I held a syringe with a needle on it again last week.  It brought me back to that September day over 12 years ago when a box full of syringes arrived at my doorstep.  That box was for me.  It was the beginning of fertility treatments that had me doing injections on myself for a couple years as I navigated the world of invitro fertilization.

But this 2015 syringe was not for me.  I held it.  I prepared it.  I pierced the flesh and pushed the plunger to dispense the clear liquid.  This medication was for my mother.  A nurse sat at my kitchen table telling us all about the benefits and the horrible side effects that this new medication could provide as a treatment for Multiple Sclerosis.  This fairly invisible disease was a new diagnosis, but had been lingering inside her for probably 20 years.  The symptoms are many and varied, including extreme fatigue, unexplained pains, some memory loss, the inability to process thoughts like you used to, and more.  All invisible symptoms.

Invisible symptoms.

How many of these invisible symptoms do we have?  My home is dealing with many that have a diagnosis –  Multiple Sclerosis, Aspergers, ADHD, ODD, a thyroid condition, anxiety….those are just the medical ones.  But we all deal with aspects of our lives that the outside world does not see on a regular basis.  These special needs of our lives.
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Make The Difference

Looked down at. Discarded. Mocked, Scorned. Pushed Away. Unclean.

As our President would say, “from a SH**HOLE COUNTRY,” as he defines it.

But I am not writing about the strong and courageous people of Haiti. I am not writing about the Nigerian people who have seen bloodshed among their people this month. I am not writing about the rest of the beautiful continent of Africa in all of it’s diversity of people.

When things of this world start to happen, I have no choice but to look to Christ. The world is upsetting. Leaders who spew hatred with closed minds and doors make my heart plummet. But I have to turn to Jesus and His teachings.

As the news surfaced last night and today about comments from the President of our diverse nation, outrage poured over social media and news outlets, I watched a bit. I saw Anderson Cooper choke up talking about the beloved people of Haiti and all they have been through. I cannot help but think of the amazing mission of the local group Starfysh and it’s leader, Steve, who has a special place in his soul for the people of Haiti. My hearts hurts along with my friend Luper as she cries out to God this month about the slaying of people in her homeland of Nigeria and the tribe she knows so well.

My heart hurts. I know your heart hurts. We know that we don’t know what to do to stop this large ball of horrible words that seems to get larger and gain momentum all the time and we are confused. We are confused. What can we do?

What we can do is be who God calls us to be and follow the example of Christ.

The words I started with are ones that were said about a woman thousands of years ago. Jesus was traveling and, to quote Robert Frost, “took the road less traveled by and that made all the difference.” Samaria was not a country that people traveled through in the time of Christ. The Samarian people were looked down at by the Jewish people. The people of Samaria were called unclean by surrounding peoples. But Jesus chose to travel through Samaria. He stopped at a well to rest and a Samaritan woman came for water at the well. Jesus spoke to her. Jesus SPOKE TO HER. A woman. A Samaritan….from what President Trump would no doubt lump into his list of undesireables, was spoken to by the savior of the world.

This woman was shocked. She was shocked that a man would speak to her. She was floored that a Jewish person would acknowledge her. And, when He told her he was the Savior, her faith led her to drop all she was doing and run to tell her people….her people from the, “sh**hole, country,” of it’s day, that the Savior of the world was here and real and loved her and her people.

Yes. We are confused. And we are angry. We don’t know what to do. Here is what we do.

We live. We show kindness. We mourn with our fellow humans. Perhaps we go out of our way for our brothers and sisters serving in those countries, or who have ancestors from those countries. We find someone less fortunate and we show respect, kindness, and love. No matter how worthy society deems them to be. In the eyes of Jesus we are all broken and unclean and we all deserve love.

