Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Aaron! Good Night!!

Last night Aaron was in one of his "I want to talk about everything that I may have missed during the day - before we go to bed"  moods.  It was late and we were, of course, tired.  Gary and I had both stopped by Aaron's bedroom to say goodnight to him.........but last night that wasn't enough.

I was washing my face and Gary was working on his alarm clock when we heard the familiar thump-thump-thump of Aaron coming up the hall.  He passed right by his bathroom, though, and burst.......yes, burst.......into our room. 

Gary patiently reminded him that he COULD knock. 

Aaron responded, "Well, I wanted to say good night."

We already said good night, Aaron.  That zinged right over his head as he said, "Dad, you know the plastic on my lamp burned so Mom and I got a new one."  Gary told him yes, that he had seen the new one and that it was very nice. 

After saying good night again, Aaron left the room............only to burst in soon after that.  "Mom!  Is it going to rain tonight?" 

No, Aaron, we already talked about that.  "Well, is it going to rain tomorrow?"  No, it's not going to rain tomorrow.    "Are you sure it's not going to rain tonight?"  I'm sure, Aaron.  "Do you wish it would rain tomorrow?" 

AARON!!  I don't care about the rain right now!  It's time for bed!

"OK.  Good night, Dad.  Good night, Mom."   

Thump......thump.......uh-oh.   He turned around!!  Door bursts open..............."Mom, can I keep the keyboard in tomorrow?  Have I been doing good on the keyboard?" 

Aaron!   We'll see how you continue to do with the keyboard.  Good night!

"So can Jackson go with us tomorrow?"     No, Aaron, I have errands to run after I drop you off.

Whereupon he began talking to Jackson, who was laying on our floor. 

Aaron!  Go to bed!

"But I wanted to say good night to Jackson.  Good night, Jackson!"

And believe it or not, he actually came back one more time.........burst in the door.............."Mom, do you want me to take my dirty clothes down to the hamper now?" 

Deep breath..............very deep, cleansing breath...........Aaron, take your clothes down tomorrow.  Right now...........GO TO BED!!!!!!!!!!!

"OK.  Good night Dad.  Good night Mom.  Good night Jackson."

Good night, John Boy!!!! 

Cue the closing music...........I'm going to bed!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mom, Basketball, and Tears

I've often written about Aaron and he asks who we are voting for or talks about the refs in their jail outfits and so many other hilarious comments.  However, this post is not about Aaron at all.  I'm thinking of my mother today, because of an email from my sister.........let me explain.

My mom and dad loved - I mean, LOVED - sports.  They liked football, adored basketball, and for Dad..........well, he was passionate about baseball.  They had multiple loyalties, I guess you'd say, but were avid North Carolina and West Virginia fans when it came to college games, and especially loved the Atlanta Braves when it came to baseball.  I won't even discuss how much they loved watching all their nieces play high school and college basketball. 

Their very first date, which I'm pretty certain was in 1948, was to travel from their homes in West Virginia down to North Carolina in order to attend a Tarheel football game.  Mom used to love to tell that story, with a twinkle in her eye, for she would tell how on their first date she and Jack went on an overnight trip to North Carolina.  Dad would look at her and say, "Beth!"  And she would laugh, and then go on to explain that they stayed with her brother and Dad's sister, who were married...........which is how Mom and Dad met.  Another story for another day, perhaps. 

I don't remember much television watching of games when we were young, but as time went on and games were televised more, then Mom and Dad totally enjoyed watching as many games as they could.  Mom didn't really enjoy baseball a lot, but became a very knowledgeable fan as she joined Dad in watching the games, especially after they both retired.  She shared his enthusiasm and also his love of statistics, rattling off wins and losses with the best of them. 

She and Dad wore their favorite team's tee shirts and sweatshirts, and Dad had a huge collection of baseball hats.  He and Mom made sure that they were hung just right, and Mom kept them clean.  All of this was just another example of their love and support of one another, and of how they shared so much of their lives together. 

I traveled home to West Virginia in November of 2008 to stay for a month.  Dad was dying of liver cancer and I had told him that when he called me to come and help, I would be there.  That call came on November 2, and a few days later I was with them.  We settled into a routine of sorts.  Mom and Dad loved organization and routine.............and one routine was to continue to watch their favorite teams play on television.  Mom and I would get Dad in his wheelchair, move him to their family room and position him in his favorite lounge chair, and then Mom would settle in her chair and I in the other chair. 

Dad still wanted control of the remote, which I found to be so sweet and funny.  He wasn't possessive at all, but this had always been his job and he didn't relinquish it easily.  However, he was so slow in his movements that when he finally got the television on and the correct channel found, some time had gone by.  Then came finding the volume button, and slowly pushing his index finger down on it.  The volume would quickly zoom up, and frustration would start setting in.  He would oh-so-slowly find the down button and again would slowly push down until the volume was mute.  More frustration and very slow maneuverings would finally result in the right volume.  I had to smile at the two of them, and wonder if I was getting a glimpse of Gary and I in our future!

The ballgames were a time of coziness and normalcy to them, and to me while I was there with them.  Though both Mom and Dad slept through a good part of the games, they still enjoyed that time together and the feeling it gave them of keeping their life the way it always was, doing what they loved.  Dad knew that he was failing physically, but he kept hanging on..........largely because he knew that Mom was failing mentally and he worried about her. 

In an email today, my sister Jan told us that this past Saturday she called Mom, now living in an assisted living center.  She always calls Mom when there's a ballgame that she'll want to watch in order to talk her through the process of turning on the TV and finding the right channel.  Yes, my sweet little mother even has a hard time getting the television turned on and so one of the family there makes sure that she has the game on and can enjoy it.  Jan got Mom all set up to watch the NC game and they hung up.  About 10 minutes later, Mom called Jan and asked her which team she should be rooting for. 

If anything ever showed Mom's mental decline, this incident certainly did.  I don't know...........she can forget the names of her grandchildren and great-grands, which she does all the time now, or not be exactly sure who she's talking to on the phone or get mixed up about what day or time it is..........but something about not knowing to root for NC just solidified to me how much things have changed.  I kept myself in check emotionally while I dropped Aaron off to his group and then stopped for a few groceries, but on the way home the tears flowed as I thought of the pieces of Mom's mind that are forever slipping away.  She was the most competent and industrious woman I have ever known, and now she can't remember what team to pull for. 

Life is full of changes, I know that, but it's still hard sometimes to see it in the ones that we love so much.  Heaven seems sweeter all the time, where we'll be together with our loved worship and sing and talk and laugh.  

There won't be Mountaineers or Tarheels or Braves, I don't imagine, or televisions or stubborn remotes.  But we will have each other forever, whole and strong and always happy............and all on the same winning team!

