Wednesday, January 06, 2016

what i mean when i say #autismisblessingme and other thoughts i needed to write out.

i've been using a hashtag for awhile now, #autismisblessingme. this may be a misunderstood concept, so i would love to explain myself. to be blessed is to be provided with something good or desirable. for me, being a mom to an autistic child has provided me with something good and lovely. it's not the circumstance i would have chosen for me, but i didn't know then that i needed this life so dearly. i must daily decide to see our life together this way.  love is the lens for this hopeful vision. beyond feelings, beyond what i see with my natural eyes, love lights the way to a full life. 

i don't know what it's like to actually be autistic. i do know how to love an autistic person. i won't fool you or myself and say i get it right every day, because i do not. there are many threads yet to be woven for me in this tapestry of living life alongside autism. one pivotal moment for me seeing a glimpse of the bigger picture was when i realized that love was the whole point. of life, motherhood, everything. i began with love, created on purpose for a purpose. i was rescued by love, christ died for me when i gave zero flips for him. because of that real, righteous love god demonstrated to me, i can pour it out into the lives of anyone and everyone. especially the child god gave me to raise. the beginning of this song (holla, my christmas raps from 2004!) rewinds in my mind, calling me to ponder: more than what love is, what does love dolove is busy, yes? 

love is active. in its giving, accepting, truth-telling, rejoicing, knowing, forgiving, listening, hoping, enduring; love is the best sort of busy. 

"love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. it does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. love never ends." 1 corinthians 13:1-8 esv
let me back up. my heart is heavy tonight, and has been for a long, long while. specifically over the lack of love i see for others, and even more specifically, autistic people. most recently my deep thoughts were prompted by this post i read last night. brilliant mr. bonnello carefully laid out five ways to damage your autistic child without knowing. i cheered through my tears as i took in his words. please read the article, whether or not autism directly affects your life, i think it's helpful to think on these things, seeing and loving others as they are. i have been guilty of some of the points he made and i have seen the hurt in my child. but the great thing about "seeing the light"? it scatters the darkness and you're able to move forward. seeing my child as a person, not "just autistic", it changed my life with my son. god reminded me that any dream i may have had of a typical life, being a typical mama, it wasn't an interruption or a disappointment to have those dreams replaced. these new paths are invitations to appointments with god. in learning to intentionally love my son for exactly who he is, i am seeing more clearly the way my perfect heavenly father loves me. there is nothing i can do at any time to make him love me less or more than he does right now. that is freeing and comforting and that is the love i want to mirror to my boy.

i cannot give that true sort of love if i see, or allow others to see, my child's special needs as an interruption or burden. when my plans/rest/convenience/focus/happiness are more important than a person, i will fail in the love giving department. elijah is more than autism, and also totally autistic. it's impossible to love him "but hate his autism". if he heard that from me, that would be damaging. for all of us. i believe he was designed perfectly by god and i can love all of him for all he is. even parts i don't yet understand. that is the way i am loved. it's not easy to do this on my own, not because of elijah, but because of myself! i get in the way of my own love mission so often because i think too much about me, me, me and my feelings and my hopes and my dreams. i'd say i want the best for elijah, but really. i think what i was wanting was a different life for myself. this is an ongoing process for me and will be 'til i meet jesus! 
this learning to live like i am fully loved and love like i know it's true. when i feel the grittiness of this life, i am reminded that this world is not my home. i wasn't built to be comfortable here! i was designed to long for a more-better life. having an eternal focus has a sweet way of making this earthly place make sense.

before you share about that meltdown on social media, ask yourself something like this: how would i feel if someone shared me yelling at my husband? a time when i've lost control and don't feel safe, broadcast to the world. 

it's not wrong to pray for easier, safer, fewer meltdowns. and it's good to seek help when you need it! but let our love be genuine, let our intentions be to build up and protect, just as we would want to be encouraged and kept from humiliation. because face this: our children are listening all the time, and feeling all our feelings. imagine them reading what you write about them, is that a picture of love? if it isn't, there's hope to change that scene. 