People. I don’t care who you voted for. I don’t care if you voted or not. Just because you agree with promises and policies does not mean you have to agree with everything else. That makes no sense. Stand up for people. All people.
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Fail…Epic from my Perspective

fail
fāl
verb 
to be unsuccessful in achieving one’s goal.
 ———————————————————-
I…lost. I feel sad. Defeated. Over the last year, my arm has tired from fighting it’s desire to raise the white flag with my forced willing it to remain down. Now it’s on display for all to see, waving high.
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For the last year especially, I have been very gracefully meeting with my son’s school and the school district in hopes to bring more resources for high functioning autism to the buildings. Even through all of the meetings where I felt like things may change, through the follow up meetings realizing things had not, and all of the meeting that followed, asking for more, I remained sure that we would stay the course. We loved the school. We love the school. The parent relationships are great. The focus on community kept me going in hopes that I might find myself in that circle of awesome people who find friendships in their serving the school. We moved a year ago to be closer to the fabulous school that had so many things I want for my family. But my family doesn’t fit anymore. And I am sad. And I feel like I failed.
How many times do we feel that way? Like we tried and we failed. There is another path but we don’t like it, we don’t want to do it. Yeah, it looks good and it probably is but WE DIDN’T SIGN UP FOR THIS. We want to wallow. We want to feel sorry for ourselves. We want to fight again, but we don’t. Our flag is up and there it’s going to stay. It’s a failure flag and we are flying it high.
The truth is that none of us sign up for what we are given. We don’t sign up for the parents we have, the talents we are given, the life that we exist in. We didn’t sign up for it. But we are in it and have to do something with it. There are times where that white flag is lifted high and we don’t care anymore. That’s find. Take the tie to wallow in that. One thing I try to tell my kids is that it’s okay to be mad, upset, sad, or cranky sometimes. But when you are done with those feelings, take time to work and worship. Work on the life that God gave you. It might not be what you think you want. You may have, “worse,” parents, “less,” talent, and a more, “boring,” life than someone else. But it is YOUR LIFE. Work with the parents that you have. No matter what, that is your family of origin and you will have something of them in you. Praise God for those parts of you that are part of your heritage and nurture the good things. You have talents. They may not include being a concert pianist or the next Simone Biles, but you may have an artistic ability that will inspire kids at a teen center, or a talent to see numbers and formulas easy where you can help various organization, including your home, with budgeting. You may try something that you hope to have a talent for and you may fail. That’s okay. Take time to thank God for the ability to try numerous things until your talents are unearthed. Worship Him for the life he gave YOU. He has not failed you.
So, back to my failure. I tried to gracefully advocate for my son. As the school year loomed in the ever-closing distance, I found myself jittery. Last year I gained quite a bit of stress weight and needed more than one anti-anxiety med. I failed. My health failed. My family failed at times. I failed to get the resources for my child. But then. But. then.
About three weeks ago, something (probably God, duh) prompted me to look at the website for the Middle School of the district we actually live in now. I was in a dark spot I was shaky and cranky and mad and sad and scared. Nothing in me thought we would more to a regular looking school that was not very high rated. We wanted OUR school with cool people and diversity and community programs and environmentally focused fun! Not some OTHER school. Ugh. But I Googled it anyway. It was there that I found out that the Middle School of the district we live in has 3 levels of autism care classrooms, based on the needs of the student (insert the smallest, tiniest flicker of hope mixed with the terrified feeling of leaving our current school – here).
Today, I finished the registration of my kids at the new school. But my white flag of failure is still up. I still feel like a mom who failed her child because I could not force a school to do more. I know what you are going to say, because you have said it. I am a great mom because I did all I can and I made an awesome choice for my son. But I am not one who likes to lose where my kids are concerned. I always root for the underdog. And when I am the underdog, I need to win. I do have hope that the new school will be a great fit for my kids. My daughter decided to change as well so her little fashionista self would not have to wear a uniform and could ride a school bus. She is easy like that. But I have a flag for her too because the other school was so cool. I hope the new one will be, but…
I didn’t sign up for this. I didn’t sign up for special needs. None of us did though. None of us signed up for autism or any of the other mental and physical needs we handle on a daily basis. We all fight. We all wave our white flags from time to time. But we all need to know when to take the time to worship the one who cares for us no matter what, especially when we are holding that flag.
Mine is still up, but I know that it will come down and I will fight again when I need to, because THAT is a talent I have.  As much as failure is hard to admit and to feel, it also has to be earned.

