Monday, September 10, 2018

The God Who Sees Me



Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the LORD, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.”
Genesis 16:13 (NLT)

          Hagar was frightened. She was hurting. She was confused. Alone, in the hot, dry desert, without help, without hope, without answers to her dire circumstances, Hagar faced a very bleak future.
          I can’t even begin to imagine what she felt, what she endured, and all because she obeyed her mistress who then turned on her. It wasn’t her fault Sarai couldn’t get pregnant. It wasn’t her choice to sleep with Abram. It wasn’t her plan to carry a child for someone else.
Yet, it became her problem when Abram refused to deal with the conflict between his wife and his wife’s servant. It became her dilemma when she was mistreated by her mistress because she was able to conceive. It turned into her crisis when she had to flee into the desert. You have to be pretty desperate to take such drastic measures.
Alone and afraid, Hagar plopped her weary body down beside a well to rest. That’s when God showed up. In the midst of her sorrow, without anything to her name but the clothes on her back, without any resources to pull her through, God comes and offers words of comfort. Not only will she be a mother, but she will have more descendants than she can count. How’s that for a complete turnaround?
Problem turns into promise. Woe becomes wonder. In one fell swoop, her future goes from bleak to blessed. Because God heard. Because He saw. Because He cared.
Hagar, the one whom Sarai scorned and mistreated, was touched by the Almighty God. In her joy, she calls Him, “The God who sees me.” Through that personal encounter with God during the darkest time of her life, her insight into God’s character is radically changed.
God is not an indifferent God. On the contrary, God is a very personal God. He calls Himself our Heavenly Father, our Abba, the One who hears our cries, who feels our pain, sees our tears, the One who deeply cares about each and every struggle-filled day.
Are you wandering through the desert right now? Physically, emotionally, or spiritually? Don't give up hope. God sees you. The same God who saw Hagar sees you. He hears your prayers, He sees your tears.

He will never abandon you because He loves you far too much to let you wander through the desert alone.   

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Imperturbable




Be still and know that I am God.
Psalm 46:10 (NLT)

          An interesting word popped up today in my Merriam-Webster-Word-of the-Day email; imperturbable. Merriam-Webster defines this word as “marked by or suggestive of utter calm and unruffled repose or quietude; steadiness.”[1]
          Wouldn’t you love to be referred as “imperturbable?” To be know as someone who doesn’t easily become ruffled or upset? To remain steady and still in the midst of the fray?
          Lately, life in our house has been anything but calm; between back-to-school readjustments, behavior issues, an upcoming surgery, and waking up to a flooded kitchen when our dishwasher went on the fritz, I’m feeling just a little frazzled around the edges.
          Yet as I meet with God first thing each morning, He reminds me over and over that He is with me in each trial, a sure and steady (Imperturbable) refuge in times of trouble.
I have a Bible with wide margins for Bible journaling. Next to Psalm 46, I have a picture of a lighthouse being blasted by enormous waves. Yet, despite the violent storm, the lighthouse stands firm. Why? Because it is anchored to the rock.
          Be still (stop fighting, resisting, fretting, worrying) and know (be certain without a doubt) that I am God. No one is beyond his reach, nothing is beyond his control. If our faith is anchored in Christ, then it is possible to be ‘imperturbable’ no matter what difficulties life throws our way.
         









[1] https://www.merriam-webster.com/word-of-the-day

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Crafts and Books to Ease Back-to-School Jitters






          Whether starting school for the first time or returning after summer break, school can cause separation anxiety in young children.
Here are a few tips and crafts designed to help ease some of that back-to-school unease.

Books:
·        The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn


·        Llama Llama Misses Mama, by Anna Dewdney

·        First Day Jitters, by Julie Danneberg

·        The Invisible String, by Patrice Karst

·        I Love You All Day Long, by Francesca Rusackas

·        The Night Before Kindergarten, by Natasha Wing

·        Click, Clack, Quack to School, by Doreen Cronin

·        When I Miss You, by Cornelia Spelman

Crafts:
·        Hand print – Trace your hand on a piece of paper, then cut out. Draw a heart in the center of your hand print and write “I love you." Child can keep it in his pocket or backpack as a reminder.
·        Heart pencil topper – Trace two identical hearts (1 ½’ by 1 ½”) on red construction paper, then cut out. Trace top inch of pencil on one of the hearts. Put glue on remainder of heart, then stick second heart to first heart. Press two hearts together, then insert pencil.
·        Make two identical bracelets to wear on the first day of school; one for you and one for your child. Each time your child misses you, their bracelet will remind them that you love them and will be waiting when they get home.
·        Create a bookmark; cut out a 6” x 2” rectangle from construction paper. Write “I love you” or draw a heart, then glue a picture of yourself near the bottom.
Remind your child that you love them, that you will be waiting for them at the close of the day, then celebrate with a special treat to mark their first day of school…. Don’t forget to take a photo to commemorate this special day!

Monday, August 6, 2018

Daily Routine Cue Cards





With school just around the corner, it is time to establish a daily routine. Having a set and visible timetable for your child to view each morning, enables them to anticipate both regular and occasional activities scheduled for the coming day.
Individuals with autism usually experience anxiety when they don’t know what to expect or when changes upset their daily routine. Creating a daily visual schedule can help decrease their anxiety level and offers a certain amount of predictability.
I created these daily schedule cue cards with everyday activities and chores in mind, along with flexible events such as a visit to the dentist, or a shopping trip. 
I would recommend setting up the next day’s schedule after your child has gone to bed. You can post the cue cards on a corkboard, use Velcro strips, hang them from a clothesline, or purchase a pocket chart with clear pockets. Whatever method you choose, be sure the daily schedule is visible and easily accessible. Add hour and minutes for each cue card to help your child stay on track.
To access more printable cue cards, click on “Printables” tab on my home page. Don’t forget to enter your email in order to receive posts on a regular basis. 


Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Tools, Tips, and Strategies for handling a meltdown




            Anger outbursts can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime, and for any reason. For most of us, it arises from a conflict between what we want or want to do and our present reality. When this conflict leads to aggressive behavior, it is called a tantrum.
When individuals with autism experience a meltdown it is usually due to sensory overload, difficulty communicating, feeling overwhelmed, changes in routines, or inability to complete a task.
It is crucial to understand that a meltdown is not the same as a tantrum. Just to be clear; a tantrum comes from not getting what one wants (manipulation). A meltdown comes from overstimulation or feeling overwhelmed.
Here are a few tips for preventing a meltdown:
·        Learn your child’s triggers and limit exposure to them (if he has a meltdown every time he’s in a big store like Walmart, he is probably experiencing sensory overload: lights, noise, crowds, odors, etc.)
·        Warn of upcoming changes, if possible (we used to tell our son “five minutes until…” so he could wrap up what he was doing as well as prepare his mind for a new activity)
·        Avoid situations that might cause sensory overload
·        Supply sensory helps: headphones, sunglasses, etc.
·        Encourage your child and offer praise, especially when they tackle a task that is difficult or causes stress.

Strategies for handling a meltdown:
·        Reassure your child. Let him/her know it’s going to be okay. Reassure him he’s not in trouble. Meltdowns are simply the body’s reaction to something that appears to be out of control.
·        Prevent child from hurting self or others
·        If possible, provide them with a ‘safe place’ where they can go to calm down (bed, bean-bag, special chair, etc)
·        Avoid yelling or raising your voice as that will only exacerbate the situation
·        Talk about it once your child has calmed down. Ask him what he was feeling and why. He might not always understand his reaction or why he acted as he did, but it’s worth discussing.


Tools to help de-escalate:
·        Cool-down Cue Cards

Print cards and keep them handy. I laminated mine, then punched a hole in the top left corner and placed them on a ring. Go through the cards with your child and show him ways he can cool down when he's anxious or upset.


·        Create a calm-down kit: Create a basket with items such as the cool-down cue cards, silly putty, playdough, stress-ball, fruit gummies, fidget toys, blanket, weighted vest, headphones, etc.…. Make a label that reads “calm-down kit” and attach to front of basket.


·        Read books about anger and meltdowns. Here are a few of my favorites:
Ø When Sophie Gets Angry-Really, Really Angry…, by Molly Bang.
Ø The Way I Feel, by Janan Cain
Ø The Way I Act, by Steve Metzger and Janan Cain
Ø I Feel, by Cheri J. Meiners M.Ed. and Penny Weber
Ø Let’s Talk About Feeling Afraid, by Joy Berry

I trust these tips, strategies, and tools have been helpful to you. 


Friday, July 27, 2018

Printables for Back To School




          It’s almost that time of year; back to school. Returning to school can be stressful for any child. But for those with learning disabilities, it can be downright scary. Issues with comprehension, social interaction, and distraction give rise to bouts of anxiety that can be detrimental to their self-image and their success at school.
          When my sons were in grade school, they struggled with lack of confidence and fear. So we began to memorize Scripture. When they said, “I can’t,” we learned Philippians 4:13. When they succumbed to fear, we memorized Isaiah 41:10. When behavior was the issue, we worked on Luke 6:31. As we learned each verse, we added them to a binder ring so they could carry them in their backpack or pocket for quick access and reference throughout their school day.
          Here are a few verses to print and memorize before the school year begins. I pray they will be an encouragement to you and your children. For printables, click on this link.


  • I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13
  • Do not be afraid for I am with you. Isaiah 41:10
  • Do everything with love. 1 Corinthians 16:14
  • You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you. Isaiah 26:3
  • Do not worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Philippians 4:6
  • Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31
  • Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life. Proverbs 19:20
  • Love is patient, love is kind. 1 Corinthians 13:4
  • Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Corinthians 13:7
  • Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the LORD rather than for people. Colossians 3:23
  • Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
  • Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him and he will help you. Psalm 37:5
  • Do not lose your temper -- it only leads to harm. Psalm 37:8
  • When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3
  • I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely. Psalm 63:8
  • The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever. Psalm 121:8
  • You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I'm far away... You know everything I do. Psalm 139:2-3
  • Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. 1 Corinthians 13:4
         

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Hope





Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
Hebrews 10:23 (NIV)


            Lost: Twelve boys, one coach.
One long, arduous search to find them alive. Rear Adm Arpakorn Yuukongkaew told reporters, “There was only a tiny bit of hope, but that’s all we had to work with.”[i]
Hope; it’s the motivating force that keeps us pressing onward. Without hope, we lose the will to fight, to keep searching, to do whatever it takes to reach our goals. Hope was the compelling force that drove those rescue workers to keep searching, despite the dangers, difficulties, and risks. Hope was the defining factor between life and death.
            Unfortunately, there are times when hope disappoints. Parents of children with autism spectrum disorder understand this all too well. Goals not met, days that turn out to be one struggle after another, news that makes us wonder why we keep holding on to hope.
            God urges us to hold on to the hope we have in Jesus, with unswerving faith. Because we’re doing all the right things? Because we need a crutch? No! Because of God’s character. He is faithful and when he makes a promise, He never fails to deliver.
Biblical hope dares to look for the rainbow before the storm has ended. Hope dares to sing songs of victory even while the battle still rages. Hope dares to say, "It is well," even when it seems all is lost. Hope waits patiently through the darkest night, confident dawn will eventually come.
Hope does not quit but presses on, even through the darkest places, confident victory is waiting up ahead.

           




[i] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-44797035