Discerning the Future

  The thing about the future is, we can't see it.
  A lot of people think that's pretty darn scary.

  Other people - sometimes the same people at different times - find it very exciting.  New gadgets, exciting possibilities, and all that.

  When your kid has special needs, the future is scary.
  Will he be able to support himself?
         Who will take care of him when i'm gone?
  i don't want him on the street.
               Can i save enough, not only for my own retirement, but also to take care of my kid for what could very well (hope) be a normal lifespan?
  Will he live at least moderately well?
       Will his roommates, for roommates there will almost certainly be, be compatible?
               Will they beat him and steal him blind?
  These are not unrealistic scenarios!

  Next year is Max's last year in school.  He is finally performing at a 3rd/4th grade level.  His wonder-full teacher told me that last week, he did better, behavior wise and academically, than she's ever seen him do.

  Finally it's all coming together for him.

  And in May 2013 it ends. 

  In some ways, that's like throwing a kid out when he enters middle school.

  This is not a complaint.  Life is not fair.
  If educating a regular ed kid is expensive, education for special needs child makes that look like a drop in the ocean.
  It leaves us with the question of,
                               What comes next?

   We have some ideas.  We're working on it.  But that doesn't mean it's not scary that the  school bus won't be coming and we have a wonder-full kid who may, with a suitably understanding employer, be able to work parttime, but really isn't motivated to get off the couch (sound like any other 21 year olds?)  Who will likely always need some sort of assistance to live, but none the less, WITH that assistance, can make valuable contributions to society.

  When Boom graduated from high school, when we ourselves graduated from high school, we had no real idea what the future held, but we did have a general idea of what shape we were aiming for.  Some of us achieved it earlier, some later, some not at all, but we had some concept of what we were going for.
  With Max, it's more like an ancient map with the "Here Be Dragons" gap than a modern one of somewhere you haven't been.

Saturday Sisters - Rebekah

Since Lent began this week, i decided to offer a Saturday Sister to focus on putting God first.  i've never been part of a Lent celebrating church, but i understand that's the point, that we put God first, and a year-round good one it is.

Now Isaac loved Esau,
because he had a taste for game,
but Rebekah loved Jacob.
Genesis 25:28
Genesis 24; 25:21-34; 26:1-28:10

  Rebekah was a strong woman. No one could say she didn't know her own mind. And physically, she could water ten camels - thirsty camels, that had been through the desert - without hesitation.
  When the stranger, her relative's servant, invited her to come with him to marry a man she'd never met, and become part of God's plan for all time, she was ready.
  Now, not in ten days.
  When she finally met Isaac, it was love at first sight, and it was lasting love.
  Of none of the other patriarchal couples was it said, "he loved her."
  Actually, this family had a lot of good things going for it.
  And what Rebekah got wrong, she got wrong for the right reasons.
  After all, hadn't God promised that, "the younger would serve the elder" brother?
 And she was just helping God along. . . .
  But she was still wrong. Sin is sin, and the consequences were dire.

. . . for you shall not worship any other god,
for the LORD, whose name is Jealous,
is a jealous God. . .
Exodus 34:14

Rebekah was a bold, strong-minded woman,
but when her passion for God turned into a passion for her son, she decided any means justified the end.

Serving Snark

Snarks are delicious.  i love them  To really zing "the other side," that feels so good.  But like so many other things, what feels good, isn't.

Like that yummy juicy fried turkey that deposits whatchacallit in your arteries.

Snarks don't build roads.  They destroy them.
Crater Rim Road/now C.R.Trail
Following the Earthquake of 1968
You get snarky with someone & you cut off conversation.  Maybe their friendship too, as well as any progress or foundation toward the solutions you need.

Oh, sure, go ahead and write it down.  It's a good catharsis - feels SO good.
But remember,  it is poison,, & even if you share it only with like-minded souls, you've spread the poison.
The better the shared snark, the farther it spreads.
And then it turns on you.

". . . . fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise; things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable."                  Philippians 4:8, Good News Bible (TEV)

Not Exactly Wordless Wednesday - the View from Here

 This is actually my second attempt at blogging.  The first time around, i was sending in blog entries to the local paper about a specific issue.

 But it wasn't working for me.  They needed not only bloggers who cared passionately about the topic, which i do, but people who could elucidate solutions.
Make no mistake, we need folks who can formulate solutions.  God knows we need to make things better.