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Love

My sister got married in Vegas this week. She is still there with her spouse having a wonderful time. They are enjoying some much needed time away together as well. I am very happy for them and think that this marriage, my sister’s third, is the one that will last.

I like this spouse the best. This one is different. The first one I disliked immensely. He was controlling, and still is. The second one was nice, funny, and a great guy to be around at family functions. He was a refreshing change and we liked him. Over time though, the stresses of family showed that he was not the spouse that could support the family emotionally. His kids and my sisters kids all had needs and he was not strong enough to be there for them. Marriage needs the strength of two people who can support and love each other to be there for their family.

This one is different. This one has come in with strength and love beyond everything. This one has no biological children, but has taken my sister’s children as their own and loved them. It is not an easy situation. But this one loves my sister more than anything and loves the kids deeply. This one is different in all of those ways. This one is also a woman.

A few years back when my sister was separated from her husband, she invited me to go on a trip that she won to New York City. It was exciting to be able to go with my sister and get away together. I bought tickets for us to see Wicked on Broadway. We rode the subway (with me totally in charge. She has NO sense of direction I quickly found out!) We saw the 9-11 memorial. We hung out in Times Square, were awed by Grand Central Station, and saw and interacted with many fun and interesting people. She was (kind of) patient with me when I wandered through Ellis Island soaking it all up as any history buff would do. But that trip was more than all of that. My sister was struggling. We fought quite a bit. She was texting all the time with new friends and she was snippy to me. I was frustrated and didn’t realize at the time what she was going through.

Reflecting back, she was in identity crisis. She was growing up and figuring out her own voice. She was still young and had been in relationships for so long and this was the first time that she was struggling to figure out who she was on her own. I am in no way saying she was finding herself and deciding she was gay. I am saying that she was struggling to find her inner strength of who she was, finally without a relationship.

At that time, she was working with a few women who were gay. They were nice and she was making friends. Through friends and work connections, she met someone she became interested in dating. She fell pretty fast and I, as her big sister, was very hesitant. She had just gotten out of a marriage and was now in a gay relationship and telling me it was serious in just a few months. I thought, “here we go again with moving fast and furious!” She wanted her new girlfriend to come to my son’s birthday party just a couple months after they started dating and I refused. My older child still associated her with her second husband, his Uncle, and it was too much, too different, and too soon.

This one was especially different. This one stayed through huge complications. HUGE. Like, you cannot even imagine. This one has endured so much and has no obligation to my sister and her children. But this one is different. She has strength, respect, love. She is the one.

I am a strong Christian woman. I believe that God designed a family to be a man and a woman together raising children in a marriage. A marriage is not simply a piece of paper. It is a covenant between two people who are dedicating their entire lives to each other. In my perfect world, with my beliefs, a man and a woman would get married, have children, raise those children in a loving home and those children would go on to do the same. But this is not a perfect world people.

In my world, my father was divorced twice. In my world, my mom left for a good chunk of my childhood. In my world, I suffered pregnancy loss that led to fertility loss. In my world, there is brokenness and pain and hurt. My world that I live in, the same world that you are living in, is not the world that God designed. Our world changes and morphs into different situations all the time that God did not give to us. But what He gave us that we can hold onto is love.

I love my sister’s new wife. She loves her family. Her extended family loves my sister and their kids. My sister’s wife is the backbone of the family and loves and supports my sister the way a spouse is supposed to. She has been there through NUMEROUS court hearings about custody from my sister’s first husband that are ridiculous. She has held the family together through trials with my nephew who struggles with so much that I will not go into because this is my family and there are things that happen in families that are crazy hard that the entire world does not need to know. But you have seen my posts about my struggle with my autistic child. They have it worse. She was there when my teenage niece struggled with her mom’s new relationship and also struggled with her controlling father. She was there when that same niece moved in with them and spent time with her forming a bond. Then, she was there when that niece was in a horrible accident, struck by a vehicle at a high speed when she was walking down the side of a road with friends. She has been there for so much and there is still so much and she is there.

