Hello Friends! It’s great to be online and writing again. A week ago, my computer was dead. I contacted my computer guy to come pick it up and see what was wrong. He called me two days later to inform me I fried the hard drive, and I needed a new one. There was more bad news. He could not recover anything from the old hard drive. I had an external hard drive to back up to, but I assumed it did all that on its own. WRONG!
I had been writing my first Christian book and had six chapters completed. GONE! Priceless pictures of our past ten vacations were gone too. However, the Lord was there to reassure me I had nothing to worry about. “Fear Not,” I heard His small voice say. “Practice patience”. I was without my computer for five days. It was difficult not being able to blog, especially when I had some wonderful ideas that I wanted to share, but I didn’t back up my ideas on paper either.
During the time I was without my computer, God suggested I focus on other things. As I laid in bed last night, I realized that I had spent more time reading scriptures in the five days than I had in months. It had been months since I had actually spent any quality time with the Lord. Oh I’d pray many times throughout the day and would give a shout out to Jesus, but what I had stopped doing was retiring early enough that I would read scripture before bedtime. I’d been so busy with blogging and learning about social media that I took the time I once spent in scripture and prayer. This also brought me to another realization that I would like to share with those of you who are parents.
My husband and I went out for dinner last weekend. I noticed that there were several tables of families (mom, dad, children). At every table having one child up to four children all shared the same family trait. Both mother and father were on their cell phones. The older children had their own phones too. The younger ones sat quietly. One woman sat with her daughter that was around 8 or 9 years old. Mom was talking on her phone while her dinner sat untouched. The daughter had finished her meal and was just waiting patiently. Parents, if this sounds like you, please listen to me. While cell phones didn’t exist when I was a child, bars did. My mother would take me out to dinner, sit me in a booth and directed the waitress to let me order whatever I wanted while she sashayed back to the “cocktail lounge.” I remember feeling hurt that my own mother didn’t want to sit and talk with me. I was self conscious that the adults in the restaurant were staring at me wondering why I was sitting alone. Dinner at home wasn’t much better. My mom, grandmother and older sister ate in the living room so they could watch the evening news. I was told to sit in the kitchen with my dinner because I was too young and I’d make a mess on the carpet or furniture. I became used to eating by myself and, as a teenager, I developed an eating disorder that I still battle to this day.
It’s been over 50 years and I still think about my plight every time I see a child of a single parent taking second place to the mother’s cell phone. Meal time should be family time whenever possible.
How does this all tie together you might be asking? It all has to do with priorities. God should always come first in our lives. The Lord gently showed me I had allowed technology to take the special time I used to spend reading the bible and talking to Him. It’s important to be mindful of our actions and how we spend our time. God and family should never take a back seat to technology.
It’s that time again. The holidays are upon us. We are being bombarded with commercials to buy new cars, perfume, alcohol, the list goes on. Advertisers are also guilty of showing happy families sitting down for the holiday meal, each nicely dressed and chatting politely. You can almost smell the heavenly food as they politely pass around each dish. I have lived through 57 Thanksgivings and Christmases. Through the years I have spent them with my immediate family, friend’s family, boyfriend’s family, husband’s family, my sister’s family, total strangers on a cruise ship, and completely alone. As we age, the families grow and begin to divide. For those who never had children, holidays become more difficult once our parents pass on and other family members move away or become more distant. Lively neighborhoods bustle with the sounds of family and friends gathering across the street for the celebration we long for with our loved ones.
It has been a myth that suicide rates tend to increase during the holiday season. Yet, according to the National Institute of Health, Christmas is the time of year that people experience a high incidence of depression. High expectations, money woes, and other holiday hazards can spell trouble for those prone to depression. every where you turn, you’re being told how much you should be enjoying this time of year. You know you should be happy and having fun, but it just isn’t happening.
I remember the first Christmas after my mother had passed away. I was only 24 years old, single and no children. I had an older sister that had three boys living in the same town. That fall, I enrolled in a college class that dealt with holiday depression. I knew it was going to be difficult so I was trying to be pro-active in planning. One of the many things suggested was to plan a vacation. Go some place different. Being as how I lived in the pacific northwest, Christmas season was always cold, wet and dreary. I opted for a cruise to the Bahamas. I worked a second job for eight months just so I could pay for it. I had a wonderful time. It didn’t feel like Christmas day as I laid on the warm white sand with the sound of the ocean and gulls flying above. For four days I was able to escape the traditional holiday and enjoy my first Christmas without family and minimal depression.
As a Christian and an older adult, Christmas means something totally different to me than it once did. I no longer get caught up with all the reckless spending. My husband and I usually splurge and go to a nice restaurant for dinner and then enjoy a quiet evening watching holiday movies. We appreciate the fact we don’t have to deal with family bickering and their Olympics, annoying discussions and tired, unruly children. We celebrate the birth of our Lord and give thanks to Him. What is truly delightful is that when January rolls around, our budget still looks the same as the month before.
As a retired special education teacher, I have watched the up’s and down’s of a parent coming to terms with their child’s diagnosis of autism, ADHD, behavior disorders and mental retardation just to name a few. I have witnessed the anger and frustration toward God asking, “Why my child God? I never did drugs or alcohol while pregnant. I was careful with my diet. Why did this happen to me?” This is not the time to tell a parent that it’s, “God’s will” or that, “God has a reason”. What I prefer to do in such cases is to introduce them to the poem, “Welcome To Holland” By Emily Perl Kingsley. (http://dsnetworkaz.org/holland). Since I retired from the school district, I spend time advocating for parents and their child reach their full potential in the public school system as well as at home and their community.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” ~Jeremiah 1:5
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb” ~Psalm 139:13
God does not make mistakes. I have never been able to answer the parent’s question, “Why?” but I love to share with parents what wonderful gifts I see in their child. Working with these children, I have discovered that I learn as much from them as I hope they learn from me. God has blessed me with a special gift of being able to work with His children. As a teacher, the job can be stressful at times, but patience and continuity are essential. I see the potential and celebrate their gifts that God gave them as well. While many children with autism share similar characteristics of autism, they are still unique individuals with their own special skills. They are God’s sons and daughters. Look beyond the disability and see their distinctive ABILITIES!
As for the parents of these wonderful children, God never gives us more than we can bear (even though we all question just how strong He thinks we are) God has chosen you because you have a gift to raise this child with love, patience and understanding. There will be tough days, but the successes and milestones your child reaches, no matter how small it seems, is cause for celebration. God bless you.