We have enough folks who can point out problems.

MyGuy points out remaining cindercone
at Pu'u Pua'i from 1959 eruption
i see my role differently.

Solutions need to be propounded by folks who have the big picture, in partnership with those who are in the thick of things daily.

i'm just on the edge of the big picture, but i'm very much involved with my own little piece.  

The big picture solution folks need input from folks like me, because all our little bits go together to make that big picture they are trying to hammer into place.

steam fumerole at Kilauea Caldera

The things i see from here are things you can never imagine.

What We Bring to the Table

In Mark Twain's story, the animals discover an artist painting in the backyard.  However, only the cat finds the painting.  The other animals manage to find the mirror the artist has used to paint his self-portrait.

The cat describes a beautiful painting.  The other animals describe beautiful or handsome editions of their own kind.

"You can find in a thing
 Whatever you bring
 When you stand between it
 And the mirror of your own

We can though apply this as a parable of negotiating.

Each of us is different.

Each of us brings something valuable.

Do we bring our valuable difference to the table to share, or do we plop it on the table and shove everyone else's difference off?

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

terrain map of area is behind small LH photo
 By now you know that i scrapbook, so i thought i'd show you a series of my favorite pages. (Click a photo to see enlarged views, and ignore the carpet!)
 The  trip was in 2008, and these layouts were done a couple of years later.  i would have liked to scan them on my Epson Artisan835, but it doesn't accept 12x12 pages, never mind the double page spreads.
 Instead, i have photographed the pages with my Nikon Coolpix P80.* A disadvantage of using photography is that you see a little of the carpet where i haven't laid out the pages perfectly straight.
Like all art, scrapbooking is inexact.  As i replaced the pages in the book, i realized that i had reversed the pages above.  And that i liked the new order better.
What do you think?

*The Nikon Coolpix P80 is a discontinued model, but at the time i selected it it was a high middle tier of the Nikon line, a camera to grow into.  i'm still learning how to use it, and i hope i get it totally figured out before it dies.  Unlike the camera i took toHawaii, which we killed just as i was beginning to "get it."

A Teacher's Voice

My Grandmother the Teacher
Gives Another Lesson
  Some issues you need direct experience to address.
  Grandma grew up on a farm, graduated from college, taught in a one-room school, and raised four kids on another farm.  There were a lot of critters along the way, but as far as i know, this was the first one with house privileges.  
  All of these animals, though, had to relate to kids, and the kids had to know how to behave with the critters.  Grandma was well-equipped to introduce her housepet to her fourth grandchild.
  She did not need the president of Homemaker's Extension, the minister, the county clerk, the governor, or anybody else to tell her how to teach me to behave with the kitty.

  In the complex world of education today, we hear from superintendents, the mayor, the heads of the state and national boards of education, researchers of all kinds.
  i'm told we need researchers, people who can record the data on what our kids are actually learning and the effect of the teaching they are being given.
  What i haven't heard is very many in the trenches teachers speaking out.  The ones i know, who work in several different districts, are afraid.  Afraid either to say what they think, or to let what they think get back to the administration.
  One friend of mine, a licensed teacher, has taught about two weeks this semester.  She's there every day, and stays after to work more with the kids, but most of her time is spent testing this or that group of kids.  Only licensed teachers are allowed to test, you see, though, in what little i know, i see no reason a license would be required to administer the tests.  She spends over two hours a day doing lunch and recess when there are students she needs to teach, but the people in nonlicensed positions have been let go so the teachers can stay.
  Lunch and recess duties, however, are nonoptional regardless.

  If you've been around me much, you may have picked up on the fact that i read the Indy Star in huge batches, not daily.  So, with that in mind, here is a link to a letter in the Star from January 20 by Susan Pattee, an IPS teacher, expressing what i have heard often from my friends:  frustration at not being taken seriously, a desire for autonomy to teach their students as they, and the notion, correct or not, that their ideas will not be well received by their superiors in the heirarchy.

  From the outside looking in, i see teachers in a Dilbert type situation.

  Education is about a love of learning.  Test taking is a totally separate skill.  People who can parrot back endless facts  - and i can win at that game - are not necessarily better qualified for life.
   Too many tests take away the time that could be better spent learning
  Worse, endless testing can seem pointless and kill any desire to learn.

   i have lots of ideas about education, and i appreciate the PTA for giving me a way to be heard, and my son's school for working with me.  Partnership between the home and school is essential.    But ultimately, the teachers who are actually teaching NOW are the ones who are the best hope of our students' success in school.