Love. That is what I take from all of this and that is where my feelings lie. I see love. I see commitment. I see a family who will do anything for each other. Yes, deep in my heart for some reason I do wish this new spouse was a man with all of this love and commitment, but she is not. And I still love her. I love my sister and I love her new wife and the past few years have brought us the closest we have ever been.

So congratulations are DEFINATELY in order for my sister Jenn and her new wife, Jen! I wish you may, many years of happiness and love. I love you both!
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Mommy in the Middle

I read a blog the other day that resonated. That’s why we read them though, right? The author has a special needs child who is higher functioning and this mom sometimes feels that she and her child do not fit in. Her child is not, “special needs,” enough. Also not, “normal,” enough. I feel the same way many times. We are both mommies in the middle.

This mommy in the middle is tired. This mommy in the middle doesn’t know how to function the way she used to. It’s because this mommy in the middle has to put all of her energy where the biggest needs are.

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I was sitting with friends the other day and realizing again that I am not the same person I used to be. I used to be the one who knew everyone’s needs and was there to fill them. I wanted to hear all of the stories of what was going on in their lives and their family and friends’ lives. I would tune in attentively and remember to follow up and ask how happenings were progressing. Now, I don’t. It’s not that I don’t care. I really do. Sometimes I feel bad that I don’t know everyone that is being talked about in the conversation and maybe I should. When friends talk about what is going on in their own lives, I still listen well and feel for them and will add them to my prayers that day when I can. But I used to be so much better. I was better at following up, sending a card even, offering help. A better friend.

But wait. I’m now mommy in the middle.

The middle is where I live now. I cannot give 100% of myself the same way I used to give. My, “in the middle special needs child,” is where my energy goes. My physical energy yes, and my mental energy. All of my mental energy. All of it. The difference now is that my friends are meeting me in the middle. They even live in the middle. In the middle of balancing a family with challenges of young children, “middle special needs,” too, work schedules, those extended family and friend issues, marriage challenges, continuing education, and on and on.

Because all of us are in the middle. We trudge through doing the best we can. We use our energy where it is needed most. We need more energy. We need more time. We need more….more. Where does that, “more,” come from? For me my, “more,” comes from my faith, my husband, some family members, and my close friends. It comes from all of those who come and meet me in the middle. God meets me there. My husband is there. Some family members find me there. Friends live there too.

So while I have a child who does not look like he has special needs and who also does not fit in going to mainstream group of kids, I don’t live in the middle alone.
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Ahhh, the Mess of the Election

I try to stay out of policital discussions and this post will not speak to political issues.  I’ve recently shared a few thoughts on Facebook and I knew I would get some backlash from friends.  That’s just the nature of politics.  Thankfully we live in a country where we can have different opinions and still get along….hopefully.

As a Christian, my hope comes from Jesus. Not a politician. I do believe that we should pray for all people in authority that they can lead well and that we have hope for Christian leaders. But, as a Christian, I believe that my first call is to love.  Love people, and show compassion.  The Bible teaches us over and over again about love and calls us to that.  For this reason alone, I have spoken out against a candidate.

Donald Trump. Ah, the name just makes me cringe. At first, it seemed a fun rouse that someone like him was stepping into the race.  He’d be fun to watch and then fall quickly. MY JAW HAS DROPPED. How did this happen?  How can someone who uses hateful sterotypes of black people, Jewish people, Native Americans, Muslims, and hispanics in his speeches gain such a following of Christians when our first call is love? How can someone who degrades women and talks about his private areas in public have our vote to lead this country? Is a man who openly mocks disabled people showing love?  I know the, “big issues,” that Christians have like abortion and gay marriage are mega-reasons that some feel they have to vote for him.  But really?  He spews hatred to so many.  That to me should trump (pun mega-intended) the, “big,” issues.  Those issues have been around forever and will continue.  I have my views on abortion, gay marriage, immigration, education, and such and have used https://www.isidewith.com/ to determine where my views lie.  I encourage you to do that as well just to make sure you know where you are on the issues.  Then, if you do side most with Donald Trump, look at the person that he is and vote.  If you still vote for him, yes, we can still be friends.  It’s that whole love thing coming full circle at ya.