autism is blessing me, because through loving someone on the spectrum, i am learning more about real love. my hope isn't to have a life as "normal" as possible with my son, my hope is to enjoy life with my son. enjoyment is the result of getting to know him better every day. for our family, we saw that letting go of formal therapy was another pivotal step for us. we were therapy-ing our child to kingdom come! there was a time where elijah was "working" more than an adult full time job, and for what? to "function better in society"? or was it an attempt to make him less autistic? these thoughts can breed heated conversations, and i welcome them, talk with me! we don;t regret our therapy, we had amazing professionals who loved and really knew our boy. we saw when that season needed to end though and he needed to do more life-on-life living in this crazy world.  we found ourselves wondering why does being autistic mean his childhood lacks so much free play and exploration? little boys, all children! they learn a massive amount through organic play. he needs to have freedom to  play, learn and discover at his own pace.

and before you tell me autistic children don't know how to play, have you given yours the chance? really given them a chance. you're longing to hear the words "i love you, mama", but are you listening? they're telling us, and we hear it when we learn their language. having trouble connecting with your neurotypical loved one? spend time with them, what do they love? love that thing with them, together. you will connect.

i believed too long the discouraging lies, like my child can't empathize. except he's the most empathetic human i have ever met. autistic persons aren't lacking emotion, on the contrary, they're bursting with emotion! i believe they have the ability to love deeper, truer and more free than i ever could.

we all have challenges.
let's stop comparing them and start changing the way we look at them.
let's love each other.
let's accept. let's connect. let's respect. let's protect.
let's be blessing each other, mom to child, person to person, let's be busy loving.

a sweet bonus, because it's one of my favorite spots on the internet:
amythest schaber's ask an autistic series is a wonderful place to get to know an autistic!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

my thanksgiving

i am one of those people, i truly love every season of the year! now, late fall (thanksgiving!) and soon easing into winter (via christmas!), is top of my list, best. 2015 has already felt at least twenty months long, we're over it in many ways. something happened in my heart recently and i am ready for thanksgiving. i am ready to celebrate what god has done and is doing in my tiresome-confusing-lonely-beautiful-sweet circumstances. because in all things i am to be grateful. 

rejoice always,
pray without ceasing,
give thanks in all circumstances, 
for this is the will of god in christ jesus, for you.
1 thessalonians 5:16-18

not necessarily for all things, but in all things.
we moved south eighteen months ago and if i'm real about it, only now do i feel a glimmer of being "settled in". one year and one month of this time has been spent house hunting. that feels like an eternity. a crawling, disappointing eternity. for whatever reason the lord has kept us in an apartment instead of a house, i need to trust him. his best for me rarely looks like what my best for me would be.

how about this spring, when elijah was diagnosed with pediatric follicular non-hodgkin's lymphoma? was that best for us? not in my dreams. the lord brought that to us and is bringing us through it. he's so far keeping elijah cancer free, and the three months between each checkup are a perfect time to be laying our weights down at the feet of jesus. he is bigger than anxiety and the crusher of fear. we lean hard into him and cling to his truth.

god is working his best for us in his perfect time. he makes good things sweeter and hard things lighter.

as we inch closer to thanksgiving day, my heart is so full! i want to record just a few marks of god's goodness here:

my husband and his staying power, at work and home.
elijah's sky-rocketting progress at school. his widened vocabulary and joyful, gentle spirit.
our church family. regular, faithful preaching of god's word and a heart for local and global missions. our church's service to the special needs of my family.
new friendships blooming. old friendships strengthened.
hope and healing for a broken heart and confused mind.
elijah's teacher who spotted the lump on his neck. the wise and gracious staff at our wonderful children's hospital. the opportunity to see them every three months. 
a way to work at home, being creative and providing for my family.
autism. a mystery that draws me closer to jesus, a gift that gives me compassion.
god is with us and he keeps his promises. the mostly crazy ways he shows me that is true.

lord, i thank you! for who you are and what you finished for me. help me to rest in your enough-ness. give me strength to hold fast to you. show me again the wisdom of your ways above my own.  draw me close to you. give me a grateful heart in you, every season of my life.

