I've been doing the April autism posts for several years now and for some reason I am finding it difficult to do this year.

Partly because Sam is in that age range where parenting is more difficult than ever before. What children at this stage need is far less tangible than the needs of the toddler and young childhood years. Autism just adds a little extra something something to the equation.

When you first enter the world of autism everything is slightly skewed and off center. Things are sort of out of focus and it takes a minute to adjust. You begin to find your balance as the fog of diagnosis and research and information lifts. Slowly but surely you begin to find your way...to make your way...through a world where things are almost the same but not quite and a wrong step has pretty serious consequences.

It's hit and miss and trial and error. But because they're smaller it is easier to see what they need so you can at least have an idea of what they need from you.

Speech therapy? Check.

Occupational therapy? Check.

Special diet? Check.

Move on to medication? Check.

But we're not in that stage anymore. We've done those things.

So now what? What's next?

But the world is almost silent in response. See, until the 90's autism was considered a relatively rare thing. Then in the early 00's it was not only more common to hear the term autism spectrum disorder it seemed we were experiencing an epidemic. (This is generally attributed to better diagnostic categories and awareness of autism in general.) And now, all of those children who were part of that first wave are coming of age and research on autism and the teen years is practically non existent. We are the research.

And let me tell you, we're clueless. When Sam was younger I could write a blog post about going gluten free or how we handled sensory issues. But the issues as a teenager are less concrete and so are the answers.

I'd rather forge ahead on our own though, honestly. Our world view and perspective is a totally different shape than where most of the specialist and experts are coming from. What they consider typical teenage behavior and rebellion is not a paradigm we share. Not for our neurotypical teens much less our autistic teenage son.

Oh, I'll keep reading everything that comes my way and I will sort and sift and mine the nuggets that are beneficial to us. But it will be sorted and sifted through our paradigm...a world view that is Biblical and the same for all of us. Because we may need to adapt and relate to Sam differently but God doesn't. That's our standard. It's where we find our balance and keep our thinking straight.

We'll constantly slow him down and make him do and redo his written work because no matter how much he wants to "just get it over with" so he can play with Legos we want him to learn the truth that we only offer our best efforts and work because we want to honor God with everything we do.

We'll work to help Sam find, establish and use a filter between his brain and his mouth because God says that our words and the way we say them mean something.

We'll continue to insist that he show kindness and respectfulness to everyone because, just like him, they are made in the image of God. And that means we have to help him understand what disrespect is because he simply doesn't get it.

We'll keep drawing him back to understand "doing unto others" because empathy is not something that always comes easily to him.

We will continue to raise him as we raise his sisters...to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God.

To do anything less would be to despise the gift that he is to us, to our family, to our church, and to our community.

Now for a Sam funny:

He has an amazing knack for inserting his own lyrics into almost any song and still maintaining the original song's melody and pitch. So right now I want you to think of Queen's classic "We Are The Champions". Got it in your head? Good. Now instead of the words, "...no time for losers..." I want you to hear, "...no time for play time..." It was his anthem the other morning when he had to pick up his room instead of playing before school.

And, yes it was stuck in my head almost the entire day.

Seriously, they were babies yesterday! Now I have a grown child juggling work and making college plans, another with her learner's permit and...and...and...

I'm a little horrified with the post processing job that includes a fuzzy pink vignette on the edges but she looked so pretty on her 13th birthday.

Still has the same sweet smile...

Look at his smile! So contagious.

At twelve years old she stands eye to eye with me now.

Her first, and quite possibly her only, camping trip.

I had no idea what life would bring when I held each one of them in my arms as newborns but these memories of days that have passed cause my breath to catch and heart to squeeze.  And there are days when I wonder why He gave me five when I fill so insufficient for even one.

But mine they are and He shows me each and every day that He is more than sufficient for us all.

January, it seems, was a good month for me to do various personal shoots.

I love that. Being able to envision something and then working to carry it out. You'd be surprised at how much goes into making that happen...finding the right time, the right subject (which really sometimes means bribing convincing a particular child to go along with my bright ideas) and the right location, outfits, etc. A separate personal project is almost ready after literally months of work with four or five different sessions with the girls. It's so close to being ready and I cannot wait to share it when it's ready!

Back to January though. Sometimes I am wanting to try out a new location or different way of post processing and these particular pictures covered both of those bases. Sarah, my child who does not enjoy drawing undo attention to herself, was actually a willing participant. She drug my mother along though and I think that helped.

The main library in downtown Pensacola went through some major rehab work a few years ago. It's beautiful and since I often find myself shooting downtown, wanted to practice shooting inside in case I ever need an indoor location.

Oscar Wilde said, "If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all." So even though the main part of the library was super busy we had fun in the children's section revisiting some old friends from Sarah's childhood.


"Of all the things which man can do or make here below, by far the most momentous, wonderful, and worthy are the things we call books." ~Thomas Carlyle

Our church service includes a lot of Scripture reading.

There is an Old Testament reading followed by a New Testament. And then there is a Gospel reading.

All of which connect to and relate to the sermon's Scripture passage.

It's done for a variety of reasons I imagine, one of which is that it shows the continuity  and connection of Scripture to Scripture. Most people tend to view the Bible in two distinct parts, Old and New, as if they have no real relation to each other. The OT gives the history and was for the Israelites but does not have much for us modern day believers. That's what the NT is for.

But through Christ we have become the new Israel so it all matters. But none of that is what I want you to ponder with me. It was just more by way of introduction.

You know how you can hear or read a passage of Scripture that you are familiar with but it's like you've never heard it before? That happened to me a few weeks ago.

For his sermon Rob read Mark chapter ten all the way through chapter fifteen. It was quite profound to hear so much of the Easter story that is usually truncated or chopped up told in one reading.

This is what I have been thinking about ~ in chapter eleven verse twelve we read this:

On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. And he said to it, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again." And his  disciples heard it. 

This is what stood out to me as if I had never heard it before:

When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs.

He cursed the tree and it withered down to its roots because there was no fruit. But it wasn't even the season for it to have fruit. Yet, He still cursed it.

That just brought me up short and I was left blinking and rereading it.

What does that do to all of our excuses? What does that do to our ideas about just living a good life? Is it enough that our kids only listen to Christian music and we go to church every Sunday and we do all the right things?

I'm not a scholar and I know this passage is directly connected to the destruction of the temple but it has still tilted my world a little.

The tree was doing all the right things according to nature. It had nice green leaves and was clicking right along with the schedule. But Christ looked for fruit anyway and there was a judgement pronounced when none was found.

The Christian life seems to be about a whole lot more than just the things we do or don't do. More than just being good people. There is a fruit that is expected to be cultivated for His good pleasure and when it's not there He seems to take it pretty seriously.

It has definitely given me something to ponder.

My constant stream of beach pictures, I mean. I know there have been a lot of them but the weather has been perfect for beach days this week of our spring break and I am so grateful!

The only thing that could have made it more perfect was my beloved being in town and Sarah being able to join us more frequently. It's been weird adjusting to her having a job while the other kids are all home. It's a strange new season having a grown up child.

Today and tomorrow are full of things like taking our turn to clean the church, grocery shopping, someone taking the test to get their learner's permit, and a shower for a sweet bride to be so no more trips to the beach for a while.

But oh, yesterday was glorious and we had so much fun with our friends!

Photo Friday

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