This post and none of my Facebook posts mean that I am holding a Hillary sign and am all for her.  This entire election is mind-blowing to say the least.  This country is broken, messed up, and has many scars. It was all of that before this election and will continue to be when it’s all over.

For me, I took the poll.  I was actually surprised by the outcome.  In the end, I will have formed a more solid opinion and I will (begrudgingly) make my vote.  But the top of my list has to be the person who I think can lead this country best for all people.

Cringe-worthy read – http://www.marieclaire.co.uk/blogs/550112/donald-trump-quotes.html

NY Times Article – http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/24/opinion/sunday/is-donald-trump-a-racist.html?_r=0
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Ignorance

ig·no·rance
ˈiɡnərəns/
noun
 lack of knowledge or information.
  1. “he acted in ignorance of basic procedures”
    synonyms: incomprehension of, unawareness of, unconsciousness of, unfamiliarity with,inexperience with, lack of knowledge about, lack of information about

This week I was in a meeting about my son with Asperger’s and a high-ranking school administrator, who loves my child and wants to do what he can, asked, “Is this something he will grow out of?”

Because of my life, I have an immense amount of patience.  I answered him, letting him know that autism is not a blip that people catch and my son will not, unfortunately, GROW OUT OF IT.  The only word that came to my mind was, “ignorance.”  Autism, especially higher functioning autism, is one of those medical conditions that people refuse to try to understand.  Other invisible medical conditions are tough too, but if they are physical, people tend to get that.  I have family members with cancer, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis and more.  Once those individuals let people know why they have trouble doing things, people understand almost immediately.  But mental conditions are something many expect more out of.  Honestly, it’s something I struggle with too.  As his mom, I want to understand him and I do better and better, but I am still frustrated so often that he just can’t, “get over it,” “just do what he is supposed to,” “stop the noises,” “calm down,” etc and etc and etc.

The news article all over Facebook right now is about a man who was shot by police when he was trying to help an individual with autism.  Ignorance.  Society is so unaware when it comes to the struggles of autism, especially when people, “look normal,” but are not behaving normally.  I don’t know what was said or what actions were done that led to shots being fired, but obviously time was not taken to know what the situation was.  I can imagine that there was a great deal of stress, yelling and screaming perhaps, increased tension…you know, the things that happen in my house nearly every day.  But these were police officers.  Their job was to assess the situation and make sure everyone was safe.  Police officers are supposed to be calm, able to make informed decisions, and act when needed.  This was not a situation that needed shots fired.  The man shot was a rare individual who understands and helps people with autism.  This is not the first tragedy that involved misunderstanding of autism and will not be the last.  We as a society need to become educated, compassionate, and tolerant.

The follow-up to the question at my meeting was, “I can imagine him being my doctor someday.”

No.  He will not be a doctor.  He will do great things.  He will succeed and I will do everything I can to make that happen by supporting him in all the ways I can.  He may invent some advanced medical computing software or build machines that doctors use in their field, but he will not grow out of anything and have any type of bedside manner.  It’s the truth and we are working with that.  I am not one of the parents that feels blessed by autism.  I will never say that I am happy we have to deal with that in our lives.  I would erase it if I could.  If he could grow out of it, I would be counting down the days.  If there was a magic pill, I would give it to him.  But I do believe that all humans are unique creations and that God has a plan for all of us, including my son.

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Typical.. LIFE

I often think that I am going to blog about something that happened in a given day.  Many days are the same.  Many days I wake up in anticipation of a day I know that I will not have.  Like you, many days things happen.  But unlike you (most likely and if it is true for you, fist bump of solidarity coming your way), every day there are meltdowns in my home.  Every day.  So each time something happens and we work through it, or we don’t, or we kind of sort of do. Many days I think I may blog about it to give a tiny glimpse into my normal.  My every day.  Where my energy goes.