  And for them to be able to do a good job they need to be treated as the adult professionals they are, allowed to do their job in the best way they know how.

Now that you're aware. . . .

  so what's next?
  Of how many things can one person be aware?  And can we be aware of them all at once?
  i don't think so.
  There's endless good causes out there, and we'd go broke supporting all of them even to the tune of $1 each.
  Never mind keeping them all in mind at once.
  And don't even think about donating TIME to very many.  Unfortunately.

  How about the literal meaning of the word?  AWARE.
  Aware that that oddball might have a valid reason for being odd.
  Aware that maybe those parents need a helping hand, not censure.
  Maybe you can't adopt my cause.  i hear ya.  There's a half dozen other causes i'd like to make my own, but who can do it all?

What Not to Do

  Don't pat my hand and say "hang in there, bear up."  Don't tell me i'm horrible when i miss the mark.
  Get a clue.  Cut me some slack.  Lend a hand if you have the chance.  Not just me, but the struggler you know.

My Cake Moment

    The cake in the photo marks not only my graduation from high school, but a pivotal point in my own AWARENESS, though i'd never heard the words autism or even cancer at that point.  (ok, i was sheltered.  i know now i'd lost relatives to the Big C by then.)
  A new driver, i was sent to retrieve the cake.
  i had the decorated cake beside me, unrestrained.  My own driving skills were ok under normal circumstances, but kinda shaky with this new test.
  A lot of people were irratated with me as i drove the five backroad miles home.  At no point did i come anywhere near the 50mph speed limit!
  Their honking only made things worse.

  So for years afterward, when i was tempted to become irritated with another driver, i would tell myself,
  "Maybe that driver has a cake beside him."
  So, maybe not.  But it helps the blood pressure, mine and the other drivers.

What's Your Cake Moment?

      initial sketch based on an actual vehicle i  saw a few years back; drawn w/ pencil                                in my left hand, colored holding mouse with my right (off) hand

Not Exactly a Saturday Sister

from the occasional meditation series ~~

Cease striving and know that I AM God.
Psalm 46:10 NASB
Luke 10:38-42, John 11:1-12:8

  Mary of Bethany   Jesus had nothing but kind words for her, but, realistically, Mary-types are very trying to live with!  Martha serves, and Mary sits.  Martha serves, and Mary spills the life savings on Jesus' feet!
  But while Mary sat, she listened and thought and made connections.  Jesus said He was going to be killed?  As a sacrifice?  The leaders said it was expedient for one man to die for all?  The disciples missed (blocked out?) this bit about His coming death, but Mary knew and wept.

  The sisters' story comes in three parts.  In Part One, Martha serves, Mary sits, and Jesus talks.  In Part Two, the sisters speak essentially the same words to Jesus, in their own ways, and a miracle happens, in their outer and inner worlds.
  In Part Three, things are much the same as in Part One.  Martha serves.  Mary is again at Jesus' feet, and once more He tells those around them that she's ok.

  Now Martha is serving her Lord, not some bigshots in the next room, and most especially not the pots and pans.
  Mary, though, is not sitting this time.  Whether the meal was served at table and chairs or reclining benches, we need to picture her in a crumpled heap on the floor to dump that perfume on His feet and wipe it with her hair.
  She  has pieced together, through listening and thinking, meditating, contemplating, that something horrific is going to happen.
  She acts, out of her love, her knowledge, and her own character.

  As we must do.

  The sisters' stories have come to us irrevocably intertwined.  i wonder if that's because, in a sense, both of them represent ALL of us.
  All of us need time to be still, listen, and meditate.  All of us need to act on what we have learned.
  And we will all act in different ways.  We might overlook that Mary did in fact do something in Scene Three here, but what she did was as valuable and beautiful as the daily necessary things that her sister did.

  The verse i used above is often translated "Be still. . . "   However, the Hebrew is literally "cease," with "striving" added for ease of understanding.
  It carries connotations of abandonment, helplessness, reaching the end of oneself, collapsing, and falling limp.
  All of which can easily be imagined as the feelings of a woman who has realized someone near to her is about to be executed.

Saturday Sisters - Martha of Bethany

In the occasional series of meditations ~~
         A lot of women seem to identify with Martha.