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Dentist.........And More

Aaron and I had an appointment to go to today, and while this was the real reason for our outing today:

......for Aaron the REAL purpose for him to go along was:

.......and, most definitely:

The dentist was a necessary side trip in order to make it to his real destinations.  And too bad - Aaron has a cavity, which he has rarely had, and so next week we will once again visit the dentist on the side as we take care of the more important matters of shopping and eating out.  I'm thankful that Aaron has always done well at the dentist with his cleanings and other procedures.  He's one tough guy!  Probably the hardest part for him is that he can't talk when his mouth is open!!  But he makes up for it as I'm talking to the receptionist and making his next appointment.  He was telling her all about the movie he's watching now.......King Kong.......and the movie he was watching before that........The Thing.  I pulled him away before he started talking about the movie before that one, and the one before that, and............

We left the dentist just before 11:15.  I asked Aaron if he wanted to eat lunch first, and he said, "No.  It's not 12:00 yet."  Oh, of course.  Lunch is at 12:00 - not at 11:30.  How ridiculous of me to forget that! 

Off to Wal-Mart we went.  Aaron knew that we were going to get him a new lamp for his nightstand, since his old one got too hot the other night and nearly burned a hole in the plastic shade.  No more plastic shaded desk lamps!  I had a few other purchases to make, with Aaron lumbering beside me, trying to be patient.  He saw no need for Q-tips or dental floss when all he had on his mind was his new lamp.......oh, and a new pair of headphones for when he plays his computer games.  He did very well, though, and I only had to remind him a few times to not clap and to quit making those "passing gas" noises that make people stare at ME!  He finds that fact to be quite funny.  I don't. 

He was very happy to walk into Applebees for lunch, even though it wasn't quite 12:00 yet.  Close enough, though, so he agreed.  We were seated in a booth in the bar area, which makes Aaron ask if he can taste some Coors Light........and then laugh because he knows that he is so funny.  "Well, Mom, I always wondered what beer tastes like."  Right, Aaron.  Keep wondering.

He decided to get some Strawberry Tea and after asking the waitress what the Fiesta Lime Chicken was, and not really understanding a word of what she said as she described it, he told her that he would order that.  I got a salad, and with our two for $20.00 I got us the onion rings for an appetizer.  Aaron loves onion rings and wanted to know, as always, how they are made.  He wondered how they got the hole cut in that ring and stuffed the onion inside.  So once again I explained about the batter and the hot oil, knowing that we will have this same discussion again one day. 

The onion rings were very crumbly on the outside.  Aaron doesn't like getting crumbs or oil on his hands, so with every bite he would turn and rub his hands together to remove the crumbs, then wipe them on his napkin.  EVERY SINGLE bite, mind you, would result in the hand rubbing and the hand wiping.  This is quite the process, which means that we didn't finish the onion rings and the remainder are now in our frig..........waiting for the process to be repeated again.

Aaron's Fiesta Lime Chicken came.   I was so surprised that Aaron didn't ask for the Whiskey Sirloin Steak and I didn't remind him, believe me.  He was intrigued by the little red tortilla strips that the chicken breast was laying on.  "Mom, what are those?  They're weird looking."  He proceeded to eat them one by one, by hand, until finally he couldn't remove any more of them from under the chicken.  Next came the rice, hard for him to eat with a fork and not a spoon, but he managed just fine.......slow but sure.........picking up every single grain of rice that dropped on the table with his fingers........and finally eating every single little grain from his plate. 

He tackled the remaining red tortilla strips again because he had room to move his chicken.  All those funny red strips had to be eaten before he could eat the chicken.  "Mom, it looks like they stripped a red tortilla.  They look like those paper things that people use in parties.  What is that called?  Machetes?"

Machetes?  Uh, no Aaron........that would be confetti.  Falling machetes would be rather painful, don't you think?  And again he thought that he was very funny.

He finally managed to get all the hidden tortilla strips out from under the chicken and safely eaten so that he could then eat the chicken........boneless, the way he likes his chicken.  He didn't want the lime, he said, because it's too sweet.  He changed that to sour after I squeezed some on his plate for him to try.

He decided to turn around and stare into the booth behind us to see what that family was eating and why the waitress and manager were laughing so hard.  They were very kind, as was the waitress when Aaron asked her if her job was hard and did she like it.  He bounced to the peppy music, clapped several times, asked if rain tonight might come out, tried to sneak over to the bar for a toothpick, and made sure that every weird red tortilla strip and grain of rice was eaten.  He polished off his second glass of Strawberry Tea, and then asked what was for supper.

Chicken, Aaron.........we're having chicken. 

"Is it boneless?"  he asked. 

No, Aaron, it does have bones.  But no weird red stripped tortilla or sweet lime. 

And definitely no falling machetes!!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Lessons From the Long Root

I spent many hours outside last summer as I struggled to keep our flowers, bushes, and vegetables alive in our severe heat and drought. With no sprinkler system, I would spend lots of time standing and spraying our plants with water - or propping the hose up while I busied myself with something else and then would hurry back in order to rearrange the hose once more. During these times of watering was when I noticed the little weed in the flower bed that surrounds the light pole in our front yard. This small area was where I usually began my morning watering. I would prop the hose up just so and then I would take that time to pull more of the hose out of the hose box, get the pruning shears out of the cabinet in the garage, or put on my garden shoes before moving the hose to another flower bed.

I saw the little weed and thought that I really should pull it, but then would forget about it as I began to take care of other matters. It was nestled along the edge of my pretty yellow Coreopsis and wasn't very noticeable. Its leaves even blended in with the Coreopsis leaves and so it wasn't offensive or annoying. Day after day went by. Some days I didn't even think about the little intruding weed. On other days, when it would once again grab my attention, I was usually busy with something else. I told myself that I would pull it later, or that tomorrow I would get to it. Besides, it wasn't doing any harm there. It actually added some nice green color to our flower beds that were becoming increasingly brown in the oppressive heat. There was always an excuse for not pulling the seemingly harmless weed.

One hot day as I worked among my flowers, I looked down and saw that this little weed had grown significantly. Still, it wasn't huge but it sure was larger than I had noticed before. Silly me, I thought. Why have I been waiting to pull this once-little weed? I just need to get rid of it now, I reasoned. I reached down and gave the weed a pull.........and nothing happened. I pulled a bit harder, and still the weed didn't budge. I gripped harder on the small growth, gave a firmer yank, and still it sat firm in its place in the dirt. This small, harmless weed was certainly being stubborn! It wasn't letting go of its foothold very easily at all! I was so deceived by the small growth that I could see, that I was in turn shocked by its apparently deep growth in the soil. I once again got a firmer hold, jiggled the weed back and forth, pulled with all my might..............and finally out came the root. What a surprise! The root was very long - much longer in proportion to the rest of the plant. While I had procrastinated about getting rid of the little weed or argued with myself about how harmless the little weed was, this little weed was growing a deep root system that could have damaged or killed my pretty Coreopsis. There was no excuse for my neglect - a wise gardener knows better.