Today started with my son waking me up at 6:09 AM.  “Come on mom, I need to finish my homework.”  He is 11, very smart, and could do it by himself.  What he needs me for is to keep his high-functioning autistic, oppositional defiant, ADHD mind focused on what he needs to do. I do not whine.  I get up, walk myself downstairs and sit next to him, re-directing him every minute or so and he gets the 6 math problems done.  During this time, he yells impulsively about 9 times, blurting something out that I calmly redirect.  I sleepily find my nice voice and we make it through.  Then he disappears to play on his computer until it’s time to get ready for school.  He followed the rules.  He did not turn on any screen until the homework that could not get finished the night before was done.  That was the rule.  So I woke up and it was done.

I will skip the daily struggle of getting him to eat, take his medications, turn off his computer.  The part about where I have to go up and lay clothes out because…well, just because, really.

Every morning I have a very well thought out life lesson conversation in my mind.  It’s inspirational. It has all of the important parts –  a funny quip, role playing, questions that make one ponder, and I wrap it up nicely to send my son on his way with a good attitude going into school.  Today that conversation was about his increasing defiance of teachers and school staff and the way he has been treating his friends.  I did a fabulous job and dropped him off with a hug and a smile.

Later in the day, I emailed with my son’s therapist who he will see tonight.  Last week my son arrived there after a very large meltdown where I had to physically pry him out of the school building and the therapist saw the remnants of that in the evening.  My correspondence with the therapist in preparation for our visit this evening addressed the meltdowns, and the continued plans to work on self-awareness and add in self-soothing.  I told the therapist of my fabulous speech (what my son calls it…lovingly, I am sure), the hopes I had for the day, and the struggles with defiance, name-calling, and such.

At the end of the school day, I picked my children up and, like usual, my son monopolized all conversation, not letting his much younger sister say anything really.  My son was agitated.  He said he had a, “really hard time,” today and would not give me much more than that.  We drove home.  I asked questions and received very small answers.  I waited for the teacher’s report for the day.

When it came, the report reflected that my speech bombed.  There was, again, no life lesson learned.  There was blurting out and humming during instruction.  There were pencils and erasers thrown.  There was name calling.  There was refusal to do school work and responsibilities.  There was a need to have another conversation.

This one had no funny quip.  No role-playing.  The questions demanded answers, not pondering.  Instead of inspiration, I fill this conversation with affirmation.  I tell my son who he is.  He is not a child who throws things and calls names.  He is a child with a good heart and soul.  I tell him that the child I am reading a report about is not the child I am raising because our family knows better and does better.  We talk about the name calling.  He is very truthful; a side effect of his Aspergers that I appreciate.  We talk about Jesus.  I tell him how Jesus calls him to be kind to everyone, especially those that are outside the popularity circle.  I crack a bit, but I don’t break.  I’ve been here before.  I’ve been here this week. I will be here again soon.  I know that.  But to my little boy, I tell him he is good, with a good heart and his parents love him and Jesus loves him.  I tell him that because he is a good kid with a good heart, parents who love him and a Savior who loves him, he is expected to behave in a certain way and we will keep working on it.  We finish our conversation nicely, with a hug and go in.  It’s a nice moment.  But I am shaken.  Fragile.  Because I have been here before.  That morning, in fact.

We go into another room and I see the time and he needs to get ready for karate class and therapy.  I am blamed for wasting all of his time with my, “speech.”

There are other parts of my typical day that involve others.  I do other things, but not much that requires a great deal of thought or energy.  My energy is focused on the one who needs so much of it.  I no longer organize like I used to.  I eat less healthy.  My house is messier and I am heavier than I was last year.  I am more raw in friendships, which is not part of who I have been in previous decades.  It has re-defined pieces of who I am so many of my relationships have changed…not including the ones who simply don’t want to be around me because of my child.  Raw and a bit cracked.

My son was upset with me and upset that I was a little upset…I was calm, but not happy.  He whined, wasted time, yelled that I shouldn’t take him and his dad took him to karate and will take him to therapy.  That’s my normal.  It’s just a typical day.

