Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Growing Pains in Recovery

Josh continues in his recovery process with Autism.  He truly is a different child, and people who haven't seen him for several months are astonished at the drastic changes.  We continue to be thrilled at the progress he makes on a daily basis and are excited that he continues to thrive off of all drugs since the middle of June.

A new heartache has overcome my heart though.  As Josh recovers from his Autism symptoms, he is experiencing some difficult "growing pains."  He is becoming increasingly social and socially aware.  He is not content to be or play by himself like he used to be obsessed with doing.  He now longs for peer interaction and is frustrated if he can't engage his peers.  Gone are the days when he was blissfully ignorant when he was chosen last for a team or group or when kids were mean to him.  Now, he is fully aware of when he is shunned or intentionally skipped or overlooked.  With that awareness comes a lot of pain and hardship and the shedding of tears.  I am proud of the way Josh has been trying hard to reach out to peers who have been mean to him in an attempt to be nice to them.  However, it's so frustrating when the kindness is not reciprocated and instead unkind words or actions are the thanks for his kindness.  I so desperately want him to be successful socially.  I want him to have friends and be liked.  I want him to be accepted and not looked down upon or disregarded.

Granted, Josh still has miles to go in the socialization category.  This is something that we haven't been able to work on to a large extent because we always had more serious behaviors and issues to be addressing.  Now that those things are things of the past, the socialization shortfalls are front and center and overwhelming.  In his attempt to be involved, he feels the need to make a comment about everything and anything even if it means saying something utterly ridiculous.  His actions and words are often socially inappropriate, but he's trying to engage!  I have to look at the progress there.  We are ramping up all efforts at home, school, and with his therapies to address these social deficits, but in the meantime, I'd love to see the right person come along who is willing to accept Josh and his quirks and love him just because he is a person worthy of love and acceptance.

It grieves me to see him hurting.  At times, I dreadfully wish we could go back to when he was blissfully ignorant socially just to spare him the pain.  However, the logical side of me realizes the importance of even these difficult growing pains if he is going to continue to succeed and be all that God wants him to be.  He is 12 years old and does not know what it is like to have a friend.  It used to be that his interpretation of a "friend" is someone who lets him watch over their shoulder as they play on their electronic device.  A "friend" to him was a means to an end or desire.  Now he longs to have someone he can have conversations with or interact with.  However, line of peers waiting and willing to become his friend stands vacant.  In fact, there are no viable friend options in our community or his school that we are aware of.

I have to turn my sorrow and grief into action.  I have begun to plead with the Lord to bring Josh a friend -- to allow him to know the comforts of having someone to talk to, spend time with, and enjoy being together just because.  God is the God of the impossible.  He has brought Josh this far defeating so many impossibles already!  I am praying a friendship is the next impossible God accomplishes in Josh's life!  Will you pray with me for a friend for Josh?

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Leading by Example

This election season is very complex and is becoming extremely divisive.  It's actually been hard to stomach at times.  From what I can deduct from all that I read on Facebook and hear presented in the media, neither of the main candidates are desired by either party, but many people are choosing to vote for a particular candidate based on the philosophy of the "lesser of 2 evils."

I refuse to fall into that trap.  Why? For one, I choose to vote for a candidate that I feel will help to make America a better country.  I personally believe both of our primary candidates will only do damage to our nation.  If you look at the definition of the word "vote," you will find this:  "a formal expression of opinion or choice, either positive or negative, made by an individual or body of individuals" and this "to express or signify will or choice in a matter, as by casting a ballot."  I think this is a great statement about voting:  "The ability to vote allows citizens to say their opinion and choice on a variety of issues. In the American political system, voting allows registered citizens to cast their choice for the political leader that they believe can accurately make the choices that will better the country" (http://borgenproject.org/voting-is-important/).  When I vote on election day, I am expressing my opinion and choice.  If my opinion/choice goes against what I believe is right and important, then I am being a hypocrite because I am expressing my opinion/choice which differs from my beliefs.  I refuse to be a double standard person.

Consider these quotes from men of old which I feel so adequately represent my own belief:
Images from http://buckyboymike.blogspot.com/2016/07/a-vote-of-conscience.html

Here are 3 thoughts I have about this situation:

  1. What if every voter voted for principle in this election?  Considering all who I have heard state that they don't like either of the primary candidates, if each of those people voted for principle instead of the lesser of two evils, they would make a collective statement to both parties that they need to present better candidates in the future.  This could drastically effect change in our broken party system.  Our votes for another person, while probably not enough to elect a third party or other candidate, would speak loudly to bring about change.  However, we will continue in the ridiculous state that we are in because only a few people will oppose it by changing their vote.  I will place my vote for a third party/other candidate to make a statement to Lord-willing effect change in our broken system.
  2. Like the quotes state above, I value voting for principle, voting with my conscience, and voting in a way that will be right and honorable before God and my country.  There are some virtues and beliefs that I am not willing to compromise on when it comes to voting for a political leader, a church leader, or someone else in an elected position of authority.  These are important to me, and most are convictions from the Holy Spirit.  To deny these convictions would be to deny the Holy Spirit and my conscience.  I refuse to do that.  I will stand firm to my beliefs and convictions in all aspects of my life.
  3. Someone shared a political cartoon on a conversation thread on my Facebook page in response to my statement that I refuse to vote for either of the 2 primary candidates.  This is it:
     This is so ridiculous in so many ways!  By NOT voting for someone, I am NOT leading to loss of rights!  For one, God is the one who raises up and takes down rulers from their high positions--not my vote!  God is the one who governs people's actions and choices leading to rights gained or lost.  He is sovereign.  He is in total control.  The biggest thing that totally bothers me about that cartoon is the insinuation that I am being a bad parent if I don't vote against someone by voting for someone.  As a parent, it is my duty to train my children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  That means teaching them to make wise choices in the midst of difficult circumstances.  It means helping them to decipher what is right and wrong.  It means teaching them not to give in to peer pressure or to follow the crowd for the wrong reasons.  It means helping them to value making a difference and effecting change.  It means helping them live lives that are not guilty of double standards or hypocrisy.  It means helping them listen to the Holy Spirit rather than fears.  It means encouraging them to pray about their decisions and study God's Word to determine their beliefs.  I can't do this just by telling them what to do or pounding Scripture into their heads.  I do this by leading by example--showing them through my life and choices that these are important qualities to instill in their own lives and that it's possible to have these qualities in this life.  If I don't lead by example, I will fail!  As I go into the polling booth, I will lead by example showing my kids that I hold to my principles and standards, that I vote for people that I feel can lead our country in the right way, and that I can do so without being hypocritical or compromising my beliefs.  No matter what circumstances my children find themselves in as adults, I pray that their lives will be reflective of the way I trained them and led by example so that they can deal with the good and bad circumstances of life that are a direct result of God's plans for their good and His glory (not some vote I made years before!).
As you go to the polls this November, I pray that you will choose to vote based on conviction and conscience.  If you can do so and vote for one of the 2 primary candidates, then good for you.  If you are voting for one of those 2 candidates going against your convictions and conscience, perhaps you need to do a little more soul searching before you make your vote.  Make your vote count for the right reasons!