I get very busy in my everyday life. Much of what I do is valuable and important. No matter the season of life I am in, my days seem to stay full and active. I may prop one hose up here while I'm running around over there taking care of other matters. How easy it is for some sin to begin taking root in my life, but I'm too busy to hardly notice. Or maybe I notice an attitude or a thought or an action, but I disregard it as being small and insignificant. When I recognize it again, I say that I'll handle it later. I have so much of importance to accomplish today. Soon my little sin is taking root in my heart. It's becoming such a part of me that I don't feel nearly as bothered by it as I used to. On the outside my sin looks small and shallow, but inside there is a long root. And when the day comes that I am convicted or that my sin begins to affect me or others, and I want to uproot it - I may have a harder time doing that than I ever expected. God, my Master Gardener, will uproot my sin if I let Him............but the damage in my life and heart may be there to stay. How much better it would have been if I had paid attention to the warning signs.......if I had noticed the growth of that sin in my heart..........and had uprooted it at the beginning.

God warned Israel in Deuteronomy 29 to not associate with the heathen tribes that lived all around them - to not adopt their wicked ways or worship their false gods. In verse 18 God warned Israel: " that there will not be among you a man or woman, or family or tribe, whose heart turns away from the Lord our God, to go and serve the gods of those nations; that there will not be among you a root bearing poisonous fruit or wormwood." What pointed and practical advice this is for me today! Wherever I am in life, I know that I need to carefully nurture the good and the spiritual.............and weed out the wrong and the ungodly from my heart. To weed it out quickly before it grows a long root! Give me wisdom and discipline, Lord, to keep the unwanted weeds from rooting in my life.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Random Conversation

There is rarely ever a dull moment with least not when he's talking.  And he hardly ever DOESN'T talk so therefore there is hardly ever a dull moment.  We have funny moments......frustrating moments.........repetitive moments...........loud moments...........puzzling moments...........angry moments........sad moments.........but never dull. 

I thought that I would share with you a few of his conversations tonight as he and I watched American Idol.  Yes, I like American Idol............not the name, I have to admit, but I love the singing and the competition.  Aaron enjoys it, too - or maybe just enjoys having me as his captive audience so he

As soon as he came downstairs he started telling me about his day in the mall.  No matter that we had talked about it earlier..........he had more to say.  He's always been fascinated by the oriental massage in the mall and would LOVE to have one - pretty much up there with how much he wants a manicure or pedicure.  He said, "Mom, I turned around and that oriental guy asked me if I wanted a massage."  Aaron laughed and laughed after he told me about this incident, as if this was just all too funny.

I asked him if he wanted a massage and he told me that he thinks it's too expensive.  He was having a hard time remembering the prices and then said, "It's different prices because of the minutes added to the dollars." 

What a neat way of describing the pricing!  I just shake my head at his descriptions.

He had told me earlier that he got a grape slushie at Sonic today.  So after the massage discussion, he took his glasses off and said, "Mom, the watery part of the smoothie got on my glasses!  Can you clean them?"  The watery part of the smoothie?  Hmmmm.........OK.

He then transitioned right into talking about one of his former staff who has a baby, and that she came to visit today with the baby.  Aaron has a very hard time describing babies by their ages.  And so he said, "Mom, that baby was a little toddler kind of thing."  Maybe some sensitivity training would be in order?

He talked about the singers and how they sang and why some of them cried and what kind of clothes they wore and what their hair looked like and why they were sad when they didn't make the top 24 and that they were cry babies then. 

He talked about the latest movie he's watching and what movie he watched before that and what the plot was or is and when it was made and do I want to watch the monster one and why don't I want to watch the monster one and the movie they talked about on TV looks like it's for kids and that other movie looked good and maybe Paradigm will go see it some day and would that be OK. 

He talked about a phrase that a client at Paradigm said and could he say that phrase and why couldn't he say that phrase and did that guy say it because he didn't live at home and have a family to help him and why can't he say that phrase anyway?

He explained why he pulled the lamp over closer to him while he ate his Skittles and told me that it was because he had both red and purple in his hand and that because he's color blind he can't tell the red from the purple and that he can't eat a red one with a purple one and don't I eat them that way, too? 

When he started in on global warming and what is global warming and do I think global warming is true and why do "they" want us to believe it is and what do "they" say it will do to the weather and..............

I was pretty well comatose and I think I agreed to something about global warming but I'm not sure what it was.  At least I didn't agree that the baby was a "toddler kind of thing" and I did clean the "watery part of the smoothie" off of his glasses and I told him that no, he did not need a massage. 

But I could use one.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Arby's Meal #5

Aaron, who loves numbers and numerical order, is all too happy that fast food restaurants number their meal combos.  I've written before about how he comes home from his day group and tells me about the meal number he's eaten for lunch at a particular restaurant.  Or how he talks about the #52 slushie at Quik Trip.............that would be 52 ounces!  The largest, I'm sure, knowing Aaron!

Saturday night I was up in McPherson with Andrea, so Gary took Aaron to Arby's for supper.  Aaron recounted his Arby's visit with me yesterday.

"Mom, Dad and I went to Arby's for supper when you were gone."

Really, Aaron?  I love Arby's!

"Well, I don't really like Arby's a lot.  But I didn't want to disappoint what Dad wanted to do."

Oh, that was nice of you, Aaron.  But what's not to like about Arby's?

He then described his sandwich............"It had this yellow melted cheese on it.  That's not my favorite."

And he added, "It was a meal #5."

As if this would more fully describe this sandwich to me................a meal #5 tells it all!

So I asked, "Is that what Dad got, too?"

He flatly replied, "Yeah.  All two of us got a meal #5."

Well, Aaron, maybe the next time all two of you go, all two of you can try a meal #4?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

1/2 and 1/2

Aaron often talks about things being "half" - like when he said he was "half-way losing weight" - or that he's "half tired" and so forth.  Today he walked in the kitchen and said, "Mom, this morning I went outside, but it was half cold and half warm, so I came back inside."  I asked him why he came inside.

He looked at me like I was more than a little dense and answered, "Because I couldn't stand being half cold and half warm!" 

So I just had to ask him, "Well, which were you?  Half cold or half warm?"

And of course his response was, "I was half cold AND half warm!"

I then urged him to go back outside.  I told him that it was 53 degrees outside............and I resisted the urge to tell him that 53 is half cold and half warm.  I thought about it, though!

So outside he went, with his mulch trashcan, and stayed for awhile.  I snuck a picture out the window as he busily "worked" in the mulch and relaxed in the sunshine.

When he came inside, I asked, "So Aaron, how was it outside just now?"

He dryly answered, "It was still half cold and half warm." 

I thought it was warm, Aaron.

"No, it was half cold and half warm." 

Later tonight I had to ask one more time if he had a good time going outside today. 

"Yeah, but it was still half cold and half warm." 

Well, nothing is going to change Aaron's mind on the half cold/half warm weather today.  I think we need to tell the weather forecasters about this. 

At least their forecasts could be right half the time!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Our Nest

I remember being pregnant with Aaron and hearing the term "nesting."  I wondered if that phenomenon was really true, and later discovered that it certainly was.  I had the rush of energy and the desire to get our nest in order before Aaron's birth - and he was three weeks early!  Interesting! 

I find myself considering our nest again, but now on the other end of the spectrum.  Goodness, how time flies!  And now I sound old even in just saying those timeless words about time.  I don't really feel old, but soon our nest will be a little emptier, and I know that the years have rushed by much faster than I ever dreamed they would when I was knee high in diapers and runny noses. 