In The Trenches

Right now we are in the trenches in a couple areas of life.  I recently made an appointment with my own doctor to talk to about anti-anxiety or depression medication for myself.  She asked me what was going on in my life right now…and I took a deep breath and hurled it all at her.  My son is intense.  He is disruptive in class –  doing things like animal noises, grabbing chairs and spinning while hooting and hollering through the room (the principal needed to come and rip him off the chair while he was having his good time), whining and complaining, calling names, blurting out answers, even standing on his desk a-la, “Dead Poet’s Society,” when he wanted to make very sure his teacher saw his hand was up.  Don’t even get me started on home stuff.  My mother has depression and MS and lives with me…and there is a history there that puts our relationship in a much different place than other mother/daughter situations.  My daughter is a beautifully sensitive little girl who is often in the middle of a great deal of noise and is walking through her own issues of identity a little bit right now and having some trouble on and off.  My husband has a stressful job and works long hours.  We are committed to making our family work, but we are in pieces and stretched.

Trenches.  Wilderness.  Crap.  Whatever you want to call it, we are there.  We’ve been there before.  In fact, we usually live here.  Occasionally we climb up a few feet and then get knocked around a bit.  The trenches are normal.  In fact, they are so normal that sometimes they are comfortable.  I might cozy up in my hovel and feel that is where I am supposed to be.  It’s not.

I am supposed to be the woman, wife, mom, friend, sister, daughter (and whatever else there is), that God designed me to be.  He calls me for His purpose and over the last 25 YEARS He has tested me, knocked me down, built me up, inspired me, forced me to lean first on Him, and brought me people that I can humble myself in front of.  He has taken the confident, goody-goody, independent, solve everyone’s problems, martyr personality of mine and worked it over a good one.  I’m still learning.  I’m still growing.  I’m still here in the trenches, but with many hands around me to pull me out when needed.
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My take on Mandalas

A little while ago, I fell into the world of adult coloring books.  I LOVE IT!  I love to color and it has become my new thing to do.  I am usually too tired to read, I no longer watch much tv, and I spend less time in front of my computer and phone.  Instead, I color.  I got my friends and family together who love to color and started a Facebook group.  It has grown into a large group now, most of whom I do not know.  And that is great!  I love seeing people of all abilities coloring and loving it.

Recently in the coloring world, there has been a blog posted about the popular coloring subject, the Mandala.  According to my short research, the Mandala has primarily Asian origins and is historically found in Hinduism and Buddhism.  The history talks of balance, calmness, peace, purity, devotion, etc.  Some even have colors that symbolize many of these inner struggles we all aspire to.  So, that’s the history I found.  Rich history of cultures and their decorations and the meanings behind it.

Then I saw this article posted on a coloring page I follow and I have also been sent the article and asked about it.

Adult Coloring Books and Mandalas, A Warning For Christians

As a Christian and even a Christian leader in my community, I wanted to take time to air my thoughts since I was asked.  Personally, I have never put much into mysticism, magic, etc.  I know there are forces in this world that exist and try to point us in the wrong direction.  I do not believe a pretty circle of patterns, flowers, hearts, or anything else will speak to me as I color it and let an evil overcome me.  But, I know there are some Christians that firmly believe that they need to stay away from everything that may be deemed mystical.  To me, they are just pretty and I can see how coloring a Mandala can be calming in today’s hustle and bustle.

In the last couple years, my son became good friends with a boy and his family are Jehovah Witnesses.  Because of the friendship and the fact that my son and this boy are both inquisitive and outspoken about faith, I wanted to read up on JW beliefs.  The reason that they do not celebrate is because all celebrations, especially one’s own birthday, are derived from mythical beliefs and paganism.  Christmas traditions are rooted in worship of other gods(something I did know previously from reading).  But, you know what?  I still celebrate.  We party and do gifts.  We have a tree at Christmas.  We even have a Christmas party and you will see decorations about our Savior, as well as Santa and elves.

I believe that Jesus is the son of God, who died on the cross for my sins.  I believe that history changes over time and old relics, traditions, and symbols do not carry the same weight with everyone.  I see a cross and it reminds me of the pain and suffering and enormous gift of Christ’s sacrifice.  Others with different beliefs wear crosses, carry crosses, and various other symbols and believe other things.  I don’t believe a Mandala is evil.  I respect it if you do.  Color it; don’t color it.  Your choice.  Now, if you excuse me, I have coloring to do.
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