Friday, August 21, 2015

god made all of me - the next book your family needs

i'm so excited to share this book with y'all! and the amazing pre-order offer below!
perhaps you've been curious or anxious about how sexual assualt has or potentially will affect your family. i know, we don't enjoy thinking of these things! but we must think about this, and more importantly, take steps to keep our children safe.

our family is so passionate about sexual abuse prevention and aftercare and we're glad a book like this is coming available! 

having been sexually abused as a child, i want you to know: never assume your children know how to keep themselves safe. never assume they know they can come to you and talk about anything at all. educating yourself, developing safe bonds with your kids and sharing all you know will change their lives. this topic shouldn't be awkward or treated with whispers. evil and shame lurk in the secrets. i hope you'll begin healthy conversations and routines with your children to let them know how much god loves them and wants them to be safe!

this book will be a fantastic tool to help you help your kids.
god made all of me: a book to help children protect their bodies is the latest from justin and lindsey holcomb, releasing september 8. in these pages you'll find hope and help, through important facts, scripture and examples to encourage your children to know their bodies and keep them safe. 

education is crucial to preventing inappropriate sexual behavior or contact. as parents and caregivers, we can be smarter and better prepared than those who wish to harm our kids we love and want to protect! god made all of me teaches safe touch, secrets vs. surprise and how to ask for help.

it's impossible to protect our families from the evils of this world. we trust the lord and the wisdom he gives if we seek it, to equip us for whatever crosses our path. you are the best defense for your kids. small and powerful book will guide you to giving your little ones a positive, straightforward understanding of their precious bodies and how to keep them safe.

the holcombs have shared an incredible pre-order offer for you!
already pre-ordered? you can submit your receipt here and claim your gifts!

this book would make a great gift for your relatives, teacher or pastor!

we all believe our children's safety is important. we take care to teach traffic safety, swimming safety, fire safety, etc. let's be intentional and proactive and add their personal/body safety to that important list!

praying god uses this little book to make you more aware and more secure about your kids' protection.

Monday, August 17, 2015

my prayer tonight - for elijah

most days we do our own thing. i'd forgotten a bit, how true that is, until you started school last week. switching to the non-summer routine hurts. but with all its pain, we're already seeing the treasure of it. you've got an amazing teacher this year and your classroom is jungle themed. monkeys everywhere! it's like she knew your curious george obsessed self was coming and made it just right for you. i loved sitting with you in your class for orientation! you loved the booklet your teacher made you, telling you all about herself. when you saw the page about her birthday your eyes danced and you "talked to my ears" mama! let's surprise mrs. mc. on her birthday! what a sweet answer to prayer, this kind teacher and her contagious smile. another answer to prayer, you have the same aide as last year! i'm so excited to see how this year unfolds. let's back up and talk about this prayer business.

we learned several weeks ago that even though you'd be repeating kindergarten, nothing would be the same. new teacher, new special educators, new aide. i was anxious for you. fearful, too. you've had such a difficult few months. oh, how i sometimes wish i could make everything easy for you! change is hard for us all, but i know it's a whole 'nother world of hard for you, sweet boy. quickly the dread melted away because i remembered who knows you even better than i do. jesus. 

jesus knew about the changes before we did and he knew your needs well before that. he's a good designer and makes no mistakes. we can trust his way, even when it seems dim to our comfort focused sight. so i prayed. i didn't feel the need to ask for much besides god's help to trust him. lord, you know elijah now and who he will be this school year. bring the right staff and bring peace as we trust your giving. and son. he went and placed you in the best kindergarten class. he brought a sweet soul in to be your special educator. he went above and beyond what i even thought to pray for and gave you precious m. again as your personal sidekick. we didn't think she was even coming back to your school, much less to be your aide!

i want you to know.
when we cuddle up at bedtime, after stories and songs, when we talk to god? he hears us. i think you already know this. 

you came home from school talking about a boy who has no hands. you had so many questions and comments. we discussed differences and kindness. your response was to talk to god about it. you looked up and out the window and shouted up your prayer god! hey. there's a boy with no hands. he needs help. please give his hands back. help him. you know who to go to when you're confused and helpless. and you believe he is listening. he is. 
my prayer tonight is that jesus will continue to reveal himself to you and draw you close to himself. as you wrestle with understanding this noisy world you live in, i hope you see jesus clearest of all.

Monday, June 08, 2015

hello, summer.