Tomorrow, barring any delay, Andrea will officially be moving to her new apartment.  She'll only be an hour away but the distance isn't what matters.  This marks the beginning of her independent life.  She's worked since she graduated from college, but has patiently still lived at home as she waited for the wisest opportunity to launch out on her own.  That time has come for her, and no one could be any happier for her than Gary and I are.  Yes, we'll have the normal sadness as we watch her go, but the sadness is tempered by the happiness we feel for her.  She has a job that she's wanted and that God put into her lap, so it seems, and now her own place.  Her patience has paid off and we believe that God has honored her.

When Aaron found out that Andrea would be moving, he was very surprised.  He blurted out, "NO MORE ANDREA??!!"  Well, kind of, Aaron.............she'll still come to visit but no, she won't be living here anymore.  He'll miss her a lot, as we all will.  And she'll miss him, too - in some ways more than others, for sure. 

The nests I've seen around our yard, up in the trees, are all empty.  It's the time of year for empty nests.  When I think of our nest, the Moore nest, I know that we have a different nest than many other people have.  We're not alone in our uniqueness, certainly, but we are in the minority.  At our age, Gary and I should have an empty nest............but when you have a child, or an adult, with special needs - sometimes the nest won't be empty for a long time, and maybe never.

This fact hit me at some point when Aaron was entering adulthood.  Some of our friends were anticipating their own empty nests, or celebrating that fact when it occurred.  None of us dislike our children, but when the time of life comes that our children move on and we're still young and healthy enough to be alone again - well, it's just fun!  But as Gary and I dealt with the reality of Aaron's needs, part of that reality that hit us square in the face was that Aaron may not leave home for a long time. 

I'm not complaining and I sure hope I don't sound whiny.  When we were first exploring what options we had for Aaron's services, we chose an agency that would provide Aaron with a group home.  We were definitely headed in that direction..............until one of the staff physically and verbally abused Aaron.  Gary and I considered that door shut, and so have kept Aaron at home with us.  Some day we will have to cross that bridge again, but we don't know when that will happen.  His day group is a blessing to all of us, with an awesome staff.  But honestly, I can hardly imagine someone being able to love and understand Aaron enough to live with him, to care for him during his seizures, to know how to defuse him when he's angry, to read his body language, and on and on. 

There are some lessons that I have learned over the years in regards to our lack of an empty nest at this point in our lives. I don't always practice what I preach, but I have learned:

1.  Do not compare myself to others!
     This is a trap that I think we women fall into so easily.  I remember in our early years of marriage how I would listen when other wives told me that Gary and I should do this or go here or experience that.  I had to learn not to compare our lives with their lives.  Now as I think of Aaron being home I must also not compare our lives to those who are "free."  God has given us this life with this situation, in His sovereignty, and to live any other way than in freedom would be defeating.

2.  Do not covet the life that others have!
     This goes along with not comparing ourselves to others, but coveting takes it one step further down that slope of sinful behaviors.  Other couples may have more time alone, more opportunity for travel, more peace and quiet, more time for their own hobbies or pursuits........but I should never covet these things.  Coveting is purely sin!

3.  Be content!
     Paul had a lot to say about being content............."Godliness with contentment is great gain;" and "I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."  Being content is an act of my will and an act of obedience to God. 

4.  Count my blessings!
     I have so many reasons to be thankful and so many blessings to count, every single day!  And counting my blessings keeps my mind on positive attitudes and focuses me once again on being content. 

As Andrea and I worked in her apartment the other day, we noticed the pretty tree out the front window.  It's a Redbud and this spring it promises to provide lots of beauty for her to enjoy.  As I was working on something, Andrea said, "Look, there's a nest in the tree."  And sure enough, there sits a nest up in the branches of the Redbud.  What a perfect reminder that now Andrea is starting her own nest!  Her first nest is not like my first nest, but it's a nest and will be blessed by God as she honors Him.

And I want to continue to honor God with the nest that God has given to Gary and me.  Our last bird may be here for a long time, but that's OK.  What a privilege to mother our special bird! 

Besides, what would I write about if not for Aaron? 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Weighty Issues

An issue that Aaron struggles with - as do many of us - is his weight.  He maintains the same weight fairly consistently, and at the past few doctor visits has actually lost a few pounds, much to his delight and my surprise.  Aaron sometimes talks about his weight and shows us through those conversations that at times he is bothered by it. 

Some of Aaron's meds that he takes for seizures can cause weight gain.  He is awkward and uncoordinated, so exercise is hard for him.  But the bottom line is that the guy loves to eat!  The bigger menu item, the better.  I know that we don't practice enough discipline here at home in that area, but I do try to provide healthy food for all of us.  Hey, this morning he ate unsweetened applesauce so I get a point for that, right?  I give him healthy suggestions for eating out in his day group; urge him to quit eating buttered popcorn; praise him for enjoying water over soda.............but I can't be there to force him to make good choices.

I wrote a blog in the past about the day he bought two packs of 18 rolls at Paradigm - he did share some and then brought a pack home (which he devoured the majority of himself!).  I remember the day he was talking to me as I got my make-up on and he started talking about Grandmother being skinny.  He asked me if he had that "skinny gene" as he sat there stuffing a roll in his mouth.  You gotta have more than genes sometimes, Aaron!

Then there was the time that he said, "Mom!  I'm half-way losing weight!  Can you tell?"  I'm still trying to figure out how you can half-way lose weight, but many of us decided at that time to make that our mantra..............we are half-way losing weight!!!  And proud of it!!!

This morning on the way to meet his group, he said, "Mom, today before I got in the shower I noticed something about my body." 

I began mentally preparing myself for what was to come.

He continued, "I turned myself on my side and noticed that my stomach is big." 

Do not smile, Patty, I told myself.  And wipe that mental image from your mind, I added.

He wanted to know if he is fat and so I told him that, well, he could stand to lose some weight but not to call himself "fat."  Then to encourage him I told him that, you know, I have some weight that I need to lose, too. 

He quickly connected the dots and asked, "Mom, does your stomach look like mine?" 

I was so afraid he would ask what I look like when I turn myself on my side in front of  the mirror.  I was able to delay my answer as we pulled up to meet his ride. 

Well, time for you to go, Aaron!  You have a good day!  See you later! 

I am not getting near my mirror today. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

The REAL Wallet

First, let me give some background.  Aaron had a Swiss Army wallet that he liked a lot........"had" being the key word here, I'm afraid.  I didn't buy the Swiss Army wallet because of the name brand.  In fact, it was more expensive than I would have usually paid.  I bought it because it had a zipper section for his loose change.  However, that zipper finally broke - meaning that his change would fall out.  That was a problem.

When we were in West Virginia in September, my niece Sarah was there.  Sarah sells Thirty-One products and just happened to have some items with her that she was selling for a reduced price.  I spied this really nice, handy change wallet that looked more male than female, you I bought it for Aaron, to hold that loose change that kept falling out of his broken change holder in his very loved Swiss Army wallet. 

This arrangement has worked beautifully for lo these many months.  I put his cash in his Swiss Army wallet and his loose change in his Thirty-One change wallet.  And merrily he goes his way.  But remember that Aaron has that interesting little Asperger's trait.............let's see................yes!  Insistence on Sameness.

