kill, or allow to die, a newborn baby that is unwanted, according to laws in many states here in the US.

This 11-year-old isn’t much less dependant on his mother than that newborn.

Again, I ask, how old is too old?

No Fear in the New Year

I can still see my mom talking to me in the kitchen of our home. I was probably 10 or 12. I don’t remember anything about the interaction except this:

“Remember, God did not give you a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of self-discipline.”

She repeated that Bible verse to me often. And now I find myself repeating that verse a lot to my autistic child.

We didn’t know back then that I have autism, but God gave my mom the prescription I needed to beat back unreasonable fears.

Like most autistic people, I struggle with being fearful about situations that don’t cause fear in the general population, and are, therefore, considered things that shouldn’t cause fear. I used to feel powerless to do anything about the fear, which lead me to be selfish and undisciplined.

For example, I grew up in a small town where everyone knew me and loved and supported me. There was no reason for me to fear any authority figures. And yet, when I needed to ask for help outside of class, I couldn’t do it. By the time I was halfway through college I was able to talk with professors outside class. But that truly was an unreasonable fear that made my high school career, while very successful, harder than it needed to be.

This Bible verse helped me feel loved and empowered.

By feeling loved and empowered by God, I was able to share that love through being a more self-disciplined person.

Hmm, funny how when God has me write things, He teaches me new things as I write: Isn’t that what true love is, being empowered to choose, in a self-disciplined manner, to lay your life down for a friend.

So a new way to read this verse may be: God did not give you a spirit of fear, but he layed down his life for you so that you can have his power to also lay down your life for others.

Happy New Year with no Fear!

Moms, you matter, a lot!

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Don’t get me wrong, dads matter, too. But since I am a mom, God talks to me about being a mom, so here’s something I learned recently.

There is a Christian homeless shelter in our area that helps people recover from addiction and get the training they need to become active in the job market and in life. I have been supporting them financially for years, but have never taken the opportunity to visit them, until a week or so ago.

It was a yummy free breakfast on a very rainy summer day. The speaker was a gentleman who was doing well in one of the programs. He was working and had reconnected with his family. It was a great story.

As we toured the facility we were given the opportunity to meet and hear the stories of other participants in the other programs.

The one thing I kept hearing from the men as they shared their stories was how unnutured they had felt by their mothers. Some had mothers who had left. Others had mothers who stayed but were really harsh. They had stories of fathers that they didn’t like, too, but none of that seemed to affect them as much as the pain caused by their mothers.

I have not done any research to see if the anecdotes I heard that morning are corroborated by research. But I am pretty sure that the reason God prompted me to attend that breakfast was to remind me that I need to be more nurturing to my son.

I love him deeply and get so scared about his future sometimes that I can be really hard on him, wanting him to learn the skills he needs to succeed.

Love does include discipline. But, I am noticing, especially for my son, the closer to adulthood he gets, a mom’s encouraging words are very important. They help him as much or more than reminders of what he did wrong (because he already knows and is beating himself up over it).

I know a lot of you moms out there are very nurturing. Keep up the good work. And thanks for being such a good example to those of us who can lean a bit more towards drill sargeant.

Also, I know a lot of you moms out there are single parents so have to fill the role of both father and mother. I will be praying for extra grace for you – that must be so hard!

So now I still acknowledge something that went wrong, if it is becoming a bad habit. But I also try to do more acknowleging of what is going right. I am doing better about acknowledging the fact that even if something went wrong, it has went right in the past, and/or I believe that it will go right in the future.

I am also trying to do a better job of coaching him onto great ways to spend his time – not demanding, but also not just sitting back and letting him flounder with no ideas at all.

I’ll still fail somedays, but I will get back up and try again. Wouldn’t it be great if the homeless shelters shut down due to a lack of disillusioned, lost, hurting people?

Thanks God for patiently training me to be a better mom. And thank you to all of you who shared your stories of pain so that hopefully my son won’t have that same story to tell. Your pain has helped someone. I hope that gives you just a bit of joy – that your pain was not for nothing.