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i haven't posted here for six months, today seemed like a great day to pick it up. instagram has been my go-to for life documentation, i guess. if you aren't connected with me there, we have a ridiculous amount of catching up to do! i am looking forward to writing here more often.
elijah finished school two weeks ago and we are enjoying the glory of summer time. last week he went to vacation bible school at our church and had the best time, it was his first time to participate in a vbs week. speaking of first times, he's off to day camp this morning! i can't believe he's big enough for such things. 

life moves pretty fast.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

he is with me.

it's here. the season of advent, awaiting the celebrated day our savior was born. our crooked tree stands in the living room, carefully packed with pounds of christmas cheer. everything seems more peaceful when seen by its glow of colorful lights. tree trimmings and various other holly jolly bits are working hard to set a festive tone. but it's just not enough for our tired bodies and souls. we've been passing sickness 'round and around here since before thanksgiving. i'm over it. i'm fighting to feel the lord near in this strange loneliness that bunks with sickness. he is enough for me. for us. will i believe that?

i'm mostly behind on all things christmas, and everything else really. one thing i committed to do and am keeping up with so far: some advent reading. each year i try to read something personally, apart from whatever we do as a family. we usually read through the jesus story book bible. this year i chose to follow the she reads truth advent reading plan. it's so good! making this time each day, no matter what i feel like, has helped me tremendously. some days i've had to stop and restart a few times, but i make it happen.
meeting with the lord always gives rest. always breathes peace. always births hope. it's fascinating to me how i can crave and avoid at the same time. the life-giving power of the scripture, the fellowship with my savior, it sometimes feels like work. even during this special time of year. am i willing to do the work?

"what i want most for christmas this year is to join you (and many others) in seeing christ in all his fullness and that we together be able to love what we see  with a love far beyond our own half-hearted human capacities." john piper
well, i asked the lord specifically to help my focus this advent season. he's made sure i'm listening! i can see only strep throat and the flu, or the opportunity in the halt of the to-do lists and activities. he's helping me wait for him. in being forced to rest, i'm compelled to consider the manger and the tiny king swaddled there. 

jesus didn't come to fix me. he came to make me new. he came to rescue me from sin and sadness, from my goodness that's not good enough. he came to give me real rest, true freedom and hope. i want to see this jesus, i want to see emmanuel god with us.
he is with me in the miles that separate me from family. he is with me in the fever monitoring and endless laundry. he is with me when i feel forgotten. he is with me when i forget he is with me.

"come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and i will give you rest. take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for i am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." matthew 11:28-29

i've shared this video before and i'm sharing it again. listen and rest. emmanuel!

Thursday, November 20, 2014


elijah and patrick fell asleep during bedtime reading, so here i am for a minute.

i'm really struggling that we're nearly at the end of november. i feel like i keep saying it, but good grief. i can't keep up with time these days!

we really had a cold snap here this past week. i've loved it. breathing in the chilly, crisp air puts life into my brain and bones, the leaves here are fading, but still showing off their color a bit. speaking of leaves, it's wonderful to have trees everywhere. such a change from the tree-less plains we grew so fond of. 

my baby sister is having her third baby soon. tomorrow! this is the first time i won't be there. she has a sweet, wonderful husband by her side, that is comforting to know. i am missing her so much though. looking forward to seeing photos and hearing the story of the little man's birth. and his name of course, they haven't decided on one yet :)

elijah has had an incredibly successful week at school. he's so excited that tomorrow is friday. i'm so excited that he has all week off next week. he doesn't realize it yet, and i cry just thinking of how happy he'll be for the break!

i did some christmas ornament shopping today. gift exchanges are irresistible to me, fyi. i had a great time, and i was almost giddy at the alone time i had to peruse shops and flocked trees for just the right ornament. it's been years since i strolled through a giant department store with little agenda. wow. there's just so much stuff. and this time of year? out of control stuff. but i love it, ha! having worked in retail for many years of my life, i especially notice all the displays and imagine how long they took to design and assemble. i miss that. and i miss chatting with all the shoppers. there's something about the "festive energy" this time of the year. you know what i mean? we're preparing for thanksgiving, which is truly a preparation for christmas. we're wide-eyed with all the shiny noise of it all. possibly overwhelmed by the lists, or perhaps the lack. we all desire "great" holiday experiences, i think. i'm guilty of having a wonky perspective of what actually makes a holiday great. it's not the playlists, movie marathons, the wrappings, the decor, the family, the feasts. it's the giver. always the giver.
on days like today, with carols filling my ears and surrounded by everything jolly, i push myself to remember the truth. the giver. let me focus on him.

anyway. i'm gonna go wake my husband, because i'm a nice wife who wants to hang out a little. it felt good to pour out my thoughts these last few minutes. what's on your mind tonight?