And why do I mention that trait?  Because on Friday Aaron came home with only his Thirty-One change wallet.  Somewhere, we're fairly certain, he lost his Swiss Army cash wallet after buying his large popcorn and water sample (as he calls it) at the theater.  So today I gave him his $5.00, sticking it down in his Thirty-One change wallet. 

On the way to his group I reminded him, "Aaron, you have $5.00 today and it's in your change wallet."  He said OK and seemed agreeable to this new situation.  I reminded him one more time as he got out to get in the Paradigm van, and this time he was a little impatient when he said, "OK!"

When he came home today and told me about his day, he didn't say anything about spending money.  He did say that he hadn't found his Swiss Army wallet.   After he walked away, I noticed that the $5.00 was still in his change wallet, untouched.  Hmmmm.............that's unusual. 

As we talked at supper, I asked him if he ate anything at the bowling alley and he said no.  When I asked why he hadn't used his money to buy something, he said, "Well, I didn't have my wallet."  I reminded him that he did have his wallet, his round change wallet, and that his money was in there. 

And he said, "But I didn't have my REAL wallet!" 

As we talked, Gary and I realized that Aaron would not use his round change wallet because to him, it wasn't the right wallet to be holding cash.  Cash goes in the Swiss Army wallet, people!!!!  Not in the Thirty-One change wallet!!! 

I questioned Aaron a little longer to be sure that I had this correct and understood it.  He started getting a little frustrated at my questioning, so I told him that I was just trying to understand so I'd know what to do tomorrow. 

So he informed me very clearly, "Mom, I'm tired of this thing about trying to understand!"

Oh Aaron, dear, you took the words right out of my mouth!  HaHa! 

A Real Example

Like so many of you, I was surprised to read of Whitney Houston's death.  Her beautiful voice amazed me.  Her life saddened me.  Her death shocked me.  For me, these tragic events cause my mind to turn to spiritual matters and to think of the principles of God's Word that should control the life of every believer.  I'm not here to pass judgment on whether Whitney Houston was a Christ follower.  Her death has given me pause for thought, however. 

I remember how the Kardashian divorce made me ponder the faithful, enduring marriage of my parents.  Other events of the rich and famous have caused me to draw similar contrasts between those whom according to this world have it all, and those who do not.  And now as I have worked around the house today I have had time to think about the life of Whitney Houston.  Nearly every radio or television newscast mentions her name over and over.  It's hard not to have her on my mind. 

The woman whom I keep remembering that stands tall in contrast to Houston is Gary's grandmother, Rachel Eller Edmonds Gunter.  I am not going to write about her life now, but someday I want to do just that.  She is one amazing woman!  Born in the western mountains of North Carolina, she married and found herself widowed at a young age - with four small children, one a young baby.  Life was hard then and her choices were few.  She was wooed by a man who claimed to be a preacher and she married him.  It wasn't long before she realized that he was a preacher in name only.

Her life became, in many ways, a fight for survival.  She fought for her children to be safe and cared for, even as she bore a child to this man who was her husband.  She cared for many of his illegitimate children that would show up at their home.  She worked hard jobs to provide for all of these children while this man she married was gone for long trips to who-knows-where.  She gardened, canned, sewed, cooked, cleaned, and still worked outside the home as she cared for her family.  She neglected herself in order to put her children, and later her grandchildren, first. 

Perhaps the most amazing thing of all is that she forgave.  She had to forgive many people, I'm sure, but forgiving those dearest to her for their indescribable hurts in her life was a testimony to her relationship to Christ.  As I grew to know and love Mama Rachel when I became a part of this wonderful family, I noticed her serenity and her love for the Lord.  Forgiveness was evident in her life.  As I learned more of her story, I was amazed at what she had endured and what she had forgiven. 

As I think of her today, I am again thankful for her example and her testimony of faithfulness over the years.  If anyone on this planet had a reason to turn to alcohol or drugs to escape from reality or to dull the pain, Mama Rachel certainly did.  I've not even scratched the surface of what that woman experienced.  She had no money with which to escape; no great talent to make her famous; no captivating beauty to propel her to stardom.  What did she have?  She had her relationship with Christ.  She knew Him and she followed Him as she read her Bible, attended church, and lived out her faith.  She taught us that this was enough.

She lived to be 100.  God blessed her faithfulness.  Her picture was never on the front of People magazine; her name was not on the news; her death was not announced to the world.  Yet she is one that I want our children to remember and to emulate.  I want her life and her story to be woven into the fabric of our family because she lived the way that mattered.  Not the way that was noticed by the world, but the way that influenced who her family became.  My children have her blood coursing through their veins and I want them to know how blessed they are. 

Who can find a godly woman?  Her price is far above rubies.  I am reminded again that we are rich the ways that matter.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Lessons From the Droopy Leaves

This summer has been brutally hot and dry. The only time to do any yard work is in the early morning. It's a pleasure to walk out to the vegetable garden every morning and see how fresh everything looks, despite some evidence of heat and drought damage on some of the plant's leaves. The squash and cucumber leaves are full and alert, and the okra stands tall and erect. They look hopeful and seem to be ready to face the blazing sun and furnace-like winds that may soon come. The garden is largely shaded in the morning and so is very pleasant. Birds are singing and flitting from tree to tree, bees are buzzing softly, and life is generally calm and pleasant. But later in the day, in the late afternoon while supper is cooking in the kitchen, I walk back out to check the garden and find a much different scene. The sun and hot winds have done their damage and left their marks. This time I see wilted squash and droopy cucumber leaves. The tall okra looks sagging and defeated. This is bad news indeed for the vegetables that are trying to grow underneath the protection of these large leaves. Without this growth overhead, the squash will become limp, the cucumbers will dry up, and the okra will harden.

I take the water hose and pull it out to the garden, where I stand outside the fence and gently spray the cool water on all the parched leaves. The water drips off of each leaf, washing off the dust and cooling the plants and vegetables in this terrible summer heat. Then I plug the hose into the drip line that Gary wisely installed in the garden when we first planted back in the cool spring. Later when I have given time for the water to do it's restoring work, I walk back outside to see an amazing sight. The leaves are once again full and pretty, ready to shade their fruit and face another day. It would have been easy to ignore my garden in the busyness of my day but I'm so glad that I took the time to nourish and water it when I did.

It seems that the older I get the more I see people around me struggling with the effects of discouragement in their lives. All of us know what this is like in some form or another. We can be living a pleasant and serene life, strong in our walk and in our faith, and thanking God for His many blessings. We are shaded and fed and watered. Others can see the abundant fruit of our lives. But one day it all changes, sometimes in a moment. A doctor visit; a phone call; a wayward son or daughter; a deep hurt; a car wreck; a painful loss. I've watched family and friends that I love face these sad, life-changing events. Now these dear ones are struggling, weighed down with life's heartaches and burdens. What can I do? Each person and situation varies, but everyone going through tough times can always use the encouragement of a caring friend or family member. Grab the hose and gently spray the water of loving acts - a listening ear, a hug, a meal, a prayer, a card, a phone call. The painful situation may not go away but your care will help to bring nourishment to their soul. Drip by drip your prayers and your acts of kindness will uplift the spirits of the hurting, and will perhaps bring them to the place of bearing fruit again. Paul encouraged believers to take care of each other in I Thessalonians 5:11 - "Therefore encourage one another and build up one another..." O Lord, may I never get so busy with my life that I don't take the time to bear my brother's and sister's burdens. Help me to know when to water and nourish and love by acts of encouragement and kindness.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Are You Listening?!