Be anxious for nothing but in everything
by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving
let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6,7
Luke 10:38-42; John 11:1-12:8

  Poor Martha. Everyone criticizes her. But, really where would we be without the Marthas of this world? Jesus didn't criticize either sister.
  But Martha did need to take time with her Master, so that she could rediscover peace in the work that brought her so much joy.
  A few verses before where our story opens (Luke 9:58) Jesus said He had nowhere to sleep. Martha "opened her home." Did she hear, or hear of, those words, and respond to a need?
  Both in her home and at her brother's tomb, Martha didn't hesitate to tell Jesus just what she was thinking. Maybe Mary no longer noticed her sister's sharp comments, but Jesus listened, and heard.
 And when Jesus spoke, Martha listened, heard, and believed.
 She could continue her work, but now she had the peace that is beyond understanding, because she had met the Master.
  And i have to ask, What about me? 
           Am i distracted in my serving, or in my recreation?
                        What does Jesus think of my distractions?
                                          Am i listening?

"Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life;
he who believes in Me shall live
even if he dies,
and everyone who lives
and believes in Me shall never die.
Do you believe this?"
She said to Him, "Yes, Lord,
I have believed
that You are the Christ,
even He who comes into the world."
John 11:25-27

Martha was frustrated and angry
when her work was about pots and pans.
She was calm when it was about Jesus.

The Limits of Awareness Ribbons

Awareness ribbons serve a good purpose.
  There's a couple months a year that the world is blanketed in pink.  Everyone, it seems, knows what a pink ribbon means.  (Though sometimes i cynically wonder if that's so popular with the ad business because they can acceptably draw attention breasts.)
  Someone once gave me a pin for women's heart disease. Because she did, i know more about this than i did.  (The above link has a funny short movie on this serious subject, and this one shares  the top 5 signs of women's heart disease.)

  Back after Max escaped, i asked our city councilman for help getting a sign of some sort outside our house to help drivers be aware of our wonder-full, unpredictable kid.  The DOT(?) person, the who spokesman who called me said it could say whatever i wanted & there was no charge to us.
  This was the mid1990s.  My thinking was that autism was practically unknown then - ribbons and other things have changed that - so i really didn't want the sign to say "Autistic Child Playing."
  So i asked for a "truthful lie" type of sign.
  i asked for the sign to say "Deaf Child."
  Because everyone knows how to react to a deaf child.  His behavior & responses could be very like a deaf child's responses.  but, in the 1990s, i figured someone might hit Max while they were distracted, wondering what autism was.
  Not that it's come up.  As far as i know.  And i don't know whether i was right or not.  But i guess even i have a bit of the Mother Bear instinct in me.

  But back to the limits of the ribbons.
  Lots of people now know that autism is out there.  When Max was diagnosed, we were told something like one kid in 1000 was diagnosed with autism every year.  These days, the number is more like 1 in 100.  i hear more different statistics now than i did then, but there're all in that range, and the then/now difference is that great.

  But what a ribbon cannot convey is the inside view.

  Most people these days have some sort of brush with cancer, their own or sitting with a loved one.  Cancer treatments, while individualized, run basically the same course.  And, while living with cancer is not a time-limited thing, the treatments, the Big Life Interuption, are relatively short-term.

  i'm not minimizing any of that.

  However, you see a cancer ribbon, and you get the gist.
  You see an autism awareness ribbon, and you know. . . .what?

Unless you have it in your own little family, what you know is there's something called autism out there.

  Autism itself is so different that saying this kid and that kid have autism is like saying they have, not BLUE eyes, but EYES.
  Somehow people with autism are the same as everybody else while being entirely different.
  And it's not just kids.  Despite Autism Speaks wanting to cure it, you don't cure or outgrow it.   You learn to cope, like many other things.
  i do not know what Max is experiencing.  i, his mom, can share what i see.  i can pass on to you the views of people like Natalie, who is about his age and speaks from her own experience.  But her experience is different than Max's.  Aside from the gender thing. Natalie is very articulate.  If Max matches his Thomas the Tank Engine title to something that  that's going on, we can rejoice.
  Obviously there's more different in their experiences, but they won't be able to compare notes.

  Here, i will share with you from our experiences, more carefully no doubt than if we were side by side, but allow you a glimpse of our world.
  A deeper bit of awareness.

Wordless Wednesday: RetroCat

Too Handsome to Get In Trouble
His name was Michael.  He looks a bit like Lena, the kitty MyGuy and i had later.