I've said it before - and after this morning it bears repeating - that not every day with Aaron is full of "HaHa Happy Moments."  He can get very frustrated and then become very frustrating.  It seems like he starts getting into a pattern and keeps going downhill until something puts the brakes on.  At times we are the ones who must apply the brakes, get him back on track, and then enjoy the good days until we see that pattern starting to take shape again. 

Up and down.............up and down................I feel like a yo-yo.  Just call me Yo-Yo Ma.  Sorry - that was bad and I apologize to all you music lovers out there.

The last few days I've noticed Aaron getting more frustrated in the mornings.  Remember the blog about The Lost Trust?  Well, he's lost his trust..........again.  Letting him keep his computer keyboard in the mornings isn't working out...........again.  He's been getting mouthier and mouthier, not wanting to be in a hurry, not caring about taking a shower, so forth and so on.

Today he got very angry with me as I was urging him to get ready.  He finally called me a name.  So today while he was gone I removed his keyboard.  When he got home from his group, I was once again upstairs and listened to his typical, "Mom!!!"   

He found me and began telling me about his day........which was mostly about what he had eaten.............a #5 meal at Auntie Anne's Pretzels.  If you know what a #5 meal is at Auntie Anne's then you eat there way too much.  He described the Pretzel Dog to me - "It's pretzel dough wrapped around a hot dog and it's BIG!!!"   He told me it came with a drink - "Mom, could I have had coffee?"  -  but he chose a Root Beer instead.  He finished with, "Later we stopped at Sonic and I got a water and now I'm stuffed!  Can you tell?"

Honestly, Aaron, you always look stuffed to me.  No, I didn't say that out loud.........just in my head, where I regularly hold conversations with Aaron that I don't want him to hear.

He finally clomped up the hall to his room, and there was silence.  Then he clomped back to my room and said, "So can I have the keyboard back?" 

I told him maybe, but I don't know when and don't ask when.  So he said, "When?"

Why do I even bother?

Whereupon I refreshed his memory concerning our not-so-pleasant morning and finished by asking, "Aaron, what did you call me this morning?"

And he answered, "I don't know.  I wasn't listening!"

I couldn't laugh.  I couldn't snicker.  I couldn't even grin.  I had to be serious and stern and use this teachable moment, knowing that he probably wouldn't learn anything long-term anyway but I have to keep trying. 

It is very unhealthy for me not to laugh, so I was so happy later when Wendy called me and I could belt out a huge laugh about it with her while Aaron wasn't near. 


But I can tell you one thing..........he was listening to ME for some time after that! 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Every Kiss.......

Aaron has been fascinated by the Kay Jewelers commercial for months.  He stops what he's doing when it comes on, watches it, laughs, and then sings along.  He "highers" his voice, as Aaron would say.  It really is the funniest thing to hear big old Aaron sing this little song.

Tonight he told me I could take a video of him singing the Kay Jewelers song.  I sure hope it comes out and that you can hear it.  It's very brief.  I apologize for the poor quality and for the clumsy ending.  I'm obviously new at this! 

Enjoy Aaron's debut! 

The Fever

Having a fever night before last made me remember the time a couple of years ago that Aaron got sick.  I mean, really sick!  Disgustingly sick!

Poor guy, though - of course, he couldn't help it.  Gary and I were sound asleep when our bedroom door came open and there stood Aaron.  He was holding his arms out away from his sides and looked stiff and awkward.  I was trying to wake up and understand what had happened when Aaron very flatly said, "Mom.  I threw up."

Well, that was putting it mildly.  He had pretty well erupted.  He was covered in vomit, so I led him to the bathroom and helped him into the tub.  I told him to undress and it's all a blur from that point.  Gary got up, too, and we both had to totally strip the bed, clean, etc.  You all know how it is.  It took awhile, but Gary and I got things back to normal and eventually got Aaron all tucked into his bed.

This wicked virus he had also caused him to have a fever.  I was explaining to Aaron that these covers weren't his normal ones - that fact is very important to Aaron - and he was being very understanding.  Then I saw that his fever made him start quivering as he chilled and got hot, chilled and got hot. 

He looked up at me and through his shaky lips he said, "Mom.  In my hotness I'm cold."

I don't remember ever hearing before then or since a better description of a fever.  That's how I felt last night - in my hotness I was cold. 

Aaron does have amazing use of the language to convey his thoughts.  I'm so thankful for that............well, most of the time.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Hug

In the guidelines for teacher's that I've referenced before, under Impairment in Social Interaction of those with Asperger's Syndrome, it states that a person with Asperger's "may not like physical contact."  This certainly describes Aaron.  Actually, Aaron enjoys physical contact that involves him whacking someone on the back, or giving irritating pinches...........things along that line. 

When it comes to sweet hugs, Aaron has always struggled with that.  When he was little, he would back up to us to give us a goodnight hug.  It was pretty funny and very unique.  Gary's mother used to get such a kick out of her goodnight hugs to Aaron.  I can't say goodnight hugs FROM Aaron because he was completely uninvolved in the hugging process.  He backed up, stood there, and if you wanted a hug you had to do it quickly.  Very heartfelt, you know?

Last night I started feeling puny, like I'm fighting the flu.  I was chilling and achy, and just generally felt yucky.  At 8:30 I told Aaron that I was sorry we couldn't play Skip-Bo or do anything else, and that I was going to bed.  First I sat at my desk to do a few things and Aaron came in our bedroom, standing by the desk and of course, talking.  I'm not sick very often and it's something that he usually either feels uncomfortable with or could care less about.  Usually the latter, honestly.

So imagine my complete surprise when he took a step towards me, out of the blue, and put his arm around my shoulders.  I was expecting a pinch or a rough jab, which he thinks is very funny, but instead he was gentle and sweet.  Then he laid his cheek on top of my head as he kept his arm around my shoulder!!!!

A hug??!!  A tender moment that Aaron initiated??!!  A show of concern for someone other than himself, especially for good old Mom??!!

Why, I wouldn't have been more surprised if Aaron had..............well, if he had..............blown his nose!!!!

It was over in an instant.  I waited a minute so as not to embarrass him, and then very calmly said, "Aaron, that hug was very sweet.  Thank you!"  He heard what I said and I know it registered, but he kept on talking about what dirty bombs are.........yes, he did............and the movie he's watching that has a dirty bomb and what are dirty bombs and who uses dirty bombs and do I want to watch the dirty bomb movie with him sometime.

That sweet moment will warm me for a long time, even though not five minutes later when I went to his room to set out his clothes for the next day he gave me a swift whack on my rear. 

Oh well.  I still feel the love........I know I wasn't dreaming.  He really did hug me very sweetly. 

I should get sick more often. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

I Decided To

Yesterday morning Aaron came into the kitchen right after he got up out of bed.  He gave a cough and a snort.  His cold is lingering.  I looked at him and said, "Good Morning, Aaron!  How are you?"

"I'm worse,"  he answered.

"Awww.  What hurts now?"  I asked.

He responded, "My nose.  I had to get up last night and blow it."

This news of nose blowing was very surprising, to say the least!  I wanted to ask, "YOU BLEW YOUR NOSE??!!"

But I showed no affect and calmly asked, "You blew your nose?"

And just as calmly he answered, in his deep and monotone voice, "I decided to."

Well!  I guess desperate times call for desperate measures!

Aaron turned and walked away, completely unaware of my shock and pleasure at the news that he blew his nose.

Who knows?  He may use the SHREDDED Parmesan next.  Just because he decided to!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Parmesan or Not?

I fixed spaghetti one night this week.  Aaron loves spaghetti, especially if I let him put the Parmesan cheese on top.  He takes the grated Parmesan container and shakes for all he's worth.  Cheese ends up all around his plate, like snow or maybe a bad case of dandruff.  It really is a mess. No amount of reminders or warnings totally solves the problem.  Therefore, we try to avoid this mess by taking the cheese and shaking it on Aaron's spaghetti ourselves.  He doesn't appreciate our help at all.  He says, "I'm not a baby!  I can do it myself!"  Or, "I'll be careful!  I won't shake it hard!" 

Yeah, right, Aaron. And even if he doesn't shake it terribly hard, it's still the amount of cheese that's a problem.  He mounds it up like a sand pile on top of his spaghetti.  I sarcastically asked him once if he wanted some spaghetti with his cheese, but of course the sarcasm was lost on him.  Too bad. 

The other night he ate his spaghetti after we did.  Gary and I had already left the table.  I guess Aaron went to town with the Parmesan.  I had no idea that he had used it ALL.  Every little grain. 

Last night I searched the frig for the grated Parmesan for another recipe and I couldn't find it anywhere.  Hmmmmm...........I wondered where it was and figured it got put up somewhere that I  couldn't see.  I just used some shredded Parmesan that I had instead.

Tonight I fixed some soup that Aaron doesn't like and later when he came down to check on supper, I asked him if he wanted some of the leftover spaghetti.  He immediately asked, "Is there Parmesan?"  As we talked I realized that Aaron had used it all the other night.  Well, Aaron, since you didn't tell me that you had used it all then I didn't know to buy more Parmesan.

BUT..........I have some other Parmesan that you can use, Aaron. 

He was very suspicious of this unknown Parmesan.  I assured him it was the same thing as I reached in the frig to get the bag.  See, Aaron?  It's Parmesan! 

I showed him the bag as I laid it on the counter.  He looked at it as if I was handling a bag of poison that was about to erupt and contaminate us all.  He actually walked back a few steps as he looked at the impostor cheese.  I knew what was happening and that Aaron didn't want anything to do with this strange cheese that claimed to be Parmesan. 

I said, "Aaron, this is Parmesan cheese.  Here, try some."  I put some in my hand and he backed up even further as he said, "I would not think I would like it." 

I know this.  I know this as surely as I know that Aaron will not blow his nose or change the order of the covers on his bed or eat defective Goldfish crackers.  He will not eat this strange looking Parmesan cheese that isn't in the container that he's used to and that says its shredded and not grated, for crying out loud! 

Gary, Andrea, and I gave each other knowing glances and smiles behind Aaron's back.  They know, too.  We know and we understand, even though we don't really understand.  Knowing Aaron is like piecing together a multi-colored quilt in all sorts of shapes and sizes.  It comes together, but it sure takes time and patience.  The result is interesting and fascinating and sometimes frustrating. 

And now I know that Aaron's quilt will have grated Parmesan - NOT shredded.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Cold Continues

Poor Aaron.  He still has his cold, and now besides the snorting he's also been coughing.  Still no nose blowing...............there won't be, either.  I could only hope for that.

I do feel sorry for him and don't like seeing him feel bad.  Aaron has a high tolerance for pain and inconvenience, but he also demonstrates the classic characteristic of many Asperger's individuals in that he is very egocentric.  He definitely demonstrates this trait when he has something like a cold.  He talks and talks and talks about it.  For instance, I just woke him up from a nap and the very first words out of his mouth were, "I don't feel well." 

The other day he was telling me that he can tell he doesn't feel well because at night he's been so tired.  "Mom, I've been easier to fall asleep!"  Then he added, "I sleep on the outside of my bed!" 

He's not running a fever, but the outside of the bed means on top of his covers.  Of course, he had LOTS of covers and in the right order...............and he sometimes wears his sweater that he loves to bed.  Good grief!  I'd sleep on the outside of my bed, too, Aaron!

I fixed him a bite to eat after his nap today.  Then he tried to get into his Mike and Ikes, but I told him that he only needed a few - not a few bowls full!!

"Mom, I still don't feel well." 


He decided to watch some television after he ate.  As he walked out of the kitchen, he said, "I'm just not having a fun life!" 

Awww, Aaron.  Spoken in that monotone voice, his statement reminded me of Eeyore.  As if his cold isn't bad enough, he's just been told that he can only have a few Mike and Ikes!

So I fixed him a cup of hot tea, which he loves, and knew that he would feel better all the way around. 

I went downstairs and it wasn't long before I heard the Mike and Ikes rattling into the bowl.  Sounds like Aaron has his own ideas of what will make him feel better! 

Let the fun begin! 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Meal #2

Aaron came home from his group yesterday and just as soon as I heard the door to the garage slam shut, I heard the familiar, "MOM!!"  If I'm nearby, like in the kitchen, he immediately begins telling me about his day.  "MOM!!  Guess what? Today..............."   and off he goes.  He doesn't say hi, how are you.........nothing.  Sometimes I'll interrupt and say, "Well, hi Aaron!"  This never really gets his attention.  In mid-sentence he'll mutter a quick hi but he doesn't miss a beat with what he knows I'm just dying to hear about his day. 

 I was upstairs doing some ironing, so I heard him say, "MOM!!"   Thump, thump, thump as he walked around looking for me.  "MOM!!"   Thump, thump, thump.   "MOM!!!"   I've told him a million times (at least!) to not walk around yelling, "MOM!!" but to just find me and then tell me what he wants to say.  It's a waste of my breath, though, and today was further proof of that.  "MOM!!"  So I just kept quiet and waited patiently while I ironed.  Soon he thumped up the steps and found me in the bedroom. 

Again, no hello, hi, or there you are!  "MOM!!  We went to the east mall today!  There were lots of people there!" 

Well, hello Aaron. 

I asked him if he had fun and what did he do at the east mall.  He said that he had a good time and then told me the most important thing that he did at the east mall.................bought his lunch.  "Mom, I got some pizza for lunch!" 

Really?  He confirmed that it was good and when I asked what kind of pizza he got, he said that it was just cheese pizza.  After a pause, he said, "I wish I could have gotten a meal #2."

When I asked him why he wanted a meal #2, he replied, "Because it's a BIG circle kind, not just one piece!" 

Of course Aaron wants a big circle kind of pizza that costs $13 dollars, he told me, and has lots more than just one slice! 

I reminded him that his one slice of pizza, though, was a very big slice - right?  Yes, he said it was a big slice and then later when they stopped at Sonic he got a drink - water, he told me - and that his stomach was full. 

So, Aaron, your stomach is full but you still wish you had been able to get a meal #2. 

"Yeah", he said.  "So what's for supper?"  Uh.........we're having soup for supper, Aaron. 

"Well, I'm not hungry, Mom.  Can you imagine?" 

Honestly, Aaron, that is very hard for me to imagine.......but I bet if we were having a meal #2 he would suddenly have been very hungry!!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Psalm 46

Today on the radio I heard David Jeremiah talking about those times that we come to God with such heavy hearts that we don't really even know what to say, and so we just ask Him to speak to us in a special way.  I guess hearing him say that has caused me to think today about one of the most meaningful times that I did just that.

In May of 2000, my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer.  He went through months of grueling chemotherapy and radiation, and was doing very well.  After four years we were all resting easier about his condition, praising God for His healing hand on Dad. 

I'll never forget the day in early November of 2004 when our phone rang.  It was my mom and dad calling me from West Virginia.  Some routine blood work that had been done a few weeks earlier had shown that some of his levels weren't quite right.  On the phone that day, he and mom broke the news to me that a liver scan had shown that Dad had liver cancer.  It was inoperable, but chemo was once again an option.  However, we knew that this was very serious and possibly terminal. 

None of our family was expecting this news.  We were all devastated, of course, and so sad on many levels.  The next morning after receiving this awful news, I sat at the table with my coffee and my Bible.  I was trying to find the motivation to work on a Bible study I was doing, but my heart wasn't in that.  Finally, I just called out to God and said, "Oh God, You know that I am so sad and so hurt over Dad.  Please, Lord, I need to hear from You right now.  Please speak to me."

I opened my Bible randomly.  I had nothing marked, nothing stuck in the pages of my Bible that would have caused it to open where it did.  I looked down to where I had opened it and saw Psalm 46.  This was a special Psalm to my extended family.  Verse one says, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."  Beside that verse I had written, "'Dad, cancer: 2000."  Then verse 10 is my mother's verse: "Be still and know that I am God."  I had her name written beside that verse.

It was a very special time of worship for me that morning.  I said, "Oh, thank you Lord, for reminding me of Who You were to all of us during Dad's cancer in 2000 and of Who You still are today!"  And so I added the date of 2004 to that verse as a reminder of this wonderful word once again from God. 

It was a Friday morning and I knew that back in West Virginia, Dad was at the Men's Prayer Breakfast that he always attended.  That meant that Mom would be alone, and so she and I could really talk.  I called her and for a few minutes we talked and cried together.  Then I said, "Mom, God did the most amazing thing this morning.  I asked Him to speak to me and so I opened my Bible..............."   But Mom interrupted me before I could say anything else. 

She said, "Wait!  Don't tell me!  Was it Psalm 46?"

And I replied, "Well, yes, but how did you know that?"

And she said, "Yesterday when we got home from the doctor, your dad went back into the bedroom and stayed there a long time.  When he came out I asked what he was doing, and he told me that he was reading Psalm 46." 

Oh wow!  God was reaching down to us, so many miles apart, and showing us that He was there.......that He was aware of our need and of our hurt........that He hadn't forgotten us..............that He truly was a PRESENT help in our trouble. 

God gave us four more wonderful years with Dad.  We would often say to each other, "Remember Psalm 46!" 

What a faithful and awesome God we serve!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Aaron has a cold right now.  We all feel bad when Aaron has a cold, and it's not just because we feel badly for Aaron - although we really are sorry that he's sick.  It's just that - well, the main reason we feel bad when Aaron has a cold is that - how do I say it?  Aaron doesn't like to blow his nose and so he.................snorts.  It's just one of the grossest things ever, honestly.

Aaron takes his colds very seriously.  I could tell on Sunday that he was sounding stopped up.  He told me that his throat was sore, so I knew that my hunch was correct - a cold.  Great.  Later that evening, as we were driving to pick up some Taco Bell for supper, Aaron started talking about his cold.  "Mom, where did I get this cold?"  I told him what I've told him every time he's had a cold for the past couple of decades.............all about viruses, how we come in contact with them, how they enter our bodies, etc.  I don't know why I bother, though, because he always asks the same question - "So how did the virus come into my body last night while I slept?"  He thinks that because he woke up with the cold symptoms that the virus crept into his body while he slept and BAM - he has a cold. 

I let him stay home from his group on Monday because he wasn't feeling well.   All day long I listened to him say, "I don't feel well. (snort)"    Over and over and over and over and over..................sigh.  And then to be sure I got it, he came into my bedroom and said, "I'm not still feeling well! (snort)"

Aaron, honey, I got it.  You don't feel well.........and you don't like to blow your nose.  So now I don't feel so well either.

I don't know why Aaron won't blow his nose.  That's right up there with not wanting to get his lips messy when he eats.  Do you know how you keep your lips from getting messy when you eat?  You use your TEETH to get the food off of your fork or spoon.  Do you know how incredibly annoying it is to hear someone get food off their utensil by scraping it on their teeth?  Come to our house and you can find out.  We tell Aaron to quit scraping the fork on his teeth, and so then he eats slower.  He slowly scrapes the fork over his teeth, with his lips parted rather weirdly.  Now the awful noise is somewhat quieter, but longer.  And he looks so funny that I start laughing...........which makes him forget to eat slowly and we're back to the loud scraping sound again.  Oh joy!

I guess Aaron doesn't like the act of blowing his nose or the feel of blowing his nose or the mess it makes.......I don't know.  This morning he came thumping downstairs while I was on the computer and he sat on the floor beside me.  "Mom, I don't feel well. (snort)" 

I know, Aaron.  You still have your cold, huh?    "Yeah. (snort)  I'm not still feeling well. (snort)" 

Aaron, here's a kleenex.  You really need to blow your nose. 

He took the kleenex, balled it up, and WIPED his nose.  (snort).   

Aaron, I said to BLOW your nose!!   Whereupon I handed him another kleenex, then took one for myself, and proceeded to once again demonstrate how to blow your blowing MY nose. 

He wiped his nose again.  (snort)  AAHHHH!!!

He came home from his group yesterday and said, "Mom, I still have my cold. (snort)"  

I know, Aaron.  He told me that they went to Wal-Mart.   "I got a Cheddar Pasta Salad. (snort)  But I lost my taste for things. (snort)"

Yeah, Aaron.............I'm losing my taste for things, too.  (he snorts)

Later he was talking again about the sorrow of getting his favorite Cheddar Pasta Salad but not being able to taste it.   He said, "The taste of it felt like it was nasty. (snort)"

Well, I can tell you what else is nasty, Aaron.  (snort)   I need earplugs.